Detroit

Opinion
8:38 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Why merging Detroit and Wayne County makes sense for both

Jack Lessenberry commentary for 08/19/2013.

Last week, I said merging the governments of Detroit and Wayne County was a sensible solution to both their crises.

This idea was not wildly popular. One woman said I was out of my mind, and added Wayne County “just need(ed) to have their crooks behind bars.”

A more thoughtful man said I was “operating from the usual liberal impulse of having successful entities transfer resources to unsuccessful entities,” something he indicated didn’t work.

Well, that gentleman is right. It usually doesn’t work. That’s what has been happening with revenue sharing.

What I am proposing is creating an entirely new entity, writing a new charter and creating a combined county government. I am not suggesting Wayne County simply absorb Detroit.

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Business
2:00 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Detroit Bikes, manufacturing in the city, opens tonight

Detroit Bikes is manufacturing bike frames in the city.
Credit Detroit Bikes Facebook Page

A  Detroit-based bike manufacturer is holding its grand opening event tonight. Detroit Bikes is part of a mini-trend of companies like AutoBike and Detroit Bicycle. But it's the only company making bike frames in the city.

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Opinion
10:48 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Merging Wayne County and Detroit could fix both

Lessenberry commentary for 8/16/2013

  Everybody knows that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was thoroughly corrupt. He currently is sitting in jail waiting sentencing in federal court on his latest round of convictions.

His political career is dead and his chance at being free is over, at least for years to come. But you can easily make the argument that, at least in terms of cost to the taxpayers, the administration of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is worse.

Certainly Ficano has wasted far more of the taxpayers’ money than Kilpatrick’s grubby crimes cost Detroit. One of the enduring mysteries of state politics is why this man is still in his job. Michigan’s largest county has lurched from scandal to scandal.

There was the case of Turkia Awada Mullin, the crony who somehow was vaulted over far more qualified applicants, made head of the airport authority and given a two hundred thousand dollar “severance” to go from one job to another.

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Stateside
5:05 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Kevyn Orr apologizes for calling Detroit 'dumb, lazy, happy and rich'

mich.gov Michigan Government

An interview with Daniel Howes.

There's been an apology from Detroit's Emergency Manager for those now-infamous comments made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. That's where Kevyn Orr described Detroit in these words: "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich."

Speaking to WXYZ-TV reporters, Orr offered up a mea culpa:

"In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that would have been interpreted as an insult. I also perhaps was not as in tune as I should have been to the fact that I said that a week before an election. Not a particularly smart thing to do. I was being dumb in that sense." 

What effect will those words and the apology have on Orr's ability to work with Detroit leaders and citizens? And was there a point to what he was trying to say to the Wall Street Journal?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:00 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Billions and billions of federal dollars, hundreds of different policies, all rest in the U.S. Farm Bill. With very little bipartisanship in Washington these days, it's not too surprising that it's taken so long for Congress to make a deal on the legislation. But, time is running out. Why can’t the 2013 Farm Bill just get done and what does it means for the Michigan and U.S. economies?

And, we took a temperature-check. Just how do local officials think the state Legislature is doing?

Also, the Dearborn Planning Commission approved changes in rules governing the way residents may use their garages, but some people in the Arab community feel the changes are a direct slap at them.

First on the show, there's been an apology from Detroit's emergency manager for those now-infamous comments made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. That's where Kevyn Orr described Detroit in these words: "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich."

Orr offered up a mea culpa in an interview with WXYZ-TV.

What effect will those words and the apology have on Orr's ability to work with Detroit leaders and citizens?

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined us today.

Stateside
5:06 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

The Red Wings are getting a new arena, but is this what Detroit needs?

Olympia Stadium was the original home of the Red Wings.
Library of Congress wikimedia commons

An interview with Marvin Surkin, a specialist in comparative urban politics.

The irony was certainly not lost on many when just about the time the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection Governor Snyder gave the green light to a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings, an arena to be located just immediately north of downtown.

Plans are calling for an 18,000 seat state of the art arena and accompanying entertainment district. It’ll be funded with a mix of $365.5 million in private investment and an estimated public investment of $284 million.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation is predicting the new Wings arena and mixed use district could create about 8,300 jobs and it predicts a statewide economic impact of $1.8 billion.

Marvin Surkin would like to challenge the statement that a new sports arena can energize a financially depleted city and boost its morale. He is a specialist in comparative urban politics and co-author of the book "Detroit: I Do Mind Dying." He joined us today from New York City.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:02 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

According to new data, prisoners in Michigan serve longer sentences than in any other state. That's on top of the fact that Michigan has not reviewed its sentencing guidelines for 15 years. On today’s show, we dug deeper into what's behind prison sentences.

And, as Detroit faces bankruptcy, a deal has been struck to build a new sports arena in the city's downtown. We found out if that's really what Detroit needs right now.

Also, there’s a softball team in West Michigan with some members that have been playing together for four decades. We spoke with two women from the team.

First on the show, where were you ten years ago when the power died?

That's what many of us in the Midwest are asking each other today.

It was ten years ago this day when the largest blackout in North America left 55 million people in 8 states and Canada in the dark.

The cost of the Blackout of 2003? Anywhere from $4-10 billion.

What changes have been made to the grid in that decade? Could a blackout like that happen again?

Maggie Koerth-Bakeris a science columnist for the New York Times Magazine, the science editor at BoingBoing.net, and the author of Before the Lights Go Out.

She joined us today Minneapolis.

Politics & Government
7:49 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Detroit mayor sets deadline for pet coke removal

DETROIT (AP) - Mayor Dave Bing has issued a deadline for the removal of all petroleum coke from the Detroit riverfront on the city's southwest side.

Bing's office says Detroit Bulk Storage was notified Tuesday to move the material by Aug. 27.

The city says the company failed to cart away all the petroleum coke by an Aug. 9 deadline listed last week in an order from Detroit's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

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Stateside
5:25 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Kevyn Orr plans to hire a group to manage federal grant money

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.
Detroit Free Press video Detroit Free Press

An interview with Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson.

Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking to hire a group to oversee Detroit's federal grant money.

This comes at the same time that federal officials are searching for ways to offer more aid to Detroit.

Orr went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to visit with Michigan Senator Carl Levin  and some economists to get ideas about which grants programs would be best for the city.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported on this in today's Detroit News, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:23 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Today we took a closer look at recommendations for statewide standards for evaluating Michigan teachers. How should the job performance of teachers be evaluated?

And, we met a West Michigan man who swims across the Great Lakes and Lake St Clair, raising money for charity.

Also, we spoke with the lead vocalist of The Ragbirds, a band from Ann Arbor that is about to kick off their fall tour with a newborn baby.

First on the show, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking to hire a group to oversee Detroit's federal grant money.

This comes at the same time that federal officials are searching for ways to offer more aid to Detroit.

Orr visited went to Washington D.C. earlier this month to meet with Michigan Senator Carl Levin and some economists to get ideas about which grants programs would be best for the city.

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson reported on this in today's Detroit News, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Newsmaker Interview
3:57 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Shakespeare in Detroit

jackdorsey/flickr

Shakespeare in Detroit was founded by Detroit native, Samantha White. As its inaugural performance on Wednesday, August 14 at 7 p.m., the company will present Shakespeare's Othello at Grand Circus Park in Detroit. Samantha White spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about the company, the performance, and why the works of Shakespeare need a home in Detroit.

Stateside
5:39 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

One possible solution for Detroit: attract more immigrants

Steve Tobocman
globaldetroit.com

An interview with Steve Tobocman, the director of Global Detroit.

When you consider all of the possible "fixes" being discussed for struggling big cities like Detroit, there is an idea being offered up that has truly stood the test of time: attract more immigrants.

It's the way cities have been built all through American history. Open the doors to people who are hungry for new opportunities, for a new life, and watch them pour their energies into building new businesses, improving their homes and neighborhoods, attracting more new residents as family members follow from the Old Country.

But immigrants are not coming to Detroit, and that is something Steve Tobocman hopes to change.

He is the director of Global Detroit. So far, they've launched over a half dozen distinct initiatives to make Southeast Michigan---and Detroit---more welcoming to immigrants.

Steve Tobocman joined us today to talk about the program.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
12:42 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Economist says banks should be at the back of the line in Detroit bankruptcy

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote about Detroit's bankruptcy filing in yesterday's New York Times.

In his opinion piece, The Wrong Lessons from Detroit's Bankruptcy, Stiglitz writes that it is "extremely important" to understand what happened in Detroit.

Detroit’s travails arise in part from a distinctive aspect of America’s divided economy and society ... our country is becoming vastly more economically segregated, which can be even more pernicious than being racially segregated. Detroit is the example par excellence of the seclusion of affluent (and mostly white) elites in suburban enclaves. There is a rationale for battening down the hatches: the rich thus ensure that they don’t have to pay any share of the local public goods and services of their less well-off neighbors, and that their children don’t have to mix with those of lower socioeconomic status.

Stiglietz says the question in front of Detroit now is how the city gets through the bankruptcy process, and that "ensuring that bankruptcy proceeds in a way that is good for Detroit will require vigilance."

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Stateside
4:42 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Detroit's mayoral candidates need to face the city's harsh reality

Patricia Drury Flickr

An interview with Stephen Henderson, the editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press.

The primary election of 2013 is history. Now the focus shifts to the November general election.

For the two candidates who want to become Detroit's next mayor, it's time to take stock of the harsh realities facing the city and craft a clear campaign message that addresses those stark truths.

Stephen Henderson has been issuing that challenge from the pages of the Detroit Free Press throughout the campaign, and now that the two challengers have emerged from the primary, we wanted to get his thoughts.

Stephen Henderson, the editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
3:29 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

If Detroit's in bankruptcy court, why isn't Flint too?

Downtown Flint, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

With all the talk about Detroit’s path into bankruptcy court, some people have been asking why hasn’t Flint gone the same route?

Like Detroit, Flint’s city finances have been a mess for a long time.

Governor Snyder not only appointed an emergency manager to run Flint, he did so more than a year before he appointed one in Detroit.

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Offbeat
2:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Detroit's massive jar of Crisco up for sale on eBay

"The Vessel of Hope"
Jerry Vile

So... anyone need a four-foot-tall can of Crisco?

Last week, Detroit-based artist Jerry Vile left a present for his recently bankrupt hometown -- a massive can of Crisco, placed under the Monument to Joe Louis, better known as The Fist.

Now the installation, titled “The Vessel of Hope” is up for auction on eBay.

At last check, the Crisco’s current bid sits at $560, with 12 currently vying for the giant can (and no, there’s no Crisco inside it).

“This piece represents my peaking as an artist,” Vile said on the selling page. “I am most likely never going to be able to do anything that gets the kind of attention or hits the nerve that this did.”

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Politics & Culture
5:13 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

There are calls in Lansing to overhaul Michigan’s parole system. Advocates say the state keeps people in prison far longer than necessary.

And, we went back in time to explore how a Michigan company fed the nation's craze for sending postcards.

Also, we spoke with meteorologist Mark Torregrossa about improvements in weather forecasting technology.

First on the show, Detroit voters have spoken. Well, at least the 15% or so who voted in Tuesday's primary.

And, it will be Mike Duggan versus Benny Napoleon in the race for Mayor. We'll talk with our political commentator Jack Lessenberry to get his take on the primary results. But first, let's talk with the candidates.

We were joined today by the top vote-getter in yesterday's mayoral primary, a candidate whose name wasn't even on the ballot, Mike Duggan.

Stateside
5:07 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Detroit voters have spoken, now what?

An interview with Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry.

Detroit voters have spoken.

Well, at least 15% of so of them have, the percentage who voted in yesterday's primary.

And it will be Mike Duggan versus Benny Napoleon in the race for Mayor.

Despite being booted off the ballot, and being forced to launch a write-in candidacy, Mike Duggan was by far the most popular choice, with more than 44,395 of the 50,328 write-in ballots that were cast. We should note, Tuesday's election numbers won't be official until certified by county canvassers.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:38 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

The history of the American postcard can be traced back to Detroit

Boston Public Library Flickr

An interview with photojournalist and filmmaker John Collier.

Sadly, posting a photo or video from your smartphone onto Facebook or Twitter seems to have supplanted the good old postcard.

But there is a rich history to the American Picture Postcard and it centers on Detroit.

The "City That Put the World on Wheels" is also the city that turned out millions and millions of American postcards.

John Collier spent three decades as a photojournalist for the Detroit Free Press.

He is also a filmmaker who has turned his love of postcards into a documentary that’s called “My Postcard Collection: The Detroit Publishing Story: A History of the American Picture Postcard.”

John Collier joined us today in the studio.

For more information, go to http://www.mypostcardcollection.net/

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
2:52 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Napoleon plans to move forward, undaunted by Duggan's strong showing in the polls

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

An interview with Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Detroit voters have spoken. Well, at least 15% or so of them who voted in yesterday's primary.

And it will be Mike Duggan versus Benny Napoleon in the race for Mayor.

We were joined by one of the two candidates who will be on the ballot in November running to be the next Mayor of Detroit, Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

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