Detroit

Law
3:21 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

A new class of Michigan State Police troopers is sworn in

New Michigan State Police troopers are sworn in during ceremonnies in Lansing
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Ninety new Michigan State troopers will soon be on the road.

The troopers were officially sworn in today in Lansing.

Governor Rick Snyder told the new troopers they are part of reinventing Michigan, in part by helping those communities hit hard by violent crime.

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Business
2:28 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Detroit may see major downtown improvements

Gilbert says major improvements coming for Detroit.
Quicken Loans

A story by Detroit Free Press Business writer, John Gallagher outlines a host of improvements and attractions coming to Detroit. Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert described the high points of his vision:

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Opinion
8:26 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Commentary: The week that was

Jack Lessenberry's essay "The Week That Was"

This was the week in  which Detroit got an emergency manager and the state got a right-to-work law.  That is to say, the law took effect this week. I’d say that makes for a pretty  newsworthy few days. Some things this week were entirely  predictable.  Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton showed up to protest the  Emergency Manager. Crowds of demonstrators appeared at Detroit’s city hall  crowds which swelled when TV cameras showed up.

The first major lawsuit  was filed against the emergency manager law, and the Detroit Tigers sent an  exciting new spring phenom, closer Bruce Rondon, down to the minor  leagues. That story is worth mentioning, by the way, because a  newspaper computer analysis shows that more people read it today than read any  of the stories about the state or city‘s drama.

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Stateside
4:35 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Controversy has followed Belle Isle since the beginning

Belle Isle
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

The issue of whether or not the State would take over Belle Isle was tossed back and forth between Detroit City Council and Lansing like a hot potato.

It finally ground to a halt when City Council tabled a decision on a state deal. Governor Snyder declared the deal dead once that happened.

The State took its offer off the table, saying there was not enough time to get Belle Isle ready for the summer season.

But this political squabbling over Belle Isle has a long history in Detroit and Michigan.

It’s not new.

It goes back to the very first days when Detroiters wanted a park.

That was in 1871, and fireworks were flaring then.

Amy Elliott Bragg is the author of “Hidden History of Detroit” and she blogs about Detroit history at nighttraintodetroit.com.

Amy broke down the history of the Belle Isle purchase - the controversy that was stirred up  over a 100 years ago - and what can we  learn in 2013 about what it took to make Belle Isle a city park.

Listen to the full interview above.

Education
4:16 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

For Detroit's schools, it's just one guy in charge now

This guy just got a lot more powerful.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Updated at 4:16 pm:

Roy Roberts has been waiting for this day for months. 

Michigan’s new emergency manager law takes effect today. And that means Roberts just got a lot more powerful.

He's the emergency manager for Detroit's public school system.

But for months, he’s been locked in a power struggle with the elected DPS school board.

That’s because nobody really knew how things were supposed to work, or who was running what, during the tumultuous period between the old EM law getting overturned, and the new EM law taking effect.

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Politics & Government
12:03 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Orr begins tenure as Detroit's emergency manager

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.
State of Michigan

DETROIT (AP) - Bankruptcy attorney and turnaround specialist Kevyn Orr has arrived at Detroit City Hall for his first day on the job as emergency manager.

Orr has said he expects to sit down with Mayor Dave Bing Monday and meet with some City Council members.

He was appointed earlier this month by Gov. Rick Snyder and takes over the finances of the largest city in the country to come under state oversight.

Orr also plans to look at the city's financial data to help develop his plan of action in tackling Detroit's fiscal crisis. The city has a $327 million budget deficit and more than $14 billion in debt.

Some, including a group led by prominent Detroit pastors, have said they will protest Orr's appointment and Michigan's emergency manager law.

Stateside
4:26 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Comparing Detroit's rescue to the auto bailouts

Kate Sumbler Flickr

It’s been a week since Governor Snyder announced Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency manager.

Orr, begins his new job on Monday.

Today, Business Columnist at the Detroit News Danel Howes wrote a column saying Detroit's situation is reminiscent of General Motors circa 2008.

He argues that what it really takes is an outsider - someone who isn’t inside of the financial problem - to fix things.

That’s what happened with the auto bankruptcy as well.

That creates a problem, particularly for Orr. There's a certain level of distrust among Detroiters who think Orr “isn’t one of us” - that he can’t really understand “our” problems.

What of the very strong cry that bringing in this unelected outside manager effectively strips Detroit citizens of their right to elect their leader?

Howes wrote in today’s column:

"Detroit's culture of denial, dysfunction and entitlement, as obvious in the city's slide as it was in the auto bankruptcies, is a primary reason change here eventually is imposed from the outside."

We’ve seen the auto companies come back from the fiscal edge.

And much like what happened with the auto industry, he argues that over time those associated with the past failures begin to be sidelined and new leadership begins to emerge.

This is the narrative that Howes believes we’ll see from Detroit in due time.

To hear our full interview with Howes, click the link above.

Politics & Culture
4:51 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Today on the show, the city of Flint recently hired seven new police officers, but some say that might not be enough to make a noticeable difference on the streets.

We explore public safety in the one of the nation's most violent cities.

And, new data show women in the U.S. prefer foreign-made cars to domestics. We find out why and talk about what it will take for the Detroit Three to win over those women.

And there are almost fourteen thousand children in Michigan who have been taken out of their own homes by the state because of an abuse or neglect allegation.

Those kids rely upon the state to keep them safe and put them in an environment where they have a chance to thrive.

Six years ago, the state was sued over treatment of kids in its care. The state was back in court today to see where things stand. Michigan Radio's Sarah Alvarez brought us a report.

Stateside
5:05 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

How much did an unkept promise cost Detroit?

Shawn Wilson wikimedia

We all know that last week Kevyn Orr was appointed as Detroit's emergency manager by Governor Rick Snyder.

But as the nation watches the city undergo major financial restructuring, there's an important story left out of the spotlight. 

According to a story by Pulitzer-prize winning reporter David Ashenfelter, the state of Michigan owes the city of Detroit nearly $700 million due to a deal between Mayor Archer and Governor Engler that was made in 1998.

Last year, we saw Krystal Crittendon, the now-fired head of the City's Law Department file an unsuccessful lawsuit to void the consent agreement between the City and Detroit.

Now, as Detroit begins to rebuild itself with Orr's help, we've got to wonder, would Detroit be in the same position if the state had kept up its end of the bargain?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Ashenfelter about the state's promise on Stateside.

To hear the full interview, click the link above. 

Law
2:27 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

Former Detroit city council member and ex-con Monica Conyers working at Detroit auto shop

DETROIT (AP) - Ex-convict and ex-Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers is working at an auto body shop while serving the remainder of her federal prison sentence for corruption.

The wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers has been working about 21/2 months for Metrotech Collision in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood.

Shop owner Sam Hussein tells The Detroit News that the 48-year-old "is doing a great job" and working about 30 hours a week.

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Stateside
5:26 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Is municipal bankruptcy Detroit's next step?

State of Michigan screen grab

We talked throughout today's Stateside about what an emergency manager might do when they first come to Detroit.

Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News, joined us as he does most weeks.

In his column today, he wrote about bankruptcy being Detroit's next step.

That's even after the appointment of an emergency manager.

Howes broke down for us how a municipal bankruptcy for a big city differs from a business or personal bankruptcy and what a bankruptcy would mean for the city of Detroit.

Kevin Orr, Detroit's new emergency manager, said today he hopes he doesn't have to use the 'cudgel' of bankruptcy. He instead hopes to get consent in a financial turnaround.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:26 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Fixing Detroit's financial issues: A current emergency manager gives his perspective

Lou Schimmel, Pontiac's emergency financial manager.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

What is an actual emergency manager's take on Detroit's financial troubles.

Lou Schimmel has been the appointed emergency manager for Pontiac since March of 2009.

We had Schimmel speak with us on Stateside to get his view of what needs to be done to fix the city's broken finances and his suggestions for fixing Detroit.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:25 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

An expert's take on Michigan's emergency manager laws

Detroit Mayor Bing
Kate Davidson Michigan Radio

Press conferences and news updates have given us minute-by-minute coverage of Kevyn Orr's appointment as Detroit emergency manager by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder today. 

Orr's repeated assurance that he will "look at the data" before moving forward may be part of his approach, but what does that mean?

Municipal finances and emergency manager laws are being used frequently by Orr, Snyder and Bing.

To outline and define these terms and their implications, Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Michigan State University professor of Economics Eric Scoresone.

Scoresone is an expert in the state's emergency manager laws as well as municipal finances within the state of Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today marks a historic decision.

Governor Rick Snyder announced the appointment of an emergency manager for the city of Detroit.

On today's show, we looked at the many things that will change in the city once it's under state control.

We also talked with the emergency manager of Pontiac to get his view of what needs to be done in the state's largest city.

We also spoke with Columnist Daniel Howes who says don't take bankruptcy out of the equation.

But first, we were joined  with Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark and Tracy Samilton to talk about this afternoon's announcement in Detroit. They told us a little bit more about what the Governor had to say.

Politics & Government
3:23 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Detroit is "the Olympics of restructuring" says city's new emergency manager

Protestors gathering outside of Cadillac Place in Detroit ahead of the emergency manager announcement.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

It's the largest state takeover of a city in U.S. history.

The city of Detroit will have a state-appointed emergency manager running things.

Kevyn Orr, a Washington D.C. lawyer and restructuring expert, will start his job on March 25th.

With $14.9 billion in long-term liabilities and a $327 million near term deficit, Orr will have his work cut out for him.

We updated this post as the news broke today.

Scroll down and read up for a look at how things unfolded.

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Politics & Government
11:11 am
Thu March 14, 2013

'It's not just Detroit,' hundreds of Michigan cities face huge unfunded liabilities

State capitol building, Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of Michigan cities are not saving enough to cover their future retiree health care costs.

A new report says more than 300 Michigan municipalities have in excess of $13 billion in unfunded liabilities for health care costs of retired public employees.

Michigan State University researchers found only half of the municipalities are prefunding retiree health care. The rest are setting aside no money despite longer lifespans and rapidly rising health costs.

While the collective bill of funding those benefits is $12.7 billion, the bulk of it, almost $11 billion, is attributable to local governments in a 10-county region of Southeast Michigan including Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. The city of Detroit alone will owe $5 billion in retiree health care costs.

But MSU professor Eric Scorsone says cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw also face difficult choices.

“That’s already happening today….these cities…are paying millions of dollars in retiree premiums so it’s already having an effect and it will have an even bigger effect in the future,” says Scorsone.

Scorsone says the new national health care law may help some.   But tax increases, budget cuts or broken promises to retirees are inevitable, unless the state takes action.

Politics & Government
8:44 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Commentary: Decision day for Detroit

Lessenberry commentary for 3/14/13

Yesterday, the Roman Catholic Church got a new Pope. Today, the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan begin a new era.

Later this afternoon, Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce that he has definitely decided to name an emergency manager for the city. His choice is reportedly a Washington-based bankruptcy attorney named Kevyn Orr.

There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about this. But a cloud of uncertainty hovers over just about everything else.

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Politics & Government
7:37 am
Thu March 14, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit EM announcement, human trafficking, Odawa same-sex marriage

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Governor Snyder expected to appoint an EM for Detroit today

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce his pick for Detroit's emergency manager today. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"Snyder is widely expected to name high-powered Washington, D.C., lawyer Kevyn Orr, 54, who worked in a number of federal government roles and had a hand in Chrysler’s bankruptcy turnaround."

Commission will study human trafficking

"A commission will spend six months studying the problem of human trafficking and child prostitution in Michigan. The task force will then deliver a set of recommendations on new laws and ways to connect victims of human trafficking with help. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette convened the task force," Rick Pluta reports.

Odawa tribe to allow same-sex marriage

"The chairman of a northern Michigan Indian tribe says he'll sign a same-sex marriage bill Friday, then preside at the wedding of two men. The legislative body of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians voted 5-4 on March 3 to amend the Harbor Springs-based tribe's laws to allow same-sex marriages," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
7:29 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Groups opposed to Detroit emergency financial manager appointment prepare for announcement

Governor Snyder will name an emergency financial manager for Detroit today and groups that oppose the move are gearing up.

Some Detroiters fiercely believe that an emergency manager would be an illegal action that deprives them of local control.

Tom Barrow is a former Detroit mayoral candidate with the group Citizens for Detroit’s Future.

He says some people have vowed what sounds like an insurrection.

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Politics & Government
9:10 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Michigan's governor may announce the appointment of a Detroit emergency financial manager Thursday

Spirit of Detroit (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder will announce his final determination Thursday on a review of Detroit's finances - a move that could include the appointment of an emergency manager for the city.

That announcement is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Detroit, an hour before a state board responsible for hiring emergency managers for distressed Michigan cities and public school districts is to hold a special meeting in Lansing.

Snyder has said an emergency manager selection for Detroit has to go before the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board.

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