Detroit

Business
5:35 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Stateside: Recovery Park, big plans for redevelopment in Detroit

Recovery Park is a project hoping to revitalize the city of Detroit and get people working. 

Gary Wozniak is the President and CEO.  

He has big plans for Recovery Park involving everything from growing Tilapia, to processing foods, and establishing a 30-acre farm scattered throughout the city.

“So the models that we’re looking at are a combination of the community gardening that’s happening in Detroit, the indoor agriculture that’s being promoted by Michigan State University and then a lot of the larger indoor models in Europe, predominately in the Netherlands,” Wozniak says.

A new urban agriculture ordinance will certainly play a big in making this redevelopment project a reality.

The idea started with Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation or (SHAR), a Detroit based substance abuse treatment program. 

SHAR’s mission is to transform individuals with addiction and those recovering a chance at a new life.

Wozniak has a very personal mission as well.


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Environment & Science
5:32 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Stateside: Fish farming in Detroit

Noah Link is the co-owner of Food Field. It's a small farm in Detroit's Boston-Edison neighborhood. Link calls the converted shipping container his "post-industrial" farm house.
Mercedes Mejia

The Detroit Planning Commission recently approved a new Urban Agriculture Ordinance. The action takes the city a step closer to officially recognizing the dozens of urban farms and gardens scattered across the city.

The ordinance also defines the kinds of projects that would be allowed, such as farm stands, orchards or greenhouses. Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia reports some residents are experimenting with aquaponic systems. It’s a method of growing crops and fish at the same time.

Noah Link: Over here is our chicken coop. We have about 42 chickens and 4 ducks so far. You can hear the ducks – they’ve awfully loud and hungry probably.

Noah Link is the co-owner of Food Field. He lives and works in the Boston-Edison neighborhood in Detroit. I met up with him on his farm called Food Field. It’s on the site of a former elementary school - imagine a small farm tucked away in the city.

 "So if you go a few blocks one way there are huge historical mansions, and you go a few blocks the other way and it’s all run down old shops, and total poverty, and we’re right in between," he says.

Link and his business partner worked on several farms across the country. They knew it wouldn’t be easy to own a farm, but they’re doing the hard work. On the land are different kinds of crops, chickens, a few beehives, and a young orchard of fruit and nuts trees. There’s also a hoop house to grow vegetables year-round.

"And we’ve just built an aquaponic system to be able to raise fish in there, which I’ll show you."

An aquaponic system is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture - growing plants in water and fish farming.

"And it takes the best of both of those in a self-sustaining system so then rather than having to worry about toxic fish waste to get rid of or keeping it sterile hydroponic environment for your plants, the plants grow out of the waste water from the fish that just get circulated with the pump and they clean out the water to keep it safe for all the fish in the tank," Link says.

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Politics & Government
9:28 am
Thu December 20, 2012

Commentary: Good news for Detroit

Lessenberry commentary for 12/20/12

Whether or not you are from the Detroit area, you may well have wondered about the ongoing issue of the street lights.

There’s been constant discussion about the fact that at least half the lights never come on. This is not a great selling point for a city with a major crime problem.

So, why doesn’t Detroit just replace the lights? How expensive can new bulbs be? Well, it turns out that isn’t the real problem.

A few weeks ago, I talked to Glenda Price, a member of the city’s financial advisory board. She had just had a tour of the lighting department. She told me “the wonder is that any of the lights come on at all.” Some of the equipment is a century old.

Not only is it worn out, there is no way to get spare parts. So technicians jury-rig things, and cannibalize some machinery to keep other parts going.

But there’s only so much they can do. There’s hope now, however. Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder came to Detroit to sign legislation allowing the city to appoint an authority that will be able to issue bonds, raise money, and fix the lighting system.

That was one of the less controversial results of the legislature’s now-famous lame duck session. Additionally, the governor signed a law making it easier for the Downtown Development Authority to help Mike Ilitch build the new hockey arena and entertainment complex he wants in the city.

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Politics & Government
6:48 am
Thu December 20, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Gov. Snyder signs three bills for Detroit

"Governor Snyder was in Detroit yesterday to sign several bills he says will boost Detroit’s long-term fortunes. One bill establishes a Regional Transit Authority to fund and operate mass transit in southeast Michigan. Snyder also signed bills establishing an authority to run Detroit’s troubled public lighting system, and a downtown development district to subsidize a proposed new hockey arena for the Red Wings," Sarah Cwiek reports.

"End of the world" rumors close Genesee and Lapeer schools

"Schools are closed in Genesee and Lapeer counties today and tomorrow as a precaution and to calm people down. Police say they have determined that social media rumors about an armed ‘student revolt’ in conjunction with and "end of the world" Mayan prophecy were unfounded," Steve Carmody reports.

First snowstorm of the season sweeping the Midwest and northern Michigan

"Snow is falling in parts of northern Michigan as part of the Midwest's first major snowstorm of the season that's sweeping across several states. For parts of Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula, the weather service forecasts that 8 to 14 inches of snow will fall Thursday and into Friday. For parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the weather service says that 8 to 13 inches of snow could fall by Friday afternoon. In West Michigan, several inches of snow could fall. Rain and snow are expected in southeast Michigan," the AP reports.

Offbeat
5:34 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Stateside: Two firefighters' impressions of "BURN"

Chris Palm and Tony Angelucey shared their experiences of fighting fires
detroitfirefilm.org

Firefighter Chris Palm and Sergeant Tony Angelucey spoke with Cyndy about "BURN" and their accounts of putting out fires.

It’s possible to leave “BURN” feeling as if you’ve just combated the inferno of multiple house fires.

The documentary- which utilizes actual footage of Detroit firefighters- is strikingly realistic, unlike previous films of its kind.

Firefighter Chris Palm and Sergeant Tony Angelucey shared their accounts of entering burning buildings.

Though an experienced firefighter, Angelucey was pleased with the shift of perspective the film afforded him.

“It was shocking to see what we do. We’re always doing it, so we don’t usually get to sit back and watch it unravel,” he said.

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Transportation
4:04 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Stateside: Mass transit a possible option for the state

A light rail system proposed in Detroit.
screen grab from YouTube video

Adie Tomer spoke with Stateside about the possibility of mass transit in Michigan.

Michigan’s  Regional Transit Authority will attempt to redesign travel throughout the state.

Adie Tomer, a Senior Research Associate at the Brookings Institution, says implementing a mass transit system in Detroit is entirely possible. Tomer says the state has put spending highway infrastructure ahead of spending on mass transit.

"One of the consequences of building out so many highways… is an underinvestment relative to those highway miles for public transit. In many ways, this left Detroit as one of the few cities without a major mass transit system," said Tomer.

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Investigative
3:56 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Stateside: Med team brings "street medicine" to Detroit's homeless

Street Medicine is a mobile medical clinic that services Detroit
streetmedicine.org

Several Wayne State University students started Street Medicine Detroit in May.

They’d heard about a similar program in Pittsburg and they were inspired. They partnered with a Detroit non-profit called Neighborhood Service Organization and together they created a mobile medical clinic.

Philip Ramsey is a community outreach specialist with NSO. (Rumor has it that if you’re trying to locate a specific homeless person, and you give Ramsey the vaguest of details, he can go out and find that person who might be living in a tent next to highway.)

It’s Ramsey’s job to drive the med team around the streets and back-alleys of Detroit and to help them locate homeless people who are in need of medical services.

So once a week, the van rumbles down Michigan Avenue past prostitutes on the corners and a young man pushing a baby stroller.  Ramsey helps the team find people who are lying down on the ground or sitting on the curb. He says additional clues that someone may be homeless are people with dirty clothes and uncombed hair, or people who are openly drinking.

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Economy
4:11 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Stateside: Stories shared between two recovering cities

New Orleans
sassycrafter Flickr

New Orleans and Detroit share a common story of recovery.

After Hurricane Katrina's devastation, New Orleans resembled Detroit post-economic crisis.

Writer Micki Maynard spoke with Cyndy about similarities she has seen between the two cities.

“Many people think that what happened in Detroit is the equivalent of an economic storm,” said Maynard.

Maynard has witnessed an influx of people moving from other cities to both New Orleans and Detroit, bringing with them fresh ideas of growth and innovation.

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Economy
3:54 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

New York investment firm offers to buy Compuware for $2.3 billion

Compuware moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2002.
Urban Adventures flickr

A New York-based hedge fund said Monday that it wants to buy Compuware, Michigan’s largest technology company.

Elliott Management Corp. has offered to buy the company for $2.3 billion at $11-a-share. Elliott currently owns 8 percent of the Detroit-based software company.

The Detroit Free Press has more:

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Investigative
2:40 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Stateside: Investigating Detroit's homeless population

Money awarded to help homeless veterans.
user anonymonous Flickr

Airing this week will be a series of stories Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris compiled on Detroit’s homeless population.

To introduce the series,  Norris spoke with Meghan Takashima of the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

They spoke about some of the misconceptions people have about those without a home.

Norris began by noting her inspiration for the stories.

“Something is drawing me to these stories…when I’m with homeless people I have to be real, I have to be a human first and a reporter second,” said Norris.

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Politics & Government
7:06 am
Mon December 17, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Snyder says Connecticut shooting will play role in Michigan gun legislation

"Governor Rick Snyder must decide whether to approve or veto legislation that would allow concealed pistols in churches, day care centers, and public schools. The governor says the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings will play a role in his thinking. The legislation would allow enhanced concealed pistol privileges for licenseholders who get additional training and range practice," Rick Pluta reports.

Police force down in Michigan

The number of police officers in Michigan is down 16 percent since 2001. As the Detroit News reports,

"Michigan has lost roughly 1 in 5 law enforcement officers since 2001, as a lingering recession led cash-strapped cities and townships to lay off police, trim services and, in some cases, turn over patrols to county sheriffs. The state's law enforcement ranks dropped to 18,834 as of Oct. 31 from 22,488 in 2001, says the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards."

No plan for Detroit's cash crunch

"Lansing is fast-tracking a review of Detroit’s finances, but there’s still no clear short-term plan to address the city's cash crunch. The review process is taking place under a weaker state law than one Governor Snyder is likely to sign soon. That means there are fewer options for dealing with the city’s immediate fiscal crisis. A preliminary state report issued last week found that Detroit 'continues to experience significant cash flow problems.' But the report also notes that 'city projections change from month to month,' and it’s not clear when Detroit would actually run short of cash," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Politics & Government
8:05 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Review finds "A serious financial problem" exists in Detroit

State Treasurer Andy Dillon has informed Governor Rick Snyder that a preliminary review has found "a serious financial problem" exists in Detroit.

It's one of the steps toward placing the city under the control of a state-appointed emergency financial manager. The review found the city does not have a plan to address a deficit that could be as high as 122 million dollars in this fiscal year.

The next step is for a second formal review that will probably take place next week.

Music
6:17 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Songs From Studio East: A classical revolution

Rick Robinson with CutTime and Classical Revolution Detroit.

Listen to the full interview above.

Rick Robinson is a bassist, arranger, composer and artistic director of Cut Time. John McLaughlin Williams is a violinist and Grammy award winning conductor.

Both musicians are part of Classical Revolution Detroit. Their mission is to take classical music to the people, whether in bars, clubs, or cafes, to demystify classical. The group will celebrate its second anniversary at The Majestic in Detroit Sunday December 16, from 7 to 10 pm. Go here for more information.

Here's a video of Rick and John performing a Beethoven Duo, in Studio East. Check back for more videos of the performance soon.

Politics & Government
4:44 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Snyder, Treasurer: Review should spur Detroit to move quickly to fix finances

Bernt Rostad flickr

Governor Rick Snyder says the Detroit mayor and city council are operating under some tight deadlines if they want to avoid a state takeover.

A formal state Treasury review of the city’s finances is underway.

Governor Snyder’s been critical of the slow pace and infighting that have delayed Detroit’s compliance with a consent agreement with the state.

Mayor Dave Bing and the city council took some actions this week, but the governor said things need to move more quickly.

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Politics & Government
7:31 am
Wed December 12, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Right to work bills signed

"Michigan has officially joined 23 other so-called "right-to-work" states. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bills in the last half-hour. The legislation will end the practice of requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. It's an extremely divisive idea in Michigan - which has long been a union stronghold. Critics call it 'right to work for less.' But the governor says he disagrees. The bill is expected to take effect in March. But opponents say legal action to pre-empt the law is likely," Sarah Hulett reports.

Other controversial bills are being looked at in Lansing

"The right to work legislation is getting all the attention right now. But with time still left in the lame duck session, Michiganders could wind up with a whole slew of controversial new laws next year. But here's what else is going on: there's the overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Michigan's largest insurer. Then there's a package of abortion bills that would make it dramatically tougher for a woman to get and pay for an abortion. And there's a bill that lets doctors and employers opt out of providing any medical care that doesn't fit with their moral or religious beliefs, like birth control or abortions. Plus, there's a bill pending that would let people buy handguns without needing a state-issued license," Kate Wells reports.

Detroit City council approves measures to help the city's finances

The Detroit City Council has narrowly approved a series of measures that should stave off an immediate cash crisis. As the Detroit News reports,

Council members approved five of six items requested by the Bing administration to accommodate the city's financial restructuring, including a controversial contract with the Miller Canfield law firm. The council sent one item, a proposed pay cut for nonunion employees, to a committee for further study.

State officials said Tuesday they are prepared to release $10 million in bond money pending a formal request from Mayor Dave Bing. Another $20 million likely will be released later this month, they said.

Politics & Government
5:23 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Detroit City Council approves contracts, hoping to avoid emergency financial manager

InspiredDesMoines flickr

By passing five key reform measures Tuesday, the Detroit City Council took an important step away from the appointment of an emergency financial manager.

But, as Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reports, the risk remains.

From the Freep:

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Politics & Government
8:55 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Commentary: Don't forget Detroit

Lessenberry commentary 12/11/12

Chances are you’ve been hearing about only one state government story today: The protests and the politicians battling in Lansing over right to work legislation. That’s a battle, however, whose outcome was decided in one dramatic day last week.

What happens next is something we’ll be working through for years. What’s almost as amazing is that the furor over right to work has been so huge it has all but blotted out another huge, huge story.

Which is, that by the end of January, it is all but certain that the State of Michigan will have effectively taken over the city of Detroit.

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Politics & Government
6:42 am
Tue December 11, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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Right to work legislation expected to be sent to Snyder

"The state House is expected to send legislation to Governor Rick Snyder today that would make Michigan the 24th so-called “right-to-work” state. Democrats are preparing a last-ditch effort to try and stall progress on the bills. Meanwhile, police officers from across the state are in Lansing preparing for protests as lawmakers get ready to vote on so-called “right-to-work” bills," the Michigan Public Radio Network reports.

President Obama talks fiscal cliff and right to work in Michigan

"President Obama talked about the controversy in Lansing, Michigan as well as the one in Washington, D.C. during his visit to a Redford Township engine plant yesterday. He told a crowd of hundreds of union workers that the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff are huge, both for the economy and the middle class. President Obama says he will insist that Americans making more than $250-thousand a year pay more taxes. He also rebuked state Republicans for pushing so-called "right to work" bills that would let people opt out of paying union dues.  He says such laws bring down middle class wages," Tracy Samilton reports.

State Treasurer initiates review of Detroit's finances

"Detroit’s march toward a state-appointed emergency financial manager appeared to speed up yesterday. The city’s financial advisory board voted to support the state treasurer’s move to start the process. It can last up to 30 days. Officials told the advisory board Detroit is burning through cash at an alarming speed. They project that without help, the city will end the fiscal year more than 100-million dollars in the hole," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Economy
3:56 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Stateside: Andrew Herscher's "Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit"

Herscher's new book "The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit," is out on digitalculturebooks
press.umich.edu

In “The Unreal Estate Guide to Detroit,” Andrew Herscher re-imagines unused city spaces as areas of possibility.

The city’s surfeit of abandoned buildings is, for some, an image of blight.

But according to Herscher, a variety of individuals are using Detroit as a site of experimental craft and commerce.

"Unreal Estate" is the term Herscher gives to urban space that has lost economic value to the point where it can support other types of development.

When land is used by homes it becomes real-estate; but when these properties fail, the buildings they occupy become available to be appropriated in other ways.

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Economy
3:52 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Stateside: From 'Mythbusters' to 'TechShop,' a place to innovate in Detroit

TechShop member Tim Sefton works on a design for a sterling engine
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

If you want to get fit but don’t have equipment, you get a gym membership.

But what if you want to create something but don’t have a workshop or the tools to make it happen?

Well, there’s a place in Detroit called TechShop, and it functions a lot like a gym for carpenters, welders, designers, engineers and the like.

TechShop is a new facility that recently opened up in Allen Park near Detroit.

Members pay about $100  a month to access hundreds of thousands of dollars in tools and equipment. They can also take any of the 100 or so classes offered every month to teach members how to use the tools.

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