Detroit

Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Striking Detroit sewer and water employees ordered back to work

A sewage main for the Detroit sewer and water system.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox has ordered a stop to a strike by workers in the Detroit water and sewer department.

But a union attorney says workers are not expected to be back on the job immediately. Attorney George Washington says a motion will be filed to dissolve the federal judge's motion.

Washington says, nobody will return to work until they have talked with their union leaders.

The Detroit Free Press reports that union lawyers are working to get Judge Cox off the case:

Lawyers for striking Detroit water and sewer workers want U.S. District Judge Sean Cox booted off their case, arguing he is acted as both a judge and a party to the dispute.

“This man is acting like an emergency financial manager on steroids,” said George Washington, one of the lawyers representing AFSCME 207, the union that represents more than 1,000 workers for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. “This is being managed as a dictatorship.”

The workers began the strike yesterday, to protest plans to eliminate most jobs through privatization or other steps.

The Detroit water and sewer department serves about 4 million people in southeastern Michigan.

Arts & Culture
11:40 am
Mon October 1, 2012

"Burn" opens to supportive crowd with many firefighters in Detroit

The Detroit Fire Department responds to a fire in 2010. Filmmakers embedded with the DFD for most of 2011.
Patricia Drury

The documentary "Burn" made its debut in Detroit over the weekend.

The film was shot by Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez.

The filmmakers say they were inspired to make a movie about Detroit firefighters from this great NPR story by Jackie Lydon from 2008:

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Business
2:53 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Stateside: Urban Rebound helps women business-owners

tv20detroit.com

Michigan is tenth in the nation for the number of women-owned businesses.

When it comes to revenue being pulled in by these businesses, Michigan ranks 49th out of the 50 states. 

Boosting the earning power of women is one of the leading goals of Count Me In.

The national group is helping women in southeast Michigan who own small businesses at an event called Urban Rebound.

Urban Rebound comes to Detroit on September 30 and October 1.

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Law
11:53 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Kilpatrick trial resumes; ex-lawmaker is witness

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - After a day off, the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has resumed with a former state senator in the witness chair.

Prosecutors on Thursday asked former Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow about approving state grants in 2000 when Kilpatrick was a member of the House.

The government alleges that Kilpatrick illegally funneled tax dollars to his pal, Bobby Ferguson. Kilpatrick, his father, Ferguson and the city's former water boss are charged with a racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.

The government's main claim is that Kilpatrick received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash through bribery, extortion and other methods when he was mayor, from 2002 to fall 2008. He resigned four years ago in another scandal and now lives in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Politics & Government
8:50 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Commentary: Detroit’s next mayor

Ten years or so ago, I went to talk to the powerful and flamboyant medical malpractice lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, probably best known for successfully defending Dr. Jack Kevorkian in a series of sensational, high-profile assisted suicide trials.

He said he was thinking about running for mayor of Detroit, and wanted my confidential advice. I told him I thought that was a brilliant idea, but that there were only three things wrong with it.

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9:33 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Mike Duggan files papers for Detroit Mayoral run

Lead in text: 
There's been talk, and now it's official. Mike Duggan has filed papers this morning indicating a run for the Detroit mayor's office. The seat is up for a vote in next year's election. Duggan is the CEO of the Detroit Medical Center. Update 10:17 a.m. - Mike Duggan released a statement this morning about forming an exploratory committee for a mayoral run. From the statement: "Exploratory Committee Chairman Conrad Mallett explained the formation of the committee was a legal necessity. Michigan law requires a committee be established in order to receive or spend money, even at the exploratory stage. 'Over the next 90 days, the Committee --Mike Duggan for Mayor Exploratory Committee-- will meet with citizens, block clubs, neighborhood organizations and community leaders to assess Mike's support in the city,' Mallett said. 'We'll also have a broad presence on the Web to give anyone and everyone a chance to weigh-in on what Mike and this team should do, including what problems, issues and solutions the average citizen wants addressed.'"
Detroit - Mike Duggan filed papers Wednesday morning to create an exploratory committee to run for mayor, taking the first official step to raise and spend money to build a campaign, his campaign confirmed. Duggan, the former one-term Wayne County prosecutor and current CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, filed papers to the City Clerk's office at 8 a.m.
Politics & Government
4:51 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit City Council still skeptical of state's Belle Isle plan

The James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle Park.
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

Members of the Detroit City Council are still deeply skeptical of a plan to turn Belle Isle into a state park.

That’s despite efforts by Mayor Dave Bing’s office and state officials to persuade them it's a good idea.

At a meeting today, Council members continued to express concern about a lack of specifics in the plan—including how much money the state plans to invest in improvements.

They also questioned why the state wants a long-term, 30-year lease.

Council member Saunteel Jenkins says there need to be more guarantees.

“If you’re saying to us ‘We want to trust us, give us 30 years and we’ll go out and get the money to make these improvements…’ I just want to see it in writing,” said Jenkins.

State officials said it's tough to be specific about those improvements because there’s no master plan for the island.

But they indicated the state could issue $20 million in bonds to upgrade Belle Isle.

Education
1:39 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit schools find new way to buy school supplies

Detroit Public Schools' officials have found a new way to buy school supplies.
MyTudut flickr

The Detroit Public School district has turned to an online site used mostly by federal contractors to get its school supplies.

Officials credit “FedBid” with helping the district save hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few months.

Bidders announce their intent to buy a product. Suppliers then compete to offer the best price.

District spokesman Steve Wasko said it has helped fix some problems with getting supplies to classrooms.

“This has been, not only from a supply standpoint but from all standpoints, a very smooth start to the school year—at least by way of comparison with previous years,” said Wasko.

Wasko said it's also a good way to save money without compromising the quality of education.

The district’s current budget calls for cutting five million dollars from its procurement budget.

District officials estimate using FedBid alone could save up to three million.

Detroit
10:42 am
Mon September 24, 2012

"World's largest property auction," Wayne County finishes first round

Dilapidated homes in Delray near Detroit.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Wayne County has finished the first round of what’s been called the "world's largest property auction."

The county is trying to get rid of more than 22,000 tax-foreclosed properties by auction. More than 20,000 of them are in Detroit.

But despite the glut of vacant properties, housing prices are headed up in certain areas of the city. Bob Dorsey is chief analytics-officer with F.N.C., which tracks housing prices nationwide every month.

"We've noticed that there are certain neighborhoods that have done extremely well, and others that have are still very flat or even declining," said Dorsey.

Dorsey said many investors see money in an expanding rental market in Detroit, and nationwide. Leaders in Detroit’s downtown and midtown areas say housing demand now out-paces supply there.

2:41 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

After eight years in the making, and unmaking, Gateway project opens

Lead in text: 
Construction on the Gateway Project started in 2004. The $258 million construction project was supposed to be finished years ago, but a partnership between the Ambassador Bridge owners and the Michigan Department of Transportation broke down. A court determined the owners were not holding up their end of the bargain, and pulled them off the project. Today, another milestone passes in the saga as the Gateway Project opens.
With the periodic honk of semi horns echoing past, onlookers on a service drive today celebrated the opening of freeway ramps from I-75 as part of the long-delayed Gateway Project.
Detroit Film Festival
8:08 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Stateside: Film festival shines spotlight on Detroit

MODCaR Facebook

People are making a lot of movies about Detroit these days. More than 60 of those films will be screened this weekend at an outdoor film festival in Detroit's Perrien Park.

Organizers hope to spark conversation about how Detroit is seen by Michiganders, and the rest of the world. 

25 hours, 15 minutes and 45 seconds of film, documentaries and music videos - all about Detroit.

“It’s kind of wild how many [films] have been made in the last 3 or 4 years...I wasn’t aware it was on this scale,” said filmmaker Nicole Macdonald.

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Law
11:50 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Lawyers upset over news story in Kilpatrick case

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

DETROIT (AP) - Defense lawyers in the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick are objecting to news coverage and asking a judge to move the case out of town.

The attorneys cited a story Monday in the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper said a juror in a recent trial involving Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson didn't disclose certain information about herself.

Ferguson's lawyer, Gerald Evelyn, said Tuesday that the story was an "outrage" and would intimidate jurors in the Kilpatrick case. Jury selection is expected to end this week.

Judge Nancy Edmunds says the story was distressing, but she isn't stopping jury selection. Free Press attorney Herschel Fink says the remarks by defense lawyers are "self-serving."

Kilpatrick is on trial with Ferguson, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, and former water boss Victor Mercado.

Culture
10:29 am
Fri September 14, 2012

PHOTOS: Muslims in metro Detroit hold vigil in response to attacks in Libya

Muslims hold a vigil in Royal Oak in response to attacks in Libya.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Zanah Ghalawanji 22, gave a speech of condolence to the families of those killed in an attack on the U-S Consulate in Libya Tuesday.

Metro Detroit Muslims held a vigil last night in downtown Royal Oak, in memory of those killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya Tuesday.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with four Americans and many civilians were killed in Benghazi.

Zanah Ghalawanji is a Syrian American.

"The Muslim community absolutely does not support anything that occurred in Libya. Violence is against our religion. Our religion is all about peace," said Ghalawanji.

Candles burned as Ghalawanji gave words of condolence to the Stevens family.

"We are deeply thankful for the courage and selfless dedication that so many of the U.S. diplomatic corps have shown in Libya, Syria and throughout the region during this turbulent period," said Ghalawanji.

The violence was sparked by a video that makes fun of Islam, and the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

David Sawulski didn't participate in the vigil. But he had a front-row sit at a nearby cafe.

"I think it is great. They're supporting the American ambassador and the U.S. by standing here and giving support for some body who has killed who was assisting those people. The ambassador was obviously loved by the Libya people," he said.

The controversial video has sparked violence in several countries.

morning news roundup
7:41 am
Fri September 14, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Snyder promotes vocational training

"Governor Rick Snyder says Michigan and the rest of the country lost sight of the value of vocational training as young people were encouraged to get four-year college degrees. The governor spoke Thursday at a business conference in Grand Rapids.  He says too many students have been pushed toward getting four-year college degrees when vocational education or community college might have made more sense. The governor says the result is thousands of jobs in skilled trades go unfilled while people are looking for work. Snyder says he intends to convene a summit of educators and employers early next year to get a better sense of where the demand for jobs is strongest – and use that information to help re-design Michigan’s education system. The governor has also called for stronger integration of pre-school through post-high school education," Rick Pluta reports.

Report finds 17 percent of Metro Detroit youth are not working or in school

"A new report says Metro Detroit has one of the country’s highest rates of youth who are not working or in school. The group Measure of America looked at 16- to 24-year-olds in the nation’s 25 biggest metro areas. It found Metro Detroit had the third-highest rate of so-called “disconnected” youth, at about 17-percent. Only Phoenix and Miami had higher rates. The report recommends universal preschool education, and re-building vocational education programs, as effective ways to fight the disconnection problem," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Public defense overhaul stalled

"The state Attorney General has stalled a plan to overhaul Michigan’s public defense system. The state is consistently ranked as one of the worst in the country for providing defense attorneys to those who can’t afford one. But Bill Schuette’s legislative relations director Alan Cropsey came to the hearing with a long list of concerns about the bill. He says it would open the state to lawsuits, and doesn’t provide enough oversight. Supporters of the bill hope to have another hearing this month," Jake Neher reports.

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Arts & Culture
3:18 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Stateside: Cyclists take over streets of Detroit for 11th Annual Tour de Troit

Cyclists will descend on Detroit for the 11th Annual Tour de Troit on Saturday.
Brian Stoeckel

"Cyclists, meet the City of Detroit."

That's basically the goal of Tour de Troit, an event happening this Saturday. That's when thousands of cyclists will take over the streets of Detroit and discover the pleasures of big-city biking during a thirty-mile ride.

Bill Lusa is the director of Tour de Troit.

Cyndy talked to Lusa about what's happening this Saturday?

This year the streets are completely closed to automobile traffic throughout the route, giving participants the opportunity to ride streets freely with other bicyclists Lusa said.

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Music
2:13 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Stateside: Sir Paul McCartney restores historic, Motown piano

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. After a recent visit, Sir Paul McCartney "adopted" one of Hitsville's historic pianos and had it restored by Steinway.
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

It's called "Hitsville USA": the little house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit that Berry Gordy, Jr. bought as a home for the fledgling record company that grew up to become the legendary Motown.

These days, Hitsville is a museum dedicated to sharing the Motown experience with fans that come from around the world.

One such fan was in Detroit on a Sunday in July 2011. And before he performed for 37, 854 fans at Comerica Park, Sir Paul McCartney had one request: to visit Hitsville.

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Politics & Government
9:49 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Commentary: Restoring Belle Isle

There was some good news yesterday for those who care about this state. Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a deal to turn Belle Isle, the city’s neglected jewel of an island park, over to state management for the next thirty years.

Under the agreement, the state would pour millions into Belle Isle, fixing up facilities that have become shabby. They would restore shelters and restrooms; shore up buildings that are starting to crumble, and make the park safe and family-friendly. 

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Offbeat
2:26 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Belle Isle to be overtaken by Photoshopped people?

A glimpse of the disturbing Belle Isle to come - from today's press materials about the proposed Belle Isle agreement.
State of Michigan/City of Detroit

Many Detroiters have long been suspicious of outsiders coming in to control their city, but once they lay their eyes on what Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder have in store for the city's crown jewel, Belle Isle Park, they finally have real reasons to be afraid.

Belle Isle, it appears, will soon be overtaken by Photoshopped people from Pleasantville.

Only Detroiters won't have the pleasure of romping around their Utopia with Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. They'll have to share the park with out-of-proportion picnickers, a cardboard blue heron, and a dancing DNR park ranger.

Politics & Government
1:40 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Details of the proposed Belle Isle agreement

The James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle Park.
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder announced a plan to manage and restore Belle Isle. The plan will go before Detroit City Council for approval.

It calls for park operations, maintenance, and improvements to be managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources under a 30-year lease agreement. MDOT would maintain roads and bridges on Belle Isle.

The city of Detroit would maintain ownership of the park.

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Politics & Government
7:22 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Announcement coming this morning on the future of Belle Isle

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing have called a news conference on the future of Belle Isle park, a tattered green gem that has been subject of a city-state power struggle.

Mayoral spokeswoman Naomi Patton says Bing and Snyder will announce a park leasing agreement at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Bing's downtown office.

Proposals for a Michigan takeover of the under-maintained 985-acre park have met fierce opposition from some local officials who call it a state power grab.

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