Detroit

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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4:13 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Water board in Detroit moves forward with company recommending cuts

Lead in text: 
In the last month, the consulting firm EMA Inc. recommended that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department cut 81 percent of its workforce to save money and streamline operations. The Detroit Free Press reports the water board voted today to move forward with its contract with the company.
The Detroit Board of Water Commissioners pressed ahead today with a controversial restructuring plan, approving a $48-million contract with a consultant who recommends eliminating 81% of department employees. The board unanimously approved the four-year, no-bid contract with EMA Inc. of Minneapolis, despite protests from unions and environmental groups.
Law
9:32 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Jury selection today for Kilpatrick trial, juror biases to be vetted

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Michigan Radio

Today at 9 a.m., jury selection officially began for the federal government's case against Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Bobby W. Ferguson, Bernard N. Kilpatrick, and Victor M. Mercado.

The four defendants are charged with public corruption for rigging water contracts and extorting city contractors through the mayor's office for personal gain.

The trial is expected to last 18 weeks.

The court describe's today's proceedings:

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Arts & Culture
5:00 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Documentary wraps featuring Detroit plane crash survivor

screen shot WDIV

Filming has wrapped on a documentary featuring the only survivor of the 1987 plane crash near Detroit.

Twenty-five years after Northwest Flight 255 killed some 150 passengers, Cecelia Cichan is telling her story publicly for the first time.

She was just four years old when she survived the crash that killed her parents and brother. Now she and 13 other lone survivors of commercial crashes are the focus of the film entitled "Sole Survivor."

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Politics & Government
3:17 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Mayor Bing laments $75 million in Detroit police cuts

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Kate Davidson Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is lamenting cutting police officers' pay by 10 percent to help shore up the city's finances.

The Detroit Free Press reported on his remarks today, a day after a judge ruled the city could make the cuts and implement 12-hour work shifts:

“This 10% cut that’s been imposed … does not make me feel good at all,” Bing said. “I know the negative impact that it has on individuals and their families, and I wish that we at a better situation where I didn’t have to do it. But in order to bring our city back to financial stability, there’s pain that’s going around for all of us.”

Bing said he hopes the pay cuts and longer shifts are only temporary while the city works to get out from under a mountain of debt.

City leaders slashed $75 million from the police department’s 2012-13 budget.

The cuts were challenged by the Detroit Police Officers Association

But yesterday, Wayne County Circuit Judge Kathleen MacDonald lifted an injunction allowing the cuts to go forward.

Detroit's Police Chief praised officers for staying on despite the cuts, but Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "one detective-sergeant says figuring a way out of the department is a daily topic of conversation among officers."

4:23 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Couple living the high life with money from Detroit pension fund?

Lead in text: 
Faberge eggs, Rodin sculptures, and a mountainside resort in Costa Rica. These are just some of the treasures being sought by Detroit pension fund lawyers. They're accusing George and Teresa Kastanes of bilking $5 million from a January 2008 pension fund investment deal. The Detroit News reports no criminal charges have been filed.
Detroit - A South Carolina couple accused of stealing $5 million from a Detroit pension fund lived lavishly, shopped for a $1.5 million Caribbean vacation home and splurged on jeweled Russian eggs and statues created by famed French sculptor Auguste Rodin, according to federal court records.
Offbeat
10:37 am
Fri August 24, 2012

With no trace of bedbugs, Detroit court back in session

The much pilloried bedbug.
Piotr Naskrecki CDC/Harvard University

Yesterday, 36th District Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller cleared her courtroom after bedbugs were reportedly seen on a man sitting in the courtroom.

Today, the Associated Press reports the court is back in session:

Court officials say a pest control company was called in to investigate and found no evidence of the presence of bedbugs. A release called it a "false alarm."

The man was accompanying a witness to a hearing before Miller. His daughter later said she knew there were bedbugs in her father's house.

Miller said Thursday the evacuation was "for everybody's well-being." Her staff was sent home after Miller was unable to move her cases to another courtroom.

Health
4:43 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Bedbug sighting prompts Detroit judge to clear courtroom

Michigan.gov

A Detroit judge ordered everyone out of her courtroom this afternoon after a bailiff observed bedbugs crawling on a man in the first row of seats.

The Detroit News reports that 36th District Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller emptied the room so that a pest-c0ntrol company could come spray it down.

The man was in the courtroom accompanying a witness. His daughter later said she knew there were bedbugs in her father's house.

Miller told the News:

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Politics & Government
10:01 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Detroit Mayor to declare "No Violence Day in Detroit"

Bob Jagendorf Flickr

DETROIT (AP) — The 22nd of each month will become a "No Violence Day in Detroit" following a proclamation by Mayor Dave Bing.

Bing is expected to issue the proclamation Wednesday evening to the United Communities of America at Fellowship Chapel on the city's northwest side.

Concerns about violent crime in Detroit are rising.

Through Aug. 12, the number of homicides is one fewer than the 221 committed over the same period last year. Assault, larceny, rape and car theft reports are up.

The state police and Wayne County sheriff's office are assisting Detroit police on patrols in some city neighborhoods.

The United Communities of America helped organize a January "Thou Shall Not Kill" motorcade led by hearses through crime-ridden neighborhoods to call an end to killings in the city.

Transportation
3:59 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

New hope for federal funding for proposed light rail line in Detroit

Artist's conception of proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line
M-1 Rail Detroit

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with Michigan officials today to discuss the development of a regional transit authority to oversee a light rail line in Detroit.

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Law
5:01 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Bing hopes judge will lift injunction on 12-hour police shifts

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor's Office City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says a judge’s order blocking 12-hour shifts for police officers will make it harder to balance the budget and keep the city safe.

"Absolutely. No doubt about it," he said. "I think some of the initiatives that we were putting forward was for two different reasons – once again, to make sure we stay within our budget, but also to keep as many police officers on the street as we possibly could and keeping them in the neighborhoods. So this doesn’t help."

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Politics & Government
4:59 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Bing frustrated with delay as Lansing waits on light authority

Plan Phases from The City of Detroit Public Lighting Strategy Executive Summary
detroitmi.gov City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the pace of the city’s recovery is being slowed by delays in Lansing. The mayor says the Legislature is taking too long to create an independent authority to help Detroit and other cities keep their street lights on.

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11:23 am
Tue August 14, 2012

Kilpatrick must keep lawyer, judge rules today

Lead in text: 
The much anticipated public corruption trial against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, former Detroit Sewer and Water chief Victor Mercado, and contractor Bobby Ferguson is expected to start next month. Jury selection is underway, and today a judge refused to provide Kilpatrick with a new lawyer, someone Kilpatrick says he loves, but does not trust.
Detroit- Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could learn Tuesday whether he needs to replace his taxpayer-funded legal team, a move that likely would delay his upcoming City Hall corruption trial. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds scheduled a 9:30 a.m. hearing to probe a conflict of interest involving his lawyer James C. Thomas.
Politics & Government
1:48 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Bing's plan to light up Detroit

A still of a broken light from WXYZ's video
WXYZ 7 Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a plan today that may help illuminate some of the city's darkest streets and freeways.

The plan aims to fix 3,300 reported burned out lights, broken light posts, or light outages in six months after the creation of a public lighting authority.

But in order to establish the new authority, the state Legislature must approve a bill allowing communities to establish lighting authorities.

Bing says the plan also needs the passage of a utility users' tax and suspension of an income tax rollback.

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News roundup
7:45 am
Fri August 3, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

News roundup for Friday, August 3rd, 2012
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Boost for Detroit neighborhoods, schools

Governor Snyder was in Detroit yesterday to kick off an intensive neighborhood stabilization effort. It will focus on 3 neighborhoods, anchored by 9 Detroit schools.  Sarah Cwiek reports:

The effort kicked off outside Clark Preparatory Academy in Detroit’s Morningside neighborhood, on the city’s east side. Morningside is one of three communities that will get state help to demolish the abandoned homes dotting the neighborhood, and clean up the area. Lansing also plans to send in some state police patrols, and will put social workers in the neighborhood schools.

Governor Snyder says Detroit must strengthen its neighborhoods if the city is to truly come back.

“That’s the goal. We’re doing this because we believe it will work, and we want to get good experience and do continuous improvement, and then continue to ramp up the program.”

The state is putting $10 million into the effort so far, and Snyder says more could become available. City officials say the state helps supplement existing blight eradication programs.

 Republican Senate candidates hold primary season debate

Three Republicans running for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination appeared together yesterday in their only televised debate of this primary season. Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, charter school executive Clark Durant, and former judge Randy Hekman are running. Rick Pluta reports:

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Commentary
10:43 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Commentary: The need for newspapers

The conventional wisdom is that newspapers -- dead tree news -- are on their way out. In some places, like Ann Arbor, there is no longer a daily newspaper at all. The publishers of the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press deliver papers only a few days a week.

However, here’s a surprising development. Newspapers across the country gained readers over the most recently audited six month period. Not by leaps and bounds, but still, on average, gained.

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Commentary
10:30 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Detroit riots: Forty-five years later

This week marks an important anniversary that is being virtually ignored. We paid attention five years ago, and will again five years from now. We prefer round numbers.

But given what’s happening today, it makes sense to note that it’s been exactly 45 years since the legendary riot that devastated Detroit for four days during another hot summer.

The causes of the riot have been endlessly debated. Who was most responsible is still in dispute. But the effects are plain. It wouldn’t be too much to say that what happened in 1967 killed Detroit, slowly but certainly.

The burned-down buildings were cleared away. The 43 dead were buried, and money came from Washington and the private sector to try to make things better.

But it all failed. The riot put the pedal to the metal on a flood of white flight that had already begun. Detroit was still more than 60 percent white when the riot began.

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