Detroit

Politics & Government
10:42 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Commentary: Where Detroit stands

Essay for 11/26/12

If you haven’t been to Detroit lately, it’s easy to have an image of a ghastly ruin full of ominous criminals waiting behind the rubble to shoot you, Well, there are areas where it’s not a good idea to go. But there are plenty of wonderful places too.

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Politics & Government
10:09 am
Mon November 26, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Governor Snyder talking trade in Canada today

With a momentum building for a new international bridge spanning the Detroit River after Michigan voters rejected a ballot proposal aimed at delaying the project, Governor Snyder is in Toronto today to attend a conference on public-private partnerships.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports:

The governor is expected to announce an agreement with other Great Lakes states on a Canadian trade office. Canada is Michigan’s biggest international trading partner. The governor’s economic plans envision a thriving Chicago-to-Montreal trade zone with Michigan as a center point.

Snyder is also expected to meet with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Both are expected to meet with the press afterward.

Detroit seeks to avoid cash crises

Last week, the Detroit City Council rejected a proposed contract with the law firm Miller Canfield. The firm was hired to counsel Mayor Bing on the city’s financial stability agreements.

The 'no' vote led to an impending cash crisis because the state said the city could not access $30 million in bonds to cover debt.

Mayor Bing announced furlough days for city workers would be coming as a result.

The Detroit News reports city council will review their decision today.

Day 28 of the Kwame Kilpatrick trial

The public corruption trial of the 'Kilpatrick Enterprise' resumes today after a week long break.

The Detroit News reports Avinash Rachmale is on the witness stand.

A Detroit businessman will spend a third day describing threats and extortion demands by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s close friend and co-defendant in the City Hall corruption trial... The Lakeshore Engineering Services founder has told jurors of $1.7-million payouts to Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson for no-show work. The money was part of a series of extortion payments Rachmale allegedly paid to keep Ferguson happy, protect city deals and help ensure future city contracts.

Both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press are live-blogging the trial.

Offbeat
11:26 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Paper lanterns to launch on dark Detroit block

DETROIT (AP) - Floating paper lanterns will be launched in Detroit's former Chinatown as part of a community-based event.

The Saturday evening event near Wayne State University is dubbed "Illuminating Chinatown." The lanterns made by local artists, designers and university students are set to be launched in a block without working street lights.

Paper lanterns were first used as signaling balloons and now are used in festivals to signify good luck and new beginnings. Organizers say they also intend for them to signal change coming from the hands of the community.

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Commentary: Sonny Eliot

Essay

Over the weekend, the papers were full of tributes to Sonny Eliot, the wisecracking weatherman who was a television icon for a few million baby boomers and their parents.

To someone new to Michigan, or anyone younger than forty, this may have seemed a trifle odd.  Sonny, who died Friday, hadn’t been on TV on a regular basis since the 1980’s.

True, his twice-daily zany weather forecasts were a beloved part of all-news AM radio until a couple years ago.  But why all this fuss over a guy who broadcast the weather?

Well, he was, indeed, one-of-a-kind; a statewide celebrity before there were such things as cable networks, or 24 hour news. But I think the answer may have as much to do with ourselves as Sonny Eliot. Sonny did deserve to be recognized. He was certainly the last person on the air who was actually present at the creation of TV broadcasting in Detroit.

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Arts & Culture
12:30 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Remembering Sonny Eliot (VIDEO)

Sonny Eliot
DPTV YouTube

Sonny Eliot, Detroit radio and television pioneer, died this morning at his home in Farmington Hills.

He was 91.

For those who don't remember Eliot, he might be best known for his role as Detroit's star weatherman. Eliot had a quick wit and predilection for puns.

Here is a taste:

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Politics & Government
9:01 am
Fri November 16, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Michigan's longest serving first lady, Helen Milliken, dies at 89

Helen Milliken was Michigan’s first lady for 14 years, from 1969 to 1983.

The Detroit Free Press writes of a Republican who fought for causes that sometimes were at odds with the party:

Helen Milliken is perhaps best remembered as Michigan’s leading proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ERA, which would have banned discrimination based on sex and authorized Congress to adopt laws enforcing it, came close to passage (it was approved by Congress and 35 of the needed 38 states, including Michigan).

But she was also a leading advocate for the arts and environment, becoming a political force in her own right.

Missing today's due date, Michigan gets a health care exchange extension

Michigan Republicans don't care for it.

And they've been hoping that provisions of the Affordable Care Act would get struck down. That hasn't happened, and one deadline for action is today.

But as MLive's David Eggert reports, they've been given an extension to decide on whether to set up a state run health care exchange:

The Obama administration late Thursday gave Michigan another month to decide if it wants to build its own online marketplace where individuals and businesses can shop for health insurance.

The deadline had been set for today. But in a bow to a request from the Republican Governors Association, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extended the deadline until Dec. 14.

Detroit Mayor reaches deal to keep city afloat

The dire financial projections for Detroit continue, with some predicting the city could run out of cash in December.

But Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports, Mayor Bing has reached a deal with the state worth $137 million:

Mayor Bing says the agreement will help the city make changes it needs, and avoid running out of cash as early as next month.

"We're asking for $10 million in the month of November. We meet the milestones we've agreed upon, we're asking for $20 million in December, and then we've got another $50 million that will be held in escrow at a later date," Bing said.

Politics & Government
12:11 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Commentary: Decision time for Detroit

Essay

The election may have settled some things, but it has left the state of Michigan with an overwhelming problem that we have to solve soon, or suffer devastating consequences. Consequences that will affect us all, whether we live in Monroe or Marquette.

And that problem is the City of Detroit. Once again, the troubled and impoverished city is fast running out of cash.

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Politics & Government
11:17 am
Wed November 14, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

cncphotos flickr

Interview

This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the chance of Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers taking over David Petreaus' position as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, what would happen if Michigan misses the Friday deadline to create a statewide online exchange for people to shop for health insurance and how Detroit's finances could affect the rest of the state.

Law
9:17 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Marijuana in Michigan: What new pot laws mean for the state

miss.libertine Creative Commons

Marijuana users across the state are claiming victory after the success of pro-pot ballot proposals in several Michigan cities.

Supporters say decriminalization of the drug in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Detroit shows that Michiganders are warming to the idea of a pot-friendly future.

But beyond symbolic value, how will these votes affect the way marijuana is managed and policed throughout the state?

Michigan Radio is venturing into the morass of overlapping local, state, and federal law to determine how the state manages weed.

We begin with a look at the new laws and how other Michigan towns have chosen to regulate marijuana.

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Economy
4:51 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Stateside: Detroit's financial predicament

Detroit's handling of its financial situation is of great importance to both the state and country
Mike Russel

Detroit’s financial status is once again on the brink of devastation.

The city’s program management director, William Andrews, recently told the advisory board that the city is facing financial crisis.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes assessed the city’s situation, looking at its aging bureaucracy as a potential area of conflict.

The collapse could occur sooner than expected, said Howes, perhaps as soon as December.

“It could happen as early as next month. What’s hanging out there right now is about $80 million in bond proceeds that the State Treasurer's Office is holding  more reforms within the city. There is hope they can move ahead with some reforms that would release around $30 million by the end of the year. It’s really important to note that time is running out for the city,” said Howes.

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11:01 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Woman accused of stealing from the Detroit pension fund surrenders

Lead in text: 
Faberge eggs, Rodin sculptures, and a mountainside resort in Costa Rica. And now bribe money from a heroin dealer. The plot behind the theft of Detroit pension fund money thickens. And now that Kastenes has surrendered, more answers are likely to come.
Detroit - A fugitive businesswoman accused of stealing $5 million from a Detroit pension fund - and blowing the cash on exotic art and jewelry - turned herself in Tuesday, ending an eight-month manhunt stretching from Detroit to the Caribbean. Teresa Kastanes was escorted off the plane by agents from the Office of Homeland Security at 5:43 a.m.
Crime
1:00 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Man who opened fire in police station was a veteran

Yesterday, on Veterans Day, Southfield police say a man entered a police station in the Detroit suburb and opened fire.

Yesterday's first AP report said the man and an officer were wounded in the shootout:

Southfield police say a man entered a police station in the Detroit suburb and opened fire, then was wounded in an exchange of shots with an officer who also was hit.

Police tell WXYZ-TV and WJBK-TV that the shooting happened Sunday afternoon in the Detroit suburb. They say the wounded officer and the suspect are in stable condition.

Now we learn that the man who entered the station was a veteran and he was killed in the shootout.

The 64-year old man was identified as Harold J. Collins of Southfield.

More from MLive

Collins was shot several times and killed.

Investigators identified Collins as a military veteran. He was in poor health and had "serious internal issues," Southfield Police Chief Eric Lawson said Monday.

Lawson was unsure in what branch of the military Collins served. He  would "not speculate" on whether that played a role in the shooting or timing.

The Detroit Free Press has more details on how the shooting occurred.

At 2:20 p.m. on Sunday, police said Collins left his white Dodge Caliber and walked into the department lobby in plain clothes. Hawkins said he approached the information desk, which is behind protective glass, and gave no answer when the officer behind the glass greeted him.

“There was nothing to alert any of our staff that anything unusual was about to happen,” said Hawkins.

The Free Press reports officers are still trying to reach Collins' family members.

Health
7:58 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Retaining safety in Detroit with neighborhood patrols

Credit User: ktpupp / flickr

Interview

Many cities across the state are cutting back, and police and fire department budgets are often on the chopping block. In some cases, citizens have taken safety matters into their own hands, through neighborhood patrols. The aim is to observe what's going on in the community, and call the police if anything usual is noted.

Coach Muhammad is president of the community patrol of the Grandmont neighborhood, in northwest Detroit. He volunteers 40 hours a week to keep his neighborhood safe.

As part of Michigan Radio's Seeking Change series. Muhammad talks with Morning Edition host Christina Shockley about what his patrol has been able to do for his neighborhood.

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Politics & Government
3:43 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Election results show Michigan cities more marijuana friendly

Voters in several Michigan cities seem pretty open to easing legal restrictions on marijuana.
A7nubis Creative Commons

Voters in several Michigan cities passed proposals to ease legal restrictions on marijuana. On Tuesday people in Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids voted overwhelmingly to make small amounts of marijuana okay to possess under city law. I’m not talking about the medical stuff here; this is just regular old pot.

"Prosecuting someone for peacefully using marijuana is about as ridiculous to me as prosecuting someone for sipping a vodka martini,” Tim Beck, chair of the Coalition for a Safer Detroit, said. Beck also worked to put Michigan’s medical marijuana laws in place.

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Politics & Government
3:22 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Groups work to get out the vote in Grand Rapids

Samuel Johnson (left) gets a free ride to the polls Tuesday morning. Decriminalize GR organizer Josh Leffingwell (right) is next to him.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In Grand Rapids a number of groups are offering people rides to their polling places.  

Organizer Josh Leffingwell leans out of the backseat of a minivan to flag down a man walking down the sidewalk.

“Excuse me sir? Have you had a chance to vote yet today?” he asks.

Grand Rapids resident Samuel Johnson accepts the free ride to the school where he votes – nearly a mile away.

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Health
12:26 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Going undercover in a Detroit Walmart

Credit European Parliament / flickr

Interview with Tracie McMillan

For Seeking Change, Christina Shockley spoke with Tracie McMillan. She is a journalist who went undercover to find out why we eat the way we do in America, and what it would take for everyone to eat well in this country.

To learn more about the food industry, she lived and worked in three different communities across the country, including Detroit.

She wrote about her experiences in her book, "The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table."

She says we need to ensure that quality, healthy foods are available in all neighborhoods.

Detroit
12:21 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Mercado pleads guilty in Kilpatrick corruption trial

12:21 p.m.

More on Mercado's guilty plea from the Associated Press:

The former head of Detroit's water department has pleaded guilty, six weeks into a corruption trial that also involves ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Victor Mercado's surprise guilty plea to conspiracy occurred Monday. The trial is in recess until next week because of a lawyer's illness.

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Sports
3:30 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

NHL lockout felt beyond Detroit

The Grand Rapids Griffins play in the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.
Jeremy Bronson Creative Commons

The ongoing lockout of the National Hockey League could cause the cancelation of the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. The outdoor game is supposed to be at the University of Michigan Big House on New Year’s Day. The week-long Hockeytown Winter Festival in Detroit would be canceled with it.

That would be a bummer for the Red Wings’ affiliated team the Grand Rapids Griffins, which is supposed to play at the festival.

“It’s a sad time for hockey right now,” said Bob Kaser, VP of Community Relations for the Griffins (among other job titles).

He says some fans have traveled to Grand Rapids to get their hockey fix during the lockout. Fox Sports Detroit broadcast a Griffins game last week. But Kaser’s not really thrilled about the circumstances.

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Health
1:10 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Project in 23 Michigan schools seeks healthy approach

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan education officials are launching a pilot project in 23 high schools that aims to boost academic achievement by incorporating physical, emotional and social health programs.

The effort dubbed "think.respect." is funded through a $24 million federal grant and will be administered by the Michigan Department of Education. Schools were selected based partly on persistently low achievement.

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Economy
1:00 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Report: Detroit's home foreclosure rate is moving down

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Detroit’s home foreclosure rates are dropping.

Realty Trac reports Detroit now has the 39th highest home foreclosure rate in the country. That's a big change from a few years ago, when Detroit routinely ranked in the top ten.

In September,  Detroit’s home foreclosure rate was at its lowest point since September, 2006. 

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.    He says Detroit’s foreclosure numbers are improving, but he says more than half of Wayne County homeowners are ‘underwater” on their mortgages.

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