Detroit

Economy
12:15 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Detroit housing prices down in April, but up from last year

A graph showing annual changes in U.S. home prices.
S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Detroit housing prices fell 3.6 percent from March to April, but were still higher than they were in April 2011.

A report released today by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices shows that, nationwide, home prices rose for the first time in seven months. But Detroit was the only city, of the 20 "metropolitan statistical areas" (MSA's) they look at, to show a monthly decline.

The news wasn't all bad for Detroit.

Looking annually, Detroit is one of 10 cities that saw prices rise compared with the same period a year ago. On a national level, annual figures ticked downward.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
6:09 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Detroit to host Midwest regional jobs fair for veterans

A jobs fair for veterans in Detroit this week is expected to draw thousands of job-seekers and prospective employers from across the Midwest.

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Veterans Administration.  The need in Michigan and surrounding states was a big reason to hold the event in Detroit.

Jason Allen is the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He says more than one in 10 Michigan veterans are unemployed and looking for work.  Employers from across the Midwest will be interviewing for 22,000 openings.  

Allen says other sessions will help small business owners who are veterans with advice and help winning government contracts. They’ll also connect veterans with benefits they’re due for their service.

“We’re, unfortunately, not utilizing our G.I. Bill. We’re not utilizing our pensions and compensations, and we’re not using our health care.”

Allen says Michigan ranks last out of all the states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico in veterans using their government benefits.

Arts & Culture
2:48 pm
Sun June 24, 2012

Preserving the music of Detroit

Detroit Sound Conservancy
DSC/Facebook

Many genres of music have deep roots in the city of Detroit, including punk, rock-and-roll, blues, techno and soul music. A new organization wants to help connect people and groups that have been archiving Detroit’s musical history.  

Carleton Gholz is the president and founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy. He’s been researching a book about the rise of DJ and hip-hop culture in Detroit. During that time, he’s come across small archiving groups, music journalists, and older musicians. Now Gholz wants to unite them.

Read more
Arts & Culture
3:23 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Detroit skaters going 'Wild in the Streets'

Participants in today's "Wild in the Streets" skateboarding event.
ACLU of Michigan

In Detroit and four other cities around the world today, thousands have dropped everything, grabbed their skateboards, and taken to the streets.

This year, Detroit was selected as a site for the ninth annual skateboarding event called Wild in the Streets. The event is similar to Critical Mass, but on skateboards instead of bicycles, and it is being held today—international Go Skateboarding Day.

According to the event's website,

"The goal of Wild in the Streets is to build community and raise awareness of skateboarding and the needs of skateboarders, and to unite skateboarders through a central cause."

Participants were told by the organizing skateboard company, Emerica, to meet up today at noon in Hart Plaza to begin a 5-mile mass trip around the city. In a media release, the company wrote that participants could find the secret itinerary and directions for the ride once there.

The event will culminate tonight in a benefit concert at Royal Oak’s Modern Skate Park to raise money for Power House Production's Ride It Sculpture Park. The sculpture park, being constructed at East Davison St. and Klinger, near the east end of Davison Highway in Detroit, will serve as a skate park in which the artworks form obstacles for riders.

Read more
Commentary
10:11 am
Mon June 18, 2012

Commentary: Detroit, now what?

A week ago, it seemed possible that Detroit could be only days away from an Emergency Manager and bankruptcy. The city’s top lawyer had defied the mayor’s wishes and filed a lawsuit to stop the carefully crafted consent agreement designed to allow city and state officials to share power.

If her suit had dragged on, the city would quickly have run out of cash. But it was speedily thrown out of court, and with that, the consent agreement saved, just in the nick of time.

Read more
Politics
5:05 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Detroit consent agreement

Judge William Collette of Ingham County Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit by Detroit's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, this morning. She was challenging the city's consent agreement with the state. The judge ruled she didn't have standing to bring the case. We've been updating this post today.

Update 5:05 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder said he’s also happy the judge threw out a legal challenge to the consent agreement the state made with the City of Detroit. The agreement was made to avoid the appointment of an emergency manager and to prevent the city from running out of money.  

"We’ve been continuing to work forward on our projects from the state perceptive while all this has gone on because we want to make sure we’re fulfilling our part of this," said Snyder. "It was a Detroit internal issue. I hope they continue to work hard to resolve their issue so they can continue to work hard to resolve their issues so they can work better between the mayor city council and corporate counsel."

Detroit's top lawyer argued the consent agreement was null and void because the state owes Detroit money. The state treasury denies that.

3:04 p.m.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he’s happy a “distracting” court case brought by his own city attorney was dismissed Wednesday and the city can now follow through on its consent agreement with the state.

Bing said he was “not happy with” his corporation counsel’s decision to push the legal challenge—but insists that’s all in the past now.

“We need to get on with running the city," Bing said. "The city is still in a crisis. And we can’t have all of these distractions and think we’re going to bring the city back.”

The first steps: convening the city’s nine-member financial advisory board. That’s a key provision of the consent agreement. Bing says they’ll meet for the first time Friday.

11:59 a.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta spoke with Michael Hodge, the lawyer who argued the case on Mayor Bing's behalf. Hodge said if the case went forward, it could have forced the city into bankruptcy this week.

From Pluta's report:

“The judge understood that financially, the stabilization agreement between the city and the state was an essential agreement to go forward and to continue to address the financial issues involving the city,” said Hodge.

Detroit Corporate Counsel Krystal Crittendon argued the agreement is not valid because the state owes the city millions of dollars. The judge’s decision does not address the question. The state Treasury says Detroit is not owed any money.

10:40 a.m.

Judge William Collette of Ingham County Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit by Detroit's top lawyer Krystal Crittendon challenging the city's consent agreement with the state of Michigan this morning.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports Judge William Collette said it was obvious Crittendon could not go forward with her lawsuit without the support of Mayor Bing or city council. He said Crittendon did not have the authority to file the lawsuit on her own.

Collette also said Detroit's consent agreement with the state of Michigan is in place and people will just have to live with it.

Mayor Dave Bing is holding a press conference at 11:15 a.m. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will be there.

And Gov. Risk Snyder will meet with members of the media at noon today. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will bring us reaction from Mr. Snyder

Politics
1:34 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

AP: House panel blocks funding for new Detroit bridge

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Republican House lawmakers are attempting to block state spending by the governor to build another bridge across the Detroit River.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a supplemental budget that would prohibit using state money unless the Legislature authorizes construction of the bridge. Grandville Republican Rep. Dave Agema said Wednesday his goal in amending the supplemental budget is "to stop spending money" lawmakers didn't authorize.

Read more
Commentary
10:18 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Commentary: the new bridge

Unless every news source in the western world is totally wrong, on Friday, Governor Rick Snyder will announce an agreement with Canada to build a new bridge across the Detroit River.

This is good news for Michigan, good news for Canada, good news  for business and, at least temporarily, perhaps even better news for the people  who will fill the thousands of construction and other new jobs that will be created, some permanently.

Read more
Politics
5:09 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Detroit Council President: State 'irresponsible' for using threats

Charles Pugh, Detroit City Council President.
Charles Pugh

Detroit's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, plans to argue in court that the city's consent agreement with the state is not legal.

The Detroit News reports that Crittendon contends the state owes the city "more than $220 million in past-due state revenue sharing payments and millions of other unpaid bills." She says the city can't enter into a consent agreement with the state since the state is in default.

The state has denied they owe Detroit money, and Gov. Rick Snyder and state Treasurer Andy Dillon have said they'll withhold $80 million in revenue sharing payments to the city if the lawsuit goes forward.

Crittendon is expected to appear in Ingham County court tomorrow for an initial hearing.

Crittendon said it is her legal obligation to go forward with her lawsuit. From the Detroit News:

"Those of you who have worked with me should know that I take my legal, moral, ethical, professional and charter-mandated responsibilities very seriously," Crittendon wrote. "They are not for sale and will not be compromised."

Yesterday, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was unsuccessful in persuading city council to back his effort to stop Crittendon from moving forward with the lawsuit.

Today, we here more about council's reaction to the lawsuit and the state's threat of withholding money from the city.

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh said state officials are "scaring the hell" out of Detroit by threatening to pull funding from the city. More from MLive's Jonathan Oosting:

Council President Charles Pugh today questioned reports that Detroit is poised to run out money this week and called the state "irresponsible" for threatening to withhold expected funding because of concerns over a pending lawsuit by the city's top attorney.

"They can have those concerns," Pugh told reporters this morning. "But you don't put the city at risk of not being able to pay our police officers and firefighters and scaring the hell out of citizens by saying we're going to run out of cash. That's irresponsible, and it makes me angry because we didn't have to get to this point."

Education
3:33 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Detroit Public School attendance below standards, though better than expected

John Bennett Elementary, part of the Detroit Public School district
user Notorious4life Wikipedia commons

Despite last year’s Detroit Public School campaign entitled “Attendance … Every Day, All Day,” the district’s 2010-2011 attendance numbers failed to meet state requirements and will face the loss of $4.2 million in state aid, according to the Detroit News.

Though the lost money will further hurt the state-controlled school district, the Detroit News reports that the damage could have been worse:

In its amended 2011-12 budget, DPS said it expected to pay $21 million to the state for dropping below 75 percent attendance and had budgeted for the expense.

The state informed DPS in March the amount would be closer to $4 million, giving DPS $17 million more money, which was returned to the general fund.

According to its 2011-2012 budget, the district received about $497 million in state funding over the school year, up three percent from the expected amount.

According to the DPS website, each student enrolled above the budgeted number on count days brings $7,550 in state funding.  In order to encourage count day attendance in its 137 schools in the past through ice cream and pizza parties, “dress down” days for schools that require uniforms, and even a 2009 Radio One-sponsored contest in which students attending school could win a plasma TV, laptop computer, iPod nanos, or an American Express gift card.

- Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
3:50 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Not much support in effort to get Detroit's top lawyer to drop lawsuit

Outside Detroit City Hall
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city will run out of money this week if a city lawyer doesn’t back off from a lawsuit challenging a consent agreement with the state.

Bing was hoping to unite City Council members behind his efforts to get that lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, to drop her legal action.

But at a contentious appearance before the Council this morning, Bing found little support.

And the mayor says that leaves the city vulnerable to going broke.

Read more
Politics
12:55 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Detroit Mayor to council, back off legal challenge

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing asked the city Council to pass a resolution asking the city’s top lawyer to back off a legal challenge to Detroit’s consent agreement with the state.

State officials say that litigation compromises a complex bond transaction, and say until the legal challenge is dropped, they’ll withhold about $80-million promised in the consent agreement.

But most City Council members say lawyer Krystal Crittendon is only following the law, and they’d like a judge to rule on the consent agreement’s validity.

Council President Charles Pugh, who voted for the consent agreement, says he hopes Lansing “does the right thing.”

“And that’s not allowing the city to run out of money," said Pugh. "That would be so irresponsible, just because they don’t agree with the court action. Her opinion does not prevent the state from living up to its responsibilities.”

Mayor Bing says he doesn’t think the state is bluffing about letting the city go broke. He left the Council meeting to attend ongoing discussions with state officials.

News Roundup
10:46 am
Mon June 11, 2012

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news...
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Detroit in a game of revenue-sharing chicken with the state

Detroit's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the legality of the city's consent agreement with the state in court. State officials are threatening to withhold millions of dollars in state revenue sharing payments if the lawsuit is not dropped.

Read more
Commentary
10:06 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Commentary: Common Sense

Now that I’m in my sixties, I find myself forced to confront the sad truth that I am never going to be a concert violinist or play professional sports. So instead, I have decided to devote my life to urging our leaders to exercise common sense.

True, there are days when it does seem that trying to make the Detroit Lions might hold out slightly more chance of success.  But as an idealistic baby boomer, I refuse to give up.

Read more
Politics
9:28 am
Fri June 8, 2012

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news...
Brother O'Mara Flickr

State threatens to pull revenue if consent deal challenge continues

Detroit’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the city's consent deal with the state of Michigan. State officials want the challenge to stop. The state Treasurer's Office sent the city a letter. From the Detroit Free Press:

The state Treasurer's Office warned the City of Detroit on Thursday that it could lose $80 million or more in state revenue sharing unless Mayor Dave Bing gets a lawsuit dropped by next week that challenges the city's financial stability agreement with the state.

Mayor Bing issued a statement last night saying he'd received the letter. Bing said Crittendon "believes she has the right to file the complaint."

However, as I have said before, this action only impedes our progress and places the City’s fiscal recovery in grave jeopardy. My team is working closely with the State to mitigate any negative impacts on my administration’s plan to financially stabilize the City. We want this matter resolved expeditiously for the sake of the citizens of Detroit.

Michigan House panel aims to put limits on abortion

A set of bills going through the legislature will put more restrictions on abortion providers in the state. A state House panel passed them yesterday, and now the bills are on the way to the state House floor. More from the Detroit News:

A House committee on Thursday advanced a three-bill package to the floor requiring abortion clinics to be licensed surgical centers, imposing new requirements for disposing of the remains of aborted fetuses and making it a crime to coerce a woman into terminating a pregnancy.

One of the bills includes a ban on late-term abortions for unborn children 20 or more weeks developed, with a narrow exception when the mother's life is at risk, said the bill sponsor, Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte.

Polls show it's close between Obama and Romney in Michigan

Michigan is looking more and more like a swing state for either candidate. From the Huffington Post:

A poll released on Thursday by Lansing-based pollster EPIC-MRA has President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck in Michigan, with Romney leading with 46 percent to Obama's 45 percent.

In a release, the Michigan Republican Party touted the results as evidence of Romney's growing strength in his home state. That would represent a shift from other polling conducted in the state, as well as EPIC's polling in April, which gave Obama a 4-point lead.

Commentary
10:11 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Commentary: Blow to Mass Transit

Back in the days when the Big Three really were the BIG Three, Detroit may have been the most hostile place in the nation to mass transit. The city existed to create private transportation for all. You were expected to have your own wheels. Well, the world has changed, and estimates indicate that more than a third of Detroiters have no cars these days, and many more would like to take mass transit when they can -- especially downtown.

Read more
Commentary
10:19 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Commentary: Detroit’s Self-inflicted Agony

Two months ago, Detroit City Council agreed, at the last possible moment, to enter into a consent agreement with the state.

The city was fast running out of cash, and was facing a situation where the governor would virtually have been forced to appoint an emergency manager to run the city.

Read more
Politics
5:10 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Lt. Gov. Calley: I expect the owners of the Ambassador Bridge to continue the campaign of deceit

J. Stephen Conn Flickr

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is continuing to push for the need to secure an additional international border crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The new bridge would directly connect Michigan’s freeway system with that of its most important trading partner, Canada.

Calley says the Snyder administration will continue to plow ahead with “the end-to-end border solution that Michigan manufacturing needs,” despite some anticipated pushback.

“We don’t have a final determination of the plan as of yet, although we’re zeroing in. I do expect that the owners of the Ambassador Bridge will continue the campaign of deceit and the campaign of lies on what the proposal actually is," Calley says.

Read more
News Roundup
8:49 am
Mon June 4, 2012

In this morning's news...

Brother O'Mara Flickr

Federal investment in Detroit light rail? Ray LaHood in Detroit today

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be in Detroit today to meet with a group of business leaders and government officials. The topic of discussion will be the on-again, off-again light rail system in Detroit.

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

The M-1 project on the main thoroughfare of Woodward Avenue could eventually connect with a regional system.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to attend. He says light rail is part of a strategy to make Michigan’s largest city as attractive to entrepreneurs and young people as Chicago or Boston...

Businesspeople and government officials hope for more federal financial support for the project, which would operate for several years before reaching the break-even point.

Detroit's top lawyer says consent agreement with the state is not legal

Detroit's consent agreement with the state of Michigan is facing a legal challenge by Krystal Crittendon. More from the Detroit News:

The city's top attorney, Krystal A. Crittendon, could single-handedly derail the historic consent agreement between the city and state if she can convince a judge to endorse her opinion that the document is illegal.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports Crittendon doesn't have the full support of Mayor Dave Bing and some city council members:

Mayor Dave Bing initially made conflicting statements about a legal challenge. He publicly opposed it, but then admitted he supported the “concept” of the letter.

But now Bing says litigation would be a distraction.

Officials with the state have called the challenge nonsense. They plan to move forward with the agreement.

Venus and the Sun come together for a once-in-a-lifetime show

Tonight, the planet Venus can be seen crossing in front of the sun. It's known as the "transit of Venus" and it only happens once around every one hundred years.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith says she "stumbled across the transit while gulping down an awesome new beer at one of my favorite spots in Benton Harbor, The Livery Microbrewery."

People in Michigan will be able to see the transit of Venus for a roughly three hour window beginning at 6 o’clock and lasting until the sun sets.

The transit won’t happen again until the year 2117, so it’s a pretty big deal to professional and amateur astronomers alike.

“Oh yeah, we’re having a full out party,” said Richard Bell, President of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society.

Transportation
7:37 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Federal, state and local leaders meet today to discuss light rail in Detroit

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will visit Detroit today. He’ll meet with a wide-ranging group of government officials and business leaders on the future of light rail transit in the city. The M-1 project on the main thoroughfare of Woodward Avenue could eventually connect with a regional system.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to attend. He says light rail is part of a strategy to make Michigan’s largest city as attractive to entrepreneurs and young people as Chicago or Boston.

Read more

Pages