Detroit

Detroit
4:09 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing says he'll be back in the office by end of the month

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Dave Hogg Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he's at least 80 percent healed from major surgery and plans to return to city hall on April 30.

Bing had surgery for a perforated intestine in late March and then returned to the hospital on April 4 because of blood clots in his lungs. His health problems occurred while the city and the state of Michigan were working on an extraordinary deal to fix Detroit's finances.

The 68-year-old mayor said during a conference call Friday the only thing holding him back is the healing of his incision. Bing says he lost 12 pounds because of restrictions on what he could eat.

A deal between Detroit and the state calls for a chief financial officer, a program manager and a nine-member board to oversee spending.

Changing Gears
11:39 am
Fri April 20, 2012

On Earth Day, turning the Motor City into "Cycle City"

The Tigers' mascot, Paws, with cyclists who rode to Opening Day 2012.
courtesy Detroit Tigers

Let’s face it: Detroit’s reputation as the Motor City is unshakeable. But it’s gaining ground as a city for cyclists.

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Politics
9:33 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Michigan's high court says "no" to review of Detroit consent deal

The Michigan Hall of Justice, home to Michigan's Supreme Court.
michiganradio.org

Earlier this month, some opposed to the state's efforts to enter into a consent agreement with Detroit tried to stop the process from going forward - arguing in front of an Ingham County judge that the state did not comply with Michigan's Open Meetings Act.

The judge agreed and ordered a halt to the process, but in an appeal by the state the Michigan Court of Appeals put a stay on the judge's decision.

Union activist and Highland Park school board member Robert Davis appealed all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Today, the Michigan Supreme Court said it won't take up Davis' appeal.

The Associated Press reports "in an order dated Friday that it wasn't persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed."

Robert Davis is the Highland Park school board member who is currently under a federal indictment for stealing funds from Highland Park schools. He says he will fight the charges.

Politics
1:46 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

First three appointments made to Detroit's "Financial Advisory Board"

Laughlin Elkind Flickr

The consent agreement the city of Detroit signed with the state earlier this month calls for the creation of a nine-member financial advisory board.

The board will have oversight over the city's finances.

Governor Snyder's office released the names of the three members appointed to the board today:

Former state Treasurer Robert Bowman, currently president and CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media LP, is the joint appointee of Snyder and Bing. Darrell Burks, currently a senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, will be one of three individuals appointed by Gov. Snyder, and Ken Whipple, chairman of the board of Korn/Ferry International, is Treasurer Dillon’s appointee to the FAB.

Forbes has a profile of Robert Bowman.

Three are appointed - six more appointments are left.

Under the agreement, Gov. Snyder will select two more members of the board, Mayor Bing will select two, and Detroit City Council will select two.

Those serving on the board will receive compensation of $25,000 per year.

Detroit Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis—who’s still serving in place of the ailing Mayor Bing—says the city is moving to comply with the consent agreement.

 “So we’re making progress," Lewis told reporters Thursday. "I’d expect over the next couple of weeks we’ll have that [advisory board] taken care of.”

Lewis says after that, city and state officials will move on to filling two more powerful positions outlined in the agreement: a Chief Financial Officer, and a Program Director.

He also says Bing is slated to return to work part-time in “a couple of weeks.”

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Politics
11:09 am
Wed April 18, 2012

President Obama comes to Michigan for two fundraisers today

President Obama speaking to a crowd at the University of Michigan during his last visit to the state.

President Obama last came to Michigan in January when he visited the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to give a speech on college affordability.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, today's trip will be a short, but organizers hope it will be lucrative:

The President will hold the first of two fundraisers at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

That happens to be where Republican rival Mitt Romney launched his first Presidential campaign in 2007.

Then Mr. Obama will head to a private fundraiser hosted by Detroit businesswoman Denise Ilitch.

Organizers hope the two events will help raise more than $1 million in campaign funds for the President and other Democrats.

So far, Mitt Romney has raised more cash than Obama in Michigan. That could change after today's visit.

CBS Detroit reports around 600 people are expected at Mr. Obama's event at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, and attendees are paying "$5,000 to have dinner with the president and get a photo, $1,000 for a VIP rope line to shake his hand and $250 to attend."

The Denise Ilitch event will feature Michigan products, including white fish, vegetables, home brews, and Motown music. Participants will pay $40,000 for a cocktail reception and $10,000 per person for a dinner and candid photo.

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Changing Gears
9:38 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Detroit has tons of vacant land. But forty square miles?

Vacancy is easy to see, hard to quantify.

Forty square miles.  That’s how much of Detroit lies vacant, nearly a third of the city.  You could fit Miami or San Francisco inside all that emptiness.  At least, that’s what we’ve heard for years.  The thing is, it might not be true.

This is a story about a number – an estimate, really — and how it became a fact illustrating Detroit’s decline. I’ve read about 40 square miles in the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, ForbesThe Wall Street JournalThe Guardian and The Washington Times. I’ve heard it on Fox and I’ve said it on the radio.

That’s when Margaret Dewar called me out.

“Wait, this can’t be true.”

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Education
10:36 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Detroit Public Schools sends layoff notices to all teachers

user kconnors morgueFile

Around 4,100 Detroit Public Schools teachers received layoff notices and will have to reapply for their jobs next month if they wish to continue to work for the district.

The Detroit News reports the layoffs are effective just days ahead of the next school year on August 24.

School district spokesman Steve Wasko said the letters were mailed on Tuesday.

"This was done previously; what's different and what parents should be aware of is the process to call staff back," Wasko said. "Based on new state law, all school districts are precluded from making hiring decisions based solely on seniority; thus decisions will be made based on evaluations."

Wasko said this will help ensure that the district brings back "the right number of teachers given its need to downsize andplaces only teachers in the top categories based on objective evaluations" in front of children.

The News reports DPS did the same thing last year "and spent the summer calling back teachers for positions."

The district experienced an attendance spike in September and after many classrooms became overcrowded had to call back additional teachers. All but about 400 teachers were eventually called back.

President of the Detroit Federation of Teachers Keith Johnson said "they are doing this again like they did last year and it's going to be chaos again in September... I'm preparing for battle."

Politics
2:41 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Detroit faces big cuts in proposed budget from mayor's office

Bob Jagendorf Flickr

The Detroit Free Press reports police and firefighters face a 10 percent wage cut, and the Department of Transportation in Detroit could be cut by $10 million under a proposed $1.2 billion budget presented to City Council by Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis today.

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Detroit
6:45 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Mayor's office to present budget to City Council

Ifmuth Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office is presenting the city's 2012-13 fiscal year budget to the City Council. The presentation is planned for 11 a.m. Thursday.

The annual budget process comes about a week after Bing, the council and Gov. Rick Snyder's office agreed for Michigan to have a role in fixing Detroit's $200 million budget deficit and long-term fiscal restructuring.

Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said this week that the city is "nowhere near where" it "needs to be" in the budget process due to the time spent negotiating the agreement with Snyder.

A financial advisory board called for under the deal is expected to have little input on the upcoming budget. It will make recommendations to the mayor and help the city when Detroit begins preparations for 3-year budgets.

Commentary
10:47 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Commentary: Farewell to the Michigan State Fair

Virtually nobody paid much attention, but the last faint hope that the Michigan State Fair would somehow be revived ended this week.

Two days ago, Governor Rick Snyder signed bills authorizing the state to give up ownership of the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. Those 163 acres would be returned, the governor’s office said, “to productive uses.“

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Detroit
3:21 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Detroiters receive White House honor for fighting youth violence

De Quan O'Neal at the Lincoln Memorial
NSO YIP Facebook page

Two community activists from Detroit have been honored by the White House as "Champions of Change" for their work against youth violence in the city.

According to the White House, Detroit's Frank McGhee and De Quan O'Neal were among 12 community leaders from across the nation recognized for their "work to prevent youth violence within their communities as part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention..., a network of communities and federal agencies working together to share information and build local capacity to...keep our kids safe."

WXYZ's Detroit 2020 project congratulated the honorees, describing their work:

McGhee mentors and coaches young leaders to educate their peers about violence in Detroit. He’s the program director for the Detroit-Based Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiative Project.

O’Neal is a program youth director [with the Youth Initiative Project]. He helped discourage gun violence and gunfire on New Year’s Eve.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
10:42 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Big box store could threaten last black-owned grocery store in Detroit

The produce aisle at Metro Foodland.
courtesty of Metro Foodland

A big box retailer could move in and compete with the last black-owned grocery store in Detroit, according to a piece by Louis Aguilar in today's Detroit News:

The owner of Metro Foodland in northwest Detroit says he may soon face the biggest threat in his 27 years as a grocery owner. A Meijer store with a grocery, garden center and gas station is planned a mile and a half away.

"I have concerns that it could kill our business," Hooks said.

There are 83 full-line grocers in Detroit, and Metro Foodland is the last black-owned grocery in the city, said Auday Peter Arabo, president of the Associate Food and Petroleum Dealers, which represents 4,000 retailers in Michigan and Ohio.

Turning a profit is tricky for independent grocers. Aquilar reports "independent grocers have an average net profit margin of 1.08 percent before taxes, according to a 2011 survey by the National Grocers Association and FMS Solutions." Competition from a chain like Meijer could crimp those profits further. It could be a couple of years before the new Meijer store in northwest Detroit becomes a reality. The News reports that Detroit Public Schools owns property where the store would be built, but the district said late last year it plans to sell. 

"We are definitely interested in that site, no doubt about it, but at this point it's a developer-driven project," said Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi when asked about a store timeline.

 

Business
12:00 pm
Sun April 8, 2012

Snyder will sign bills authorizing sale of Michigan state fairgrounds on Monday

Bob Vigiletti / Michigan Radio Picture Project

In 2009, Michigan hosted its last state fair after 161 years.

It was the second oldest in the country. But the event was losing too much money. Between 1970 and 1995, the fair lost on average 2 million dollars a year. Attendance was down 39 percent over the final eight years. In 2009, Governor Granholm ended all state financing.

Since then, not much has happened with the Fairgrounds. On Monday, Governor Snyder will sign bills which will authorize the state to sell the property. The 157 acre property is located just south of Woodward Avenue. Any money made from the sale of the Fairgrounds will be added to the state’s general fund.

Transportation
3:51 pm
Sat April 7, 2012

Suburban resident plans private Detroit bus line

The Detroit News reports Andy Didorosi is set to open the Detroit Bus Co., a private company with three full-size school buses.

The 25-year-old Ferndale resident says he's invested $10,000, and insurance will cost another $10,000 per bus per year. His plan comes as frustrations linger over city buses running late or not at all.

Didorosi's first bus will launch the last week of April, and the other two will follow.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President Henry Gaffney says city service could be better, but he's not a fan of a private citizen tackling the issue. Gaffney says Didorosi doesn't really know what he's doing.

Politics
2:07 pm
Sat April 7, 2012

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing released from hospital

Mayor Bing meeting at the mayoral residence
City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has been released from the hospital, where he was being treated for blood clots in his lungs.

Bing's office says he left Henry Ford Hospital on Saturday. The 68-year-old mayor on Wednesday was readmitted to the hospital, where he'd recently undergone surgery for a perforated colon.

Bing is expected to return to the office by the end of the month. His office says he continues to be involved in city operations through regular meetings with Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis and other members of the staff.

Commentary
10:50 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Commentary: Questions of Race

Throughout Detroit’s financial crisis, the governor has had a consistent message: This is about money and financial mismanagement, not about race. This didn‘t have anything to do with  the bitter racial issues that have plagued Detroit and complicated the city’s relationship with the suburbs, and the state, and itself.

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Education
4:53 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

DPS turnaround plan calls for "self-governing" high schools, new accountability standards

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts laid out his latest plan for how to turn the cash-strapped district around and help students improve.

Here are the three main components of the turnaround:

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Politics
3:32 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing being treated for acute pulmonary embolism

Mayor Bing meeting at the mayoral residence
City of Detroit

After being released this past Monday from Henry Ford Hospital, Mayor Bing was readmitted to the hospital yesterday for discomfort.

Now we have news on his condition.

This statement was just released from Mayor Bing's communications director, Robert Warfield:

“Mayor Bing is being treated for acute pulmonary embolism in each lung,” said Dr. John Popovich, president and CEO of Henry Ford Hospital and a board-certified pulmonologist with extensive experience and research with this disorder.

“After arriving at HenryFordHospital, his condition was promptly diagnosed and treated. Pulmonary embolism is often caused by a blood clot that forms elsewhere in the body and travels to the lungs. This condition is treatable with medications called anticoagulants, commonly referred to as blood thinners. The mayor is alert, in good spirits, and expected to make a full recovery with discharge anticipated in a few days.”

Mayor Bing was admitted to the hospital Wednesday afternoon after experiencing some discomfort. He has been recuperating at the mayoral residence from his March 24 surgery to correct a perforated colon.

Pulmonary embolism is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated.

Here's an animation showing how blot clots, especially after a long stay in a hospital, can form and lead to pulmonary embolisms.

Politics
12:01 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Read the Detroit consent agreement, Michigan Gov. Snyder to hold media roundtable

There's a lot to talk about now that the Detroit City Council narrowly approved a consent agreement with the state.

Gov. Snyder's office says the Governor, state Treasurer Andy Dillon, and Director of Urban Initiatives Harvey Hollins will hold a media roundtable this afternoon at 2 p.m. to discuss the agreement.

You can read the Detroit consent agreement here.

Commentary
11:04 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Commentary: Today's Detroit compared to 60 years ago

Sixty years ago today, Detroit was the fifth largest city in the  nation, vibrant, rich and powerful. The city wouldn’t begin losing people till the first freeways opened up in the next year.

The population had probably reached two million. The summer before, the President of the United States had come to help the city celebrate its two hundred and fiftieth anniversary.

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