Detroit

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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Breaking
7:39 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Detroit City Council approves consent agreement with state

In a 5 to 4 vote Detroit City Council approved a consent agreement between the city and state that will allow the city to avoid an emergency manager and bankruptcy. Earlier today, a state financial review team approved the agreement.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Under the consent agreement, a financial advisory board whose members would be appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council would advise and review all fiscal matters. The governor would appoint three members, the state treasurer would appoint one, the mayor would appoint two and the City Council would appoint two.

Michigan Governor Snyder released this statement after the vote:

“The council has acted responsibly to put Detroit on the path to financial stability. Approval of the consent agreement is a positive opportunity for the city and our entire state. It’s a clear message that we will move forward – and win – as one Michigan. We all want Detroit to succeed. This agreement paves the way for a good-faith partnership that will restore the fiscal integrity taxpayers expect and ensure the delivery of services that families deserve.

“While the council’s action is a positive step, there’s no doubt that much work remains. The magnitude of the city’s financial challenges means that many difficult decisions lie ahead. We must build on this spirit of cooperation and be willing to act in the city’s long-term interests.

“I appreciate the countless hours that Mayor Dave Bing and his staff, the City Council, the Financial Review Team, state Treasurer Andy Dillon and the rest of my team have devoted to achieving this agreement. Because of their tireless work, Detroit is poised to move toward being a great city again with improved services for its citizens and a foundation for future growth.”

And Detroit's Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis released this statement after council approved the consent agreement:

The Detroit City Council’s vote tonight represents a pivotal moment in Detroit’s history. It is time now to begin the monumental task of stabilizing Detroit’s financial operations, which is and has always been the mission of Mayor Bing and his administration.

The Mayor and his administration worked with the City Council and the State to develop a consent agreement that we believe puts us on track to restructure our City financially and reestablish an infrastructure to make sure Detroit never faces these financial conditions again.

This agreement also ensures that the future of Detroit is determined by Detroiters and its elected officials.

Lewis has been acting on Mayor Bing's behalf while he works to recuperate from surgery after suffering from a perforated colon.

Detroit
5:30 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Twitter to open office in Detroit, reporter Tweets the news on-air

West McGowan Flickr

Update 5:30 p.m.

Have you ever heard a radio reporter "Tweet" a story?

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra shows us how:

12:08 p.m.

People are all a-Twitter about the social media company opening an office in downtown Detroit.

The office will be located in the M@dison Building on Broadway Street. The building is owned by Quicken Loans Chairman, Dan Gilbert.

This from a press release from Rock Ventures LLC, another company run by Gilbert:

"Twitter coming downtown is exactly the kind of innovative company Detroit needs to advance our vision of becoming one of the most exciting high-tech and web-centered corridors of growth and activity found anywhere," said Gilbert, Chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, and Majority Owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Twitter chose Detroit because of the city's growing, young and energetic environment.  This is further proof that the country is starting to wake up and take notice – if you want to create a thriving, growing tech business, downtown Detroit is one of the best places to be," Gilbert added.

Twitter is headquartered in San Francisco.

The Detroit office will help "marketers and advertising agencies in Detroit leverage Twitter's Promoted Products suite of advertising products."

The company expects to hire more employees as it grows.

Politics
4:17 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

State financial review team approves Detroit consent agreement

The members of Dertoit's financial review team
Michigan Department of Treasury

A Michigan state financial review team met this afternoon and approved a proposed consent agreement with the city of Detroit.

Review team member Conrad Mallett Jr. said the proposed agreement "is the best we can do at the moment we are in," according to the Detroit Free Press.

The consent deal would keep Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council in office but impose substantial state oversight of the city’s finances. The major sticking point under a consent agreement is the reopening of union contracts.

Now its up to Detroit City Council to vote on the agreement. They are scheduled to meet today at 5 p.m. Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said today the thinks there are enough votes on council to pass the agreement.

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