Detroit

Economy
2:57 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

Betting on more casinos in Michigan

(Courtesy of scalesonfire.com)

Fights are getting under way between groups that are proposing at least 22 new casinos in Michigan and opponents seeking to protect the business of existing gambling halls or simply opposed to more of them.

The Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/AArZwC ) says it has reviewed confidential documents on proposals for opening new casinos besides the three now operating in Detroit and others charted by Indian groups around Michigan.

Four tribes are working to expand off-reservation gambling, while two investor groups are seeking to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow more casinos.

There are four proposals for casinos in Romulus and two each in Detroit and Port Huron.

Michigan State University tribal law expert Matthew Fletcher calls it a "fantasy" and questions if people want that many casinos in lower Michigan.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

Auto/Economy
12:55 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Plans call for demolishing Detroit's Packard plant

The Packard Plant in Detroit.
Angelique DuLong wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - A man who claims ownership of one of Detroit's most widely-known industrial ruins says he plans to demolish most or all of what remains of the sprawling facility.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report Friday that Dominic Cristini, who claims ownership of the Packard plant through Bioresource Inc., is awaiting demolition permits. He says he wants to start demolition within a month. He estimates it will cost $6 million to raze the plant.

Cristini says portions might be saved for historical value.

The plant was built in the early 1900s. The last Packard automobile was built in the mid-1950s. Other smaller industrial businesses have used the facility since. As the years passed, the plant increasingly became the target of thieves, metal scrappers, urban explorers and graffiti artists.

Politics
6:36 am
Fri March 2, 2012

From Michigan's U.P. to Detroit, political allies from the unlikeliest of places

Detroit skyline
JSFauxtaugraphy Flickr

A lawmaker from the Upper Peninsula says every region in the state could benefit from a strong and vibrant Detroit.

Republican state Senator Tom Casperson has become an unlikely advocate for a regional transit system in southeast Michigan that would connect Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties.

Casperson’s district in the U.P. would not benefit directly from the transit system. But the U.P. could benefit long term from newfound political ties to Detroit.

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Politics
5:35 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

FBI launches anti-public corruption task force in Detroit

The FBI is pulling together a multi-agency task force fight public corruption in the Detroit area.

The task force will include several federal agencies, federal prosecutors, the Michigan Attorney General, the Michigan State Police, and Detroit Police. 

It’s no secret that public corruption is a major problem in our community," said Detroit US Attorney Barbara McQuade.

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Arts/Culture
2:41 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

A scavenger hunt for free art in Detroit

Free Art Friday Detroit Facebook

If you’re in Detroit on a Friday keep your eye out for some free art. It might be hidden in a statue in front of the YMCA or tucked into a corner of the People Mover. 

The free art is actually part of a project called Free Art Friday Detroit. The idea is that Detroit artists hide their art around the city, and then leave clues on Facebook and Twitter. (The twitter hashtag is #FAFDET)

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Commentary
10:58 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Detroit Crime: Blame the Guns

Earlier this week, while we were paying a lot of attention to the presidential primary race, many of the big shots in Detroit turned out for a baby’s funeral. Delric Waymon Miller died when a gunman riddled his home with bullets from an AK-47.

That was, by the way, the standard assault rifle used by our ancient enemy, the old Soviet Union. The USSR is as dead as a dinosaur, but its weapons are still killing Americans.

Read more
Economy
1:05 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Detroit home sale prices improve, while other cities see declines

OK it sold, but for how much?
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A new report says home sale prices fell in 19 of 20 major American cities last year. The exception was Detroit.

Standard & Poors follows monthly and yearly home sale prices. Maureen Maitland is an S&P vice president. She says Detroit’s home sale prices bucked the national downward trend last year and actually rose by half a percent in 2011.

Maitland says a few factors are working in Detroit’s favor.

“(Home sale prices) really couldn’t fall much lower. It really had bottomed out. It really had suffered a lot in the past two or three years," said Maitland, "But secondly, the auto industry is picking up. So, on a relative basis, there may be a few more jobs coming into the Detroit market.”  

Maitland says it will take another five to seven months of sustained growth to suggest Detroit’s housing market might finally be on the rebound. 

And in December, home prices declined slightly in Detroit.  

Detroit homes are selling now at prices that haven’t been seen since the mid-1990’s.

Crime
1:00 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Former city of Detroit treasurer Jeffrey Beasley indicted for extortion

Jeffrey Beasley was the treasurer for the city of Detroit from 2006 to until he resigned in September 2008, according to the Detroit News.

Today's indictment charges Beasley with conspiring with others to "personally enrich himself and his co-conspirators by accepting bribes in the form of cash, travel, meals, golf clubs, drinks, gambling money, hotel stays, entertainment, Las Vegas concert tickets, massages, limousine service, private plane flights, and other things of value."

Prosecutors charge that bribes given to Beasley and his co-conspirators came from individuals who had business before the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit.

More from the Detroit News:

Beasley, a fraternity brother of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's at Florida A&M University, accepted the bribes and kickbacks in return for approving more than $200 million in pension fund investments, prosecutors said Tuesday...

If convicted, Beasley faces up to 20 years in prison. Charges include extortion, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud.

"Employees of the City of Detroit are entitled to honest services from the trustees of their pension funds," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a prepared statement. "We will prosecute public officials who abuse their positions of trust to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the people they were intended to serve."

Jeffrey Beasley, 43, now lives in Chicago.

The Detroit News reports that during a deposition last September, Beasley had invoked his Fifth Amendment right 477 times, according to a transcript reviewed by the newspaper.

Arts/Culture
4:22 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Kid Rock to headline benefit concert for Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Photo courtesy of KidRock.com

An unlikely musical guest will headline a one-night-only concert in May to benefit the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Michigan musician and rapper Kid Rock will headline the fundraising concert. The goal is to raise $1 million for the DSO; the orchestra faces a deficit of more than a $2 million this year.

Kid Rock will share the stage with his own Twisted Brown Trucker band and the DSO. They’ll play orchestral arrangements of some of Kid Rock’s hits, with DSO music director Leonard Slatkin conducting.

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Politics
10:20 am
Wed February 22, 2012

Detroit's public transit system gets new leader

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's problematic public transportation system is getting a new leader.

The office of Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement Tuesday night that Ron Freeland would serve as the Detroit Department of Transportation's CEO. Freeland has worked as an executive with other transportation systems in the U.S.

Word of the appointment comes as Detroit considers ending early-morning bus service as part of an effort to cut about $11 million in costs. The city says some other bus routes could be eliminated. Public hearings on the proposal are planned.

The mayor on Wednesday also planned to show off new city buses at an event on the city's east side. The mayor's office says the new, more fuel-efficient buses are part of the city's newest fleet that began arriving Jan. 30.

News Roundup
8:53 am
Thu February 16, 2012

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Governor Snyder endorses Romney, but will it help?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder officially endorsed Mitt Romney for president. In an opinion piece in the Detroit News, Governor Snyder wrote:

The American economy as a whole remains in difficult straits. Our next president must understand how markets work and know how to get our nation back on track. Mitt Romney is the man for the job.

Polls show Romney trailing Santorum in Michigan. If Romney loses here, Matt Viser writes in Boston.com, it would be a big blow to his campaign:

A Romney loss in Michigan - the state where he grew up, the state his father governed, the state he says he loves - would not only breathe further life into Santorum’s campaign but could derail Romney’s.

Federal prosecutors charge top Wayne County employee

Tahir Kazmi, Wayne County's Chief Information Officer, has been charged with extortion and obstruction of justice.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that federal prosecutors charged Kazmi "with pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents investigating possible corruption in Wayne County government."  Kazmi is also charged with extortion for allegedly demanding cash and expensive trips in exchange for awarding county contracts.

The federal investigation in Wayne County began after the Turkia Mullin severance scandal broke last October.

Detroit Mayor Bing wants to cut bus service from 1 to 4 a.m.

Detroit's beleaguered bus system is facing more cuts. Layoffs were recently announced, now Mayor Bing's office said it want to cut early morning service.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

Bing's office said it will propose ending bus service between 1 and 4 a.m. citywide and reduce service times and lengthen waits between buses on dozens of routes. The cuts would take effect March 3.

Coupled with the reductions, Detroit will institute a "truth in scheduling" pledge that buses will arrive at times posted on new city bus schedules as officials work to right the bus system as part of Bing's strategy to avoid a state financial takeover, Detroit Chief Operations Officer Chris Brown told the Free Press on Wednesday.

Politics
1:51 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Payroll audit in Detroit seeks to root out fraud

The city of Detroit will ask employees to physically pick up their paychecks on Feb. 24th.
user andrea_44 Flickr

The city of Detroit plans to find fraud in its payroll system by forcing people to show up to collect their checks.

Mailed checks, or direct deposit won't happen on February 24, according to Nancy Kaffer of Crain's Detroit Business:

On Feb. 24, Detroit employees won't be paid via direct deposit or mailed checks. Rather, employees must show up in person and present government-issued photo ID and a Social Security card.

It's called a payroll audit, and it's a good idea — the goal is to eliminate "ghost employees," or folks who no longer work for the city but continue to collect paychecks.

It's part of an ongoing effort to root out fraud, said Naomi Patton, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's press secretary. The city hadn't done one, and decided it was time.

A management consultant says this type of action is the "low hanging fruit" for a business or city trying to turn things around. Kaffer questions why Mayor Dave Bing has waited this long to do something like this.

Changing Gears
10:21 am
Tue February 14, 2012

3 things to know about Mitt Romney’s latest Op-Ed

Mitt Romney is working to clarify his position on the auto bailouts.
Matthew Reichbach Flickr

Yesterday, we told you that Michigan’s native son, Mitt Romney, has fallen behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in two pre-primary polls.

Now, Romney is firing back in the Detroit News. not at his rival, but at union leaders and Obama administration officials.

Romney touches on many themes about the 2009 auto industry bailout.

You can read the entire op-ed here.

We picked out three things and provide some context.

Read more
Arts/Culture
10:12 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Max Fisher Music Center to reopen after explosion

The DSO's Orchestra Hall was damaged after an explosion over the weekend. The Hall reopened this morning.
DSO

DETROIT (AP) - The Max Fisher Music Center will reopen for business after Orchestra Hall was damaged in a weekend methane gas explosion that sent several manhole covers flying into the air.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra says the Music Center will be open for business at 9 a.m. Tuesday and all events and concerts will resume as scheduled.

DSO officials say damage from the Sunday morning blast triggered by an underground cable failure was contained to a basement restroom of the original Orchestra Hall structure just north of downtown.

No injuries were reported.

The explosion forced Sunday's Sphinx 15 Finals Competition to be moved to the University of Michigan.

Tickets for Friday evening's Paradise Jazz Concert featuring Gretchen Parlato and Vijay Iyer, and this weekend's concerts featuring piano virtuoso Emanuel Ax, remain available.

Trial
3:26 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Opening arguments in Day 1 of Hutaree militia trial

Seven on trial: top left, David Stone Sr. of Clayton, MI; Tina Stone of Clayton, MI; Jacob Ward of Huron, OH; David Stone Jr. of Adrian, MI. Bottom left, Michael Meeks of Manchester, MI,; Kristopher Sickles of Sandusky, OH; Thomas Piatek of Whiting, IN.
base photo U.S. Marshals Michigan Radio

You'll be seeing a lot of news about the trial of seven militia members accused of plotting a violent uprising against the government in the coming weeks.

Their trial got underway today in U.S. District Court in Detroit with Judge Victoria Roberts presiding.

A little background - nine Hutaree militia members were arrested in March of 2010.

Prosecutors say they were plotting to kill an unidentified police officer in April 2010, and to follow up that attack with more attacks on officers gathering for a funeral for the police officer.

A federal grand jury indicted the nine "on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence."

One of the nine initial defendants, two are not part of this trial:

  • Joshua Clough of Blissfield, Michigan made a deal with prosecutors and could be called as a witness during the trial.
  • Jacob Warn of Huron, Ohio was found temporarily incompetent to stand trial. He's expected to be tried later.

Twelve jurors and four alternates were selected during a final round of jury selection this morning in Detroit.

Judge Victoria Roberts told those chosen that the job is a "heavy responsibility."

Read more
Detroit
3:06 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Detroit police agree to tentative deal as city fights possible takeover

jalopnik.com

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a tentative deal has been reached with police unions, as the city tries to head off a threatened state takeover.  

The size of Detroit’s deficit is in dispute, but the city could run out of cash by April. 

A state review team is investigating whether Detroit needs an emergency manager.  That person could set aside union contracts under current state law.  

Bing says the city can fix its own financial problems.  Last week most non-uniformed city unions agreed to take cuts. 

Read more
Politics
11:48 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Marijuana law should have been on Detroit ballot

USFWS

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled this morning that a judge ruled incorrectly when he upheld the Detroit Election Commission's decision to block a 2010 ballot measure.

The ballot measure would have allowed voters to decide on reducing penalties for people 21 or older who possessed less than an ounce of marijuana on private property in Detroit.

Detroit officials didn't allow the proposal to go forward because they said it would conflict with state drug laws

More from the Detroit Free Press:

A 2-1 majority of the appeals panel said city officials did not have the authority to make that determination.

“It was outside the authority of (city officials) to consider the substance and effect of the initiative and defendants have a clear legal duty to place the matter on the ballot,” the court wrote.

In the majority were judges Henry Saad and Elizabeth Gleicher. Dissenting was Judge Jane Markey.

The Associated Press reports the appeals court acknowledged that marijuana possession still would be illegal under Michigan law even if Detroiters had passed the ordinance.

Changing Gears
4:42 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

What do we mean when we talk about Detroit?

In the Chrysler Super Bowl ad, Clint Eastwood invokes Detroit. "How do we win?" he asks, "Detroit is showing us it can be done... It's halftime America, and our second half is about to begin."
YouTube

Last night during the Super Bowl, Chrysler ran a follow-up to its much buzzed-about commercial from last year’s big game.

The new commercial, dubbed “It’s Halftime in America” ran, appropriately enough, during halftime.

Read more
Education
11:26 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Truancy sweep scheduled for today in Detroit

Police officials are picking up kids who are not in school around the Detroit area today.

The Detroit Free Press reports Detroit Police are teaming up with local school officials and federal officials to make the sweeps

The program was initiated with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by Detroit Police Officer Monica Evans, who was a teacher for 12 years. Detroit Public Schools officials are also participating. The effort stems from a U.S. Justice Department report that found many of the nation's prisoners listed truancy as their first offense. The task force has also organized patrols before and after classes at a number of Detroit schools to help students arrive and depart safely.

The Free Press reports the effort is part of "an ongoing collaborative effort by federal, state and local law enforcement to reduce crime by and against children."

They write the effort first started last year and "netted 63 truant students" during a sweep in April, 2011.

Politics
4:40 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Is bankruptcy a good option for Detroit?

Eric Scorsone, MSU Extension specialist and economist.
Michigan State University

The city of Detroit continues to try to find a way out of its fiscal crisis.

A new report led by Michigan State University economist, Eric Scorsone, examines the impact of a bankruptcy on the city – something Governor Snyder, the legislature and the city leaders want to avoid.

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