Detroit

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.

Politics
3:36 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing returns to hospital - Deputy Mayor says votes are there to pass agreement

Mayor Bing (center) meets with Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis (rear) and Communications Director Robert Warfield (foreground).
City of Detroit

Update 3:36 p.m.

Mayor Bing's office released a statement saying he was re-admitted to Henry Ford Hospital this afternoon as a simple precaution. The statement says he was readmitted "after experiencing some discomfort."

3:21 p.m.

Detroit Mayor Bing's press secretary, Naomi Patton released photos of Bing and Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis meeting today at the mayoral residence in Detroit.

Bing was released from Henry Ford Hospital this past Monday after going through surgery for a perforated colon.

Here's Lewis talking about his meeting with the Mayor and about Detroit City Council's impending decision about a financial stability agreement with the state.

Lewis told reporters he thinks there are enough votes on council to pass the agreement.

News Roundup
8:29 am
Wed April 4, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

user brother_o'mara Flickr

With EM decision fast approaching, Detroit City Council will meet again tonight

Instead of voting on a proposed financial stability agreement with the state, Detroit City Council members spent much of Tuesday discussing several court challenges that could derail any agreement. They eventually adjourned without a vote on the agreement despite warnings that tabling a vote could lead to an emergency manager appointment by Gov. Snyder. Snyder's deadline to decide on an EM appointment is tomorrow. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek was at the meeting and reports council plans to meet again tonight.

Last night, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis, who has been filling in for Mayor Bing while out on medical leave, issued this statement regarding council's discussions:

We appreciate the seriousness with which the Detroit City Council is deliberating. This is one of the most critical decisions in this City’s history. However, Mayor Bing and the administration believe Gov. Snyder will act on Thursday, April 5, according to law, regardless of any related, current legal challenges to the process.

Auto sales on pace for a strong year

It's early yet, but auto sales figures in the U.S. show automakers are on pace to make 2012 the best sales year since 2007. More from the Detroit Free Press:

New-vehicle sales ran at a 14.4 million annual rate in March, down from a four-year-high of 15.1 million in February. Still, at the pace so far, Americans would buy 14.5 million vehicles this year, up from 12.8 million in 2011. The increase equals more than six assembly plants running two shifts each.

Chrysler led all automakers in sales gains for the month of March at 34.2 percent.

Michigan's unemployment rate drops across areas of state 

Michigan's unemployment rate dropped to 8.8% last month with a slight uptick in overall employment as well.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported new data shows the decline occurred throughout the state:

Fifteen of 17 regions of Michigan recorded declines in unemployment in February, with Detroit and Monroe reporting the largest rate decreases from January to February. Flint, Holland and Jackson recorded the largest declines during the past year.

Politics
12:45 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing released from hospital

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has been released from the hospital. Bing was first hospitalized more than a week ago, after experiencing "discomfort" after a dental appointment.

"The Mayor will recuperate at home from surgery to correct a perforated colon and is expected to be out of the office for approximately three weeks," said Bing's press secretary, Naomi Patton, in a written statement.

The Mayor continues to interact daily with his office and is engaged with ongoing City operations."

In the meantime, Bing's designee in his absence, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis, told City Council that the Mayor's office supports the latest draft of a proposed consent agreement from the state.

"It's ready for consideration," Lewis said this morning, adding that "It's time for a thumbs up, thumbs down" vote.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says he wants a deal done as soon as possible, and says the Governor considers this Thursday a hard deadline to reach an agreement.

Politics
11:06 am
Mon April 2, 2012

After offering concessions, Detroit unions won't get a vote

wikimedia commons

Update 11:06 a.m.

In addition to threatening to strike, AFSCME officials say they will also file a federal lawsuit to try and compel Detroit City Council to take a vote on the tentative agreements the unions bargained for.

Unions are also in federal court seeking a restraining order. They're trying to prevent the Detroit City Council from signing off on a consent agreement.

10:49 a.m.

Time is running out for Detroit and state officials to reach an agreement to stave off an emergency manager.

This morning, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis confirmed he won’t ask the City Council to approve new labor contracts for city workers.

That infuriates union leaders, who gave up historic concessions in an effort to save money and avoid an emergency manager.

Al Garrett, President of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees in Detroit, said this is about breaking unions, not Detroit’s fiscal crisis.

"People don’t have to come to work if in fact their rights are being abridged," said Garrett. "It is not unusual for strikes in the city of Detroit, and I’m pretty sure that they may be met with some stiff opposition with regards to taking away rights that folks have had for years."

Gov. Snyder has said those concessions don’t go far enough. Under a proposed consent agreement, city officials would have broad powers to skip collective bargaining and impose union contracts.

Politics
10:24 am
Mon April 2, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 30th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Deadline coming for Detroit

Detroit City Council is meeting today to mull over potential changes to a "financial stability agreement" with the state. Gov. Rick Snyder has said this Thursday is his deadline to decide whether or not to appoint an emergency manager for the city, but some think there might be some wiggle room. From the Detroit Free Press:

On Friday, Snyder's chief of staff Dennis Muchmore said on "Off the Record" on public TV's WKAR that "there's a little bit of flexibility that's built into the law" establishing the emergency manager process, and April 13 becomes "another target date" because of an appeal period. But in a comment that received less attention, Muchmore also said that Thursday is "a hard and fast deadline" for Snyder to decide on an emergency manager.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported last Friday that another court hearing on the legality of the state's consent agreement process could further muddle the process. A court hearing is set for April 9th, after Gov. Snyder's April 5th deadline.

Dow to lay off 900 workers

Dow Chemical Co. is set to lay off around 900 people in response to weak demand for its products in Europe.

The Associated Press reports the chemical manufacturer said today the positions will be cut as part of a plan to trim about $250 million in annual costs. They said they will shut down factories in Illinois, Portugal, Hungary, and Brazil, and it will idle a plant in The Netherlands.

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the company made the decision to adapt to a volatile economy, especially in western Europe.

Dow says it will book a first-quarter charge of $350 million in the first quarter for severance packages, asset impairments and other items related to its cost-cutting plan.

Shares rose 3 cents to $34.67 in morning trading.

Gas prices rising

Gas prices rose about 7 cents during the past week, according to AAA Michigan. Prices are at a statewide average above $4 per gallon for the first time since last June.

From the AP:

The auto club says Monday the average of $4.04 is about 37 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Flint area, where it's $3.95 a gallon. The highest average is in the Ann Arbor and Marquette areas at $4.07.

AAA says Michigan's all-time high was $4.26.

Author Interview
4:45 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Scott Martelle's new book, "Detroit: A Biography"

Scott Martelle is a journalist and author. His new book Detroit: A Biography chronicles the history of the city from the 17oo's to the present day. He was also a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit News.

Martelle believes there was a point in history when Detroit had an opportunity to diversify its manufacturing.

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Politics
11:10 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Top Snyder aide: More needed from Detroit unions

State and city leaders have been working to avoid an emergency manager appointment in Detroit, but so far, no deal has been reached.
user jodelli Flickr

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's chief of staff says more concessions will be needed from Detroit unions before a financial oversight deal can be worked out with city leaders, but he adds "we're moving strongly forward" toward agreement.

Dennis Muchmore said during Friday's taping of public television's "Off the Record" program that he thinks five of nine city council members ultimately will approve a deal between the state and the city. At the moment only three have publicly expressed support.

If an agreement isn't reached by next Thursday, Snyder will have to decide whether to appoint an emergency manager with sweeping powers to run Detroit. Muchmore says an appeal period starts then, so the absolute deadline on a decision isn't until April 13.

Council members are expected to vote early next week.

Politics
3:38 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

With a financial crisis approaching, Detroit City Council debates new plan

Bob Jagendorf Flickr

Detroit City Council is expected to debate a draft financial stability agreement with the state today starting at 4 p.m.

Ahead of the debate, Detroit Mayor Bing released a statement saying "this draft landmark agreement...was jointly developed by the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the State of Michigan."

“Today’s special session of the Detroit City Council to consider a resolution to approve a financial stability agreement represents a significant milestone in addressing the City’s financial crisis, decades in the making,” said Mayor Dave Bing. “It won’t get fixed overnight, but our partnership with the State will drive us as we remedy our financial crisis.”

An earlier proposal by the state brought charges of an attempted "state takeover" of the city.

Council members rejected it, saying the plan stripped them of their power and was the equivalent of appointing an emergency manager to run things.

Bing said in his statement the new agreement "preserves Charter and Executive and Legislative powers, including allowing the Mayor to hire his own executive staff, and outlines specific support from the State."

The Detroit News reports it's obtained a copy of the new agreement:

[The agreement] calls for union contracts to be rewritten under new terms after they expire June 30. They would be built off a single template for all unions, including police and fire. The contracts would call for:

  • Creating a financial advisory board, advising the Mayor’s office and collaborating with the City to set yearly revenue targets; 
  • Requiring the City to adopt three-year budget; 
  • Creating a Project Implementation Office that reports to the Mayor and introduces a Project Manager to monitor and facilitate immediate project performance improvement; and
  • Providing a collaborative, performance-based process, ensuring the commitment of legislative support to improve City services such as the Public Lighting Department, the Department of Transportation and income tax collection.

The new agreement comes shortly after a coalition of about 30 city unions gave concessions in their contracts, including pay cuts, health care reorganization, and switching from traditional pensions to defined-contribution retirement plans.

Ed McNeil, with AFSCME, told the Detroit News this new draft agreement "is going to make all employees of the city of Detroit at-will. It would devastate the people in having representation. Basically what (Gov. Rick) Snyder is saying is, 'It's time to bust unions.'"

The News reports the Bing administration will push for a vote today from city council, but "council members, however, have said they expect a vote as early as tomorrow or Monday."

Politics
12:55 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

Michigan Governor Snyder holds Q & A session in Detroit; City Council set to consider deal Thursday

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder answering questions at a town hall meeting held at the Wayne County Community College in Detroit.
LiveStream

The Detroit City Council is expected to debate a "financial stability agreement" with the state on Thursday.

That news came just a few hours after  Gov. Rick Snyder took to a stage at Wayne County Community College to answer questions.

Snyder said the event was an effort to end the "miscommunication" about his plans for Detroit.

"I'm not here to run the city," Snyder said. "I'm here to be a supporting resource."

The questions were pointed, but the mood was calm, especially when compared to the wild public meeting held by the state's financial review team earlier this week in which one protester, Malik Shabazz,  threatened to burn the city down before allowing a "state takeover" (Charlie LeDuff of Fox News in Detroit later got Shabazz to take back that statement).

Gov. Snyder showed emotion during the town hall meeting as he tried to explain his reasons for wanting to enter into some kind of deal with city leaders rather than appointing an emergency manager.

He said the financial crisis the city is facing is casting a shadow over positive trends in Detroit, and if more citizens are thinking of leaving the city "we are in trouble!"

In one of his more animated moments, Snyder said when he talks to young people in Detroit he asks them, "do you want to be a yuppie living in Chicago, or come make a difference in Detroit?"

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Politics
11:00 am
Wed March 28, 2012

LIVESTREAM: Gov. Rick Snyder's Detroit town hall meeting

Gov. Snyder answering questions from the audience at a town hall meeting at Wayne County Community College in Detroit.
screenshot from LiveStream

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is holding a town hall meeting this morning on Detroit's financial crisis at 11 a.m.

You can watch a livestream of the event below: The Governor's Q and A session has ended.

Watch live streaming video from SnyderLive at livestream.com

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Politics
4:24 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Snyder will talk about Detroit finances at a town hall Wednesday

Governor Snyder speaks to a gathering of city managers in Benton Harbor, shortly after he signed expanded powers for emergency managers. Benton Harbor residents protested his appearance outside the meeting.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will take part in a town hall meeting in Detroit Wednesday morning to discuss the city’s finances. Snyder says he’s trying to be transparent about the situation.

“A lot of it is getting out to talk to people and making sure that we all get the same facts, because Detroit’s in terrible financial distress in some ways. And there needs to be a long term solution because we all want Detroit to succeed,” Snyder said.

He’s expected to go over the facts at the town hall meeting. He’ll also field questions and probably some criticism from the audience.

The meeting comes as state and city leaders are trying to finalize a deal to resolve major cash flow problems. A state review team has determined Detroit is in “severe financial stress”. The city’s deficit is nearly $200 million.

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Politics
5:26 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Crowd interrupts state financial review meeting in Detroit

JSFauxtaugraphy Flickr

Update 5:26 p.m.

The state review team looking into Detroit’s finances held what was supposed to be its last meeting today.

The meeting was chaotic.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon and other review team members were often drowned out by shouting and singing protesters in the audience.

In the end, the review reaffirmed that a "severe financial emergency" does exist in Detroit.

But there's no consent agreement between the state and city leaders yet.

Dillon said Governor Snyder is still talking with city leaders.

"If a consent agreement can be adopted, that's an alternative for the Governor, and that's what he prefers to see," said Dillon.

Dillon says if the two sides can't reach an agreement, the Governor can appoint an emergency manager for Detroit.

But by law, he'll need to act within the next ten days.

5:00 p.m.

The state financial review team meeting in Detroit today has adjourned. They did so without making recommendations to Gov. Snyder for how to resolve Detroit's financial crisis.

The meeting was open to the public and was interrupted by loud outbursts from the crowd. The Detroit Free Press estimated the crowd at around 100 people.

4:35 p.m.

A state-appointed financial review team met in Detroit today and was expected to deliver its recommendation to Gov. Snyder regarding the potential appointment of a emergency manager for the city.

Protesters attending the meeting interrupted State Treasurer Andy Dillon during his presentation shouting "No takeover." At one point, the crowd began to sing "We Shall Overcome."

More from the Detroit Free Press:

State treasurer Andy Dillon couldn’t finish his report about Detroit’s finances because the crowd was standing and shouting. Audience members were warned that they will be removed if they continue interrupting proceedings.

At one point Dillon called the audience rude, prompting more protest and causing security to move in on the meeting. The review board attempted to continue with its discussion. Police officers were present at the meeting.

Later, a skirmish between a security guard and a protester interrupted the meeting, but financial review team members tried to keep the meeting going.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek was at the meeting and will have more for us later.

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