Detroit

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.

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.

Read more

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