Detroit

Detroit
6:44 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Detroit mayor to ask Mich. for $125M-$150M loan

Ifmuth Flickr

Update 7:15 a.m.:

Bing spokeswoman Naomi Patton said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday morning that the mayor has no such specific plans, however, to seek the help from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Original post:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing plans to ask the state of Michigan for a $125 million to $150 million loan to shore up Detroit's finances and avoid a state-appointed emergency manager.

Bing's plans to seek the help from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder were reported Thursday evening by The Wall Street Journal following an interview with the Democratic mayor.

The Detroit News reported Friday that Bing's office confirmed the plans. Bing spokeswoman Naomi Patton tells the newspaper a request hasn't yet been formally made to Snyder.

The Associated Press sent emails Friday morning seeking comment from Patton and the governor's office.

Detroit faces cash flow problems and a nearly $200 million budget deficit. Bing and Snyder have said they would prefer to avoid an emergency manager. A consent agreement is a possibility.

Politics
3:01 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Consent agreement may be part of Detroit's future

DETROIT (AP) - A high-stakes game of political brinksmanship could result in a consent agreement that keeps a state-appointed emergency manager out of Detroit.

But elected officials and municipal unions first would have to agree on concessions aimed at shoring up the city's financially-battered books.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he prefers a consent agreement with the city, which faces cash flow problems and a nearly $200 million budget deficit.

A consent agreement likely would include stiff requirements and still could lead to a manager if Detroit fails to comply. But it could help keep civic pride intact while retaining local control.

Mayor Dave Bing for months has used the threat of an emergency manager to cajole city unions into accepting wage and health benefit reductions. Deals have been reached but remain un-ratified.

Politics
11:29 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Judge: Bridge owner loses control of construction

Flickr
The Ambassador Bridge Jim Wallace

DETROIT (AP) - A judge has ordered the company that controls the Ambassador Bridge to surrender control of its portion of a project on the U.S. side of the international crossing to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards ordered Thursday that an account be set up to fund the work.

A next court hearing is March 22.

The Detroit International Bridge Co. has said it's making progress on its share of the $230 million Gateway Project and pledged to complete the work.

In January, Edwards put 84-year-old billionaire Manuel "Matty" Moroun and his top executive, Dan Stamper, in jail for contempt of court for failing to follow orders on the project, which includes connecting the bridge with Canada to area interstates.

They were released by the Michigan appeals court.

Arts/Culture
10:02 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Artpod: Discotech = technology you can dance to

Mary Nelson, 71, wants to create a Facebook group page for her neighborhood block club
Brian Short Michigan Radio

Urban neighborhood libraries are on the decline.

Detroit, Flint, Dearborn and other cities have recently had to close some of their library branches in order to save money, which means access to free computers and computer training is becoming more limited.

On today's Artpod, we'll visit a group that's working to close the digital divide.

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Arts/Culture
7:00 am
Thu March 8, 2012

"Discotech" uses technology to foster community

Mary Nelson, 71, wants to create a Facebook group for her neighborhood block club
Brian Short Michigan Radio

Urban neighborhood libraries are on the decline.

Detroit, Flint, Dearborn and other cities have recently had to close some of their library branches in order to save money, which means access to free computers and computer training is becoming more limited.

But in Detroit, there’s a group working to close the digital divide.

Discothèque vs. Discotech

This story takes place at a "discotech."

Not the kind of discotheque where you flaunt your best dance moves in platform shoes, but the kind of discotech where Google, Twitter and Facebook are center stage.

Here, discotech stands for DISCOvering TECHnology.

It's a traveling technology workshop that looks a lot like a pop-up science fair, with laptops, poster boards, wires and circuits all around the room.

Diana Nucera, one of the Discotech organizers, says the event is about "showing the possibility of technology to make our personal connections stronger."

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Politics
1:24 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Governor Snyder outlines plan to fight crime in Michigan

Office of the Governor

During a press conference in Flint today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder outlined points from his "Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety." A press release from the governor's office quotes Snyder:

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Crime
11:54 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Michigan's governor calls for 'smart justice' to fight crime

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)

Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan should fight crime by arresting more criminals while also steering youths toward school and jobs and sending some of the accused to drug and mental health courts.

In remarks prepared for Wednesday in Flint, Snyder says the state needs a system of "smart justice" that includes prevention and intervention.

That means making sure those who commit crimes get punished, whether they're involved in retail theft, drug trafficking or murder.

But he says it also means giving inner-city youths a chance to work in parks and receive job training. Under Snyder's public safety plan, ex-cons would get help with literacy and job skills.

Snyder also wants to require that all school-age children attend school in order for their families to receive welfare benefits.

Detroit
6:36 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Mayor Bing set to deliver 3rd State of City address

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Corvair Owner Flickr

Mayor Dave Bing will deliver his third State of the City address as he, the City Council and union leaders seek fiscal answers to keep the state from appointing an emergency manager.

He's giving the speech at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Erma Henderson Auditorium at City Hall.

In prior years, the event was held at the Max Fisher Music Center. The move to City Hall is designed to save money. A preliminary review from the state showed a nearly $200 million general fund deficit for 2011.

Municipal unions have yet to ratify concessions aimed at cutting into the deficit.

A review team is looking over the city's books to determine if a financial emergency exists, a step that could lead to Gov. Rick Snyder appointing an emergency manager.

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.

___

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.

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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.

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