Detroit

Economy
2:57 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Veterans business conference set for Detroit

DETROIT (AP) - A Veterans Affairs conference this summer in Detroit is expected to bring $3 million of spending to the area.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference will be held June 25-29 at Cobo Center. Organizers say more than 6,000 veterans, business owners and federal employees are expected to attend.

Nearly 5,000 people attended the conference last year in New Orleans.

Mayor Dave Bing and Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff John Gingrich announced the conference  Wednesday. Gingrich says the conference and a hiring fair "will provide veterans with on-the-spot job opportunities and interviews" in the public and private sectors.

A partnership of federal agencies and private industry attracted more than 4,100 veterans and resulted in over 2,600 on-the-spot interviews and more than 500 tentative job offers earlier this month in Washington D.C.

Detroit Finances
7:53 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Report: Detroit could lose $8.5M in income tax

Ifmuth Flickr

A published report says state law requires the cash-strapped city of Detroit to cut its income tax rates starting July 1 unless the Legislature steps in.

The Detroit Free Press reports Wednesday the requirement is from a 1998 law that was part of a deal to preserve a state revenue-sharing payment and would total about $8.5 million.

The newspaper cited an analysis from the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Detroit sought a waiver from a state administrative board in December but was denied. Mayor Dave Bing says he will seek legislative help again because the city needs to keep "every
dollar" it can get.

A state-appointed review team is working to determine whether a financial emergency exists in Detroit, a step that could lead to an emergency manager.

Arts/Culture
9:29 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Detroit Science Center still looking for funds, bank asks for liquidation

The Detroit Science Center is seeking $10 million in order to reopen its doors, according to Crain's Detroit Business.
Detroit Science Center

When the Detroit Science Center closed its doors last September because of cash shortfalls, officials there said they would reopen in early October.

It proved to be wishful thinking.

The Center continues to look for ways to drum up enough money to reopen.

Crain's Detroit Business' Sherri Welch reports that one bank is calling for liquidation:

Sources tell Crain's that Citizens Bank of Flint is demanding the Detroit Science Center board bring in liquidators so that the bank can recoup some portion of the money owed to it by the science center through the sale of its contents.

Citizens holds the debt on a $1 million credit line which is bundled with a $4.8 million mortgage tied to the science center's 2001 expansion.

The bank did not return messages left Thursday afternoon.

Welch says sources tell her that GM and Ford have "promised money to help bail the science center out." $10 million is being sought to cover debt and operating expenses for both the Detroit Science Center and the Detroit Children's Museum.

The Detroit Children's Museum, which is housed in the Detroit Science Center, closed its doors earlier this month. A message on their Facebook page posted on January 19 says, "we are still working on a reopening plan with Detroit Public Schools. Please stay tuned for more details."

Arts/Culture
1:19 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Public radio program 'On Being' focuses on Detroit

The "Feedom Freedom Growers" working in Detroit (photo posted on the "On Being" website).
Amy K. Senese www.amysenese.com

It seems the entire nation is watching what will happen in the Motor City.

A new documentary opens this weekend looking at Detroit as the epicenter of the fallout of the new global economy.

And now, in their latest episode, the public radio program On Being uses Detroit to look at rebuilding.

The program's producers write the program is:

A Detroit you probably haven't seen in the news. It's a city of vigor — a place where neighbors are reimagining work, food, and the very meaning of humanity. To meet these people is to gain perspective on all of our work, and how we might imagine possibility in our own community.

The program includes conversations with 96 year-old social activist Grace Lee Boggs about reinventing society.

You can listen to the program below, and let us know what you think. Write a review of the On Being episode in the comments section.

Arts/Culture
12:02 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

'Detropia' makes debut at Sundance Film Festival this weekend

The filmmakers say if people only take away the message that Detroit has problems after watching 'Detropia,' then "we've failed at our job."
screen grab from YouTube video

Yes, yes... there are a lot of abandoned buildings and sad reminders of better times in Detroit.

While some artists come to Detroit to gawk at the "ruin porn," as Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra has pointed out, the filmmakers of the new documentary "Detropia" say they hope people take away something other than a sense of awe at the decay.

Co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady say they want their audience to understand the people who stayed behind in Detroit:

"Initially when we went there, we were just looking for this Phoenix story. We were hoping that there were people on the ground there that were really just going to fix the place. But after spending a couple years filming there, and spending time with our characters we realized that was really just a very dishonest story," said Grady.

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detroit
11:25 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Detroit land use project opens walk-in office

The Detroit Works Project long-term planning team's "home base" is located in Eastern Market.
detroitworksproject.com

Detroit residents interested in Mayor Dave Bing’s planning project for the city have a place to go for information. The Detroit Works long-term planning team has just opened a walk-in office in Eastern Market.

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Economy
1:01 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Michigan home prices predicted to largely stabilize in 2012

Sold (but for how much?)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report predicts home prices in Detroit will continue to decline. But the report also finds Michigan home prices overall are stabilizing.   

Real estate industry analysts at Clear Capital predict nationally, average home sale prices will remain relatively unchanged in 2012. Prices nationally have been falling since the housing market crash of a few years ago.   

Detroit’s home sale prices have been declining faster than the nationally average and Clear Capital predicts another 5 percent drop this year.    

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Auto
5:47 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Deal inked to keep auto show in Detroit through 2017

Detroit will hang on to the North American International Auto Show for at least another five years.

The deal signed today by auto show and Cobo Center officials should reverse years of suggestions that show sponsors might take their business elsewhere.

"It is our way of saying: 'Detroit, we are with you,'" said Bill Perkins, chairman of the 2012 show. 

A regional authority took control of Cobo away from the city two years ago. The move paved the way a $278 million renovation of the aging facility. Perkins says those renovations will put the facility on par with other top global venues, "helping us to maintain our position on the world auto stage as the show at which to introduce new and exciting vehicles."

The renovation is under way that will add space to Cobo and open views to the Detroit River. The facility is also getting new loading docks and other amenities. The auto dealers who put on the show had warned the city could lose the auto show if renovations were not made.

The show opens to the public January 14.

Politics
5:42 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Detroit Mayor Bing says city won't run out of money this April

Detroit Mayor Bing says with changes, the financial crisis in the city is not as bad as previously forecasted.
Kate Davidson Michigan Radio

Update 5:39 pm:

The mayor’s plan includes $360 million in savings over the next year and a half. But some city council members  say they’re skeptical.

"There’s not much here that we haven’t already heard before," Councilman Ken Cockrel said. He and others say the savings appear overly optimistic. 

Mayor Bing disagrees.

"Add up the numbers," he said. "The numbers don’t lie."

The mayor plans to present his proposal to a state review team next week. That review team could recommend an emergency manager take over the city finances. Meanwhile, his administration continues to negotiate with city unions. Bing says the unions have until the end of the month to agree to concessions, or steeper cuts and layoffs are inevitable.

1:01 pm:

The Associated Press reports that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has declared the city's financial crisis is easing, and the city is "no longer at risk of running out of cash by April as previously expected."

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is following this story and will have more for us later.

More from the Associated Press:

Mayor Dave Bing on Thursday released a financial and operational restructuring plan update. It highlights cost savings from 1,000 imminent layoffs, overdue payments from the Detroit Public Schools district and a corporate tax increase that Bing says will mitigate a cash shortfall.

Bing planned to present the update Thursday afternoon to the Detroit City Council, which has scheduled discussion time for the plan.

A review team is looking into Detroit's finances - a step in a process that could lead to Michigan taking over the city's government. Its recommendations will be forwarded to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Last November, Mayor Bing cited a financial audit that showed the city might run out of money this April.

Auto/Economy
5:30 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Chrysler "embracing its Detroit heritage," announces more jobs in Motor City

Chrysler's headquarters is in Auburn Hills, but the new jobs will be in Detroit, according to the company.
user fiatontheweb creative commons

Chrysler has announced that it will add 1,250 more jobs in the city of Detroit. The company says it is "embracing its Detroit heritage and weaving it into the fiber of its future plans."

More from a company press release:

Chrysler Group LLC is strengthening its ties with the City of Detroit by adding a third crew and 1,100 new jobs at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit (JNAP), expanding the Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup to include a diesel version for North America in the city and reaffirming plans to add 150 jobs by reopening its Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, also located in the Motor City for production of the ultimate American sports car – the SRT Viper.

“Our future, like the history of our brands, is interwoven with the City of Detroit,” said Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne. “Detroit long has been home to renowned innovators and craftsmen. So it is in the Motor City, home of our industrial heritage and a resilient people, that we are entrusting the manufacture not only of the ultimate American sports car, the SRT Viper, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee – the most awarded SUV ever – but also a diesel version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee for North American markets.

Education
1:01 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Another Michigan school district in a 'financial emergency' - "It is what it is"

Update 2:00 p.m.

An emergency manager may soon take charge of the Highland Park School District. A state review panel today  recommended the governor appoint someone to fix the school district’s "financial emergency."  

The financial review team has been looking at the Highland Park School District’s books since November.   

The panel’s report to the governor finds the school district is $11 million in the red. That works out to about $10 thousand for every student enrolled.  The school district’s deficit has grown by $3 million in just the last year. The school district’s debt has grown, as its student population has fallen. Nearly 3,200 students attended Highland Park schools in 2006.   This year, fewer than a thousand students are enrolled.   

“It is what it is.," laments Edith Hightower, Highland Park’s School Superintendent,  "I don’t disagree with any of the statements that were documented [in the report]."    

Emergency managers are already running the Detroit public schools,  as well as the cities of Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor. Financial review teams are also looking at Detroit and Inkster.       

The state Education Department is also conducting a preliminary review of the financial status of the Muskegon Heights School District. 

1:04 p.m.

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) - A review team is recommending an emergency manager for Highland Park Schools after determining the district is in a financial emergency.

Michigan's Treasury Department says in a release Wednesday that a final report by the 10-member independent review team has been given to Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder has 10 days to review the report and make a decision if the district is in a financial emergency.

Highland Park is a small city partially surrounded by Detroit. The school district's budget deficit stands at $11.3 million. The Treasury Department says expenditures outpaced revenues by nearly $4 million in the last fiscal year. The district also has had an operating deficit in five of the past six years.

Enrollment has dropped from 3,179 students to 969 over the past five years.

Detroit
12:16 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Al Jazeera's coverage of the Detroit financial crisis

A screenshot of Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

The financial crisis unfolding in Detroit is getting national and international attention.

It's nothing new. The decline of the country's biggest manufacturing city has been news for more than four decades.

But news of the city running potentially running out of money by April is renewing more stories of Detroit's decline.

Here's how Al Jazeera covered the Detroit financial crisis in a two-and-half-minute television story last month.

Their story starts with an automated message from Mayor Dave Bing's office telling the caller that "as a result of mandatory furlough days, this office is closed":

Emergency Manager Law
7:08 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Bid to end Mich. emergency manager law continues

A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law granting expanded powers to emergency managers appointed to run financially struggling cities and schools is continuing its petition drive.

Stand Up for Democracy says it plans to gather more voter signatures at southeastern Michigan churches the next two Sundays.

The group needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid signatures to temporarily suspend the law and make the November ballot. Group leaders wouldn't say this week exactly when they plan to turn in the signatures.

Supporters of the new law say it's needed to help fix financially troubled schools and cities. Emergency managers are operating in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and the Detroit public schools system.

The city of Detroit is under a state financial review that could result in an emergency manager.

Detroit Financial Review
6:37 am
Tue January 3, 2012

Hundreds rally against possible Detroit takeover

Hundreds of people gathered at a Detroit church to voice their opposition to the possibility that the state could
take over the city's government.

Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers was among those at Monday's gathering at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. He told the crowd he would use his relationship with the White House to fight any attempt to appoint an emergency manager.

Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder announced members of a review team that will dig deeply into Detroit's finances.

The team's appointment comes after a preliminary review found that there was "probable financial stress" in Michigan's largest city.

Ultimately, Detroit could be appointed an emergency manager, which state and city officials have said they want to avoid.

Auditors say Detroit may run out of money as early as April.

Arts/Culture
9:32 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

More art pops up in Detroit's vacant spaces

One mural by artist Marianne Burrows features a pheasant, a common sight in Detroit's vacant lots.
via Facebook

In Detroit, massive population loss has forced people to envision new ways of using space.

Urban gardens have gotten a lot of attention. But there’s also a movement afoot to use art in a similar way.

One group of people has done just that this year with a vacant lot in an industrial corner just north of Detroit’s Midtown area. It’s called the Lincoln Street Art Park.

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Religion
2:16 pm
Sat December 31, 2011

Detroit church builds homes to build community

(file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A church on Detroit's west side has become a community developer by building 90 homes over four years and injecting pride and optimism in the neighborhood.

The last batch of new tenants moved in this month. The Rev. Oscar King III says stable housing is crucial if Detroit wants to recover. The homes are near his Northwest Unity Baptist Church.

The Detroit Free Press says there were more than 800 applicants for the homes, mostly two-story colonials. The renters include professionals, low-income families and even the homeless. Jack Bostic Jr. says homes are more important than a church having a fancy place to worship. He says his neighborhood looks like any suburb.

Janet Norfleet says her children pick up trash on their block, a habit that others are following.

Politics
2:51 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Governor names review team to examine Detroit's finances

Kate Sumbler Flickr

Update 4:17 pm:

Mayor Dave Bing released this statement in response to the review team's appointment: “We will continue to fully cooperate with the state review process and the newly appointed financial review team. At the same time, my staff and I have worked through the holiday break with union leadership on my plan that seeks savings of $102 million for this fiscal year and $258 million in fiscal year 2012-13. We will continue to negotiate until we reach agreement to resolve the city’s financial crisis.”

2:50 pm:

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crime
4:23 pm
Mon December 26, 2011

Detroit police: 3 of 4 murder victims linked to escort service

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Detroit police say three of four women recently found dead in car trunks had promoted themselves as escorts through a website.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee talked to reporters Monday, a day after the burned bodies of two women were discovered in a trunk on Detroit's east side. On Dec. 19, the bodies of two other women were also found in a car trunk.

Politics
10:35 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Opposition to Michigan's emergency managers ramps up

Snyder talks about Detroit on Facebook.

Yesterday, the president of the Michigan Chapter of the Rainbow Coalition David Bullock said they were prepared to use "all measures afforded to us as citizens to protect democracy," according to the Detroit Free Press.

Bullock was with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, elected officials, and others denouncing Michigan's emergency manager law as unconstitutional and likening EMs to dictators.

From the Free Press:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined a coalition of pastors, civil rights leaders and elected officials Thursday in Detroit to pledge strong opposition -- including civil disobedience, if necessary -- against the state's new emergency manager law.

Jackson and others likened emergency managers to dictators who wipe out the democratic process with unilateral authority to gut union contracts, sell cherished assets and slash essential services.

"We are prepared to go from education, mobilization, litigation, legislation, demonstration and civil disobedience," Jackson said during a news conference at Bethany Baptist Church on the city's west side. "We want a positive commitment to restoring democracy and economic justice for all citizens."

Later in the day, Governor Rick Snyder released a Facebook video explaining his views on Detroit's financial situation. In the video, Snyder said the state's role is to be a "supporting resource," and "my goal is to ever avoid having to appoint an emergency manger - that's a failure point."

Snyder said there were two critical issues that need to be addressed. From the video:

"One, there's a short term cash issue. We can't have the city run out of money, and hopefully the city can come up with a program to get through the crisis the mayor has talked about, about potentially running out of cash in April.

The second one issue is a very difficult one which is a long term structural solution. Because we can't continue this process. Detroit has been in a financial crisis in some fashion for decades...

The fundamental thing we need to do is  create an environment where Detoriters can have a good life, and that gets down to some basic services. And we need to make sure those basic services are being provided consistently for the long term because that's not happening today."

Commentary
8:09 am
Thu December 22, 2011

How a former Detroit mayor sees the city

  • Audio processing, please check back momentarily.

At lunchtime yesterday, I got a news alert that the state’s preliminary review team found Detroit’s finances a mess.

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