Detroit

Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:13 pm:

Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and his team have already put in place several classroom reforms. Some of the reforms include two hours of math and reading instruction every day for elementary students, requiring all 7th graders to take pre-Algebra, and conducting "quarterly assessments" of students' skills.

Robert Bobb with a student
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:15 pm:

Anthony Adams, president of the Detroit Board of Education, spoke with Michigan Radio about Judge Baxter's ruling. Adams says the ruling "isn't a victory per se":

"The only victory that we’ll have in the city of Detroit is when every child can read, can write, can learn to the best of their abilities, and we as adults have to sit at the table and make sure that we work together in a cooperative fashion."

Helen Thomas sits at the front of the White House press briefing room in 2007
user kellerbn / creative commons

Detroit native and a longtime journalist Helen Thomas is outspoken when it comes to defending her controversial comments.

Last week, Thomas defended the comments that got her fired over the summer. In that defense Thomas said that many American institutions are controlled by Zionists.

Here are her comments posted by Politico

"Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. ... We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way."

The Anti-Defamation League said Thomas has "revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite."

After her remarks last Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reports that Wayne State University ended the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award. When the paper called for a comment, Thomas had this to say:

"The leaders of Wayne State University have made a mockery of the First Amendment and disgraced their understanding of its inherent freedom of speech and the press."

A stack of The New Yorker magazines
Tsmall/Flickr

If you're a habitual reader of The New Yorker magazine or you just browse the latest issue's cartoons then you may have noticed a recent cartoon that made you think of home... home that is, if you live in the Ann Arbor or metro-Detroit areas.

As AnnArbor.com puts it:

Without spoiling the joke, we'll just say the cartoon — by Ann Arbor's Dave Coverly — makes reference to shopping malls — and specifically, several we're very familiar with, including Briarwood Mall, Westgate Plaza and Jackson Plaza. Troy's Somerset Mall and Oakland Mall also get a shout-out.

You can see the cartoon at The New Yorker's website.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

A panel that’s drafting a new governing charter for Detroit will hear recommendations from the city’s mayor and city council this weekend. 

The Charter Revision Commission is looking at everything that has to do with how Detroit operates: How many elected officials the city should have, and how much power they should wield. How to remove elected officials from office. How many departments the city should have, and what services should be mandated.

One issue on which the mayor and city council disagree is how big the city council ought to be. 

There is agreement that the city should move away from its current system of electing members at-large, and have most council members represent districts. But Mayor Dave Bing thinks the council ought to remain at nine members, while the city council is pushing to expand it to 11. 

The Charter Revision Commission is expected to have a draft document finished in March. A citywide vote on the charter is expected next November.

The Commission meets Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, at Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

Pistons at the Palace of Aubrun Hills
Kevin Ward

There's been a lot of talk about who might buy the Detroit Pistons.   Several people with close ties to Detroit have been said to be considering paying as much as a half billion dollars for the NBA franchise.   But there's word now that Middle Eastern investors may be in the mix.

Here's the story from The National of Abu Dhabi:

Investment groups in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar are in separate discussions to buy the Detroit Pistons basketball team, which has been valued at close to US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion).

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The push to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor appears dead. 

The Associated Press reports: 

A final effort to pass a measure this year that could have cleared the way for a second bridge connecting Detroit and Canada has failed.

Democrats in the Michigan Senate wanted a vote on the issue Thursday, likely the final day of the Legislature's 2009-10 session. But a motion to discharge the legislation and send it to the Senate floor failed, getting only 11 votes in the 38-seat Senate dominated by Republicans.

Aretha Franklin
flickr user ktkatrina

The Detroit Free Press reports that a prayer vigil was held for Aretha Franklin in downtown Detroit last night.

Franklin canceled all her concerts through May and is undergoing a "medical procedure."

From the Freep:

Franklin said in a statement that "all prayers are good." Spokeswoman Tracey Jordan said she had no comment on the singer's condition or any possible medical procedures.

DTE energy in Detroit
Ian Freimuth / flickr user

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) issued a report today on DTE's role in the fires that swept through Detroit during a windstorm on September 7th, 2010. The report found no wrongdoing on DTE's part.

Inside the Detroit Produce Terminal
Kate Davidson / Changing Gears

Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson put together this look at the Detroit Produce Terminal. The Terminal was built in 1929 by a railroad company. Produce was shipped in by rail and wholesalers bid on it at an auction. The Terminal has changed but there is still a lot of action in the building, including fights over cauliflower.

A Detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CQ Press released it's report "City Crime Rankings" over the weekend and two cities in Michigan made the top five. Detroit was ranked third, and Flint was ranked fourth. The city with the highest rate of crime was St. Louis.

The AP reports this as a list of "most dangerous cities," but the CQ Press says it no longer uses the phrase "most dangerous" because the data used to make the list doesn't necessarily reflect danger.

J Dilla at a drum set
Thomas Angermann / Creative Commons

Every once in a while you stumble upon a story that passed you by. Here's one I missed from Paul Farber, a former arts intern here at Michigan Radio.

Detroit entreprenuer Judy Davids
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

All week we’ve been looking at the reinvention of Pittsburgh. Now, we move west to see whether the ideas that worked there can work in other places. One such city is Detroit.

Like Pittsburgh, Detroit has always faced a challenge in convincing its talented citizens to stay. Many business owners try to buck the odds and keep their businesses in the city, only to find the hurdles too high. Others find it is simply too daunting to head out on their own.

Photo Courtesy of ZUU Mumu Entertainment

Amind a continuing strike by its musicians, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has canceled concerts through November 28th.  The Associated Press reports:

 

Three female artists have spent two years road-tripping around the small, often rural towns between Toledo and Detroit. They've talked to anyone they met.

Martine MacDonald is one of the artists. She says, “People have a deep connection to the area in which they live and work."  She also says the people they've met have been incredibly open and willing to share their stories with the artists.

The art exhibit is called “Toledo to Detroit: A Curious Journey on the Old Indian Trail." It’s at the Biddle Gallery in Wyandotte until November 13th. 

Jennifer Guerra / Reporter

Struggling artists generally don't make a lot of money, so they tend to live in grittier parts of the city where rent is really cheap. Inevitably, they spruce things up, more people move in, rent goes up, and artists are priced out. To ensure that doesn't happen to them in Detroit, a group of artists are taking matters into their own hands.

The inside of Michigan Central Train Station
Albert Duce / Creative Commons

My Dad grew up in Detroit in the 1930s. He described a city humming with activity: factory whistles sounding, street cars rolling by, and broad sidewalks crowded with people.

We went back to his old neighborhood several years ago.  His house was on Lakeview Avenue.

It's gone now, along with the houses on most of the block. I was left to imagine his childhood home, and the stickball games he'd play in the alley, by trying to extract mental images from the remaining concrete slabs we could see.

Robert Bobb helps student with homework
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Free Press reports that after Robert Bobb's clashes with the Detroit school board, things at least looked a little better at last night's school board meeting:

The Detroit school board and its state-appointed emergency financial manager appeared to mend fences Thursday night, agreeing to work to position the school board to regain budgetary authority.

Outside Detroit City Hall
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A suburban businessman has pleaded guilty to a felony as part of the federal government’s investigation into a bid-rigging scheme that involved a close friend of Detroit’s former mayor.

Brian Dodds is a subcontractor from Howell, west of Detroit. He told a federal judge he submitted an inflated bid for demolition work on a public housing project so that Bobby Ferguson’s company would appear to have the lowest bid.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
US Marshals Office/EPA

The man accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight last Christmas says he’s sticking to his decision to represent himself in court.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab fired his court-appointed lawyer last month, and told Judge Nancy Edmunds he intends to defend himself in court against charges that he tried to set off explosives hidden in his underwear on a Detroit-bound airliner.

Abdulmutallab now has what’s called a stand-by attorney, who can help advise him through the court proceedings.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

Students are saying their classrooms are overcrowded this year. WDIV reports of some advanced placement classes with 60 students in them. 

It's like a race to get up there, and if you don't have a seat, you're just standing there for the whole hour. It's just tough. It's hard to see the board because everybody is in the way and I can't really focus on my work.

Says Mumford High School senior Glen Miller.

The Detroit Fire Department responds to a fire in 2010. Filmmakers embedded with the DFD for most of 2011.
Patricia Drury

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports that the Michigan Public Service Commission is "launching an investigation into
DTE Energy's role in the fires that swept through parts of Detroit last week."

There’s a lot of change happening in Detroit. And city leaders face a lot of challenges – like what to do with vacant land and dilapidated building and a lack of basic amenities in many parts of the city. School leaders have their own challenges.

Marcus Belgrave's Sounds of Detroit

Jun 11, 2010
Courtesy of Marcus Belgrave

Ann Arbor, MI Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye. Those are some of the big names of Detroit music. But another name worthy of top billing is trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. He's been a fixture in the Detroit scene for decades, and has covered everything from avant-garde to jazz standards. He even played on some of Motown's greatest hits.

Belgrave was recently honored by the Kresge Foundation as their Detroit Eminent Artist of the year. We sat down with the jazz trumpeter to talk about his life in music.

"This is Marcus Belgrave, eminent artist award for the year. I'm very excited about this award because it chronicles my life in Detroit for the last 40 years.

J Dilla's beat goes on

Jun 1, 2010
Paul Farber

J Dilla was one of Detroit's most prolific and respected hip hop producers. He died in 2006, but his music still inspires his fans around the world. And now his Mom is using his name to support music education in his hometown.

The 1967 Detroit riot was five days of chaos, sparked by a small incident, but driven by a deeper unrest among black Detroiters, mistreated for years by the city's whites. Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer produced an account of what happened those five days from three people who lived it first-hand.

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