Detroit

Politics
3:36 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

"Kilpatrick Enterprise" arraigned in court today

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Dave Hogg Flickr

Prosecutors have dubbed the five men accused of pocketing millions of dollars in exchange for contracts with the city of Detroit the "Kilpatrick Enterprise."

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was indicted in federal court today, along with Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.

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Auto/Economy
11:32 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Chrysler proclaims a "resurrection"

CEO Sergio Marchionne says Chrysler is back.
user dgtmedia-simone wikimedia commons

Chrysler made the case for its self-proclaimed "resurrection" at the North American International Auto Show.

The company put on an optimistic show as it debuted 16 new Chrysler products. The automaker had only a bare-bones presence at the auto-show last year.

Sergio Marchionne is Chrysler's CEO. He said the display shows the company is once again a viable competitor in the North American car market:

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Detroit Auto Show
7:29 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Media preview begins today for the North American International Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show, 2008
Corvair Owner Flickr

The North American International Auto Show begins this week in Detroit. It opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd. The media, however, get a preview of the show beginning today. It's the biggest annual media event in the state as thousands of journalists from around the world travel here to cover the show.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton gave us a preview:

The auto industry had two bad years in 2009 and 2010, and so did one of its biggest shows: the North American International Auto Show. Some car companies like Porsche didn't even have displays.  But, Porsche is back, and so are some of the traditional glitz and optimism.  Baron Meade, Chairman of the show, said, "I would set the stage of this show as the start of the next real Golden Age of the Automobile."

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton, Sarah Hulett, Sarah Cweik and Steve Carmody will all be reporting from the show throughout the next couple of weeks.

The Detroit Auto Show
10:55 am
Sun January 9, 2011

Drumroll Please - Car and Truck of the Year award coming soon

Many experts expect the Chevy Volt to win the "Car of the Year" award.
user mariodo wikimedia commons

The winner of the coveted North American Car and Truck of the Year Award will be announced Monday morning at the North American International Auto Show.

The awards are unique in the United States because -- instead of being given by a single media outlet -- they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites. 

The finalists for North American Car of the Year are:

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Detroit
12:07 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Bing forces Detroit fire officials out

Detroit Fire Truck. Slow response times was listed as one of the reasons for the resignations.
flickr - user cutedtownboi

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has forced the resignations of the city's fire commissioner, James Mack, and its deputy, Seth Doyle.

The Mayor did so after hearing about an alleged theft that occurred after a fire official visited a home in Detroit.

The Mayor's office said they heard about the alleged theft from media reports.

Dan Lijana, with the mayor's office, said the breakdown in communication with the fire department and the concerns over slow response times to emergencies were their reasons for forcing the resignations.

Mayor Bing is quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying:

"When things aren't working, we will make the moves necessary to protect the services and citizens of the city. We have to peel this onion back and get the problem fixed."

Education
6:28 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Detroit schools chief talks about the future

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb with a student. Governor-elect Snyder says he'll extend Bobb's term.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb “has a busy few months” ahead.
 
Bobb’s contract with the schools expires in March. Governor-elect Rick Snyder has said he’ll extend it through June.
 
Bobb was dealt a defeat last month when a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge ruled Bobb overstepped his duties by implementing academic plans.
 

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Opinion
9:04 am
Mon December 20, 2010

Commentary: Early Warnings About Kwame Kilpatrick

We are living in interesting times. Yesterday, the Detroit Lions won their second game in a row, and their first game on the road since what seems like soon after the Civil War.

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Arts/Culture
10:19 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Detroit Symphony management: Granholm, Levin proposal not "feasible"

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since Oct. 4
Nate Luzod creative commons

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians who have been on strike since October 4.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million.

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Arts/Culture
8:06 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Granholm, Levin outline possible Detroit Symphony Orchestra compromise

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since October 4
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Update 8:01 p.m.:

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management issued this statement in response to the joint letter issued earlier today by Governor Granholm and Senator Levin:

We appreciate Senator Levin and Governor Granholm’s commitment to the DSO and their personal time and effort to assist in finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DSO and its musicians.  We take their recommendations very seriously. 

A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible.   In order to fund our current proposal, we have already cut our staff and operations severely and pushed our revenue expectations beyond every advisor’s recommendations.  Even with these dramatic cuts and ambitious goals, the DSO will continue to operate in a deficit position. 

We all want and need this strike to end with a mutually acceptable package and we stand ready to return to the bargaining table to pursue an agreement.  We appreciate the constructive offer of a framework within which this agreement might be reached and look forward to the continued engagement and support of community leadership as we pursue our goals.  

6:03 p.m.:

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians.

The DSO musicians went on strike Oct. 4 after management demanded a slew of concessions to deal with its growing deficit. The DSO recently announced a $8.8 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million. (Management's most recent proposal totaled $34 million, the musicians countered with a roughly $38 million proposal.) 

Andy Levin is the Governor’s representative. He says both Granholm and Sen. Levin hoped that they "could get the parties across the finish line to a collective bargaining agreement  by making a suggestion about a difficult compromise."

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Detroit Politics
12:28 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Detroit Mayor Bing's office responds to the new Kilpatrick indictments

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Dave Hogg Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office released this statement regarding the RICO indictments of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Victor Mercado, former director of the city Water and Sewerage Department, and 3 others:

We are disappointed by continued revelations of the mistakes of the past. Yet, we will not be deterred from our agenda. We will continue to work hard to restructure city government to a level of accountability, transparency and performance for our citizens. We have the utmost confidence in U.S Attorney Barbara McQuade and her team, and will cooperate and not interfere with their investigation.

While these indictments will make it more difficult as we seek a new director for the water department, and continue to make the tough but necessary decisions throughout the city, we will maintain our commitment to the highest ethical standards and those who uphold them for the benefit of our city and region.

Crime
6:00 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Using RICO to prosecute organized crimes

The J. Edgar Hoover Building. FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C.
picasa user david

Kwame Kilpatrick and the others associated in the case are facing charges under the federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). You can check the FBI's glossary of terms to see what activities can be charged under RICO. The law was enacted by Congress 40 years ago to prosecute the leaders of organized crime. Before RICO it was difficult to prosecute organized crime leaders who rarely got involved in day-to-day dirty deeds. 

Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press has written up a nice little summary of RICO and how prosecutors have since used it to fight corruption in organized labor, drug gangs, and government officials. He writes:

Prosecutors must prove that there was a “criminal enterprise” at work; that the person being prosecuted conspired with others to commit a pattern of crimes, from violent acts to financial crimes such as bribery, money laundering, wire fraud or extortion.

Federal prosecutors will try to prove that Kilpatrick and those newly indicted today colluded in a pattern of crimes.

Arts/Culture
10:29 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Detroit Symphony Orchestra cancels concerts through end of the year

Zuu Mumu Entertainment/Creative Commons

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has announced that it is canceling concerts through the rest of the year because of the continued strike by the orchestra's musicians.

The Associated Press reports:

The orchestra on Monday announced that the Home for the Holidays concerts scheduled for Thursday through Sunday as well as a December 21st concert featuring Canadian Brass had been cancelled. A Manhattan Transfer Christmas concert at Orchestra Hall still is scheduled for Tuesday night.

The DSO musicians have been on strike since October 4th due to a dispute over pay cuts with the DSO management.  Last week, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra reported a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year.

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Detroit
6:40 am
Tue December 14, 2010

Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools to stay on job until June

DPS Financial Manager Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Robert Bobb, the state appointed Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit Public Schools, will stay on the job through the end of the school year.  Bobb was appointed to the position by outgoing Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.  Bobb's one-year contract ends in March.

According to a spokesman for Governor-elect Rick Snyder, a deal has been worked out to keep Bobb on the job through June.

The Associated Press reports:

Detroit Public Schools spokesman Steve Wasko says the extra 120 days gives Bobb more time to work out a "fully smooth transition" to the next emergency manager or a new superintendent.

Sports
10:49 am
Mon December 13, 2010

Vikings - Giants game moves to Detroit after heavy snowfall

The Metrodome during a Twins game. The dome collapsed under the weight of the weekend snowfall.
John Schroeder - flickr

Update: 10:49 a.m.:

The Lions are reporting that due to "overwhelming" response, free tickets to tonight's NFL game at Ford Field are no longer being offered.

Update: 12/13/10, 9:30 a.m.:

Fans in downtown Detroit are lining up at Ford Field to get free tickets for tonight's NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand said on WJR this morning that there going to work to make sure everyone can be accommodated, "but I think we're going to be a little oversubscribed."

In case you haven't seen it yet, the NFL has some impressive video of the Metrodome collapsing.

12/12/10, 12:45 p.m.:

The New York Times has put together an interactive before and after photo showing how the roof of the Metrodome deflated after heavy snowfall. The Giants and Vikings were scheduled to play there today.

The NFL moved the game to Ford Field and will be played tomorrow night (Monday) at 7:20pm. The Detroit Free Press reports it'll be the "first ever regular-season Monday Night game at Ford Field."

Arts/Culture
5:26 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Detroit Symphony Orchestra reports $8.8M budget deficit

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra on stage
Nate Luzod creative commons

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra posted a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year. Add to that the roughly $2 million the DSO spent on pension obligations and debt service on the Max M Fisher Music Center, and the total operating loss for the orchestra is $8.8 million.

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Arts/Culture
3:40 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Custer's flag sells, was owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts

Flag recovered from Custer's last stand at the battle of Little Bighorn
(courtesy of the Detroit institute of Arts)

The Detroit Institute of Arts has sold a piece of Americana.    A flag that flew as General George Armstrong Custer's troops were defeated at the Battle of the Little Bighorn was auctioned off today.


The Associated Press Reports: 

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Shrinking Detroit
5:36 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Detroit officials cagey about plans for shrinking city

Detroit officials say there are seven to nine areas of the city that will be targeted for investment.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The future of Detroit will be the subject of dozens of meetings in the city early next year.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says there are seven to nine sectors that will see investment. But his deputy in charge of the Detroit Works Project, Karla Henderson, says it’s too early to define their boundaries. She says:

"What we do know is that some of our stronger neighborhoods tend to be the boundaries of the city of Detroit, and some of our neighborhoods where we’ve seen an increase in population are immigrant communities," said Henderson. "So we’re taking a look at all that data. "

Henderson says her team is looking at things like household incomes and education levels, as well as “quality of life” indicators like parks and schools, to determine the most viable neighborhoods. She says federal grants will be used to rehab city-owned and foreclosed homes in those areas.

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Population
4:05 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Downsizing Detroit

Mayor David Bing wants to downsize Detroit
Pablo Costa - picasa user

Detroit is a city built for 2 million people, but now has around 800,000. It's ruins have become famous. And some people, like artist Lowell Boileau, have said the problems Detroit faces are like a "slow moving Katrina."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is leading a plan, called the Detroit Works Project, to shrink the city down to size. To make the city's 139 square mile footprint more manageable for city services like police, fire, sanitation, and water.

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Detroit Politics
12:17 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

"So much more work to do," says Mayor Bing

Detroit Skyline
JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

It appears that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will run for office again. As The Associated Press reports:

The former NBA great tells the Detroit Free Press... that he "can't fix the problems that the city has in one term." He says progress is being made in improving the city but there is "so much more work to do."

The next mayoral election in the city is 2013.  Bing became the Mayor of Detroit in May of 2009 and was re-elected to a full term in November 2009.

Arts/Culture
4:26 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Numerous reports say Aretha Franklin has cancer

Aretha Franklin performing
KtKatrina creative commons

Several Detroit media outlets are reporting that soul legend Aretha Franklin has pancreatic cancer. Michigan Radio contacted Franklin's publicist for confirmation, but has yet to hear back.

The National Enquirer was the first to report the Queen of Soul's illness. Fox2 Detroit followed with a similar story:

"A relative of Aretha Franklin tells reporter Al Allen that the icon has cancer.  Another relative says the family is very concerned. At this time Franklin's family says she is doing "OK", but they are asking for the continued prayers and thoughts from the community."

Aretha Franklin underwent surgery in Detroit last Thursday. Neither she nor her publicist would say what kind of surgery Franklin was going in for or the nature of the illness.

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