Detroit

Opinion
12:00 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Commentary: When the law is an ass

- Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst

This is the season when Charles Dickens is again in style, or at least his Christmas Carol. We’ve all been grappling with our own versions of Mr. Scrooge all year, and we all need a happy ending.

But I’ve been thinking of a different Dickens character this week: Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist, who said in response to some idiotic legal ruling: “If the law supposes that, then the law is an ass.”

What made me think of that was the Wayne County Circuit Court ruling Monday. Judge Wendy Baxter ruled that Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager of the Detroit Schools, had no right or power to make academic decisions.

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Education
5:13 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Detroit Schools in the wake of the Robert Bobb ruling

Robert Bobb's authority over Detroit Public Schools was curtailed after a judges ruling yesterday.
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.

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Education
5:15 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Detroit Board of Education wins lawsuit against Robert Bobb

State-appointed emergency financial manager 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."

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Politics
11:50 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Helen Thomas fires back at Wayne State University

Helen Thomas was a fixture in the front row of the White House press briefing room. Here she waits for a news conference 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."

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Offbeat
11:32 am
Mon December 6, 2010

Cartoon from The New Yorker hits close to home

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 Politics
5:22 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Mayor, Council to weigh in on new Detroit charter

Detroit Skyline
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.

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Sports
3:43 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

The Abu Dhabi Pistons? Middle Eastern investors are eying Detroit's NBA team

The NBA's Detroit Pistons are up for sale
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).

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U.S. and Canada
3:06 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Effort to OK new Detroit-Windsor bridge fails

(view of Detroit from Windsor, Ontario)
(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.

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Arts
10:30 am
Thu December 2, 2010

A prayer vigil for Aretha Franklin

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.

Investigation
4:52 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

DTE not at fault for Detroit fires

The DTE Energy campus as viewed from the MGM Grand Casino 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.

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Food
11:36 am
Wed November 24, 2010

Produce in the Motor City (audio slide show)

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.

Crime
12:12 pm
Mon November 22, 2010

Flint and Detroit among the top 5 in crime rates

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.

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Music
12:16 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

"Detroit's Child" - J Dilla's legacy grows

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.

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Changing Gears
10:37 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Can Detroit use lessons from Pittsburgh? - Part 4

Judy Davids launched her business PostEgram in Detroit with financial help from a business incubator.
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.

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DSO Strike
7:11 am
Tue November 9, 2010

DSO cancels more concerts

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:

Arts on the Road
2:57 pm
Sun November 7, 2010

Artists profile the route between Toledo & Detroit

"Bittersweet" by Nancy Patek

 

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. 

Rebuilding Detroit
10:26 am
Wed October 20, 2010

Artists seek a room of their own in Detroit (audio slideshow)

Artist kt Andresky teamed up with the 555 gallery to purchase a 40,000-square foot building for $21,000. The building will be turned into a live/work space for artists.
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.

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Detroit Impressions
1:47 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Detroit through David Byrne's eyes

The inside of Michigan Central Train Station. The station was one of many stops on the Tour De Troit ride.
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.

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Detroit Schools
9:29 am
Fri October 15, 2010

Detroit's school board and Robert Bobb play nice

Robert Bobb - Detroit Public Schools' finances fell under the control of Bobb, a state-appointed emergency financial manager, in 2009.
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.

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Detroit Corruption
2:08 pm
Thu October 14, 2010

Another contractor admits guilt in Detroit corruption probe

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.

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