Detroit

Law
3:56 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

What really happened the night Renisha McBride died?

Pallbearers carry Renisha McBride's casket.

Hear the full story above.

It's been a weary, awful November in metro Detroit so far. 

A week ago Saturday, 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot dead by a 54-year-old white homeowner in Dearborn Heights.

She was killed on his porch. Her family says she was looking for help after her car crashed, more than 2 hours earlier and about six blocks away in Detroit.

Police haven't released the homeowner's name yet. But his attorney says he thought McBride was an intruder, and that the gun went off accidentally. An autopsy confirms she was shot in the face.

So far, he hasn't been arrested. The Wayne County Prosecutor's office announced Monday that it had "begun the warrant review process," but was awaiting more evidence from Dearborn Heights police before deciding on charges.

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Economy
8:39 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Detroit apartment building turned into housing for homeless

A renovated apartment complex in Detroit will provide housing to 41 homeless people.
Credit User Roymundo VII / Flickr

An apartment building on the northwest side of Detroit re-opened on Thursday to provide housing to homeless people.

Cass Community Social Services spearheaded the project to renovate the Arthur Antisdel Apartments on Woodrow Wilson.

Executive Director Faith Fowler says the building attracted crime when it was vacant. She says it will now provide permanent housing for 41 people.

"It saves a building that was worth saving and puts it to good purpose." she said.

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Opinion
8:28 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Putting focus on city neighborhoods instead of downtowns

Lessenberry commentary for 11/11/13

Historically, Detroit has often served the function of sort of a national canary in the coal mine. Miners used to take canaries down the shafts with them, because the birds were much more susceptible to dangerous and invisible gas. When they keeled over, it was time to get out, fast.

Similarly, Detroit’s boom-and-bust auto economy has been an indicator of national trends. When we got rich, the world was better off. When Americans caught an economic cold, Detroit got pneumonia.

This analogy may also apply in connection with the Detroit pension fund crisis. One reason the city is headed for bankruptcy today is that its pension funds seem to have been woefully underfunded. I’ve suggested that, if you live elsewhere, you might want to inquire about the health of your town’s pension funds, and don’t take, “oh, nothing to worry about,” for an answer.

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Politics & Government
2:36 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

Detroit retiree health coverage OK through February

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The city of Detroit is suspending a plan to change retiree health insurance, at least through February.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr says his staff will negotiate with a committee created to represent retirees during the city's bankruptcy case. He hopes it will lead to a long-term solution.

The city had proposed shifting retirees to Medicare, effective Jan. 1. Retirees under age 65 would have been given a $125 monthly stipend to get their own insurance.

Politics & Government
7:51 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Lawyers wrap case in Detroit bankruptcy trial

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Attorneys have ended final arguments in a rare trial to determine whether Detroit can become the largest municipality to fix its finances in bankruptcy court.

The daylong remarks Friday for and against a Chapter 9 reorganization now will be sorted out by Judge Steven Rhodes. He could take days to make the decision.

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Opinion
2:44 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Merging Detroit and Wayne County is the only long-term strategy that makes sense

Lessenberry commentary for 11/8/2013.

Well, it was quite a week for our state’s largest city. Voters elected a white mayor for the first time since 1969.

Had you gone to Lloyds of London 10 years ago and bet that within a decade, America would have a black president and Detroit a white mayor, today you would be very rich indeed.

But in the city Cadillac founded, attorneys today will offer closing arguments in a trial to determine whether the city will be allowed to file for bankruptcy. While everything in Federal Judge Steven Rhodes’ courtroom is by the book, there is an element of Kabuki-theater unreality about it all.

Nobody really believes the application will be denied. If it were, creditors would tear what remains of Detroit apart with the efficiency of a pack of wolves with a lamb.

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Detroit
2:23 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Next Packard Plant bidder has another week to come up with the money

Inside the former Packard Plant.
Angelique DuLong wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) — The Wayne County treasurer has given a Chicago developer a one-week deadline to come up with the remaining funds on his $2 million bid for a sprawling former Detroit car plant.

William Hults has produced $200,000 in nonrefundable deposits for the dilapidated auto factory, but has yet to produce the remaining $1.8 million.

The treasurer's office says Hults has until Nov. 15 to pay up.

Hults wants to convert the site into a commercial, residential and entertainment development.

A Texas doctor's $6 million top bid on the blighted property was thrown out last month after she missed a payment.

The No. 3 bid is from Fernando Palazuelo of Peru.

Politics & Government
1:22 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Detroiters edge out New York voters in mayoral election turnout

Voters filling out ballots.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A higher number of Detroiters voted in Tuesday’s mayoral election than their New York City counterparts, according to research from Next City.

25.4% of Detroit’s registered voters filled out a ballot on Tuesday, with Democrat Mike Duggan winning the election. In New York City, 24% of voters showed up to the polls. Democrat Bill De Blasio is now NYC’s mayor-elect.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, the turnout in Detroit was higher than anticipated. "Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey had projected that less than 25% of voters would participate."

While Detroit voters edged out New Yorkers Tuesday, Next City reports that the two cities were somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of major city election turnouts:

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Stateside
4:43 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

DuMouchelles art gallery and auction house

Stock photo.
kellinahandbasket Flickr

Let’s say you’ve been watching episodes of “Antiques Roadshow,” and now you’re inspired. So you want to find out what that old painting you bought at a garage sale for $5 bucks is really worth.

There’s a place in Detroit where you can do just that and get feedback from experts who are regulars on the TV show. Of course, if you’re in the mood to buy things, you’re also in luck.

Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris tells us about DuMouchelles, an auction house in Detroit.  

Stateside
4:55 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Jack Lessenberry on the Election Day 2013 results

The Secretary of State says 95.5% of eligible voters are registered
Lars Plougmann Creative Commons

Former medical center chief Mike Duggan will be the next mayor of financially troubled Detroit, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55% to 45%. Duggan will be Detroit's first white mayor since Coleman Young was elected in 1973 as the city's first black mayor.

So, we heard from Mike Duggan and results from around the state, we looked today for some perspective on what these results mean for Michigan.

Jack Lessenberry - Michigan Radio's Political Analyst - joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:57 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Stateside for Monday, November 4th, 2013

Voters in Detroit go to the polls tomorrow, and no matter who gets elected to be that city's next Mayor, crime will be one of the problems they'll have to tackle. On today's show, we looked past the city's financial struggles to curbing the violence in Detroit.

 And, we found out about a "flipped school" - one of the first in the nation. Students watch lectures at night and do homework during the day in class.  And, a Grand Rapids park millage will take park funding out of the city's general fund. We spoke with one of the supports of the millage to find out why voters should consider it. Also, a Canadian photographer found beauty in the ruins of Detroit. He joined us to talk about his exhibit. 

First on the show, one of the most emotionally charged issues in Michigan in 2013 has been wolves.

After teetering on the brink of extinction, the gray wolf population has rebounded so much so that earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder signed a law that allows a first-ever state wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

That historic hunt begins November 15.

Forty-three wolves can be shot in three UP zones where officials say they have the most problems.

During the legislative debate on the wolf hunt, lawmakers from the UP spoke with passion about the "fear" their constituents had of the wolves, worrying for the safety of livestock, pets, even small children.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with the point man on wolves for the DNR. Adam Bump told Steve that wolves had become very accustomed to life in Ironwood.

"So you have wolves showing up in backyards, wolves showing up on porches, wolves staring at people through their sliding glass doors, while they're pounding on it, exhibiting no fear."

But an MLive investigation into the historic wolf hunt raises some serious questions about the debate, about claims made by opponents, and about the DNR's Bump.

John Barnes is reporting on this for MLive in a series called "Crying Wolf," and he joined us today.

Stateside
4:53 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

What is driving the violence in Detroit and Flint?

Joy VanBuhler Flickr

Election Day 2013 is close at hand.

And that's when Detroit voters will decide whether their next Mayor will be Mike Duggan or Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

The winner of the election will inherit the huge challenge of what to do about the crime rate in Detroit.

At least 386 people were murdered in the city last year, and recent FBI statistics put Detroit neck and neck with Flint for the top spot of most violent cities in America.

The high crime rate means those folks who can are getting out of these cities, which makes the economic downward spiral even worse.

What can be done? And do we really know what is driving the violence in cities like Detroit and Flint?

Michigan State University sociologist Dr. Carl Taylor joined us today from East Lansing. His new book "Third City" looks at the challenges in post-industrial Detroit and Michigan. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:52 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Canadian photographer finds art in Detroit's decaying buildings

A photo from Jarmin's Detroit exhibit.
Philip Jarmin Facebook

Anyone who has spent time driving around the city of Detroit has seen ruined buildings. They can be found just about everywhere within the city limits.

Among those decaying buildings can be found some of the finest examples of early 20th century architecture, the kinds of buildings that remind us that Detroit was once known as the “Paris of the Midwest.”

Canadian photographer Philip Jarmain first discovered these disintegrating beauties while he was a student at the University of Windsor. And ever since 2010, Philip Jarmain has been documenting these vanishing early 20th century buildings.

Twenty of his fine art prints were recently on exhibit at the Meridian Gallery in San Francisco, with interest in these large format architectural photographs certainly fueled by the headlines surrounding Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.

The exhibit was called American Beauty: The Opulent Pre-Depression Architecture of Detroit.

Philip Jarmain joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Election 2013
4:32 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

U.S. Justice Department will monitor elections in Michigan, New York, and Ohio

Specifically, the DOJ officials will be in Detroit and Hamtramck, MI; Orange County, NY; and Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties in Ohio.

In a press release, the DOJ says the monitors will ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, "which prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group."

From the release:

In Cuyahoga, Lorain and Orange Counties, the Department will assign federal observers from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to monitor polling place activities based on court orders. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Detroit and Hamtramck. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

The DOJ says federal observers are deployed every year around the country.

To file a complaint about discriminatory voting practices, the DOJ says to call the Voting Section of the department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.

Education
7:34 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Detroit Public Schools enrollment up 14% in high schools

DPS high schools reported a 14 percent increase over last year. Overall enrollment is down by two percent.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is reporting a 14 percent increase in enrollment for students in grades 9-12. Overall enrollment is still down by two percent, but that's a smaller decrease than previous years.

According to numbers collected by the district on count day, nine of DPS's 19  high schools saw an increase in students.

DPS launched an enrollment campaign over the summer in an effort to meet projections included in the district's budget. Despite enrollment increases in some high schools, DPS still didn't meet those goals.

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Law
3:49 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

Detroit, bankruptcy creditors talking in private

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - While a judge determines the future of Detroit's bankruptcy case, key people are meeting behind the scenes to try to reach deals.

Private mediation sessions are scheduled for Wednesday, at the same time the city tries to convince a judge that Detroit is eligible to fix its debts in bankruptcy court. The trial in front of Judge Steven Rhodes started on Oct. 23.

Education
5:31 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Breaking the school-to-prison pipeline

Mercedes Mejia

This week, Zak Rosen with State of Opportunity reported on the school-to-prison pipeline. It's known to be pattern seen across the country of students being pushed out of school and into the criminal justice system.

In Rosen's report we learned about Youth Voice, a student lead community organizing group that’s working to break the school-to-prison pipeline and revise Zero Tolerance policies. Today we talk with Chanel Kitchen, a member of Youth Voice.

To learn more about Youth Voice you can visit their Facebook page here

Listen to the full interview with Chanel Kitchen, just click on the link above.

Arts & Culture
4:31 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Want history, architecture and beheadings? Try Detroit's haunted bike tour

Outside Wheelhouse Detroit.
Mercedes Meija Michigan Radio

Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike shop right next to the Renaissance Center, puts on all sorts of guided bike tours through the city — tours of churches, urban agriculture, and painted murals. But for those looking for something, well, a little more creepy, the shop also offers a haunted bike tour that takes brave riders through cemeteries, ghostly spots, and long-gone homes with a murderous past.

The ride takes you to the cozy, produce-filled confines of Eastern Market down to St. Aubin Street, which, as the tour guides will tell you, was once a hot spot for the Purple Gang, a gang of bootleggers and hijackers who ran booze from Canada to Detroit. The gang, which got its start when Michigan banned alcohol in 1917, remained active up until the early 1930s.

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Politics & Government
10:56 am
Thu October 31, 2013

How Detroit kicked "Devil's Night" to the curb

Back in the 90's, Devil's Night saw some 800 buildings blazing across the city
Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Hundreds of volunteers patrolled the streets of Detroit last night and will do so again tonight.

With flashing lights on their car roofs and maps pointing out abandoned buildings, they drove slowly, looking for arsonists.

Halloween in Detroit used to mean lots of fires: some 800 buildings blazed in the mid 1990's, when Devil's Night was at its peak. 

The city became infamous for these arson sprees, with reporters flying in from as far away as Japan and Australia to cover the chaos. 

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Stateside
10:15 am
Thu October 31, 2013

The history of Halloween in Michigan

Flickr user Terry.Tyson Flickr

 You drive around most neighborhoods these days and there is absolutely no doubt we love Halloween.

Once upon a time, you carved a pumpkin, popped in a candle and put it on your porch to greet trick or treaters.

Now, homes are decked out with giant webs and big spiders, ghouls and witches, and don't forget the lights. Halloween is now second only to Christmas for consumer spending.

Just when and where did this all begin? And how far back does Halloween go here in Michigan?

We turn to historian and contributor to the Detroit News Bill Loomis for the answers. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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