Detroit

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Rick Snyder has been one of the most enthusiastic governors in pressing Congress and the White House for immigration reform.

He recently proposed a plan to attract 50,000 highly skilled immigrants to Michigan, essentially "rolling out the red carpet" to attract immigrants to fill vacant technology, engineering, medical and health care jobs in Detroit.

His plan would require immigrants to live and work in bankrupt Detroit, using their skills in science, business or the arts to help power the city back to health.

But some believe the governor's plan overlooks the immigrants who are already here, people who might be able to use a little of that support. And what about immigrants who might not possess an engineering or science degree, but have energy and an entrepreneurial spirit – are they being slighted by the governor's plan?

Here to discuss the future of Michigan’s immigrant population is Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit, and Nikki Cicerani, president and CEO of Upwardly Global, a resource for skilled immigrants.

Listen to the full interview above.

One of the most painful and divisive times in Michigan's history were the five days in July 1967 known as "the Detroit riots,"  which left 43 people dead, nearly 1,200 hurt, more than 2,000 buildings destroyed and more than 7,200 people arrested.

One of the most infamous events of those five days came just after midnight on July 25, 1967. The riots were at their peak when Detroit police and National Guard troops swept into the Algiers Motel, searching for snipers.

Two hours later, police left the Algiers. They had found no snipers. But they left behind them the bodies of three black youths.

The Algiers Motel incident is the subject of a play by Detroit native Mercilee Jenkins: "Spirit of Detroit," a play about the '67  riot/rebellion."

It will soon be presented at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Bob Smith of the Museum, and the director of the play, Kate Mendeloff, who is a theatre professor and director from the University of Michigan Residential College, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It's been five days since emergency manager Kevyn Orr released the bankruptcy reorganization blueprint, which maps out a way to wipe out billions in debt, spend over half a billion in tearing down abandoned buildings and invest one billion to improve city services.

Now that all stakeholders have had a chance to digest the blueprint, the battle lines are being drawn.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us today to give us a look ahead.

Listen to the full interview above.

Department of History / University of Pennsylvania

Tom Sugrue wrote the book "The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit."

Sugrue is a Detroit native and a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He will be one of the keynote speakers at this Thursday's Detroit Policy Conference.

Detroit Free Press business writer John Gallagher, an author of a few books on Detroit himself, is hosting an online chat with Sugrue at noon today.

Sugrue recently told Gallagher that he leans "toward the pessimistic side" on the continuum of views about the future of Detroit.

Jump in the conversation below. They'll start at noon today.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

Life for a startup company is tough.

But life for a startup in Detroit may be getting a little easier.

Coworking spaces are sprouting up around the city. They've become increasingly popular across the country in the wake of the recession, according to this video from office furniture company Turnstone: 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit buses are being outfitted with new security cameras.

Mayor Mike Duggan says the intent is to deter crime against passengers and drivers.

“For far too long, our drivers have not been safe driving the buses. And at times our passengers have not been safe riding the buses,” says Duggan.

Duggan says city bus drivers particularly don’t deserve some of the treatment they’ve been getting.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

DETROIT – Detroit's police chief says a death threat against him on a social media site shows that his department's crackdown on drug trafficking is cutting into the profits of criminals.

James Craig held a news conference Sunday to discuss the threat uncovered Friday. He declines to say where the threat was posted but says it included a photo of a handgun.

The police chief says his department has conducted five large-scale drug sweeps since July as well as an average of 35 drug house raids each week.

Nation of Islam's Farrakhan to speak in Detroit

Feb 23, 2014
NOI/Facebook

DETROIT (AP) - Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan will deliver the keynote speech on the final day of the movement's four-day convention in Detroit.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones told participants at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday that Farrakhan had some "awesome words" when he addressed the council earlier.

Farrakhan's address is titled "How Strong is Our Foundation: Can We Survive?"

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago and the Detroit area stand to reap millions of dollars in federal grants and private sector investment as part of White House initiative to boost innovation in manufacturing and create jobs.

The White House says President Barack Obama will announce Tuesday the creation of two manufacturing institutes. The Detroit-area institute will focus on lightweight metals, while the Chicago hub will push innovation in digital manufacturing and design.

user: jpowers65 / Flickr

Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg played one game as captain of Team Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, before having to be flown to New York City for a surgery on his back. The injury could keep him out of action for the season.

The Red Wings addressed the surgery in a press release today. 

DETROIT- Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg today underwent successful surgery on his back. The procedure was performed by Dr. Frank Cammisa at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. 

Quality of life in Detroit wavers across community lines

Feb 21, 2014
Kimberly P. Mitchell / Detroit Free Press

Crime, education, unemployment, services – all have a direct bearing on urban life, and all are measurable in data, and trackable over time.

But what can be lumped into a category one might call “livability?” The factors that make a city appealing to ordinary residents, workers, families, young people and fun seekers aren’t so easy to quantify. As is typical in this city of extremes, residents enjoy rich bounties and suffer appalling deficits.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will allow appeals to Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility ruling, The Detroit Free Press reported.

Detroit’s largest union – AFSCME Council 25 – and the city’s two pension funds – Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System and the General Retirement System – are among the creditors who filed an appeal to Judge Steven Rhodes’ December ruling that Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy.

According to the Freep’s Nathan Bomey and Matt Helms, Detroit’s bankruptcy case would continue as the appeal case works through the courts.

The central argument for the union and pension funds is that the city did not negotiate “in good faith” prior to filing for bankruptcy, meaning the city and state "rushed" to bankruptcy court.

Rhodes, in his ruling to approve Detroit's bankruptcy, determined that good faith negotiations were not possible under the circumstances.

They used to say that the definition of chutzpah was the boy who killed his parents and then asked the court for mercy since he was an orphan. But that was improved on twice this week.

First, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan began talking about making a bid for the Democratic National Convention two years from now.

That’s a nice “comeback kid” idea, but there are two major problems.

The entire metro area probably doesn’t have enough hotel space. Detroit could barely host the Republican Convention in 1980, and Democratic conventions have more delegates.

Plus, conventions are expensive.

The city of Detroit actually has a person whose title is Director of Community Engagement. Yesterday, her job was to tell people to go out and clear ice and snow away from the drains on their streets to prevent flooding.

The city no longer has enough manpower to do this, she explained. They’ll be lucky if they can keep the drains open on the main streets. So the residents need to do it, and while they’re at it, clear the hydrants in case there is a fire.

Nothing wrong with that. I’ve done the same with both snow and leaves from the drain on my suburban street.

But it indicates in a small way one of the big problems Detroit is going to have after the bankruptcy is over.There is not enough money to provide basic services or to maintain basic infrastructure.

Bankruptcy isn’t really designed to fix that. It is designed to get rid of debt. We are still waiting for emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to get there. He does talk about directing more money into basic services, such as police and fire and removing blight.

Why Don't We Own This? / Why Don't We Own This?

It's no secret that the city of Detroit and Wayne County have been hit hard by the double whammy of foreclosed and abandoned homes.

For owners of those homes — or those looking to buy as an investment — there's a resource available online: a website called Why Don't We Own This?

We wanted to find out more about the site, and what it means to owners, investors and the neighborhoods.

Listen to the full interview above.

screengrab of Loveland Technologies' WDWOT map.

The blighted buildings in Detroit have been a major stumbling block for decades.

How do you start revitalizing a city when so much of it is crumbling?

Current estimates put the number of abandoned buildings at somewhere between 78,000 and 90,000, but that's a guess. Nobody really knows the true number.

There are more than 70 virtual currencies in the marketplace.

You may have heard of the biggest players: Bitcoin, Ripples, and Litecoin, which are taking out the middleman and reinventing the meaning of money. The idea is gaining momentum among college students. Today, we heard how virtual money is opening doors for young Michigan entrepreneurs.

Then, school districts around the nation and right here in Michigan are talking about ways to accommodate transgender students. The ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) is already working on model policies.

And we spoke with some talented Michigan musicians about how their EP (extended play recording) reached No. 2 on the iTunes electronic charts with virtually no promotion.

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National leaders are recognizing Detroit’s food movement. Last week it was announced that the federal government is providing $150,000 to support local food cultivation in the Detroit area. The money will mostly go to farmers in the city to help fund infrastructure for growing crops.

Detroit has become a hub for urban farming, but the city is also home to a host of hidden and amazing restaurants. Let’s take a tour of those restaurants with writer Bill Loomis. He wrote the book, "Detroit Food: Coney Dogs to Farmers Markets." He joined us today to give us some recommendations.

User / flickr

Detroit is installing surveillance cameras on city buses.

Recent months have seen an increase in fighting and harassment on Detroit Department of Transportation buses, sparking a reaction from city officials and the police department.

A unit of undercover police officers is now riding some of DDOT's more problematic bus lines, according to Elvin Barren, commander of the Detroit Police Department's Organized Crimes Division.

He calls the new surveillance cameras a positive development in making Detroit's buses safer.

Melanie Kruvelis / Michigan Radio

By now you've hopefully recovered from your Valentine's weekend.

Maybe you spent it with a hot date, or just curled up in pajamas binge-watching "House of Cards."

In Detroit, you could have checked out an art show about love and heartbreak. It's made up entirely of people's breakup emails, sext messages, tween diary entries, and love letters.

And if that sounds cringe-worthy, you're right.

Anonymous submissions, from prison letters to breakup emails 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Despite a renewed push, expansion of a state turnaround entity for failing public schools beyond Detroit remains in trouble in the Legislature.

Some majority Republicans say it's too early to know whether the 15-school Education Achievement Authority is working.

Others contend a version of legislation floated this week doesn't guarantee a role for local intermediate school districts to run the worst schools instead. Critics also say there's no promise schools can return to their home districts once being improved.

When it comes to support for emergency care services, the U.S. just barely squeaked by with a passing grade, at least according to a new state-by-state report card put out by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

And how did Michigan measure up, you might ask? Well, it turns out we're failing in access to emergency health care. We heard some recommendations about ways to move forward.

Then, we met a woman who’s trying to help people come together to have some uncomfortable, but enlightening, conversations about race, class and more.

And, we spoke with Daniel Howes about Tom Lewand, Detroit’s job czar.

Also, “Saturday Night Live” just hired its first black female cast member in five years. Will this bring more attention to other black comedians?

And, a Michigan historian gave us a closer look at how Michigan milkweed helped us in World War II.

Also, the Michigan Human Society has a new way to find homes for their animals: social media.

First on the show, how do you best measure the progress of students in Michigan's classrooms and, by extension, the effectiveness of their teachers?

It's one of the thorniest challenges being debated in Michigan education.

For years, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) have been the assessment tools. Now, with the move to the Common Core Standards, it's out with the MEAP and MME and in with the what?

Districts around Michigan are gearing up for an online adaptive assessment test in the spring of 2015.

The Michigan Department of Education says the state has only one option for testing students on the Common Core State Standards for the next three years.

And that option is the Smarter Balanced Assessment – the SBA.

But state lawmakers haven't made that official.

We wondered how districts  are preparing for the SBA or whatever test they're told to administer next year.

William Heath is the superintendent of the Morrice Area Schools and principal at Morrice Junior and Senior High School located in Shiawassee County. He joined us today.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

What discussions and conversations should we be having around Michigan that we are veering away from?

What's the price we're paying for not opening up and talking about hot-button issues like racism, poverty, food justice, LGBT rights, and so much more?

That's what our next guest asked herself, and that led her to co-found Deep Dive Detroit. Its mission is to "create a safe place for uncomfortable conversations between disparate groups."

Co-founder Lauren Hood joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

It’s time for our Thursday check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

His focus today was on someone who says he's got "the best job in America." Tom Lewand is the man in the Mike Duggan administration whose mission is to find jobs for Detroiters.

Daniel Howes joined us today to tell us more about this job.

Listen to the full interview above.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

There has been much talk – some of it here on this show – about opportunities for entrepreneurs in Detroit.

After more than a century of being dominated by big business – General Motors, Chrysler, Packard – the new look of business in Detroit is small, nimble, and full of innovation.

Some have raised the question whether there has been an inordinate amount of attention paid to white entrepreneurs – and male entrepreneurs.

Lisa Cook, an associate professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University, says that many are ignoring women and ethnic minorities’ roles in Detroit’s entrepreneurial scene.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Back during the Great Depression, some radicals were strongly against helping starving people at all. They believed that when only their condition was so bad and so hopeless and they couldn’t stand it anymore, they would finally revolt and bring about a new society.

That never happened, of course, in part because the New Deal kept people alive and gave them hope in the future. For a long time, I thought the idea that you could get people to do the right thing only by making them suffer terribly was heartless.

James Fassinger / Stillscenes


A meeting of the Detroit Board of Zoning Appeals yesterday resulted in some verbal firework, some confusion, and much scrutiny.

That's because the hearing involved a request from the company that was home to massive piles of petroleum coke last summer. The petroleum coke — or pet coke, as it’s called — is a byproduct of refining heavy crude oil brought in by pipeline from Alberta.

The people who had to live near four-story piles of pet coke, and breathe in clouds of pet coke dust last year before the stuff was moved out, are now watching to see if Detroit Bulk Storage is trying to get pet coke back on the Detroit Riverfront.

Dave Battagello has been tracking this story for The Windsor Star.

Listen to the full interview above.

user andrewmalone / Flickr

Some might argue there's nothing more American than baseball. 

Well, did you know those Ball Park Franks that go with it are Michigan-made?

Back in 1958, the owners of Tiger Stadium were not happy with the hot dogs served at the games. So they asked Detroit-based company, Hygrade Food Corp., to come up with a better version. 

Gus Hauf, a Hygrade employee, had already developed his secret recipe for the hot dog that decade. His co-worker, Mary Ann Kirk, came up with the "Ball Park" name, cementing the relationship between baseball and hot dogs. For her out-of-the-park idea, Mary Ann earned $25 and a leather chair

"Michigan had kind of the best frankfurters in the country," said Joel Stone, the curator of the Detroit Historical Museum. "And the Ball Park was a perfect example of that."

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Getting college students out of their classrooms, out of the "academic bubble" and into communities, giving eager students an opportunity to take what they're learning and put it into practice, and, at the same time, hopefully help their communities certainly seem like a win-win for all sides.

And that's why students from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan are permeating the city of Detroit in many ways, through many programs.

We wanted to see what's been learned by all sides in these partnerships.

Jerry Herron, founding dean of the Honors College at Wayne State and UM professor Larry Gant joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Toyota UK / Flickr

Michigan imports a lot of things from Germany, from craft beer to high-tech appliances.

Now, the state's trying to import Germany's highly successful apprentice system.

The hope is that employer-paid apprenticeships could address two problems: high-skilled jobs that go unfilled – and four-year college degrees that are becoming unaffordable.

One such program is already underway, teaching students how to manage automated assembly lines.

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