Detroit

M-1 Rail Detroit

DETROIT – Detroit's light passenger rail project is moving one step closer to reality with a request for contractors to work on the $140 million mass transit system.

The company serving as construction manager on the 3.1-mile M-1 Rail project announced Sunday night that it's seeking proposals from contractors on the project for such services as paving, salvage, traffic signals, water main work and landscaping.

African-Americans in Michigan are murdered at one of the highest rates in the nation. That's according to a study from the Violence Policy Center.

The Center says 31 of every 100,000 black Michiganders was a homicide victim in 2011. That's twice the national rate for blacks and seven times the rate for Americans overall.

Josh Sugarmann is the Center's executive director. He says this is part of a public health crisis in America.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Surveys have been completed on about two-thirds of all structures in Detroit as part of a project to eradicate blight in the city.

The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force is on track to complete its database of 380,217 structures and vacant parcels in February. The project hopes to determine the number of blighted and deteriorating structures in Detroit.

Thirteen years ago, a friend who runs a political PR firm urged me to meet a man he saw as a visionary politician who he was going to be elected mayor and transform Detroit.

His name was Kwame Kilpatrick. We all know how that turned out, but nobody did then. What was the same then and now, however, was Detroit’s need for jobs and money.

Over the years, I had learned one thing: If you want to jump-start an economy, what you need are immigrants. Driven, motivated, immigrants who want a better life.

user aMichiganMom / Flickr

Big news out of Lansing yesterday: Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed committing up to $350 million of state money to guarantee city of Detroit pension benefits and to keep Detroit Institute of Arts art off the auction block.

Big news, but not altogether surprising.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes has been writing about this possible cash infusion for weeks now. He joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit leaders announced their immigration reform plan this morning at the Hispanic-owned Ideal Group in Detroit.

The plan calls for federal changes that would allow immigrants to live, work, and hopefully create jobs in the city of Detroit.

More from Gov. Snyder’s press release:

Detroit must harness the power of skilled immigrants to grow its economy, increase its tax base and reverse its population decline, Gov. Rick Snyder said today as he urged federal action on his proposal that increases employment-based visas for immigrants.

“We want the world to know that Detroit is open for business,” Snyder said. “Legal immigration helped to build this great city and is just as critical to its comeback. Immigrants create jobs and Detroit is a great value opportunity in terms of business costs and overall quality of life.

The plan calls for the federal government to secure 50,000 employment-based visas for skilled immigrants (employment-based second preference visas, or EB-2 visas).

The visas would require that the visa holders reside and work in the city of Detroit.

Gov. Snyder's office cited the following statistics in support of the plan:

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says he's launching an initiative to encourage immigration as a way of fostering Detroit's economic development.

Snyder's office says the governor will join Mayor Mike Duggan at a Thursday morning news conference. It says City Council members and business and community leaders also will participate.

The 10 a.m. event is at the offices of the IDEAL Group, a family-owned manufacturing and construction company.

Snyder has promoted immigrant entrepreneurs as a resource for Detroit's economic development. He said in last Thursday's State of the State address that he wants to make Michigan more immigrant-friendly and more attractive for foreign investment.

Snyder has applied for Michigan to join Vermont as states that run a regional center for the EB-5 visa program targeting immigrant entrepreneurs.

I’ve been a faithful subscriber to and reader of The New Yorker for years, though I have to confess that some weeks I only have time to look at the magazine’s wonderful cartoons.

But if you had asked me last week who in Michigan was most likely to be profiled in The New Yorker, I’ll bet I would have offered 20 names before I came up with L. Brooks Patterson.

Patterson, who has been a fixture in Oakland County for more than 40 years, is being raked over the coals today for his Detroit-slamming remarks in this week’s New Yorker interview.

He is quoted as saying:

“Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit-basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough *bleep*.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says a new bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada is being delayed partly because Washington doesn't seem to want to pay for a customs plaza on the American side.

Snyder tells the Detroit Free Press it's a "difficult-to-understand attitude." He chalks it up to other similar logjams in Washington but says there's still time to resolve the issue.

Canada has agreed to pay for most of the Detroit-Ontario bridge and then get repaid through tolls. But the U.S. government needs to be responsible for a $250 million inspection plaza.

gophouse.com

Foundations and individuals have stepped up to pledge big dollars to the struggling city of Detroit, and now Gov. Rick Synder is floating a plan to send Detroit $350 million over 20 years.

The Detroit Free Press named an anonymous source when reporting the plan this morning.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) confirmed today that Snyder has floated the plan.

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr

Yesterday, on Michigan Radio, we discussed the news that a group of philanthropists and foundations have raised more than $300 million to try to save works from the Detroit Institute of Arts and protect city worker pensions.

However, in the course of our conversation, we had a couple errors.

AnneMarie Erickson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Institute of Arts and she joined us to help clarify the situation.

*Listen to the audio above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Detroit Lions introduced the team's new head coach today.

Jim Caldwell comes to the Lions after being part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. He also led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl in 2010, only to lose to the New Orleans Saints.

Caldwell says he’s already talked with Lions players about winning a National Football League championship.

Barack Obama Photostream / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden plans to attend a working dinner with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during a visit to the city.

The White House says Biden will travel Wednesday to Detroit and attend the dinner Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, Biden is scheduled to attend the North American International Auto Show. The White House has said that Biden will discuss the future of the U.S. auto industry and "highlight its strong recovery following the tough restructuring and shared sacrifice" under the 2009 federal bailout.

News media, industry and other previews for the show began Monday, and the show is open to the public Saturday though Jan. 26 at Cobo Center.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Chief James Craig has placed a 10-percent drop in overall crime, 5-minute response time for priority calls to 911 and more solved homicides among this year's goals for Detroit's police force.

Craig released his 2014 Plan of Action on Thursday and is making it available to residents on the city's website.

The department also will hire 150 new officers by mid-year and deploy detectives in each of the city's 12 police precincts.

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager is delaying the release of his plan to shepherd the city through bankruptcy.

A spokesman for Kevyn Orr told The Associated Press on Thursday that no new date is being given for the report's release because the city is continuing mediation with creditors.

Orr had said he'd submit his plan to a federal bankruptcy judge in early January. The court-imposed deadline is mid-March.

Clip from Poor Boyz Productions / YouTube

After 40 years of decline, Detroit has become a haven of so called ruin porn, with people flocking from all over the country and the world to photograph the city’s many decaying buildings.

Once winter was in full swing, a video went viral on social media. And it’s an epic, not to mention adventurous example of ruin porn.

Stateside’s Emily Fox has more.

Listen to the full audio above.

Watch "Tracing Skylines":

Last month, Governor Rick Snyder called for less coal power and more renewable energy in Michigan. Utilities are in a good position, but questions remain over whether lawmakers will be able to act before the state's current energy standards expire. We found out more on today's show.

Then, of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14% are women. Why do some female scientists give up? And what can be done to help female students and minorities succeed?

And, we heard from the BBC on how China had become the world leader for wind power.

Also, a group of “free skiers” have found a new ski location in the abandon buildings of Detroit.

First on the show, it's Thursday, time for the first check-in of this New Year with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Understandably, he has the auto industry on his mind as we prepare for next week's opening of the North American International Auto Show. He got an early look at the show, and he joined us today to discuss it.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

We've had many ideas and proposals floated for ways to rebuild Detroit to help it back from the depths of bankruptcy.

But there has been one group, it could be argued, that has been overlooked in these conversations: the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

And that is quite an oversight, considering that, as my next guest writes in Slate, "gays and lesbians are known to be drivers of gentrification.”

And as the CEO and president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation says about Detroit, "bring on more gentrification!"

Joining me is Ross Benes, journalist and researcher. His piece for Slate is titled "The Latest Plan to Save Detroit: Build a Gay Neighborhood.”

And we're joined by Curtis Lipscomb. He's the executive director of KICK in Detroit.

*Listen to the audio above.

Below-ground work starts on Detroit light rail

Dec 21, 2013
M-1 Rail Detroit

DETROIT (AP) - Below-ground utility relocation is underway on a 3.3-mile light rail system that will run from Detroit's riverfront to the city's New Center area.

Officials for the M-1 Rail say crews are moving or replacing water catch basins, storm manholes and water main gate valves along Woodward Avenue.

The work is the initial step toward full construction activities on the streetcar system and is not expected to prevent customer access to local businesses.

Kate Davidson / Michigan Radio

In less than two weeks, Detroit will have a new mayor.

Mike Duggan's term begins January first. Outgoing Mayor Dave Bing has been making his "farewell tour" around Detroit.

What is the Bing legacy? And what might we expect from his successor?

We turned to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes for some perspective.

Listen above.

UM Press

What is “Ballroom Culture”? Well, a surface definition might be a culture that centers on a competition where black LGBT individuals dress, dance and vogue - competing for prizes and trophies.

But there is more to Ballroom Culture as my next guest spells out in his new book "Butch Queens Up In Pumps: Gender, Performance and Ballroom Culture in Detroit.”

Marlon Bailey is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies and American Studies at Indiana University. And he brings another perspective to his writing -- that of a black gay man who grew up in Detroit and who was deeply involved in Ballroom Culture.

Listen to the interview above.

A few years ago, I had a student named John Carlisle who graduated and got a job as a reporter and then editor for a bunch of weekly suburban newspapers. He was very good at it, and he was also bored. So in his spare time, he began roving around Detroit, boldly going to places where nice suburban white kids have almost never gone before.

He met a guy called Jay Thunderbolt who had his own personal strip club in his house. He met a blues musician who kills and eats raccoons, and a civil rights icon who runs her own chicken farm in the old Irish neighborhood of Corktown.

Carlisle was fascinated. These stories had no place in the little newspapers he edited, so he began writing them for the Metro Times, an alternative paper in Detroit. To avoid any conflict with his day job, he wrote them under the pseudonym “Detroitblogger John."

Though Glenda Price has been in Detroit barely 15 years, it is hard to imagine the city without her. A Philadelphia native, she first came to town as president of Marygrove, a small, struggling Catholic college on the city’s west side. Now in her mid-70s, Price is both a skilled fundraiser and a visionary who can see around corners.

Though neither Catholic nor a Detroiter, thanks to development skills and an ahead-of-its time distance learning program, she helped revitalize Marygrove before retiring seven years ago. She could have gone anywhere after that.

She'd had careers in medical technology and as provost and dean of prominent universities. But she had fallen in love with Detroit, and elected to stay. You may not know her, but those who run things do.

Renewable resources, such as wind and solar, are likely to supply 10% of Michigan electricity by 2015, as state law mandates. On today’s program, we looked at a recent report that says we could be doing more, boosting the number to 30% by 2035.

Then, the losing streak of Medora, Indiana's high school basketball team compelled two Michigan filmmakers to move there, and to tell the story of this small industrial town and the people who live there.

And, federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to slash its public pension and healthcare benefits. What will this mean for Detroit retirees?

First on the show, it was one year ago this day that the State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder passed a set of bills into law that made some very contentious history in our State.

On December 11th, 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

One year later, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

We were joined for this discussion by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard, and, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Block.

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Federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to make cuts to public pension and healthcare benefits.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr maintains that Detroit's pension funds are unfunded by $8 billion. That's a big chunk of the city's $18 billion in overall debts and long-term liabilities. 

So what will happen to future pensions?

Cynthia Canty spoke with Alicia Munnell about the possibility of cutting pensions for future city retirees. Munnell is the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.  

The state House is expected to take up a controversial telecommunications bill. 

The measure would let AT&T end traditional landline phone service as long as there is Internet phone service that can take its place. But, in some rural areas in Michigan, Internet phone service can be spotty. On today's show, we took a look at what the legislation could mean for you.

Then, could private philanthropy save the art at the DIA?

And, how would Shakespeare’s play King Lear look like if it were set in Flint? One professor and her students found out.

Also, we spoke to meteorologist Mark Torregrossa about which parts of the state will be getting snow this week.

First on the show, what happens when a child is struggling to read at his or her grade level?

In too many cases, the student moves up a grade anyway and the struggle continues, resulting in high school graduates who are poor, ineffective readers. And that can impact that student's chances of going to college and then getting a job that provides a good level of pay over a lifetime.

There's a package of bills sponsored by Holland Republican Representative Amanda Price now working through the State that tries to tackle this problem. It's called the "read-or-flunk law."

In a nutshell, if third-grade kids aren't reading, hold them back.

Ron French reported on the pros and cons of these bills for Bridge Magazine, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

DIA

There's been a new development in the unfolding story about Federal Judge Gerald Rosen and his bid to protect the DIA collection and the pensions of Detroit city retirees.

Judge Rosen is serving as the mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy case. We've heard how he is trying to craft together a plan wherein at least 10 national and local charitable foundations would chip in to create a $500 million fund, a fund that could be leveraged to not only protect the DIA treasures but to lessen the pain of retiree pension cuts.

Late last week, a former Wayne State Chemistry professor stepped forward with an offer.

Dr. A. Paul Schaap developed a molecule that created light through chemistry. His discovery proved very useful in a wide range of medical tests. He then founded the company Lumigen, and he made many millions as a biotech entrepreneur.

Over the years, Paul Schaap has given many millions back to Wayne State, to Hope College, to professors and researchers. Now, Paul Schaap is donating $5 million to help the DIA and the city retirees.

Dr. A. Paul Schaap joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

http://www.michiganopera.org/leadership/david-dichiera/ / Michigan Opera Theatre

The man who helped turn the Michigan Opera Theatre into one of Detroit's most prestigious arts centers, is stepping aside as general director after 42 years.

David DiChiera is an institution in Detroit: he started the Opera in 1971 and he's been running it ever since.

And it's thanks to his fundraising efforts that Detroit even still HAS an Opera, given how hard the recession hit the arts.

Now DiChiera is 78, has prostate cancer, and is bringing in a new president and  CEO to run the financial side.

DETROIT (AP) - Mayor-elect Mike Duggan says he wants to reduce the time it takes to tear down vacant houses as part of his plan to revitalize distressed Detroit neighborhoods.

The Detroit News reports that Duggan also told about 50 people attending the ARISE Detroit! annual breakfast Saturday that between state and federal programs designed to attack blight "there is more than enough money" available to transform the city.

The former Detroit Medical Center chief was elected in November and will take over as mayor in January.

This Week in Review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry talk about how Rand Paul thinks Detroit should lower it's tax rate in order to stabilize, what's behind Governor Rick Snyder's 36 percent approval rating, and how the average Michigan graduate has $29,000 in student loans.

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