hamtramck

Recently, Suzette Hackney of POLITICO wrote an article that asked the question, “Is There Room for Black People in the New Detroit?” Her account begins at the corner of Agnes and Parker at a local restaurant where she describes seeing “designer dogs” and “tattooed millennials."

From her piece: 

The whole scene was a far cry from when I lived in the adjoining apartment building in the early 2000s... but this is the new Detroit.

I live in the neighborhood she describes, and even though Craft Work could be considered a “hip” establishment, I'm a little sad the area she described was reduced to a gentrified stereotype.

It's Election Day, and federal election monitors are keeping an eye on voting in Detroit, Hamtramck and Flint. The Department of Justice wants to ensure those cities comply with the Voting Rights Act. 

Joining us to talk about the monitoring is Executive Assistant United States Attorney, Stephanie Dawkins Davis. 

"This is an effort to protect the integrity of the process. It isn’t that there has been any specific concern or that there has been any wrong doing in any of these jurisdictions. The U.S. government would like to protect the integrity of the process," Davis said.

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.

Just about everyone has at least heard of Hamtramck, the little, deeply Polish-American enclave city embedded within Detroit.

When you ask people what comes to mind when they think of the town, they say “Packzi,” the giant jelly donuts everyone eats on Fat Tuesday. They remember the triumphant day twenty-six years ago, when Pope John Paul II came to visit and say mass.

Old-timers remember legions of workers, lunch buckets in hand, trudging to jobs at the now-vanished Dodge Main or Poletown plants. Some even remember when Hamtramck was a wide-open town, with gangs and bordellos, and it was common for residents to make their own whisky in basement stills, a practice that continued long after Prohibition. Back then the Bowery was the happening nightclub, and you were liable to bump into anyone from Jimmy Durante to Sophie Tucker if you hung around into the night.

Department of Treasury

The city of Hamtramck will once again be under state control.

The Department of Treasury announced Governor Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager for the city of Hamtramck.

Gov. Snyder selected Pontiac City Administrator Cathy Square. She will assume the position on July 1, 2013. 

According to a press release from the Treasury, Hamtramck City Council waived its right to appeal the finding of a financial emergency and unanimously supported the appointment of an EM by the Governor. 

Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia commons

One of the cities that has been in the headlines of late is Hamtramck. The 2.1 square mile city within the city of Detroit is facing a financial emergency and the prospect of once again being under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

But facing tough times is nothing new to this tiny but tough enclave. And, starting from its beginning as a home for Polish immigrants, Hamtramck continues to be one of the most diverse communities in the entire state.

We wanted to find out more about the unique history of Hamtramck, and so we turned to someone who was born in Hamtramck.

Greg Kowalski’s family roots in the city go back to when his grandfather first arrived, and he's the chairman of the Hamtramck Historical Commission. He joined us today to discuss Hamtramck’s unique past.

Listen to the full interview above.

On today's show, we found out why baby boomers seem to be key for the auto industry.

And, the author of the new book, "The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device" joined us to take a look at the history of individual flight.

Also, we took a look into the ethics of technology and engineering with the help of Dr. Cynthia Finelli.

First on the show, one of the cities that has been in the headlines of late is Hamtramck.

Governor Snyder has declared that the 2.1 square mile city within Detroit is under a financial emergency and could come under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

But facing tough financial times is nothing new for Hamtramck. And, starting from its beginning as a home for Polish immigrants, the city continues to be one of the most diverse communities in the state.

We wanted to find out more about the unique history of Hamtramck, so we turn to someone who was born in Hamtramck. His family’s roots in the city go back to when his grandfather first arrived.

Greg Kowalski is chairman of the Hamtramck Historical Commission and he joined us today in the studio.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Kyle Norris and Jack Lessenberry talk about Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate, and the financial emergency in the city of Hamtramck.

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City of Hamtramck facing a financial emergency

Following a state review, Governor Snyder has confirmed that the city of Hamtramck faces a financial emergency.

“In 2010, city officials asked to file for bankruptcy. And they asked for this state review, too — which found the city is still running continuous deficits, and can’t make pension payments on time…. The city could get an emergency manager. But Hamtramck officials potentially have other options, including a consent agreement or mediation,” reports Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek.

Terry Lynn Land to run for U.S. Senate

“Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is the first Republican to announce she’s running for Michigan’s open U.S. Senate seat. Land is also a Republican National Committeewoman. There could be other candidates waiting in the wings. But Land says the eventual Republican nominee will need the next two summers to raise money, and get out a winning message,” Rick Pluta reports.

Feds dismiss complaint against American Indian mascots

The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed a complaint from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights over schools’ use of American Indian mascots. The civil rights department had argued that the images hurt Native American students’ academic performance, and create an unequal learning environment. But federal education officials say opponents of Indian mascots and logos need to prove that they create a hostile environment for Native American students,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett reports. 

As expected, Governor Snyder has confirmed that Hamtramck faces a financial emergency.

Now, the question is what to do about it.

Hamtramck’s financial problems are nothing new. The city was in state receivership from 2000-2007. And in 2010, city officials asked to file for bankruptcy.

And they asked for this state review, too—which found the city is still running continuous deficits, and can’t make pension payments on time.

Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia commons

It's a familiar story in Michigan: cities and school systems in "financial emergencies."

Hamtramck now joins the list as Gov. Rick Snyder declared today that the city is in a financial emergency.

More from MLive's Kahlil AlHajal

The review team cited a $3.3 million budget deficit and failure to make monthly pension contributions in recommending the governor declare an emergency in the the city of about 22,000 bordered on all sides by Detroit.

Under the state's revamped emergency manager law, the city will have four options going forward:

  • a state-appointed emergency manager,
  • mediation,
  • a consent agreement, or
  • municipal bankruptcy.

Hamtramck wanted to go through municipal bankruptcy back in 2010, but the state denied their request to do so.

The city was also under the direction of a state-appointed emergency financial manager from 2000 to 2007. Lou Schimmel, who is now Pontiac's emergency manager, was Hamtramck's EFM.

Schimmel's work didn't last. More from MLive:

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski said in April that after the first stint of state control, the city was "left in a financial situation that was not sustainable."

Schimmel was not operating with today's emergency manager law. An emergency manager today would have more power to significantly change things in the financially troubled city.

The city has seven days to appeal the finding of a "financial emergency" by the state review team.

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The number of school districts and cities in Michigan that are in a state of financial emergency are rising.


Now, as many of them are handing over control to a state-appointed manager, it's important to ask: how effective is state oversight?


The City of Hamtramck is in a state of financial emergency six years after it emerged from state oversight.


An independent review team reported that Hamtramck isn't able to make its monthly pension payments and that the city's general fund deficit is expected to reach $3.3 million by the end of June. A structural operating deficit has existed in the city's  general fund throughout the city's last three fiscal years. 


User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit looking to sell art from the DIA?

Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is considering whether the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be counted as a city asset. If so, it could be sold to help cover the city's $15 billion debt.

The DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson has hired a bankruptcy attorney to help advise how to protect the collection. However, as The Detroit Free Press reports, liquidating the art to help pay the debt would be incredibly complicated and controversial.

Hamtramck faces financial turmoil

According to a state-appointed review team, the City of Hamtramck faces a financial emergency.

The results of the investigation were released on Thursday. Six years ago, Hamtramck emerged from state oversight. Now its more than $3 million in debt. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports, if Governor Rick Snyder agrees with what the review team found, city leaders could opt for an emergency manager.

Pre-prom shooting in Saginaw

A 17-year old female died as a result of a shooting at a Saginaw High School pre-prom party.

Three other women were also injured during the shooting and are receiving treatment. According to an MLive report by Jessica Fleischman, the incident occurred in the parking lot of the Florence Event Hall. Officials have not revealed whether the 17-year old was a Saginaw student or if suspects have been identified.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Leaders of the Detroit branch of the NAACP say they'll file a lawsuit next week challenging Michigan's emergency manager law.

The law has allowed Gov. Rick Snyder to put managers in Detroit and other struggling cities and school districts. Critics plan to talk Monday outside the federal courthouse in Detroit.

Other legal challenges have not been successful. An Ingham County judge in April threw out a lawsuit that claimed lawmakers violated the Open Meetings Act when it approved the bill in December.

Hamtramck could be the next Michigan city to get an emergency manager.

Governor Snyder appointed a state review team to examine the city’s finances Wednesday.

Hamtramck city officials actually asked for the state review. The tiny enclave within Detroit has struggled financially for many years.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Lower lake levels-- the good and bad news

user paul (dex) / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - General Motors Co. will add 2,500 jobs at a Detroit-area factory that now makes electric cars, investing $69 million so the plant can make two new Chevrolet sedans.

The factory, which straddles the border between Detroit and the small enclave of Hamtramck, now makes the Chevrolet Volt and its European counterpart, the Opel Ampera.

But GM announced on Wednesday that it will upgrade the factory so that it can run around the clock making the new Malibu midsize car and a revamped version of the aging Impala large sedan.

About 1,200 of the jobs will be new hires, since GM still has to recall about 1,300 laid-off workers in the U.S.

But in Michigan, which has among the highest unemployment rates in the nation, 1,200 new jobs is big news.

GM announced on May 10 that it would create or keep about 4,000 jobs by investing $2 billion in 17 factories in eight states.

The Detroit-Hamtramck announcement adds to previous expansion announcements in Bowling Green, Ky.; Toledo, Ohio; and Flint and Bay City, Mich.

"Filling this plant with new work is very satisfying because GM is dedicated to helping rebuild this city," Mark Reuss, the company's North American president, said in a statement.

GM said last week it would shut the plant down for four weeks starting in June, reconfiguring it to increase Volt and Ampera production from 16,000 cars per year to 60,000 next year in order to meet strong demand.

The shutdown also will let GM add equipment to build the 2013 Malibu midsize sedan at the plant starting next year. The car also will be built in Kansas City, Kansas.

In addition, GM said it will build a long-overdue new version of the Impala at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

GM will stop producing two other big cars at the factory, the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne, later this year.

City of Hamtramck website

This Tuesday is Fat Tuesday, the last day before the 40 days of sacrifice that come with the Christian season of Lent.

But in Metro Detroit and other communities with large Polish populations, the day is better known as “Paczki Day.”

Sandy Bakic has spent her whole life making the fried, doughy pastries at the Martha Washington Bakery in Hamtramck. That small enclave is the historic center of Detroit’s Polish community.

Bakic says the day has become a festival for everyone in Hamtramck, regardless of race or religion.

“It’s going to be festive. It’s gonna be a happy time. There’s paczki parties all over town. There’s paczki eating contests still going on. The Paczki Cup is in our window on display right now.”

Bakic says she and other employees have been making the sweet treats since midnight Monday. The bakery will stay open all night to serve paczki-seekers from all over southeast Michigan.

Hamtramck also celebrates with a Paczki Day parade, lots of free entertainment, and a generally party-like atmosphere.

adwriter / creative commons

Baseball lovers and preservation advocates are working to win historic designation for a Hamtramck ballpark that was home to Negro League games in the 1930s.

The Detroit Stars played at Hamtramck Stadium between 1930 and 1937.

Gary Gillette is a baseball writer and and editor of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. He says Hamtramck Stadium is one of only five Negro League sites that have survived.

Businesses in Hamtramck, Michigan
Ian Freimuth / creative commons

The city of Hamtramck is ratcheting up the pressure on the state to allow it to file for bankruptcy.

Hamtramck’s city attorney has sent a letter to Governor Granholm urging her to issue an executive order allowing the city to seek federal bankruptcy protection. The letter also says appointing an emergency financial manager would not give the city the tools it needs to correct its financial problems.

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