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Wayne County jail

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday put a short-term hold on plans to start a land swap that could provide a new location for the Wayne County jail.

The three-party property exchange would set that plan in motion.

Right now, a half-finished jail is sitting on a piece of downtown Detroit real estate that developer Dan Gilbert wants. The project has been sitting idle since 2013, when Wayne County abandoned initial plans because of cost overruns.

Brook Ward / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A plan to build a multi-million dollar soccer stadium in downtown Detroit appears dead.

Billionaire businessmen Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert have struck a deal with the Ford family to use Ford Field for a future Major League Soccer franchise. Gores and Gilbert have been bidding for a future MLS franchise for more than a year. The league is expected to announce its expansion plans next month.

student protestor
Corey Oakley / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state Senate Judiciary Committee this week heard testimony on campus free speech legislation. This comes on the heels of some high profile cases in which appearances by controversial speakers were derailed by campus protests. This Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether campus free speech legislation is necessary.

They also look at legislation that would limit when a state administrative rule can be stricter than a federal rule, new projections that show there's less money than anticipated heading to the state's general fund, and another delay in the completion of an unfinished jail in downtown Detroit.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

Plans for Wayne County's unfinished jail site in Detroit could get scrapped if the county accepts a proposal from billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert.

The county is considering Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures' offer to build a jail at a new location in Detroit. In exchange, Gilbert would get the current jail site.

He and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores hope to put a Major League Soccer stadium there.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

In his column for the Detroit News this week, Daniel Howes analyzed an interesting proposal offered by billionaire Dan Gilbert to Wayne County officials. Gilbert wants to secure a Downtown Detroit site where an unfinished jail currently stands.

The Quicken Loans leader says he will build Wayne County a brand new jail and court offices just east of Midtown in exchange for the site. Wayne County officials are currently vetting the offer. 

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

After Senate hearings, debates, protests, a Saturday Night Live parody, and an unprecedented tie-breaking vote by the vice president, Betsy DeVos is now the U.S. Secretary of Education. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what her confirmation process reveals about the state of affairs in Washington.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

Robin Boyle is astonished at the pace of development in metro Detroit -- development that is largely the result of public-private partnerships.

But the professor of urban studies at Wayne State University worries it's all happening too fast.

Take the proposed land swap between businessman Dan Gilbert and Wayne County.  The deal would let Gilbert build a major league soccer stadium on the site of the county's partly-finished jail - and in return Gilbert would build the county a new jail for $300 million. 

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

A Senate committee approved Betsy DeVos' nomination to become U.S. Secretary of Education yesterday, despite strong opposition from Democrats and a tense vetting process. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss how DeVos' positions on charter schools and school-choice could keep her in the spotlight if and when she's confirmed in a full Senate vote.

They also discuss what's at stake in Michigan following President Trump's executive order on immigration, whether state Attorney General Bill Schuette's support for Trump's immigration order puts him at political risk, and Dan Gilbert's plan to turn the Wayne County jail site into a soccer stadium.

Wayne County / via Wayne County

The structural condition of an unfinished county jail in downtown Detroit will be assessed as part of plans to complete the project.

Wayne County officials expect the assessment to be completed by late November.

An estimated $151 million has been spent for acquisition and design of the jail along Gratiot Avenue. Work stopped in 2013 due to the project's cost going over what was budgeted.

The uncompleted project costs the County about $1.29 million each month in bond interest and other costs like security and storage, according to a County spokesperson.

Just a few months after a state-declared financial emergency, Wayne County officials are trumpeting what they call “swift” and “substantial” progress on the county’s budget deficit.

After that declaration from Gov. Rick Snyder – which came at County Executive Warren Evans’ request –Wayne County quickly entered into a consent agreement with the state. That gave Evans substantial power to get concessions from county employee unions.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

The IRS is auditing Wayne County over $200 million in bonds for a jail that was never completed.

The Wayne County Building Authority issued the bonds to construct a new jail in 2010.

The county shut down the project in 2013, after costs skyrocketed beyond original projections.

flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A judge says Wayne County must take steps to improve the condition of its current jail.

An opinion from Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny says problems with the old jail have gotten worse while the county focused its efforts on building a new jail. Kenny says the completion of the new jail is not "imminent."

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

DETROIT - A grand jury has indicted a former chief financial officer, county attorney and contractor in a mismanaged Wayne County jail project.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy says Monday ex-chief financial officer Carla Sledge and chief assistant corporation counsel Steven Collins are charged with misconduct and neglect of duty. They are accused of giving false or misleading information on the project's cost.

Contractor Anthony Parlovecchio is charged with neglect of duty and accused of not fully informing officials about the project.

Construction has been halted on the 2,000-bed jail which was more than $90 million over-budget.

Sledge's attorney Harold Gurewitz says she is innocent of the charges. Parlovecchio's lawyer Ben Gonek says the project was within budget when his client was running it.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from Collins.

Wayne County

Downtown Detroit real estate mogul Dan Gilbert wants to buy the site of Wayne County’s botched jail project.

Rock Ventures has offered a total of $50 million to build an entertainment district where the half-built jail and other county facilities now sit. Wayne County abandoned the jail project in August because it was hugely over-budget.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A one-person grand jury has been convened to investigate whether any criminal activity is involved in the over-budget Wayne County Jail project.

County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny on Wednesday also banned the release of an auditor general's investigation of the construction project.

Kenny's order came after a petition filed by Prosecutor Kym Worthy. Among other things, the petition says Worthy's investigation will focus on neglect of duty, conspiracy, fraud and misconduct.

Wayne County

 Governor Snyder has suddenly jumped into the middle of Wayne County’s jail mess.

The county has a half-built jail sitting on the outskirts of downtown Detroit. It halted construction on the project in June because it was massively over-budget.

But now Snyder is urging the county to scrap the jail, sell the land, and lease space from the half-empty former Mound Road state prison in northeast Detroit. He’s offering it for just $1 a year.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State Senate delays road legislation

Leaders in the state Senate say that plans to fix Michigan roads aren't likely to appear on the November ballot.  Governor Rick Snyder has pushed to raise registration fees and gas taxes to pay for road repairs.  Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports that lawmakers are instead favoring an increased sales tax to raise the money. 

Michigan's panhandling ban overturned

Yesterday a federal appeals court struck down Michigan's ban on panhandling. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in 2011 on behalf of two Grand Rapids men who had been repeatedly penalized for begging in public.  Michigan Radio's Mark Brush reports the court ruled that "begging, panhandling, or asking for money in a public place is protected as free speech under the First Amendment."

Fate of new Wayne County jail debated

Wayne County officials are considering scrapping a half-finished jail construction.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that Governor Rick Snyder is pushing for the county to stop the project, sell the property, and lease an older state-owned jail facility.  The Detroit Free Press also reports that the Wayne County Building Authority is considering firing the project manager who authorized "more than $42 million in major changes without the needed written approval of the Building Authority."

Wayne County / via Wayne County

It's no secret Wayne County is in rough financial shape, with an accumulated deficit nearing $200 million.

County budget officials say a financial review team that could lead to an emergency manager may not be far off.

Yet perhaps all is not lost: those same budget watchers say the county can still get back on the right track.

But their solution is about as politically popular as a property tax increase for Wayne County residents.

Because it IS a proposed property tax increase for Wayne County residents.

Wayne County

Wayne County has five offers to buy the Wayne County jail property. Construction on the project in downtown Detroit has halted due to increased costs.

The project has cost the county $120 million dollars since construction began in 2011.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano says the county has two options: it can sell the property and move the jail, or it can find investors to help fund the rest of the project.