Detroit Journalism Cooperative

To focus on community life and the city’s future after bankruptcy, five nonprofit media outlets have formed The Detroit Journalism Cooperative. The Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine is the convening partner for the group, which includes Michigan Radio, Detroit Public Television, WDET and New Michigan Media, a partnership of ethnic and minority newspapers.

To see all the stories produced for the Cooperative, you can visit Next Chapter Detroit.

Stories from Michigan Radio are shown below.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A state House committee is expected to vote today on Michigan's proposed contribution to the "grand bargain."

That's the name of the agreement that softens the blow to city pensioners, while protecting city-owned treasures at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The $816 million grand bargain draws money from local and national foundations, the state, and the DIA.

Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh believes it is time for another face at the grand bargain table: business.

In a recent column, Walsh said, "The business sector must ante up to get Detroit out of bankruptcy fast."

He joined us to explain to us why.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Governor Snyder hopes the State House will make progress toward approving the ‘Grand Bargain’ this week.

Critics complain it’s not fair for the rest of the state to pay for Detroit’s financial missteps. Supporters say restoring Detroit to financial health is important to all of Michigan.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

For the past year, for the first time in decades, people in the suburbs, in Lansing, and across America are thinking about Detroit.

Everybody has had to face that Detroit is broken, hopelessly in debt, largely a shattered ruin, and that city services, the schools and so much else doesn’t work.

For many years, everyone knew things were bad, but nobody did much about it.

The political class running the city denied the extent of the problem and did not welcome outside intervention. The rest of us mostly said, fine.

Now, however, things are very different.

Tammy Coxen

The City of Detroit might be going through bankruptcy, but the commerce of Detroit is growing in some areas. A new business that will open this summer is the latest in a fast-growing trend.

Tucked away in the Eastern Market on Riopelle Street is a nondescript building. Go through the squeaky, jail-like door and you'll see one of Michigan’s newest whiskey, gin, and vodka distillers, the Detroit City Distillery.

Right now, though, it’s mostly a dusty construction site. There are no whiskey barrels here- yet. They’re stored at a licensed facility. There’s no copper pot still- yet. It’s being manufactured in Germany right now.

But they do have a classic wooden bar. Michael Forsyth and his partners found it in a vacant storefront in downtown Detroit and bought it.

Detroit’s bankruptcy process has been speedy so far--but hit a few apparent stumbling blocks last week, as creditors filed a slew of objections to the city’s plan of adjustment.

They included representatives for some Detroit bondholders, who are upset about the proposed “grand bargain” to use more than $800 million to minimize pension cuts, and protect the Detroit Institute of Arts from possible liquidation.

user: {megan} / Flickr

The newly-formed state House committee on Detroit's recovery and Michigan's future continued its hearings today.

At stake is exactly what the state's role should be in helping Detroit out of bankruptcy, and whether the state will kick in $195 million to the "grand bargain" to shore up pensions and protect the city's art collection. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes, joined us. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the grand bargain for the Detroit bankruptcy, the debate over the minimum wage and whether Detroit Congressman John Conyers has a chance to continue his nearly 50 years in Congress.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Impressions of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder are more negative than positive among voters, even when you factor out the heavily Democratic city of Detroit, according to a poll released yesterday.

This poll was commissioned by Michigan Radio and its partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The poll is unique because it does not include voters from the city of Detroit.

Among the data was a question asking how voters would rate the job Rick Snyder has done as Michigan’s governor. Since Snyder is a Republican and voters in Detroit are overwhelmingly Democratic, you might expect Snyder to do really well outside the city. But 52% of voters rated Gov. Snyder as having done a

Michigan Radio

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was in Lansing today.  He told a state House committee Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement and recovery plan cannot succeed without an infusion of money from taxpayers.

user: {megan} / Flickr

New polling out just this morning sheds some light on how folks who live outside of Detroit feel about this possible settlement, in which money would go from Lansing to Detroit.

As part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham and Sarah Cwiek have been poring over the results of our Epic MRA poll. They joined us to discuss how people feel about the state giving money to help Detroit's recovery. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was in Lansing today. He testified before the newly-formed House committee on Detroit's recovery and Michigan's future. 

The committee will begin debate on the package of bills that would have the state contributing close to $195 million to the city. 

With Detroit's bankruptcy heading toward a July trial over Orr's plan to eliminate the city's debt, state lawmakers are fast-tracking the package of bills. They hope to get the bills to the House floor for a vote as early as next week, and eventually onto the governor's desk by early June.

MLive Capitol reporter Jonathan Oosting was at today's session, and he joined us from Lansing. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michigan voters outside of Detroit approve using state money to support the so-called “Grand Bargain” to bolster City of Detroit retirees’ pensions and protect the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection.

The poll was commissioned by Michigan Radio and its partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

(See DJC partner Bridge Magazine's coverage of the poll here.)

It found almost half of voters outside the city of Detroit support the state government contributing $350 million to help solve some of the sticky issues of the bankruptcy. Forty-nine percent favor the contribution, 34 percent oppose it.

buildingdetroit.org

A new experiment meant to fill some of Detroit's vacant city-owned homes appears to be paying off.

City officials plan to announce an expansion of the online auction today.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority started putting one house up for auction on a website each day last week. Bids started at $1,000, and all five drew high bids between $30,000 and $42,000.

So far, 6,000 people have signed up to bid.

A recent survey done by the group Business Leaders for Michigan finds that 66 percent of Michigan voters support Gov. Rick Snyder's pledge to have the state contribute to help settle Detroit's bankruptcy. 

The survey found that 20 percent of voters oppose a state contribution, and more than 13 percent don't know if they are for or against.

There have been several ideas floated as to how much the state would give to what's known as the grand bargain – whether it would be a lump sum or spread out over a number of years, and where the money would come from. 

Today, the State house unveiled legislation that spells out its idea for the best way to help Detroit out of bankruptcy. 

Detroit News capitol reporter Chad Livengood joined us to discuss. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss local election results, how a Tea Partier is trying to challenge Michigan's lieutenant  governor, and how the state might give Detroit less money for the bankruptcy and use Michigan's rainy day fund.

By now you’ve almost certainly heard about the so-called "Grand Bargain," which would save both the Detroit Institute of Arts and shore up the city’s pension funds enough to minimize the cuts.

Doing that would require hundreds of millions in funds from three sources:

  • A coalition of private foundations
  • supporters of the DIA itself
  • state government

The first two pots of money, from museum backers and the foundations, have been raised or will be.

That leaves the state’s share, which has usually been put at $350 million. Gov. Rick Snyder is supporting this. He believes, correctly, that it makes sense for the entire state.

But his Republican colleagues who control the Legislature aren’t so sure.

Speaker of the House Jase Bolger says he won’t even consider letting this come up for a vote, unless the city unions are willing to kick in some money as well.

Bolger, who is from Marshall, clearly feels no connection to or love for Detroit, and less for unions.

It isn’t clear if the city’s battered unions even have that kind of cash. What is clear to Republicans, of course, is that every dollar the unions have to give up is one less dollar they can conceivably donate to political campaigns.

User: mattileo/flickr

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, examines the latest developments surrounding the Detroit bankruptcy case. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr spent two days in Lansing this week, trying to galvanize lawmakers to support a grand bargain to reinforce Detroit pensions while protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state is being asked to contribute $350 million, but House Speaker Jase Bolger has balked at the proposal.

Ken Sikkema emphasizes that because it is an election year, Speaker Bolger will have a difficult time getting full Republican support to contribute state money to help with Detroit’s financial woes, and that in order for a deal to proceed where the state will contribute financially, it will rely on bipartisan support.

“The speaker is walking a fine line here, between driving a hard bargain to show that Republicans actually got something in the way of more accountability so that this doesn’t happen again,” Sikkema explains. “Down in Detroit, the pieces are starting to fall into place to make this happen and the last big piece is state participation. But he’s never going to get full Republican support for this, particularly in an election year, it’s going to have to be a bipartisan vote.”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Kevyn Orr has wrapped up his two days of meeting with lawmakers in Lansing. His goal was to win support for some $350 million as the state's share in the so-called grand bargain. 

We shift our focus to money not from the state capitol, but the nation's capitol. 

Republicans, even some Democrats, are dead-set against the idea of a federal bailout for Detroit. GOP Senator David Vitter of Louisiana tried and failed last fall to get a law passed to prevent federal money from ever going to the city. 

But are the tides changing? 

The Obama Administration and Michigan officials are now in talks to give Detroit $100 million federal dollars for blight remediation, and just last week Treasury Secretary Jack Lew visited Detroit. 

Detroit Free Press Washington, D.C. reporter Todd Spangler joined us.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Could tobacco settlement money help the DIA?
DIA

Should money from a national tobacco settlement go toward fighting tobacco use and improving our health?

Or can the state raid that tobacco settlement "piggy bank" to help save works from the Detroit Institute of Arts works and help City of Detroit retirees?

That's the question Gary Heinlein addressed in a recent story for the Detroit News.

Heinlein joined us today.

*Listen to our conversation with her above.

LiveStream

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is spending a couple of days in Lansing for closed-door meetings with state officials. His primary mission is to convince reluctant state lawmakers to support the Detroit bailout package.

The state’s share, which would have to be approved by the Legislature, is $350 million dollars. That would help mitigate cuts to pension benefits as part of the city’s bankruptcy, and ensure the assets of the Detroit Institute of Arts are safe from the auction block.

Kevyn Orr
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is in Lansing today and tomorrow, getting face-time with the lawmakers whose vote is crucial to the so-called grand bargain, the complicated deal to protect city retirees and the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Orr heads to Lansing with a new piece of the puzzle in hand: a tentative five-year deal reached Monday with AFSCME, Detroit's largest employee union.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to give us an idea of what progress has been made and what lies ahead for the city.

Listen to the full interview above.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

The city of Detroit has reached a tentative deal with more than a dozen unions that represent thousands of workers in the city.

Mediators for the federal court overseeing Detroit’s reorganization under Chapter 9 bankruptcy announced the tentative deal this morning.

They say the coalition of unions includes 13 civilian unions and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. AFSCME is the city’s largest union.

The mediators say the city and the unions have agreed on the "major aspects" of a five-year collective bargaining agreement. The deal still has to be approved by the federal bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes and by the union's members.

Details of the deal will be released once it’s approved. Chad Livengood of the Detroit News reports he spoke with a source with knowledge of the agreement:

wikihow

If you’ve had a frustrating experience with a Detroit parking meter, you’re definitely not alone--about half those meters aren’t working at any given time.

The situation has the bankrupt city looking for outside operators to fix, and possibly run, its parking system.

It’s likely such a deal would get done fast. But experts warn Detroit might want to take a close look at Chicago’s recent experience first.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 11-year-old Brianna Allgood is being tested by a machine called a spirometer. It measures her breathing.

Brianna has asthma. Sometimes she has difficulty breathing. Most of us would have a hard time imagining what that’s like.

“It feels like your chest starts tightening and you’re like and you can’t really breathe much air,” Brianna said. 

Vickie Elliot is Brianna’s grandmother. She says she finds herself checking in on Brianna – a lot – just to make sure she’s breathing okay.

“Having a child like that in the home is scary because anything could happen,” Elliot said.

Brianna is luckier than some kids with asthma. Her family can get her to the clinic. They now know how to treat the asthma.

Elliott says it’s made a difference.

Detroit’s historic bankruptcy case has picked up steam in the past couple of weeks.

The city reached tentative agreement with some of its major creditors, clearing the way for a relatively quick exit from bankruptcy court.

But there are still some key missing pieces that could derail the process, and now they’re mostly outside the city’s control.

“Now is the time to negotiate”

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Republican leaders in Lansing are not joining House Speaker Jase Bolger’s calls for unions to contribute to Detroit’s bankruptcy settlement.

Gov. Rick Snyder and several foundations have signed off on a complicated deal to protect retiree pensions and artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state’s contribution to the so-called “grand bargain” would be about $350 million, and state lawmakers would have to approve that money.

Bolger, R-Marshall, says it’s only fair for unions to contribute to the deal as well.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Photo courtesy of the DIA

As Detroit's bankruptcy battle continues to unfold, a question remains: what will happen to the city-owned pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts?

The city recently reached a tentative agreement with its retirees and pensioners. Could the agreements impact the possible sale of DIA work to satisfy Detroit's bondholders and other creditors?

Mark Stryker explored that question in The Detroit Free Press and we spoke with him today.

*Listen to the audio above.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Maia C/Flickr

The reality of worried creditors eyeing the treasures at the DIA has the museum world watching very closely.

There are few people who want to see the museum's art leave Detroit.

But in the face of monstrous debt, should it be a case of "hands off the art"?

Recently, the Delaware Art Museum announced it had decided, "with heavy hearts, but clear minds" to sell up to four works from its collection to repay debt from an expansion and thus, keep its door open.

We wanted to get a museum expert's view in this debate, so we welcomed the director of the University of Michigan's Museum Studies Program, Ray Silverman.

Listen to the full interview.

Screen shot from a "One Day" film.
onedayindetroit.org

On Saturday, hundreds of folks with cameras in hand will descend upon Detroit.

Their mission is to document stories that most affect the future of the city. The stories they capture will become part of a TV series on the future of the American city.

It's called “One Day in Detroit: Your Day, Your City, Your Future.”

Detroit is one of 11 cities across America to be a part of this "One Day" event.

The co-founder and executive producer of One Day on Earth, Brandon Litman, joined us today. And we also welcomed Stephen McGee, the local producer of “One Day in Detroit.”

*Listen to the audio above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There‘s one kind of pollution that researchers believe robs kids of their future like no other.

Scientists have found evidence it diminishes their intelligence, causes behavioral problems, even increases the likelihood they’ll end up in prison.

This toxin’s damage is known.

We even know how to protect children from being exposed to it.

Yet tens of thousands of Michigan children are poisoned by lead every day.

Jessica Jeffries showed me the work that was done on her upper-floor apartment of a two-story house in Detroit.

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