DEMF - Movement 2009

Whether you call it Movement 2009, DEMF, or Techno Fest, the one thing that remains the same is its impact on the city of Detroit. Since its inception, DEMF has not only provided a very eventful holiday weekend for Metro Detroiters, it has also made a name for itself as being one of the most elite music festivals in the world. Techno heads flock to Downtown Detroit from across the world to lose themselves in the music for a few days. Does it sound cliche? Of course it does, but it's pretty easy to lose yourself when you're part of a mass stoned-tripping balls-type crowd that's only concern is having a good time. Sounds like something the D desperately needs more of if you ask me.

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© MoTray - GM Eliminating about 1,100 Jobs

Cuts Part Of Larger Plan To Cut 2,600

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2009

UPDATED: 5:17 pm EDT May 15, 2009

General Motors Corp. on Friday told about 1,100 dealers, or nearly 20 percent of its U.S. network, that they will be fired by the automaker late next year because their sales are weak.

GM's announcement is more bad economic news for dealers, communities and businesses still reeling from Chrysler's similar nationwide dealer cuts a day earlier. Both automakers are scrambling to reorganize and stay alive in a severe recession that has devastated sales of cars and trucks.

While GM doesn't own the dealers, its network is too big, causing dealers to compete with each other and giving shoppers too much leverage to talk down prices and hurt the company's future sales.

"Too many dealers, in actuality, are a problem," Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of North American sales and marketing, said in a conference call with reporters.

GM declined to reveal which dealers will be eliminated and left it up to franchise owners to report the decision to customers.

The cuts are part of a larger GM plan to drop 2,600, or nearly 42 percent of its 6,200 dealerships as the automaker tries to restructure outside of bankruptcy court and become profitable again. Thousands of jobs will likely be lost and governments will lose untold dollars in tax revenue as dealerships are forced to close.

Besides the 1,100 dealership cuts, the company will provide updates to about 470 Saturn, Hummer and Saab dealerships on the status of those brands, which it plans to sell.

Friday's cuts will not be the last. GM said it expects to lose more dealers through attrition. Ultimately, about 90 percent of the remaining dealerships will stay with GM, the company said.

FedEx letters bearing the bad news began arriving Friday morning at GM franchises around the country. The letter states that dealers were judged on sales, customer service scores, location, condition of facilities and other criteria.

"Based on our review and current foreseeable market conditions and your dealership's historical performance, we do not see that GM have a productive business relationship with (your dealership) over the long term," according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

However, the letter left open the possibility that the decision could be reversed.

"Please understand that our planning in this regard is not finalized, and we are prepared to give you until the end of the month to submit any information you would like us to see," the letter said.

"I would like to have the call that everything is OK because our people are on edge," said Bob Mechigian, owner of Bob Saks Pontiac Buick GMC.

Holiday Chevrolet Dealer President Colleen McDonald told Local she is angry that GM implied it is the under performing dealerships, because her dealership has top rated sales people and great numbers, but still got a termination letter.

"I don't want to have sour grapes because it is what it is. But I am just concerned for my employees," said McDonald.

Both Chrysler and GM say they are cutting the number of dealers because they have too many outlets that are too close to each other, and the competition drives down prices. But as the ranks of dealers thin and competition decreases, that likely will mean higher prices for car and truck buyers.

As GM and Chrysler lost market share to Japanese and other overseas brands, the automakers, as well as Ford Motor Co., ended up with too many dealerships. Many are barely getting by and can't afford to upgrade their facilities or hire the best personnel to compete with the Japanese, who have far fewer dealerships.

With fewer dealers, consumers won't see as much competition, said Aaron Bragman, an automotive industry analyst with the consulting firm IHS Global Insight.

"No longer will people be able to shop between three or four dealers within 15 minutes of each other for the best cutthroat price," he said.

GM knows it will lose sales in the short-term, but over the long haul, fewer dealers will mean higher per-vehicle profits, Bragman said.

"As the dealers go, so goes the company in terms of financial health," he said.

In the 1980s, GM, Chrysler and Ford controlled more than 75 percent of U.S. sales, but that dropped to 48 percent last year. GM alone held nearly 51 percent of the market in 1962, but only 22 percent last year.

Bragman said GM likely will go into bankruptcy protection on June 1, but it's starting to negotiate deals ahead of the filing to speed up the Chapter 11 process.

"GM has been ... acting as if they are negotiating a prepackaged bankruptcy," he said.

DPS School Closing List

Can be found at - 33 Detroit School Principles Fired

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2009

UPDATED: 8:05 pm EDT May 15, 2009

DETROIT -- The troubled Detroit Public School district is going to have a new look come September.

The emergency financial manager for Detroit's public schools Robert Bobb announced a major shake-up among principals at schools across the district.

Under Bobb's new plan, 33 principals will effectively be fired when their contracts are not renewed. Another 37 principals will get new assignments and 11 others will retire.

A nationwide search will be conducted to fill 10 of those principal positions at some of the city's most troubled schools.

Under his appointment by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Bobb has the power to hire and fire employees and manage all expenditures in the Detroit Public School system.

Bobb continues to work in restructuring the district. "We will look at all of the options available to us under the law to achieve dramatically different achievement outcomes, not for one child, but for every child in this school system," Bobb said.

Robert Bobb announced earlier this week that 29 schools in the district would close at the end of the current academic year.

Calling the city's troubled public schools "ground zero" for education in the United States, Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday promised federal help if leaders are willing to make necessary changes to improve the system.

The appointee of President Barack Obama was blunt in his criticisms of the Detroit Public Schools, which for years has been rife with mismanagement and few budget controls.

Duncan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, newly elected Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Bobb spoke with students at Cody High School about improving education.

The city was Duncan's second stop on his national "Listening and Learning Tour."

"I think Detroit is ground zero education in this country," he later told reporters. "Detroit is New Orleans two years ago without Hurricane Katrina, and I feel a tremendous sense of both urgency and outrage when you have two-thirds of your students dropping out… and dramatically more freshmen than seniors "

He said the district's chronically poor graduation and high dropout rates were unacceptable.

"The children deserve something dramatically better," Duncan said.

Duncan has asked that Detroit look to other cities, such as Chicago, whose educational models have worked.

If that is done and Detroit applies for federal funds, Granholm said she believes Duncan will be "very supportive" of helping the city's schools.

"He's got billions of dollars in Race to the Top Recovery Act money that they are willing to invest in the cities that are willing to make the changes necessary to get the results we want," Granholm said.

Diamonds in the Rough - Detroit Red Wings

Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images North America @

When much of the talk around town is of the usual dreary conversations about the failing auto industry and the complete and embarrassing lack of organization within ranks of the politicians in local office, the Wings have once again become the bright spot for the city. Generating the seemingly only positive national media attention to the city, Babcock's 2009 squad has fought ferociously through the playoffs, including a memorable series with the Ducks culminating in a Game 7 win tonight off the stick of Dan Cleary at the end of the 3rd period. Osgood has also come to the forefront with impressive goaltending throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs holding off opponents with a 1.97 GAA and 7 wins with only 3 losses thus far. Fans around the city are feeling confident about the current run of the Wings as they attempt to repeat as Cup Champs once again.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals is Sunday @ 2pm

 - Mo Tray Michigan's foreclosure rate drops

May 13, 2009 - Adrian Sanz / Associated Press

Miami -- The number of U.S. households faced with losing their homes to foreclosure jumped 32 percent in April compared with the same month last year, with Nevada, Florida and California showing the highest rates, according to data released Wednesday. Meanwhile, Michigan's foreclosure rate dropped out of the top 10.

More than 342,000 households received at least one foreclosure-related notice in April, RealtyTrac Inc. said. That means one in every 374 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing last month, the highest monthly rate since the Irvine, Calif.-based foreclosure listing firm began its report in January 2005.

April was the second straight month with more than 300,000 households receiving a foreclosure filing, as the number of borrowers with mortgage troubles failed to abate.

The April number, however, was less than one percent more than that posted in March, when more than 340,000 properties were affected. The March data was up 17 percent from February and 46 percent from a year earlier.

"We've never seen two consecutive months like this," said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's senior vice president for marketing. "It's the volume that's surprising."

Michigan's foreclosure rate dropped to number 11 on RealtyTrac's list of states with the highest foreclosure rate. The 10,830 properties listed in foreclosure in April was a 12.78 percent drop over March, according to RealtyTrac.

While total foreclosure activity was up in the nation, the number of repossessions by banks was down on a monthly and annual basis to their lowest level since March of last year, RealtyTrac said.

But that's far from positive news. Because much of the foreclosure activity in April was in the default and auction stages -- the first parts of the foreclosure process -- it's likely that repossessions will increase in coming months, RealtyTrac said.

About 63,900 homes were repossessed in April, down 11 percent from about 71,700 in March, RealtyTrac said. But the mortgage industry has resumed cracking down on delinquent borrowers after foreclosures were temporarily halted by mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, together with many other lenders.

"All of these loans are now being processed pretty rapidly by the servers," Sharga said.

Help might be on the way. The Obama administration announced a plan in March to provide $75 billion in incentive payments for the mortgage industry to modify loans to help up to 9 million borrowers avoid foreclosure. But the extent of the relief remains unclear, with questions lingering about how much the lending industry will cooperate in modifying loans.

After banks take over foreclosed homes, they usually put them up for sale at deep discounts. Nationwide, sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties made up about half of the market in the first quarter, the National Association of Realtors reported.

First-quarter home sales fell in all but six states -- Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida, Virginia and Minnesota -- where buyers have been able to grab foreclosed homes at discounts, the realtors group said Tuesday.

On a state-by-state basis, Nevada had one in every 68 households receive a foreclosure filing, down 18 percent from March but still the nation's highest rate. In Florida, one in every 135 households received a filing in April. For California, the rate was one in every 138 households.

Rounding out the top 10 were Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio.

Among large cities, Las Vegas led the way with one in every 56 households receiving a filing. That was a slightly higher rate than the southwest Florida metro area of Cape Coral-Fort Myers, which saw one in 57 housing units receive a filing.

Cities in California took the next six spots: Merced, Modesto, Riverside-San Bernardino, Bakersfield, Vallejo-Fairfield and Stockton. The Florida cities of Miami and Orlando were ninth and 10th, respectively. Bing to become mayor today

Suzette Hackney - May 11, 2009

Mayor-elect Dave Bing will be sworn in this afternoon as Detroit’s 62nd mayor at the city’s Department of Elections office.

Bing, 65, is expected to take the oath of office at about 3:30 p.m. in a private ceremony following the official election certification. Bing defeated Ken Cockrel Jr. in last week’s special mayoral election.

Family members, including Bing’s wife, Yvette, and his daughters and grandchildren are expected to be present at the low-key swearing in.

Bing is also expected today to announce additional members of his Crisis Turnaround Management Team — 31 individuals who will help him assess how the city is run during his first 100 days in office — and members of his cabinet. Bing has already vowed to keep Detroit Police Chief James Barren on the job.

The first special mayoral election in 79 years was triggered by the September resignation of Kwame Kilpatrick amid the text message scandal that landed the former mayor in jail. Cockrel, 43, who was City Council president, became mayor, under the city charter, after Kilpatrick's exit. 

Bing will serve the rest of Kilpatrick's term through Dec. 31. Cockrel returns to the City Council as its president.

Detroit Casinos: Revitalizing the city or in need of Resuscitation?

The three casinos--MGM Grand, Motorcity, Greektown--have played a major role in attempt to revive the city's economy, along with projects like the construction of Ford Field and Comerica Park.  With that in mind, it may be a bit dispiriting to learn that in May 2008, Greektown Casino filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The filing, however, was due to a rather simple financing issue, and has not affected the business at the casino or the hotel, and all three casinos continue to thrive, steadily fostering a staple of economic and social stability in a city in dire need. 

 - Mike

Homelessness in Detroit: An Epidemic

Homelessness in Detroit, which has been a chronic problem for decades, has, in the past year, increased by a stunning percentage.  Just one year ago, the number of people in need of shelter on any given night was 3,700.  Compare that to the updated numbers in January 2009--18,000--we find an increase of 480%.  This is an almost unfathomable increase--alarming and undeniable evidence of the effect the current recession is having on the already deteriorating city of Detroit.

For more information and news articles concerning these issues, see the links below.

 - Mike

Detroit City Pictorial Video

Photos taken by Mo Traylor and Mike Green
Original Music by Mike Green

HQ version can be found at: Michigan Central Station teardown ignites worries

Naomi R. Patton - Aptil 12, 2009

As the City of Detroit makes moves toward tearing down the decrepit Michigan Central Station, a state lawmaker is voicing concern that an emergency demolition would go unchecked and be harmful to neighbors.

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said she is most concerned about how the site will be cleaned up after the demolition and how the residents will be affected.

"I'm worried this is some sort of shortcut to getting it done without having to pay to clean up the site," said Tlaib, who represents southwest Detroit. "It's been decaying so long, it's not going to be easy to tear down."

Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. wants to secure $3.6 million in federal economic stimulus funds to demolish the structure. He said he would require station owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun to reimburse the city for demolition costs.

Calls to Moroun's staff were not returned.

Amru Meah, the city's Building and Safety Engineering Department director, said the building could be razed for about $3 million, once the costs to find and remove hazardous materials are added to the bill.

The City Council passed a resolution last week requesting the emergency demolition of property off Michigan Avenue. The city already has identified the old station, built in 1913, as a "dangerous building, open to the elements and open to trespassers," Meah said. It plans to demolish it under a 1984 ordinance that allows it to raze dangerous buildings.

On Saturday, Sarena Ridley, 23, moved into an apartment adjacent to the landmark: "They called it an eyesore, and I don't think I agree at all," Ridley said, adding that she has seen people stop to snap photos of the depot.

A hearing before the council to get approval for the demolition is scheduled for June.

Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station, otherwise known by most as the ‘Old Train Station,’ was once a thriving Amtrak station that served the city for over 75 years. Since its closure, the building has fallen apart; slowly becoming another relic and the site of many urban legends within the city. However, this once gorgeous piece of architecture is on the brink on being demolished very soon

 - Mo Tray

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Tigers Stadium

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One of the most obvious signs of this is what is left of the old Tigers Stadium. Our hometown stadium that once filled thousands is now starting to look more like the ancient Roman Coliseum as the seconds elapse. After its closure in 1999, the stadium has become a victim of neglect. Once a shining example of baseball architecture in the major leagues, Tiger Stadium has eroded into a shadow of what it once was.

 - Mo Tray