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« Sangria in Royal Oak
» Detroit News Roundup for Monday July 30, 2007

Detroit News Roundup for Saturday and Sunday July 28-29, 2007

Mackinac Bridge Marks 50 Years

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) - Fireworks displays launched from three points around the Mackinac Bridge capped a three-day 50th birthday celebration for one of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

When you think about it there aren’t really that many famous bridges in the United States. The Mackinac Bridge and the Ambassador Bridge are among them.
[via KSL-TV]

From Detroit: Experts say mergers could save money

The barrier between the cities, West End Street, is barely a dozen paces wide, but it marks a change in address and a change in service. It’s one example of how fragmented boundaries in suburban Detroit create obstacles, widely different services and increased costs for residents and businesses.

Increasingly, officials are asking whether the quilt of 130 cities, townships and villages that surround Detroit is an outmoded structure, too costly in a time of government budget crises and when there is a need to think regionally.

Some experts say that the state could do with fewer municipalities.

“When you look at it rationally, there is every reason to consolidate, except that it flies in the face of emotion,” said Susan Hannah, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne who has studied local government mergers for years.

Hannah has studied 132 consolidation votes nationwide since 1947 and found that 23 of them were approved by voters — a 17% success rate. She said while immediate savings are hard to identify, merged governments can be more efficient and save money in the long run.

Benefits of mergers

Michigan’s economic crisis has reduced tax revenues and prompted cuts in key services — from fewer cops to shorter library hours. As a result, local governments are eyeing consolidations of police and fire protection as never before. But going a step farther to full-fledged mergers, historically, has been taboo.

Nowhere in Michigan is there a more concentrated patchwork of communities than the 38 square miles there that contain nine cities and one township — Berkley, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Royal Oak Township.

That’s 10 governments in an area about the size of a city like Livonia or most townships.

It is theoretical only — no one has proposed the idea — but if the 10 municipalities were to become one, it would create Michigan’s third-largest city at about 192,000 people, behind only Detroit and Grand Rapids, and enable the area to decide whether it really needs nine libraries and 10 community centers, reduce other capital costs and unify their regulatory climate for business.

It’s not like the suburbs are being asked to merge with Detroit which any sane and civilized state or federal government would have with these brats into doing decades ago, that is, forming a regional and tax-sharing government. And now the problems that are inherent in older, land-locked cities are affecting inner ring suburbs, which includes the above 10 cities clustered around the Woodward Corridor. These guys need to get used to the idea of of working together, of saving together, of sharing services. SMART is better than every city having its own tiny bus system but DARTA, the system that was supposed to merge SMART and DDOT, would have been better. We should look at Toronto and Minneapolis for ideas on how regional governments can make a region economically vibrant again.
[via Battle Creek Enquirer]

Roll, roll, roll the ball roughly down the hill

Started by two friends who met as options traders in Chicago eight years ago, Sphere USA offers the only opportunity in this country to experience the extreme adventure called “sphereing” or “zorbing”: rolling down a 700-foot slope in a clear, inflatable PVC ball at about 25 m.p.h.

Though the sport can be found this summer only on Mt. Brighton, 20 miles north of Ann Arbor, it won’t be obscure for long. Two companies are racing to grab hold of the American market for a sport already popular across the globe.

A summer use for a trash mountain?
[via Chicago Tribune]

Water quality improving, scientist declares

Fish species are returning to Lake Erie and the Detroit River, mayflies still are pestering us and the American Lotus is broadly in bloom, providing clear evidence that area water bodies are getting cleaner, according to a federal fishery biologist.

Dr. Bruce Manny of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor said lake whitefish have been found spawning again in the lower half of the Detroit River again for the first time in 90 years.

It’s also evidence that “the Detroit River has got to be a lot cleaner than it’s ever been in a long time for those whitefish eggs to survive on the bottom of the river from November to March.

And more people are fishing along the Detroit River and environs.
[via Monroenews.com]

Hamtramck/Wayne County

Hamtramck is a mature, culturally rich city almost entirely surrounded by the city of Detroit.

Since the Dodge Brothers automobile plant opened in 1914, Hamtramck has been home to many immigrants. Recently, the largest numbers come from the Middle East, south Asia and eastern European countries like Serbia and Montenegro. More than 25 languages are spoken in the city.

Hamtramck is also a popular place for young artists because rents are reasonable.

The Free Press is running a profile on Hamtramck.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Detroit still has its vibe

The neighborhood party signifies why Detroit can be an unexpectedly inviting summer weekend destination. A creative, consistently friendly, and unpretentious atmosphere with predominantly African-American vibes suffuses the city, layered with a melange of Greek, Polish, Arab, Mexican, and other ethnic textures highlighted in a series of free music and cultural festivals.

The Boston Globe on what to do and see in Detroit.
[via Boston Globe]

You look like a million, Michigan

Still, you have to be wowed by the notion that southeastern Michigan is cranking out a growing number of millionaires and the trend is expected to continue.

One study says the seven-county area in southeastern Michigan had 67,824 millionaire households in 2006. The number is expected to grow to 98,629 by 2011, reports Claritas Inc., a San Diego research firm.

That’s one in 20 households by 2011, up from one in 28 in 2006.

“Detroit has been a great place to do business,” said Jeff Gembis, first vice president of investments for Merrill Lynch in Bloomfield Hills.

The Detroit area, despite recent news, is still one of the richest areas in the nation and much wealth will continue to be banked in the region for years to come.
[via Detroit Free Press]

Dance lovers invited to sparkle and wiggle

Fans of The Bang!, the monthly dance party at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, will be happy to know they can have their share of fun on this side of town.

Break out the Bedazzler for the Club Fit Indie Rock Dance Party at the Elbow Room, 6 S. Washington St., Tuesday at 10 p.m., in what the Web site calls “Ypsi’s premier jiggle-down.” The cover is $3, ages 18 and up.

[via Ann Arbor News]

Artists up the ante for Ypsilanti with panty A tradition of city …

They have been selling “Ypsipanties,” boy-shorts style, hot pink underwear screen-printed with the word “Ypsipanty,” in the city and through their Web site (www.crimewaveusa.com) since August 2003. The underwear is part of their line of Ypsilanti-themed items, including the popular “Iggy Pop was born in Ypsilanti” T-shirt. They have sold close to 200 pairs of Ypsipanties.

[via Ann Arbor News]

Midtown-Inspired Website Helps Southwest Detroit Bring Shop Your …

Midtown Interactive, LLC, a multimedia services firm in the Midtown neighborhood of Detroit, is the Web and Multimedia partner for the 2007 “Shop Your Block” festival which takes place on August 3rd and 4th in Southwest Detroit. The festival, produced by the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA), is in its 20th consecutive year and is expected draw a crowd of over 11,000 people.

ShopYourBlock.org, created by Midtown, showcases the festival’s diverse offering of fine retail shopping, delicious ethnic cuisine, and exciting live entertainment. The website also maintains a full schedule of events, driving directions, and other event information.

[via PR.com (press release)]

Where to have a good time in and near Detroit when the Cleveland …

Honestly, this could have been much more thorough.
[via Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Thousands of music fans turn out to get Warped

Pure energy tore through raucous crowds Friday night as music lovers enjoyed adrenaline-raising music in downtown Detroit.

Thousands of preteens, teens and adults rocked out in the parking lot of Comerica Park on Friday to more than 60 bands playing rock and alternative music throughout the day and into the night.

[via Detroit Free Press]

Detroit OKs strip club permit transfers

DETROIT — The City Council on Friday authorized four strip clubs to transfer their topless entertainment permits to new buyers, signaling a change in the council’s stance on adult entertainment.

Council members have denied several strip club requests for similar transfers since 2003, resulting in at least two lawsuits. The council approved a payout in June of $500,000 to the owners of downtown’s Famous Door II — now Bouzouki’s II — after the council denied the transfer in 2004.

Friday’s four, 5-4 votes allowed Hot Tamales, Chocolate City, Crazy Horse and the Duchess Lounge to transfer their permits to new owners.

Council is coming to their senses although I can understand the pressure from local religious groups. There’s a reason many of the strip clubs are currently on 8 Mile. That is because it’s a commercial/industrial corridor away from residential and I can understand the desire to keep strip clubs away from where people live when those people don’t want to live near strip club. But there was no reason to deny the transfer for a strip club downtown. If you look at Windsor across the river with many strip clubs downtown it’s not really the sort of doomsday scenario that some fear come with the concentration of such adult entertainment. Instead, strip clubs could be moved closer to downtown in some sort of adult entertainment district short of a red light district, perhaps to stimulate a corner of downtown.
[via DetNews.com]

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« Sangria in Royal Oak
» Detroit News Roundup for Monday July 30, 2007