Opinions & Views – Daily Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Mon, 18 Jun 2018 00:27:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 Will Metro Detroit Become A Permanent Second-Class Region? That’s the Question At The Heart Of This Year’s Mackinac Policy Conference http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/05/30/will-metro-detroit-become-permanent-second-class-region-thats-question-heart-years-mackinac-policy-conference/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/05/30/will-metro-detroit-become-permanent-second-class-region-thats-question-heart-years-mackinac-policy-conference/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 14:41:14 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=41884 The Detroit region is a proverbial frog boiling alive in a pot of water.  

There are several major topics being tackled up here at the Mackinac Policy Conference — talent, transit, the opioid crisis and education among them. But the through-line that we see between all of them is “Will Metro Detroit become a permanent second-class region?”

See, despite what some politicians would like to tell you, all is not rosy in the Paris of the Midwest. The city does have a comeback beginning. But anyone who’s visited other cities and regions knows that even our “nicest” area of Midtown is an average block in most other major cities.

Our roads are reminiscent of the surface of the moon. And it’s our fault because we refuse to spend what it takes to fix our infrastructure.

Michigan’s education system — as we discussed with Ron French of Bridge Magazine — http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/03/22/michigans-bad-schools/ is in deep trouble, much closure to the bottom of the barrel among states that the top of the heap.

Michigan has the 4th biggest drug problem in the United States, and Macomb County’s drug overdoses are skyrocketing.

And transit? Well, there’s many second- and third- world regions that have better mass transit than we do. It’s something that’s like air to most millennial workers, not to mention many of the urbane executives and engineering talent we like to lure from other automotive hubs like Germany and Japan. But here, we have a bunch of folks who are telling their kids to get off their lawn and driveway — and then wonder why they don’t move back “home.”

To us, transit is a question of equity. It’s a hand up for people to get to jobs and improve their own station in life, not a hand out. In Metro Detroit, we’re apparently fine with “I got mine.” And that’s not the kind of community people who want to build something great want to live in.

Here’s the scary thing: The electorate, especially in parts of Oakland and most of Macomb County, is apparently fine with that. And our elected leaders? We’re back to the tiresome suburban/city bickering. It sure was nice to have a break from that, however brief.

But it’s not a good look, guys.

While you’re fighting, our future is leaving this state, and businesses by and large aren’t finding the talent they need. We look to people like Dan Gilbert to do everything, when in fact, if we were a successful region, we’d have 20 or more of them. Dan Gilbert in Chicago is just another rich guy. Here, he runs the table because he’s among the few games in town.

But that’s our culture. We’ve long looked to big companies to fix our problems. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors had their claws in city governments across Metro Detroit who then didn’t plan for people and residents. For the most part, they did what the biggest companies in town asked.

We made whole suburbs based on racist principles. Henry Ford, though a brilliant engineer, was a racist and anti-Semite. With his money and power, he weaved his wretched social beliefs into the fabric of our area, and most of us don’t even realize it.

And Detroit’s mostly hated Coleman Young? He wasn’t a cause. He was a symptom and a catalyst, like Donald Trump today. Now, we have Oakland County exec L. Brooks Patterson back to his cantankerous old ways, flipping corn and blankets over the proverbial fence and flipping off the camera. And Macomb’s Mark Hackel? He never met a political wind he didn’t bow to. He’s right about his electorate today, but he’s going to be on the wrong side of history.

What we need now is leadership. Will a champion, or a set of champions, step forward, or are we going to have 20 more years of the same story? Now is the time, or we fear the window of a Motor City comeback will close. And maybe that’s what our current leaders really want: the status quo, with a festering doughnut-hole for an urban core and a collection of disparate, sprawling suburbs offering plentiful parking. Nothing galvanizes a base like an enemy. And the easiest enemy in Metro Detroit always seems to be your neighbor.

So the question this year really is this: Will Metro Detroit find the will to turn a corner to keep up with the rest of the nation, or are we going become a permanent second- or third-class region? The choice, as they say, is ours.

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Dear Ilitches: Nobody Moves To Detroit For The Surface Parking Lots http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/02/02/dear-ilitches-nobody-moves-detroit-surface-parking-lots/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/02/02/dear-ilitches-nobody-moves-detroit-surface-parking-lots/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 22:17:58 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=40701 When it comes to planning our city, we had hoped developers might have learned a lesson after the demolition spree of the last few decades, where building after building was torn down for surface parking lots.

After all, Dan Gilbert (and a host of other developers, large and small) have clearly shown that people want to be part of re-using historic structures, whether for locating their office there or making the place their new home.

It seems that message hasn’t made it to the offices of the Ilitch family, which has been around plenty long enough and should have figured it out by now.

This is raised again as there is the real prospect of the demolition of some of the few historic buildings we have left in the core of the city.

Two of the properties are an old car dealership at Charlotte and Woodward and an apartment building on Peterboro.

Shipping container food court on Peterboro.

Across the street from the Peterboro property, a new food court in shipping containers is going in as well as there are signs of retail and restaurant life on nearby Cass.

On Woodward, the old car dealership is among the last buildings of older architecture before you get to Little Caesars Arena.

Let’s set aside any political disagreements you may or may not have with the organizations, and focus on culture. Gilbert’s crew and the Ilitch organization found success in different ways.

Bedrock’s real estate arm prides itself on trying to create unique experiences. Quicken Loans, the engine of the money to pay for all of their projects, is now the largest mortgage lender in the country. To get people to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in the very personal transaction of buying a home, you have to build some sort of trust. They publicly talk about their “isms.”

The Ilitch family, on the other hand, has basically the same core product across the world. It’s a franchise organization that prides itself on a product that costs just $5. They’ve built their fortune occupying strip malls across the country where, for the business to make it, everything has to be the same and parking has to be plentiful. Nothing can cost too much as the margins are razor thin.

When it comes to development, it’s time for a culture change at the Ilitch organization. There have been some notable exceptions, but it feels like the default there is to demolish it. To create the lowest-cost development with the highest return, just like the business model for their pizza.

What Olympia Development has done and continues to do in the lively heart of the city is akin to eating a high-cholesterol diet without exercise: Take the high profits from a parking lot with the lowest taxable value, then do almost nothing to the property.

For too long we’ve defined progress in downtown Detroit through a narrow focus on sporting events and concerts instead of creating 24-7 vibrant neighborhoods with amenities that draw residents and visitors.

But since the conversation online is dominated by people who don’t live in the city, there’s this belief that everything’s fine. That we should be thankful for whatever we get and not ask questions.

You can be appreciative of investment but also fight for your community. That’s part of the natural give and take that makes for a better project in the end.

Back to our old car dealership and apartment building.

Take a look at the Woodstock Apartments. It’s the kind of place where people in other cities would love to live. We showed you pictures from today. Here’s a picture from their heyday. This can be again. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

And this former dealership at Woodward and Charlotte is gorgeous. We hope we can meet there for a drink one day.

Sure, we love old buildings. They’re worth saving for a lot of reasons. But we get business is business, so we’ll make another argument.

It’s sad for the entire community the Ilitches clearly don’t see the potential in what they already own.

Their actions make it seem like the organization, even under newer, younger leadership, doesn’t yet get why Detroit is cool to the nation again.

The “energy” of the city isn’t fueled by ample parking on vast surface lots. That’s what people are moving away from.

What makes a city like ours magical, in part, are the connections. Connections to each other. Connections to our work. Connections to our friends. And connections to our past.

Treating Detroit as a community and not just as a playground for visitors can and should be done. We don’t have to let the mistakes of the past define our future. The money is there. All it takes is will and vision — and maybe a little public pressure.

If an older building is limited in size or scope, maybe you incorporate new and old. You only have to look at the plans for the Soap Stone building on Detroit’s riverfront to get an idea.

If you’re passionate about this topic, there’s a protest happening tomorrow (Saturday) at 2 p.m. The information is here.

Detroit’s future is still in flux, but could be very bright. As residents, let’s demand the sun come out.

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If Oakland And Macomb Counties Don’t Want The Benefits Of Mass Transit, Forget’em http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/01/24/oakland-macomb-counties-dont-want-benefits-mass-transit-forgetem/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2018/01/24/oakland-macomb-counties-dont-want-benefits-mass-transit-forgetem/#respond Wed, 24 Jan 2018 17:24:27 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=40614 The ongoing saga of regional transit negotiations is like watching a friend tragically go after dating someone they really, really like – but the person that’s the target of their affection just isn’t interested.

The reality is a four county transit solution isn’t politically workable here. We should accept that and like Indianapolis, an Amazon top 20 city, move on.

One of the things that was surprising on our most recent Daily Detroit Happy Hour podcast was that Indianapolis was a top 20 city when Detroit was not.

So we did some digging.

Rendering of an Indy BRT station.

Indianapolis is underway with improvements including 50 miles of Bus Rapid Transit (across 3 lines!) and a 70 percent increase in short haul bus service. They focused their efforts on Marion County, and although it’s not done, it’s funded. They’re stepping forward.

Meanwhile, Metro Detroit is basically stalled. There are early signs with a FAST bus route that hold promise, and the QLINE putters down Woodward.

What did Indy do? They kept it simple. Yes, the goal is to spread to more counties. But they got started with their transit. And we should do the same.

We’ve tried time after time after time after time. County Executives Mark Hackel in Macomb and L. Brooks Patterson in Oakland have been less than good faith negotiators around the topic. It’s spineless to negotiate a deal, push hard for drastic changes, get those changes, and then not publicly back the deal.

We need to be honest with ourselves and realize that with their competency and ability to push things through, if Hackel and Patterson were actually invested in mass transit it would have already been done. Supporters of transit in those counties need to remember this is a representative democracy and their leadership DOES speak for them, and if they don’t like it, they should work to make them pay where it counts — at the ballot box.

If Wayne and Washtenaw counties make their own backbone transit system happen, the businesses will move. The people will move, and new people will move in.

When it comes to talent and retention, Metro Detroit didn’t make the cut in the Amazon bid. Even outside of the Amazon bid, anyone who is honest about the conversation knows we don’t make the cut.

A transit system connecting the two most dynamic areas of the region will bring more people and more investment.

The world has changed in the last 25 years. One of the reasons why Midtown (and greater downtown) in Detroit is so hot is because it’s the closest thing that Metro Detroit has to a true urban area.

Those neighborhoods are attracting huge amounts of investment, in part, because they’re not like most of Metro Detroit. We’ve interviewed developers who have stopped almost all new development in the suburbs because of these changing demographics and tastes, focusing on cities.

Even if we connected the city of Detroit with places like Dearborn and Grosse Pointe and Canton and Wyandotte and Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, that’s a good thing. Maybe if it’s connected with proper Bus Rapid Transit or Light Rail, you’ll see places like Highland Park come alive.

No, a two-county system isn’t going to connect everything it should, but it will connect more than we have. It’s a step forward, and sometimes you have to walk before you run.

And when this plan is successful, the rest will fall into place. When the suburban detractors, worried about hyper-low taxes and others coming into their cities see their property values drop, and drop hard, they’ll change their tune. There’s a reason Royal Oak is looking at their own city bus system. Their leadership has to know what’s around the corner and that they could get left behind.

But we can’t afford to wait another four or eight years. Detroit’s moment is now. We have to back up our ideas with dollars.

We also have the opportunity to it better than anyone else, using our unique skills.

Ford and GM say they’re a mobility companies now. They’d both be served by a Wayne/Washtenaw transit deal. What if they got involved  to remake the future of transit and mobility that sets them up for future success and benefit our citizens?

What if Dan Gilbert played hardball and decided that he’s going to incentivize his new employees to live inside the new transit zone?

Maybe that’s an out of the box idea, but I’ll take that over our leaders who seem permanently unable to come to agreement like some buddy film featuring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

I’ll leave it to your imagination to pick who’s Walter and who’s Jack on this issue.

We seem to have no problem spending millions on economic incentives on a regular basis in Detroit and in Michigan. And we seem to clearly have the votes, vision and will in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties.

The time for talking is over. Get it done with people who get it, and ignore the people who don’t.

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There Aren’t Two Detroits. But There Are Two Metro Detroits. http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/12/13/arent-two-detroits-two-metro-detroits/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/12/13/arent-two-detroits-two-metro-detroits/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:18:45 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=40093 Over the past few years we’ve noticed that there is a severe cultural disconnect in metro Detroit.

Before you say “oh, another city vs. suburbs rant!” let’s be clear: It’s way more complicated than just city vs. suburb. Or black vs. white.

This cultural divide doesn’t respect city boundaries. Sure, there’s a geographic element to it, but it’s also tied to family and life experiences. We live in silos. We have a lack of shared experiences and empathy.

You could live in, say, Harrison Township or Canton or Auburn Hills but still be somewhat aware of what’s happening around town, if you choose to be.

Metro Detroit’s conversation stalls because it so often lacks context and true civic pride beyond wearing an old english “D” around.

This is borne out again and again in issue after issue, where the community conversation turns into a shouting match of what “they” (insert “they” of the day) should do to fix it “themselves.”

As long as we define everyone as “they” instead of “us,” it’s a soulless conversation. We’re not dealing with each other as humans. We need more empathy and commonality.

We need to break down the virtual walls that keep us apart — whether it’s city and suburb, or in some cases, suburb to suburb.

The problem, in large part, is our cultural disconnection.

Here are a few tiny examples, but indicative of the last year.

Geographically, this cultural line seems to roughly sit somewhere a bit north of I-696, with of course individual exceptions depending on family and life experiences on either side. There’s also a western boundary, but we haven’t found it quite yet. Maybe I-275? Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

In the outer exurb lands, when we do stories, when we visit family — there’s a feeling that “Detroit = Lions, Tigers, Vernors and Crime, Oh My!”

Little depth of knowledge. No context. Little awareness of anything going on. Just… what they saw in some media cesspool, or maybe what Dan Gilbert or Mike Ilitch is doing. Maybe. Metro Detroit is so much more than that.

We are coming to the realization — and this particular issue isn’t just about race, to be clear — that we are truly culturally divided. It’s not a city vs. suburb divide. It’s an experience and lifestyle divide.

That has a lot of impacts in a lot of different ways. Transit. Investment. Incentives. Jobs. Infrastructure. People choosing to stay in our region.

As a region, metro Detroit has roughly the same amount of people living here that we did in the 1960s. Meanwhile, the rest of the country has grown like gangbusters.

We’re staying the same and falling behind.

There’s important work to be done around this. Work that will transform this region in a positive way and help everyone.

Instead of focusing on trying to take pieces of the proverbial pie from each other, we need to bake more pie.

Thing is, the power to change this lies in all our hands. We are better than this.. If we choose to be. The future of our region depends on it.

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WATCH: Eminem Performs New Track As Well As “Stan” & “Love The Way You Lie” In Medley http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/19/watch-eminem-performs-new-track-well-stan-love-way-lie-medley/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/19/watch-eminem-performs-new-track-well-stan-love-way-lie-medley/#respond Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:39:07 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39680 Eminem’s new track “Walk on Water” was featured on last night’s Saturday Night Live in a three-part medley performance with Skylar Grey. If you didn’t know, she’s collaborated with Em before as the writer of “Love The Way You Lie” back in 2010.

After the new track that’s powerful but in a different style that fans got into when he first broke out on the scene, he went into short snippets of two classics everyone who has been following the him for awhile.

“Walk On Water” is reminiscent of a raw style that deep fans would know about but hasn’t hit the mainstream as it deals with difficult subjects and can be abrupt in delivery.

Eminem stands for something in a world where many stand for nothing or have instant outrage. He is making a strong statement again and again with his music. His connection to his feelings through decades of tough experiences is legitimate and real.

It’s also exactly what makes his detractors even more uncomfortable. Eminem’s powerful voice is forged through adversity.

Any change in sound from an artist will bring criticism. Listeners are fickle and usually want more of whatever album they fell in love with.

Artists with staying power have evolving sounds and take risks. There’s a snapshot in the mind of the public of a guy in his 20s making people laugh with absurd lyrics, but now he’s 45 and has been active for more than two decades. Time shapes people’s perspectives, and Eminem is no different.

There’s still no word as to when his next album, “Revival” will come out, despite various teases on social media and through media advertising.

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For Detroit City Clerk, Garlin Gilchrist Is The Clear Choice http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/02/detroit-city-clerk-garlin-gilchrist-clear-choice/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/02/detroit-city-clerk-garlin-gilchrist-clear-choice/#respond Thu, 02 Nov 2017 19:22:40 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39331 The city clerk race has become interesting this year. It’s usually a sleeper with candidates nobody really cares about.

But between issues around the last general election and a dynamic figure appearing on the stage, it’s been something to watch and research.

Gilchrist II may have been an unknown figure to most media, but he was known to us. Before he was running for anything (or we knew he was running for anything), he stopped by our Daily Detroit Happy Hour Podcast to talk about Detroit technology.

When he announced he was running for City Clerk, we were initially skeptical. This is a town that historically has gone for name recognition above almost all else.

After he defeated Heaster Wheeler, a long-time operator in the Detroit scene with more name recognition in the primary, Gilchrist II deserved a closer look — especially after what happened in the last general election.

On a personal level, two of our Detroit resident team members had bad voting experiences.

In the case of one, the poll workers clearly weren’t trained. The line was long while they got their stuff together, and the mechanical issues were so bad the vote was dropped in another box.

Sure, the mechanical issues could have been explained away with new gear. But the poll workers didn’t know how to deal with it.

They just stared at it like it was some sort of magic box. This doesn’t build trust, and then were clearly “well, maybe we’ll do this…” which is problem solving — but they should immediately know what to do if there’s a problem.

Beyond that, the most recent presidential election had issues with the ballot boxes not being able to recounted. Poll workers got the number of people who voted wrong. 60 percent of precincts could not be recounted due to this human error and two thirds had more votes than voters.

It was not fraud, but it was a sign of incompetence and poor training. And that isn’t the equipment. That’s the process. We believe the current City Clerk, Janice Winfrey, owns the responsibility for that poor process.

Not to mention, Detroit continues to be slow in reporting election results. Winfrey has been in the office since 2005.

We also despise the long-standing practice of using city dollars to pay for informational billboards to plaster “So and so, City Clerk” (or any office, for that matter) all over town.

We hope Garlin Gilchrist II, who has made this somewhat of an issue in the campaign, steps up and doesn’t do this himself. Also, that the practice is ended across all offices for billboards paid for by taxpayers.

Admittedly, Gilchrist II is on the younger side at 34 when seeking this office. But his technical experience with the Obama campaign, as National Campaign Director for MoveOn.org, and Director of Technology for the City of Detroit, show that he actually understands what’s going on.

Garlin Gilchrist II has the potential of being the kind of leader that embodies the future of Detroit that we want to see. Our city, standing tall.

And so we believe Garlin Gilchrist II is the best choice for Detroit City Clerk.

Although we have an opinion, we encourage you to do your own research. Here are some resources:

Debate on WDIV: https://www.clickondetroit.com/flashpoint/-detroit-city-clerk-candidates-janice-winfrey-and-garlin-gilchrist-debate

Janice Winfrey Campaign Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janicewinfreycityclerk/

Janice Winfrey Campaign Website: http://janice4thewin.com/

Janice Winfrey Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/Janice_Winfrey

Garlin Gilchrist II Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gilchristforcityclerk/

Garlin Gilchrist II Campaign Website: https://www.gilchristforcityclerk.com/

Garlin Gilchrist II Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/Garlin_Gilchrist_II

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OPINION: Banning Billboards In Downtown Detroit Is Ridiculous And The Law Should Change http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/01/opinion-banning-billboards-downtown-detroit/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/01/opinion-banning-billboards-downtown-detroit/#respond Wed, 01 Nov 2017 20:17:50 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39322 Active, vibrant cities the world over have billboards and advertisements. But in Detroit, almost all the ones you’ve seen pop up over the last few years? Turns out they’re illegal, according to city code.

And that’s especially ridiculous in Detroit’s core business district.

If you didn’t know, there’s a prohibition in the city of Detroit against large advertising signs, billboards and painted wall graphics basically anywhere from Grand Boulevard to the Detroit River.

Opponents of these big ads talk about them being “a big money business” that “somebody should stop.” In this case, that’s a disturbing point of view.

The signs can bring in revenue, according to folks we talked to, between $5,000 and $11,000 per month, similar to what has been reported elsewhere. That can be a significant source of revenue for building owners, many of remember when nobody wanted to be part of anything Detroit.

Rules like this show that although the city of Detroit has become more business-friendly, it still has a long way to go before resembling a normal environment.

What’s the harm in a giant Andre Drummond being visible on what is otherwise a blank wall? Or a Comcast ad that helps support the work of the Detroit Opera House on a wall that would otherwise be empty?

It’s still not easy to make it financially in Detroit, especially for smaller players.

Not to mention, in the last couple of decades we’ve had a demolition derby where we hit the destruct button on buildings that represent a century’s worth of history. It’s part of why we have a bunch of blank walls that used to be concealed by other buildings.

And now the city government is going to make sure we and our visitors stare at those failures, day after day.

We should put in common sense provisions like a license fee and approval process to make sure guidelines of decency and taste are met. No one is arguing it should be the wild west.

But tasteful signs add to the vibe that this is a bustling downtown and help fill out the streetscape. They help keep the economic engine humming.

The city is supposed to begin enforcing the ban at the end of this year. The city council and the mayor should do fast-track reforms before that happens.

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For Day To Day Usage, MoGo Bike Share Beats The QLINE Hands Down http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/19/day-day-usage-mogo-bike-share-beats-qline-hands/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/19/day-day-usage-mogo-bike-share-beats-qline-hands/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:06:47 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38478 When it comes to practicality, the QLINE streetcar has been a disappointment.

Our team is pretty bike- and walk- friendly, and will take the bus if the timing makes sense.

We have contributors who live near the QLINE and the MoGo stations, and others who live near bus lines and use them (in the suburbs, too).

When both opened earlier this year, we had multiple debates over which service was going to come out on top. It was evenly split between bike share lovers and believers in the power of the streetcar.

It isn’t even close.

It turns out the MoGo is, from a practical perspective, what someone around here ends up using almost every time, almost every day.

At first the MoGo might seem steep at $8 a day. But here’s the pro tip. If you use it more than one day in a 30-day period, grab that monthly pass for $18 that gives you unlimited rides. That changes your whole relationship with the service, even if you drive downtown for work. You won’t need to wait for the card to come in the mail, either. Just use the Transit app and sign in.

How does it change things? Well, that meeting in Grand Circus Park? Grab a MoGo and be there in a minute or two. Dinner in Greektown? Easy. Heading to food trucks at Spirit of Detroit Park from Bottom Line Coffeeshop? A cinch. Business drinks in Corktown? Yep.

The QLINE? People from out of town always want to use it because everyone wants to see it. But if you need to get to work and do things? Let’s be real. Even if you live right on the line, in the morning one, maybe two 53 Woodward DDOT buses are going to pass in the time one QLINE comes through.

Or, just bike it.

In nice weather on a personal bike or hopping on the MoGo, if there’s any traffic, you’re going to beat the QLINE hands down and get a little exercise.

Not to mention, when hopping around greater downtown for press conferences, meetings, or whatever else, the MoGo will get you there in no time and you’re never going to have to worry about where to park your bike or if it’s going to be stolen. Not to mention, it’s easy to get from the Central Business District to the Podcast Detroit studio at 21st Street and Vernor for our shows on MoGo. There’s a station on the same block.

We’ve counted up 12 meetings that we MoGo’d to in the last week or so.

The streetcar, when you do take it and it’s not a sportsball game, looks much emptier than when they were offering free rides. It’s going to be very interesting to see what their ridership is now.

The QLINE for sure is a “catalyst” for development. Developers who don’t live here find rails much more believable than a flexible bus line or Bus Rapid Transit. From a grander vision thing, in theory, we see that argument. And streetcars — especially if they reach farther or go faster — can be an important part of a transportation mix.

But actually living and doing things here, and having an interaction with the city that’s more than once in awhile for a special event, it’s a different question. The MoGo bike share is the clear choice.

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Michigan Cracking Down On Marijuana Dispensaries, All Must Close By Dec. 15 http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/12/michigan-cracking-marijuana-dispensaries-must-close-dec-15/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/12/michigan-cracking-marijuana-dispensaries-must-close-dec-15/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:34:13 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38311 It’s going to be a lot harder to get ahold of medical marijuana in Michigan soon.

According to multiple reports, the state of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is giving medical marijuana dispensaries and other businesses until December 15 to shut down.

If they don’t, they risk not being able to get a license under a new regulatory system they’re rolling out or be forcibly shut down by law enforcement. Some areas, like Oakland County, are already doing shutdowns.

New applications will not be accepted until December 15, so the practical result is that there will be a period where medical marijuana will be basically unavailable in the state.

Probable outcome: There most likely will be a lot fewer dispensaries in the state after a re-licensure process that has strong political overtones.

But… Didn’t we pass a ballot initiative, overwhelmingly?: Yeah, and elected officials don’t even have to act like they care.

If you look at polls and by the margin the 2008 ballot proposal passed (63%-37%), Michiganders wanted medical marijuana access. Recreational legalization is now favored by 57% of Michiganders in the last public poll from this year we found.

Let’s zoom out beyond the marijuana issue to explain (and, admittedly, go down a rathole).

Members of this board are selected, in part, by the Speaker of the State House and the Senate Majority Leader (also, the governor).

Through gerrymandering, in the legislature, local election outcomes are assured after the primary. Gerrymandering is a process that happens every 10 years where legislative districts are redrawn by the party in power.

Technology and politics have merged in various ways, and this is just one. Political leaders have carved out individual blocks and stack the deck so hard that the state House or Senate district is almost unflippable. On a state level Michigan voters have been stealthily silenced.

The lines of districts have been drawn to be ever in the controlling party’s favor (Republicans).

The officials on these boards are selected by elected officials, and since the current controlling party in the legislature has zero fear of being voted out of office, no matter how unpopular the program is, they’re going to do what they want.

It begs the question — and this is regardless of the party in power — if an elected leader has no real fear of being removed except by his own party, is it still a democracy?

In Michigan state politics, that’s a real question.

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Amazon Should Be A Wake-up Call To Metro Detroit To Think Bigger http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/08/amazon-wake-call-metro-detroit-think-bigger/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/08/amazon-wake-call-metro-detroit-think-bigger/#respond Fri, 08 Sep 2017 19:31:02 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38247 All the Mayor’s horses and all of Dan Gilbert’s men are looking to put together a deal together with Amazon.

After all, the prospect of 50,000 jobs — with well-paying salaries — and a $5 billion total investment has the entire nation talking about where the online retail Goliath will build its second headquarters.

Beyond the breathless headlines that will get shared ad nauseum on Facebook, we should take this as an opportunity to look at our region in the mirror and ask ourselves how we could compete with the rest of the nation — for talent, for investment, and for the good of our own residents.

Detroit has some great advantages. We have a sleek, modern airport. It seems like everywhere is close to an interstate freeway, and we have plenty of properties that could, in theory — and if rehabbed — house this project. Think the old Packard Plant or the Fisher Body factory, each with more than 3 million square feet. We’ve also got vacant real estate in spades.

Taking over an iconic property in an historic American city like ours would represent the kind of strong statement that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos lives for. Remember, this is the guy who’s invested heavily in The Washington Post — a newspaper, for cryin’ out loud. A guy who wants to one day deliver your purchases via drone. Going someplace obvious like Silicon Valley or New York feels way too pedestrian to be a real possibility.

Even pundits like Richard Florida are saying that Detroit’s a sleeper pick.

But there are some major areas where we come up short. We’re no closer than we were a couple years ago to having a real mass transit system. That’s a big one: One of the top requirements for the RFP was access to subways and/or light rail. Diversity was also mentioned; we’re among the least diverse regions in the nation.

This chart from CNBC puts Detroit almost dead last among cities that could contend. The only category out of the four they measured we even place in the top 20? Our airport access. Though truth be told, the fact they gave no consideration to real estate seems like a glaring omission; think it’d be easy to squeeze 8 million square feet out of New York City?

The chart makes it clear: Our region doesn’t rank in the top 20 in North America for job growth, labor force education, mass transit or university culture.

While the media can’t write enough about Detroit’s comeback — and there has been some important progress — the reality is we need to think bigger instead of focusing on scraps around the edges if more Detroiters are to find work and new opportunities.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for Amazon, especially if it’s the right deal. But we shouldn’t follow Wisconsin’s example in landing Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn by giving away the farm in tax and other incentives.

We need to look at this as an opportunity to think bigger than we ever have before. We’re very good at using tax incentives and other lures to pull companies or major-league sports franchises from the suburbs to the city or vice versa.

But what we should be focusing on is overall growth.

There’s amazing, untapped potential in Detroiters on either side of 8 Mile to help us become the engine of the Midwestern economy, but our divisive culture and some of our leadership locks that potential in place with provincialism, short-term thinking and policies that fall laughably short of what leaders are doing in other, more economically robust regions.

The reality is if Detroit lands Amazon, or any company that isn’t simply transplanting itself from one Detroit-area location to another, most of the jobs even with programs to get Detroit residents skilled up will probably fall to suburbanites who will take that money back to their comparatively affluent tax bases across 8 Mile.

This could be a watershed moment in our region’s history.

We will either begin a true, inclusive rebound, or we’ll look back in 10 years and realize that we have faded into irrelevance, having missed what could be our greatest chance to regain our former glory as the creator of the middle class and opportunity for all.

Let’s use Amazon — whether or not we get it — as a rallying point, and move together as a region into the future.

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