Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
All week, we’ve been covering Detroit’s attempts to improve its image. We heard about plenty of things to celebrate, but Detroit also has plenty of real problems, ranging from its struggling education system to a huge loss of residents over the last decade.
Along with the city’s positive aspects, we also asked you to tell us: what’s the worst thing about Detroit? Here is a sample of your answers.
Hate. From racism to road rage, it is not a friendly place.– Carly Van Thomme, Guadalajara, Mexico
The bankrupt Borders Group is getting another 10 days to make a deal with a buyer, in hopes of coming back to life. But a judge is not happy with the terms its lenders are demanding.
According to Reuters, Judge Glenn Martin in United States District Bankruptcy Court criticized a $1 million fee that the store is paying to its lenders for the reprieve. “I think you’re getting raped, is the best way I can describe it,
he told Borders’ lawyers at a hearing in Manhattan today. “It’s very close to me just saying no.” Continue reading “Borders Gets More Time; Judge Criticizes Lenders”
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Suburban Cleveland communities study consolidation. Four communities in suburban Cleveland announced today they will begin the process of studying a merger. The mayors of Pepper Pike, Orange Village, Moreland Hills and Woodmere have agreed to be part of a pilot program. No timetable was given for reaching a decision.
The announcement comes on the heels of last week’s announcement from Ohio Governor John Kasich, who wants a committee to explore consolidation among the state’s 3,800 government entities. In a written statement issued Wednesday, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald called the merger of the four towns a “logical outcome,” because they already share a school district, recreation program and library.
2. Emergency managers challenged in Michigan. A lawsuit was filed today in Ingham County Circuit Court, challenging a new Michigan law that gives expanded powers to emergency managers of cities and school districts in crisis. “This law violates one of the basic principles of democracy, where people get to vote and no one can impose a dictator on them,” said Bill Goodman, an attorney for the Sugar Law Center of Detroit, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of 28 plaintiffs, according to the Detroit Free Press.
3. Merit-pay-for-teachers plan gains surprising supporter. Count Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson among the unlikely supporters of a merit-pay plan for teachers similar to the some provisions proposed by Republicans in Ohio’s controversial Senate Bill 5. Jackson has previously categorized the overall bill as an attack on the rights of public workers. In a phone interview with The Plain Dealer, Jackson said the merit pay proposals give Cleveland the “greatest opportunity to educate children in the shortest period of time.”
We’re back with more from our survey about Detroit’s image. Many people think the city is and always was a great place, with a bad reputation. But others think the problems and challenges the city faces are just too big. Before we get to responses about Detroit’s drawbacks, here’s what people say is the coolest thing about Detroit.
Our inspiration is Mayor Dave Bing’s Transform Detroit, a event that is showing examples of Detroit’s revitalization to about 50 reporters. Despite the positive picture the city is trying to present, we know not everyone believes the city is on its way back.
So, we asked people to tell us about Detroit today in one sentence. Here’s what a few of you had to say:
A book that has a battered cover, but pages full of great words.-Mohammed Fahad, Detroit, MI
Stephen Fisher (right) on Hartwell in Detroit in 1962. He’s messing around in his cousin’s 1957 Thunderbird with friends from Mumford High School.
Changing Gears is asking you about the best and the worst of Detroit, and the factors that are shaping your views of the Motor City. We’ll keep updating throughout the week. Here’s a sample of the first responses.
About 50 reporters arrived in Detroit on Monday for a three day conference Mayor Dave Bing is calling “Transform Detroit.” Bing said this morning, via Twitter, that Transform Detroit “is a media briefing that connects reporters with community leaders and positive happenings throughout the city.”
He also tweeted that he hoped he would get some reporters to tell “GOOD stories” after the conference.
The city is trying to put its best foot forward.
Reporters are touring areas where there has been substantial investment, like the central Woodward Avenue Corridor, seeing some of the city’s famed architecture, and also are being introduced to business owners and community leaders from throughout the city.
Changing Gears has been asking people all over the country if they think Detroit’s image has rebounded. Or, if they think the city’s problems are just too big for any makeover to take hold.
You can answer the question here. And, you can send us photos, like reader Howard Duffy did, above. Then, come back later today and read a sample of our first responses.
Fewer tourists and business travelers are visiting Chicago.Only 38.1 million came in 2010, the lowest point for the city in the past five years, according to figures released by the Illinois governor’s office. Travel peaked in 2007, when 46.5 million people visited Chicago.The drop is due to visitors taking day trips, which tourism officials blame on high gas prices. But overnight visits rose in 2010, so city officials say they are stepping up their efforts to attract people who will spend the night. The statistics showed tourism revenue for the state of Illinois rose in 2010, compared with 2009, even though it still isn’t as good as in 2007.
Detroit hopes for an image boost. Detroit officials are trying to put their best foot forward this week, in a three-day public relations blitz called Transformation Detroit. Mayor Dave Bing tweeted this morning, “I am looking forward to the GOOD stories that will be written as a result” of the program. The program comes as the city’s school system is launching a makeover. Changing Gears is covering Transformation Detroit on the Web and via Twitter (search for #transformd) and you can take part in our poll on whether the city’s image is improving.
Cincinnati Airport To Get A Facelift. Speaking of makeovers, Cincinnati’s airport is set for one. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport board approved a plan to move all carriers there into Terminal C. The project could cost up to $31 million. airport has lost a significant number of flights over the past few years, due to Delta’s decision to downgrade its hub there. The airport plans to officially close its aging Terminal 2, but hasn’t decided whether to tear it down.
Remember the list of Midwest companies we gave you last month that won incentives to stay put? Now, add Sears Holdings to the group that is looking at options elsewhere.
According to the Washington Post, Sears, which is based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., is considering a site in the Washington D.C. area. Sears is the parent of Sears and K-Mart.
It has a new CEO who says he wants to give the 108-year old company more of an online identity. Our Niala Boodhoo looked at Sears earlier this year.
Sears is one of 110 companies with tax breaks from the state of Illinois that are set to expire. At its current headquarters, the Post says, Sears occupies 2.4 million square feet and employs 6,200 people. It has played the incentive game before. About 20 years ago, it announced plans to move its headquarters from the Sears Tower to North Carolina, and wound up with a package that prompted its relocation in the Chicago suburbs.