Chip Johnson

Former City Manager Robert Bobb withdrew his name as a candidate to fill the long-vacant Oakland city administrator's position. Instead, he accepted the newly created state post of emergency financial director for the Detroit public schools.
Under Michigan law, he will assume full financial authority for the school district when he takes the $260,000-a-year job in mid-February.
In the broadest sense, the news is a blow both for Oakland government reform efforts and for residents: It means the forced march on the road to nowhere continues without direction, purpose or hope for improvement. In other words, nothing changes.

Bobb represented Oakland's best hope for positive change, and until leaving the city manager's job in 2003 after a tiff with his boss, former Mayor Jerry Brown, he was the best day-to-day operations manager Oakland had seen since Henry Gardner had the job from 1981 until 1993. Clearly, Bobb's decision was not about money, because Oakland offered him nearly $300,000 a year.

Despite losing Bobb to Detroit, Mayor Ron Dellums made his annual State of the City address Monday. He was to emphasize his fight on crime, highlight the Police Department reaching its staffing goal of 803 and how the community policing program has shown incremental improvements in public safety.

But selling that idea in the midst of another scandal that rocked the Oakland Police Department is a nearly impossible task. The FBI confirmed last week an investigation into the April 2000 beating of a suspect by Capt. Ed Poulson, who heads the department's internal affairs division. Jerry Amaro III, the suspect who suffered broken ribs in the alleged assault, died a month later.
Poulson was suspended last week when the news broke and rumors of Police Chief Wayne Tucker's resignation swirled through city offices Monday.

While the mayor's office has denied the rumors, City Council President Jane Brunner has called a press conference to discuss a no-confidence vote for Tucker today, and I would count on a change in leadership in Police Department in the very near future.

Later this week, Dellums is scheduled to announce his choices for a half-dozen vacant top positions. It's unclear whether he will discuss the police chief's status then or the city administrator's job which is filled temporarily by Dan Lindheim.

Meanwhile, federal investigators are looking into corruption in Oakland City Hall, mismanagement and possible criminal conduct within the Police Department, from the department's actions in the days before the assassination of journalist Chauncey Bailey in 2007 to a whistle-blower complaint filed last month alleging a deal engineered by Tucker to quash a union vote of no-confidence in exchange for promotion.

Without the political willpower from residents to launch a recall, the internal professional knowledge to recast the broke-down-to-the-ground government infrastructure, Oakland has come to a grinding halt.

Nothing gets done, but that's only a by-product. The main focus must be to point out that no one person is responsible and collectively, it's no one's fault.

And instead of protecting citizens from the continued damage caused from a mayor's neglect, the Oakland City Council has followed political decorum and deferred to his leadership.

For some council members, it's deference to the mayor's past while others are bound by the very practical hope that if goodwill exists, they can find a way to work together.

I believe that after two years in office with ample opportunity to explore and nurture those policy partnerships and shared goals, there is little cohesion, comprehension or collaboration between Oakland's executive and legislative branches of government.

It's government in name - and paycheck - only. Little else resembles anything that comes close to an organized - or functional - government.

And without Bobb to provide guidance as a consultant, Dellums is lacking when it comes to advice from veteran city officials. At this point, it's unclear whether the mayor will adopt any of the recommendations in Bobb's 168-page report released two weeks ago. Some of the cuts include removing members of the mayor's political apparatus to save money, and while that remains unaddressed, Dellums did let more than half of his 22-person staff to attend the inauguration festivities in Washington, last week.

If you haven't figured it out already, please allow me to inform you of the lay of the land.
Oakland is Ron Dellums' world, and residents are just along for the ride - and that's that.
I didn't have a chance to hear the mayor's speech before the deadline for this column, but I can't imagine what he would point to in terms of past achievements or detailed future plans to help improve the lives of the citizens of Oakland.

Brunner has done what she thinks is appropriate to nudge the mayor toward deciding on a city administrator by scheduling a Feb. 3 closed session confirmation hearing, but for the next two years Oakland will continue to operate on Dellums' schedule at Dellums speed.

If you are fortunate enough to have hatches on your home, now would be the time to batten them down because when there's red skies at morning, sailors take warning.

D-scene: Jan. 28-Feb. 3

Happy hour at the PalaceIf the idea of catching a glimpse of Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace or Detroit’s newest bad boy Allen Iverson isn’t enough to get you to the Palace a little early, how about $1 hot dogs and $2 off draft beer?

On Friday, when the Pistons battle the Boston Celtics, food and drink specials will be available from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and will include $1 hot dogs, $2 off draft beer at the concessions stands and $3 draft beers in the Old No. 7 Club inside the Palace Grille, the Canadian Club Terrace (above the East Entrance) and the Red Bull Bar (in the Comcast Pavilion just inside the North Entrance).

The Red Bull Bar will also feature hand-carved roast beef and turkey for sandwiches“Not only are we trying to build awareness of the unusually early start time of 7 p.m. …for games against two top teams but we want to encourage all fans to come out early and get the most bang for their bucks,” says Palace Sports and Entertainment President and CEO Tom Wilson in a press release.The first 10,000 fans who enter the Palace will receive a free mini-basketball hoop courtesy of Esurance.

5:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, the Palace, 5 Championship Dr., Auburn Hills, 248.377.0100.
BBQ and Beer You ride a bus getting chauffeured around to area barbecue joints (while enjoying samples of course) and end the day washing it all down with drafts from local breweries. Sounds like heaven, but it could be your reality if you book a seat on the BBQ and Beer tour this Saturday.

Teaming up with the Night Move bus (a 30-passenger bus that currently goes from Royal Oak to Ferndale to Detroit and back Friday and Saturday nights), chef-guided Taste-full Tours will introduce metro Detroiters to well-known eateries and little-known gems via local-and-themed tours.

“We want people to make connections with these businesses so they feel comfortable going back themselves,” says Laura Romito , co-owner of Taste-full Tours. “In this economy, the thing that’s going to keep people out there and buying stuff is personal connections.”

The tours will showcase area restaurants and bars, and cooking demos on the bus will add another element to the experience.

“Chris (Night Move owner) and I went on their test run tour, and it was very cool,” says Jennifer Harlan, Night Move marketing director. “We ate, learned and bought tons of great stuff. It was just a really unique and fun experience. I’m a huge fan of the concept.”

The BBQ and Beer tour will include three American-style barbecue places, including Lazybones Smokehouse, a Korean barbeque place and Black Lotus in Clawson.

All tours will depart from and return to the corner of 6th and Lafayette streets in downtown Royal Oak (adjacent to the parking structure) unless otherwise noted.

For more information, or to book a tour visit

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, $60 per person.

Eden turns 2
Judging by its success the last couple of years, Eden Nightclub has nothing to fear when it comes to the terrible twos.

This Saturday, the Ferndale hotspot will celebrate its second anniversary with special guest and world-renown electric violinist Rachel Grace from Amsterdam who will be performing with the talented DJ Jenny LaFemme.

Getting to be one of the most recognized clubs in Ferndale doesn’t come without a bit of history. Once Cobalt, Posh emerged in 2003 before Eden came to fruition in 2006.

“I think it’s the look and feel inside of the club,” said Eden co-owner Vlad Mirkovich about Eden’s popularity over the last two years. “We wanted to create a kind of exclusive-looking place, but we don’t want people to feel intimidated.”

Ladies are free before 11:30 p.m.

10 p.m. Saturday, Eden, 22061 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 248.541.7674.

Year of the Ox
Though the official start of Chinese New Year was Jan. 26, one of Troy’s most prominent Nu-Asian eateries is kicking off its celebration a little later with a two-day party filled with traditional Asian events, food and music.

Mon Jin Lau, Troy’s not-so-secret sushi lounge and Wednesday-night party spot, has hosted an annual Chinese New Year party to “ward off evil spirits and bless the next year,” since it opened about 40 years ago, says May Sue Chin, who runs the restaurant with her family, including her sons Bryan and Brandon.

For those not of Asian descent, MJL’s Chinese New Year is “a great night for them entertainment wise and to share a great piece of history,” says Bryan Chin. “It’s one of Mon Jin Lau’s biggest events.”

A 4-course dinner leads Tuesday’s celebrations followed by magicians, fortune tellers, a lion dance, Asian martial arts and firecracker show. Reservations must be confirmed by cash or credit card and all ticket sales (which include gratuity and tax) are final.

The following day, in conjunction with Shanghai Wednesday, DJs Matt A, Tom T and percussionist Bruce Cobb will bring the sounds as guests celebrate the Year of the Ox.

7 p.m. Tuesday, Mon Jin Lau, 1515 E. Maple Rd., Troy, 248.689.2332. $89.

8 p.m. Wednesday, Mon Jin Lau, 1515 E. Maple Rd., Troy, 248.689.2332. $10 (free with Tuesday dinner reservation).
Chad Halcom
Crain's Detroit

A New England defense contractor expanding its operations in Southeast Michigan officially becomes the 1,000th member of Troy-based Automation Alley, today at the organization’s annual address to its members and board election.

Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot Corp., a supplier of nearly 2,000 military ground robotic units for coalition use in Iraq and Afghanistan, plans to open a Michigan field office in Troy as part of its efforts to expand near the U.S. Army Tacom Life Cycle Management Command in Warren.

Automation Alley, the nonprofit technology-based business association, had 1,016 member businesses and organizations as of late Monday; it reached the 900-member benchmark last July.

“Starting with just 44 members in 1999, we are now 1,000 members strong,” Alley Executive Director Ken Rogers said in a statement. “This is a goal that we’ve been striving for and with (support from the) business community, we’ve been able to become the largest technology business association in the state.”

iRobot was founded in 1990 by robotics specialists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together, iRobot and Waltham, Mass.-based Foster Miler Inc., a division of QinetiQ North America, account for a majority of ground robotic units deployed through Tacom.

Foster-Miller has also expressed an interest in opening Southeast Michigan offices to be closer to Tacom. The U.S. Department of Defense has gone from using virtually no military ground robotics in the months immediately preceding the March 2003 deployment into Iraq to having 5,000 units deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Tacom and the Tank-Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, also in Warren. Most units are devoted to explosive ordnance disposal or military intelligence-gathering and surveillance.

Troy, MI – Woodward Promotions, LLC has arranged for a panel of experts to speak at a weekend conference designed for real estate investors and business owners to address the problems in our economy while developing new ways of structuring their business to meet their financial goals of 2009.

The panel welcomes Ed King, a dynamic speaker who is guaranteed to get everyone fired up with enthusiasm as he speaks about business planning and development.

Mr. King spent 15 years in carnivals running rigged games of chance in mall parking lots across the country.

Since 1981, he has been working with Wayne State University to help entrepreneurs overcome the hurdles that trip most small businesses.

“I got into this because I was sick of seeing all these people starting a small business who just didn’t know what they were doing,” said King. “The task can be daunting.

It is estimated that one-third of all start-ups fail within six months and 9 out of 10 companies operating today will eventually fail or just quit trying.”

Ed King’s students have no problem staying awake and remaining alert while they learn how to read a balance sheet and income statement, increase the efficiency of a sales staff, calculate a business’s return on investment, write an attractive advertisement, reduce taxes and much more.

Students have a lot of fun learning; Ed King has just as much fun teaching; the bottom line is his classes provide valuable information that they can use in business.

Ed King graduated from the University of Michigan, with honors, and with an MBA in Corporate Finance. He recently completed work on his Profit Forecaster/Analyzer software, a program that will help the small business owner in moving away from “crisis management” through financial projections.

Come to this information-packed weekend event to hear a panel of experts speak on many real estate and business related topics, February 6 – 8, at MSU-Mec at 811 W. Square Lake Road; Troy, MI 48098.

Learn more at and register for this event; seats are filling up quickly; register today.

Woodward Promotions, LLCPO Box 698Farmington, MI 48332248-991-1851

Santiago Esparza
The Detroit News

ROYAL OAK -- The Detroit Zoo saw a slight increase in attendance in 2008, passing the 1 million mark for the third consecutive year, a zoo official said.

The officials said 1,114,221 people visited the zoo in 2008. There were 1,090, 544 visitors the previous year. In 2006, 1,001,737 people came to the zoo.

"The zoo remains a great experience and value, and some families probably stayed closer to home last year due to gas prices," Executive Director Ron Kagan said in a press release.

Wayne, Oakland and Macomb voters last year approved a 0.01-mill regional tax to fund the zoo, and zoo officials credited an advertising campaign pushing the tax with keeping the 80-year-old zoo on people's minds
The Detroit News

Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit is launching a radio campaign this week in a bid to boost funds for programs helping more Metro Detroiters find jobs.

Between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, "Broadcasting for Jobs" will be featured on 11 area stations.
To help more local residents find jobs through education, training and career services, listeners interested in donating will be asked to call (866) 964-GIVE, go to or visit the stations' Web sites.

" 'Broadcasting for Jobs' is a one-of-a-kind way for Goodwill Industries to reach a large number of Metro Detroiters from all parts of town and let them know they can help their unemployed friends and neighbors find work," Lorna G. Utley, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, said in a statement. "We believe it's the first one-day campaign of this magnitude in southeast Michigan or anywhere else."

In the past two years, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit has helped find jobs for 2,500 people in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and provided education, training and career assistance to thousands more, officials said.

The stations that will feature "Broadcasting for Jobs" are WCSX-FM (94.7), WDVD-FM (96.3), WJR-AM (760), WMGC-FM (105.1), WMXD-FM (92.3), WNIC-FM (100.3), WOMC-FM (104.3), WRIF-FM (101.1), WWJ-AM (950), WXYT-FM (97.1) and WYCD-FM (99.5).
For information, go to
Associated Press

Researchers at Michigan State University are recommending redeveloping unused or underused industrial areas around the state as renewable energy parks.

Details of the recommendations are being released Tuesday at a news conference at a former General Motors Corp. plant in Grand Rapids.

The researchers say some of these "brownfields" could be sites for making equipment used in generating electricity from the sun or the wind.They say other such sites could be used for installation of solar panels or wind turbines.The researchers say using old industrial sites in such ways can create good-paying jobs and diversify and strengthen Michigan's economy.

Chrysler Green with ENVI at the Detroit Auto Show

Chrysler, brought several cars from its ENVI extended-range electric car program to the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, including a Lotus-designed sports car and an electric concept car.

Lots of companies had new green technologies to show off, though, (except for Ford, which only brought a slide presentation of its plans to build electric cars in the future).
Chrysler set itself apart by thanking the government and the American people at its press conference for the bailout money and acknowledging that it had a new responsiblity to consumers who had granted them the loan “just in time.”

Part of this responsibility, in Chrysler’s view, is to build cars that answer our energy and creature-comfort needs. It’s working on it. The company owns GEM, the golf-cart-like NEV company, and it brought three ENVI electric vehicles, including two Jeeps and minivan with a 40-mile electric range.

But it was the ENVI concept cars that stood out. Here’s the skinny on these new EVs:

Dodge Circuit
EV sports car shown in Tangerine
Designed by Lotus — and looks like it
0-60 in under 5 seconds, top speed of 125
150-200 mile range from lithium-ion batteries

Chrysler 200C
Interior made with organic materials
In-car Wi-Fi hotspot from Mopar
Microsoft-powered on-board computer includes a Facebook-like app, music downloads
0-60 in 7 seconds, 268 hp
40-mile electric range; 400 miles with range-extending gasoline engine

Ryan Pretzer

Andre Harris had his snow cone and was now in hot pursuit of nachos. His friends wanted to go the other direction in search of T-shirts.

But neither could stray too far down The Palace concourse - they had to wait for the girls to come back from the restroom.

It would have drove many parents to lose their cool, keeping track of 11 geeked-up kids amid the halftime bustle of a Pistons game.

But it was going to take a lot more than that to shake Shareese Enabulele, a mother of five and parent volunteer with the
Adam Butzel Recreation Center in Detroit.

“This is my first time being here to The Palace and it’s been a well-behaved group of kids,” she said. ” Everything seems to be very nice.”

Shareese was one of three parent chaperones for this outing, made possible by Crew Members who donated 1,500 tickets to the Jan. 21 and Jan. 23 games so youth groups could experience the Pistons. Despite Michigan’s economic troubles, the generosity of Crew Members made the 10th annual “Kids Night Out” every bit as fun as the first nine.

“Do we get to keep the T-shirts?” asked Shareese’s 9-year-old daughter, Lorin, who let out a resounding “Yes!” when she heard she would indeed take home her Kids Night Out T-shirt. Lorin really enjoyed her first Pistons game even though she didn’t know any of the players’ names. She liked sitting in Section 211 in the Noise Factory because she could see the entire arena. Some of her friends needed a little more time to acclimate themselves.

“I’d get a little frightened because I was sitting all the way up at the top,” said Andre, wearing a replica Rip Hamilton jersey. “But when you get up there for a while, you get used to it.”

The kids pulled on their T-shirts and went on their way to continue their Palace adventure or, in Andre's case, to find the nacho stand. With Shareese navigating them through the busy concourse, all 11 kids stayed close together. The only concern Shareese expressed was the one shared by many Pistons fans at halftime on Jan. 23, when the Dallas Mavericks held a 63-51 lead.

“Other than the normal excitement of children, they’re being really well behaved,” Shareese said. “I just wish the Pistons were defending Dallas better.”

Total Member Care, the Auburn Hills-based business unit of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based PSCU Financial Services, said Monday that it had achieved 95 percent revenue growth in 2008.

Company officials say that growth came on the heels of 89 percent revenue growth in 2007, and that they expect growth to continue throughout 2009.

Since January 2008, 35 credit unions with average assets of more than $836 million and membership totaling almost two million people have signed up for Total Member Care services.

With significant increases in the number of clients came record-breaking increases in call volume. The Total Member Care solution ended the year with 17,000 calls received on Dec. 31, as compared with 9,900 calls received the same day last year.

The month of December overall saw 262,670 incoming calls, a record number of calls to date. The previous record call volume month was November 2008, when Total Member Care handled 216,000 calls. Total call volume for 2008 was almost 2.3 million, up from 1.7 million total calls received in 2007.

“Our staggering growth in client numbers and call volume leaves no doubt that credit unions are utilizing 24/7 total member service to proactively address market conditions and remain strong in turbulent times,” said Peter Schmitt, executive director of PSCU Financial Services.

In response to the significant swell in demand, PSCU Financial Services hired 122 Member Service representatives, three trainers, seven account managers and eight IT staff members to support the Total Member Care operation.

With plans to hire an additional 200 employees in 2009, the company found it necessary to expand its Detroit-area office beyond its existing 9,300 square feet of space into an additional 8,300 square feet of space. At the end of 2008, 260 employees were supporting 240 clients that use Total Member Care services.

As of Jan. 1, 2009, Digital Dialogue transitioned from being a wholly owned subsidiary of PSCU Financial Services to being an integral part of the organization under the solution name Total Member Care. Digital Dialogue employees are now employed by PSCU Financial Services.

PSCU Financial Services is the nation's largest credit union service organization and serves more than 1,100 financial institutions nationwide. As a non-profit cooperative, the company is owned by more than 600 member credit unions representing over 13 million accounts and subscribers. Its Contact Centers handle more than 14 million inquiries a year.

PSCU Financial Services offers 24/7 member support through four Contact Centers: its Eastern operations center in St. Petersburg, Fla.; a Western operations center based in Phoenix, Ariz.; and two call centers in Detroit.

More at

Freya Chang Rajeshwar

As millions of Americans watched Barack Obama's inauguration, they understood his commitment to equality, justice - and the power of individual service.
"I'm especially touched that President Obama is calling for serious community service.
This is a test of becoming the true young adult that President Obama is talking about," said Jeannine LaSovage, executive director of Michigan Reach Out!
"Michigan Reach Out! is a way for students to truly become the leaders and the best' and set an example for this nation."
Michigan Reach Out! (MRO) was founded in 1995 as an outreach program within the College of Engineering. At the time, the College of Engineering mandated outreach programs to help area children struggling with math and science.
Now, MRO is located on West Liberty Road and operates as a non-profit. Since then, MRO has developed programs in Detroit, Pontiac, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor. MRO boasts over 1,200 alumni mentors, many who are still involved in the organization's activities.
Michigan Reach Out! offers a unique, holistic approach to community service. MRO provides students with a long-term opportunity to get involved in their community and make a lasting difference in the lives of young children.
MRO's model, says LaSovage, said, centers on a "sincere commitment to do authentic mentoring, which requires some personal sacrifice in order to invest in the lives of children and their families."
MRO offers a way for students to move past typical fundraising and volunteer activities and calls for participants to get involved on an intensely personal level. When considering the impact that students can have, LaSovage noted "It's up to all of us to get behind your generation to improve this community. Your generation has zeal and energy and you need to band together to make things happen."
There are two ways for student to get involved in Michigan Reach Out. The first option is the traditional mentoring program. MRO matches up mentors with young children and requires a minimum one-year commitment from its mentors.
"[Mentoring] is a trusted, trusting relationship where both mentor and mentee grow," LaSovage said. MRO strives to make its mentors a major support in a young student's life: mentors are encouraged to make home visits to get to know the mentees' families.
MRO also sponsors community-wide activities such as potlucks, picnics and game nights, which further serve to reinforce a strong sense of community. Extensive training programs also prepare mentors for their commitments: throughout the year, MRO holds workshops that improve the communication and mentoring skills of its volunteers.
An alternative way for students to get involved is through MRO's "World of Work" program. MRO is constantly looking for local companies to volunteer to hold workshops for mentors and mentees. Participating students reach out to local industries and familiarize them with MRO's goals.
MRO aims to get local businesses to host presentations, tours, and shadowing opportunities for local children in order to generate more interest in each particular industry. The "World of Work" program focuses on a wide range of industries, from finance to medicine, to physical science.
This opportunity would allow students to strengthen their own communication and presentation skills, while also strengthening ties between MRO and the Ann Arbor community.
During her years at MRO, LaSovage has seen the long-term benefits that mentoring provides. She notes that former mentors have remarked on how skills learned during the mentoring process have been useful after graduation. Many alumni mentors say that the communication and leadership skills they built at MRO have come in handy during their adult lives, especially in their careers or personal relationships.
LaSovage notes that true mentoring is "not for the faint of heart." But if you are willing to commit to forming lasting, life-changing relationships through Michigan Reach Out, you will find that you can learn as much as you can teach - or maybe more.
Interested students should visit and contact Jeannine LaSovage at
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey

A New Yorker cartoon shows two sharks in the water. One has a foot dangling from his jaws. "I'm eating more locals," reads the caption.
When it comes to eating, lots of Detroiters are going local, too. Yet, while veggies are in abundance much of the year (OK, unless you totally love root vegetables, maybe not so much right now), what about meat?
After all, this is not just the vegetarian's dilemma; it's the metro Detroit omnivore's puzzle, too.The good news: It's actually quite easy to consume locally grown meat, raised on small farms and often in methods that would make folks like "The Omnivore's Dilemma" author Michael Pollan smile.
More good news: Local farmers say they are seeing an increase in demand for meat and eggs grown locally, and especially those raised with more natural, eco-friendly methods.
What's it matter?There are many good reasons to seek out producers of local food, and not all of them suggest you wear cork sandals, eat buckwheat, or have named one of your children after an act of nature.
In fact, some of the best reasons sound almost -- gasp -- fiscally conservative.
Maybe you want to support the local economy and Michigan farmers. The "buy local" movement tells us that if we spent $10 a week on Michigan products, the state economy would gain $36 million every week. If the real payoff is even half that, that's still not too shabby.And maybe you want to decrease the country's reliance on petroleum. If your blueberries have to get a passport stamp before hitting your cereal bowl, it's obvious the energy cost of that meal is significantly more than eating berries grown down the road. (Maybe it's time to think about the real cost of eating fresh blueberries in Michigan in January, but I digress.)
There are other reasons, too, that skeptics may find too granola-ish to consider, but basically boil down to this: Is there a better way than a food system that is so automated and impersonal it's nearly impossible to trace the origins of the sandwich you ate for lunch back to the field where it grew?But that brings us back to our dilemma: What's a girl who likes a perfectly grilled steak now and then or her eggs with a side of bacon once in a while to do?
All around Detroit, thankfully, we have many options for eating locally produced meat. Your best bet? Find a farmer. How? Easy: a farmer's market or the Internet.
Online Bounty
Flash back to a few days before Thanksgiving. A local woman -- let's call her Clare Ramsey -- decides she wants a locally raised, free range, happy turkey on her table. Eastern Market Saturday has passed, and may not have helped, so she turns to Google. She finds far more producers of turkey within 100 miles of the Motor City than she's ever imagined.
And many farms actually have Web sites. (Those of you who knew this already, sorry, but it was news to a city kid who can't come up with answers to her young daughter's questions about agriculture, like, "Do chickens eat flies?")
Getting back to that turkey: She likes the sunny, bucolic farm pictures posted by Sunshine Meadows Farm in Ortonville in northern Oakland County. It's a small family farm. She thinks she sees the animals smiling. The problem: The turkeys have been reserved since October. No dice.
She finds the same "try us next October" response at several other farms, including Harnois Farms near Pinckney, where John Harnois lets his turkeys roam around the wooded farm until the big day gets near.
She ultimately finds a turkey, this one raised at Roeske Farms in Hartland, about an hour northwest of Detroit, near M-59 and US 23. Patricia Roeske's farm is blanketed in snow, and in cold months when the local farmer's market is closed, the family runs a store out of a huge unheated garage attached to her house, complete with industrial walk-in coolers to keep the meat fresh.
Patricia hasn't always been a free-range hog and turkey farmer. It just kind of happened. It's actually such a beautiful supply and demand story it'd make an Econ 101 a little misty eyed. "We had a lot of people requesting some of our meat, because that's how we always raise our meat for ourselves," she says. Then Hartland started a farmer's market, and the Roeskes, whose kids are big into 4-H, decided they could make this into a business. "We've got the property, and we're already doing a few, so we thought we might as well do more. It just got little a bit bigger," she says.
The turkey was huge -- over 19 pounds – and cost about $50 -- maybe about twice as much as an average store-bought one, but not too much more than an "organic" or "free-range" bird at a fancy grocery store. The results were divine, and the fresh bird had less icky gooiness than a previously frozen fowl. Clare slept well that night.
The T-day scramble also revealed this fabulous site -- It features all kinds of purveyors of grass-fed meat, many in this region. It's a great resource, especially if you can't for some reason go the super easy-peasy route for finding local meats: farmer's markets.
The markets
Todd Wickstrom, owner of Heritage Foods USA (a web site that supports small farms' products) and part owner of Corktown's new Mercury Coffee Bar, is as picky as it gets when he buys meat for his businesses and his home. His best suggestion for home chefs is to find a farmer, and visit the farm if possible, but at least talk to them at the market.
"People are dying to know the source of their food and where it comes from, and the farmer's market allows people to have a direct relationship with the people who are growing their food," Wickstrom says.
Detroiters are blessed with a farmer's market that's open year-round. And even on the coldest of cold January days, Eastern Market has many, many options for the discerning carnivore.
One eye-catching vendor is Johnny Gyergyov of J & M Farms in Allenton, MI, in northern Macomb County. He says he raises "happy hogs," and his signs portray cartoon swine looking quite chipper.
It turns out Gyergyov's another accidental farmer. A former autoworker and city kid, he had moved his family to the country in the '70s. They started raising animals -- just a few -- and then got "the farming bug." Gyergyov invites people to stop by the farm and see where the hogs grow. He keeps them free of antibiotics and hormones. He takes his meat to a USDA facility for processing. At Eastern Market, he sells other products like sausage, chickens and beef. The prices are competitive to what you'll find at a meat counter at the grocery store, and sometimes better.
At Eastern Market, you'll also find a great number of egg producers -- many of whom regulars may only know as the "bee guy" or the "potato guy." But don't be afraid to ask them how they raise their birds -- or their real names. And if the eggs look multicolored and multisized, that's a good thing, people.
A scan of other area farmers markets also shows some good producers (staunch Detroitists cover your ears). Royal Oak's Farmers Market, for instance, offers a handful of meat vendors.
Gary Otto hauls his free-range chickens from Middleville on the west side of the state about twice a month. He sells many different cuts, and even smoked chicken and a particularly tasty chicken breakfast sausage that beats out most pork versions I've sampled from local vendors.
Otto is a fourth generation poultry farmer. He used to run a more standard, tightly packed factory farm as a producer for a big U.S. company, but it never sat well with him. He says he won't go back to that type of production. "I decided if I was going to do this -- raise chickens -- I was going to do it differently," he says.
Elmer Miller also drives a ways to sell at the Royal Oak market. The farmer from Up North in Marion offers grass-fed beef -- something not easy to come by. (Most U.S. cattle is "grain-fed," meaning usually fed corn, which according to Pollan's book, is not the preferred bovine diet.)
Miller also sells pasture-raised chickens and "natural" pork. Asked what natural means, he says free of antibiotics and hormones, and with pigs given the freedom to do what pigs are meant to do -- wallow in the mud, move about as they please, etc. If you think this is what every pig gets to do, you might want to read the aforementioned book.
When cows, chickens and pigs are allowed to grow in a more natural setting, and given the freedom to exercise and move about, it "changes the flavor of the meat" for the better, Miller says. I believe the guy. He wears suspenders. I bought a big roast and it was great. I slept well that night, too. Some of his beef prices are higher than grocery store averages -- about $6 a pound for most cuts, including ground beef.
Miller says he sees more customers seeking out his products. "The public awareness of the food system has made people look around for better options," he says.
And in Detroit, options abound. Finding them is as easy as taking a few minutes, going to the Internet or market, finding a farmer, and asking a few questions. Oh, and if you are looking for a Thanksgiving turkey, it's probably not too early to get your order in.
by Grant Martin
Detroit is a place of big doings. Everything it has ever done, it has done spectacularly, from meteoric rise to the total cratering that has left the city half empty.
But the Motor City, the land of the Model T, Motown and Madonna (and other famous musicians too numerous to mention) isn't just an empty shell. Nearly a million people still live here, for starters. As startling as its collapse is the fact that the city continues to move on as if things were almost normal. For sure, this is a place of grand ruins, hopeless politicians, monstrous mansions and grinding poverty, but somehow it all just works. Sometimes just barely. Sometimes surprisingly well. There simply isn't any place like it. Not in the Rust Belt, not in the Midwest, not anywhere.
Even as times get tougher, there are so many reasons to drop in on Detroit. You can come for the music, for the art, the bars, the history, the cars. Come for the gambling, or the grand architecture. Don't be surprised, though, if you leave most impressed by the people.
Some of the most genuine folks you'll find anywhere in the country live in Detroit. Sure, the streets may appear mean, but mostly, the people are anything but. So, talk to strangers. Ask them questions about the city. Find out where they like to go drinking. Don't worry about coming off like a crazy person – around here, that can often work to your advantage.

Getting in
With the automotive industry so influential in the greater Detroit area, large scale public transportation never took real shape in the city. Metropolitan buses are available, but routes are anemic and schedules sparse, so if you're going to visit the city you're almost certainly going to need to rent a car. Luckily, vehicle rentals are fairly inexpensive at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) and around the city.
Northwest Airlines', hub at DTW can be a mixed blessing. While one can access almost any city in the country in one stop, prices can be monopolistic and expensive, and therefore it can sometimes be difficult to find a budget fares into the city. Luckily, Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines have recently paid closer attention to the city, and routes that compete with their cities are often very inexpensive.
Chicago, Baltimore and Washington DC are all places from which you can reach Detroit for often around $100, and on a good day you can visit from New York for about $150. From the west coast, prices sneak in around $250 - $300.
Amtrak will lead you into the city center as well, where the closest stop to downtown is on Woodward in the New Center area. [thanks to Michael Kellermann for the coordinates]
Where to Stay
While the city is 143 square miles massive, most of the action in the city is centered either in or near the downtown area, a one mile-square, very walkable area that sits on the Detroit River, facing south to Windsor, Ontario. Conveniently for visitors, Downtown is not only the safest place in town, it also happens to contain the city's best hotels, some of them quite expensive.
For example, the sparkling new MGM Grand with its top-notch, Tony Chi-designed spa, commands rates of $259 and up, while the beautifully renovated Book Cadillac hotel, a local institution that is up and running again under the Westin flag, often goes above $200 a night. (Stop in at the Motor Bar for a pint of locally-brewed Ghettoblaster Ale, even if you don't stay over.)
To find bargains, though, you don't have to resort to the mediocre, or the frightening. The Doubletree Suites Fort Shelby (another historic renovation, just completed) offers rates under $150 at non-peak times, as do the reliable Hilton Garden Inn and perfectly fine Holiday Inn Express, both conveniently located right in the city center.
For more unique lodgings, head for Midtown. Just north of the center and walking distance from most of the city's main cultural attractions, the inspired Inn on Ferry Street is spread out among a handful of grand old mansions along a peaceful block just around the corner from the massive Wayne State University campus. You can find rates around $150 online when they're not busy.
What to See
The best way to see Detroit is with people who know the surroundings, mostly because the city is more interesting when you've got a Detroiter to show it to you, whether we're talking downtown's appealing architecture or the city's diviest dive bars.
Inside Detroit offers weekly tours of downtown highlights for $10 as well as custom tours of anything (anything legal, that is) within city limits that piques your interest. Co-founder Jeanette Pierce grew up on Detroit's East Side and has a seemingly limitless supply of local know-how. Even if you don't take a tour, stop by the Welcome Center at 1253 Woodward Avenue, for advice, maps and brochures.
To focus strictly on architecture, look into the summer tours offered on Saturdays and Tuesday evenings by the folks at Preservation Wayne, most cost just $10. For even more adventure, Wheelhouse Detroit re-opens in March, offering bike rentals (just $10-$15 for two hours), regularly scheduled tours, group rides on Wednesdays, as well as custom outings on request.
While getting the local perspective is always recommended, there's plenty you can do on your own around town. Here are a few must-do activities to get you up and running.
DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS The star of the Cultural District is home to Diego Rivera's remarkable Detroit Industry murals – a must see for any fan of the Mexican artist's work. The DIA, though never quite as flush with cash as it would like to be, has managed to complete major improvements in recent years, presenting a treasure-trove of art in an almost celebratory way. Admission is just $8. The museum hosts an excellent film series and an occasional "Brunch with Bach" in the museum's beautiful Kresge Court.
EASTERN MARKET Many cities have used their historic market districts as a major driver for tourism; in Detroit, the sprawling wholesale food district just northwest of Downtown just happens to be there. That's not to say Eastern Market is not loved. Every Saturday, in good weather or bad, it seems like a whole chunk of the regional population is waiting in line for breakfast at one of a handful of worthy venues. There's always something that'll catch your eye, whether it's gizzards for sale in the Gratiot Central Market building or the array of spices at Rafal's. In season, though, make sure to look for the gardeners behind the budding Grown in Detroit movement, selling their parsnips (and the like) here.
BELLE ISLE While Frederick Law Olmsted is best known for his work on New York's Central Park, Detroiters known him as the architect of their favorite park, Belle Isle, which is roughly twice the size of Central Park and receives a fraction of the visitors. In the middle of the Detroit River, accessible via bridge from Detroit's East Side, Belle Isle is, like Central Park, so much more than a patch of grass. It comes complete with a zoo, aquarium, conservatory, a stand of thick forest and a long, sandy beach. (Now, ask what percentage of the amenities on the island are still in operation.) True, today's Belle Isle is running at half mast, if that, but a loyal group of supporters has ensured that the park receives as much love as possible. Key stops include (in season) Cass Gilbert's whimsical Scott Fountain and the year-round Whitcomb Conservatory, with its modest orchid collection. In warmer months, the beach scene heats up, and there's even a rather impressive water slide. Central Park can't boast that.
AFFORDABLE JAZZ You'd have to really work to find a night when there isn't something cool to do around town, and whatever your tastes, there's a venue for you. Notably, though, Detroit is a great place for jazz lovers. Baker's Keyboard Lounge -- just one door down from 8 Mile Road -- is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year; it offers a good schedule, as well as soul food dinners for under $20. Downtown, the much newer Jazz Café sells advance tickets for as little as $15, while over on Park Avenue, Cliff Bell's, the well-executed revival of a famed 1930's venue, has affordable cocktails and a lot of covers under $10 – when it charges a cover at all.David Landsel is Travel Editor at the New York Post. He lives part-time in Detroit, because he has grown accustomed to its face (and affordable drink prices.)


In the past two years the Detroit International Jazz Festival has showcased Detroit's jazz tradition alongside those of Chicago and Philadelphia. But the 2009 festival -- the 30th anniversary of the event -- is all about the home team.

The annual Labor Day weekend festival is marking its landmark birthday by doubling down on its celebration of Detroit. Most notably, the festival has commissioned its 2009 artist-in-residence, bassist and composer John Clayton, to write a major work that pays homage to icons of Detroit jazz history and the city's architecture -- the Pontiac-bred Jones brothers (Hank, Thad and Elvin) and the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.

The commission, funded by a $50,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation of Chicago, will be given its world premiere on the closing night of the festival Sept. 7 by the Clayton Brothers Quintet and the Detroit-based Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra. The piece will be cast as a concerto grosso -- a small body of soloists working within the fabric of a large ensemble. The commission, the first of its kind for the Detroit festival, represents another step forward in its expanding artistic ambitions.

The 2009 festival will also focus on great families in jazz and include at least one other commissioned work, according to festival executive director Terri Pontremoli. The lineup will be announced in April. The 2009 festival will be Sept. 4-7 at Hart Plaza and the downtown core. Admission is free.

Pianist Hank Jones, a leading figure who turned 90 in 2008 and was scheduled to perform at last year's festival but canceled, is on the festival's want list but not yet confirmed. His younger brothers, Elvin Jones (1927-2004), a drummer, and Thad Jones (1923-86), a composer, trumpeter and bandleader, are both recognized as innovators.

The Joyce Foundation grant, which will be announced Tuesday, will also support residency activities for the Los Angeles-based Clayton, who will visit Detroit six or seven times to work with college and high school students and mentor Gwinnell, 34, an accomplished young composer, pianist and bandleader on the local scene.

Clayton, 56, is a bassist with a sound as big and warm as a bear hug. But he's best known as a charismatic composer and arranger and coleader of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, one of the finest big bands in jazz. He's a logical choice for the Detroit festival because he was deeply influenced by the big band writing of Thad Jones, is himself part of a notable jazz family -- his brother Jeff plays saxophone and his son Gerald is a fast-rising pianist -- and because he's a natural communicator.

"You want someone who is wonderful with people and students and are just pied pipers of a good time," said Pontremoli. "John makes people smile, and he's got chops like mad and can do all kinds of things."

The Detroit Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival in North America, is recognized nationally by critics and audiences as one of the country's leading festivals devoted to unadulterated jazz. Produced by the Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation, founded by philanthropist Gretchen Valade, the quality of the festival has risen steadily since Pontremoli took the artistic reins in 2007, with thematic programming, an artist in residence and a broader menu of significant jazz musicians and styles.

The commission grew out of Pontremoli's desire to honor Detroit's jazz legacy. She brought the Guardian Building, an art deco masterpiece that symbolizes Detroit at its zenith, into the equation to enhance the appeal to the Joyce Foundation, which encourages cultural groups to reach beyond their core audiences. In this case, the festival is hoping to attract architectural aficionados.

The foundation supports the creation of new works by artists of color for cultural groups in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Festival leaders are also planning events under the umbrella of "Another Great Day in Detroit," including noontime concerts at the Guardian Building beginning in April and lectures and tours of the building.
The first is a meet-the-artist party with Clayton at the Guardian Building on Feb. 10.
Chris Gautz
Jackson Citizen Patriot

This summer, cars speeding around Michigan International Speedway won't just be chasing a checkered flag. They'll be testing connected-vehicle technologies that could lead to the attraction of high-paying jobs and businesses to the area.

In Detroit this morning, officials were expected to announce MIS and the Michigan Department of Transportation have entered into a partnership to use and market the Brooklyn speedway to firms that develop and manufacture connected-vehicle technologies. The technology enables vehicles to "talk" to each other in a way that will prevent collisions and improve fuel efficiency.

MIS President Roger Curtis said the companies involved will be able to take their designs out of the laboratory and test them in real-world settings.

"I'm very excited about what this means. This could be the next Silicon Valley," Curtis said. "We really now have the incubator for this technology to take off here in Michigan."

They will likely test the vehicles on the existing road course at the track and set up temporary traffic lights to mimic the experience of driving, while on a closed, private and neutral environment.

Aside from technology companies testing their products, automotive companies could also test their vehicles alongside their competitors to ensure the vehicles are "talking" to each other correctly.

He sees the track being a neutral, Switzerland-like setting.

"It has to work across all manufacturers," Curtis said.

U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, said using MIS in this way will ultimately strengthen the state's economy.

"To have this kind of test course here is an incredible asset," he said.

Companies make decisions on where to locate based on a number of factors, he said, but having the test course within range of 80 percent of all automotive research and design in the United States, might encourage firms to locate nearby.

The Connected Vehicle Proving Center and the Center for Automotive Research also are involved.

"Research and development is critical to the growth of this technology and its value in lowering the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities, as well as the potential impact on the automotive sector and job creation," David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, which is the home of the Connected Vehicle Proving Center, said in a statement.

Associated Press

COLDWATER, Mich. -- A southern Michigan food pantry said it was able to offer 3,271 pounds of venison this fall, thanks to donations from deer hunters.

The meat was available through the Branch Area Food Pantry in Coldwater.

Bob DuCharme of the Quality Deer Management Association said the program was a joint effort of his group and Sportsmen Against Hunger, the Coldwater Downtown Business Association and the Q-1 Big Buck Pole.

The Daily Reporter said the groups hired Countryside Quality Meats in Union City to process the meat for the pantry. The meat helped feed those with economic difficulties.
DEARBORN, MI--(Marketwire) - If you're looking for a convenient way to shop and avoid the rush on Valentine's Day and other occasions, Westborn Market is encouraging customers to visit its new online store at

Floral arrangements along with a large variety of bakery, fruit and gift baskets, all starting at $29.99, are now available on the store's web site with full color photos and descriptions of each selection.

"Our floral design team has created five signature arrangements that you won't find anywhere else," said Jeff Anusbigian, who oversees the floral departments at all four Westborn locations and is one of three brothers who manage the independent, family-owned gourmet grocer. "In addition to giving our customers a wide selection of original gift items to choose from, we're committed to ensuring quality and freshness of everything we sell."

The new online store gives customers the convenience of ordering from home or office, 24 hours a day, as well as the ability to select the date and location for delivery or pick up.
Same day pick up is available at Westborn Flower Market in Dearborn or at the in-store floral departments of Westborn Market's Berkley and Livonia stores.

"This is a great way to avoid waiting in line, especially during busy holidays," added Anusbigian. Customers who make their purchases online simply print out the receipt and bring it into the store, with no waiting in line.

Anusbigian also encourage customers to visit the web site to sign up for Westborn Market's e-newsletter and to view the latest in-store and online specials.

Westborn Market's regular business hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Location information is available at or by calling 313-274-6100.


When she was younger, Kriste Etue peppered her father with questions at the dinner table about his job as a Michigan State Police trooper.

He didn't expect his daughter to follow in his footsteps on the then-all-male force. And he probably didn't expect her to be the first woman in an agency of about 1,300 people to be promoted to lieutenant colonel -- one of three second-in-command positions.

"I'd like to be looked at not just as a woman that holds a high position, but a woman that's very qualified to lead this department," said the 50-year-old Farmington native. She was promoted in 2006.

About a dozen women lead the state's 600 or so law enforcement agencies compared with probably half that number a decade ago, said Tom Hendrickson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. He predicts at least another half-dozen women will ascend to department leadership roles in the next 10 years.

Etue is one of many women in metro Detroit and Michigan making gains in law enforcement. Those affiliated with the male-dominated profession predict the trend will continue, with women serving from sergeant to chief and bringing their accomplishments, style and experience to the table.

Today's female leaders range from pioneers, such as Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko, who has led her force nearly 12 years, to newcomers, such as Colleen Hopper, who last year became the first female Sterling Heights officer promoted to sergeant. Weeks later, Linda Deprez joined Hopper in receiving sergeant stripes.

"I know when I first came here, they were a little perplexed about what to expect," Olko, a 34-year veteran, said of her hiring as deputy chief in Auburn Hills. "City Council was courageous in naming me."

A 2001 survey by the National Center for Women & Policing, the most recent conducted, indicates that women account for about 13% of sworn law enforcement positions in large agencies and 8% in small and rural agencies. Most agencies are led by men, but women hold the top spot in some, including Orlando, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Ella Bully-Cummings led Detroit police for nearly five years before retiring last year.

A different perspective

Research shows that female officers are better at defusing potentially violent confrontations; are less likely to be involved in problems with use of excessive force; often have better communication skills, and respond more effectively to incidents of violence against women, according to the national center.

Many in the profession said law enforcement should be reflective of the community and that women add a different perspective to the job. Olko said she believes female leaders bring a new management style that is more participatory and may bring more service-oriented aspects to the work.

"They are more egalitarian on how they view things. Fairness might be a bigger issue," said Olko, who chairs a committee establishing a radio system that connects police and fire agencies in Oakland County.

Under her leadership, her 56-officer department overhauled its use-of-force policies from vehicle pursuits to firearms, with the changes resulting in fewer injuries to officers and suspects. She said her agency, which has one female sergeant, also improved the percentage of crimes solved and established a crime prevention officer and an awards program to recognize officers and community members.

Consensus builder

As a captain, Etue was commander of statewide emergency management and homeland security programs and oversaw their budgets. Col. Peter Munoz said her ability to run the division -- which requires being a consensus builder and comes with much responsibility, stress and attention to detail -- is why he chose her for lieutenant colonel. A school liaison K-12 program that focuses on drug abuse, crime prevention and anti-bullying was her brainchild, he said.
"She's tough when she needs to be and takes on difficult issues. She does it in a diplomatic way that does not alienate people. She multitasks and gets things done," Munoz said.

Those are traits Lansing Township Police Chief Kay Hoffman, who in 2006 became the first female president of the state police chiefs association, likes about a female patrol officer in her department who may be promoted this year. She said the way the officer investigated a recent physical and sexual assault involving a young woman led to a multi-count felony warrant with a $5-million bond for the suspect.

"She was able to investigate this with a lot of passion. She was very thorough and the family responded to her very well," Hoffman said of the officer.

A change from good old boys

Troy Police Chief Charles Craft, whose 135-member force has a female captain and two sergeants, said female commanders have "been good for the professionalism of our job" and take away "that good-old-boy thing."

He said his highest-ranking female officer, Capt. Colleen Mott, wasn't promoted because of her gender. She excelled in the promotional process, is intelligent, articulate, well-educated and "has a great sense of police work."

Mott said more responsibility, more interesting assignments and better pay were some reasons she sought promotions. The 23-year veteran also wants to be a role model and encourage women to advance in command positions.

Role models help

Bully-Cummings served as a role model for some female Detroit officers, said Sgt. Eren Stephens Bell, who aspires to be a lieutenant. She said women in her circle who previously didn't mention moving up the ranks took the promotional test after Bully-Cummings became chief.

For many, making the decision to seek promotion can be difficult. Time to study for tests or seek additional education, family, long hours and unfavorable shifts are a few reasons some choose to delay or not seek a promotion. And harassment and discrimination still exist.

But many women are making the move. Women such as Hopper and Deprez in Sterling Heights, where Chief Michael Reese said they can impart their knowledge -- particularly about youth issues -- to those they supervise.

"It's kind of my personality," Hopper said, "to do one better, to go up the ladder, to give guidance to the newer officers."

Calling All Future Brides

Getting ready to tie the knot?

Not sure where to find the latest in bridal gifts, dresses, cakes, makeup and accessories?

Downtown Royal Oak is offering an array of ideas at the area's premier boutique bridal event: Bridal Bliss, Saturday, Feb. 7, from noon to 5 p.m.

This event is different than other bridal events held in large venues as it caters to the bride-to-be who is looking for that little something "extra" when it comes to planning a unique, festive wedding - regardless of budget.

Participants will learn what's hot for 2009 weddings and beyond - from dresses and accessories to cakes and invitations.

Royal Oak also offers many restaurants and venues to host engagement parties, showers, bachelor parties and weddings. It's a great way to see everything the city can offer the bride-to-be.

Registration begins at noon on Feb. 7, at Douglas J Aveda Institute located at 409 S. Center St. (between Main and Washington).

After registering, participants will receive guides filled with great incentives from downtown retailers.

All participants will also have the opportunity to enter to win a bridal gift package with gift cards from local retailers valued over $1,500.

Thirty downtown retailers are participating in the event. Look for the pink bows outside of stores.

The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority is sponsor of this event.

For more information, visit or call (248) 246-3065.

Canton residents have thus far given two thumbs up to the Potbelly Sandwich Works restaurant on Ford Road, west of Lilley, which opened Jan. 10.
"My goodness, it's been incredible," said Dan Zachow, one of three managers at the new eatery.

"I wasn't anticipating being this busy. We've been given a warm welcome by the community."

The signature menu item is sub sandwiches, all of which cost $4.40, making it easy to concentrate on what kind of toasted sandwich to order instead of the price.

Zachow said the drive-through at the Canton Potbelly is the first in Michigan.

"It's a brand new concept for Potbelly," said Zachow. "We're known for our customer service, and they worked at creating that same kind of service you get inside when you order from the drive-through.
When the weather is warmer we'll have someone outside taking the order from your car. That way, the customer will be interacting with a person rather than a voice box."

Potbelly is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Associated Press

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. - An 18-year-old from Lincoln Park is being honored for earning all of the Boy Scouts' 121 merit badges.

Andrew Schigelone says he was 12 when he set out to earn all possible merit badges before turning 18.

He tells the Detroit Free Press he "wasn't too serious about it" until racking up 35 badges over three years at a camp in Metamora and realizing the goal was possible.

The Gabriel Richard High School senior got his final merit badge for archaeology Dec. 11.

Rick Williamson heads the 4,700-member Detroit Area Council of Boy Scouts of America and says no one has earned all 121 badges since its 1910 founding.

The Boy Scouts are honoring Schigelone's accomplishment Thursday and recognizing him as an Eagle Scout.

Taco Bell must pay for Chihuahua idea

Wichita Eagle

The wise-cracking Chihuahua who earned millions for Taco Bell Corp. --and some criticism from Hispanics as an ethnic stereotype -- has a new slogan:
"Yo quiero mi dinero!" --I want my money!

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that Taco Bell is liable for $42 million in breach-of-contract awards to two Michigan men who created the diminutive mascot that starred in the Irvine, Calif., fast-food giant's $500 million advertising campaign in the 1990s.

TV commercials featured the dog decked out as a beret-sporting revolutionary or bandit in sombrero, stirring some controversy as a derogatory depiction of Mexicans. But the spots featuring the Chihuahua and voice-over artist Carlos Alazraqui were phenomenally successful.
The talking dog's refrain "Yo quiero Taco Bell" became a pop-culture punch line, as well as "Drop the chalupa!" --an instant favorite with sports commentators -- and "Viva Gorditas!" (long live the little fat ones, the name of one of the food chain's tacos).

The ads stopped running in 2000, freeing the dog, named Gidget, for further fame, with roles in "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde" and Geico insurance ads.


Venture capital investment in Michigan companies soared last year, reaching a level not seen since the peak of the technology boom in 2000, a report released Friday shows.

Michigan also improved its standing as an attractive place for venture capital. It ranked 16th among the states in terms of venture capital investment last year, up from No. 25 in 2007, according to the MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

The sharp increase in Michigan venture capital activity is welcome news for the state's battered economy, which is moving rapidly away from its traditional reliance on the auto industry.

In recent years, entrepreneurs have launched a number of start-up companies and some of them are starting to gain traction.

The dramatic increase in venture investment, however, isn't likely to be repeated this year.
Last year, venture capital firms invested $245.7 million in 43 Michigan companies. That's more than double the activity of the previous year, when 22 Michigan companies received $104.7 million from venture firms.

That was the best showing since 2000, when 53 Michigan companies raised $337.2 million from venture capitalists.

Even in last year's fourth quarter, venture firms poured $47.1 million into nine Michigan companies. Pioneer Surgical Technology Inc., a Marquette medical device maker, led the list, obtaining $15 million from Pharos Capital Group, River Cities Capital Funds, Hopewell Ventures and one firm whose identity was not revealed.

Danotek Motion Technologies Inc., an Ann Arbor provider of electrical conversion systems, generators and other technologies, followed close behind, garnering $14.5 million from CMEA Ventures and Statoil Innovation.

Michigan's strong performance came despite a national slowdown in venture capital investment last year.

Nationwide, $28.3 billion went into 3,808 deals in 2008, down 8.4% from $30.9 million in 3,952 deals in 2007.

The only sectors to gain investment dollars were clean technology, information-technology services and media and entertainment. Clean technology refers to alternative energy, pollution and recycling and power supplies and conservation.


WASHINGTON -- Just how much will the $825-billion financial stimulus plan being bandied about in Congress be worth to hard-hit Michigan?
We’re starting to find out.

For instance, the Congressional Research Service -- which figures these sorts of things out for legislators in Washington -- has divvied up the $38 billion in aid for local school districts across the country and found that Michigan stands to receive about $1.4 billion.
And when it comes to the $43 billion for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, it looks like the state will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion for highway and bridge work, mass transit and clean water projects.

All of it is in addition to the usual federal budget, which carries billions of dollars of aid to the states already.

On another front, Washington, D.C.-based research group the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated the number of taxpayers in each state likely to benefit from President Barack Obama’s Making Work Pay tax credit, which will refund $500 to individuals making less than $100,000 and $1,000 to couples making less than $200,000.

In Michigan, some 3.5 million people would be expected to benefit.

All of these numbers are estimates and, with the legislation still being marked up in the House, much could still change before the stimulus plan becomes law.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who expects to bring the bill to the House floor next week -- has said she wants to deliver the bill to Obama’s desk by mid-February, meaning Democrats will try to keep alterations to a minimum.

Still, the early figures should be taken as more of a guide than a promise to individual school districts.

The CRS numbers on the school allotments indicate Detroit’s troubled school system could be a huge winner -- with some $300 million this year and nearly $430 million total over the next two years combined.

The reason is that much of the funding -- $11 billion nationwide over two years’ time -- is in Title 1 funding, which provides help to school districts based on the population of low-income families living there.
And the construction funding -- $14 billion in grants to help modernize schools -- will also come through the Title 1 formula, the idea being that those districts have the highest need.
Opening the formula, in turn, could lead to a political fight over how money is allocated that would pit district against district, town against town, state against state.

Another $13 billion over two years would be committed in IDEA funding -- specially targeted to help cover the costs of education kids with disabilities.

In metro Detroit, the funding via those formulas would vary widely. Pontiac could receive nearly $20 million over two years’ time; Dearborn City Schools, $27.4 million. Birmingham schools, by contrast, would see $2.5 million in additional funds. Rochester Community Schools could get $4.2 million.

The increase in federal funding would come at a crucial time for Michigan school districts. Many are seeing their enrollment decline and aren’t anticipating an increase in state aid for the 2009-2010 school year, yet they say their costs are increasing at rapid paces.

“Every district, including our own, is struggling,” said Janet Roberts, spokeswoman for Huron Valley Schools. “That struggle is getting worse and worse every year … so any relief would be a godsend.”

Ken Siver, deputy superintendent for Southfield Public Schools, today was compiling a list projects that could be addressed with the additional construction dollars, a list he said the state has requested of every district.

“I had a lot of projects I had in the works, and they were sort of on hold, depending on money,” Siver said.

The projects include replacing the floor at Southfield-Lathrup Middle School and reconfiguring the space at the district’s alternative school to add six new classrooms. Some, though, are projects that need to be done, like replacing the chiller at Thompson Middle School, and would require using general fund money.
“Then there’s less money for instruction,” Siver said.

“Some see education and economic development as separate issues, but they are really one in the same,” said U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, a Bloomfield Township Democrat who released the figures from CRS. “Investing in the modernization of our schools will create jobs now, provide our kids with the tools to succeed in a 21st Century economy and make America’s workforce more globally competitive.”

On the infrastructure investment, the breakdown -- based on existing highway formulas -- breaks down like this for Michigan: $875 million for highway and bridge work; $121 million for transit capital; $1 million for rail (and buses that operate on controlled rights of way); and $250 million for water and sewage projects.

Taken together, that $1.2 billion would be more than all but nine states -- California ($4.5 billion), New York ($3.3 billion), Texas ($3 billion), Florida ($1.9 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.9 billion), Illinois ($1.8 billion), Ohio ($1.5 billion), New Jersey ($1.4 billion) and Georgia ($1.3 billion).
Sebastian Schepis

One Detroit-area company has found themselves a profitable niche amidst the maelstrom - selling electric vehicles.
Eco Wheelz, a personal electric vehicle retailer and online store started and run by entrepreneur Jeremy Panizzoli and located in Plymouth, MI has been enjoying steadily growing sales of their personal electric vehicles.
“Traffic continues to grow at our new retail store,” said Jeremy. “Surprisingly, most people aren’t even aware that these products exist. But as the word spreads, we’re seeing growing interest as more and more people become educated about the advantages of electric-powered bikes and scooters.”

And it makes sense. Electric vehicles aren’t just eco-friendly, they’re also economical. It costs about $599 to purchase a starter e-bike, which then costs pennies to recharge straight from a wall outlet.
That same bike will give you the ability go travel at over 20mph with a 20 mile range - and let you pedal home if you run out of juice. And for a lot of people, that makes good economic sense.
Only time will tell if personal electric vehicles become adopted en-masse in the US. They’ve been popular for years in places like Europe and Asia, and the U.S. market for e-bikes continues to grow.
2009 is expected to be a record year for electric bike sales in the U.S., with projections of 170,000 units. If the numbers are any indication, it might only be a matter of time before electric bicycles and electric mopeds become a ubiquitous presence on U.S. streets.

Fort Worth Star Telegram
G. Chambers Williams III

GM parades 17 vehicles before media at Detroit auto show

The nation’s top automaker showed recently at the Detroit auto show that the company is far from out.

Three of the vehicles were ones GM had already said it would roll out at the show, the redesigned 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, Cadillac SRX and Buick LaCrosse.

But the automaker also showed three others that weren’t expected: the production version of the compact Orlando crossover vehicle, whose concept was unveiled at last fall’s Paris auto show; the Converj, a Cadillac version of the planned Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car; and the Chevrolet Spark, a very fuel-efficient minicar that GM plans to introduce in the U.S. market in early 2011.

And in all, the automaker paraded 17 vehicles through the show’s media days that will be on the market as new or significantly revised products over the next two years.

One of the surprises was the Orlando, a seven-seat crossover based on the architecture of the soon-to-be-offered Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan.

The Orlando "offers the versatile attributes of a sport utility, family van and wagon," GM said. It’s considerably smaller than the new, 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, although both have a third row of seating.

The Orlando is intended to be a lower-priced, highly fuel-efficient people hauler, more in the vein of a Toyota RAV4. It will come only with a four-cylinder engine. The concept was powered by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, but there is no word yet whether that engine will be offered in the U.S. market.

GM says the Orlando has "reconfigurable, theater-style seating," and that both the second and third rows can be folded into the floor to create a completely flat load floor when extra cargo space is needed.

As for the Spark, the Detroit version was the concept, while the production version will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March. GM said the Spark will go on sale in Europe in early 2010, but won’t be available in U.S. Chevy showrooms until early 2011.

Cadillac’s Converj (pictured above) has the same Voltec electric propulsion system that GM will roll out next year on the Chevy Volt, but the comparisons to the Chevy end there.

The Converj is a grand-touring coupe with a bold design that’s lacking on the Volt. The exterior draws a lot of its appearance from other newer Cadillac vehicles bearing the "art and science" design philosophy.

With room for four, the Converj "is intended to show how GM’s revolutionary Voltec electric propulsion technology can power a luxury coupe with a typically Cadillac 'no compromises’ design," the automaker said. "It enables up to 40 miles of gas- and emissions-free electric driving with extended-range capability of hundreds of miles."

The 2010 Buick LaCrosse full-size sedan is a completely redesigned car intended to build on the success of Buick’s Enclave large crossover vehicle, GM said.

Among its features will be available all-wheel drive, a variety of new technological options, and a choice of two fuel-efficient V-6 engines. The basis for the car’s design was the Buick Invicta concept introduced at the 2008 Beijing auto show. Buick is the most popular luxury brand in China.

Chevy’s redesigned 2010 Equinox will come with a choice of new engines, including a 2.4-liter, direct fuel-injected four cylinder that GM says will lead the compact crossover segment in fuel economy – ahead of the segment-leading RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Highway mileage is expected to be 30 mpg.

With seating for up to five, the Equinox has styling influenced by the newest version of the Chevy Malibu sedan.

The 2010 SRX is the second generation of Cadillac midsize luxury crossover, and it has been completely redesigned – becoming a rear-drive rather than front-drive vehicle (with optional all-wheel drive). Two high-tech V-6 engine choices will be available in the SRX, which will have room for five people – no third row will be offered.

Smaller and more carlike than the current SRX, the new model is quite similar in size and appearance to the segment-leading Lexus RX 350, which will be the Cadillac’s biggest competitor.

Also displayed in Detroit was the all-new 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, a family-oriented version of the redesigned CTS sedan that debuted in 2007.

"Cadillac’s first-ever North American wagon is a progressive take on the classic wagon body style that delivers significant functionality and fuel efficiency, including up to an estimated 28 mpg highway," GM said.

Production of the wagon will begin this spring, and the cars will begin arriving at U.S. Cadillac dealerships by late spring or early summer. No prices have been announced yet.

"The dramatic design of the CTS Sport Wagon makes it a compelling alternative to SUVs and larger vehicles," said Mark McNabb, GM’s vice president for Cadillac.

The wagon is "in synch with the changing luxury market, and it just could be the right car in the right size to spark a re-emergence of wagons in North America," he said.

The five-passenger Sport Wagon will have 25 cubic feet of cargo space and there will be options such as a power tailgate and a rear panoramic sunroof.