Category: Community Written by Huffington Post
Michiganders caught driving without a license or auto insurance will no longer be on the hook for a Driver Responsibility Fee payable to the state -- and some local Twitter users celebrated the news.
The Driver Responsibility Fee was signed in 2003 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm. It assigned financial penalties paid annually to the state of Michigan to "to encourage responsible driving behavior and practices," according to a site from her tenure.
The punitive fines are levied on drivers who are caught committing offenses like driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving and amassing more than seven points on a traffic record. Category 2 fines are assessed two years in a row. It's a $1000 annually if you're caught driving while intoxicated, in addition to any fees or penalties assessed by the municipality, and $500 annually for reckless drivers. Those fines will still be assessed under the 2003 law.
But the Driver Responsibility Fee was expanded to include punitive fines for drivers with no proof of insurance ($200) and driving without a license or on an expired license ($150.)
Vocal critics, including State Sen. Bert Johnson (D-Detroit), objected to the law's expansion to include drivers arrested for operating a vehicle without a license or valid auto insurance. They pushed through a law rolling back these particular fines last December, which finally took effect on Oct. 1.
Sen. Johnson, who began working on the legislation while in the state House, said the fees provided more hardship to poor residents, even going so far as to call the fees "draconian."
"I thought it was a regressive tax from the beginning," Sen. Johnson told The Huffington Post. "Citizens were being harmed in a way that was larger unfair."
While dropping the fees for driving without insurance or a license will lose about $8 million to $13 million for the state, changing the law earned bipartisan support in the Michigan Legislature. His ideas ended up being adopted into legislation sponsored by Sen. Bruce Caswell. Johnson said he played a large part in supporting the passage of the bill.
"The policy was more important than the politics," Johnson said of the House Republicans' move to embrace the change. "It's a needed relief."
Sen. Johnson lost a bid for the House to John Conyers, Jr. in the newly-redesigned 13th Congressional District, which hosted five Democrats in the August primary. But he told The Huffington Post that another Congress campaign still looks like his next political move.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 17:01
Category: Community Written by Huffington Post
Like the growth of the monthly bike ride known as Critical Mass, the two-wheel economy has reached its own critical mass in Detroit. Though minuscule compared with Detroit's car companies, the manufacture, sales and service of cycling is gaining legitimacy as an industry.
Perhaps most symbolic, two months after the 2012 North American International Auto Show, Detroit Bike City was inaugurated, the region's first annual bike show and swap meet.
A century after Henry Ford transformed the quadricycle into an automobile, urban Detroit is re-discovering two-wheelers. Roads are becoming bike-friendly and people are taking cycling seriously as a means of transportation as well as leisure.
In the first floor of his carriage house in the historic Boston-Edison neighborhood -- two blocks from the original Henry Ford mansion -- Zak Pashak built the prototype for a bike he intends to manufacture for $500: one style, one color, much like Ford's original Model T: a vehicle common folks could afford. Pashak's company, Detroit Bikes, purchased a factory on the West Side and expects to begin mass production in late 2012.
Shinola, a national firm that makes fine watches, leather goods, and high end, stylish cycles, located its assembly facility in Midtown. The bikes will have a vintage aura with modern mechanisms, marketed in the range of $2,500 to $3,500. By coincidence of their shared location in the Argonaut Building, Shinola struck up a relationship with College for Creative Studies. One of the Shinola models, The Flattop, was designed by a CCS student.
The Detroit Bicycle Company, which builds high style, retro bikes fit for a gallery, reflects its founder's trade. That's Steve Bak, a clay model builder in the auto industry. Currently based in Royal Oak, Bock is looking for a production facility in Detroit.
The aura of Autorama is reflected in bike tricksters like Danny Smith, who customizes bikes for show. Smith customized a bike for an Autorama event a few years ago and clients followed. By day he's an insurance claims adjuster, but after work he's in his basement shop working on bikes. He's built or customized 12 bikes to date, ranging in price from $500 to $1,000, with some jobs falling into the $100 range. He plans to exhibit at the 2013 Detroit Bike City.
The market is growing, and the culture is too," he says. "There are several classes of cyclist in Detroit: the young guys on the fixies (fixed gear bikes) and the guys who ride the old school custom bicycles, the road riders who are in the large groups, then you have your novices (and commuters) who just want to ride."
Cycling sales, service, and education
Kelli Kavanaugh, with partner Karen Gage, established Wheelhouse Detroit at Rivard Place on the Detroit RiverWalk at a time when there were few cyclists downtown, and even fewer bike tours or bike shops selling and servicing bikes. In its four years of operation, business at the shop has grown steadily. An organizer of the Tour-de-Troit, Kavanaugh says the ride, which drew 5,000 riders this year, has raised over $85,000 for greenway development in Detroit and has gained recognition among cyclists throughout the Midwest.
The Hub, a nine-member collective in the Cass Corridor, demonstrates how social entrepreneurship melds cycling education with retail. Back Alley Bikes, established in 2000, has been introducing bike maintenance and riding skills to young people for several years. It operates on the second level of a warehouse behind a the Hub retail shop. A gathering spot for urban cyclists, the Hub is the cash cow of the enterprise, nearly doubling its income annually since its inception in 2009.
Delivering court papers, hot food, and recyclables
Couriers are transporting legal papers, food, and even recycled goods on two wheels -- and making money. Rock Dove Couriers, founded four years ago, has profited largely from transporting legal documents. But email has diminished that market, forcing owner Joel Landis to consider collaborating with Shayne O’Keefe, owner of Hot Spokes, which transports edibles from 10 restaurants and food shops in the Downtown/Midtown area.
Bike culture drives the market and entrepreneurs, even a show
Gradually motor vehicles are yielding to other ways of movement in Motown -- not without tension at times, but a transition is underway. Following the national trend of eco-friendly options to getting around cities, Detroit streets are more bike-friendly than ever as the market for riding and acquiring bikes grows.
There may only be a few new jobs on manufacturing, customizing, repairing, selling, and showing bikes, and it probably won't do much to stabilize Detroit’s budget, but the cycling culture has become a way of life for a lot of people.
Nearly all of the businesses interviewed have noted steady growth, and those who haven’t project a promising future. There’s some talk of collaboration, possible mergers, new businesses popping up and more people shopping for and buying more products -- the stuff of an evolving industry, as much a cultural statement as it is a symbol of economic vitality.
Most two-wheel entrepreneurs aren't going to quit their day jobs any time soon, but they’re making money and expanding. Ideas are flowing, things are being made, businesses are being formed, finding success and improving the overall quality of life. Excitement is growing around designing, building, selling, and playing with machines that move people and products -- something very much Detroit in vision and practice.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 10:38
Category: Community Written by WWJ
NOVI (WWJ) - If you loved to play with LEGO blocks in your childhood, this is your chance to extend the love to your kids — with a hands-on family outing.
The 3rd Annual LEGO KidsFest national tour will make a stop October 12-14 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. This is the first time the LEGO KidsFest national tour has made a stop in Michigan.
The three-day event brings together the creative fun of LEGO building and experiences for children of all ages and LEGO builders of all skills. There won’t be just usual miniature LEGO block creations shown on TV commercials. The showcased creations will be life-sized.
This event is packed with plenty of LEGO attractions that families will find. A collection of the life-sized models that are made entirely from LEGO bricks will be shown at the LEGO Model Gallery. Other activities will include building your own custom car to race against friends and family, play LEGO board games, purchase LEGO merchandise and more.
“We’re bringing so many activities for Michigan families to test and showcase their creativity and building skills in what is sure to be a family event to remember,” said Vince Rubino, LEGO events manager.
LEGO KidsFest tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for children. The tickets can be purchased online.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 09:50
Category: Community Written by WWJ
LANSING — A new Pure Michigan digital media campaign running through early December is highlighting fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state.
As part of the campaign, Outdoorhub.com is featuring a custom Pure Michigan landing page providing key information for sportsmen, hunting and fishing news and updates, and original content and videos.
“Michigan is a terrific destination for sportsmen and sportswomen and we are excited to showcase our state’s unique hunting and fishing opportunities through this campaign,” said George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “This campaign builds on our state’s strong hunting and fishing heritage, while advancing our goal of attracting new out-of-state visitors here to Michigan.”
The campaign is a digital campaign only, with online banner ads and site wraps on targeted outdoor enthusiast sites, including MichiganSportsman.com and OhioGameFishing.com, in addition to the landing page on Outdoorhub.com.
Outdoorhub.com has the largest audience of sportsman online.
The Pure Michigan landing page will include videos from Michigan resident experts on topics such as Upland Game Hunting. These videos will also be available on the fishing and hunting pages at michigan.org, which include links to maps, associations, hunting and fishing guides and how to purchase licenses and tags online.
The campaign will focus on fishing through Oct. 22, welcoming anglers to their “new favorite spot.” The hunting ads will then begin and continue through Dec. 5 with a message to sports enthusiaststo “Let the hunt begin.”
Pure Michigan has also added hunting and fishing-specific tabs to the Pure Michigan Facebook page. The new tabs provide resources, tips, and inside information on the best spots to hunt, what to bring on a hunting trip in Michigan and more. With more than 400,000 fans of Pure Michigan on Facebook, the tabs also provide a place for hunters and anglers to join conversations about taking to the woods or water in search of that trophy buck or record breaking King.
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in 2011, more than 1 million anglers cast their line in Michigan, with more than 193,000 coming from out-of-state. Additionally more than 777,000 people hunted in the state last year, the vast majority of which were Michigan residents. There were 1.16 million fishing licenses sold in 2011, and more than 2.3 million hunting licenses sold.
“In recent years there has been a slight decline in the number of hunters and anglers taking part in hunting and fishing here in the state,” Zimmermann said. “This campaign is targeted to that audience, and will hopefully help to reverse that trend and grow the number of hunters and anglers in Michigan – especially sportsmen and sportswomen coming in from out-of-state.”
Travel Michigan, part of the MEDC, markets the state’s tourism industry and provides valuable visitor information services. For Michigan travel news and updates, visit michigan.org. The MEDC markets the state with a focus on business, talent, jobs and helping to grow the economy. For more on MEDC and its initiatives, visit: MichiganAdvantage.org.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 October 2012 10:03
Category: Community Written by Huffington Post
Elizabeth Burgos is hoping a creative idea will help her sell her house, reunite her children with her husband of 15 years and make one lucky person a homeowner for the low price of $100.
She began accepting $100 donations, and if she gets 250, she'll enter each person into a drawing to win her home outright in southwest Detroit. One lucky winner will receive her home, in the form of a quick deed, signed just after the Oct. 28 drawing.
Burgos hopes to raise $30,000, enough to cover her house's back taxes and move her and her three children to Germany, where her husband Hashim Attisha settled after being deported to Iraq in May of 2010 on her birthday, she says. Attisha had lived in the U.S. since he was seven.
"I don't want anyone to go through what I've gone through," Burgos said, who lost her job shortly after Attisha left, staying with family in Iraq, leaving for Syria and eventually settling in Germany where he has attained residency. "It got to a point where I didn't know whether I was coming or going."
The couple bought the house for $50,000 and have put $30,000 of work into it, including a large, renovated kitchen. Bugo received a $27,000 offer on the house in February, but didn't want to sell before Attisha was settled. Her most recent offer was $15,000.
So she came up with the idea to raffle off the house, and has since received donations locally and from other states. Some have made donations on behalf of others. If one man won, Burgos said, he plans to give it to a family he has seen living under an overpass; another reached out to someone looking for a house they found through Burgos' Facebook page. Some have donated on behalf of organizations that serve the hungry.
But there's no telling whether the next owner will want to keep serving weekly meals to the homeless in the lot across from the house, the way Burgos does. When she started, she was serving about 20 on her own at the weekly Garden of Hope picnics; now it's more like 70, and different community groups have stepped in to help.
"It opened my eyes," Burgos said. "I thought, 'Why is my life is so bad,' but then coming to hear the stories of people that we serve, I was like, 'Liz you're OK, you're blessed.' These people have it hard."
"Now I finally got it going, and I have to walk away," Burgos said with some regret about the picnics, which she referred to as her "baby."
"But it's in good hands," she added.
Detroit has seen the $100 house before, and thousands of properties will go at what most would consider a steal in the ongoing foreclosure auction. But Burgos' 1917 house, while needing a little "TLC" as she puts it, comes in good condition, with dark wood finishes, three bedrooms and one and a half baths.
Burgos plans to hold open houses at her home, located at 4019 Gilbert, on Fridays and Sundays until the drawing on Oct. 28.
With the money she raises, she'll pay off the back taxes on the house, approximately $3,200, buy plane tickets and prepare to settle in a home near Munich. She said her children are ready to see their dad again.
"I've lived in Detroit all my life … but I'm just ready to go."
Last Updated on Monday, 08 October 2012 15:00
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