Sunday, May 31, 2009

G.M. Bankruptcy: The Moment Has Arrived

A seemingly unassuming Honda storms the Buick City gates. (Photo by Doug Sanders)

We knew it was coming, but this is still hard to believe...

"President Obama will push General Motors into bankruptcy protection on Monday, making a risky bet that by temporarily nationalizing the onetime icon of American capitalism, he can save at least a diminished automaker that is competitive,"
reports The New York Times.

Crime: Flint versus Grand Blanc

"According to a Flint Journal comparison of key crime statistics, crime rates in downtown Flint are comparable to Genesee County's suburbs," reports Joe Lawlor.

Some of the findings:

• There has not been a homicide in downtown Flint in two years, and there have been only four sexual assaults in that time.

• The assault rate is about the same, per capita, in downtown Flint as in the Grand Blanc area.

• A person is statistically more likely to be the victim of aggravated assault or robbery in Burton or Flint Township than in downtown Flint.

• Car thefts were somewhat higher in downtown versus the suburbs in 2007. In 2008, car thefts declined dramatically in downtown Flint.

Joe Lawlor, by the way, is one of several reporters leaving the Journal for greener pastures. Thanks for all the great work, Joe.

What'd I do? You killed the car.

(Photo Courtesy Sudler Sotheby’s International)

house featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, including the iconic car scene, is for sale in Highland Park, Illinois. If you were a Flint kid in the eighties, this is your chance to finally fulfill some of your high school pop-culture fantasies, provided you have $2.3 million.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Genesee Belle

Andy Turpen and Jim Holbel of The Gifted Program offer up a little musical ode to junior high life in early '80s Flint called Genesee Belle.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bankruptcy Looms for G.M.

Bankruptcy could come as early as Monday for G.M. Michael J. de la Merced and Micheline Maynard of The New York Times report:

Early Thursday, G.M. proposed a deal in which bondholders would receive up to a 25 percent stake — a bigger share than G.M. offered the autoworkers union — if they do not oppose its bankruptcy reorganization, and then said that a group representing many of the largest bondholders had accepted the offer.

The proposal came as administration officials and G.M. began to discuss how the carmaker would look once it emerged from a court reorganization. The company is expected to seek bankruptcy protection by Monday, the deadline set by the Obama administration to restructure outside bankruptcy.

Tom Joubran Gets Profiled in San Diego

Flint legend Tom Joubran is the subject of an exhaustive profile in the San Diego Reader.

Journalist Matt Potter does a great job telling Joubran's rags-to-riches story, quoting liberally from former
Flint Journal reporter Dan Shriner:
“The thing about Mr. Joubran is that he’s basically brought so many of his relatives and family members here,” notes Shriner, the former Flint Journal reporter who covered Joubran and his run-ins with the law during the 1980s and 1990s. “Just dozens and dozens of people he’s brought here over the years.

“He’s been an interesting character for a long time, I’ll give him that,” Shriner continues. “He came here, had like $25 to his name, couldn’t speak a word of English, did the immigrant thing — worked hard and eventually bought his own grocery store and kind of grew things from there.

“He’s owned several bars, but the big one that everybody remembers him for was the Mikatam,” says Shriner. “It was named after his son Michael, his daughter Kathy, and his youngest daughter Tammy: Mi-Ka-Tam.

“That was a huge bar, and he did business like nobody else. Frankly, what he did, I thought, was brilliant. What he would do was that he would charge a $10 cover charge, and this place would hold 5000 people. He told me he could easily get 3000 to 5000 people in there without a problem. Now, it was packed, mind you, but he would do it if he could, and he frequently did."

But the story doesn't shy away from the accusations made against Joubran over the years:

He has endured decades of controversy: In 1980, during testimony before a United States Senate subcommittee, the executive director of the Saginaw Valley Crime Commission listed him as a “person of interest,” purportedly involved in “organized criminal activities” in the Flint, Michigan area.

His nemesis was Genesee County prosecutor Arthur Busch, who grew up in a blue-collar household near Flint and counts among his high school friends Michael Moore, the film director who began his career publishing the Flint Voice, an alternative newspaper.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a gangster, and I don’t care if you print it,” Busch, now in private law practice, said of Joubran during a recent telephone interview. Over the years, Busch accused Joubran of a litany of crimes. One case involved a charge of felonious assault brought by Busch against Joubran in 1995. It was described in a November 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals document.

Overall, it's a comprehensive piece that's worth reading in full here.

Flint Postcards: Kearsley Street

Thanks to Grumkin for passing this along.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Buick: Something to Believe In

Flint Postcards: Chevrolet Motor Co.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Building on the Past

Would you save this building? The Mies research test structure at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of IIT)

Flint is on the verge of facing some tough decisions about what to save and what to tear down in the city. There's certainly a good number who would like to level Central High School, and Land Bank chief Dan Kildee and others are pushing for the removal of vacant houses throughout Flint. Architectural preservation is always a thorny issue, as Steve Rose of The Guardian explains in a story about the fate of a particularly ugly Mies van der Rohe structure in Chicago:
"Only in architecture do we contemplate, and frequently carry out, the destruction of works by the discipline's most esteemed proponents. In other fields, every single thing an artist ever did is worthy of preservation, regardless of quality. If someone found a demo tape of Jimi Hendrix trying to tune up for three hours, it'd be worth a fortune. Or if you found out a rubbish doodle on the back of an old fag packet was actually by Picasso, you wouldn't think of throwing it away, would you? And then there's movie memorabilia: William Shatner sold his kidney stone for £14,000."
The buildings and homes facing demolition in Flint don't have the pedigree of a Mies van der Rohe work, but they represent Flint history and countless memories for thousands of current and former residents. As Rose points out, historic preservation showdowns usually bring the past, present and future into direct conflict:
"That's the trouble with architecture. You can store a tape or a picture – even a kidney stone – pretty easily. But buildings take up valuable space. They often prevent the existence of other newer, better buildings. A war or an earthquake or a revolution is good news: architecture thrives on its own destruction."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Google's Flint Connection

Google co-founder Larry Page hearkens back to his Flint ancestry in his commencement address at the University of Michigan:
"My father's father worked in the Chevy plant in Flint, Michigan. He was an assembly line worker. He drove his two children here to Ann Arbor, and told them: That is where you're going to go to college. Both his kids did graduate from Michigan. That was the American dream. His daughter, Beverly, is with us today. My Grandpa used to carry an 'Alley Oop' hammer — a heavy iron pipe with a hunk of lead melted on the end. The workers made them during the sit-down strikes to protect themselves. When I was growing up, we used that hammer whenever we needed to pound a stake or something into the ground. It is wonderful that most people don't need to carry a heavy blunt object for protection anymore. But just in case, I have it here."

Ed Montgomery's Mission to Help the Auto Industry's Casualties

Dana Hedgpeth of The Washington Post has a nice profile of Ed Montgomery, who is Obama's "point man to help auto workers and communities that depend" on the car industry.

"Montgomery, whose wife is the granddaughter of a General Motors worker from Portland, Mich., lives in Howard County and drives a 2000 Lincoln. He used to drive his 1990 Harley-Davidson motorcycle to College Park. He's broad-shouldered and wears black-framed glasses that make him look like the college professor he was.

"Montgomery has written extensively on labor unions, unemployment and other economic trends. He is careful to point out that textbooks often give examples of how things should work on average, but that the solutions may not work for every city. Health care jobs may thrive in one town, for example, while manufacturing parts for wind turbines may be a better fit in another.

"'This is a bottom-up effort,' Montgomery recently told a group of politicians, community leaders and auto workers at a community college in Flint. 'This is not Washington talking to Flint. This is Flint talking to Washington.'"

Another Way For You to Help Flint Expatriates Make Very Small Amounts of Money

A friend of mine suggested I sign up as an Amazon Associate as a way to cover the operating expenses of Flint Expatriates. Since I was feeling particularly broke that day, I spent a few hours figuring out how to get the Amazon ads on the blog and create an Amazon store of Flint-related items. Yes, it was a mind numbingly boring process, so I never even bothered to figure out how the payment part worked.

Well, I finally figured it out. I've earned $18 from readers accessing Amazon from Flint Expats and buying things. So I'm still not getting rich from Flint Expats, but $18 is still a nice surprise. So thanks to everyone out there that bought something, especially the reader who bought all those cookbooks. (Man, you must really like cooking.)

I also figured out that you don't have to actually buy the Flint items or even the items advertised in the right-hand column. All you have to do is click on one of the ads; get on the Amazon website; buy anything you want; and Flint Expats earns a small — apparently very small — referral fee.

So allow me to make this humble plea...if you think you want something on Amazon and it's not too much of a hassle, please access the Amazon site via one of the Amazon ads or the Amazon search engine on Flint Expatriates. I'm trying to save up enough money to dine in style at Angelo's when I visit Flint this summer.

And if someone buys a speedboat or something on Amazon, I'll buy you dinner at Angelo's, provided you're sober.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Maybe GM Needs to Bring Back Its Overtly Sexual Advertising to Improve Sales

Flint Photos: Contos Cocktails

Thursday, May 21, 2009

GM and UAW Reach Tentative Deal

The UAW and GM have reached a tentative agreement to cut costs and restructure payments to the healthcare fund, but a lot more needs to happen for the automaker to avoid bankruptcy.

Nick Bunkley of The New York Times reports:

The U.A.W. did not release details of the deal, which is subject to ratification by G.M. workers. The agreement is expected to be similar to one reached last month with Chrysler, which allowed that automaker to substitute equity for up to half of the $10 billion owed to its retiree health care fund. G.M. owes about twice that amount to the fund for its workers.

The deal is one of the government’s requirements for G.M. to win more loans but is not enough in itself to keep the carmaker from having to file for bankruptcy protection on June 1, the government’s deadline. More important, G.M. needs to persuade nearly all of the bondholders who hold more than $27 billion of its debt to swap their claims for stock in the restructured company. Most analysts expect the offer to fail.

Buick North: The Last Holdouts

One of the many memorable vehicles produced at Buick City. (Photo courtesy of papajim).

Last month, readers reviewed what's left of Flint's auto factories. Today's New York Times has a portrait of the "Last Holdouts" at Buick North.

Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley report:

All that is left is Flint North, which built more than 20 million of G.M.’s 3800-model V-6 engines until production ceased last August. Some workers are removing equipment and preparing to start building four-cylinder engines for the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze at a newer plant across town next year, while others still build torque converters, gears, pistons, shafts and other powertrain components.

The plant is surrounded by crumbling and empty buildings, and dead-end streets that once led into Buick City. It is a neighborhood of boarded-up stores and near-desolate streets, with the exception of the overflowing parking lots on Sundays at the Baptist churches along Industrial Avenue across from the plant.

The last 450 workers feel fortunate to have another factory to go to, having seen too many friends and relatives laid off over the years.

“General Motors has taken good care of me,” said Mike Stoica, 60, who started at G.M. fresh out of high school in 1967. “I’ve had a good life for not having a college education and doing something I love to do.”

That way of life is vanishing at G.M. plants across the United States, but no city has been affected like Flint. When Buick City was at its peak production in the mid-1980s, G.M. had 80,000 workers spread across the city. Now it is down to about 5,000, a number that could fall more in a bankruptcy.

“People talk about closing a plant,” said Bill Jordan, president of U.A.W. Local 599 and a 32-year G.M employee. “We closed a city here. Everything that any city had, we had here.”

Flint: Guantánamo North

President Obama plans to close Gitmo in Cuba, and Senator Carl Levin says relocation of the potential terrorists to Michigan might help the local economy. Why not Flint?

Josh Rogin at Congressional Quarterly reports:
"Most lawmakers view the prospect of moving prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to their districts as a negative proposition. But at least one Democratic senator is open to the idea as a potential economic boost to his struggling state.

"Carl Levin , chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that construction and staffing at a new maximum-security prison in Michigan could help his cash-starved state.

“'If the governor and the local officials are open to it, that’s something that should be considered,' said Levin, making the point that each state should make its own determination."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flint Postcards: Central Fire Station

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slow Inevitable Death

Ready for a heavy handed artistic metaphor for the carnage that is the American auto industry? Artist Jonathan Schipper is happy to oblige with this distressingly cool concept:

This sculpture is a machine that advances two full sized automobiles slowly into one another over a period of 6 days, simulating a head on automobile collision. Each car moves about three feet into the other. The movement is so slow as to be invisible.

It is almost impossible to watch a modern action film without at least one automobile wreck. Why do we find interest and excitement it new versions of the same event? Why are we not satisfied? Cars are extensions of our body and our ego. We buy or modify cars that reflect our personalities and egos. When we see an automobile destroyed, in a way we are looking at our own inevitable death. This moment is, because of its inherent speed, almost invisible. We have slowed the event via film and video but only from a camera's perspective. We never get to see the transformation of living breathing car too wreck in its entirety, in detail. This piece offers the viewer the ability to examine in three dimensions the collision of these cars. A moment that might take a fraction of a second in an actual collision will be expanded to take days.

Car wrecks are spectacular moments. This piece by changing one of the key variables removes and changes the nature of the event. What was life threatening is now rendered safe. What was supremely spectacular is now almost static. The wreck has been broken down to its Newtonian components. We are left to contemplate our own mortality our own Newtonian components.
Go here for videos.

If only the cars had engines and a full tank of gas so there was at least the possibility of an explosion, but liability issues probably trump art when it comes to lethal explosions in a museum.

Thanks to Michael G. for finding this item.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vic George Gets Bad News Twice

Flinn's Journal comments on the local car dealer who wasn't as lucky as Applegate Chevrolet:

"The area GM dealership which got the dreaded letter was Victor George Chevrolet in Lapeer. This was one day after Victor George Chrysler-Jeep got the dreaded letter in Grand Blanc Township. Victor George has been selling cars since 1926! You may remember when Victor George sold Oldsmobiles until GM killed that brand."

Summer of Love...Flint Style

jbing50 remembers an encounter with Flint's finest...

I lived in an apartment which at one time was the servant's quarters above the garage of the ivy covered brick house on the corner of Detroit and Stockdale. This was fall 1969 when I was a student at Flint Jr. College (now Mott).

One of my most vivid recollections of this time is having two cops pull their guns on me at this corner. This was, to say the least, a frightening experience, intensified by the general feeling amongst my contemporaries that the police were somewhat "on edge" at the time. If anyone remembers, they sported riot helmets as part of their standard uniform of the day.

As my roommate turned off of Detroit onto Stockdale, the cops flashed their lights to pull us over. Since we were right at our usual parking spot, we pulled up to the curb and both got out of the car. This turned out to be one of the dumbest moves of the century. FREEZE!!! We suddenly look and both cops are tucked behind open doors with guns drawn and aimed at us just like on TV. My roommate dropped the bag of groceries he was holding as his hands went up and he yelled "don't shoot".

The cops ended up being somewhat apologetic about the whole thing and strongly cautioned us to never hop out of a car like that when pulled over. They interpreted this as aggressive behavior, even from a couple of long-haired youngsters holding grocery bags.


This dude finds Flint depressing.

Whitey Morgan and the 78's

Country music...from Flint?

Cliff England at Saving Country Music writes:

"With the passing of Waylon Jennings, and so many country heroes, fans will be hard pressed to find some true outlaws nowadays, but I’ve come to find Michigan still has a few. Just head up I-75 and you can’t miss them. Once you hear the first track of Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels you’ll understand what I mean. Whitey Morgan and the 78’s hailing from the cold and bitter streets of Flint, Michigan recently released their first full length album. This isn’t your modern day pop-country ensemble. In fact they are far from that.

"Whitey Morgan, lead singer, is backed by an astounding group of musicians: Jeremy 'Leroy' Blitz and Benny James on guitar, as well Jeremy Mackinder on bass and Mike 'Pops' Popovich on the drums. Get these boys together and they are sure to bring out the inner honky-tonker in us all."

Genesee County's African-American Diaspora

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Genesee County population dropped to 428,790 in 2008 from 437,445 in 2006. That's not a big shock, but the racial disparity in the expatriates is unusual: "The county lost nearly 7 percent of its black community, but less than 1 percent of its white population between 2000 and 2008," reports Beata Mostafavi of The Flint Journal.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Long-Lasting Effects of Catholic School

Talk about the long-lasting impact of a Catholic education in Flint...I just noticed that on my long-running post that begs for money, I inadvertently asked readers for a "Papal donation" instead of a Paypal donation. I went in and changed it, but I wanted to assure everyone that any donations go straight to me for expenses, not the Vatican, which has a much more sophisticated fundraising apparatus. It's also a reminder that I need the divine intervention of a copy editor.

Applegate Survives G.M. Dealership Cuts

Applegate Chevrolet, the last G.M. dealership in the Flint city limits, is not on the list of 1,100 dealerships whose franchises will not be renewed next year. (Go here for the full list.)

Slick, a long-time reader and former resident of Bassett Place, provides an update from Applegate:

Just a little update from the old hometown. Yes, Applegate Chevrolet will remain in business. We did not receive one of the doomsday letters. Of course there were a few tense moments but that didn't really occur until the 24 hrs leading up to the announcement. We got word around noon Friday that we weren't getting a letter and that we needed to order some cars.

Applegate Chevrolet was started in 1928 by Clyde Applegate and was downtown near where the current City Hall is. The present owner Jim Applegate was born the same year his father started the dealership. In 1950 Clyde felt that the dealership needed to expand and began construction on the present site which was opened in 1952. Many of the local businessmen warned Clyde that he was taking a risky venture by moving so far out of town all the way down to Atherton Road and Saginaw Street. They felt he was too far away from the city.

We remain the only GM dealership in the city limits of Flint. Isn't it ironic that the birthplace of General Motors has only one dealership? The employees of the dealership for the most part felt confident that our performance and Mr. Applegate's integrity and straight forward way of doing business would sustain the storm and survive the cut.

Some felt that our location would be a hindrance to our longevity....perhaps it worked in our favor...who really's impossible to second guess or try to predict GM's thinking. Remaining in business is not only a victory for Mr. Applegate and his employees but also a victory for Flint. I feel that is the untold story. How strange would it be for Flint not to have a GM dealership?

I think all of my associates will agree that we are relieved and proud to be able to continue to serve the residents of Flint and surrounding areas with their vehicle needs in the vehicle city.

Let's Harken Back to a Time When Americans Bought Buicks and Moose Heads Adorned Corporate Offices

Although this looks like the study where Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, it's actually the old office of the Buick president and general manager. Not sure if the moose head was standard or if you had to really go out and shoot it.

I always feel like a slacker when I visit Gerry Godin's All Things Buick blog. I tend to go for the quick hits on a topic, hoping that readers can fill in the gaps and not point out too many of my errors. (Translation: I'm kind of lazy.) Gerry takes a more authoritative approach and covers things in depth. I spend way too much time at his site, often reading about factories that are only memories now.

Right now he has high quality, easily readable scans of an amazing book called The Factory Behind the Car: An Illustrated Story of the Immense Manufacturing Organization that Builds Buick Valve-in Head Motor Cars.

Clearly, Buick likes to do things big, even book titles. And if you don't think too much about how things have changed, it's a fun read.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Central High Reflections

Mookie reflects on the loss of Central High School:

I felt like I got punched in the gut when I read that Central was closing. As a part of the magnet program, I spent half my day in high school there. That's where my friends were and my favorite teachers. That's where we used to go exploring in the old wing after hours. But, aside from my personal memories, my mom went there, my grandma went there (in the '20s). It's a part of Flint's history and I'm afraid it's just going to become more urban decay.

Flint Postcards: Flint Golf Club

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Flint Postcards: Detroit Street

View Larger Map

Monday, May 11, 2009

Detroit Pistons in the News

Chuck Daly, who led the Detroit Pistons to two NBA titles and is often described as "the good guy behind the Bad Boys," died on Saturday.

And former Pistons star Dave Bing becomes the mayor of Detroit today.

Flint Postcards: Chevrolet Flint Assembly Division

UPDATE: Gerry Godin writes:

That's where my 66 Chevy was built. This is one of the rare buildings still standing (on Van Slyke Rd.) in Flint. The first Corvette (1953) was assembled here. The last Chevy passenger car built in flint at this location was June 24, 1970. It was a Monte Carlo. In the early eighties Buick built the full size Impala & Caprice for one year, along side the Buicks. Here's the link to my Chevy

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tigers Maul the Indians

Let's enjoy it while we can...Tigers in first place in the AL Central after a sweep of the Indians.

Farewell to Central High School

The Flint Central High School Alumni Association has scheduled a farewell gathering on the last day of school, June 12, 2009. Tours of Central, food concessions and more are being planned.

All Flint Central Alumni are invited to attend. Remember Spirit Week? Remember the great camaraderie of class spirit going into the game between Central and Northern? Remember the pride of being a Flint Central Indian and Phoenix? Cheerleaders, sports players, theatre members, chess club, debate team members and others, please come out to join us in this final gathering.

At the conclusion of this event we will gather all past and present members of the Flint Central A Cappella Choir on the front lawn of the school grounds to join hands and sing our beloved benediction, "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to our beloved school. The Choir members will be assembling at about 6:15 pm and plan to sing around 7:00 p.m.

One of the past A Cappella Choir directors from 1974 — 1977, Gregory Dennis, will be there to direct the group. If you are a past or present Flint Central A Cappella member please join us for this once in a lifetime event.

Gathering and tours will commence at 3:00pm and will conclude at 7:00pm in front of the school.

For more information or to help with this event please contact:
Martha Douglas at

Thanks to Tom Larson for passing this along.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Solution to a Flint Fantasy: Inflatable Buildings

The German architecture firm Raumlabor brings Spacebuster to NYC.

I know Flint has enough real worries without having to deal with hypothetical problems. But what happens if the city, in its zeal to downsize, overdoes it? Then, when the Flint economy finally blossoms, we'll be left with a housing shortage. (Let's not speculate on what will prompt Flint's economic miracle; I'm not that much of a visionary.) People from the southwest might flood Flint when their water supply dries up, along with their jobs. If that ever happens, inflatable buildings may be the answer.

A Daily Dose of Architecture has a nice overview of bulbous inflatable structures that bring back memories of John Travolta's 1976 made-for-TV classic The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. At least we have one of the potential problems of an economic boom solved.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tearing Down Flint on Fox Part II

Thanks to Randy Gearhart, again, for the video.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tearing Down Flint on Fox

Thanks to Randy Gearhart for passing this along.

Flint Postcards: Saginaw Street

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walling Wins Flint Mayoral Primary; Will Face Brenda Clack in General Election

Joe Lawlor of The Flint Journal reports:

"Dayne Walling won big in a six-way primary race to be Flint's next mayor.

"Walling got 44 percent of the vote, securing a spot on the August ballot.

"Walling will face Genesee County Commissioner Brenda Clack, who held off a late rally by former city administrator Darryl Buchanan for second place.

"Clack won 16.2 percent of the vote, beating Buchanan by 14 votes.

"Walling entered the UAW Local 651 hall just before 10 p.m. to thunderous applause from supporters. Flanked by his wife Carrie and sons Bennett and Emery, he said, 'I think we are on our way to a victory tonight.'

"He vowed to strengthen his campaign through the August general election.

"'We need to build a bigger and better coalition,' he said. "That's what I'll be doing every day."

A few miles away, Brenda Clack held her right hand over her heart as the final results came streaming in to show she eked out a primary victory by a mere 14 votes.

Flint Postcards: Howard Johnson's...Again

I hate to do this after the comment below about the first HoJo's postcard, but here's another glimpse of Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge.

Jack said...

I Spent my Honeymoon with my first wife there in 85 LOL. We didn't even last a year. God I hate Flint.

Monday, May 4, 2009

School Board Spending

Kristin Longley of The Flint Journal investigates how Genesee County school districts are spending money, and the results raise more than a few questions:
Most local school districts are slashing their budgets this year, but none more so than the Flint School District which is closing schools to deal with a projected $19-million deficit.

Just weeks after declaring a fiscal crisis in November, five school board members and the superintendent went on the five-day trip to Atlanta that cost more than $9,000 to attend the National Association of Black School Educators conference.

Flint school board President Vera Perry said members of the board travel to conferences out of state to gain insight on and meet with officials at urban districts similar to Flint. As for in-state expenses for board certification classes, Perry said those are extremely valuable.

"That's to improve the board," she said. "Those are educational classes."

She said she does not think five board members is too many to send to an out-of-state conference. The district also receives grant funding for some travel.

"You want the board to be as educated as possible," she said.

Flint Central Meets an Uncertain Future

Some very mixed messages are emerging about the fate of Central High School. It seems clear it will close in June. But now school officials are hinting that they'd like to reopen the school at some point...provided that money magically materializes to renovate it. Or perhaps they'd tear it down and rebuild a new school...once they find the money. That's a bit like me saying I plan to turn Flint into hugely successful artists colony, once I get funding to make my dream a reality. Meanwhile, a group seems to be organizing to get Central on the National Register of Historic Places. No mention whatsoever about selling the building to Powers.

What are the odds that Central will sit vacant for years to come, a lost opportunity in the heart of the cultural district?

Flintoid Blogs

Flint Expatriate Sarah Jane is blogging at seagardensandglass.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

G.M. Bankruptcy More Likely Now?

The Chrysler bankruptcy may make it a more appealing option for President Obama as he attempts to reform G.M., according to The New York Times:
No one thinks Mr. Obama is going to allow G.M. to be broken up, its assets sold or abandoned.

But if the Chrysler legal process unfolds as the White House hopes it will in coming weeks, the bankruptcy option may look increasingly attractive for G.M. as well, officials on Mr. Obama’s automotive task force said. Bankruptcy may also be the only way to force the kind of paring down that Chrysler, with a third of G.M.’s workers and half the number of plants, did not have to endure.

“The threat of bankruptcy is very important in the negotiations with the bondholders and the dealers and others,” said David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Without a clear and present danger to them, they won’t make a reasonable deal.”

Flint Postcards: Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flint School Closings: A Lament for the Loss of Coolidge Elementary

rward writes:

Ouch, the closing of Coolidge hurts. They had the coolest kindergarten room with an indoor slide, a 19th centuryish coat room and a class bathroom with a huge boy rabbit on the boy's door and a huge girl rabbit on the girl's door.

I loved going into the long, high ceiling hallways for tornado drills, sitting with my head bent between my legs — like that was going to make a difference.

The playground ended at the outside gym wall where we could pelt each other, firing-squad style, with snowballs. The lunch ladies were brutal.

In second grade we made a school wide time capsule and buried it under the front pine tree. I remember that I couldn't find anything to rhyme with the common pronunciation of my last name so my teacher had me write a poem using the less common pronunciation. For years later I wondered if future dignitaries would dig up my poem and wonder why one second grader was too lame to rhyme words with their own name.

The fifth grade teacher, Mr. Jorgenson, had a paddle named "The Brown Bomber" hanging from the front of his desk. It was rumored that Mr. Zellers, the principal, regularly paddled kids. The famous apex of his punishments being for the two students who broke into the school on the weekend, covered the gym floor with ketchup and mustard packets and rode the phys ed roller boards all over them. None of us had gym for two days during the clean up.

Gone now will be:
- the first grade room were Yvonne ate chalk and
paste and kicked the principal

- the doorless bathrooms where adventurous
second graders threw wet toilet paper wads to
stick on the ceiling

- the row of lockers where I was forced to share a
shelf with my sworn enemy, a Miami
Dolphin-loving, snot-bubble blowing kid

- the gym stage where the 1975 Halloween parade
was high jacked by 6th grade boys dressed as
Planet of the Apes

- the faculty talent show in which Mrs. Rausch,
with her gauchos and long hippie hair, sang a
wispy version of Bread's "If" that made all of
us third grade girls cry.

Those were the good old days.

The Coolidge School Fight Song

Oh Coolidge school we sing to thee
A place where every cougar longs to be
So come on students, teachers gather round
We're gonna have them make a ripping, roaring sound
We are the C O U G A R S
We are a happy bunch - why yes I guess
We are the same who put the A in FAME
always game for Coolidge School