Friday, April 30, 2010

Millennials Face an Uncertain Future

While you're worrying about Flint's future, take some time to fret over the fate of Generation Y, the more than 50 million teens and twentysomethings profiled by Christine Dugas in USA Today. I typically hate these sweeping stories that claim to sum up an entire generation, but some of the stats are pretty depressing.

Dugas reports:
No standard definition for Generation Y exists, but analysts generally classify anyone born from the 1980s to 2000 as members. Demographers also call them the Millennial Generation.

Their plight seems as much created by members' pre-recession personal finance habits as by the misfortune of coming of age as the recession took hold in December 2007:

•About 37% of 18- to 29-year-olds have been underemployed or out of work during the recession, the highest share among the age group in more than three decades, according to a Pew Research Center study released in February.

•This generation is the least likely of any to be covered by health insurance. Just 61% say they were covered by some form of a health plan, the Pew study said.

•Only 58% pay monthly bills on time, a National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) 2010 survey said.

•60% of workers 20 to 29 years old cashed out their 401(k) retirement plans — typically a big financial no-no because such a move squanders retirement assets and forces the recipient to pay a tax penalty — when they changed or lost jobs, an October study by Hewitt Associates said.

•Nearly 70% of Gen Y members are not building up a cash cushion, and 43% are amassing too much credit card debt, says a November MetLife poll.

On average, Gen Yers each have more than three credit cards, and 20% carry a balance of more than $10,000, according to Fidelity Investments.

Millennials are graduating from college with an average of $23,200 in student debt, according to the most recent data from the Project on Student Debt. That is a 24% increase from 2004.

Where's the Love? Part II

You may remember last week when an anonymous reader took objection to my fundraising efforts to finance a reporting trip to sunny Flint this summer. If not, I've posted the original complaint below, along with my response. Now Anonymous has chimed in again to elaborate. Here it is...
Just dropped back in to see how the telethon is going. You've raised about 10% of your goal, I see. Let me see if I can help you out a bit with that...

First, if it was so pointless to respond, then why did you bother to spend so much time on, well... a response? Not only that, you then posted my "pointless" comment on your front page in a new post. Ah, that's of no real consequence.

My implication that you are a tourist is clearly vindicated by your effort to raise money to come back to Flint in the first place. But, that implication of "tourism" doesn't matter either.

Second, I've spent time around here. Long nostalgic diatribes about the past does not make for socially relevant material for the future. History is nice but, others before you have done much better work. You better do some reading yourself, my friend. I'm sorry if I offended you and your sycophantic readership who basks in the nostalgic glory of good old "Flinttown." But, the real populous of Flint cares very little about you, your readers, and your work. Not to be mean, just honest.

Third, since we are admonishing each other for assumptions... don't assume that I need to wake up and examine the direction of media. As you think a blog, any blog, is new (or news) media? You think 2007 is ancient in blog terms? I wrote a widely read blog, from Flint, eight years before you and it was essentially irrelevant despite many achievements, being a very early adopter, despite being a well respected and connected blogger, and despite millions of visitors. It's you that does not understand the direction of written online media, not me.

If you understood the demise of print media, you'd have never cited the Flint Journal as an example of the untimely demise of print journalism. They mismanaged themselves at every turn. Imagine a company that spends 30 million dollars on a printing facility, infrastructure, a building, etc... as the entire print world is imploding? Wow. Yeah, those reporters should be very angry. Don't think I blame writers... they just write. No matter, no one is reading any newspaper. Period. If you think what you are doing here is 1). Journalism. 2). Potentially profitable. and 3). Innovative... you're the one who should examine the world of the written journalistic word. Not me.

Which brings me to the fourth point, $5,000.00 for six months is more than some families earn here in Flint. That is, to be able to work a minimum wage job, for the minimum amount of hours, for no benefits, etc... How does your great journalistic mind deserve even $5.00 to examine a culture where the average income is many thousands less than the nationally acknowledged level of poverty? That isn't just exploitative, it's gosh and rude. Besides, if you work, why beg for a dime? Foot the bill for yourself, do your work, write your... whatever it is... and shut up about needing money! In fact, what is this great work you've conceived of? I see no synopsis, no treatment, not even a half-baked proposal. Last I checked, a proposition for investors needed at least an explanation of how the funds will be utilized.

Finally, I respect and admire your Flint and family heritage. I admit my mistake in assuming that you were a suburb kid (like others) who look to Flint to exploit it, but do no real good for the thousands and thousands suffering here, except only to promote themselves.

While you may not be exploiting it, you will not do any real good either... Which is exactly why anyone who either gives money to you or, will give money to you is clearly very, very stupid.

Ex-pats are as such: expat (n) - exile, expatriate: a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country. You gave up your Flint citizenship.... don't bother coming back, we still don't need you.

Um, apology accepted. I guess.

I know I probably shouldn't, but I'm starting to like Anonymous. His or her comment got me wondering just where my readers are coming from since the blog was originally intended primarily for former Flintoids — hence the name — who far outnumber current Flint residents. So I did a little checking and found that of the 97,304 unique visitors to Flint Expatriates since December 2007, the biggest percentage (9.05 %) actually come from dear old Flint. Next is Grand Blanc (2.9%), followed by Chicago (2.81%). Alas, still just one lone visitor from the poetically named
Freiburg Im Breisgau in Germany (0.0%)

If you're interested, here's the original post from April 19:

My younger friends warned me about the dangers of asking people to pay even a small amount for something they're used to getting for free on the internet. But I guess I didn't expect this when I launched the Flint Reporting Project:

Let me get this straight. You live and presumably work(ed) in SF. You come back here, from time to time, to visit the "folks," likely in the suburbs... Linden, Fenton perhaps.... You are a print journalist desperate to get anything you write to stick. You figure with all of the fires and negative attention, it's about time you "went back into the field."

You now make this dramatic and gigantic announcement about this "mission" and have the audacity to beg for money to finance this adventure of yours?

Fine, to each his own, but remember this:

Flint is not a walk-thru zoo for the contemplation of the enlightened. To raise money for this endeavor is arrogant and selfish. There is real suffering here, not career anxiety. There is real pain here, not just jealousy of people who can land paying gigs. There is real misery here, not the kind that comes from fretting over your Latte at Caffe Trieste.

Do us a favor and stay out there in SF. Flint doesn't need you. Your latte does.

I'm sensing that anonymous won't be making a donation. Here's my response:

Anonymous, I sense it’s really pointless to respond to your comment. You clearly haven’t read very much of Flint Expatriates or my other work on Flint. (The blog started in October 2007, well before the recent fires.) But I’ll give this a shot anyway.

My grandparents moved to Flint around 1925 when they were in their early twenties and lived there the rest of their lives, most of the time on Illinois Avenue. My mom grew up in Flint and spent most of her life there. I lived in Flint until I was about 22. No offense to the good citizens of Linden, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never knowingly been there. I’ve been to Fenton about five times in my life, once for a St. Mary’s football game against St. John Fenton. So forgive me if I’m a little offended when you imply that I’m some sort of tourist. Having lived through a lot of it, I know all about the misery in Flint.

While there’s no doubt I’d love to be writing for Vanity Fair at $4/word, I don’t think I have what you describe as “career anxiety.” I recently wrote about Flint for Slate and The New York Times, so I feel like I’m doing okay as far as that goes. Besides, a money losing reporting trip to Flint is not exactly the way to bolster your journalism career. By the way, I have a full time job, in addition to freelancing. And I write this blog in my spare time. So, again, I’m a little offended at the implication that I’m some sort of loafer.

You should take a look at the journalism world before you try to denigrate reporters for trying to figure out alternative ways to cover topics they care about. The future of journalism does not appear to be the old model of media companies spending lavishly to cover the news and paying for it with display advertising. Just ask some of the Flint Journal reporters how well this model is working. And $5,000 for six months of work seems pretty reasonable. Your implication that I’m getting rich while going on an “adventure” is pretty ridiculous.

By the way, I prefer Cafe Roma but I don’t get to North Beach much.

Flint Fires Continue

Vacant homes are still burning in Flint, especially on the east side. Arson is suspected. Sarah A. Miller of The Flint Journal shot some powerful photos of a blaze on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Iowa on Thursday evening. You can see the rest of Miller's photos here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flint Photos: Haskell Merry-Go-Round

If you were a Civic Park kid, you probably spent some time on this merry-go-round. I'd forgotten how it dipped toward the ground if you got too much weight on one side. This is a Civic Park School end of the year party back in the days when liability issues weren't such a big concern. The great photo is courtesy of Flint Expatriate John Mucha.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Red Wings Beat Phoenix

Red Wings up 4-1 after two periods.

Red Wings up 6-1 in the third period.

Now it's over. Bring on the San Jose Sharks.

Flint Dreams

The Flint of your dreams can be a strange place. An anonymous reader reveals:
I used to have a recurrent nightmare about having to walk home (Miller & Ballenger area) down Fleming, from Pierson & Fleming. Other variations head me into the setting sun, orange sky trying to pierce the purple & gray clouds as I struggled for each step close to Clio road. I'd wake up shaking from the exertion. Something intense about that area.

UM-Flint Considers the Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre seen from the rubble of the old Vogue store. (Photo courtesy of Grumkin)

Will UM-Flint rescue the Capitol Theatre?
Beta Mostafavi of The Flint Journal reports:
It’s possible Flint college students could someday rehearse, perform and study music in one of the city’s most treasured landmarks.

And the historic Capitol Theatre could be transformed into a music school with a recital hall, classrooms and elaborately ornate concert space, according to a feasibility study done for the University of Michigan-Flint.

But restoring the one-time entertainment hot spot famous for its Italian Renaissance architecture would have a hefty price tag of almost $25 million.

“I see this project as an attractive one that needs to be weighed against other institutional priorities,” UM-Flint’s dean of the college of arts and sciences, DJ Trela, said about moving the university’s music school into the 30,000-square-foot vintage building, which has been in the midst of restoration efforts for years.
Go here for some Capitol memories.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Selling Cars: 1960 Buick LeSabre Convertible (with police escort)

Memories of Georgia Engel and The Musical Tent in Clio

Flint Expatriate Kevin King remembers the Musical Tent in Clio, where many Flintoids got to work with successful actors:
I was in many productions there (as a child actor) back in 1966. It was the most memorable summer of my life.

We would work in the "rehearsal hall" all day long and on "dark days" would work into the evening too. I remember always having to put on Off because the mosquitoes were so bad.

When we did "The King and I," they ran out of makeup that they used to make us look darker, so they melted chocolate bars from the concession stand and mixed it with something and smeared it all over us (as we were using full body makeup). We all went on stage smelling like a chocolate factory.

I remember working with Georgia Engel that year. She was only 18 years old at the time. (Later she was on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.)

I'm still in the entertainment industry. I'm a business manager in Hollywood for celebrity clients. Have been gone from Flint for over 30 years.

I grew up in the Civic Park area and took my kids back there a few years ago to visit. Boy - was that depressing. Most of the block I grew up on on Chevrolet Ave is really in bad shape and many houses have actually disappeared altogether.

But it's great to have the memories. Thanks for your work in keeping this site going!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flint Artifacts: Central High School Belt Buckle

Friday, April 23, 2010

Long Term Memories

Flint Expatriate Rich Frost remembers growing up at 3502 N. Term Street:
Our neighbors to the south — The Goin family — had something like six or seven kids. I remember the father, Willie, as one gruff son-of-a-bitch – but he created something that I attracted the kids from all over the neighborhood loved him for — he built a merry-go-round in his backyard as a companion piece to their swing set. He planted an axle from a car in the ground and bolted two-by-four’s on the wheel hub assembly. Who knows how many miles that wheel hub assembly had on it before it was placed in the ground — but I’m sure all of the kids in the neighborhood must have put a few cross-country miles on it just spinning around.
Read the rest here.

The Flint of Your Dreams

Stay Positive asks readers to get dreamy:
How about a thread about the Flint based dreams of Flint Expatriates?

While I have had a few recurrent nightmares about the Flint area, I had one very vivid and positive one. But just once.

There was a Flint resurgence that rivaled the early 20th Century. There was a complete rebuilding of the city and unbelievable prosperity.

I know. It was a dream.

But you could share your Flint nightmares, too. Where you were, what time of day. Had you ever been there in that part of town before your dream?

Dan Kildee Pushes for New Ways to Fight Blight

Flint homes, like this one in Carriage Town, are often neglected by out-of-state owners.

The Genesee County Land Bank uses the tax foreclosure process to seize abandoned and derelict Flint properties. Now Dan Kildee is looking for new ways to deal with blighted and vacant houses.

Kristen Longley of The Flint Journal reports:
Real estate speculators beware — if you don’t take care of your property, a move is on to come after your wallet.

Inspired by the city of Flint’s blighted and vacant housing crisis, former county Treasurer Daniel T. Kildee is pushing for reform that would allow government agencies to sue property owners who don’t take care of their homes.

Kildee said a money judgment through the court system would allow agencies, such as the Genesee County Land Bank, to recoup the cost of fixing up and maintaining the properties it takes on through the foreclosure process. He plans to take the matter up with local lawmakers over the next several months as part of his “Michigan agenda” in his new position as head of the Center for Community Progress, a national land use nonprofit supported by the Ford and Charles Stewart Mott foundations.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

G.M. Invests in Detroit

CNN's Steve Hargreaves reports:
General Motors' announcement Wednesday that it's investing $120 million in a Detroit auto plant is an encouraging sign for many in this hard hit city.

"Investment of that amount means long-term job security," said Tom Summers, vice president at union Local 22, which represents workers at the plant that straddles the Detroit-Hamtramck border. "And it shows that Michigan is still a centerpiece of manufacturing."

North Dakota Meet Flint

If only Flint, a shrinking city with too much housing and not enough jobs, could somehow combine forces with North Dakota.

Monica Davey of The New York Times reports:
North Dakota has a novel problem: plenty of jobs, but nowhere to put the people who hold them.

The same forces that have resulted in more homelessness elsewhere — unemployment, foreclosure, economic misery — have pushed laid off workers from California, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming to abundant jobs here, especially in the booming oil fields.

But in this city rising from the long empty stretches of North Dakota, hundreds are sleeping in their cars or living in motel rooms, pup tents and tiny campers meant for weekend getaways in warmer climes. They are staying on cots in offices and in sleeping bags in the concrete basements of people they barely know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Paramount Potato Chips: Question and Answer

A reader has a question about Paramount Potato Chips. Can anyone help him out?
I lived in Flint on Melbourne Ave. in the 60’s and went to Civic Park Elementary and Scott Elementary school. I live also on Dort Hwy. at Lippincott Ave. in a trailer park just west of the Paramount Potato Chip factory. I was looking to find out of Paramount was still in business. Any info on Paramount would be appreciated.

Flint Reporting Project Update

The Flint Reporting Project has taken in $130 in donations since the fundraising campaign began last week. Thanks to Joe, Lori, Anne and Keith for the generous donations. There's still a long way to go to hit the $5,000 goal by July 1, but it's not a bad start, especially when you compare it to the fundraising efforts of Senator John Ensign. The Nevada politician's campaign raised just $50 from a single contributor in the first quarter of this year, according to Federal Election Commission reports. That means Flint Expatriates is raising more money than a U.S. senator!

Okay, this is a little unfair given that Ensign has a few problems that might be constraining his ability to raise money. TPM reports:
The Justice Department is currently investigating the aftermath of Ensign's affair with the wife of a top aide, to determine whether the senator broke lobbying rules or other laws in trying to set up the aide, Doug Hampton, with a lobbying job, and find clients for him. A payment of almost $100,000 from Ensign's parents to the Hamptons is also reportedly a focus of the inquiry.
I'm not trying to pick on Sen. Ensign, but he may help me come up with a new fundraising slogan. Originally, my stated goal was to generate "more profits than G.M. and AutoWorld combined." Given G.M.'s encouraging performance of late, that goal is probably out of reach. Nick Bunkley of The New York Times reports:

Meanwhile, General Motors said it had finished repaying the $8.2 billion — with interest — it owed the American and Canadian governments, and it introduced television commercials telling consumers the money had been paid back.

“The government and the taxpayers made a terrific investment and it’s going to pay off big time,” G.M.’s chief executive, Edward E. Whitacre Jr., said during a visit to an assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan., where he announced the repayment in front of an American flag.

Mr. Whitacre was traveling to Washington for the first time as G.M.’s chief executive later Wednesday, and he planned to meet with members of Congress and the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, among others. (A G.M. spokesman, Tom Wilkinson, said Mr. Whitacre had chartered a plane at his own expense because of a tight travel schedule.)

“We are encouraged that G.M. has repaid its debt well ahead of schedule and confident that the company is on a strong path to viability,” Mr. Geithner said in a statement. “This continued progress is a positive sign for our auto investment — not only more funds recovered for the taxpayer but also countless jobs saved and the successful stabilization of a vital industry for our country.”

Donate to the Flint Reporting Project and help Flint Expatriates cover the Vehicle City

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flint Portraits: Tom Pohrt

Tom Pohrt, going shirtless in the foreground, in the backyard of 1407 W. Paterson long before his days writing children's books.

Artist and author Tom Pohrt grew up on W. Paterson Street in Flint, a few blocks away from Haskell Community Center. As these photos illustrate, there was no shortage of kids in the neighborhood in the fifties. But like the rest of Flint, Paterson Street went through a lot of changes over the years. Tom once told me a story about talking a neighborhood kid out of attempting to rob the nearby Genesee Bank on Welch Blvd. in the seventies to pay off a debt. This wasn’t just idle speculation; the guy had a gun in a paper bag and was headed for the bank when Tom intercepted him.

Here's a short biography detailing Tom's career:

A self-taught artist whose love of animals is evident in his artwork, Pohrt has been interested in writing and drawing ever since he was a little boy. As he commented on, "When I look back, my grade school years could have been the most important time; I began developing my creative skills, though now one encouraged me to do so, and I was too young to know better."

In Coyote Goes Walking Pohrt retells four Native American trickster tales, bringing his animal characters to life in what a Publishers Weekly contributor described as "warm, earth-toned watercolors" that contain a "subtle humor." Described by a Publishers Weekly contributor as "one off-beat destination that's definitely worth a visit," Pohrt's quirky picture book Having a Wonderful Time finds a girl and a talking cat on a vacation where unexpected animal-sightings abound. The reviewer had special praise for Pohrt's "confidently deadpan" text with its "dry, understated humor," but also commended the author's characteristic detailed pen and-ink drawings.

Praising Pohrt's contribution to John Frank's The Tomb of the Boy King: A True Story in Verse, School Library Journal contributor Barbara Buckley noted that "Pohrt's informative pen-and-watercolor paintings … will be a real draw" for young readers. Additional praise was accorded Pohrt's illustrations for Howard Norman's Trickster and the Fainting Birds, a Publishers Weekly reviewer praising the artist's renderings of the book's animal characters as "meticulously executed" and "precise, delicate" pen drawings.

Tom (middle) with his brothers Dick (left) and Karl (right) near the corner of W. Paterson and Lloyd Streets.

View Larger Map

Hot tubbing Flint style in the fifties. Tom is on the right.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flint Photos: Flint Institute of Arts and Longway Planetarium

Donate to the Flint Reporting Project

How Do You Spell Recall?

Flint Board of Education member David Davenport was thwarted by poor spelling and vague language on his first two attempts to recall Mayor Dayne Walling. But earlier this month the Genesee County Election Commission finally approved his recall petition.

Kristen Longley of The Flint Journal reports:
Davenport, who also is the target of a recall attempt, now has 180 days to get more than 8,000 signatures, he said.

"If I have to knock on every door myself, I'm going to get it done," he said.

Donate to the Flint Reporting Project

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flint Artifacts: Purple Cow Restaurant Glass

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flint Photos: View from the Durant

Two shots of downtown Flint taken from the roof of the Durant Hotel in August 2009 courtesy of Grumkin.

A Bar By Any Other Name...

Okay, this may just be a fellow Flint Expatriate messing with me, but does anyone remember a bar on Dort Highway called...The Toilet?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Shrine to Flint Culture

Shawn Chittle, a Flint Expatriate now living in New York, has created an amazing new blog called Flint History. It's filled with Vehicle City memorabilia displayed with museum-like attention to detail. He also features great video clips and oddities like our favorite writer and rivetehead Ben Hamper's Chevy Truck & Bus I.D. badge. The site is nothing less than a shrine to Flint fashion, culture, and lore.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

UM-Flint Growing Fast

Andrew Fergerson of The Michigan Times reports that UM-Flint is the fastest growing public university in the state:
Over the last few years, the campus enrollment has jumped significantly compared to other schools. In 2007, UM-Flint saw a 5.45 percent increase in students. In 2008, there was a 5.48 percent jump and 2009 had a 7.07 percent rise.

Flint Photos: Balkan Bakery

For more Flint Expats posts and comments on Balkan Bakery go here and here.

What Do Flint and Grand Rapids Have in Common?

Why can't Flint get its act together? The budget deficits, the bad streets, the talk of increased taxes and, of course, the layoffs really make the place look bad compared to other cities. Why can't Flint be more like, say, Grand Rapids? I mean there's a city that knows how to live within its means without begging for cash from the state and federal government! With hard work and thrift, Grand Rapids has managed to...oh, wait. Never mind.

Jim Harger of The Grand Rapids Press reports:
Faced with yet another year of budget cutting, the City Commission vowed Tuesday to renew efforts to pry more money out of Lansing.

But as City Manager Greg Sundstrom laid out his latest budget request, no commissioner offered a solution to the pension and health-care costs that are expected to continue rising in the future.

"This remains a fundamental structural problem that we simply have to find a way to get around," Mayor George Heartwell said.

Sundstrom told commissioners the budget he is proposing for the fiscal year starting July 1 assumes voters will approve a city income tax increase May 4 that will raise $7.5 million.

The spending plan also assumes commissioners will create a street lighting fee, reduce the personal income tax exemption from $750 to $600, and tighten enforcement of overdue parking tickets.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flint Portraits: Paul A. Toth

Flint Expatriate Paul A. Toth has a new work of fiction coming out soon called Airplane Novel. You can read the first chapter here. If you can't wait for the entire book, you have plenty of other options. Check out Paul's other novels Fishnet, Fizz, and Finale, described as a "whipsmart coming-of-age story" by Time-Out Chicago.

Paul, who now lives in Florida, has also been published in dozens of literary journals. Here's an excerpt from a story called Psychologically Ultimate Seashore in the Barcelona Review:
Whenever Janet arrived at the mall, the early morning walkers, senior citizens all, had already begun their march. It would take them round to Crowley's, west to Sears, north to the cineplex and back home to JC Penny's. They were proud as Marines and arrived every morning to follow doctors' orders, walking in the heat in winter and the air conditioning in summer. They moved fiercely, leaning, mustering gravity in their struggle. There was a mania in their stalk, a clutching and a frenzy. Meanwhile, percolating with nervousness, Janet would open the gate with a jerk of her hand, sending it upwards in shivering rattles as the Nikes and Reeboks clip-clopped behind her. She would pull the gate down, head to the receiving room in back and switch on the lights. Then the retail sun would rise: There was light.

Say yah to da U.P., dude!

Flint Expatriate Joe "The Quilter" Cunningham passed along this intriguing map, perfect for anyone interested in both sourdough bread and pasties. Or gay bars and snowmobiling. Or the Golden Gate Bridge and the Mackinac Bridge. Or cable cars and hockey. Or Golden Gate Park and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Okay, I'll stop now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Flint Photos: Halo Burger

Thanks to Randy Gearhart for the photo.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Turning Vacant Houses Inside Out

Instead of burning houses, why not simply turn them inside out? It's the sort of thing the late, great artist Gordon Matta-Clark might have tried. And it happened last year in Cleveland, where artist Martin Papcun, "along with construction partners American Tank Fabricating and Affordable Demolition & Hauling Inc., sliced into the walls of a house slated to be demolished and turned the walls inside out to reveal the interior."

Help Support Flint Expatriates

Donate to Flint Expatriates

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flint T-Shirts

Flint Expatriates has official t-shirts, thanks to artist extraordinaire Jessica Lynch at Slow Loris Designs.

They feature the infamous Genesee Towers, the Mott Foundation Building, the historic Vehicle City arch, the Citizens Bank Weather Ball, and my Grandma McFarlane's Buick Electra 225 all lovingly rendered on a slate gray American Apparel shirt in deep blue ink. There are also extra small sizes available in blue ink on white shirts. The original art for the shirt is hand drawn by Jessica.

Click here to be redirected to the Slow Loris homepage. Once you are there, just click on the "For the Love of Flint" shirt and complete your order.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flint Gets Grant to Rehire Firefighters

A press release from the office of Dale Kildee:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) announced that he has successfully helped the City of Flint secure a $6.766 million grant from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program. It is expected that this will allow the city to rehire 39 firefighters. Earlier this year, Congressman Kildee wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the grant, requesting that the grant be awarded to the City. And at the Congressman’s urging, Dr. Edward Montgomery, the White House Auto Communities Director, also urged FEMA to award the grant to the City. This grant was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which passed the House of Representatives on February 13, 2009 with Congressman Kildee’s strong support.

“I am extremely pleased that I was able to help secure this extremely important funding for the city of Flint. This grant is expected to allow the city to rehire 39 firefighters, putting people back to work while helping keep us safe,” said Congressman Kildee. “Firefighters’ honorable service and willingness to put themselves in harm’s way protects our homes, communities and families on a daily basis. This grant is extremely good news for Flint and I am proud that I was able to bring these funds to our community.”

The SAFER grant can be used for up to 100 percent of a firefighter’s salary for up to two years.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Time to Call the Bonds Squad?

Are bonds the temporary answer to Flint's budget woes?

Flint Fires: More Arson Cases

Laura Angus of The Flint Journal reports:
An occupied home was firebombed last night at 10:18 p.m. at Iowa and Oklahoma avenues.

Flint fire Battalion Chief Theresa Root said the home was 60 percent engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived. No one was injured in the blaze, but the homeowner lost everything, she said.

Someone likely threw a glass bottle filled with gasoline or another accelerant with a lit wick into the home, starting the blaze, said Root.

Firefighters battled three other vacant structure fires last night, she said.

Selling Cars: 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport Advertisement

Vote for Mott Park

The Mott Park neighborhood needs your vote to win a $50,000 grant for playground equipment. Go here to vote.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thanks for Nothing

It's sure good to know you can always count on your neighbors in a moment of desperate need. Unless, of course, those neighbors happen to be Burton, Clio, Davison and Grand Blanc.

Laura Angus of The Flint Journal reports:
Burton’s fire chief to Flint: “We’re not responding.”

In the midst of a rash suspected arsons, the layoff of 23 Flint firefighters and the shuttering of two of the city’s five fire stations last week, Burton and other fire departments around Genesee County are telling Flint that it is on its own.

“I can’t solve the city’s problems,” said Burton Fire Chief Doug Halstead. “I have taxpayers in Burton who are my first priority. Those taxpayers are the ones that I will take care of.”

Clio and Davison have already told the city it can’t rely on them for mutual fire aid and the Grand Blanc Fire Commission is expected to take up the question this month.

When Flint sent out a plea for fire help early Thursday, Burton and Grand Blanc were not among the seven fire departments that sent firefighters into the city.
With friends like these...

Flint Fires Map

View Flint Fires in a larger map

Thanks to Steve for creating this informative map that captures the scope of the Flint fire crisis.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Expatriate Poetry

Check out Flint Expatriate Tim Lane's poem about basketball, Jimmy Cagney, and longing for spring.


An earlier post back by popular demand...

Remember that Flintoid song set to the music of
Miss You by the Rolling Stones? Here it is, courtesy of YouTube. Warning: If you're a big Mick Jagger fan, you may find this offensive. If you're from Flint, you may find it hilarious.

Flint Fires: Wellington Street

Tara Sifferman, a Flint resident, took several shots of a Thursday morning fire at 211 W. Wellington. The fire destroyed two houses and damaged a third. Go here to see Sifferman's photos in The Flint Journal. And there were more fires Friday night.

Friday, April 2, 2010

America's Toughest Job?

Brenda Clack and Dayne Walling looking carefree on the campaign trail last June. (Photos by Gordon Young)

When I was writing about the Flint mayor's race last summer for Slate, I was impressed that two rational, well-adjusted candidates — Dayne Walling and Brenda Clack — were fighting so hard for a job that seemed so thankless.

“The winner of this city's Aug. 4 special mayoral election will be expected to solve problems caused by complex global economic forces that he or she is powerless to control, while also mastering the mundane yet vexing task of running a weary city in need of jobs and revenue,” I wrote. “Hey, I got a pothole on my block, and the garbage truck missed my house yesterday. And while you're at it, could you please do something about deindustrialization?

Less than a year into office, Dayne Walling is discovering that the honeymoon is very short for Flint mayors. He was immediately criticized for two high-profile appointments to his administration. A Flint school board member launched a quixotic recall effort against him. Then he was forced to lay off police and firefighters to help erase a massive budget deficit he inherited after efforts to renegotiate union contracts stalled. The layoffs happened to coincide with a series of fires in abandoned houses and buildings. Arson is suspected, and Walling said the fires had a “perverted political purpose.” Awkwardly, Walling has had to request special police protection at his home after he received anonymous threats. Oh, he also had to reduce garbage pickup, causing residents to fret about rats.

Of course, let’s not forget about Flint’s seemingly never ending unemployment problems and shrinking tax base.

Just to make life interesting, Walling plans to run for re-election in 2011, and he may face a familiar opponent. Former Mayor Don Williamson, who resigned in the face of a recall election, is hinting at a possible return to politics.

Kristen Longley of The Flint Journal reports:

But Williamson said he’s recently received “a couple thousand phone calls — or more” from supporters who say they’d like to see him go for it.

He said he’s recovered from the health issues that prompted his resignation from the mayor’s office, and he feels “in perfect shape.”

“Somebody has to save the city of Flint,” Williamson said. “The people are calling me.”

More than 2,000 calls? Really? That’s about 10 percent of the people who voted in the last mayor's race. Let’s see, Walling was elected in early August, so if the calls of support for Williamson started immediately, that means about 9 calls a day, every day, until now. No wonder the former mayor is in such good shape; he’s spending a lot of time running to the phone.

And Walling is spending all his time trying to run the city. No one said it would be easy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Madness for Car Dealers

March was a great month for automakers.

Nick Bunkley of The New York Times reports:

Nearly all automakers reported increases for March, and several analysts projected that total sales for the industry surged about 30 percent from a year ago.

The Ford Motor Company said its sales rose 40 percent. Ford’s sales rose 36 percent in the first quarter over all.

General Motors said sales of the four brands that it would continue to operate increased 43 percent and that its total sales rose 21 percent. Buick sales jumped 76 percent.

Flint Fires: More Houses Torched

Another day, another batch of new fires in Flint.

Laura Angus of The Flint Journal reports:
Fire damaged or destroyed eight homes in a rash of fires this morning, continuing a rash of blazes in the city after 23 firefighters were laid off last week.

Firefighters were dispatched to five fire calls in three hours, starting at 1:16 a.m. at 211 W. Wellington, Battalion Chief Andy Graves said. Four of the five calls involved fires that began in abandoned buildings.