Political Cartoon August 2, 2010

mayorslist

With the Primary election on Tuesday, the Little Mayors are back. They are making a list and checking it twice.

Now Where Did I Put That Darn Iguana? (1 Update)

June 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Humor, News

South-Side Ypsilanti resident and YpsiNews.com managing editor Steve Pierce sent an interesting inquiry via email today:

If you lost an iguana (we think that is what it is) I may know where it is.  Give me a brief description of what it looks like and where you last had it.  ~Steve

Steve can be contacted at Steve@YpsiNews.com

If the AWOL iguana is not claimed, perhaps there is a new belt or a pair of boots in Mr. Pierce’s future.

iguana

UPDATE:

June 22, 2010 @ 18:15

Approximately 20 responses were received regarding the little lost lizard.  This impressed Steve Pierce because as he put it, “You know, when you are the guy that wrote the (April Fools Day) stories about crocodiles in Riverside Park and oil discovered at Water Street… well, it is fair that some were skeptical about a report of a lost iguana.”  (http://ypsinews.com/index.php/200804-crocodile-spotted-in-riverside-park)

According to Pierce, the iguana’s owner has been found.  The owner was able to ID “Marissa” from pictures.  Marissa has been missing since May 28, 2010 and began her journey in the Normal Park area.  To make her way to Ypsilanti’s south side neighborhood, she would’ve had to cross busy Michigan Avenue.  Well done, Marissa!

Although the iguana’s owner has been found, the iguana herself has eluded capture so far.  Apparently it’s not easy to track a green iguana in a green tree.

YpsiNews.com does not anticipate CNN trucks lining the streets and doubts Nancy Grace will be reporting from Ypsilanti.  However, a small volunteer watch has been formed to locate Marissa.  YpsiNews.com will keep you posted on the Great Ypsilanti Iguana Hunt.

If you happen to spot “Marissa”, please contact YpsiNews.com and be informed that Marissa likes cream cheese.

It Takes A Town To Make A Video – How Was I To Know?

June 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Humor, News, Video

This is the story of  the making of a music video.  Before reporting how it was made, YpsiNews.com is proud to report where it was made – In Ypsilanti, Michigan.  Ypsilantian Ken MacGregor is a strong proponent of supporting local businesses.  With this music video he is trying to do his part to bring national, perhaps even global, attention to our city as a place of “enormous creative potential.”

It started with an idea for a song, but since MacGregor, the man with the idea, couldn’t write  music, play music, or even sing – he needed help.  He found it in Adam Dahl: singer, songwriter, guitarist. Together, they hashed out the lyrics, and within an hour had completed “How Was I To Know?” They played the song for friends and family with positive response.  Dahl & MacGregor both got the song stuck in their heads and figured that was a good sign.  Adam commented, half-joking, “We should make a music video!”  Ken responded, “You know… I know people who do that.”

MacGregor sent out emails and used his connections with local Ypsilanti talent to set things in motion.  He said, “I could see it in my head, and once I could do that, I knew I could make it happen in the real world…or at least on camera.”  Ken contacted videographer Scott Hatkow, who agreed to work pro bono saying, “I’ve always wanted to do a music video.”  MacGregor also called upon Kelly Jean Passage, the female lead in a zombie horror / comedy he’ll be  shooting this summer.  Passage loved the song and was enthusiastic about being in the video.  Matthew Fulton,  a buddy from high school, now a Kung Fu instructor happily agreed to choreograph the fight scenes.  A recording session was scheduled, filming locations were confirmed and they were ready to go.

Kelly Jean Passage had never studied martial arts, a key element of the video.  After a month of rehearsing fight choreography, Matthew Fulton had her looking like a mighty warrior, very convincing on camera as a competent Kung Fu practitioner.  Matthew also provided the armor used in the video and appeared as an extra.  The first day of shooting was devoted entirely to the fight scene, and was shot over five hours on a day with intermittent rain showers. They had to stop taping often to run into the garage out of the rain.  Shooting would resume when there was a break in the clouds.  MacGregor ended up ill after shooting scenes where he repeatedly had to fall  on the wet grass.  His enthusiasm still evident he remarked, “It was totally worth it. We got some great footage!”

The gym scene was shot at Ypsi Studio, a small fitness and wellness center in Ypsilanti on Michigan Avenue.  Julia Collins, the owner, donated the use of the space and agreed to fill in as an extra.  MacGregor also called in Dave Rahbari at the last minute as an extra-extra-extra playing three different parts.   The final location was Haab’s Restaurant, an Ypsilanti landmark.  There, the production was aided by a very helpful staff, including the bartender who made the actors fake cocktails to drink.

The video went up on YouTube on June 1, and is  already closing in on  1,000 hits.  YouTube has begun putting ads on the video, which can be assumed means  they think it’s doing pretty well.  It’s definitely a positive statement about the local talent in Ypsilanti.

WATCH VIDEO:  How Was I To Know?

Just In At The Ypsilanti District Library

June 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Humor

I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Amazing Tales of Adulthood

barry1By Dave Barry     New York:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010
The popular humorist tackles the rocky challenges of adulthood, from technology and the battle of the sexes to parenting and unmentionable medical procedures.
 
Contact Ypsilanti District Library to check availability:
Whittaker Road: (734) 482-4110 
Michigan Avenue: (734) 482-4110
Superior: (734) 482-3747 

MSU to buy EMU in hostile takeover bid

April 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Humor, News

msu-emu

(April 1, 2010) YpsiNews.com has learned that lawyers from Michigan State University are in Ypsilanti this week to finalize the agreement to purchase Eastern Michigan University for $24 million. While all eyes are focused on Indianapolis and the MSU Spartans return to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, lawyers from the high powered Lansing law firm of Hykema, Lostit met with corporate counsel at EMU to discuss terms of the takeover.

Ypsilantians across the city were stunned upon learning the news.

“It seems as if something like this happens every year to Ypsilanti”,  said long time Ypsilanti resident and business owner Karen Maurer.  “I am not sure Ypslanti can take much more of this.”

Sources tell YpsiNews the takeover should be completed by August 2010, just in time for new student orientation.

So why is MSU buying EMU? YpsiNews takes you inside and explains what no one else wants to explain about the deal.

The Doyle Letter

The roots of this merger goes back to September 3, 2003 when then EMU Vice-president for Finance Patrick Doyle wrote a letter to EMU Regent Jan Brandon. The three page Doyle Letter, as it was to be called, was always rumored to explain the finances surrounding the controversial Presidential Palace.

Ann Arbor News sued EMU in a Freedom of Information Act case asking for a copy of the Doyle Letter. The Ann Arbor News, not too surprisingly, lost the case when the Appeals Court and Michigan Supreme Court ruled in favor of EMU.

The problem was the Ann Arbor News was too specific in their FOIA request when they asked to see the Doyle Letter.

d-letter-dIn December 2009, just two days before Christmas, YpsiNews submitted a new FOIA request to EMU this time asking for all letters in 2003 where the authors last name begins with the letter ‘D’.

It worked, YpsiNews.com got the Doyle letter and a letter about a leaking toilet in Pray Harold.

What was inside the Doyle Letter shocked even the normally unflappable YpsiNews Investigative Team.

While the Doyle letter did indeed disclose that the presidential palace had run far over budget, the shock was that the memo outlined how EMU could hide the cost overrun through an acquisition by EMU of another University.

Doyle’s plan was ultimately rejected by the Regents as unworkable because they couldn’t figure out how to buy another University and not make it look like they were covering up the costs surrounding the presidents house.

Mark Hollis, MSU Athletic Director

Mark Hollis, MSU Athletic Director

Regent Brandon, who has close ties with MSU, let it slip in 2008 to Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis that it was possible for a state run university to buy another state run university.

Hollis began quitely lobbying MSU Regents and alumnus for the Athletic Department to buy a University and specifically EMU. Hollis believed EMU was the right choice as it was close to Lansing and it was likely to piss off the most Wolverine fans being that EMU was just 7 miles to the East of Ann Arbor.

Little did Hollis know how quickly MSU alumnus were willing to fork out the green. MSU raised the nearly $35 million they thought it would take to buy EMU in just 6 days. Hollis has not said what they plan to do with the remaining $11 left over after the deal  with EMU closes.

State Legislature Not Happy

“You can’t just buy a University” exclaimed State Representative and perennial gubernatorial candidate Alma  Wheeler Smith (D-54). “There are rules, this has to go before a committee and be approved by the legislature. We have to have hearings and town hall meetings!”

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Mike Cox (R) not surprisingly, disagrees with Smith.

Cox said in an AG opinion released on Thursday, April 1, 2010 that the public university is a creature of the State Constitution. Cox went on to say the transfer, ownership, or management of a State University is not subject to the approval of the state legislators nor the voters. The only requirement would be approval by both the Boards of Regents of EMU and MSU. The Board of Regents are independent bodies, they can do as they please with no accountability to the governor, state legislature, or the voters.

Cox,  a Michigan Wolverine, seemed nonplussed that he just wrote an opinion that says that Board of Regents at Public Universities don’t have to listen to the governor

“Who cares”, said Cox. “The Board of Regents at Public Universities in Michigan have never been accountable to anyone, this opinion doesn’t change anything.”

When this reporter reminded Cox that he was running for governor, Cox tilted his head to the side and said, “Oh.”

Wolverines not happy

At first, outgoing University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin also seemed nonplussed about the MSU-EMU merger.

“Who cares”, said Martin repeating an oft heard phrase from U-M alumni.  “We kick EMU’s ass every year, nothing will change.”

Apparently Martin, like most of the rest of the nation, can’t fathom why MSU would want to buy EMU.

“It’s the Economics, Stupid”

So why would the MSU Athletic Department buy another University and why EMU? It is all about the scholarships.

Since MSU is acquiring an already establish NCAA Division I-A school, MSU will be able to maintain two football and two basketball programs. In a quirk of the NCAA rules, since MSU and EMU will be goverened by a single Board of Regents, student athletes can transfer from EMU to MSU without losing a year of eligibility. This is huge, says MSU’s Hollis.

With this purchase MSU has in effect created their own farm team system for all college sports. This will change college athletics forever and catapult MSU Sports to the top echelon of college sports.

For $24 million, MSU has been able to double the number of available scholarships. For football, MSU can increase their scholarships from 85 to 170 in a single year. The doubling of available scholarships will apply to all sports at MSU

When it was explained to U-M’s Bill Martin why MSU was buying EMU, Martin responded “No comment.”

Former CEO of Dominos Pizza David Brandon is the new incoming Athletic Director of Michigan to replace Martin and yes EMU Regent Jan Brandon is married to David.

Will other schools look to buy other smaller universities?

Already Norte Dame is in talks to acquire Sun Belt Conference school Old Dominion and Penn State is looking to acquire Lehigh University.

EMU’s Legacy and Advance Ypsilanti Future

The merger makes sense for some at EMU. EMU can once and for all put behind them the mess over the name change from the Hurons to the Eagles.

“Except for Athenians”, said EMU History Professor Mark Higbee, “everyone likes the Spartans. They are  the bad guys that ultimately get killed but still became heroes. Besides, the EMU football team won’t have to change the colors of their uniforms, so it saves the University money. That is a good thing.”

Ypsilanti Mayor Pauli Schwaibler, whose campaign slogan in 2006 was “I am going to march on Lansing to demand our fair share of taxes.” was relieved when he learned that Lansing was in town this week.

Not quite understanding it was Michigan State University in Lansing that was coming to Ypsilanti, Schwaibler saved some shoe leather and walked over to the Sidetrack where the attorneys had taken a break for lunch.

Schwaibler asked if they would like to purchase Water Street for $22 million.

The lawyers politely declined, saying that they only had enough bags of cash for one money pit and for $2 million more, EMU seemed like a better deal.

———

Reporter Steve Pierce is a former TV weatherman and made his first Final Four appearance with CBS in 1984 while living in Albuquerque. In his spare time he reads other peoples email using Wireless Ypsi.

Related Stories
Porn execs eyeing Ypsilanti for new Studio space (2009)
Crocodile spotted in Riverside Park (2008)
Oil discovered at Water Street (2007)

———
Read more of our favorite April Fools Day stories here and for a brief history of April Fools Day click here. Please enjoy responsibly.

Porn execs eyeing Ypsilanti for new Studio space

April 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Humor, News

(April 1, 2009) Ypsilanti has been a hotbed for movie shoots and star watching from the burgeoning film industry in Michigan. Things are about to get hotter.

But don’t call it porn, they want to be called the Adult Movie industry.

What ever you call it, it is a $15 billion dollar a year business with the largest players traded on the stock exchange.

In 2004, over 11,000 new adult movie titles were released world wide. Many studios can crank out one or two new films per week.

On Tuesday, while most eyes were focused on the Sidetrack in Depot Town as filming continued on “Betty Anne Waters” starring Hilary Swank and Minnie Driver, a small group of executives from Vivid Entertainment and Larry Flint’s Hustler Video toured the former Ford/Visteon/ACH facility in Ypsilanti.

Agents from the two studios as well as a team from Great Lakes Site Selectors from Columbus, Ohio have been scouting locations in Michigan for a new studio. They are drawn to Michigan and the 42% tax credit for films produced in the state.

The 30+ acre site includes nearly 1 million square of office and warehousing space and includes over 600,000 sf of open bays perfect for sets and sound stages. There is also nearly 200,000 sf of Class A office space.

Warning: Some Web Links in this story connect to adult websites and may not be appropriate for all ages or for the work place.

Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) has the property listed for $7.6 million. Studios execs say they are discussing an all cash purchase.

Given the recent recent problems in the automotive industry, ACH, which is a holding company for Ford Motor Company, is desperately short of cash.

Officials from ACH would not go on the record but privately said the would consider a lower offer if they could close in the next 60 days. “Cash is king,” said one ACH executive.

Steven Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment according to Forbes makes $100 million a year

Steven Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment. According to Forbes magazine privately held Vivid earned over $100 million in 2007.

It is hard to imagine Governor Granholm or the Michigan State Legislature could have predicted movie tax credits would be used to fund X-rated movies, the Michigan Film Office confirmed that adult movies would qualify for the film production credits.

Ypsilanti City Planner S. Murf and City Attorney Klem Barista were studying the city’s zoning rules in detail. Murf said after an initial review, it appears an adult movie studio is a permitted use in the manufacturing M1 district.

This is the first time Hustler and Vivid are discussing working together on a production facility. Because of the fractured nature of the business, there is little chance of scrutiny from the Justice Department on this joint venture.

Attorneys familiar with the deal said, “President Obama has bigger worries on Wall Street and Detroit and is unlikely to be worried about happenings in the Adult movie business.”

Despite what had been reported earlier, the Adult Movie industry is not looking for a government bailout. “It was a publicity stunt and it worked,” said late night huckster Joe Francis from Girls Gone Wild.

It is likely Michigan-based company YpsiTucky LLC would be setup to run the studio and rent space to other porn studios wanting to move production to Michigan.

Site selectors were excited about the location. With so much space, it will be easy to build permanent sets including a jail, dungeon, castle, and beach house that are staples in most adult films. With so much indoor space, the studios can film year round.

Hustler Video is part of the massive adult entertainment empire Larry Flint Productions whose holdings including Hustler magazine and Hustler Hollywood Retail stores

Vivid Entertainment is home to some of the industry’s biggest starlets. Called Vivid Girls, they include Jenna Jameson, Briana Banks, and Lanny Barby, who are among hundreds of women signed to exclusive contracts much like in the bygone days of the Hollywood studio system.

Theresa Flynt

Theresa Flynt, VP Licensing and Business Development, Hustler

The demographics of Ypsilanti also make sense said Theresa Flynt, VP Licensing and Business Development, Hustler. The industry is dependent on continually finding new stars. Being able to draw from two massive universities, the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, for new talent is a plus for producers working on a tight schedule.

Paul Fishbein publisher of Adult Video News, the industry’s largest trade magazine, was shocked to learn executives were looking outside of California for new studio space.

The Adult Movie business, including AVN, has for years called California’s San Fernando Valley home of the porn industry. Locals refer to it as Silicone Valley.

Fishbein said, “If Michigan is willing to fork over a 40% (sic) tax credit for every movie, it makes good business sense for adult movie studios to look at Michigan.”

The Mayor of San Fernando, Guy Grabbit, is not happy that Ypsilanti is poaching the Adult movie business from his town.

“Hands off,” Grabbit warned Michigan politicians eager for a piece of the action, “We invented porn and it belongs here in California.”

Grabbit admitted he had no way to match the 42% tax credit as his city, like many others in California, is facing huge budget shortfalls.

Current Ypsilanti mayor Pauli Schwaibler, who works for one of the automotive companies in the region said he hoped ACH could find a better buyer. ACH executives said there hasn’t been a lot of interest in the Ypsilanti property, but they are willing to talk to any buyer the City thinks would be better.

Ann Arbor Spark was asked if they had anything to do with this site selection group visiting Ypsilanti. Spark spokesman Dean D. Milker responded they didn’t know the property was for sale.

The site selection team’s next stop was Water Street. They expect to conclude their tours on Thursday and could make an offer on studio space in the next 30 days.

———
Reporter Steve Pierce is a retired adult movie actor and fiction writer who today restores old houses and spends time with his dog and three cats.

Related Stories
Crocodile spotted in Riverside Park (2008)
Oil discovered at Water Street (2007)

———
Read more of our favorite April Fools Day stories here and for a brief history of April Fools Day click here. Please enjoy responsibly.

Crocodile spotted in Riverside Park

April 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Humor

(April 1, 2008) Residents have been reporting sightings of alligators in Washtenaw County for over a year. The story was even covered by Channel 4 News in August 2007 and the Ypsilanti Courier.

Washtenaw County Sheriff Dan Minzey told Channel 4 News that exotic pets get dumped in local lakes often. “There is probably a bunch of places these things can hide,” said Minzey.

We didn’t take those reports seriously until we got an urgent call from a resident from the Historic Eastside Neighborhood Association saying we needed to get over to Riverside Park, he just saw an alligator.

We weren’t really expecting to find anything, however this resident had told us about Ice Skating in Riverside Park and we didn’t think that was true either.

no images were found

Imagine our surprise when we saw what appeared to be an alligator sunning itself on the bank of the Huron River in Riverside Park. We observed the alligator for over an hour. It moved over to a small pond in the middle of the park. Then moved back to the river and headed down river.

Continue reading the story

Political Cartoon January 24, 2008

Ypsilanti City Council and DDA commit over $505,000 in taxpayer funding to build an elevator at Riverside Arts Center.

Political Cartoon November 5, 2007

November 5, 2007 by  
Filed under Editorials & Opinions, Humor

Ypsilanti Mayor’s Farmer and Schreiber campaign for a City Income Tax.

Oil discovered at Water Street (UPDATE1)

April 1, 2007 by  
Filed under Humor

(April 1, 2007) City officials will neither confirm nor deny the rumors. However, the results from Brownfield and other environmental tests leaked to YpsiNews.com indicate that substantial oil reserves have been discovered at the Water Street site.

After an exhaustive 6-month investigation and poring over thousands of documents, test results, consultant reports, and interviews with officials inside and outside Ypsilanti City Hall, YpsiNews.com has learned that substantial oil reserves have been discovered on the Water Street property. The 38-acre Brownfield site has been the subject of numerous public meetings because of the substantial pollution and underground contamination.

The discovery of commercially viable oil reserves on the Water Street property bodes well for the beleaguered project that has been struggling under ever increasing debt and no prospects for development. The city has been trying to convince residents that nothing was wrong with their original redevelopment plan to build over 800 condos despite the fact that the architects of the Water Street project had no experience building a housing development project of this scale.

City officials had their first hint of possible oil reserves in the summer of 2003 while digging exploratory environmental monitoring wells. These wells were paid for through an EPA grant to help the city identify and map the levels of contamination throughout the Water Street site. At first, the results were just thought to be signs of greater and greater contamination at the site. Despite repeated advice to stop digging, the city kept drilling.

Continue reading the story

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