Concerns over new Amazon distribution site, pastor urinates on traveling Detroit woman, city pushes Proposal N

More than $43 million in tax revenue over 10 years, 1,200 new jobs, productive use of the old State Fairgrounds, along with an extra $9 million in revenue from selling the land. Amazon's newest distribution center brings with it plenty of profit for Detroit, but that doesn't mean everyone is excited about the project.

Unsafe working conditions, possible demolition of historic buildings, and potential environmental hazards from tractor-trailers moving to and from the site have public officials concerned about the $400 million structure that's supposed to break ground in November.

"Is there an opportunity for advancement?" said Lauren Hood, vice-chair of the city planning commission. "Or are we just sticking people in a warehouse for $15 an hour just for the foreseeable future?"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Councilman Roy McCalister have joined Hood and others in expressing concerns moving forward about the project. Some believe the project is being rushed and won't employ enough workers from Detroit.

"Because there are no tax abatements, the community benefits order does not apply to this," said McCalister.

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As part of the plan, which Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced in August, Amazon would receive no tax incentives of writeoffs by expanding in the city. Unlike other plans which mandate the employment of Detroit workers, there's no requirement at the Old Michigan State Fairgrounds.

But at the same time, McCalister says pushing for more on what Duggan considers a great deal for the city, may force the company to renege on the agreement. 

"My concern is you have (former) Northland (Center in Southfield) that is over there," he said. "They could very well go over there. But my major concern is we have this opportunity to have a lot of input on Detroiters receiving those jobs. If it goes anywhere other than Detroit, then we don’t have that say so and input on those jobs coming." 

Detroit woman awakes on a plane to find pastor peeing on her

Alicia Beverly had dozed off during her red-eye flight back to Detroit when she woke up to an alarming sight: a man was urinating on her.

After spending time in Las Vegas, Beverly was curled up in the back seat next to her sister when suddenly she felt something warm. 

" on the side of me I felt something warm," she said. In her sleepy haze, right at eye level, she saw something very unexpected.

"I jump up and I seen his private area out and I screamed and that woke everybody up," Alicia said. "By that time I actually looked at him and I see him shake himself off and I’m like this man just peed on me! I looked and there was a puddle of pee in the seats!"

The man doing the urinating is a well-known pastor from North Carolina. According to sources, the man had an apparent reaction to a sleep aid. 

When Beverly screamed, airline staff became alerted and an off-duty officer rushed over and restrained the man. 

It would be hours until Beverly, still sitting in wet clothes, could disembark from the plane. The pastor was taken into custody but hasn't been charged yet. 

"I left work yesterday because I couldn’t stay but I had to tell them why I needed to leave. It was a lot. My anxiety was really high literally. Since then I have only gotten 4 hours of sleep," she said.

City of Detroit pushes for Proposal N approval

In an attempt to clear out the rest of Detroit's vacant homes, residents will get to decide if a $250 million bonding project is the best avenue for financing the rehabbing. 

Proposal N (for neighborhoods) will address the status of 16,000 vacant homes in the city. Half will be refurbished while the other half will be knocked down.

"We're going to take 8,000 houses that are structurally sound and we're going to secure them so they can be rehabbed. We're going to save every house we can. Those that can't, we're going to take 8,000 down and we're going to turn the property over to neighbors," Duggan said.

Clearing out Detroit's blighted structures has been a cornerstone for the mayor, who has spent much of his term clearing out eyesores from a different time in the city. Those ambitions were redirected however after the city's budget became cash-strapped due to COVID-19 expenses and most money allocated for demolition was shifted to more essential needs.

What would fill the space of vacant homes would be gardens and parks - deploying green infrastructure projects around the city.

Not everyone is so sure it's the best route to take, however.

"The people that we have running the city have, I'm sure - it's my opinion - they have a goal in mind. It doesn't matter to them if the people of the city of Detroit are collateral damage, roadkill," said Agnes Hitchcock, who lives in Philadelphia Street. She's skeptical about any bond proposal due to issues with the Land Bank.

View the resolution here

Health officials push residents to get flu shots

As Michigan continues riding its suddenly climbing COVID-19 caseloads and sees an uptick in its hospital capacity, health officials are imploring residents to get vaccinated.

It's been a busy year for public health and fears over the virus have catalyzed a plummeting rate of vaccines in Michigan. 

However, flu season represents a dangerous time for residents. Symptoms of the seasonal virus working in tandem with the pandemic have sparked concerns about more severe health consequences.

On Wednesday, health officials confirmed 1,359 new cases of the virus. So far, Michigan is averaging more than 1,000 cases a week - the highest since April.

Predatory towing company still has its hooks in victims

Remember the exploitative towing company that would burn unsuspecting residents after minutes of parking their cars? Breakthrough Towing may be closed, but the shade of problems it caused residents haven't gone away.

For some victims, they haven't been able to re-register their vehicles due to the status of their automobiles remaining in limbo in the towing company's system.

"It came time to renew my tags and couldn't get them renewed," said Justin, one of Breakthrough's unsuspecting victims. "The Secretary of State was telling me my car was locked in abandoned status."

The same goes for Allen.

"When I got up to the counter the person told me there was a lien still on my vehicle," he said. "She said have you been towed? At some point I said yeah, a long time ago, she said it looks like it's in the system as your car is impounded."

So Rob Wolchek gave the company a call. Read what happened here.

Community mourns loss of Pershing student killed in crash

Ga'heime Griffin lettered in baseball, basketball, football, cross country, was a battalion commander in ROTC, had the second-highest ACT score in his class, and was part of the National Honor Society.

"You think about everything he was doing, how he was overcoming every obstacle, he was overcoming coming from the east side of Detroit where sometimes people think there's no hope. He was that hope," said Pershing Principal Johnathon Matthews.

Monday night, Griffin had left his job at McDonald's with a coworker. While riding as a passenger, Griffin was killed when the car he was in lost control near Joseph Campau and Carpenter.

"Ga'heime was the example," said Marlo Thigpen, math master teacher. "Not just for children, not for just adults. No matter what gender, no matter what race. Ga'heime was the example."

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5. Michigan man charged with federal hate crime after Black teen attacked at state park

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More than 14M Americans have voted early in 2020 presidential election, data shows

More than 14 million people in the United States have cast their vote early in the 2020 election, according to data compiled by the United States Election Project.

The figures include both ballots cast in-person and absentee or mail-in ballots returned to local elections offices.

So far, ballots cast across the country represent just 10.2% of the 2016 total turnout. But in some states, including Georgia, voter turnout has broken records.

Early in-person turnout in Georgia on Oct. 12 surged more than 40 percent above the first day of early voting in 2016's November election. The state also saw record voter registration as of October.