As alarming as statistics on teen suicide in Michigan are, many experts say difficulties in determining the cause of a child's death and the way data are collected mean the problem is likely larger than it appears. This article explores the increasing in the number of teen suicides, and the number of teens expressing suicidal thoughts and boughts of depression.
Kurt Metzger, Director of D-ACIS, is interviewed for his opinion on the accuracy of school-based data on teen suicides and other state databases that cover a variety of areas connected to the public school systems across the State of Michigan.
MACKINAC ISLAND -- Give Kurt Metzger a problem and the demographer will dive in headfirst.
He's spent years examining the racial divide in metro Detroit.
And he's spent time analyzing the brain drain of young talent.
He helped with the new One D Scorecard, developed in conjunction with the New Economy Initiative, which was released last week during the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Leadership Conference to compare Michigan with other states from a livability standpoint.....
D-ACIS staff have been working diligently over the last several months to develop neighborhood indicators and have collaborated with One D (and the New Economy Initiative) on their latest product, the One D Regional Scorecard - unveiled by Edsel Ford at the Mackinac Policy Conference today (May 29, 2009). It is a comparative analysis of Metro Detroit (the 9-county CSA) and the other 53 largest metropolitan areas in the country across five key sectors: economic prosperity, education preparedness, transit, quality of life and race relations. Seventy-five datasets (CSA-, MSA- and State-based) are provided in Excel format. D-ACIS provided data, technical assistance, and research analysis for the project. Please take a look.
April 7, 2009
No-confidence vote on voter rolls
BY ROCHELLE RILEY
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
Detroit election officials confirmed Monday what an analysis of census and population records shows: The city has more registered voters than it has residents over the voting age of 18.
But Detroit is doing nothing wrong. The problem? The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which took effect in 1995, requires local officials to wait two federal election cycles before purging their voter rolls. That means that all cities carry ineligible voters each year.
Kurt Metzger -- director of the Detroit Area Community Information System, the city's newest data center -- did the new analysis using 2000 U.S. Census data, SEMCOG population figures and the age distribution report in the 2007 American Community Survey.
He estimates that Detroit's population is about 853,000, which includes 603,000 people over 18 -- 30,000 fewer than the city reported as its total of registered voters.
"Even if you had 100% voter registration, which we know we don't have, you could not have numbers that high," he said. "Nationally, 67.6% of Americans are registered to vote. For African Americans, it's 60.9%."
Metzger estimates that Detroit's voter registration is closer to 422,000.
"He's right," Daniel Baxter, director of elections in Detroit said Monday -- but not about the number.
Following, amending the law
Baxter said that a city mailing in 2005 resulted in 47,000 cards returned as undeliverable.
After federal elections in 2006 and 2008, those names were removed from the rolls. Baxter said that the city will report its voter registration next month at about 575,000.
But not being able to remove the names sooner meant that, for two election cycles, city officials had to report registration higher than they knew it was.
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said her main second-term initiative is to work with Congress to amend the law.
"Our rolls are very clean, but because of NVRA, we can only purge after two federal elections," she said. "The problem is when people ask us for our voter files, we have to give them those numbers, including those we know are to be canceled. So when those guys run those statistics, it may appear that our files are bloated."
Until there is an amendment, Winfrey said, "I'm following the letter of the law."
Detroit has purged 128,000 voters since 2006.
Fairness and accuracy
Metzger, who began his career in 1975 with the U.S. Census Bureau and has worked since for Wayne State University and United Way of Southeastern Michigan, said his findings also call into question a state report of 98% voter registration for last November's election.
If the state total is "an accumulation of local government reporting their number of registered voters, then the problems pointed out in Detroit are replicated in larger cities across Michigan," he said.
The problems always have been about fairness and accuracy. The national law was changed to prevent disenfranchisement. But, before the law, cities could purge their rolls every year. And Detroit did.
Voter registration is always a moving target. Cities purge records when people leave or die but when they don't respond, the wait is longer.
As Detroit prepares for its second of four city elections this year, one would hope to get a true sense of who is electing whom.
The law should be amended so cities don't have to wait four years to get a glimpse of the big picture -- and how to make it better.
Contact ROCHELLE RILEY at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit News Online
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Detroit schools, transit among main dishes at 'Pancakes and Politics'
Catherine Jun / The Detroit News
Detroit -- The city of Detroit can't turn around without better schools and a public transportation system.
That was the consensus among four political and policy heavyweights who gathered for "Pancakes and Politics," a breakfast forum at the Detroit Athletic Club this morning.
Panelists included Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers; Peter Karmanos Jr., Chairman and CEO of Compuware Corp.; Kurt Metzger, director of Detroit Area Community Information System; and Phil Power, president of the Center for Michigan.
The headlining conversation topics for the event were race and the regional economy. But the attendees pointed to two specific items -- the failing Detroit Public Schools district and the lack of an efficient mass transit system -- as problems hampering the revitalization of the city.
"Racism isn't keeping us down," Metzger said. "It's the fact that we have a culture that doesn't value education."
Karmanos, himself the product of Detroit Public Schools, blamed the district's decline on out-migration from the city, lack of tax funding and the teacher's union.
"The fact of the matter is, when I went to Detroit Public Schools, when it was the best school district ... teachers weren't part of the union. Today, every teacher is part of the union."
During the hour-long discussion, Power emphasized that a mass transit system was the major hurdle to drawing people back to Detroit.
"It inhibits people from getting from place to place, getting to work, going shopping," Power said.
While Conyers agreed in the merits of such a system, she said the responsibility to bring it online is shared by the region.
"It can't be just Detroiters who want mass transit," Conyers said.
All of the panelists agreed that efforts to bring about positive changes in the city and the region have been hampered by divisive politics.
Cobo Hall was a case in point.
Conyers, who has verbally sparred with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in the press over the fate of Cobo Hall, said: "I did reach out to him again, and he said he's not coming back to the table, and I don't think that's the spirit of cooperation."
The discussion took a break from heftier issues when Karmanos fielded an anonymous question from one of the forum's attendees, who were primarily local business and political leaders. The question: How was Kwame Kilpatrick doing? The former mayor, who left disgraced in a text-messaging scandal, is now working for a Compuware subsidiary in Texas.
"He's learning. He's doing a very, very, very good job," Karmanos said. "I saw him in our lunchroom yesterday and said hello."
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2:08 pm, April 23, 2009
By Nancy Kaffer
The topics of discussion were race, the economy and the region.
Panelists included Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers; Compuware Corp. Chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos Jr.; Phil Power, former newspaper publisher and president of The Center for Michigan; and demographer Kurt Metzger, director of the Detroit Area Community Information System.
Karmanos, a graduate of the Detroit Public Schools, said he’d moved his family out of the city in the 1970s, when his then-first-grade son who couldn’t yet read was given an A in reading because he was the best student in class.
Karmanos said he favors a consolidated metro area school district.
“We have 110 school districts in the metro area… why don’t we consolidate those school systems for the metro area?” he said. “Instead of talking about regionalism, let’s have some, and let’s start with education.”
Power and Metzger said they favor a ward system for the Detroit City Council over the current at-large system.
Conyers said she favors term limits, saying council needs fresh faces.
Power said that in a series of community conversations his organization has held, regional transit has emerged over and over as the top issue for young people.
Conyers advocated business development in the city, saying Detroit’s abandoned buildings could house retail outlets — like a development she has frequented as a visitor to Reading, Penn. — that would increase the city’s viability as a destination.
The council president said she feels that a federal earmark could provide for the expansion of Detroit’s Cobo Center, but said she felt that state and regional leaders had adopted an uncompromising stance.
Conyers questioned why Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is applauded for being fiercely protective of his constituents’ interests, while Conyers said she is denigrated for standing up for Detroiters.
Metzger suggested that to advance regionalism and economic improvement in the city, politicians should “get out of the way, and let the people who want to solve these issues (get it done). Politics are a smokescreen.”
One question from an audience member, directed to Karmanos, asked how former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was faring in his new role as an account executive at Covisint, a Compuware business unit.
Karmanos said Kilpatrick was doing a fine job.
“Some of the people he works for are in this room, and I think they would tell you he’s a breath of fresh air,” he said.
© 2009 Crain Communications Inc.
Friday, April 24, 2009
By JOSEPH SZCZESNY
Petty politics are blocking the way to a regional revival.
© 2009 theoaklandpress.com, a Journal Register Property