CityPULSE is launched by publisher Berl Schwartz.
“Its mission is to provide a journal of news and opinion
on civic, social and political issues as well as arts and entertainment
in Greater Lansing.”
“Who the Hell is Berl Schwartz?”
Berl Schwartz is the owner and publisher of City Pulse.
Why in the world did he do that to himself? Well, he was at a
crossroads. He was ready for a change. And so was Lansing. So he jumped
in and started the paper you are reading.
Here’s his history, without all the details, because that would take forever:
Berl Schwartz started as a copy boy at The Blade, his
hometown paper in Toledo. Schwartz, 55 [in September 2002 – you do the
math], was general manager and editorial adviser of The State News, the
student newspaper at MSU, from 1994 until 2000. He was Washington bureau
chief of United Press International, executive editor of the York (Pa.)
Daily Record, managing editor of The Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel
and a Washington correspondent for the Louisville (Ky.) Times and
Scripps Howard News Service. He was also a reporter for the Philadelphia
Bulletin. Schwartz was a visiting professor of journalism at the
University of Oklahoma. He was an adjunct faculty member at the School
of Journalism at MSU. He earned a degree in political science from the
University of Pennsylvania.
Schwartz, unlike other local newspaper publishers, lives in downtown Lansing.
First news story: Residents
oppose plans to build Ranney Skate Park in East Lansing. The story
boasts two more firsts: the paper’s first “pun” headline (“Half-pipe dream”) and first spelling error (a skater is described as “airborn” in the photo cutline).
First arts story: Lansing’s
Bethlehem Temple Church is to be converted into the Temple Club, an
entertainment venue. In October 2006, five years later, the club closed.
First issue news item: The Lansing State Journal will shrink in size by 7 percent in January.
Aug. 15: City Pulse flaunts its self-aware style in an ad
meant for prospective advertisers: “248,481 readers every week! (We
wish)…By our own approximation, we’re a great paper. We’d pick City
Pulse up if we were average consumers. We might read other local
newspapers, too, but we’d like City Pulse the most. And we’d shop at
Aug. 29: The paper’s first investigative story probes 140
pages left out of an Ingham County Health Department report on surface
and groundwater resources.
The second Beaner’s Gourmet Coffee franchise (now Biggby) opens in the MSU Union. 10 years later, Biggby had over 100 franchises in the United States.
Sept. 12: First election story covers 4th Ward Lansing City Council race between Geneva Smith and Lester Stone.
Sept. 26: City Pulse unexpectedly tumbles deeper into its
alternative role with coverage of 9/11 and its fallout, beginning with
cover story, “Between storms: Lansing copes with the unthinkable.” Swimming
against the overwhelming tide of calls for military retribution and
“national unity,” a cross-section of community leaders and citizens fear
over-reaction by the United States and curtailment of civil liberties.
Other stories cover Muslim appeals for understanding and a peace
teach-in at MSU.
Nov. 7: Lansing Mayor David Hollister is re-elected to a third term; City Pulse caricatures Hollister as a king with robe and scepter.
Nov. 14: Lansing’s BioPort Corp., North America’s only
manufacturer of an anthrax-specific vaccine, sprouts concrete barriers
and concertina wire in the wake of 9/11. Cover story, “The Spore Next
Door,” airs safety concerns. “How safe is it really for us if a plane
hit the building?” asks a nearby resident.
Dec. 5: Cover story, “Gimmee [sic] Shelter,”
is first of many City Pulse stories on the homeless in Lansing. A
community services worker offers an estimate of 600 homeless people in
the metro area.
Jan. 3: “GM to Westside: We don’t care!”
Story by Brian McKenna: “Baseball players at Sexton High School, on
Lansing’s west side, are often seen sprinting from the diamond to a
nearby building. But they’re not exercising. ‘We’re running away from
General Motors’ fumes,’ said Tim Nault, 17. ‘They smell like paint
thinner. Opposing baseball teams hate to play us.’”
Apr. 3: Sordid details emerge from a report on alleged sexual harassment by Lansing Councilman Lou Adado.
In the report, Council employee Heather Eman claims Adado bought her
underwear and asked her to return them soiled. He gives her a birthday
card, reprinted in City Pulse, that reads “Have you swallowed your protein today?” The suit was settled out of court in December 2003.
May 1: Cover story, “Fear & profits vs. the people’s health,” assails Mayor David Hollister’s
zeal to seal a deal with General Motors over pollution from its Craft
Centre on the west side. The latest in a salvo of stories on the issue
from Brian McKenna compares Lansing’s “company town” mentality to the
polluted spa in Henrik Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People.”
After the story hits, Hollister orders city employees not to speak to anyone from City Pulse.
“It makes the mayor look small,” says an editorial by Berl
Schwartz in the May 8 issue. “This too shall pass.” It does, in late
July, when Hollister rescinds the order after consulting with the city
attorney. Hollister sends letters announcing the reversal to Schwartz
and Henry Silverman, president of the Lansing branch of the state ACLU
and City Pulse columnist, who had asked for a clarification of the
May 22: Daniel Sturm follows up on the GM/Westside story with another cover story, “Fatal Handshake,”
comparing Lansing’s deal to keep GM with the handshake between Social
Democrats and East German Communists in 1946 to “conform to a single
Meanwhile, city employees keep on refusing to talk to City
Pulse, at Hollister’s order. Berl Schwartz responds in the May 22
“City Pulse made a little fun of Hollister last November
when it portrayed him in a crown and regal robe after he was elected to a
third term. Nothing much was meant by the cover at the time. The
non-Democratic way that Hollister has chosen to deal with his critics
has given that illustration considerably more meaning today.”
Jul. 31: Gannett, the Lansing State Journal’s parent
company, announces the launch of “mid-Michigan’s first alternative
weekly,” then dubbed Real Life.
In an editorial, City Pulse publisher Berl Schwartz sees
the launch as part of a strategy to “drive City Pulse out of business
and thus restore the State Journal’s monopoly in the Lansing market — so
that Gannett can once again call the tune for print advertising here.”
"We’re confident that City Pulse has a fighting chance in this game." —Berl Schwartz
City Pulse runs a phony employment ad for Real Life, re-dubbed “Real Lame.”
“If you come from a single-parent family, have a hard
time staying in a committed relationship, can’t add or spell and don’t
know anything that happened before 1970 at the earliest, then you can
relate to this target market and we want to talk to you. You could be a
part of the development of this exciting, new corporate product, as long
as you’re not too creative and don’t show anybody up.”
City Pulse’s parting shot: “This
position offers great pay and benefits, including unemployment for when
you’re laid off when money gets tight for this Fortune 500 company.”
Aug. 14: City Pulse squeaks through its first anniversary, in part by holding its first and last fund-raising party.
Berl Schwartz writes: “We’re crawling like crazy and ready to walk. The coming year will decide whether we make it to our feet.”
The announcements keep coming for weeks. Arts and Entertainment editor Elaine Yaw keeps it light:
“We at City Pulse are pretty open-minded. The only rule I
have for the night is: DO NOT PUKE ON ME. That is the one thing that
will make me upset. If this happens, expect me to puke back. Puke makes
me puke. Just so you know.” (Sept. 4, 2002)
The party is at Club Paradise, 224 S. Washington Square.
Drew Howard, lead singer of The Weepers, emcees. Among items auctioned
is a lipstick ammo belt from Bohemian Barber, a “beautiful, full-bodied”
mannequin from Jacobsen’s Department Store, and a hardcover copy of
“The Chain Gang,” a book about an alternative newspaper battling
Aug. 21: MSU fixes its famous “Sparty” statue. City Pulse celebrates with a cover story by Daniel Sturm, “Inside Sparty’s Third Reich Roots.” We
learn about the sculptor’s Austrian-German descent, his time studying
in Germany during the rise of Hitler, and the warrior cult aesthetic
going back to Sparta itself. Sturm implicitly links Nazi rallies to
“Hadn’t Sparta been a state system, which intentionally
raised children as war machines?” The cover features Sparty in the
middle of Nazi architect Albert Speer’s “Cathedral of Light,”
“What is this ‘emo’ thing?”
asks music writer Justin Smith. Groups like Dashboard Confessional,
Jimmy Eat World, Thursday and Saves the Day “expanded the stale hardcore
sound to include epic and melodic element that accompanied deeply
impassioned and personal lyrics.” The problem is that the term is vague
and “almost no one wants to be called it.”
Sept. 24: Local voices react to the first anniversary of
9/11. Mayor David Hollister: “There isn’t a single part of city
government that hasn’t been impacted [by 9/11]. Whether it’s worry over
anthrax coming through the tax forms, security at City Hall, extra
precautions at the zoo, or training more police and firemen. There are
monthly meetings with regional leaders.”
Hollister also reveals: “The FBI called my office to profile people of Muslim heritage, a small number of 15 people in October 2001.”
Oct. 2: “Buh-bye Octoberfest; here comes BluesFest instead”
Old Town’s 8-year-old Octoberfest, a rock festival featuring local
bands, is replaced by Blues Fest. For some, the change is a harbinger of
Old Town’s drift from grass-roots, bohemian art center to a tamer
retail and festival “destination.”
Oct. 9: A story by Daniel Sturm confirms that 15 women at
MSU underwent a “humiliating decontamination process” after an anthrax
scare at Linton Hall Oct. 12, 2011, stripping in front of a male crew of
police officers and firemen.
Four years later, a jury awarded the women $480,000 in a federal lawsuit against the East Lansing Fire Department.
Oct. 30: Cover story, “The Case Against the War,” appears on the eve of Operation Desert Storm.
“Five years ago we were in the process of de-escalating
the Cold War, dismantling missile systems. Redirecting the money towards
urban areas and health care seemed to be disengaging from a war
mentality.”–Lansing mayor David Hollister
Nov. 20: City Pulse reaches some kind of high-brow peak when Daniel Sturm’s cover story, “On Death and Dying in Lansing,” explores taboos about discussing or accepting death with reference to the Renaissance concept of ars moriendi (the art of dying) and Leo Tolstoy’s “Death of Ivan Ilych.”
Nov. 20: John Peakes, BoarsHead Theatre’s founer and
artistic director, and Judith Peakes, the managing director, announce
they will leave Lansing. “BoarsHead is at a sort of crossroads,” John
Peakes tells City Pulse’s Ute von der Heyden. “Tremendous growth is
possible.” BoarsHead closed in Dec. 2009, after a string of personnel
upheavals and financial setbacks.
Feb. 26: Columnist Anne Tracy dies Feb. 14, 2003,
after a battle with liver cancer chronicled in her City Pulse column.
Her friend, Penny Gardner, writes a farewell column at her request:
“I miss her physical presence and appreciate all that went
before in our lives that brought our paths together here in Lansing, as
lesbians, as scholars, as feminists, as friends. So I bid you my
goodbye from Anne and wish for you, gentle reader, a continued presence
of her brave and loving spirit in your lives.”
As part of a worldwide protest against impending war in
Iraq, over 600 readings of the ancient Greek anti-war play “Lysistrata”
by Aristophanes are held in 39 countries. Lansing’s reading takes place
at the Creole Gallery.
Apr. 2: “Last weekend the Pentagon announced that
coalition forces have thus far dropped 6,000 precision-guided bombs on
Iraq in the effort to rid the world of a regime that the Bush
administration claims possesses ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ The irony has not been missed by three Michigan nuns.” Lead of a cover story by Daniel Sturm on antiwar nuns
May 14: “State Sen. Virg Bernero’s decision to run for mayor of Lansing took even close associates by surprise.”
Oct. 1: “Some critics are saying that the Common Ground
festival obviously appeals predominantly to the 45-year-old white
male…Festival director Kevin Meyer said critics needed to be patient,
since the festival was still growing.” Story by Daniel Sturm on Common Ground’s diversity problem
Oct. 8: “There’s a very good reason to go whole hog on
health care reform rather than choose incremental proposals: You don’t
really get into substantial cost savings until you have truly universal
coverage.” From Howard Brody’s Health column
Nov. 5: “Benavides survives surge by Virg.”
Incumbent Lansing mayor Tony Benavides narrowly defeats state senator Virg Bernero in a special election by 258 votes.
Dec. 10: “If the Democrats really want to win the White
House, they need to go with somebody who has the ability to inspire
those who ordinarily would stay away from the picture. That’s why I can
win.” Dennis Kucinich, interviewed by Daniel Sturm
Feb. 4: “The absence of Kerry signs, stickers and buttons
was striking. A foreigner who stumbled upon the scene might have
concluded the candidate was someone named Tommy Hilfiger.” Lawrence Cosentino describes Ted Kennedy’s rally for John Kerry at MSU
May 5: Cover story by Daniel Sturm looks at Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice’s invitation to speak at MSU’s commencement May 7
and the role of MSU President Peter McPherson in the
re-building/occupation of Iraq. The cover draws a parallel to MSU’s
controversial role in the Vietnam war by posing Rice as a cheerleader
with an MSU banner, just as Madame Nhu, the wife of South Vietnam’s
president, was depicted in the April 1966 cover of Ramparts magazine.
May 19: U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers says American firms can expect a new “gold rush” of expanded markets in Iraq.
Jun. 2: “Lansing’s food desert: Inner-city residents campaign for a grocery store” by Daniel Sturm is the first of many City Pulse stories on this theme.
Aug. 18: City Pulse moves
from Old Town to new offices at 2001 E. Michigan Ave. “Thousands of
people will see us daily at the corner of Michigan and Clemens in the
block that is in the heart of the commercial revival of Lansing’s east
side,” Berl Schwartz writes.
Oct. 6: “Kowtowing to Dow,” a cover story by Brian McKenna, questions corporate influence at public universities, focusing on Dow Chemical’s ties to MSU.
Oct. 20: “When they want to hand the forest over to the
timber industry, they call it the Healthy Forests Act. When they want to
destroy the Clean Air Act, they call it the Clear Skies Bill. But most
insidiously, they’ve put polluters in charge of the agencies that are
supposed to protect Americans from pollution.” – Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in an exclusive interview with City Pulse
Nov. 3: Appolonia Rosas, mother of slain Pvt. Richard Rosas, speaks against the Iraq war at a Critical Mass event at East Lansing’s Ranney Skate Park.
Dec. 15: Michigan’s anti-same-sex-marriage amendment, passed by voters in November, goes into effect. “Writing Fear Into Law,” cover story by Thomas P. Morgan, airs fears over potential loss of domestic partner benefits. “For a lot of people, this is a dark time” – Chris Swope, executive director of Michigan Equality, later to become Lansing city clerk
Drama writer Tom Helma’s diary appears in City Pulse during his son Gabe’s tour of duty in Iraq.
From Helma’s April 20 entry: “We joked a lot at Christmas; non-violent
father to non-violent son, remembering how Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
character in ‘Terminator II’ had been reprogrammed to only shoot people
in the leg. He promised, faced with the option of choosing, to wound
rather than to kill.”
Jun. 8: A survey published by Capitol newsletter MIRS finds Virg Bernero among the 10 least effective senators in Michigan,
possibly due to a perception “that he focuses too much on Lansing
issues and not on state issues,” according to MIRS editor Kyle Melinn.
Bernero was making a second run for mayor of Lansing.
Jun. 15: One of the most widely
distributed stories in City Pulse’s history whistles up an unexpected
tempest from a teapot. Fox News, the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion
Journal, the Drudge Report and the National Journal’s Hotline pick up a
City Pulse story on a protest gone awry by MoveOn, the liberal poitical
action committee. On June 1, about 20 MoveOn demonstrators mistakenly
showed up at the office of Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, to protest his
financial ties to House Majority Leader Tom Delay, when the target of
the protest was actually Mike Rogers, R- Ala. City Pulse takes heat for
fueling the scorn of right-wing bloggers, but makes up for it by
sampling rabid right-wing blogs with grammatical errors left intact.
Aug. 3: “Benavides on ropes after ringing Bernero win.” Virg Bernero outpaces Lansing mayor Tony Benavides by 20 points in primary election.
Aug. 10: Lansing city attorney Margaret Vroman lets local
theater group Sunsets With Shakespeare mount a bloody production of
“Titus Andronicus” in a Lansing park after another official, parks and
recreation director Murdock Jemerson, refused permission because there
would be too much “spewing of blood.” The story by Thomas P. Morgan
reports that “Titus Andronicus” contains “14 killings, six severed members, one live burial and one instance of cannibalism.”
“Titus” was so polarizing it inspired City Pulse to run
its first and only set of “dueling reviews”, by Tom Helma (negative) and
T. E. Klunzinger (positive), Aug. 24.
Helma: “Drunken fraternity students doing a read-through at an MSU fall mixer could have done a better job.”
Klunzinger: “A ‘Titus’ of truly memorable proportions.”
Bob Trezise, CEO of Lansing Economic Development Corp.,
kept this Oct. 5. 2005, City Pulse cover in his office to spur him to
work harder on downtown redevelopment deals, including the redevelopment
of the Ottawa Street Power Station into the world headquarters of the Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America.
Oct. 12: Tom Helma brings his son, Gabe, to the Lansing
airport to continue his tour of duty in Iraq: “At the airport, I watch
him taking the stairs, bounding up to the loading gate. He waves, shouts
out with a smile, ‘Just two more months.’ I wave back, then salute him,
turning away quickly, trying vainly to hold back tears.”
Oct. 19: “Muffitt, symphony make local music history.”
Timothy Muffitt, the second of four guest conductors vying
to replace Lansing Symphony Music Director Gustav Meier, looks like a
winner with a pounding Prokofiev Fifth: “A watershed,
coming-of-age-night,” reviewer Lawrence Cosentino writes. The following
spring, Muffitt gets the maestro job.
Nov. 2: Mary Cusack reviews “The Penis Project,” a display of 100 ceramic penises by artist Sue Long.
“Small, big and enormous; erect and flaccid; thick and
thin; straight and crooked, circumcised and uncircumsiced; pierced and
pink polka-dotted; dressed up in business suits, faux fur, feathers,
beads, capes, or nothing but a smile — every conceivable preference is
represented in this provocative show.”
Nov. 9: Virg Bernero is elected mayor of Lansing by
a nearly 2-to-1 margin over Mayor Tony Benavides. Ingham County
Commissioner Chris Swope defeats City Clerk Debbie Miner.
Dec. 21: Tom Helma writes of the imminent return of his son, Gabe,
after a year of duty in Iraq. “A welcoming ceremony for the unit is
scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. There is talk of whether Purple Heart
medals will be given out, one posthumously, others for wounds incurred
during patrols…Finally then, he is ours to enjoy.”
Jan. 11: Ingham County launches a land bank “that will
enable the county to jump ahead of prospective slumlords and acquire
rundown houses, repair them, and then sell them to low- to-moderate
income families.” Cover story by Thomas P. Morgan.
Williamston Theatre launched, Jan. 11, 2006.
Feb. 8: In a cover story, “LCC’s other drama department,” Thomas P. Morgan writes that the resignation of Lansing Community College President Paula Cunningham “was
just the exclamation point on an internal struggle between the
president and the Board of Trustees that stretches back to the winter of
2002, less than two years after she took office as president.”
Feb. 15: Hopes for good relations between the Lansing City
Council and newly elected Mayor Virg Bernero founder when Bernero calls
Council Vice President Brian Jeffries “a pathetic piece of shit” for
blocking the nomination of Bob Trezise as director of the Lansing
Economic Development Corp. Bernero apologizes and Jeffries accepts the
Apr. 12: Cover story, “Virg finds the rough,” sums up Bernero’s rocky first 100 days as mayor. Dennis Preston’s cover has Bernero on a golf course, costumed as a superhero, battling a fire-breathing, multi-headed City Council dragon led by frequent Bernero antagonist Carol Wood.
Apr. 26: Eight reporters contribute to Thomas P. Morgan’s panoramic cover story on Neo-Nazi rally at Capitol steps April 23: “Protest, shock, curiosity and indifference greet National Socialist Movement.”
Jul. 12: “When the sound grenade detonated at her feet on June 30, Lansing resident Loretta Johnston knew that it was a sign to run.”
Daniel Sturm’s cover story follows Michigan Peace Team members from
Lansing to the West Bank village of Bil’in, where Israeli soldiers
counter protesters with sound grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Jul. 19: City Pulse’s first 10 years were marked by a string of requiems for closing bookstores and music stores.
This week, Readmore News Center on Cedar Street. closed after 30 years.
“When Barnes and Noble on Saginaw moved in, things started changing,”
owner Carolyn Kramer said. “Then came the Internet, and the GM closing.
Meijer offered the new Harry Potter book at 50 percent off.” One
customer, Mike Sharkey, got a Chicago Tribune at Readmore every day for
30 years and married the girl behind the counter in 1978.
Oct. 18: U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, interviewed by Berl Schwartz.
Schwartz: If one of your kids were gay, would you call that a lifestyle choice?
Rogers: I would call that a lifestyle choice.
Schwartz: And you would have voted the same way [in support of Michigan’s anti-same-sex marriage amendment]?
Rogers: I would have voted the same way. That
doesn’t mean I would have loved my children any less at all, but I
believe when you’re taking what is a lifestyle choice into the public
arena, into the courtroom like that, it has ramifications, and I just
don’t think that would be the right direction for us to go…We tell
people who can drive a car. And we give marriage licenses. And we’ve
decided that the best cornerstone for that level of acceptance in
American society is that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Oct. 18: The Temple Club, a key Lansing venue for
touring rock bands and other events, closes. An attorney for the club
tells employees the business was “hemorrhaging money every day.” In its
brief heyday, the club hosted well-known acts like the Gin Blossoms, the
Reverend Horton Heat, Animal Collective, Cursive and KRS One.
Dec. 6: Rachel Zylstra’s cover story on Lansing’s “food deserts” —
where residents have limited or no access to full-service grocery
stores — is neither the first nor the last time City Pulse spotlights
the problem. A survey shows that 32 percent of northwest Lansing
residents pick up some or all of their groceries at gas stations, liquor
stores or convenience stores, where junk food predominates.
Dec. 20: The Lansing City Council passes a human rights ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on “irrelevant characteristics,” including sexual orientation and gender identity or expresson. Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar
crafted the ordinance and shepherded it through Council. Dunbar wrote a
piece for City Pulse addressing commonly heard objections to the
ordinance. One of them was the dread of cross-dressing men in the
“Let’s get real for a moment. Gender dysphoria is
extremely rare. There weren’t thousands of men sitting at home waiting
to this ordinance to pass so they could put on their pantyhose and go to
work the next day dressed like Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Feb.21: The never-ending friction between Mayor Virg
Bernero and his City Council nemesis, Carol Wood, played out in dozens
of City Pulse stories over the decade. When Bernero called Wood
supporters to discourage them from going to a fundraiser, politics
columnist Kyle Melinn suggested the mayor calm down, “show up [at the
fundraiser], cut a $100 check and wish Wood luck this November. As the
old adage goes, ‘Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.’”
Mar. 7: Lansing goes into shock when Old Town pioneer, artist and Creole Gallery owner Robert Busby is
murdered by Ramon Garcia, an itinerant handyman he befreinded. Garcia
killed himself as police closed in on him in Clinton County.
Cover story, “A Love Supreme, A Loss Supreme,”
traces Busby’s life from his years as a line worker at Oldsmobile to
his early rehabbing of Old Town buildings in the 1970s to his status as
“mayor of Old Town” and leading figure in the art and music renaissance
The story ends with a public memorial led by Mayor Virg Bernero at Lansing Community College’s Dart Auditorium.
“In the seats were city officials, factory workers,
musicians, artists, gays, straights, men, women, young, old, black and
white…It wasn’t a still life in oils or a box of dolls and broken glass,
but Busby was a multimedia artist. This diverse crowd, full of grief
and swelling with a will to keep him alive any way they could, was his
final creation. It was perhaps his most lasting.”
Apr. 11: “His administration has been a catastrophe.” - Former Michigan William G. Milliken, interviewed by Dave Dempsey, on George W. Bush.
Milliken also comments on the state’s deficit problem:
“Simply cutting expenditures and costs will not solve the problem…That
means also finding new revenues as well as some hard budget reductions.
May 2: “We’re all going to get to know the ‘Cut’ Family
very well — K-12 Cut, Public Health Cut, Police Cut, University Cut,
Fire Department Cut and Prison Cut, not to mention the extended family
members.” - From cover story by Kyle Melinn on Michigan’s budget deficit
Aug. 8: “I am not moving, and I am not giving up Council. When
you take on a job, you finish it. My mother taught me that. She expects
me to finish this campaign. She expects me to be re-elected. And she
expects me to do my job.” - Councilwoman Carol Wood, interviewed by T. M. Shultz
after Woods’ mother, neighborhood activist Ruth Hallman, was murdered in
her Lansing home July 26.
Oct. 10: Cover story, “Phoenix Rising,”
tells the inside story of the biggest redevelopment coup in Lansing’s
history. After almost 20 years of false starts, a deal is announced that
will transform Lansing’s derelict Ottawa Power Station into the
world headquarters of the Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America. The
$190 million project will save a national landmark, spark a downtown
revival, and inspire dozens of stories in City Pulse on its many phases
of construction over the next three and a half years.
Oct. 17: In a second big development announcement, the city makes a deal with developer Pat Gillespie to build a new City Market next
to the river and raze the old market to make room for Gillespie’s
mixed-use condo-and-retail development. This time, public reaction is
mixed. Another stream of stories in City Pulse will follow the debate on
the City Market’s problems, the merits of the old building, and the
motives of the parties.
Oct. 31: Lansing’s elusive downtown performing arts center floated like a ghost through dozens of stories in City Pulse, first its first year to its latest. “Don’t forget an arts center,” by
“Urban Matters” columnist Gretchen Cochran, made a twofold cultural and
economic case to build one: “it is time to invigorate our performing
arts community with a place to do what it does best.”
A series of plans, from the early administration of Mayor David Hollister on, came to naught.
Nov. 7: The rise of the Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. and its founder and artistic director, Chad Badgero,
roughly parallels the rise of City Pulse in the 2000s, and is the
frequent subject of enthusiastic ink from drama reviewers. Cover story
follows Chad Badgero from neighborhood plays on his parents’ patio in
Mason to the thick of Lansing’s theater scene. Badgero: “I know it’s a grand thought, but our ultimate goal is that people are better after seeing our shows.”
Cover story by Bill Castanier on reunion of 1960s radicals
at MSU: “[MSU Trustee and former SDS radical Colleen] McNamara is going
to the reunion, although she will have to work it in to her daughter’s soccer practice.”
Jan. 23: MSU unveils the winning design for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, endowed
by the biggest gift in the university’s history, designed by Pritzker
Prize-winning U.K. architect Zaha Hadid. “If you build what we
recommended, you will need a bigger airport,” competition juror and
Frank Gehry protégé Edwin Chan says. Cover story by Lawrence Cosentino
describes the winning design as “a crouching beast of pleated metal
plates, not in the same architectural universe as anything else on the
MSU campus, or, perhaps, in the entire Midwest.”
Mar. 5: As the housing crisis hits Lansing, reporter Neal
McNamara visits an Ingham County foreclosure auction, where 35 to 60
houses a week are being auctioned off, up from two or three per week 10
years ago. Outside the courthouse, activists from Community Defense
Against Poverty demonstrate for relief. “The dream of becoming a homeowner has become a nightmare,” activist Chris Alexander says.
In the coming months, foreclosure announcement inserts in
City Pulse run to 20 pages of fine print, almost doubling the paper’s
Aug. 6: Barack Obama visits Lansing for the first time and speaks before 2,000 people at the Lansing Center on his 47th birthday, Aug. 4. “There’s no place I’d rather be on my birthday than Lansing, Michigan,”
he tells them. Obama touts potential jobs from wind and biomass energy
and urges the nation to wean itself from foreign oil imports.
Ticket lines to the rally snake for blocks. Obama returned
to the Capital area one more time during the 2008 campaign, addressing a
rally at MSU Oct. 2.
Feb. 4: As an alternative to the Board of Water and
Light’s proposed new $1 billion coal plant, James Clift of the Michigan
Environmental Council presents “Plan B,” a mix of natural gas and
renewables. “It’s uncertain how Plan B, a midnight-oil job by
overworked and under-funded environmentalists, will stack up against the
sophisticated BWL plan, a sophisticated computer model crafted by
Ventyx, Inc., a global software and technology giant,” writes Lawrence Cosentino.
Two years later, after a contentious public debate, BWL
drops plans for the coal plant and adopts a new plan, relying primarily
on natural gas, that a BWL exec admits is very similar to Clift’s Plan
Feb. 18: In City Pulse’s 10-year history,
Michigan lurched from highly publicized arts initiatives to draconian
funding cuts that kept the state at or near the bottom of the nation in
arts funding. “From ‘cool’ to cold: Governor reverses commitment to arts and culture,”
by Eric Gallippo, reports that Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to slash
the state’s arts budget by over 80 percent, and triple the grant
application fee from $300 to $1,000. “You read stuff like that and say, ‘Why do I live in this state?’” asks Emily Sutton-Smith of the Williamston Theatre.
Apr. 15: “Lansing development stars: Where are they now?” Reporter
Neal McNamara revisits a wilted bouquet of seven downtown development
projects whose start date came and went without event because of the
economic downturn: The Lenawee, Capitol Club Tower, Ball Park, City
Center Studios, Lansing Gateway, Sobi Square and Market Place.
Apr. 22: City Pulse’s 2009 Top of the Town awards featured a bizarre category — Best Movie Role for Virg Bernero. After all the trouble we went through to make a phony poster, Bernero didn’t show up at the banquet to pick it up.
Jul. 8: Actor, director, Spotlight Theatre founder and City Pulse theater critic Len Kluge dies July 1 at age 63 of multiple myeloma.
“In a service scripted by Kluge himself and left to his
closest companions to carry out, friends and family took the podium
between prayers and the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan to pay homage
to their husband, friend, colleague, neighbor and teacher,” Eric
Gallippo writes in a cover story.
Nov. 4: Virg Bernero defeats challenger Carol Wood in a landslide, wining his second term as mayor of Lansing. “Say what you will about Virg Bernero,” writes Kyle Melinn. “He’s bombastic. He’s quick-tempered. He rocks the boat too much. Lansing voters said Tuesday they love him for it.”
Nov. 18: Cover story, “Curing Sprawlitis,”
hammers one of the most insistent themes of City Pulse’s 10-year run:
“Lansing’s urban landscape is afflicted with the disease of urban
sprawl.” Amanda Harrell-Seyburn and Neal McNamara lay out the principles
of New Urbanism, including slower car traffic, multi-use zoning and on-street parking, beginning in the Stadium District.
Dec. 16: When readers open up this week’s City Pulse, a
44-page foreclosure listing falls on the floor. Treasurer Eric
Schertzing tells reporter Neal McNamara the list of properties heading
toward tax foreclosure is over 1,500, compared to 800 last year.
Dec. 23: “I’m Pat Gillespie, your downtown development angel … I need God to give me a tax incentive, or I can’t build my new loftominiums, and the only way I’ll get it is if I show you it’s a wonderful Lansing!” –From “It’s a Wonderful Lansing,” comic strip with Virg Bernero in the Jimmy Stewart role of the Christmas classic, with story by Neal McNamara and Eric Gallippo and art by Dean Stahl.
Feb. 24: Over 5,000 attend a Tea Party rally at the Capitol steps to hear a series of angry speakers, including Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher.
“The front of the Capitol dome hadn’t seen this kind of turnout since
the Michigan Education Association’s teacher rally in 2005,” Kyle Melinn
May 19: “The curtains closed on BoarsHead Theater
Monday night as the Lansing Community College Board of Trustees voted
not to pursue a partnership with the now-bankrupt company,” James Sanford reports. Lansing’s oldest professional theater, BoarsHead opened in 1966.
Jun. 9: “The rather unscientific and mostly anecdotal research done by one totally square breeder/drag hag reveals that the gay bar scene in Lansing has never been stronger.” Mary Cusack, “Getting out,” a history of Lansing LGBT nightlife.
Jul. 21: Lansing’s Board of Water and Light scraps plans
to build a new $1 billion coal plant and announces it will build a $182
million natural gas-powered co-generating plant in REO Town. “Had they moved forward with the coal, it would have been a nightmare, a slugfest,” former Lansing mayor David Hollister comments.
Sept. 15: California sculptor James T. Russell says that “Inspiration,” Lansing’s new 24-foot-tall public sculpture on the Grand River downtown, is a union of the male and female “principles.” “This sculpture is almost climactic in that sense,” Russell says. After it’s installed May 12, 2011, wags take to calling the sculpture “the Vaginis.”
Jan. 12: Sidewalk to nowhere? A
proposed sidewalk connecting two Lansing parks stirs unexpected
controversy ending in charges and counter-charges of race-baiting and
alleged threats. Political commentator and “livid property owner” Bill
Ballenger says the $1.3 million sidewalk would be used by “power-walking women” and notes that “lower-income, largely African-Amrican”
folks use the path now. Mayor Virg Bernero, the Clergy Forum of Greater
Lansing and others sharply criticize Ballenger’s comments. Ballenger,
in turn, accuses the mayor of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and
says he has received threats.. “If anythng happens to me, it is on
[mayor Bernero] and on you,” he writes to City Pulse and WILS-AM radio.
Reporter Andy Balaskovitz takes a bike ride on the stretch in question,
and columnist Kyle Melinn recalls a “near-death experience” there.
“Lansing Township isn’t ‘nowhere,’” Melinn writes. “It’s a collection
of neighborhoods and some business. Just like Lansing...but without
sidewalks....” Melinn predicts “the sidewalk will inevitably follow.”
Feb. 23: MSU student activists demand the administration
set a date to wean itself from burning coal. MSU’s T.B. Simon Power
Plant is the largest on-campus coal-fired power plant in the nation. “MSU is preparing students for a 21st-century work force using 19th-century technology,” an activist says.
Mar. 23: Kyle Melinn’s cover story, “Is Anybody Listening?” finds angry backlash against the policies of newly elected state Republicans to be largely ineffectual.
“Carpenters, plumbers, police officers, firefighters,
autoworkers, retirees, teachers, college students, high school
students…have all congregated at the center of Michigan state government
to say no to [Gov. Rick] Snyder and the Republican majorities in the
House and Senate. Maybe not since the days of Tent Cities in the early
1990s with then-Gov. John Engler called for the elimination of general
assistance has Lansing seen such a consistent flow of voices coming to
the Capitol dome. What impact are these voices having on the maker of many of these proposals, Rick Snyder? Not much.”
Mar. 30: City Pulse publishes the biggest issue in its history, a 52-pager featuring “Phoenix Risen,” a 28-page section on the newly completed restoration of the Ottawa Street Power Station into the world headquarters of the Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America.
May. 4: Despite the reluctant support of Mayor Virg
Bernero, a millage increase is defeated by 220 votes, leading to
widespread layoffs of Lansing police officers, firefighters and other
Jun. 8: Cover story, “State of Tarnished Pride,”
tracks ongoing legal, psychological and economic fallout of Michigan’s
anti-gay-marriage amendment, with bitter testimony from people who have
already left the state or want to. “I’ve been all around the country,
and Michigan is the most beautiful state in the United States, but I
would leave it in a heartbeat,” Lansing resident Dennis Hall says.
Aug. 17: City Pulse celebrates its 10th year of publication.