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Well Supporter no new news on M-1 Rail too.  But there is still very broad support and they're really close to getting it done!

TRU's got some new news - new staff and interns!  Read on . . .

M-1 Rail Un-News has Silver Lining:  Increased Pressure for RTA

With lots of media hype and years of expectation, there was great hope for a big announcement when US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood came to Detroit yesterday to meet with Governor Snyder, Mayor Bing, the M-1 Rail investors and a room full of other big whigs.  

Yet many were disappointed with the press conference after the big meeting that offered no new real news.  But before you get too down, remember, all the players involved are still very committed to making this project succeed and are still working through all the details of how to make that happen.  Several people involved shared with me afterwards that 90% of the issues have been resolved, but the Federal partners still have some concerns, the main one being who will actually run it?

The exciting news is that they've got $100 million committed to build it, including $19 million in new financial commitments from GM, Blue Cross, and other companies and foundations.  The $25 million they're asking the Feds for would put them within spitting distance of their $137 million construction price.  

But then they need someone to run it and about $5 million a year to operate it, and their expectations of rider and state support are overly optimistic, according to the Feds.  And the Feds won't put money in unless the streetcar is ready to run for the next 25 years.

Which brings us back to the need for a Regional Transit Authority and dedicated transit funding!  (Where have you heard those ideas before?!?)  The Feds made it very clear that they are disappointed with our lack of political progress on getting the RTA passed and hesitant to invest without a strong regional body to coordinate all the different transit components.

On the RTA, the Republican leadership of the Michigan Senate is still struggling to get support from a majority of their caucus and Majority Leader Richardville will not schedule the vote until he has that majority support.  A few southeast Michigan Senators are loudly opposing the RTA, due to narrow-minded tax aversion and outdated Detroit-bashing, all couched in protectionist rhetoric. 

If all the talk of regional cooperation and smart investment at the Mackinac Conference last week didn't open their minds a little bit, maybe a call from a couple of local billionaires will.  

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New to TRU Project Manager Michael Boettcher and Seven Fabulous Interns!

Starting next week, TRU will have a new Project Manager on our staff - Michael Boettcher. You may know Michael if you've been around Detroit or Dearborn long, especially if you've been involved in urban planning, historic preservation, or related efforts.

Michael brings more than 16 years of urban planning and transportation experience to TRU. Most recently, he served as Community Development Director for Southwest Detroit nonprofit Urban Neighborhood Initiatives. He has also been very involved in civic engagement for the Detroit Works Project Long Term Planning initiative.

Prior to that, Michael spent five years running the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and eight years with the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department, where he drafted transportation policy for the city’s current Master Plan. A Detroit native and Midtown resident, Michael obsesses over Detroit’s history with Preservation Detroit and engages his creativity singing with Rackham Symphony Choir.

With TRU, Michael will lead our Senior Mobility Outreach Project, improve our communications, work with the business community, help keep our organization running smoothly, and probably much more. Please join me in offering a big welcome to Michael!

Plus, TRU has seven fabulous interns joining the team!  Over the summer, you'll probably get to know them and hear about the great work they'll be doing. In the meantime, allow us to tell you more about their experience and their intern projects:

  • James Andrews serves as the Faces Of Transit Video Intern and will coordinate interviews of transit users and supporters throughout Metro Detroit.  James will develop ways to share and use these powerful stories to advance our various issue campaigns. James will soon graduate from the University of Michigan - Dearborn with a major in Sociology and a minor in Marketing and Criminal Justice. 
  • Bashar Dimitry  is the Community Outreach Intern who will lead TRU's efforts to engage commnity stakeholders in Oakland County. Bashar is a recent graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University. He received his BA in Social Relations with a specialization in Peace and Justice Studies. 
  • Bill Gallagher just graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in anthropology and japanese.  With great experience blogging on his own and for the Great Lakes Urban Exchange, Bill will work as our Social Media and Web Intern, updating, improving, and expanding our online communications.
  • Crystal McLain, a Community Outreach Intern, has a well-rounded education with a bachelor's degrees in both Urban Studies and Public Relations. Crystal is pursuing a masters in Urban Planning at Wayne State. She will use her education and experience to build TRU's realtionaships with community stakeholders in Macomb County. 
  • Carly Shapiro is a Community Outreach Intern helping to build support in Wayne County for better transportation. Carly recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in Sociology with a sub-concentration in International Social Change. She is currently enrolled in Wayne State's master's program in Urban Planning with a concentration in Urban Economic Development. 
  • Julia Upfal is a Community Outreach Intern. She will focus on Detroit community engagement efforts. Julia is studying Urban Studies at Wayne State and lives in Downtown Detroit. 
  • Letao Zhang is a senior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor pursuing degrees in Art and Design and Architecture. As the Design and Marketing intern, Letao will improve and design materials to promote TRU and public transportation.  

We're excited to have such a talented group and expect great things from them.  

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Come to our Transit Happy Hour this Friday, and the Great Non-TRU Events Upcoming

Transit Happy Hour

After work or after the LEED event and before you head off to the Decennalia or other weekend fun, stop by the old train office for some Michigan brews and some casual chat about transit happenings!  No agenda, just some people who care about transit and want to brainstorm what we can do about it!

While this e-newsletter focuses mostly on TRU's work and specific transit events, we've got a lot of great partners and allies doing related work that deserves your support and attention as well.  Here's a reminder of several upcoming events:

LEED Neighborhood Development

  • This Friday, June 8, 8am-5pm at Henry Ford Comm College in Dearborn

After years of phenomenal success with its LEED rating systems for buildings, the USGBC has rolled out the new LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) Standard. The Detroit Regional Chapter is now ready to start demonstrating the advantages of LEED ND to the comprehensive real estate development and investment communities with LEED ND Forum II, “MAKING LEED® ND HAPPEN FOR YOUR DEVELOPMENT”. $75.00 Registration Fee + Breakfast + Lunch ($25 students). More at www.usgbcdetroit.org.

MSA Decennalia

  • This Friday, June 8, 6:30pm at the Detroit Zoo

Join our partners at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance at Decennalia: an evening of celebration as they recognize a decade of shared success - and look toward our shared future. $50 per person. More at www.SuburbsAlliance.org

Michigan Women’s Power Assembly

  • Saturday, June 16 at WSU McGregor Center

The Michigan Women’s Power Assembly is for activists, volunteers, community leaders, and anyone else who wants to get involved in making Michigan a better place for women to live. From healthcare to economic opportunity; from environmental justice to reproductive rights; from gender-based violence to education – there is plenty to work on, but working together, we can transform dreams of equality and opportunity into reality. More at www.miwomenspowerassembly.com.

MEC Awards Celebration

  • Wednesday, June 20, 5:30pm at the Ann Arbor City Club

Join our partners at the Michigan Environmental Council for their 14th annual Environmental Awards Celebration, recognizing former U of M SNRE Dean Rosina Bierbaum and trail activist Blair Miller. $100 donation recommended. More at www.EnvironmentalCouncil.org.

I hope to see you at all these great events!

Please keep the conversation going - "like" our Facebook page Support Detroit Transit and provide your comments and ideas!

Let me know what you think of the new look and new tools.  As always, you can reach us at the TRU office at 313-963-8872 or email me at MOwens@DetroitTransit.org. 


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