Axios Detroit

Picture of the Detroit skyline.

🙌 Good morning. It's been too long since we've referenced Rebecca Black's grating yet absolutely iconic weekend celebration song, "Friday."

  • "Everybody's looking forward to the weekend, weekend!"

⛅ Today's weather: Partly sunny and a high of 80°.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Detroit member Danielle Douglas!

Situational awareness: The public is invited to pay respects for civil rights activist and former City Council member JoAnn Watson tomorrow during a visitation 10-11am and a funeral service starting at 11am, both at Fellowship Chapel.

  • Today's memorial motorcade starts at 9am at the intersection of Buena Vista and Linwood streets, followed by other stops including West Side Unity Church, Central High School, the Coleman A. Young building, Belle Isle and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, per Swanson Funeral Home.

Today's newsletter is 876 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big FOIA Friday: Judge demands city cough up records

Illustration of the acronym FOIA with an eye that's looking around and blinking standing in for the O.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The city's failure to hand over public records elicited sharp criticism — and even bewilderment — from a Wayne County judge last week.

Why it matters: The hearing was part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit we've been following closely to understand why Detroit takes so long to provide public records.

Driving the news: The city admitted in court that it did not search for emails required to be produced last month in accordance with a court order.

  • The case involves a moving company that wants information about traffic near Stellantis' east side Jeep plant.
  • Circuit Court Judge Charles Hegarty, somewhat begrudgingly, gave the city more time to gather the documents.

What they're saying: "I don't know how to more clearly express the thought that this is a court order, not a court suggestion," Hegarty said.

  • "These documents need to be produced and I can't understand what is going on."

Catch up fast: Grosse Pointe Moving & Storage — in business on Jefferson since 1985 — sued Detroit in March after saying its January FOIA request went unanswered.

  • The city ignored the lawsuit at first, but agreed to a court settlement for emails, contracts and other documents by June 15 in order to avoid a default judgment in the moving company's favor.
  • The city handed over 128 pages — but there were no emails.

The other side: Lawyers for the city offered various explanations, including:

  • The law department is overwhelmed with FOIA requests, approaching 10,000 annually.
  • The settlement called for more records than the company's initial request.
  • "There was a serious attempt post-litigation to try to comply, hence the 128 pages that were produced," Jason Harrison of the Detroit law department told the judge.

The intrigue: Another city lawyer previously working on the case, Danasia Neal, was just fired after the city discovered last week that she's facing felony drug and gun charges.

  • Neal was arrested in 2021 when a search of her vehicle turned up 352 grams of fentanyl, the Free Press reports.
  • The search was illegal and her case should be dismissed, Neal's lawyer told the Freep.

What's next: A new deadline, possibly in early August, is being set for the city to provide all the records to Grosse Pointe Moving & Storage.

The bottom line: "It's possible the city of Detroit needs to sit down, evaluate how it addresses FOIA matters and fix that process," Hegarty said.

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2. Inflation trending down

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

Our metro area's Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 4.7% over the past year through June — the smallest such increase since 2021.

  • However, we're still above the national average of 3%.

Why it matters: CPI measures the price of consumer goods and services over time, and is used to track inflation.

Zoom out: Nationally, sharply lower energy prices continue to be a major factor pulling down overall inflation. Gasoline prices, for example, are down 26.5% compared with a year ago.

  • Used cars and trucks, a category that helped lead the way as prices across the nation started to soar, are down 5.2% compared with a year ago. In June alone, prices fell 0.5%.
  • New vehicles, meanwhile, were flat.
  • Rent price increases showed no sign of slowing nationally — rising 0.5% in June, the same pace as the previous month. Housing costs have put upward pressure on inflation.

3. Things to do this weekend

Illustration of a thinking emoji rubbing its chin with a slice of pizza, a beer, a bike, a coffee, a book and other things to do swirling around its head.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Most of the weekend should be nice and sunny — take advantage of it!

  • We know by now this never lasts for long.

ğŸŽ¶ Experience a wide variety of performances at the free, diversity-themed Concert of Colors through Sunday.

  • Times and locations in and around the Detroit Institute of Arts vary.
  • Full schedule

🫑 Buy plant-based food from local businesses at farm Detroit Abloom's annual Vegan Fest in Jefferson Chalmers with music, food and drinks.

  • Tomorrow, noon-6pm; free to enter.

ğŸŽ¥ Watch the acclaimed movie "Till" outdoors tonight at New Center Park.

  • Doors open at 8pm and the movie starts around dusk. Free!

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4. Where in Detroit is Everett?

Joe threatened to quit if I didn't put a selfie into the newsletter, so here we are. Photo: Everett Cook/Axios

👋 Everett here. After so many of you guessed where Sam was last week, we're making today's photo contest a little tougher.

  • I'm standing in front of one of the city's newest murals, painted on one side of a hotel that's still under construction. But where?

📬 Reply to this email with my exact location, the name of the hotel or the mural and you'll be entered into a contest to win some free Axios swag.

  • We'll have the winners and more on the mural next week!

🍨 1 delicious chart to go

Most common ice cream chains in Detroit
Data: Yelp, Axios research; Note: Includes stores categorized as "ice cream" on Yelp that have reviews; Ties were awarded to the more nationally popular chain; Chart: Kavya Beheraj and Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Dairy Queen is the most common ice cream chain across Metro Detroit, with 86 locations.

  • Culver's and Baskin-Robbins are runners-up with 29 and 27 locations, respectively, per a new analysis of Yelp data from Axios' Kavya Beheraj and Erin Davis.

Reality check: Just because one particular chain is dominant doesn't necessarily make it the best.

Go deeper: Peruse a national map of the most common ice cream chains by county.

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Our picks:

🏖️ Joe is out of the office.

🗓️ Annalise is extremely ready for the weekend.

🏖️ Sam is out of the office.

ğŸŽ§ Everett thinks you should spend the weekend listening to "Academy," an excellent new Wondery+ podcast created by his brother.