State Roundup


Voters back tax to keep public library open

TROY, Mich. (AP) -- Residents of the Detroit suburb of Troy have voted to approve a measure to keep the city's library open.

Unofficial results posted by the office of the Oakland County clerk say 58 percent of about 21,000 votes cast on Tuesday were in favor of a millage for library operations, while 42 percent voted against the measure. The tax is expected to generate $3.1 million.

It was announced earlier this year that the Troy Public Library could close, but the vote was scheduled as part of an effort to keep it open.

Voters twice rejected millage proposals last year for funding library operations.


Knights of Columbus to pay $22.7M for papal center

DETROIT (AP) -- The Knights of Columbus plans to buy the financially troubled Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., in a $22.7 million deal involving the Archdiocese of Detroit.

The agreement was announced Tuesday in Denver at a Knights of Columbus convention. The New Haven, Conn.-based Catholic lay organization plans to expand exhibits about the late pope and hold events at the facility.

The Archdiocese of Detroit expects to get about $20 million from the Cultural Center's foundation from the sale, and the Catholic University of America will get the rest. The sale will allow the Archdiocese of Detroit to recoup some of the $54 million it invested in the center.

"The sale will enable us to recoup some of what we invested and will end archdiocesan outlays averaging $65,000 per month to maintain the building and grounds," Vigneron wrote in a letter about the deal. "The ... cash we receive will help stabilize archdiocesan finances."

The 130,000-square-foot building has been mostly closed for years, open by appointment only.

The deal is expected to be finalized within 60 days.

Mount Clemens

Judge to molester: 'This isn't the Academy Awards'

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) -- An offer of thanks made by a 66-year-old man who pleaded guilty in a child molestation case didn't sit well with a Michigan judge.

The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reports George Gary Dombrosis of the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores on Tuesday thanked several people involved in the case during his sentencing in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

The remarks prompted Judge Richard Caretti to inform him: "This isn't the Academy Awards."

Caretti was ordered to spend one year in the county jail in the case, which involved a 13-year-old boy in 2010. He previously pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of possession of child pornography.


Sentence next for man in online sex abuse case

DETROIT (AP) -- Federal prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for a Detroit-area man who went online to persuade mothers to sexually abuse their children.

The government says seven mothers sexually assaulted 12 children at the direction of Steven Demink of Redford Township, an ex- car salesman. He returns to federal court Wednesday for sentencing, five months after pleading guilty to charges related to sexual exploitation.

Authorities say Demink used an alias and chatted with mothers across the country, persuading them to engage in sex acts with their children and send images via email or through a live web stream.

In a filing last week, prosecutors said the "destruction left in Demink's path is immeasurable." The government says the mothers are being prosecuted or already have been convicted in their home states.


Franklin criticizes songwriter over rights lawsuit

DETROIT (AP) -- Aretha Franklin says she's "extremely disappointed" over a lawsuit filed by her longtime songwriting partner over song royalties from her latest CD and copyright infringement.

Norman West of Lansing filed the suit July 15 against the Queen of Soul's publishing company in Detroit federal court.

The suit claims Springtime Publishing Inc. failed to sign a royalty agreement for "Put It Back Together Again." The song is on Franklin's "Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love" CD, released in May.

The suit also claims copyright infringement over an earlier song, "Watch My Back."

Franklin didn't immediately respond when news of the suit broke. But she issued a statement Tuesday saying West has "unmitigated gall" considering how she's "personally assisted and advised him over the past 15 years."


City negotiates police pay freeze, pension cuts

DETROIT (AP) -- Detroit has its first negotiated contract with the police officers' union in three decades, a one-year deal that includes freezing pay and cutting pension benefits, Mayor Dave Bing announced Tuesday.

The agreement with the Detroit Police Officers Association reduces the amount current officers will earn under their defined benefit pension plan. It also sets up a defined contribution plan for new officers, who will contribute 5 percent of their pay on top of the city's 10 percent.

The deal follows pension concessions by the city's police sergeants and lieutenants. Together, they will save Detroit more and more in succeeding years, Bing spokesman Dan Lijana told The Associated Press.

Over five years, the total savings could reach $100 million Lijana said. He said the agreement was reached last week, and the union notified the city of the ratification Tuesday.

"The ratification of the collective bargaining agreement shows the willingness of Detroit police officers to go beyond the call of duty in attempting to work with the city," the union said in a posting on its website.

Last month, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation making a government's ability to pay the top factor for arbitrators to consider when settling labor disputes involving police officers and firefighters. For decades, state law has provided for binding arbitration for public safety workers, and Detroit police have long relied on it.

Bing called the negotiated deal "historic" for both the city and the union.

"It shows that we are executing our plan to return the city to fiscal stability by reducing pension costs and doing so through hard work and tough negotiations," the mayor said in a statement.

Published: Thu, Aug 4, 2011