Friday, July 11, 2014

Open Letter to Jim Diamond (and everyone else downtown)

Downtown and Midtown Detroit are becoming expensive. They are becoming so expensive, in fact that Jim Diamond of Ghetto Recorders can no longer afford to operate there and is considering a move to the suburbs.

An article about this fact, by the way, is available from The Detroit News here.

That's a little sad because he is one of the creative pioneers who helped to make the rebirth of downtown possible.

However, if Jim Diamond or anyone else is interested, I can show them a bunch of really cool spaces in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood on the far west side that would be a great spot for you.

Plus, you'll be closer to Gracie See Pizzeria, named the best traditional pizza in North America at the International Pizza Expo, as well as Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen, which is one of the best Mexican restaurants in town. You'll also be closer to some shawarma that makes the stuff served downtown seem like left-over Chef Boyardee.

And when you need to burn off all of those calories, you'll also be closer to the largest park in Detroit - one that's bigger than Belle Isle, Campus Martius, Grand Circus, and Hart Plaza combined.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Brennan Pools Re-Open

Brennan Pools in Rouge Park re-opened today after having been closed for nearly two years. The pools were originally closed by former Mayor Dave Bing due to budget cuts.

The pools were able to restored and opened again thanks to $3 million fundraising campaign that was spearheaded by State Representative Harvey Santana and supported by the Speak of the House Jase Bolger. The largest donor to the cause was Lear Corporation, although a variety of other partners contributed as well.

The pools will be open for the rest of the summer every day from 12:30 p.m. until 8 p.m..

Friday, June 27, 2014

Laws and ordinances that relate to fireworks

I used to love fireworks as a kid. Today, however, I hear them so often that I am simply sick of them.

I breathed a tiny sigh of relief, therefore, when I got this sheet in my email from Ricardo Moore, our police commissioner, that outlines the various laws and ordinances regarding fireworks in Detroit. The short version: most of this stuff violates an existing city ordinance.

Now, we just have to get someone to enforce those ordinances.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Consumers Beware: 5 Tips to Keep you Scam-Free this Summer

For the majority of Americans who plan to take a vacation, attend a concert, or work on their home or garden this summer, this season comes with its own unique consumer challenges. As this week's Tip of the Week feature, here are the top five scams and frauds to be alert for this time of year:

  1. Don’t buy gas additives that claim to make fuel last longer. Even though gas prices go up in the summer, the Environmental Protection Agency has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage, and some could damage a car’s engine or increase exhaust emissions.
  2. Unlicensed home repair or landscaping contractors may come to your door to offer services. Always research contractors, pay for services upon completion—not ahead of time— and consider using a signed contract outlining the work to be done and the exact price.
  3. Interested in a summer concert or festival? If you buy tickets from a major vendor, remember surcharges and additional fees may be tacked onto the listed price. Some venues require the same credit card used to purchase tickets be presented when the tickets are picked up, so if you’re buying tickets for someone as a gift, they may have difficulty getting them at will-call.
  4. When renting a beach or lake house for vacation, make sure the property actually exists. Do your homework before paying— check out the owner or rental company, consult maps and read the lease carefully. Pay with an online payment service or a credit card so you can dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  5. When flying, make sure you’re aware of the airline’s baggage charges and their policy when it comes to bumping passengers. A lot of airlines “bump” depending on how late you checked in, so check in ASAP!

For more advice on protecting your money, order the Consumer Action Handbook, which is available here. Also, follow on Facebook and Twitter. If you have your own consumer questions, ask us using the hashtag #AskMarietta, and they’ll answer them live during a Google hangout on Tuesday, June 24 at 3 p.m. ET.   

Don't leave your keys in your car overnight

I see some rather strange things as I go running or walking through the streets of Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. (Okay - I see strange things everywhere. It's just the ones in Warrendale that fit this blog.) Regardless, I was surprised to see a set of keys dangling from a car door on Ashton near Kirkwood recently.

I also wonder which happened first: the owner coming back to retrieve his or her keys or someone taking advantage of this situation and stealing said car.

Guest commentary: Ricardo Moore, Police Commissioner

The following is a piece that was written by Ricardo R. Moore. He is the Police Commissioner for the District 7 in Detroit, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood.

Ricardo Moore campaigning in Warrendale - Photo by Frank Nemecek
As a police commissioner, I understand the role of checks and balances in respect to the Detroit Police Department. I also understand promoting peace and the long-term outcomes of doing such.

It’s important for us not to be reactionary to criticism but proactive to our thoughts and beliefs of a safer city. Moving the focus from the negative to the positive is needed.

In a lot of instances, leaders have programmed the citizenry for negativity: the violence, the robberies, the blood, the unsolved crimes. Pain is something everyone can relate to, and therefore, it’s served as a main course.

Currently, the Detroit Police Department is focusing on the positive aspects as opposed to the negative, more familiar headlines. A healthy, motivated and transparent DPD changes the community for the better.

A person feels safer when he or she senses the tone of their environment changing (streetlight repairs, blight removed, potholes fixed, visible leaders in the community). This tone is set from managers who control resources.

Leaders should always accent the positive, while also safeguarding lives and property.

I challenge every leader in southeast Michigan to put personal agendas aside and work for the betterment of our hometown, our city, our future.


Ricardo R. Moore
Police Commissioner
Detroit Police Department

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Water and Sewage director sentenced to jail

The former director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house after having pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the case of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, announced U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

Joining on the announcement were Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Carolyn Weber, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division; and Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge, Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division.

U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds imposed sentence on Victor Mercado, 62, of Stuart, Florida.

According to the superseding information, from June 2002 to June 2008, Mercado served as director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), reporting directly to Kilpatrick. In this capacity, Mercado was responsible for administering more than $2 billion in contracts with private companies.

The plea documents stated that Mercado, acting at the direction of Kilpatrick, unlawfully steered contracts and payments to Kilpatrick co-conspirator Bobby Ferguson. Mercado influenced the procurement process to Ferguson’s advantage and directed a bidder to include Ferguson on a DWSD contract if the bidder wanted to receive favorable consideration on the bid. Mercado took these steps as a result of regular and consistent pressure from Kilpatrick and his staff to help Ferguson obtain DWSD business regardless of procurement policies, rules, and regulations.

“Although Mr. Mercado was acting under pressure from the mayor, he must be held accountable for abusing his position of trust and causing harm to the city,” McQuade said.

“While director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Mr. Mercado violated the law by unlawfully steering business contracts at the direction of the former mayor,” explained Abbate. “This criminal conduct inflicted economic harm upon the city, and Mr. Mercado must be held accountable for his actions.”

“Illegally influencing the bidding process for managing wastewater and sewage can significantly endanger public health and safety,” said Ashe. “As a public servant charged with protecting Detroit’s residents, these actions are particularly egregious. Today’s sentence sends a clear message that EPA and its partners will prosecute municipal officials that skirt their responsibility to protect those they serve.”

“Public corruption remains a top priority for IRS-Criminal Investigation, and this case represents the value of the collaborate efforts of law enforcement to hold those in positions of public trust accountable,” added Weber.

From January 2002 to January 2006, Kilpatrick served as special administrator over the DWSD. That designation, arising from a federal consent decree resolving a lawsuit alleging federal environmental violations, gave Kilpatrick authority to award DWSD contracts directly with outside parties, bypassing city procurement procedures, and also gave Kilpatrick responsibility over the operation of DWSD’s wastewater treatment plant to ensure compliance with environmental standards.

As stated in the plea documents, Kilpatrick used his position as Mayor of Detroit and Special Administrator of DWSD to pressure city contractors to give subcontracts or payments obtained under those contracts to Ferguson, or risk having the contracts delayed, awarded to competitors, or canceled, resulting in economic harm. Invoking and otherwise exploiting his well-known affiliation with former Mayor Kilpatrick, Ferguson pressured city contractors to hire or pay him for DWSD contracts.

This case was investigation by special agents of the FBI, IRS, and EPA-CID and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Chutkow, Michael Bullotta, and Eric Doeh.