Thursday, August 31, 2006

Convicted

Former Detroit councilman Bates convicted - 08/31/06 - The Detroit News Online

Former Detroit City Councilman Alonzo Bates has been convicted on five different felony charges.

All I can say is that it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mail Bag: The Trash Fee (Part 2)

Kristina Leigh wrote in to say:
Hmm..I think you have to both be 65 AND, not or, make less than $40,000...

Do you know if you can qualify for the discount if make less than $40,000 and are not over 65? Is there a different form to fill out? I couldn't find one...
Thank you for correcting me, Kristina.

I double-checked and I should have said that you have to be at least 65 years of age and make less than $40,000; not or. I had it written down as "or" in my notes from when I spoke with the Mayor's office and neglected to double check it.

I apologize for the oversight.

3 Months Into the "War on Illegal Dumping"

It's now been three months since Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick declared "War on Illegal Dumping". I wouldn't expect everything to be completely solved in three month's time, but that is enough time for some measurable progress to be made. With that in mind, I thought it be a good idea to step back and review the progress to date.

Mayor Kilpatrick promised action in four distinct areas: tenant evictions, vacant lots, tire disposals and enforcement against violators.

Tenant Evictions
The Mayor proposed amending the City Code to require landlords to provide roll-off containers for the evicted tenants. This, of course, was meant as a substitute for having their stuff stay on the curb for weeks or months at a time.

I don't know the status of this proposed amendment to the City Code but, as I look at this eviction that happened a couple of weeks ago on Montrose, it's clear that roll-off containers aren't showing up when folks get evicted.


Vacant Lots
Vacant lots have always been a haven for illegal dumping - both in Detroit and elsewhere. Mayor Kilpatrick promised to expedite the sale of vacant lots. He also offered to sell vacant, city-owned lots to adjoining property owners for only $200.

This, in my opinion, is a good idea and a good start. The challenge, however, is that there haven't been enough people looking to buy these parcels of land. The only solution to that problem, though, is to keep plugging away at it and reminding folks that this land is for sale and for sale cheaply.

Tire Disposals
The Mayor proposed a major crackdown on scrap tires that were simply discarded in our neighborhoods instead of taken to a proper facility. I haven't actually seen the Detroit Police Department pulling anyone that's hauling tires over nor I have heard of the changes in the state law that Mayor Kilpatrick talked about in his original statement.

However, I do know that there aren't anywhere near as many scrap tires lying around in Warrendale as there were three months ago. For that simple fact, I think we have to give the Kilpatrick Administration a certain amount of credit.

Enforcement Against Violators
Mayor Kilpatrick proposed better adjudication against violators through the Department of Administrative Hearings. The problem is: what happens for properties that are in a weird limbo between City-owned vacant properties and the type that the DAH normally prosecutes?

To give an example: there's a brick wall between the Doubletree Hotel on Ford Road and the rest of Warrendale. The area along Kirkwood that's immediately behind that wall is a prime spot for illegal dumping.

And since the land is owned by the City, who does the City go after for the costs to clean-up?

Plus, since there's no street addresses, it's a challenge when you want to report the whole thing to the 3-1-1 Call Center.


The whole problem continues as one follows that wall along to Faust. The area where Faust curves and meets up with Greenview is another prime area illegal dumping. Of course, the challenge is: how do you use a curve in an otherwise straight road as an address?

Overall, I have to give Mayor Kilpatrick a C- for his prosecution of the "War on Illegal Dumping". This is a significant improvement over the way things were in April, but there's still a long way to go.

Detroit mayor, police chief to attend violence summit

Detroit mayor, police chief to attend violence summit

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and Chief Ella Bully-Cummings are in Washington, DC today for the National Violent Crime Summit, which is hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum.

For what it's worth, I hope that violent crimes get a much more aggressive response than the Mayor's "War on Illegal Dumping" did.

Breaking & Entering

According to a post by Ericdfan on the Detroit YES message board, a total of six police cars responded to a breaking and entering call last Friday; catching at least one of the perpetrators in the act.

There's been a rather significant number of B&Es in Warrendale (mostly north of W. Warren Ave., but some on the south side as well). Everything that I've heard from the W.C.O. and the radio patrol is that it's the same pair of men who are responsible for all of these crimes.

Hopefully, the arrests on Friday will put an end to it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

NFL/YET Continues to Move Forward

Construction is moving along briskly on the NFL Youth Education Town that is being built on the grounds of the former Herman Gardens Housing Project.

They have a good chunk of the main structure completed. It looks like they're on track for meeting their goal of opening next spring.

I have a bunch of photos on my Flickr page @ http://flickr.com/photos/fnemecek/sets/72157594255238178/

Photos from a month or so ago (i.e., before my old camera was stolen) are at http://flickr.com/photos/fnemecek/sets/72157594198846350/

Judge orders negotiations in teachers strike

Judge orders negotiations in teachers strike

The Detroit Federation of Teachers and the Detroit Public Schools are headed back to the bargaining table thanks to an order that was issued by a Wayne County Circuit Court judge.

The two-sides will continue wrangling over the teacher's desire for a raise and the district's need to cut $48.7 million from its budget as part of a deficit reduction plan.

Quite frankly, in the middle of all those conversation about numbers with a dollar sign in front of them - I simply hope that some folks remember the numbers with a child behind them.

Like this number: 7.59%.

7.59%
Only 7.59% of 7th grade students at Carver Elementary School in Warrendale met or exceeded the state standards for math last year.

I have to wonder what is going to happen to the 92.41% of students who failed to meet those standard. Precisely what kind of higher education will they be able to move onto? What kind of careers will them by able to have when they graduate in 5 years?

In my opinion, any school district or teacher's union that would put up with a failure rate that high is seriously messed up.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Blogger nation

Blogger nation - 08/24/06 - The Detroit News Online

Congrats go out to all of my fellow bloggers who were featured by the Detroit News this morning about blogging - especially the legendary Girl-in-the-D, who fills her blog with positive stories about Detroit that other media outlets ignore.

I met Jamie Pfeffer (a/k/a Girl in the D) and her husband Gideon a little over a year ago at a fireworks party that was hosted by a mutual friend of ours. Jamie and Gideon are simply two of the coolest people around.

Congrats to Jamie and all of the bloggers who were mentioned in the News article.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

W.A.R.R.E.N.D.A.L.E. Footnote

I was going over the by-laws for the Warrendale Community Organization (the group is in the process of re-writing them) and I noticed an interesting point. Somewhere along the line, someone came up with an interesting acronymn for Warrendale.

W.A.R.R.E.N.D.A.L.E. = Warrendale Area Residents Revitalizing & Enriching their Neighborhood into Detroit's most Amicable Living Environment.

I'll skip the whole part about how you're not supposed to use the word your defining in a definition so you probably shouldn't use it in an acronymn that describes what you're all about either.

Anyway, when I saw that I had an urge to post it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sorry about not posting much

I wanted to post one quick note to apologize to everyone in the neighborhood about not getting as much stuff out as I usually do. For the past week, I've been running around like a proverbial chicken with my head cut off.

For those of you who don't know, besides writing this blog I also coordinate a lot of the P.R. efforts for Detroit Synergy Group. Last week, they had two events that were aimed at bringing at least some of the Dream Cruise into the Motor City: Cars & Guitars on Thursday, August 17 and Cruise in Detroit on Saturday, August 19.

Oh, and this coming Saturday is their annual fundraiser - Pub Crawl VII: Hazen Pingree's Birthday. What better way to celebrate the 166th birthday of one of Detroit's great mayors than by bouncing between 5 different bars in 1 night with a couple hundred of your best friends?

All funds raised that night go to promote Detroit Synergy's various projects - such as Project Clean, which brought a dozen or so people to Warrendale earlier this year to pick-up trash along the Southfield Freeway service drive.

I hope to see a few folks from Warrendale join us that evening.

http://www.detroitsynergy.org/projects/pubcrawl/

Next WCO Meeting

The Warrendale Community Organization has been on a haitus for the summer. However, it's almost time for them to get back to business.

They're next general membership meeting will be on Tuesday, September 5 at 7 p.m. in the Activities Building of Sts. Peter & Paul Church.

Please come out and join us.

What can the WCO do for you?

At their executive board meeting, the Warrendale Community Organization was wondering what they could do to boost the group's membership. Everyone on the board (and that includes me now) was asked to come back with a few ideas.

Since I'm all in favor of letting people help me with my "homework" - I thought I'd post a quick note here to see if anyone had any ideas.

What could the WCO do that would convince you to a) get involved and b) fork over $15 for an annual membership?

Mail Bag: The Trash Fee

I'm thrilled that a couple of people wrote in to say that they handed the form to get a discount on the $300 annual solid waste fee to someone who didn't even know that it was possible to get such as discount. Please keep it up.

I'm still finding people who are eligible but who don't know about it. The City really hasn't been advertising the discount so it's up to us to spread the word, neighbor to neighbor.

Anyone who is over 65 years of age, or who had a household income of less than $40,000 in 2005, is eligible to have their solid waste fee cut in half. All you have to do is a) download this form -> http://www.ci.detroit.mi.us/HomePage/pdf/SWSeniorDiscountForm.pdf, b) fill it out and c) mail it in with the required supporting documents.

To answer CanoeCarver's question about bulk pick-up, it won't resume until November and when it does, it will only be a quarterly basis. I've already seen a couple of people in Warrendale who have stuff set out for bulk pick-up. Unfortunately, since it doesn't resume for another couple of months, those folks are just begging for a ticket from the City.

That ticket, by the way, is a few hundred bucks.

My suggestion is to store the trash someone (like in your garage) and just throw some of it out every week in your regular Courville container.

Hit & Run in Warrendale

There was a hit and run involving a pedestrian on W. Warren Avenue, near Auburn shortly before noon yesterday. The pedestrian in question was a girl who appeared to be about 8 years old.

I was walking by as the E.M.S. arrived on the scene. The girl's leg appeared to be broken but the medics were doing an excellent job taking care of her.

I didn't see the incident itself, but I'd like to say to whoever it was who ran away after hitting a little girl, "You're a jacksass and even if the police don't catch you, I'm sure karama will."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New school year, new dress code

New school year, new dress code

Public school in Warrendale, and the rest of Detroit, now have a much stricter dress code than they previously did. Quite frankly, I think this is a very good idea that should have been done years ago.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Repeat - the Solid Waste Fee

I've heard a lot of grumbling throughout the neighborhood about the $300 annual fee that went into effect recently to pay for trash collection. Much of this has already been said, but I wanted pass along a pair of reminders.
  1. The cost of that fee is off-set by the 3 mills that disappeared from our property tax bills. Some folks actually doubted that our property taxes have gone down by 3 mills. I encourage everyone who doubts me to compare this year's summer property tax bills with last year's. The proof is right there in black and white.
  2. You can have that $300 annual fee chopped in half if you're either a) age 65 or older or b) had a household income of less than $40,000 in 2005.
In order to get that discount, you have to complete a form and mail it in with a) proof of your age (e.g., birth certificate or drivers license) or b) proof of your income (e.g., copy of last year's tax income tax return). For many people in Warrendale, between those two things, that extra $300 fee pretty much disappears.

You can download the form you need for this at http://www.ci.detroit.mi.us/HomePage/pdf/SWSeniorDiscountForm.pdf

O'Halloran's Tipperary Pub Is Sold

Our neighbors at the Dearborn Blog posted a note not long ago that O'Hallaran's Tippery Pub (8287 Southfield Freeway - 313-271-5870) in Warrendale has been sold to Teresa Higgins.

Reportedly, this Warrendale pub will become a central gathering place for alumni from St. Alphonsus in Dearborn.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Ms. Higgins!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mail Bag: Election Results

An anonymous reader wrote in to say:
I think your racism showed thru by your endorsement of Gabe for the post he sought. Stephanie was far more qualified and would have been a more committed representative as she is a resident of Warrendale, or did you know that? She has a home, not an apartment, and two kids in city schools.
First off, don't be a coward.

If you want to insult me then please have the courage and the integrity to put your name on the insult. Everything that I post here has my name and photo on it. I stand behind what I say. Please do the same.

Second, I am well aware of the issues that you raised with Gabe Leland. I never once said that he was the perfect candidate. My reasons for endorsing him over Stephanie Young were precisely what I spelled out in my original post.

Wanting the manager of the local neighborhood city hall to follow-up on complaints with the City does not make me a racist. More over, you are an ignorant jackass (as well as a coward) for saying that it does.

Quite frankly, I don't care how many children Ms. Young has in the Detroit Public Schools. DPS, after all, is dumping their trash in Warrendale - just like the vandals. If she wants to move into an elected position then I would encourage her to start following-up on citizen complaints.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

City Issues RFP for Rouge Park Developement

Rouge Park RFP.pdf (application/pdf Object)

The City of Detroit's Planning and Development Department has issued a request for proposals concerning the development of 5 parcels of land within River Rouge Park. Responses are due to the City by Friday, September 1.

It will be interesting to see who proposes what for the site.

Election Results

The results from the primary election held yesterday are in.

State Representative Gabe Leland, who was endorsed by this blog, survived a primary challenge from a half dozen different fellow Democrats. Quite frankly, I think if there weren't so many candidate in the running, he might not have made it. However, that wasn't the case. Since the Republicans are not fielding a candidate for that seat in November, Leland is essentially assured re-election at this point.

Former State Representative Tupac Hunter emerged victorious in the Democratic primary for the State Senate seat in our area. He will face Republican candidate, and Warrendale resident, David L. Malhalab this Novemeber for a seat that the incumbent State Senator Burton Leland is forced to give up due to term limits.

Speaking of the elder Leland, while he won't be in Lansing any longer, he will likely still be in professional politics. Burton Leland won the Democratic primary yesterday for the 7th District on the Wayne County Commission, which represents an area north of Warrendale. The Republicans aren't fielding a candidate in that race either so Leland is essentially guaranteed election.

From our own district on the Wayne County Commission, our incumbent commissioner Alisha Bell handidly won a primary race over challlenger Jonathon Kinloch with 90% of the vote, to Kinloch's 10%. (Heck, I managed to get almost 20% of the vote when I ran against Ms. Bell's mother Edna in 1996 - but that's another story).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mail Bag: Overdue Acknowledgement of ATM Cash Advance

Back in April, there was a series of posts and comments about the ATM Cash Advance that had opened at W. Warren and Ashton - in a building that I had nicknamed the "Little Castle". I hadn't noticed until now (because Blogger moves posts to the archieves after a certain period of time) but Kathleen Parker wrote in with a comment about the business.
YOU COULDN'T BE MORE WRONG ABOUT ATM CASH ADVANCE. WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS OF THE INDUSTRY AND HAVE MANY PLANS TO AID AND ASSIST OUR CLIENTS IN HELPING THEM TO A MORE POSITIVE WAY OF UTILIZING CASH ADVANCE LOANS. OUR PHILOSOPHY IS UNPRECIDENTED IN THIS INDUSTRY.WE ALSO LOOK FORWARD TO BEING A POSITIVE ADDITION TO THE WARRENDALE COMMUNITY IN ANY WAY THAT WE CAN. STOP IN AND SAY HELLO! :)
Thanks for writing in, Ms. Parker. I'll be sure to stop by sometime.

BP repair to hit state drivers in wallet

BP repair to hit state drivers in wallet

Gas prices are rising throughout the metro area today, thanks in part to an oil pipeline that is being shut down for repairs.

In spite of that, both the BP and Speedy gas stations at W. Warren and Evergreen are selling regular gas for $3.04 per gallon as of noon today - the same price they were selling it for yesterday.

Welcome to Warrendale! Home of the (comparitively) cheap gas.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Gun buyback is a hit in Detroit

Gun buyback is a hit in Detroit - 08/03/06 - The Detroit News Online

Okay, so I promote the fact that the Detroit Department of Transportation is hiring more bus drivers and they are swamped with applications.

I promote the fact that the Police Department is looking to buy guns - no questions asked - and they are swamped with people looking to take them up on their offer.

Dang! I am seriously impressed with the power of the blog.

Okay, okay - before everyone starts clicking the "leave comment" link and telling me that I've officially lost my marbles as well as my hair - I'm only kidding. I know that I'm exaggerating my own importance in this post.

Self-delusion is a hobby of mine at times. Don't worry. I don't let it get the best of me.

In a related note, though, I do feel the urge to respond to a group of ill-informed nitwits calling themselves the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms out of Bellevue, Washington. They issued a statement complaining that this may have allowed some criminals to get rid of a murder weapon.

The problem with that is the DPD is stretched so thin - and is completely devoid of forensic specialists - that it's doubtful they would've been able to link a murdered to his weapon, even if it was recovered.

The gun buy-back program, therefore, isn't helping anyone escape justice. Their already escaping because of problems with DPD staffing. All the buy-back did is prevent the same murder weapon from being used again, because the firearms involved are destroyed.

Granted, I would've preferred to see DPD dramatically boost its staffing levels and build up a forensic unit - but that's a complaint for another post.

No Response from the Mayor

It's now been a month since I sent a letter to Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, in which I expressed my concerns over their lack of enforcement when it comes to narcotics trafficking in the Warrendale neighborhood. It has, unfortunately, reached the point where it's a newsworthy event when I only see one drug deal happening in this neighborhood. The Detroit Police Department is doing all they can, but with so few officers on the job - they are very limited in what they can do.

I mentioned all of this in my letter - and reminded the Mayor of what he said during the campaign about Detroit needing to hire more cops. In spite of that, I haven't heard anything back from either the Mayor or his staff.

If that changes, you'll read about it here in Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. Until then, here's a link once more to my letter: http://igorfilms.com/warrendale/kilpatrick.drug.deal.html

Vote Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the primary elections throughout Michigan. I would like to encourage everyone to get out and vote.

I'd also like to offer my personal endorsements and commentary for the various races.

Republicans Michael Bouchard and Keith Butler will square off tomorrow to determine which of them will face the incumbent, Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Each of them are equally evasive about they would actually do if elected.

As a result, I wouldn't vote for either of them in tomorrow's G.O.P. primary. Instead, I'll focus on the Democratic side.

Michigan House of Representatives - 10th District
The incumbent Gabe Leland is being challenged by 7 different people in tomorrow's race. Of the challengers, the 2 front-runners who seem to be getting most of the attention are Frederik Roquemore and Stephanie Young.

Leland drew a lot of criticism from folks who said that he was too young or too inexperienced when he first sought office two years ago. However, his legislative record since then puts him on par with anyone else in the Legislature. He also shows up at the Warrendale Community Organization meetings on a regular basis and put in an appearance at the Motor City Make Over that they did earlier this year; helping to clean up a portion of the Southfield Fwy. service drive - something that none of the other candidates did.

Roquemore is an unknown entity to me. I've seen his lawn signs all over the place and he supposedly lives on W. Warren Avenue (20044 West Warren, according to his filing). However, I haven't seen him any where.

For what it's worth, Roquemore picked up an endorsement from my counterpart at DetroitUndercovered.com. However, I would have vastly prefered it if I had actuaually seen Roquemore somewhere prior to election day. A WCO meeting. Some community event. Anything, really.

As for Young, who was one of a handful of Democrats to pick-up an endorsement from Right-to-Life of Michigan, I have to admit that she has more or less ably performed her prescribed duties as manager of our local neighborhood city hall. My issue with her is that when someone presents her with a complaint about city services, her most frequent answer is to encourange them to call 3-1-1.

That always irks me because, according to the City's records from the 3-1-1 Call Center, more calls come from the Warrendale neighborhood than anywhere else in the city. Quite frankly, I don't think we really need someone urging us to call 3-1-1. We need someone to make sure that workers within the City are doing their jobs after we call 3-1-1.

That, in my opinion, is something that the manager of our neighborhood city hall should do - but she hasn't done it.

As a result, I'm throwing my support behind the incumbent Gabe Leland.

Michigan Senate - 5th District
Our incumbent State Senator Burton Leland is term-limited out this year. A total four Democrats and one Republican are looking to replace him. Of the five candidates, only one - Republican David L. Malhalab actually lives in Warrendale. However, since he's the only Republican in the running - I'll save discussion of him for the general election.

For tomorrow's primary, our choices are Janet Badalow of Dearborn Heights and three former state representatives - each of whom was term-limited out and is currently seeking a return trip to Lansing. With options like that, I have to say that Derrick Hale is our best option.

Every time I've spoken with Hale over the years, I was always suprised by the eloquence of his reasonings. He served our neighbors to the north well as a state representative and I believe he'll serve us well as a state senator.

Mail Bag: Tax Cuts & Cops

In response to my post last week about tax cuts and cops, CanoeCarver wrote in to say:
I'm just a little confused about one thing. If taxes are cut, how can we expect our city. along with its supposed declining population, to fund an increased narcotics response team, as well as more police officers, in addition solving the community's issue of blight and dumping? As Grandma always said, "You get what you pay for." It seems a little ridiculous to celebrate tax cuts and in the same breath, expect more services.
I understand your point, Canoe. However, I'd hasten to point out that the City of Detroit has an annual budget of more than $3.6 billion. The tax cut represents 0.2% of its budget.

A year ago, the City was so broke it had to lay-off police officers and firefighters. Since then, they managed to squeeze $8 million out of the budget to give a property tax cut to Detroit's more affluent neighborhoords.

My point is that if they squeeze that much money out of a supposedly tight budget, they ought to be able to find half that much money to hire enough police officers to arrest all of the drug dealers in our neighborhood.

It becomes even easier to make the financials work, and justify hiring more police officers to combat drug dealers, when one remembers Michigan's drug forgeiture law. Everything that dealer has that came from selling drugs, can be seized by the courts. Those funds then become eligible for uses such arresting more drug dealers and buyers.

Everything is in place to make this happen, except for political will from the Mayor's Office and the City Council. With a little bit of pressure from the public, that can be overcome - just as their initial reluctance to lower property taxes was overcome.

Of course, there is also another option.

We can completely forget about the nitwits downtown and do it all ourselves.

One other option that's out there is that we can levy a neighborhood association fee onto ourselves (say, $50-75 per year) and use the money to hire a dozen or so laid-off police officers and firefighters as a private security force for the Warrendale neighborhood.

I welcome discussion on that option.