Friday, November 24, 2006

Foggy Friday Morning in Warrendale

There was a think layer of fog throughout the Warrendale neighbor- hood, and much of the Detroit area, this morning. Since I didn't have to work because of the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to snap a few photographs.

I started with some simple shots the streets, photographing them with different exposure settings and setting on my camera. It was actually rather fun to experient with how the different setting would effect the photo and how light seemed different when the photo is taken in the middle of a foggy street.

Taking photos in the middle of street is always an interesting thing to do. I had to keep looking behind me every few seconds to make sure there wasn't a car coming. (Don't try this at home kids - after all, I'm a professional.)

Anyway, after grabbing a few shots in the street, I decided to move on Rouge Park and shoot a few photos there. Once again, I tried shooting different subjects in the park; using different exposures and camera settting to see how the photo would look in such a foggy condition.

I tried grabbing a few shots of birds as they flew away, but in the fog it was impossible to focus on them. Instead I focused by photographic studies on the roads that run through Rouge Park, the canon at Sawyer and Spinoza, the baseball diamonds that I used to play on as a kid and some of the trees in the park.

It was actually a lot of fun and a great way to spend the monring before heading downtown to meet some friends for lunch.

You can see the rest of my "Foggy Day in Warrendale (Detroit)" photos on my Flickr page. I'm really thrilled with the way that most of them turned out and rather hoping that we have another foggy day soon so I can do this again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mayor Kilpatrick and Shop Detroit

Detroit's Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick held a press conference this afternoon to put his support behind two initiatives that are intended to promote holiday shopping in Detroit. Both of these initiatives, interestingly enough, are called "Shop Detroit".

The first is Shop Detroit 2006, which is sponsored by the Detroit Branch of the NAACP with support from four other groups. This one is a month-long public relations campaign to encourage Detroiters to do their shopping within the city limits.

The second is Shop Detroit 3, which is presented by Detroit Synergy Group. This one is geared towards helping those who aren't familiar with all of the new stores that have opened up in downtown Detroit and the New Center area have a great shopping experience in Detroit.

Shoppers are invited to register in the atrium of Compuware's Headquarters between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 2. You'll receive a free pass for the Detroit People Mover as well as special promotions at more than eighty participating shops and restaurants; not to mention the "Stepping Out in Motown Giveaway" that is valued at over $700.

In support of both initiatives, the City of Detroit is also creating free parking at all meters citywide this Friday and Saturday. They will also have discounted parking at City-owned lots on those days.

Additional photos from the press conference this afternoon are available on my Flickr page.

Turkey: Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

In a matter of hours, it will be Thanksgiving in Warrendale. (Yeah, and in the rest of the country, too.) With that in mind, I'm proud to announce that Turkey is the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for November 22, 2006.

LOL!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two New Businesses Coming Soon

There are two new businesses that will soon be opening up in Detroit's Warrendale neighbor- hood. They join the more than one dozen other businesses that have come into our area in the past few months or have expanded their existing operation.

There is a new - and as far as I can tell - currently unnamed beauty supply store that will open soon in the former Blockbuster Video location (20125 W. Warren Avenue). Blockbuster closed some of its retail stores nationwide a year ago in an attempt to cut the company's rising losses and plummeting stock price. This move, unfortunately, left their former location in Warrendale vacant for the past several months.

Luckily, the location won't be vacant much longer. Someone has moved the old store fixture from Blockbuster out and new ones in; not to mention hanging up the vinyl "Coming Soon" sign that you can see in the photo above.

Joining the unnamed beauty supply store in their move to the Warrendale neighborhood is Corr Medical Supply. They are opening in a new location, two blocks west of the Southfield Freeway; directly across from Sonny's Pizza.

I quick check of Google shows that there was a Corr Medical Supply on Joy Road in Detroit. I'm not sure if they're simply moving from their old location into this neighborhood or they are opening a second location.

Regardless of which option it is, the fact that there are two more new businesses preparing to open means that retail growth in Warrendale isn't about to end anytime soon.

And that, in my opinion, is very promising.

Work at Sonny's Pizza

Workers were busy at Sonny's Pizza (17031 W. Warren Ave. - (313) 582-9722) over the weekend, expanding and remodelling their location just east of the Southfield Freeway. Sonny's is the newest addition to the competitive pizza market in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood.

The folks at Sonny's managed to differentiate themselves from the half dozen or so other pizza places in the neighborhood by giving everything on their menu a Mediterranean flair to it, while still keep it affordable. All of the meat they use is Halal. They also have a variety of affordable Mediterranean dishes, such as shish kabob and a falafel platter, in addition to the standard fare of pizza and subs.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Leaves, Leaves, Leaves

The City of Detroit has made a multitude of changes in terms of how it handles our garbage. Many folks have criticized the new $300 annual fee for trash collection. I, however, have preferred to direct my wrath at how poorly Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and his administration have communicated the various changes that are happening.

One of those changes, and perhaps the one that has been communicated the worst of all, is the one that is impact everyone in Warrendale and across Detroit most directly at the moment.

Leaves.

Or, more specifically, what to do with them once you've raked them up.

For the record, the official rule is that leaves are to be placed in either a paper bag or in a seperate trash can but not in your Courville container. Those bags should be placed for collection at the same day as our regular trash collection (Tuesdays for everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood) and they should be positioned approximately 6 feet from your Courville container.

A seperate truck from the City's Department of Public Works is assigned to pick up all leaves through the month of November, provided that they meet those rules. If your leaves do not meet those rules then the City will not pick them up. Furthermore, the City will consider any bags of leaves that don't comply with those rules - such as ones that are in a plastic bag instead of a paper one - to be bulk trash that has been put out early.

Bulk trash that is put out early could subject the owner in question to a ticket. More importantly, it's a very expensive ticket and if you have a couple hundred dollars to blow, I suggest taking your favorite blogger out of an evening of drinking rather than give it to the City.

To recap: leaves that are bagged like the ones below will be picked up by DPW on Tuesdays.

Leaves that are bagged like these will get you a ticket that you really don't want.

It sucks, but I suggest heading over to one of our local hardware store and picking up some of those leaf bags. That or do what I do and compost leaves in your backyard.

The 2006 Weblog Awards

The 2006 Weblog Awards

It turns out that there is still time for folks to nominate a blog for Best New Blog or Best Blog in the 2006 Weblog Awards.

Now, I'm not saying that I want everyone who has ever left a comment about how much they enjoy reading this blog - or who has ever pulled me aside in person to say something - to jump over an nominate the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog for such an honor.

Okay - who am I kidding?

That's exactly what I'm saying. I mean, if it can work for Stephen Colbert - why shouldn't I try it?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Amazes Me

There are moments when I see something that I am simply compelled to photograph. A beautiful sunset, for example, or my 4-year old neice playing with her friends.

Those are images that simply move me.

But there are images that I photograph simply because I can't believe I saw them. It's almost like I need to show this to other so I can have reassurance that I wasn't hallucinating.

Like when I went to shoot some photos of the Tipperary Pub - I saw a vacuum cleaner sitting in the middle of the Southfield service drive.

Exactly, in the middle.

Someone had to have positioned it there and done so deliberately. Perhaps as a commentary on "cleaning up the city". Perhaps they did it simply to make people like me photograph it and talk about it.

I don't know who put it there or how long it will stay, but the simple fact that it was there is something I won't forget any time soon.

Tipperary Pub: Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

Things were, to put it mildly, hectic at my dayjob yesterday. As a result, I unfortunately did not get a chance to post the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Luckily, everything has calmed down considerably. I can, therefore, take the time to announce that the Tippery Pub (8287 Southfield Freeway - (313) 271-5870) is the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for November 15, 2006.

The Tippery Pub has been greating visitors to the Warrendale neighborhood with Irish hospitality since 1969. While the pub came under new ownership recently, their service and drinks have not.

Of course, being named Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week is only the latest honor to be bestowed on the Tipperary Pub. They were named "Best Teeny Irish Bar" by the Detroit News in 2005 and "Best Reason to Order a Pint" by the Detroit Free Press in 2004.

My favorite thing about this place is that it's the main reason why my counterpart at the Dearborn Blog ventures into the Warrendale neighborhood from time to time. Not to be outdone by that, however, there's also the fact that they have live Irish entertainment every Friday and Saturday. Wednesday is their open mic night.

The Tipperary Pub is located on the southbound Southfield Freeway service drive, just south of Joy Road. They have lots of safe and secure parking in their lot.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Six Groups to Announce Plans for Detroit Turnaround effort

Six groups to announce plans for Detroit turnaround effort - 11/13/06 - The Detroit News Online

New Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, Detroit Renaissance, United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan will collectively announce a combined effort to turnaround Detroit tomorrow morning. None of the details have been announced thus far.

However, just from looking at the list of who is involved, this is something that looks promising.

Construction Continues at the NFL/YET

Even though the former Herman Gardens site still looks like an overgrown lot when you go past it on the Southfield Freeway, if you go a few blocks east of the freeway on Tireman, you'll see that construction is moving along quickly at the NFL/Youth Education Town–Boys & Girls Club on the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus. The place appears to be on track to open in the Spring of 2007.

Oh, and I have to say that I really love the giant football that they have over the main entrance. It looks so darn cool.

I have another dozen photos of this construction project that are available on my Flickr page. You can also check out all of the other things that are happening with the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan in their on-line newsletter.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Steve's Three Brothers - Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

Steve's Three Brothers Restaurant (17820 W. Warren Avenue - (313) 271-1227) is one of coolest little diners in Detroit area. Their service is warm and friendly. Their prices are reasonable. They are also the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for November 8, 2006.

Steve's Three Brothers Restaurant has been in business in the Warrendale neighborhood for decades and serve some of the best Polish food you can find in the area. Periogis are a specialty of the house and I highly recommend them.

The only drawback to Steve's is that they are currently only open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Friday; closed on Saturdays and Sundays. They are hoping to once again expand their hours. Until then, if you ever find yourself in Warrendale on a weekday afternoon, you'll be hard pressed to find a better place for lunch.

Discount Laundromat Opens in Warrendale

I had previously reported that a new owner was prepared to re-open the former Norgetown Laundromat on W. Warren Avenue. It took them a few weeks to get the job done, but it is now re-opened as Discount Laundromat.

Detroit Police Make Sweep Through Warrendale

It was reported at the Warrendale Community Organization's November membership meeting on Monday evening that the Detroit Police Department had made a sweep through the Warrendale neighborhood this past Saturday, November 4.

This sweep resulted in 72 abandoned vehicles being tagged on the streets of Warrendale. In addition, a total of 15 arrests were made on Saturday - 2 of which were people who were stealing copper wire in our neighborhood.

They followed this up with a second sweep this morning for abandoned vehicles in the area. I saw them tag 4 vehicles that were illegally parked in a vacant lot on Ashton. All 4 of those vehicles are scheduled to be towed on Friday, November 10 unless they are moved by their owners.

City Council Discusses Rouge Park

The Detroit City Council held a public hearing at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on the future of Rouge Park last Wednesday. (Yes, I am tardy about reporting on it).

The single biggest development was when Harvey Santana of the Warrendale Community Organization addressed the City Council. He asked them to adopt a comprehensive plan for the future of Rouge Park.

There are an additional 38 photos that meeting are available on my Flickr page.

The Friends of Rouge Park will have their next meeting tonight at 6 pm in St. Suzanne Catholic Church (9857 Westwood at West Chicago, in the building next to the church).

Shake-up within the Detroit Police Department

I had previously reported about a rather hellish experience that volunteers from the Warrendale Radio Patrol had on Angel's Night and how it only seemed to get worse when they turned to the Detroit Police Department for help. At the end of my posting on that subject, I mentioned that the entire matter had been brought to the attention of Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings.

An update was announced during the Warrendale Community Organization's November membership meeting. It's not clear if this happened as a direct result of their complaints, but I can announce three rather important things.
  • A police lieutenant with the Northwestern District of the Detroit Police Department, which serves the Warrendale neighborhood, has been demoted to sergeant and returned to patrol duty;
  • The police officer at the Northwestern District who refused to take a report from our volunteers has been relieved of duty. He was also ordered to undergo counselling before he can return to duty; and
  • The District also has a new community relations officer.
Again, it's not totally clear whether or not these developments are a result of the Angel's Night experience in Warrendale. It is possible that it's entirely a coincidence.

Regardless, I believe it is still very significant.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

WCO Meeting Adresses Abandoned Buildings in Warrendale

Thirty-four individuals came out for the November 2006 membership meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization in the Activities Building of Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. The main focus for the evening was our guest speaker Steven Leggat, assistant chief of Detroit's Buildings & Safety Engineering Department, who spoke about abandoned buildings as well as those that cause blight by the owners not maintaining them.

According to a survey by the WCO's Environ- mental Taskforce, there are 83 homes in Warrendale west of the Southfield Freeeway that have a significant issue with them. These include homes were a fire had previously occurred by the damage hasn't been fixed as well as other properties that simply are not being maintained. While 83 problem properties might not seem like a lot in a community with 9,036 homes, WCO's membership chair Carrie Engle was quick to point out that the number of problem properties has been increasing since the issues in question haven't been addressed by anyone with the City.

Mr. Leggat explained the various divisions within his department and who was responsible for what. He also pointed out that his department does not receive any funding from our tax dollars beyond what is used to demolish dangerous buildings. The rest of their budget comes from permit and inspection fees that are assessed against those who build in Detroit.

As a result, the City's Department of Buildings & Safety Engineering only has 1 inspector for every 11,000 commericial or rental properties in the city. This, in turn, does cause a certain amount of delay in responding to citizen complaints. Regardless, he pointed out that his department does respond to every complaint that is made.

Mr. Leggat provided the WCO with a list each of the inspectors within the department and their telephone numbers. He also provided us with the names and telephone numbers of each of their respective supervisors.

Ella Norman, president of the WCO, presented Mr. Leggat with a list of the problem properties. He promised to share it with the inspectors for our area. More importantly, he also promised to follow-up with the WCO's Environmental Taskforce later this month.

There will undoubtedly be more news to report as this situation progresses. When that happens, you can read about it all in the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.

Additional photos from this month's WCO meeting can be found on my Flickr page.

Two Important Notes

::: MOZELLA :::

I have two important notes for everyone.

First, go vote! You have to live with the results of today's election for years to come. You may as well make your voice heard.

Second, when you get back from the polls, log back onto your computer and listen to some music from Detroit-native Mozella. Her debut CD I Will hits stores and iTunes today.

If her song "Love Is Something" doesn't get your toes tapping, please consult a physician immediately.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Endorsements from the Warrendale Blog

The general election is this Tuesday. With so much at stake in this year's election, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to opine and offer a few endorsements.

I offer the neighborhood my take the candidates. My opinions are molded by being in a few dozen community meetings and meeting the folks involved (plus, a college degree in political science and 4 years of earning a living by working on political campaigns before joining the private sector).

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts on any of these candidates, I hope that everyone goes to polls on Tuesday. The Warrendale neighborhood has always had a better than average level of voter turnout and I think it serves the community well for it to continue.

For Michigan's top job, I am pleased to endorse the incumbent Governor Jennifer M. Granholm (D). Michigan's economy is unquestionably in a challenging position; one that would have been better if Ms. Granholm had introduced her "Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow Initiative" a little sooner. Regardless, we are starting to see some improvements as Michigan has gained more that 55,000 "New Economy" jobs. This does not replace all of the manufacturing jobs that Michigan has lost, but it does show that Michigan is moving in right direction.

To represent us in the U.S. Senate, the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog endorses U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D). In her first term of office, Ms. Stabenow has managed to:
Also, I believe that Mike Cox (R) has earned a second-term as Michigan's Attorney General. He has cracked down on "Dead-Beat Dads" and, through his Office of Special Investigations, has conducted more than 100 investigations into public corruption and successfully prosecuted homicides that have long since gone cold, such as the conviction of serial killer Coral Watts.

One incumbent who I believe does not deserve a second term is our Secretary of State, Terri Lynn Land (R). One of the most essential jobs that a Secretary of State does is ensure that our elections are conducted properly. Many Michigan communities are suffering from electronic voting machines that don't count votes properly. As Michigan's top election official, she could have done something about it, but she hasn't - creating a dire situation that recently caught national attention.

Even Oakland County Clerk, and Republican nominee for Lieutentant Governor, Ruth Johnson has complained about the entire situation. For this reason, the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog endorses her Democratic challenger Carmelle Sabaugh.

Speaking of people who do not deserve to be re-elected, I believe it is way past time for Congressman John C. Conyers, Jr. (D) to retire. He has been in Congress since 1965 and his list of accomplishments get slimmer and slimmer each year. I don't even remember the last time that I saw him at a community event.

Since he won't retire on his own, it's up to us to show Mr. Conyers the way out. He is being challenged by Republican Chad Miles of Dearborn. Given the strong Democratic base of this community, and the lingering problems Republicans have on the national stage, it isn't very likely that he'll win. However, I believe that the more people who vote for Mr. Miles this year, the more reluctant Mr. Conyers will be to run for a 22nd term in 2008.

Speaking of the tight grip that Democrats have on this area, I think it would be it good idea to vote for two other people who don't have a strong probability of winning. Republican David L. Malhalab, and a Warrendale resident, and Green Party nominee James Wolbrink are squaring off against Democrat Tupac Hunter for a seat in the Michigan Senate. I am giving a dual endorsement to both Mr. Malhalab and Mr. Wolbrink in that contest.

For the Michigan House of Representatives, Warrendale resident Thomas J. Schaut (R) is squaring off against incumbent Gabe Leland (D).

If a few more people vote for any of these long-shot candidates, it would make the respective incumbents that much more nervous about keeping their jobs. And that, in my opinion, is actually what we need.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

November 2006 WCO Meeting

A quick reminder: the Warrendale Community Organization will have its next general membership meeting on Monday, November 6, 2006, at 7:00 PM in Sts. Peter and Paul Activities Building (7718 Westwood, immediately behind the church). Amru Meah, director of the Detroit Buildings & Safety Engineering Department, will be their guest speaker.

Everyone is welcome to attend - even if you're not currently a member of the WCO. Heck, you're welcome to attend even if you don't live in Warrendale.

Volunteers: Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

Okay - usually I highlight a bar or something about Warrendale that I think is really every Wednesday. This time, however, the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for November 1, 2006 is the volunteers who work for the Warrendale Community Organization and the Warrendale Radio Patrol.

In spite of the fact that they don't get paid a single penny...

In spite of the fact that they got eggs and other crap thrown at their cars on Monday...

In spite of the fact that the Detroit Police Department treated them like crap that evening...

In spite of the fact that they have so many different reasons to throw in the towel and say "Forget it!"...

In spite of all of that - they still showed up to help again on Tuesday.

Even the 80-year old amputee kept going when no one would have blamed him for not even starting.

It's their dedication makes Warrendale one of the coolest neighborhoods around.

Detroit Loses Its 9-1-1 Service for 6 1/2 Hours

According to an article in this morning's Detroit Free Press, Detroiters lost their ability to call 9-1-1 from a landline yesterday afternoon. Residents were still able to call from a cell phone, but not from a conventional phone. The outage lasted for approximately 6 1/2 hours and began at 2 p.m.

9-1-1 is the cornerstone to Detroit's emergency response system. Police, fire and EMS are all dispatched by 9-1-1 operators. It is completely unacceptable for the 9-1-1 system to be down for even 1 hour. 6 1/2 hours is, in my opinion, inexcusable.

The article does report that citizens were able to reach the 9-1-1 call center by dialing the City's back-up emergency telephone number, which is (313) 224-1212. However, when a pair of drug dealer start arguing in front of your house and one of them pulls out a gun - something that happened to me a year ago - hunting for a back-up telephone number isn't a viable option.

9-1-1 is something that simply has to work.

Angels' Night Turns Hellish

More than 300 volunteers converged on the Northwest Neighborhood City Hall in an effort to keep arson and other crimes at bay. This, of course, was in addition to the hundreds of other volunteers who helped out elsewhere in Detroit. For most of Detroit, the 3 day period past uneventfully - with fires and crime continuing their 12-year decline.

Warrendale, however, was an unfortunate exception to this rule. While we thankfully didn't have any fires, we were not exempt from our share of problems.

Almost all of the cars on patrol from the Warrendale Radio Patrol where attacked by teenagers who threw eggs, lard and butter at them. In at least one case, the teenagers taughted the patrol by screaming, "Take your white ass back to suburbia where you came from," as they hurled eggs at the patrol car.

It's interesting that the teenagers assumed the folks from the Warrendale Radio Patrol were from the suburbs. In this case, while the couple was white, they were both Detroit residents and were patrolling less than 3 blocks from their home.

The real tragedy, however, came from the response the Warrendale Radio Patrol got from the Detroit Police Department.

When they first attempted to report this by telephone, the police hung up on them.

When they went to the Northwestern District of the Detroit Police Department, the officer at the desk initially refused to take a report of the incident and also refused to provide the patrol members with the name of the command officer on duty.

This, quite frankly, is unacceptable. I'm only one of the board members for the Warrendale Community Organization, but incidents like this make me wonder just how cooperative we will be the Angel's Night 2007 campaign. This year, WCO members staffed the offices and patrolled other neighborhoods who weren't able to generate enough of their own volunteers; all in addition to patrolling our own neighborhood.

Stupid teenagers throwing eggs can be dealt with by patrolling without the orange lights. It is hard to target patrol cars when you don't know who they are.

However, there are deeper, systemic problems within the Detroit Police Department that must be dealt with and dealt with expeditiously. Everyone from Chief Ella Bully-Cummings to the command officers at the Northwestern Division have promised to address those concerns.

When they do, you can read about them in this blog.