Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Update on the Tree Barricade

I previously reported about a tree in front of 6267 Ashton that had fallen late Saturday night; blocking the street and sidewalk. It's taken the City of Detroit a couple of days to clear it. However, I'm pleased to report that there is currently a crew on site now. They're removing the tree and re-opening Ashton, south of Paul, to traffic.

Happy New Year

Wednesday is my usual day for proclaiming something the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week - that is, when my schedule allows me to post something on a Wednesday in the first place. It just so happens that this time around, Wednesday happens to fall on December 31st.

Therefore, be it ever so cheesy, I hereby proclaim the thousand or so New Year's Eve parties that are happening around town to the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week. Chances are most, if not all of them, will have some kind of a connection to the Warrendale neighborhood so it seems appropriate.


As for me, I'm heading to a pair of house parties this evening. First I am going to a friend's loft in Brush Park; followed a visit to Indian Village. The Warrendale connections there, by the way, are that my Brush Park friend loves Gracie's pizza and talks about it all the time. As for my Indian Village friends, their neighbor from across the street grew up on Faust between Whitlock and W. Warren.

I always love finding the Warrendale connection at these events.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mailbag: Construction

Helen wrote in to say:
I'm so grateful to get the Warrendale blog. It's good to know what's going on around me. I have a question, do you have info on what the city project is going on at Warren and Outer Drive? Looks like some fencing is being put up...something to do with water? Thanks.
Thank you, Helen! It's always great when my neighbors find their way to my little corner of cyberspace.

What you saw is the beginnings of the Upper Rouge Park tunnel project. This is a massive undertaking by the Detroit Water & Sewage Department to improve the way waste water and storm water moves through the area. A good portion of Outer Drive will be closed during this project, likely creating a lot more traffic along Pierson.

You can read more about the project here. (It's a 5 MB file. It will take awhile to download but it makes for interesting reading.)

Featured Place to Live: 5811 Greenview

It's been too long since I've done this, but it's time for me to bring back my Featured Place to Live segment. There are a lot of cool homes in the Warrendale neighborhood. With the housing market the way it is now - not only in southeast Michigan, but across the nation - it's doubtful that any of us will ever see a better time to buy a home.

One of these great homes that is available a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom brick ranch that is available at 5811 Greenview. This home is represented by Cheryl Doherty of Century 21 Americal.

This 1,000 square foot home, which is directly across from the Ryan Playground and the Warrendale Community Garden, features such amenities as:
  • Updated bath;
  • Some hardwood floors under the carpeting;
  • Large detached garage;
  • Newer furnace and A/C;
  • Updated windows;
  • Updated roof; and
  • Waterproofed basement.
Of course, it also comes with all of the coolness that is inherent in the Warrendale neighborhood - proximity to great restaurants, shopping, cultural institutions and health care; proximity not only to Ryan Playground and so on.

Anyone interested in seeing more of this home is invited to call Ms. Doherty at (734) 552-8879.

January WCO Meeting

The Warrendale Community Organization will have their next general membership meeting this coming Monday, January 5 @ 7 p.m. The meeting will happen in the school building of St. Thomas Aquinas Church. A map with directions is available here.

One of the items on their agenda for this meeting is the forum for mayoral candidates that the WCO will host next month. A copy of the agenda for this meeting is available here.

Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to attend.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Interesting Times in Detroit

The year is almost over. 2008 in Detroit was the kind of year that someone was thinking of when they came up with the curse, "May you live in interesting times." Some folks in this town are dwelling on the negative or even planning a move to Dubai.

As for me, I take a more balanced outlook towards things. With that in mind, I present a look back at 2008 in my hometown.

Within the Warrendale neighborhood, 2008 was the year that our own Gracie See's Pizzeria on Greenfield was recognized as Best Traditional Pizza in North America at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. This, of course, led to a monthly gathering of folks from the Warrendale group on Facebook.

This was also the year that Warrendale launched it's own community garden. It was also the year that we got spoofed by The Onion for having a community garden.

We saw several businesses and homeowners succumb to the economy in 2008. However, we saw a lot more prove that they can hang on in what is arguably the worst economic climate since the Great Depression.

For the rest of Detroit, 2008 has been nothing if not a mixed bag.

The Detroit Lions are the worst team in NFL history. However, the Detroit Red Wings won yet another Stanly Cup this year. The Detroit Tigers turned in a respectable performance. The Detroit Pistons came this close to another NBA Championship.

Kwame Kilpatrick is in jail, but that saga is over. Now Detroiters get to look at everyone in Illinois and know that they're dealing with things that are much worse.

The Detroit Public Schools are broke. However, Detroit still has charter schools, parochial schools, private schools and home schooling.

Farmington Hills native Kirsten Haglund became Miss America 2008. In doing so, she showed the world what I've known for years - there are some seriously hot women in the Detroit area.

A few houses sold for $1 (plus back taxes & assorted fees that drove the final price up to around $6,000). Everything else is selling for a fraction of what it would've been worth two years ago. The important thing is that real estate prices are slowly beginning to rebound.

Detroit's unemployment is the highest in the nation. No getting around that one. The promising part is between things like the Westin Book Cadillac and Ft. Shelby Hotel re-openings, the umpteen new restaurants, the auto bail out happening and dozens of major motion pictures coming to town (each spending tens of millions), there's a decent chance that things will get better soon.

Major festivals either got severely scaled back or canceled. The one bit of good news is that the NCAA Final Four is still coming to Ford Field in April. That will bring in more cash than all of those festivals combined.

2008 could've been better, but it also could've been a lot worse.

My Tip of the Week is a simple one: It's okay to recognize the things have gone wrong. You can't fix them if you don't. Just don't dwell too much on the negatives. If you do, you'll miss all of the cool stuff.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tree Becomes Barricade

All of southeastern Michigan got hit by some wicked winds late last night and on into early this morning. The result of this is that we have trees down throughout the area.

The worst example of it is a large tree that was in front on 6267 Ashton, which is immediately south of Paul St. It came down early this morning in the winds. It is completely blocking the street as well as the sidewalk on the east side of the street.

I tried calling 3-1-1 to report it, but the call center is closed for the weekend. I'll call again on Monday morning. We'll see how fast this gets taken care of.

In the meantime, there are several other tree limbs that partially block portions of the streets. Those are small in comparison to the entire tree that is blocking both pedestrian and automotive traffic on Ashton. I noticed neighborhood residents clearing them up on their own this afternoon.

Photo credit: Mark Nemecek.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Can Cockrel Survive?

The Detroit Free Press ran a piece on their front page this morning in which they asked the question: Can Cockrel Survive to Stay Detroit Mayor? The answer to that question, in my personal opinion, boils down to the answer to one other question: is Ken Cockrel willing to start doing what Detroiters have asked of him?

Before I elaborate any further, I have to remind everyone of the disclaimer that appears at the top of this blog. The opinions that I express here are mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect those of the Warrendale Community Organization or any other organization that I am a part of.

With that duly said, I would like to call everyone's attention to one particular quote from our interim mayor in this morning's paper.
"When I'm out and about, there are a couple of issues that keep coming up. One is crime. ... Second is jobs," he said.
There can be no doubt that crime and jobs are the top priorities of Detroiters. There's no need for me to elaborate as to why those are our top priorities; we as Detroiters see, hear and live those reasons every day of our lives.

It is curious, though, that Mr. Cockrel admits knowing that these are Detroiters' top priorities, but has done almost nothing to meet those demands. One would think that a politician who is up for re-election and who wants to remain at his post would make a concerted effort to meet those needs for his constituents.

Unfortunately, he has made almost no progress on those fronts. He opened four new police mini-stations, which is nice. The problem with a mini-station is that they're only open for a few hours every day and the officers assigned to them don't respond to any calls. That's important in a city like Detroit were several hundred calls to 9-1-1 go unanswered every day.

The Warrendale Community Organization called on the Mayor and City Council earlier this year to hire more police officers in order to reduce the number of emergency calls that are going unanswered currently. Several other community groups around the city have echoed that call for better police service. Mr. Cockrel ignored those pleas when he was President of the City Council. He continues to ignore them today.

The question that Mr. Cockrel is going to have answer for himself is: does he want to stay Mayor badly enough that he's willing to start listening to his constituents?

If he is able to start delivering, he has a chance of remaining in his post beyond May.

If he isn't willing to do that then, in my opinion, he's wasting our time running for office.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas once again. While the holiday is almost over, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to wish a Merry Christmas to all of my neighbors and to everyone who reads the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.

2008 has been a challenging year for everyone in the neighborhood and those challenges have clearly not been limited to the boundaries of the Warrendale neighborhood. In spite of those challenges, I remain convinced of the region's tremendous possibilities.

Christmas is the time for us to believe; to believe in ourselves, in our neighbors, in our community and in our own ability to meet the challenges that face.

Christmas is also a time for us to celebrate everything that we have that is worth celebrating; our families, our friends and our lives. Even if we don't have everything we want, we still have the opportunity to make things better.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Poetic Justic in the Snow

Once upon a time long, long ago - as in last winter when Kwame Kilpatrick was still mayor - the Department of Public Works would occasionally plow the streets in Detroit. There were cases where they missed a street - or it simply took longer than the standard 24 hours before they came through - but they kind of, sort of did their job.

Today, Detroit has a different mayor and a different DPW. It's been five days since Mother Nature more than seven inches of snow on the Motor City. I'm yet to see a single residential street in Detroit that has been plowed.

The irony of it all hit home this afternoon. I saw a white City of Detroit pick-up truck stuck in the snow in front of my home. It was someone from the Department of Public Works - the folks who are responsible for plowing our streets.

This is my idea of poetic justice.

My only regret is that the driver managed to get his truck free before I could grab my camera and snap a photo. As a result, I can only offer a photo of the unplowed streets.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tip of the Week: Free Admission to the Detroit Historical Museum

While the Detroit Historical Museum isn't in the Warrendale neighborhood, it's still one of those great cultural resources that I believe everyone should visit from time to time. It's especially important in trying times like these because it helps us remember that Michigan has been through some tough moments in our history before; not only have we survived them but we've become stronger as a people because of them.

Of course, the fact that the Detroit Historical Museum is offering free admission starting this Friday, and continuing through January 4, simply makes things all that much better. This weekend is an ideal time for everyone to visit the Museum.

Now is the time to walk the streets of old Detroit, to learn about the collapse of our major industries (like wood burning stoves and railway cars) and to see how those events have always positioned us for our next great moment. Learn about how Detroit was burned to the ground and how we managed to rebuild.

All of these things are available at the Detroit Historical Museum and they're available for free for limited time.

The Detroit Historical Museum is located at 5401 Woodward Ave. in Detroit's Cultural Center. It's open from 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Wednesday - Friday, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon - 5 p.m. on Sunday.

All of this makes free admission to the Detroit Historical Museum my Tip of the Week.

Cockrel Unveils Green Efforts

I was away from the blogosphere for most of last week.

While I was away, Interim Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr. announced the creation of an Office of Energy & Sustainability last week. This new office, which will exist within the Mayor's Office itself, will be responsible for a variety of green initiatives in Detroit.

Some of the ones that Mayor Cockrel has identified include:
  • Cut energy costs borne by the City that could be as modest as changing the type of light bulbs;
  • Create a "Green Council" comprised of representatives from City agencies to find ways to improve energy use in City buildings;
  • Start "Green Thumbs Up," which will launch by this spring to provide parcels of City land to community groups for urban gardening; and
  • In July, if Mayor Cockrel is still in office, the City intends to implement a pilot curbside recycling program for 15,000 west side households and 15,000 east side households.
I have two criticisms about this effort - ones that admittedly seem contradictory at first glace.

First, while it's great that Mayor Cockrel is launching this new effort, I'm disappointed that we haven't heard anything from him in months about how he is going to improve the Detroit Police and Fire Departments. I don't think we have to chose between improving our environment impact and strengthening our police and fire departments. It's possible to do both.

My second criticism has to do with how little the Cockrel Administration is doing as part of this Green Initiative. The City of Detroit might start using compact fluorescent light bulbs, but we're still demolishing vacant buildings instead of deconstructing them - something that would lower our costs, create a couple thousand new jobs and result in less debris ending up in a landfill. (For more information on deconstruction, please click here.)

The Cockrel Administration might convene representatives from every City agency and call it a "Green Council". However, they're still needlessly reinventing the wheel when the U.S. Conference of Mayors has already outlined a strategy for cities to improve their energy usage.

Monday, December 15, 2008

December Friends of Rouge Park Meeting

The Friends of Rouge Park will have their December 2008 general membership meeting on Wednesday, December 17 at 6 pm in St Suzanne School. The school is located at W. Chicago & Westwood. A map with directions for driving, walking or public transit is located below.


View Larger Map

Attendees are asked to enter through the back door, which is located off the parking lot. Please ring the bell if this door is locked.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Breaking News: Nursery to Re-Open in Rouge Park

I have learned that the W.I. Meyers Tree Nursery in Rouge Park will soon re-open thanks to an agreement reached between the City of Detroit and the non-profit group Greening of Detroit. An official press conference is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.

This agreement was originally brokered by former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick. However, it sat in political and judicial limbo for several months due to a lawsuit that was brought by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees as well as a reluctance to approve the agreement on the part of the City Council. AFSCME wanted their members to work at the tree nursery, instead of the Greening of Detroit's staff. The City Council was concerned about a possible payment to the Greening of Detroit.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tip of the Week: Preventing Buglaries

One of the most effective crime deterrents are neighbors. People who know you and your family; who watch out for your home as you watch out for theirs.

Of course, with so many vacant homes in the Warrendale neighborhood due to the on-going mortgage crisis, one can no longer count on even having neighbors let alone neighbors who will watch out for you.

In fact, much of the property crimes that we're seeing in the Warrendale neighborhood is on individual blocks with lots of vacant homes. The more vacant homes, the more those occupied homes are targeted by criminals who often see it as an opportunity to score their next drug fix.

The mortgage crisis is something that no blog can fix. However, as part of my weekly Tip of the Week, I'd like to offer a few tips on preventing home burglaries that come to us courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Department. (The Detroit Police Department, of course, doesn't make such tips available on their web site.)
  • Always lock your doors and windows - even if you're just leaving "for a minute";
  • Never leave a house key available under a door mat, in a flower pot or on the ledge of a door. These are the first places that a criminal will look;
  • Exterior doors should have a "dead bolt" lock that goes at least one inch into the door frame;
  • Be sure to have good locks for the garage, cellar, patio and other doors that lead through storage or other areas of the home.
Locks on a cellar door are especially important because, in the infamous case of couple that had been robbed four times in one year, the thieves apparently entered the home through an unlocked cellar door at the rear of their home.

For more crime prevention tips, please check out the LAPD's web site. (*sigh* Just not DPD's useless site.)

WCO Mayoral Forum

The Warrendale Community Organization will host a forum for the various Detroit Mayoral candidates on Saturday, January 17 from noon until 3 p.m. This forum will happen in the gymnasium at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, which is located at 5780 Evergreen in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood.

The first hour will be an informal meet and greet, where residents will have a chance to talk with all of the candidates on a casual basis. There will then be a moderated discussion of the issues beginning promptly at 1 p.m.

In the interest of time, the executive board of the WCO decided to only invite five of the eighteen candidates. A vote was taken at the WCO's annual holiday as to which five candidates should be invited. The membership decided to invite:
Each of the candidates will be asked a series of questions that were prepared by a committee of WCO members. After that, the floor will be opened for questions from attendees.

This forum is free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Warrendale

Thanksgiving 2008 is almost over; less than 30 minutes remain. Before I head off to bed, I wanted to recount some of the things that relate to the Warrendale neighborhood - and Detroit in general - that I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for the fact that 8-month long ordeal with former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick's text messaging scandal is finally over. The whole thing went on way too long.

I'm thankful for the fact that we're going to have a special election in February and May to choose who will fill the duration of Mayor Kilpatrick's term.

I'm thankful for El Monterrey, the Mexican restaurant that opened on Ford Rd. a couple of months ago. With their opening, we have a few more jobs in the Warrendale neighborhood and we have at least one stretch of the road with no vacant buildings. This gives us something to build on.

I'm thankful for Gracie See Pizzeria. They were named "Best Traditional Pizza in North America" at the 2008 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, proving to the world that some very cool things come from the Warrendale neighborhood.

I'm glad that we seem to have at least hit the bottom with the housing crisis in the neighborhood. We might not be recovering as quickly as I would like, but at least we aren't falling any farther.

I'm thankful for that we have some responsible investors who are buying and rehabbing homes in the neighborhood - creating a valuable product instead of just looking for a quick buck. We still have a lot who just want to flip and don't care about it's impact on the neighborhood. They're a problem, but at least we have a few good guys in the battle.

I'm thankful for the Warrendale Community Organization. They organized a series clean-ups to take care of some of the worst vacant home eye-sores and will do even more in the spring.

I'm thankful for the Warrendale Community Garden. The Ryan Playground has never looked better since it was set-up. Plus, it brings some of the residents who live near the playground out to interact with each other the way neighbors should always do.

I'm thankful for the MMBA crew and the mountain bike train that they re-opened in Rouge Park.

I'm thankful that the horse barn in Rouge Park has been rehabbed this year and is back in use. Warrendale is now the only neighborhood in Detroit where ordinary people can ride a horse.

I'm thankful for the Fred Bear Historical Archery Tournament that was held in Rouge Park earlier this year.

Most of all, I'm thankful that are still people who haven't given up on Detroit or the Warrendale neighborhood.

To all of those people, I simply say, "Thank you". I look forward to having even more to be thankful for in 2009.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Starting to Like Dave Bing

It's way too early for me to make any kind of an endorsement, but I have to admit that I'm starting to like Dave Bing. He pledged today to work for free, if he is elected mayor. He plans to use the normal $176,176 annual mayoral salary to hire more officers within the Detroit Police Department.

This plan, of course, is more than our current Interim Mayor Ken Cockrel has done to improve police service in his two months as interim mayor. Or in his eleven years on the City Council. Or his two years on the Wayne County Commission.

But I digress.

I'm not ready to make any endorsements. However, the fact that Mr. Bing has some kind of a specific plan to hire more police officers out there does mean that it's time for the other candidates to start stepping up and telling Detroiters what kind of solutions they will bring to the table.

Mayoral Forum

The Warrendale Community Organization will sponsor a forum for mayoral candidates on Saturday, January 17 from noon until 3 p.m. in the gymnasium at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. The WCO will invite 5 candidates to address questions such as public safety & crime, economic development in the neighborhoods, mass transit and the City's budget problems.

Members of the WCO will vote at their holiday party on which 5 of the mayoral candidates should be invited. (See below for details on the WCO holiday party.)

More information about this event will be forthcoming on this blog.

Tip of the Week: Courville Containers

After my post about a couple in the Warrendale neighborhood who has been robbed 4 times this year alone, and who have gotten no assistance from the Detroit Police Department, I received a flood of suggestions about what can be done to minimize crime in the Warrendale neighborhood. With all of those suggestions in hand, I've decided to launch a new feature on the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.
I call it the Tip of the Week. As much as I my schedule permits, I will endeavor to publish this one every Monday. It will include crime prevention and money saving tips as well as general information that's useful to know.

My tip this week has to do with the Courville containers that the Department of Public Works gives everyone in Detroit for their weekly trash collection. It turns out that a growing trend for criminals is to use those containers as something to stand on when they want to break into a home by entering one of its windows.

The Courville containers are widely available, which means that the criminal doesn't have to bring anything with them. Plus, they're the perfect height for a thief to use for entry through a window.

There isn't much that you can do about the City's use of Courville containers or their size. However, you can make it a lot harder for thieves to use them for illicit purposes by storing yours in a garage. The harder it is for a thief to break into your home, the more likely they will be to try.

WCO Holiday Party

The Warrendale Community Organization, which represents that portion of the Warrendale neighborhood between the Southfield Freeway and Rouge Park, will have their annual holiday party on Monday, December 1. The party will begin at 6 p.m. in the school building at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, which is located at 5780 Evergreen.

A map to the church is located below.


View Larger Map

Everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood is invited to attend this event. Please bring a dessert to share with the group.

November WACO Meeting

The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents that portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is east of the Southfield Freeway, will have their next general membership meeting this Wednesday, NOVEMBER 26 at 7 p.m. The meeting will happen in the Ford Memorial Church, which is located at 16400 W. Warren Avenue at Asbury Park.


View Larger Map

They will vote for officers and are in need of a recording secretary. You must have been a paid member by June 2008 in order to vote.

They will have lots of new Information for 2009 as well as a guest speaker from Home Owners Insurance Information. They are also looking for Block Captains.

This meeting is expected to by 9 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Attendees are asked to enter through the back door of the church since that's the closest one to their meeting area. However, if stairs present a problem for you then please go to the front door.

Monday, November 17, 2008

MSHDA's Property Improvement Program

With winter coming soon, now is a good time for homeowners to look into energy efficiency home improvements. MSHDA's Property Improvement Program offers low interest home improvement loans to single-family homeowners with low-to-moderate income (up to $65,000). Eligible home improvements insulation, window replacement, furnace replacement, roof repair or replacement, new siding, installing a ramp, remodeling a kitchen and other similar improvements.

Homeowners can borrow up to $25,000 without equity and up to $50,000 with equity. Because we can amortize the loan up to 20 years, the monthly payments are very affordable for those on a fixed income. The interest rate for homeowners is 4%, 6% or 8%, depending upon income.

These loans are provided through MSHDA-approved participating lenders and community agents. For a list of lenders and agents, as well as more program details, visit the web site at www.michigan.gov/mshda and click on the Home Improvement link.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

137 Reasons to Cry

Wayne Country Treasurer Raymond J. Wojtowicz published in this morning's newspaper a list of homes in Wayne County that are subject to foreclosure. His list, incidentally, is 137 pages long in a small 10 point font.

Let there be no mistaking the fact that these are some incredibly tough times for not only the Warrendale neighborhood, but all of southeastern Michigan and the rest of the country.

And I'm not sure how fast things are going to get better or if we've even reached the bottom. I do know this, however. If we don't start doing something fast, we're all doomed.

RIP Walter Harris

Senior Fire Fighter Walter Harris of the Detroit Fire Department's Engine Company 23 was killed in the line of duty early yesterday morning while battling a blaze on Detroit's east side. He was 37 years old; leaving behind a wife and six children.

His obituary is available on-line from the Detroit Free Press here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Update on Getting Robbed 4 Times

I mentioned before that I wasn't sure what to tell someone who had been robbed four times in one year and who has been unable to secure any help from the Detroit Police Department. Since then, my in-box has overflowed with suggestions.

Several of them boiled down to "get a dog", "get a gun" or "move". Those are worthy suggestion, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

One of the more interesting suggestions was to plant crimson barberry near all of the windows so that no one enter through them. Crimson barberry will grow to 4 - 5 feet tall (as long as you don't get the pygmy variety) and has thorn bushes, which would deter people from trying to enter through there.

Reportedly, once upon a time, crimson barberry and wild rose bushes were called a "poor-man's barbed wire" for their effectiveness in creating a barrier to entry. Plus, they look a lot cooler than barbed wire or bars on a window.

I also heard from a few people who believe that the Warrendale neighborhood should secede from the rest of Detroit. This is an option that has been discussed off and on for more than a decade now. I personally am opposed to doing something like that because I like being a part of Detroit.

However, one creative individual with an impressive sense of humor came up with this image to inspire a possible Warrendale secessionist movement. I'm opposed to seceding, but I'm all in favor of creative expressions.

Please look closely at the flag and the building in the background.

Heck, I even think that Eugene Delacroix himself would approve of that revision to his classic painting from 1830.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Getting Robbed 4 Times

There are moments when I actually hate being president of the Warrendale Community Organization. One of those moments came last night when I got a phone call from someone who had just been robbed for the fourth time this year.

The frustration and agony of being robbed that often was only magnified by the fact that, despite repeated pleas to the Detroit Police Department and its Northwestern District as well as the crime reports that they've filed, they've never seen or heard from a police officer. They have gotten absolutely no response what so ever and no sense of protection from the police.

And they turn to me, as president of their neighborhood association, looking for answers.

I can explain to them that Detroit needs a lot more police officers on the job; that change takes time and that the City's financial crisis only makes things harder. But none of that makes any sense to someone who has been robbed four times in less than a year.

It doesn't do any good to mention the police mini-station that is in operation 4 miles away for 8 hours a day nor does it help to talk about a command post being parked nearby for a couple of days.

Nothing really makes sense at that point. The only thing that registers in one's mind at that point is that these people have been robbed four times in less than year and the police have been unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

Nothing makes sense to a person who has been robbed four times in less than a year.

It's moments like that where I simply hate being president of the community group and hate being a Detroiter.

Update @ 7:47 p.m.
I've gotten a few message saying that this many robberies at one location simply can't be a random thing. It's not.

The particular house in question is literally surrounded by vacant homes. Therefore, the thieves can strike in broad daylight - while the owners are at work - and there's no one around to witness the deed, call the police or otherwise interfere with them.

Hearing on Insurance Affordability

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm created the posted of Automobile and Home Insurance Affordability Advocate by executive order earlier this year to fight for affordable, reliable and fair automobile and home insurance in Michigan. As a result, there will be a hearing next Saturday, November 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Michigan Gaming Control Hearing Room, which is in Cadillac Place (3044 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit).

The public is invited to share their opinions on auto and home insurance rates in Michigan. More details about this hear are available here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Horses - Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

The Buffalo Soldiers and Calico Troops have refurbished the formerly vacant Detroit Police Horse Stables; converting them into the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center at Joy Road and Spinoza. They are offering horse back rides for children on Saturdays 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. from now until the snow starts to fly. Rides are only $3. They also offer riding lessons.

This is so cool, in my opinion. There's no place else in Detroit where ordinary children can go riding or learn the basics of horsemanship. It's another one of those things that makes the Warrendale neighborhood unique.

In this photo, Tulani Gordon, age 3 of Detroit gets her first horseback ride. She is led by Clarence LeFlore, also of Detroit, in Rouge Park.

Photo courtesy of David L. Malhalab, M News Service / MNS Photo.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Restrooms In Rouge Park

David Malhalab sent me an email about the public restrooms in Rouge Park that were abandoned by the City of Detroit long ago. In their prime, those facilities were a great amenity for anyone who used Rouge Park. Today, however, they are an eyesore.

These buildings were boarded up. However, vandals always find their way in. They are once again open to trespass.

Mailbag: Is My Daughter Safe?

Tracy wrote in to say:
I googled Warrendale and your blog came up. You make the area look nice, but the crime stats say otherwise. My daughter is moving there (evergreen and warren) and I'm worried. Will she be safe in your neighborhood? Any tips you could give would be awesome!
There's no getting around the fact that crime and public safety are issues for all of Detroit and the Warrendale neighborhood is a part of it. It wasn't always this way. However, as the number of police officers have been cut back and attention has shifted towards downtown, things have gone downhill for the neighborhoods in general; with much of it being tied to drugs and the gangs that sell them.

Property crimes in particular are an issue for everyone in the area. When drug users need cash to support their habit, they will steal anything that they can get their hands on. The goal in keeping yourself from becoming a victim in that regard is to simply make sure that you aren't their easiest target. The more effort a criminal has to exert in order to steal from you, the less likely they will be in to do it.

The Los Angeles Police Department has a variety of crime prevention tips on their web site. Many of their recommendations are specific to southern California, with articles on what to do during a rolling black out. However, most of what they recommend will apply anywhere you live or work.

I recommend that everyone read them here. Their tips do much to address Tracy's concerns about her daughter's safety.

As a related side note, I have to say that it's almost sad as a Detroiter to look at the LAPD's web site and then flip over the crime prevention section on the Detroit Police Department's web site. DPD's site mostly consists of telling people what they need to do in order to get a Neighborhood Watch sign.

Those signs are nice. However, I can't help but feel that there is so much that the DPD's leadership could learn from their professional brethren in the City of Angels.

Also, for those issues that undeniably do exist, I would like to invite everyone to get involved with the Warrendale Community Organization. We are working on them and could always use more help.

The WCO's next meeting will on Monday, December 1 at 6 p.m. in the School Building at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. This will also be the group's annual holiday party.

Voter #169

Today, of course, is Election Day. The day when millions of Americans collectively choose our path for the coming years as well as the leaders who will guide along that path. For what it's worth, I had the privilege of being the 169th person to vote in my precinct at approximately 2 p.m. this afternoon.

For most of the country, the political clamor will die down after the polls close in a few hours. Detroit, however, will likely be different.

When tomorrow dawns, it will be the unofficial start of Detroit's mayoral race. The campaigning to replace former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick began even before he resigned. However, it will unquestionably be taken to another level in the coming weeks as we move closer to the primary in February and the special election in May.

My only hope is that when those elections come along, there at least as many voters who make it to the polls as there were today.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Traffic Crash on the Southfield Fwy

I was already at St. Thomas Aquinas for the WCO's monthly meeting when this happened, but my sources with cell phones told me that there was a dramatic crash on the southbound Southfield Freeway on Monday evening. At least three cars were involved in this crash. Several police and EMS vehicles were on the scene. None of my sources, however, could tell just how extensive the injuries were.

The crash reportedly happened just north of Paul. Traffic on the freeway was backed up as far north as West Chicago as a result of this crash.

Family Movie Night for November

The "Cherish Your Parish" Fundraising Committee at St. Thomas Aquinas Church will sponsor a Family Movie Night on Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m. in the Monsignor Lenk Hall. The movie for this month is Harry & the Hendersons.

Tickets for this event are only $3 for adults or $2 for children 12 and under. An entire family of 5 or more is allowed in for only $10. (You really can't beat that price.)

Giant chocolate chip cookies, popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase. Floor mats and chairs will be provided. Personal chairs and sleeping bags will be allowed for those who choose to bring them.

St. Thomas Aquinas Church is located at 5780 Evergreen Rd., which is just north of Ford Rd.

WCO Cleans Vacant House

This past Saturday, a team of volunteers from the Warrendale Community Organization targeted a vacant home on the southeast corner of Tireman and Evergreen for a clean up. They mowed the lawn, raked leaves, cleared the brush that cluttered one side of it and - most importantly of all - hauled away 17 bags of debris from the site.

They also had a team of volunteers who went door to door in the neighborhood; talking about the WCO and what the group does. This made the event both a community service mission, but also an outreach one as well.

Update on the MMBA Work Day

The Michigan Mountain Bike Association had their fall work day this past Sunday in Rouge Park. More than 20 volunteers showed up to help clear brush and help maintain the only mountain bike in Wayne County.

Kudos to everyone who was a part of this.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Work Day at the MMBA Mountain Bike Trail

Rouge Park in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood is home to the only mountain bike trail in Wayne County. The group that operates it, the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, is having a work day on Sunday to do some maintenance on it. Volunteers are greatly appreciated.

They will be trimming brush, raking out leaves, picking up trash, and clearing any fallen trees. We would love to have you join us.

Work will begin at the northeast corner of Tireman and Outer Drive at 10am on Sunday. Volunteers are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and gloves; please bring any rakes or hedge loppers, if you have them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Endorsements

The entire nation goes to the polls in less than a week. With so much at stake, I want to take a moment to encourage everyone to go out and vote.

I would also like to offer my personal thoughts on who I think is the best qualified candidate for each of the various races. Please note that these are my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of the various organizations of which I am an officer.

With that disclaimer duly given, I offer to the world my endorsements for this year's general election.

President of the United States
Barack Obama (Democrat)

United States Senator
Jack Hoogendyk, Jr. (Republican)
Our incumbent Senator Carl Levin has done a decent job in Washington, DC. However, he was also one of the primary people responsible for screwing up Michigan's presidential primaries. I'm still annoyed over that.

Representative in Congress
Clyde K. Shabazz (Green)
Incumbent Congressman John Conyers has largely been dead weight these past couple of years, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the Republicans didn't even bother to put anyone up against him. Therefore, I'm endorsing one of the third party candidates.

Prosecuting Attorney
Matthew R. Able (Green)
I'm annoyed with the fact that it took the incumbent Kym Worthy 8 months to bring the case against former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to the point where it was ready for trial. She wasted way too much time with motions early on that were nothing but a waste of our time.

Unfortunately, the Republicans aren't putting anyone up against her either. Therefore, I'm endorsing one of the third party candidates.


Sheriff
Warren C. Evans (Democrat)

County Clerk
Cathy M. Garrett (Democrat)

Proposal 1
Yes

Proposal 2
Yes

Mileage Renewal - Wayne County Community College
Yes

Perspective

I there is one simple fact about the way things are around town that helps me to keep things in perspective. That is this: no matter how many problems I may have at the moment, my life is still better than Kwame Kilpatrick's at the moment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lawn Art - Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

I've missed a couple of days worth of blogging because, well, let's face it - work sucks. Regardless, it's high time that I post another installment in Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week series.

This week's winner is the home at the southeast corner of Artesian and Paul Streets. I affectionately call it the Warrendale Sculpture Garden. In reality, it's an ordinary homeowner who has an astonishing collection of lawn sculptures.

I lost track long ago of the number of times when I was at some party or event, started chatting with some random person or another and shortly after I'd tell them where I live, their eyes would light up and they would start talking about this collection of lawn sculptures that they saw when they were in the neighborhood for one reason or another.

This homeowner has created something that is, quite literally, unforgettable. Everyone who has ever stopped to look at it remembers it fondly months or years after they first saw it. More over, they have a desire to share they joy at finding this collection of lawn sculptures with someone else.

This, in my opinion, is the very epitome of coolness. The collection makes its own statement. Everyone who views it does the bragging on its behalf.

For the benefit of those who haven't seen this in person, I have a few more photos of this collection over on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Raid at the CAID Revisited

I posted previously about a raid at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (the CAID) and how I thought it was a terrible use of police resources. If you don't remember it, please take a moment to review all of the gory details here.

The charges against all of those patrons were later dropped, which I reported on here.

I learned today that Funk Night, the monthly CAID event that prompted the raid in question, will return this month as their Halloween party. More importantly, they're bringing it back with a sense of humor.

First, they intend to screen surveillance footage from the now infamous police raid. In and of itself, I thought that was kind of ballsy.

The piece de resistance, however, is the fact that they are offering door prizes to anyone who comes to this Halloween party dressed as a police officer. For some reason, that just strikes me as downright priceless.

I do, however, have to take issue with one thing that they posted on their website.
The police are our friends. Sometimes some police do bad things. We must, however, recognize and be grateful for those who continue to do good, who preserve the honor and dignity of their profession while they serve and protect our safety and basic civil rights.
I think this was well-stated. However, I think it's important to remember that it wasn't the police officers themselves who got together and decided to ignore the higher priority crimes that nearby residents were calling 9-1-1 about. The police officers themselves didn't decide to do this.

They were acting under order from former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and the command officers that she put in place. It wasn't the officers on that scene who have anything to be ashamed of. It was their superiors with the Department at the time. Luckily for all Detroiters, many of those supervisors are no longer associated with the Detroit Police Department.

Featured Place to Live: 8229 Penrod

One of the unique things about the mortgage crisis that the entire nation is dealing with is that there lots of cool places to live around the metro area that available at a very reasonable price. Therefore, I thought it would be cool to add a new feature to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog - the Featured Place to Live. It joins the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week as one of my regular features.

8229 Penrod is a three bedroom, 1,100 square foot bungalow that was originally built in 1941. This home with aluminum siding has been completely remodeled and includes:
  • Hardwood flooring;
  • One car detached garage;
  • New plumbing throughout;
  • New electrical throughout;
  • New interior doors;
  • Full basement; and
  • Oak cabinets in the kitchen.
The seller is also throwing in a $2,000 Home Depot gift card, which one can use towards appliances or anything else.

This home is located on Penrod, south of Joy Rd. It's between Constance and Belton.


View Larger Map

Additional details about this charming home are available on-line here. One can also view photos of this home, including several of the interior, here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Detroit $100 Million Problem

The Detroit Free Press reported this morning that the City of Detroit is currently facing a budget deficit of at least $100 million and that it could be as high as $150 million. Reportedly, interim Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. is considering a plan to sell bonds and lay-off employees in order to close the gap. Quite frankly, I'm not thrilled with either of those options so I'm hear to add a few of my own suggestions.

Sell Detroit's Share of the Tunnel
Former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick negotiated a deal whereby Detroit would sell its share of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to the City of Windsor for $65 million. The City of Detroit currently gets $700,000 in annual revenue from the tunnel so the sale essentially gives us 92 years worth of revenue all at once. Plus, our neighbors in Windsor actually like the idea because it guarantees them that there won't be any toll increases for the tunnel.

I believe it's an outrage that the tunnel hasn't already been sold.

Sell the Rackam Golf Course
The Rackam Golf Course is owned by the City of Detroit, but located in Huntington Woods. Our previous mayor tried selling the golf course once before. However, his efforts were stymied by the Michgian Court of Appeals, which ruled that because of deed restrictions, the golf course must always remain publicly owned. This means that we would have to sell it to the City of Huntington Woods or some other public entity.

It's a bit of a long shot, but with a few million dollars at stake, I think this is still an option worth exploring. We should make one more effort to sell the Rackam Golf Course or otherwise make money from it.

Review City Contracts
The folks at AFSCME have been telling anyone who would listen that the City of Detroit could save millions of dollars by reducing how much work is outsourced to contractors. Admittedly, AFSCME does have an inherit bias against any work being outsourced since it's their members who are affected by it.

However, and this is the important part, if someone says that they have a way to save millions of dollars then Mayor Cockrel and his staff out to sit down with them immediately. If AFSCME's claims stand up to scrutiny, we should move forward with them.

Every dollar that we can save from other means is one that we don't borrow in new debt that we can't afford anyway.

Friday, October 03, 2008

National Fire Prevention Week

National Fire Prevention Week starts this coming Sunday and runs through October 11. The Detroit Fire Department is participating in several different ways.

Fire Department Open Houses
The Detroit Fire Department will have Open House programs at each of its firehouse locations, including the one on Joy Rd. near the Southfield Freeway in the Warrendale neighborhood. The public is invited to visit and tour firehouse facilities from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Great American Fire Drill
This a perfect opportunity for every family to practice their fire escape plan. If you don't already have an escape plan, you can find a guide for creating one here.

Then, at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 6, the Detroit Fire Department's Fleet of Fire Apparatus will sound their sirens for 30 seconds to alert Detroit residents to practice their home escape plan.

Alternative Heat Sources Public Service Announcement
On Wednesday, October 8, the Detroit Cable Commission will begin airing a Public Service Announcement that will feature the Community Relations Division and Fire Marshal Division’s Public Instruction Section providing critical safety tips regarding alternative heating sources.

Firefighter Appreciation
Of course, let's not forget that no matter how we do to prevent fires, there will always be a need for those gallant few who put their lives on the line for others. With that in mind, I'd like to share this video that I found on YouTube.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Register to Vote

I want to remind everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood - not to mention the rest of Michigan - that the last day for one to register to vote is this coming Monday. If you're not registered by that time, you won't be eligible to vote in the elections this November.

I encourage every citizen who isn't a registered voter , or who isn't registered at their current address, to register. One can do so at the city or county clerk's office or at any Secretary of State's office.

DPS Gets Failing Grade in Audit

The Detroit News reported today that the Detroit Public Schools received a failing grade in an audit by the Council of Great City Schools, a nationally recognized organization that represents urban school districts. Some members of the school board were quick to criticize Superintendent Connie Calloway for the findings of this audit, even though most of the problems preceded her tenure.

I personally commend Dr. Calloway for having the vision to call for this audit in the first place. The first step towards solving a problem is to identify precisely what is wrong.

The all-important question though is: now that this audit is complete, what will happen next?

Will the school board use this information to begin making significant improvements within the Detroit Public Schools? Or will this become just one more document that sits on a shelf collecting dust?

Only time will answer that question. In the meantime, the children of Detroit remain trapped in a poorly performing school district.

D-DOT Bus Drivers Protest

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that as many as 200 D-DOT bus drivers apparently refused to leave the terminal after one of their co-workers was fired for "multiple disciplinary actions." You can say what you want about former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, but when a local TV news crew showed city workers not doing their jobs, he fired them. It's a shame that his replacement, Interim Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr., hasn't followed that pattern.

This city has too many people out of work for us to put up with bus drivers - or any other city worker - who doesn't want to do their job. If this was a legitimate strike, one that was called by their union because of a contract issue, then that would be a different thing. It's unacceptable for these individuals to decide that they're simply not going to do the job that they're paid to do.

It's also a shame that Mayor Cockrel wasn't willing to take action in this matter.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Copier-Gate

The Detroit News reported this morning that former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick awarded at $10 million contract to provide and service photocopiers to one of his friends, term-limited State Representative Ken Daniels. Much of the work that was required under the contract was never done and Daniels' company wasn't even authorized to sell or service copiers by any of the manufacturers.

I'm glad that Mayor Ken Cockrel is rooting out contracts like this. The question now is: what will happen now? Will the City Council actually rescind this contract? Since the work wasn't done, will the City sue to recapture any funds that were paid to Daniels?

In my opinion, how these questions are answered will do much to demonstrate what type of a leader Mayor Cockrel will be.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rouge Park 5K Meeting

As a quick reminder, the Friends of Rouge Park will host their next 5K Run/Walk planning meeting TONIGHT, Wednesday, September 24 at 6 p.m. The meeting will happen in the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center, which is located at Joy & Lahser.

Everyone is invited to attend.

Good Bye, Detroit Uncovered

John K. Bennett announced this past weekend that he is shutting down his legendary web site, DetroitUncovered.com. He launched his first site, FireJerryO.com, in October of 2002 as way of exposing problems with then Police Chief Jerry Oliver. Since then, his site has become one of the best examples of investigative journalism around.

He was also voted the Best Political Blog in Detroit for two years in a row by the Metro Times.

I've also been pleased to be one of the only four blogs that he has found to be worthy of link to on his site. It's been an honor to share the blogosphere with him.

The good news, of course, is that Mr. Bennett is planning a run for the City Council next year. For more on that, please visit his campaign site.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CAID Charges Dropped

In June of this year, I posted about a police raid at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit - more commonly known as the Raid @ the CAID. Since then, the City of Detroit has decided to drop all charges against the more than 100 individuals who were detained during this raid.

It's unfortunate that this ever happened in the first place. However, I'm pleased that the City has dropped the charges. I will be optimistic and pray that this is a sign of better priorities beginning to emerge within Detroit's leadership.

For anyone who doesn't remember the raid that started it all, I give you a link to my original post on the subject.

Back Again

These past couple of weeks have been insane for me. Regardless, I'll have new blog posts up soon.

In the meantime, I have to report one rather unique thing that I didn't get to say anything about earlier. I drove past the liquor shop at W. Warren and Stahelin last Thursday on my way to a meeting with some developers. I couldn't help but notice that the Detroit Police Department was in the process of raiding the place.

And these weren't your ordinary police officers either.

I saw guys in camo gear with assault rifles.

I never found out what it was that prompted that incident. However, it's always surreal to see anyone with an assault rifle in your neighborhood. I'm glad they were there doing they're job, but it's surreal none the less.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friends of Rouge Park Meeting

The Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general meeting this coming Wednesday, September 17, at 6 p.m. in the pavilion on the east side of Spinoza. This is north of Joy Road; near Brennan Pools parking lot and the horseshoe pits.

A map is available at Mapquest. If you click on "aerial map" and zoom in then you will see the pavillion directly above the star.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another Arson Update

Chief Gary Victor of the Arson Unit attended the Warrendale Community Organization meeting Monday evening night. He confirmed that there is on-going investigation into both the fire at the Dollar Store as well as the former Harry's Department Store. Because this is an active investigation, Chief Victor was somewhat vague in his details.

The most specific point that he divulged is that his unit has specially trained dogs that are used in arson investigations. Those dogs founds traces of an undisclosed accelerate at one of these locations, confirming that it was a case of arson.

He also disclosed that two fire fighters were injured battling these blazes. From my past experience, this means that the investigators on the case are more heavily motivated to arrest the perpetrator than they would otherwise be. (DFD Arson is always motivated, but an injured colleague kicks it up a notch.)

Other details that were discussed in general terms included the steel shutters on the former Harry's Department Store. Those shutter are normally down, but were left up the night of this fire.

Finally, there's also the report that a witness saw an unidentified male throw something into one of the buildings just before it was engulfed in flames.

Again, this is an on-going investigation so the authorities are reluctant to divulge too much information. However, anyone who might know anything about this - or any other arson case - is asked to call 313-596-2940 or 800-44-ARSON.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Reminder: WCO Meeting

As a quick reminder, the next meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be tomorrow (Monday, September 8) at 7 p.m. in the school building of St. Thomas Aquinas Church. The church is located at 5780 Evergreen, which is just north of Ford Rd.


View Larger Map

Monday, September 01, 2008

REWARD: Arson in Warrendale

I went past the former Harry's Department Store and the dollar store this afternoon. The steel shutters are one again down at Harry's. (Although, I really want to know how they ever came to be up in the first place.) Any other openings to either building have been boarded over.

More importantly, there are now signs posted at Harry's; offering a reward of up to $5,000.00 for information regarding the fire. Anyone with information regarding these fires is asked to call the Arson Unit at (313) 596-2940 or the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee at (800) 44-ARSON.

Friday, August 29, 2008

To Jail or Not to Jail

The Detroit Free Press and others are reporting that a deal is close for Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and his on-going legal troubles. According to published reports, the one sticking issue is an insistence by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy that Mayor Kilpatrick due at least some jail time; reportedly anywhere from 30 - 90 days.

If this is true then I strongly recommend that he agree to such a deal, even if it means that he spend a certain amount of time in prison.

The deal is currently for 90 days. His lawyers can probably get a better deal. However, even if it stays at 90 days then it's still in Mayor Kilpatrick's best interest to do the time.

If this matter goes to trial, from the various former prosecutors that I have talked with, the end result of it will almost certainly be that he is sentenced to at least 6 months. He could be sentenced to several years. However, since he is a first-time offender, it's unlikely he will get more than a year

Anyway you cut it, that's a lot worse than 90 days in jail.

By agreeing to such a deal, he can simply get this matter over with a lot sooner. We're still several weeks away from a trial even starting in this case. His sentence could over or at least half-way over by the time his trial is currently slated to start. The sooner this is behind him, the sooner some semblance of normalcy returns to his life.

Plus, let's not forget that some amazing things have happened to people in jail. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, wrote one of the greatest letters of all times while sitting in a jail cell in Selma, Alabama.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cool Warrendale Thing: Mayor Kilpatrick

It's almost over.

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm will have a removal hearing next week to consider removing Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick from office. Based on the two criteria that she said her decision will be based on, it is almost inevitable that she will remove him from office.

Mayor Kilpatrick and his attorneys are reportedly still in negotiations with the prosecutors for a plea deal. For his sake, for the sake of his wife and children as well as for everyone else in his life, I sincerely hope that such a deal is reached by this weekend.

However, and this is the important part, at this point it seems that this ordeal will finally be over within the next week - at least for Detroit as a community.

And that is a very cool thing.

The light at the end of the tunnel on the Kwame Kilpatrick Roller Coaster: the Cool Warrendale (and everywhere else in Michigan) Thing of the Week.

Mailbag: Emails from the Mayor

I posted the other day about a series of emails that I have received from Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick. One of Detroit's newest bloggers, 30sinprogress, wrote in to say:
I play soccer with a Detroit Police officer (and work with his mother). You would be AMAZED to hear the stories of how understaffed they are. It is nothing short of laughable. I could be a bit off... but I thought he was telling me that after the last round of layoffs, the DPD is operating about 30% compared to just a few years ago.

Oh, and I sat on a jury downtown earlier this year. I COULD NOT believe what I saw in the court room. Two officers arrested a known drug dealer, who was actively dealing and carrying a loaded, automatic weapon, and even threatened the lives of a federal agent's family... yet you would have thought the officers were on trial, not the drug dealer, based on the other juror's prejudices against everyone in uniform. It made me sick!

Not that I'm bitter, haha.
I'm well aware of how understaffed the Detroit Police Department is. In fact, earlier this year the Warrendale Community Organization appeared before the Detroit City Council to argue for funding for even more police officers. Both the City Council and Kilpatrick Administration ignored our pleas - a fact that we will discuss quite candidly with everyone in the next election.

As for the bias that those jurors have, that is something that the prosecuting attorney should have identified and dealt with during the jury selection process. It's a shame that he or she did not appear to do that effectively.

DPD Makes Another Raid

The Detroit Fire Department aren't the only ones who have been busy in the Warrendale neighborhood today. The Detroit Police Department raided a home on Ashton between Whitlock and Paul that has long been a source of gang activity in the neighborhood.

As a result of this afternoon's activity two men were arrested. Four cars, a pick up truck and an engine were also impounded. Each of these vehicles are believed to be stolen.

This is the second time in the past six months that the Detroit Police Department has visited this location. Hopefully, this will be the last time they're need there - but I'm not holding my breath.

In addition, I also received a report that the police made another arrest at Westwood and Kirkwood at almost the exact same time that the house on Ashton was raided. It's not clear what the circumstances were in that case nor if it was connected to the troubles on Ashton.

Mailbag: Arson In Warrendale

In response to my first post about the two cases of arson in the neighborhood last night, Ctopflight wrote in to say:
Is it just me or does someone else see a pattern on Warrendale business district? This is the fourth fire on Warren in about 3 years. Two of the original fires were rebuilt. I wonder how long it will take to rebuild Harry's old department store and the store next to the dollar store.
This is certainly not just you. There is a pattern.

Luckily, the Arson Unit is investigating this one closely. The Warrendale Community Organization will stay on top of this one and continue to keep everyone updated.

UPDATE: Arson in Warrendale

To continue my post from earlier this morning about the two arson cases (see below), I have since learned that the Arson Unit currently has four investigators assigned to these two fires.

Also, I forgot to mention this earlier but I can't help notice how conspicuous it was that the steel roll-down shutters weren't rolled down when this happened. If they were down, presumably it would have made it impossible for someone to throw something into the building to start this fire.

The photo at left clearly shows the rails that those shutters would normally roll-down on. The shutters themselves, however, are conspicuously absent.

More on this as the situation develops.

Arson in Warrendale

The Warrendale neighborhood was hit by two case of arson last night - at the former Harry's Department Story on W. Warren Ave and at the dollar store on the southwest corner of Grandville and W. Warren Ave. The former Harry's Department Store had extensive damage to its interior and to the front of the building. The roof of this building also collapsed. It wasn't clear how extensive the damages were to the dollar store.

Fox 2 Morning News reported this morning that a witness saw someone throw something into the former Harry's Department Store and run away. A moment later, the building was engulfed in flames. The dollar store was in flames shortly after that.

Additional photos from these fires are available on my Flickr page.

The Warrendale Community Organization had previously met with investigators from the Arson Unit regarding the number of arson fires in our neighborhood. We will, of course, stay on top of this one as well.

More news will be published here as this situation develops. You can be certain to get updates on this, and all of my other posts, by subscribing to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. In the right-hand column of this blog, in between the "Previous Posts" and "Archives" sections is a box for you to enter your email. All you have to do is enter your email address and select "Subscribe Me!". Your information will remain private and you will get an email alert when I post new stories.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Emails from the Mayor

Over the past week, I've been getting a steady stream of emails from Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and from an operation called "The Detroit Truth". They recount some of the various accomplishments of Mayor Kilpatrick in recent weeks.
Those things are all nice. I'm glad that they're happening. If anyone wants to see the actual emails, you can simply click the links above to see them as an Adobe PDF. However, and I cannot emphasize this part enough, I would trade every one of those things away if I could simply get a police officer to show up the next time I have to call 9-1-1.

We as a community - not just the Warrendale neighborhood, but all of Detroit - need to have a very candid conversation about the quality of police and other public services in our neighborhoods. Everyone that I know who has visited our neighborhoods from any other major city is always amazed at just how incredibly bad the Detroit Police Department performs.

More importantly, they're amazed that Detroiters put up with it.