Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome Back

I have been insanely busy these past few weeks, which is why there hasn't been as much content on the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as normal. Luckily, things are returning to normal for me.

However, I still have a backlog of posting to do. You'll see a lost more posts over the next few days as I work my way through this backlog.

Mailbag: To Cancel Or Not To Cancel

I wrote a post a week ago today in which I expressed my frustration at how the Detroit Police Department could muster together a few hundred police officers to provide security for the Target Fireworks, but they can't respond when there is a shooting in the Warrendale neighborhood.

Or when someone tries repeatedly to run down a pregnant woman in the streets.

Or do deal with any of the drug deals that happen repeatedly and openly in our streets.

I mentioned how I toyed with the idea that Detroit should simply cancel these fireworks - and any other event that requires special attention from the police - until we get to the point where the Detroit Police Department can respond every time a citizen calls 9-1-1.

In response, ML wrote in to say:
Just one word, "Amen"!!
Thank you, ML. Thank you.

After screaming at the wind for years, it's refreshing when someone just plain gets what I'm talking about.

$1,000 Reward Offered

6535 Evergreen was broken into at some point between Saturday, June 21 and Monday June 23 while its owner was away for a couple of days. The perpetrators burned a hole through an inside back door window with a blowtorch, unlocked the door and ransacked the inside. Several rings, bracelets and other miscellaneous items were stolen.

The owner is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of the stolen items and information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved. For more information, please call (313) 580-2393.

Comp USA Redefined

Fellow blogger David L. Malhalab is reporting that the long vacant Comp USA at Ford Rd and the Southfield Freeway in the Warrendale neighborhood will become a Kaplan Career Center. He was even kind enough to send me a photo of workers creating classrooms within the old CompUSA building.

I wasn't able to reach anyone at Kaplan to confirm any of these details. However, Mr. Malbalab is reporting that the new center is expected to open in August of this year.

I'm excited about these new jobs and economic activity coming to the Warrendale neighborhood. I also like the fact that, with Kaplan generating traffic in that section of the neighborhood, there is a greater chance that someone will be able to redevelop the former Office Depot location that is right next door.

Monday, June 23, 2008

To Cancel Or Not To Cancel

I was down at Hart Plaza earlier this evening for the annual Target Fireworks display. I stepped away for a few minutes at about 8 p.m. to run a quick errand. When I tried to rejoin my friends, I was told by police officers that Hart Plaza was closed and no one was allowed back in under any conditions.

As I tried to find a way around the police barricades to rejoin my friends, I began to realize truly just how massive the police presence was. There were several hundred uniformed police officers from the Detroit Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff, Michigan State Police, U.S. Border Patrol as well as motorcycle officers from the Inkster Police Department. All of this is on top of:
  • Police snipers;
  • Helicopters; and
  • Patrol boats from most of the departments listed above as well as the U.S. Coast Guard.
Roads into and around downtown Detroit were closed off with surgical precision. Many of the police officers had white note books with them, containing detailed plans for the evening. Clearly, this is something that the Detroit Police Department and others spent a considerable amount of time and effort planning and preparing for.

But here's the thing: If the Detroit Police Department can put so much effort into making sure that this one evening goes off well downtown, why can't they make sure that a police officer shows up when there's a shooting in the Warrendale neighborhood?

If they can amass such an overwhelming police presence for a fireworks show downtown, why can't they have a police officer show up when a domestic dispute turns violent and someone tries repeatedly to run over a pregnant woman on Ashton? Isn't that woman and her unborn child at least as important as those who go downtown for the fireworks?

If they can deliver such a well coordinated police effort downtown, why can't they have a police officer show up when there are two drug dealers shooting at each other at Whitlock and Westwood? Aren't the people who live in that area - who could easily be killed by a stray bullet - at least as important as those who go downtown for the fireworks?

If the Detroit Police Department has so many officers that they can virtually flood downtown with dark blue uniforms, why is it that I see more Dearborn police cars in the Warrendale neighborhood than I do Detroit ones? Should the more than 9,000 families in Warrendale start sending our taxes to Dearborn instead?

If they can do so much downtown for a fireworks display, why can't they do anything about the dozens of drug deals that I see every single week in my neighborhood?

This city - and it's leadership - has its values all messed up. I actually left downtown before the fireworks even started. I was just too aggravated about all of this to even begin to enjoy it.

I wanted to grab one of those police officers and scream at him or her about this entire situation. The thing is, I know darn well that rank and file police officers don't decide where they are going to be assigned; they don't decide what this city's priorities will be or what they won't be.

As I was driving home this evening, I started thinking that we should simply cancel the Target Fireworks. If the fireworks require such a huge commitment from our police officers and they can't even respond to the ordinary calls then we should get rid of them.

And the Thanksgiving Day Parade, too.

And any other special event that requires special attention from the Detroit Police Department.

I think we shouldn't have any of these things until we get to the point where the Detroit Police Department is able to show up every time a resident calls 9-1-1. The cost for having these events - as wonderful as they are - is simply too high.

We have to live with our children getting shot at so that some folks can watch a fireworks show.

We have to tolerate pregnant women being run down in the streets of our neighborhoods so that some folks can watch a fireworks show.

When an emergency in our neighborhood develops, we have to pray that our neighbors in Dearborn find out about it and are able to respond because our own police officers are deployed elsewhere.

This evening I was seriously tempted to begin a petition drive to ban the Target Fireworks, the Thanksgiving Parade and any other special event that requires special attention from our police department. The only thing that keeps me from doing so is the strong suspicion that - even if those distractions went away - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the Detroit City Council would simply find another excuse to waste our limited resources.

And then we wouldn't have a functioning police department or an annual fireworks display.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good Bye, Office Depot

The Office Depot on Ford Rd. in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood is closing it's doors in a couple of weeks. I've shopped there since the place opened and have always been thrilled with their prices, service and selection. I will miss them.

I spoke with some of the employees and managers at the store. The issue over this closing wasn't the Warrendale neighborhood per se. It's all of the things that have happened around the store.

Once upon a time, there was a Comp USA store next door to the Office Depot. The presence of that store gave them a boost in the traffic. When Comp USA went through a host of changes at the national level, their store in the Warrendale neighborhood closed and that meant less traffic coming into the Office Depot.

Then, when Wal-Mart opened in the former Super K-Mart location on the other side of Ford Road, it meant even less business coming into the Office Depot.

All of this has taken them to the point where they finally decided to close this store.

I will miss them. In the meantime, I wanted to mention for everyone's benefit that whatever is left in the store is being sold at 25% off it's normal price. Beginning on Sunday, anything that is still there will be sold for 50% off. There were quite a few empty isles when I was there yesterday. I would recommend that everyone stop by soon to take advantage of the discounts and to say good-bye to a Warrendale institution.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Raid @ the CAID

I am one of the only bloggers in southeastern Michigan who hasn't posted about the police raid, which happened at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit a little over a week ago. For the benefit of anyone who hasn't already heard about this, approximately 130 individuals (almost all of whom were from the suburbs) were ticketed and had their cars impounded for drinking in an establishment wasn't licensed to sell alcohol and that was operating after 2 a.m.

I have no problems with the police enforcing Michigan's liquor laws. My only issue comes from the prioritization of this.

At the CAID, there was:
  • No gambling;
  • No prostitution;
  • No narcotics trafficking or use;
  • No gang related activity; and
  • No criminal activity at all except for the underlying lack of a liquor license, which is a misdemeanor.
Again, I wouldn't have an issue with a couple dozen police officers descending upon the place if it weren't for the fact that there are so many other high-priority crimes that were being ignored by the Detroit Police Department. I talked with residents of the Woodbridge neighborhood, which surrounds the CAID. At the same time the police were dealing with this, there was reportedly a gang of teenagers going through the neighborhood smashing car windows and harassing residents.

The residents of that neighborhood repeatedly called the police. However, the police never showed up. They were too busy busting the drunk suburbanites to deal with a series of felonies.

That, quite frankly, brings into question how the Detroit Police Department is allocating our very limited resources. There is simply no way that DPD can currently handle all of the calls for police services. We need to prioritize what those officers are doing.

As a related side note, this year the Warrendale Community Organization called on both Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and the Detroit City Council to hire more police officers and to invest in their infrastructure so that they could handle more calls. Unfortunately, they ignored our request.

There's an election next year. We'll deal with how the Mayor and City Council ignored that request then. However, in the mean time, I feel it's unconscionable for DPD to allocate approximately two dozen police officers to deal with a relatively low-priority item when there are much higher priorities that are being ignored.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Trash Fire Leaves Pile of Garbage

On Wednesday afternoon, a roll-off container filled with trash caught fire as it was being hauled away. The driver of the truck that was hauling it decided to dump his load on the Southfield Freeway service drive at W. Warren Avenue so that this fire wouldn't spread to his rig. In doing so, he caused both a traffic back-up for cars exiting the freeway and left behind a pile of trash that was approximately 10 feet tall.

The Detroit Fire Department quickly extinguished the blaze. No one was injured. There wasn't any major property damage.

My former classmate, Santiago Esparza of the Detroit News, reported about the fire itself. You can read his coverage here.

Thankfully, the pile of trash has since been cleared away. Although, I still want to know how this fire got started in the first place.

Amnesty for unpaid parking tickets revived

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick announced yesterday that he was breaking his earlier pledge to not offer another amnesty for unpaid parking tickets in the City of Detroit. Detroit's Municipal Parking Department now has an amnest period that will begin on Monday. You can pay your tickets off for only half of the total amount owed - both the penalty and fine.

For once, this is one case of a politician breaking a promise that I don't mind.

You can read more about this at the Detroit News below.

Amnesty for unpaid parking tickets revived

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mailbag: Moratorium on Foreclosures

Imara wrote in to say:
I understand the busyness. And while I did miss your blog, you are definitely forgiven. Would that every Detroiter was as connected and involved as you. How do you feel about sharing info about a moratorium on foreclosures. I continue to get info regarding things that people can do to make that process less traumatizing. Do you think it can be shared at the monthly community meeting?
I'm always interested in talking about options for the neighborhood's housing problems. If you would, please email me at frank [dot] nemecek [at] gmail [dot] com with some details.

Cool Warrendale Thing: Rouge Park

Rouge Park is the largest park in Detroit and one of the large municipal parts in the nation. Encompassing 1,182 acres of prime parkland, it is more than 40% larger than New York's Central Park.


Included in Rouge Park is an 18 hole, par 72 golf course that first opened in 1923. This is in addition to the picnic areas, playground equipment, walkways, bike paths and other amenities.

One of friends from Detroit Synergy - and the man ultimately responsible for me staying in Detroit as long as I have - wrote an article a few years back about his memories of Rouge Park. You can see it on-line at theDetroiter.com.

All of these things make Rouge Park overdue in its recognition as the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Congrats to the Red Wings

It's official. The Detroit Red Wings are Stanley Cup Champions once again.



Congrats to everyone who made this happen!