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.

Mayor is Ready to Deal

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatick's lawyers are currently in talks with prosecutors to reach a plea bargain in connection with the various felony charges that he currently faces.

I posted yesterday that I thought it's imperative for Mayor Kilpatrick to strike a deal within the next few days. Once Governor Jennifer M. Granholm removes him from office, which she almost certainly will, his negotiating power will be extremely limited. He will be, to borrow a phrase from cinema and literature, "a dead man walking".


It is unquestionably in his best interest to resolve this in the coming days while he is still the uncontested Mayor of Michigan's largest city. More over, I believe it is in the best interest of everyone in Michigan to have this matter simply go away and go away expeditiously. Every hour that this lingers on is yet another blow to Michigan's economy, psyche and reputation.

For the prosecutors involved, while they could get a stronger sentence if they waited a week, I simply don't believe that is the best way for them to serve their constituents. This affair simply needs to come to an end.

We as a community need to move on. We will have to do it with a new occupant of the Manoogian Mansion, but we will move on.

Friends of Rouge Park Meetings

The planning committee for the Friends of Rouge Park's 5K Fun Run will meet tomorrow evening - Wednesday, August 27 at 6 p.m. in the Buffalo Soldier's Heritage Center. This is the former Detroit Police Horse Barn at Joy Rd. and Lahser Rd.

Their next general meeting will be on Wednesday September 17 at 6 p.m. This meeting will also happen at Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center.

Everyone is invited to attend these meetings.

Monday, August 25, 2008

RIP - Colin Hubbell

Colin Hubbell didn't live or work in the Warrendale neighborhood. However, his impact was felt across Detroit. He was one of those people who made the entire region a better place to be.

He was one of the earliest real estate developers in modern Detroit who could genuinely be called "developers". He took abandoned eyesores, saw their potential and transformed them into loft developments that brought new residents to the inner city. He gave new business owners the encouragement that they needed to launch their first business. In doing so, he created new jobs and tax revenue in a community that, quite frankly, is in desperate need of both.

Along the way, he constantly reminded everyone he met of their own potential for greatness. (He once kissed me on the cheek when I met him at one of his loft openings.) He was simply an amazing human being.

Colin Hubbell made Detroit - all 138.8 square miles of it - a better place to live, work and raise a family. His obituary from the Detroit Free Press is available here.

Visitation for Mr. Hubbell will be from 2 to 9 p.m. this evening and from 2 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the VerHeyden Funeral Home, which is at 16300 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe. A prayer service is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

His remains will lie in state at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church, which is at 1401 Whittier Road in Grosse Pointe Park. A Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 11 a.m. in the church.

Time to Deal for Mayor Kilpatrick

The Detroit News reported that Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick is open to talking about a plea deal. Quite frankly, I'm relieved to read this. This saga simply needs to come to an end and it needs to end immediately, if not sooner - to channel my mother for a moment.

Not only is it imperative for Detroit for a plea deal to be reached soon, I believe it's also essential for Mayor Kilpatrick and his political allies that he enter into a plea deal soon. Governor Jennifer M. Granholm is going to have a removal hearing on Wednesday, September 3. In all probability, she will remove Mayor Kilpatrick from office. The political pressure for her to do so is so high that she would likely be thrown out of office herself is she doesn't.

Once he no longer has his resignation to offer as part of a plea negotiation, the only thing that Mayor Kilpatrick will have to work with is his willingness to testify against others. No matter how much he might like the idea of resigning, I'm confident that he will like the idea of talking to FBI agents about his father or various individuals involved in the Synargo scandal even less.

In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that the reason why Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has been reluctant to talk about a plea deal thus far is that she wants to wait until Mayor Kilpatrick is forced out of office. She wants to pressure him to talk about his father and others.

Again, Mayor Kilpatrick needs to start talking about a plea bargain - for the benefit of himself, his supporters and, most of all, for the benefit of Detroit as a whole. This thing simply needs to go away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Possible Deal for Mayor Kilpatrick

WXYZ-TV (Chanel) is reporting that a deal may be afoot whereby Detroit's Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick would resign for office in exchange for:
  • Protecting Mayor Kilpatrick’s law license;
  • Providing money for six months of living expenses and paying his legal bills;
  • Keeping him out of jail; and
  • Putting him on probation for three years.
If such an offer does indeed materialize then Mayor Kilpatrick would be a fool not to accept it. In fact, if it materialized and he hesitated for even one moment before signing on to it then I would feel compelled to tattoo the word "Idiot" onto his forehead.

Moreover, I encourage both Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Attorney General Mike Cox to go along with such a deal, provided that the funding for his living expenses and legal bills aren't paid for with public funds. This scandal has gone on for eight months now. It is dragging not only Detroit, but all of Michigan down.

I believe it is in the best interest of everyone in Michigan to see this matter come to a swift resolution. A plea bargain is the best way for such a resolution to happen at this point in time.

Vigilante Shooting

WXYZ-TV (Chanel 7) reported on their noon news that three people assaulted and then shot a man at Joy Rd. and Greenview who allegedly had been robbing homes in the Warrendale area. I couldn't find this story on their web site. However, I'm not surprised that something like this happened.

The Detroit Police Department has been extremely unresponsive to crime outside of downtown and a handful of neighborhoods. It's an unfortunate reality that sooner or later one resident or another would take matters into their own hands.

This, of course, is simply one more reason why I believe that we as a community need to demand some radical changes within DPD. The more crime is ignored by professional police officers, the stronger the temptation will be for citizens to resort to vigilante justice.

When people become vigilantes, concepts like "due process" and "innocent until proven guilty" fade into obscurity, which in turn means that it's inevitable that someone who is wrongly accused will find themselves beaten and shot like the man this morning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Housekeeping

I'm not in much of a mood for the Dream Cruise this evening. As such, I'm do a little housekeeping. You will find a series of blog posts - both here and on my personal blog.

I also wanted to mention that you can get an email update when I post a new entry 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!". You will then start receiving email alerts when there's a new post.

17 people current subscribe to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. However, I know there are lots of others who read it on a regular basis. I invite everyone to join the subscribers.

Thanks to the service that I use, Feedblitz, your information will always remain private and you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Warrendale Facebook Group

The Warrendale (Detroit) Facebook group had an event at Gracie See Pizzaria this past Wednesday. It was a fairly small attendance. However, I've learned over the years that the best things start small and grow from there.


The next of these events will happen on Thursday, September 4 at Gracie See. They will continue to have them on the first Thursday of each month.

Special Election is Debated

According to the Detroit News, there is a considerable amount of debate as to how long Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr. would be able to remain mayor if and when Kwame M. Kilpatrick leaves office. Some observers argue that there is a conflict between City Charter's mandate as to when the election should happen and a Michigan law that mandates that elections are to only happen during the months of February, May, August and November.

I won't opine on precisely when a special election should happen, should the need arise. I will simply say this: no matter what one might say about Mayor Kilpatrick, the fact of the matter is that he duly elected into his office. I believe it is imperative that he replacement face electorate; that it happen as expeditiously and fairly as possible.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Warrendale Meets Facebook

I'm pleased to announce that the Warrendale neighborhood now has it's own Facebook group. For those who are on Facebook, I'm not sure if you can find by clicking "here" or not. If that doesn't work then all you have to do is search their Groups section for "Warrendale".

For those who aren't familiar with Facebook, it's a social networking group that allows you to keep in touch with friends and family easily. You can join by clicking here.

The groups function on Facebook connects registered users who have a common interest - in this case the Warrendale neighborhood. Members can share photos and videos as well as attend various events.

The Warrendale Facebook Group will hold a series of informal get-togethers in the neighborhood. The first one will be this Wednesday at Gracie See.

Everyone with an interest in the Warrendale neighborhood is invited to join the Warrendale Facebook Group.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mayor Kilpatrick to Face 2nd Set of Felony Charges

Attorney General Mike Cox announced this morning that he intends to file two felony charges against Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick. These, of course, are in addition to the perjury and obstruction of justice charges that he already faces.



I was struck by one thing is Mr. Cox's remarks from this morning: he intends to have this case ready for preliminary examination within the next two weeks and, shockingly, to have it in front of a jury within the next 90 days. This stands in profound contrast with the way that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has handled the perjury case. If she was able to prosecute her case with the same swiftness, this entire matter would've been resolved in June.

Instead, here we are in August and we're still months away from a trial even starting in this case. In fact, I can't help but wonder which trial will be over first.

I know it's hard to do a true comparison between these cases because the perjury one is exponentially more complicated. However, I can't help but feel that it's a disgrace that this case hasn't come to trial by August when the alleged crime came to light in January.

Recap of the WCO's August Membership Meeting

The Warrendale Community Organization held its general membership meeting for August this past Monday at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. This is one of those meetings where much was discussed and accomplished. I wanted to give everyone a quick recap of it.

The WCO agreed to move its September meeting to Monday, September 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the school building at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Their meetings are normally on the first Monday of each month. However, that schedule would fall on Labor Day in September. Since they only have a meeting room available on Monday evenings, the group decided to move the meeting back one week.

Representatives from City Council President Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr. as well as Council Members Brenda Jones and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi briefed the membership on recent happenings at the City Council. They also answered questions and concerns from residents.

Council Member Tinsley-Talabi's representative told the group that she has been working on a plan to address the issue of vacant homes throughout Detroit. She will be at the WCO's September meeting to present her proposal and answer questions about it.

The WCO voted to donate $150 to the Friends of Rouge Park, in recognition of their efforts to maintain and improve one of Warrendale's crown jewels - Rouge Park. $50 of that amount is allocated for the WCO to become organizational members of the FoRP. The remaining $100 is a sponsorship of their upcoming 5K Fun Run to raise money for park improvements.

The group also discussed the general concept of imposing a neighborhood association fee in order to support a supplemental security patrol. This would add an additional cost to every household in the neighborhood. However, it would mean a much more reliable and responsive security for the area.

Several neighborhoods in Detroit already use a system like this. Residents in those neighborhoods are generally pleased with the results.

The WCO will continue to research this idea. It will be discussed in more detail during the September meeting.

Finally, the WCO discussed some of the derelict homes that are an eyesore in our neighborhood. All members are compiling a list of homes in the area that could be cleaned up in an afternoon. During our September meeting we will randomly select one of those properties. The group will clean it up later that month.

Once again, the next meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be on Monday, September 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the school building of St. Thomas Aquinas. Everyone is invited to attend.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mayor Kilpatrick Goes to Jail

When I saw the newspaper this morning, with its headline that Detroit's Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick would waive his right to a preliminary examination, I was proud of him for the first time in months. The on-going criminal proceedings have dragged on for months already; as a result, Detroit's economic recovery has stalled and is slipping backwards. The fact that he waived his preliminary examination would shave a month or more off of this prolonged ordeal.

I was going to log on and write a blog post commending the Mayor for his decision. However, I've spent most of this morning in a series of meeting and didn't have a chance to sit down at a computer.

And then it happened.

Judge Robert Giles of the 36th District Court sent Mayor Kilpatrick to jail for violating the terms of his bond. He will only be there for one night, at least for now. A hearing tomorrow will determine how long he is going to be there.

I'm still pleased that the Mayor waived his right to a preliminary examination. However, let's face facts, that story will be buried and largely ignored by the fact that he is spending tonight in a jail cell.

It's too bad that the Mayor didn't make this decision a few days earlier. If they had then Detroiters would have spent a few days talking about the Mayor doing something positive.

Instead, that announcement is completely downed out by this:

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

5K Planning Meeting

The Friends of Rouge Park will meet on Wednesday, August 13 at 6pm in the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center. The purpose of this meeting is to plan the Rouge Park 5K Run, which is scheduled for Sunday, October 5 to raise money for park improvements.

The Warrendale Community Organization is proud to be one of the sponsors of the Rouge Park 5K Run.

Everyone interested in being a part of the run is welcome to attend this meeting. The Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center, formerly the Detroit Police Department's horse barn, is located at Joy Rd. and Lahser in Rouge Park.

If you're interested in helping with the run, but unable to attend this meeting, please email Di Allgood of the Friends of Rouge Park at nanselad [at] aol.com.

Trailers Stolen

News has come in from the Friends of Rouge Park that two trailers were stolen recently from the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center. One is a light blue wooden flat bed trailer with rotten wheels. This was going to be used to have hay rides during the fall once the they got it fixed. The second trailer was a horse trailer.

If anyone knows anything about these crimes, please contact the Detroit Police Department.

Pony Rides in Rouge Park

The Friends of Rouge Park and the Buffalo Soldiers - Calico Troops will be giving pony rides on Saturday, August 9 starting at Noon. Please bring your family out and join them as we enjoy the outdoors and share our animals with the kids.

This event will take place at the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center (formerly the Detroit Police Department's horse barn) at Joy Rd. and Lahser in Rouge Park.

This is their first fundraiser!