Monday, November 30, 2009

Tip of the Week: Park in the Driveway

It's unfortunate that there is an abundance of vacant houses in the Warrendale neighborhood as well as rest of metro Detroit.  All too often those houses fall victim to thieves stealing everything they can.

I've learned that there is a fairly simple way to at least minimize the number of vacant houses that get broken into:  park a vehicle in its driveway.  This, of course, works best if you have more than one car in your household.  You can keep one car in your driveway and park another in the driveway of a nearby vacant house.

Parking a car in a driveway does two important things that will at least minimize the number of houses that get broken into.

First, it creates the appearance that this house is occupied.  This makes it less attractive to a would be thief since they generally don't want to confront an owner.

Second, it creates a physical barrier.  The most attractive and profitable things for a thief to steal are the water heater, furnace and the pipes connected to them.  All of these things are generally located in the basement and, for most houses, the most convenient way for to haul them out is through a side door.  If there is a car parked in the driveway then it becomes more problematic to move those things out.

Warrendale YouTube Videos

I found a few interest videos about the Warrendale neighborhood on YouTube.  I mean, let's face it, you can find almost everything on YouTube these days.

My favorite is this very simple video that features a guy driving along W. Warren Avenue, through the Warrendale neighborhood.  There are a couple of comments in the comment section about how Warrendale looks better in this video than it does in real life.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we as a community have become so focused on the problems that we face that when we see a video that doesn't feature them, we're essentially surprised by it.



I also found this one where a guy gives a video tour of a foreclosed that he bought, with the intention of renting it out to make some cash.  It's only a little more than two minutes in length, but it offers some insight into what it's like inside many of foreclosed homes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bankrupt in Detroit

As I read the newspaper this morning, I was struck by the juxtaposition of two particular articles.

Fritz Henderson, president and chief executive officer of General Motors, remarked in the first one about what it's like for GM now since they went into bankruptcy 5 months ago; a bankruptcy that was once thought unthinkable.

The new GM is no longer focused on simply surviving. Instead, their focus is on changing a corporate culture, building better cars and winning over new customers.

In the other article, Mayor Dave Bing was quoted as saying that avoiding bankruptcy and rebuilding Detroit will take as long as 20 years.  It will also require a tremendous sacrifice on the part of all residents and we'll likely have to give up some of the services that we're paying for without seeing a corresponding decrease in our taxes.

We Detroiters have been served with several years of budget cuts and sacrifices by three different mayors; each time we've been told that doing so was essential for us to avoid bankruptcy.  After all of this time, the only thing that we have to look forward to is the prospect of another couple decades of even more cuts and more sacrifices.

In contrast, General Motors has been almost completely reborn and re-energized within 5 months of filing for bankruptcy.  They were quite reluctant to file for bankruptcy protection but, in hindsight, it may well prove to be one of the best things that have happened to them in years.

All of this begs the question:  Why is it such a high priority for the City of Detroit to avoid bankruptcy?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, of course, is Thanksgiving.  I want to take a brief moment to wish everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a very joyous Thanksgiving.  May today find you surrounded by friends, family and food as well as a bountiful list of things to be thankful for.

In the spirit of this season, I want to share a short clip with everyone from one of my favorite television shows of all time, The West Wing. In this scene, President Josiah Bartlet learns that a group of religious refugees from China had escaped from an immigration detention facility in California.



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tip of the Week: Northwest District Community Relations Fundraiser

There's a new fundraiser to benefit Great Northwestern District Community Relations Organization, which serves as a liaison between the Detroit Police Department and the neighborhood.  It's also a great deal.

For the low price of only $35, you will receive a beautiful bouquet or potted plant each month for a year.  Tulips, mums and roses are just some of the beautiful flowers that await you.

One can find an informational flyer and order form is available on-line here.

Kudos to the Insurance Agent


I went to Del Taco for lunch today and there was an insurance agent in line in front of me. She got two sales leads from complete strangers that she met while standing in line.

Now that is some serious hustling, my friends.

It's also a reminder that, even in a terrible economy with record unemployment, it's still possible for someone to make money.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

100 Detroiters Project on Kickstarter

There's been an enormous amount interest from the national news media about Detroit and the challenges that we face as a community.  ABC, CNN, New York Times and Time magazine are just some of the national media outlets that have opined on our troubles.  Not to be outdone, journalists from the Irish Times have joined their counterparts from Germany, Japan and elsewhere in sharing their thoughts.

They always find one or two Detroiters to give a quote or two.  All too often, though, they rely on someone who moved away more than a decade ago to tell the story of what Detroit is like today.

I respect these journalists for at least trying to understand Detroit and all of its complexities. However, I believe that there is a better way.

I would like to create a series of 100 videos that will feature 100 Detroiters; allowing them to tell their story directly to the world. These videos will be posted on YouTube and the other video sharing networks so that our story is as widely disseminated as possible.

If you would like to know more about this project then I invite you to take a look at my page on Kickstarter.com.




Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two Great Events | One Great Evening in Detroit

There are a number of really great things happening around town tomorrow, Friday, November 20.

Detroit's official holiday tree lighting is at 6 p.m. in Campus Martius Park downtown (1 Campus Martius).  This is always a great family event.  There are also a number of other events at various bars around downtown after the tree lighting.

Later in the evening, Cardif Giant takes the stage at the Magic Bag in Ferndale (22920 Woodward).  For those who aren't familiar with Cardif Giant, they are a really great indie rock band.  I mention them on the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog since at least two members of this band are from the Warrendale neighborhood.  You can hear their music on their MySpace page.

New Sculpture in Rouge Park

A new sculpture by artist Larry Halbert was unveiled earlier this week in Rouge Park.  The piece is entitled Growing Together.  It is permanently installed at Rouge Park Dr. and Spinoza.

Several students from Cody High School (18445 Cathedral St.) assisted him with this project.  They were present for the unveiling.  Wayne County Commissioner Alisha Bell presented the group with a certificate of appreciation after the unveiling.

Video from the event is available below, courtesy of Paul Stark of the Friends of Rouge Park.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pondering Retail

Dollar Bills (20055 Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn Heights) recently opened in the former City National Bank building, at Ann Arbor Trail and Evergreen. They offer low priced food and sundries.

I have to confess that I have mixed feeling about this.  On one hand, it does mean one less vacant storefront.  It also means a handful of new jobs in the area, which is always a good thing.  However, there is also the fact that almost everything that they sell is made in China.

It's nice that there is yet another dollar store nearby.  (I mean, we only have six dollar stores in the Warrendale area besides this place.)  I just can't help but feel that there is a better way.

In many other neighborhoods in Detroit, we are starting to a trend towards stores that sell locally sourced food as well as locally produced goods.  Unfortunately, this trend hasn't established much of a foothold in Warrendale as of yet.  I hope this changes soon.

In the meantime, I want to call attention to two locally owned businesses over in Midtown that sell a considerable amount of locally produced goods:  Bureau of Urban Living and their next door neighbor City Bird (460 W. Canfield).  I invite folks to stop by either place, just to see what retail can be like - although I should disclose that both places are owned by friends of mine.

If that's not enough retail inspiration, there's also the fact that Detroit Synergy's monthly Third Thursday - Community Connect is this Thursday from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at Pewabic Pottery (10125 E. Jefferson Ave.). Besides the usual socializing that happens at each of these events, this one also provides a great chance to kick start one's holiday shopping with locally made crafts.  Beer and wine will be served.

In addition, 15% from all purchases made that evening will be donated to the Greening of Detroit.

Photo credit: David L. Malhalab MNS Photo / News Service

Detroit to Put 150 Police Officers on the Streets

The Detroit News is reporting that the Detroit Police Department will put another 150 police officers onto streets in neighborhoods around the city. 100 of this comes from police officers being reassigned from desk jobs, with the balance coming from the addition of new police officers thanks to a federal grant.

The first wave of officers is expected to be seen within the next few weeks.  There is no indication, as of yet, as to whether or not the Warrendale neighborhood specifically will receive an increase in police protection as a result of these announcement. Regardless, this is very good news, in my opinion.

Detroit to put 150 police officers on the streets | detnews.com | The Detroit News

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reflections On An Assault

For the benefit of anyone who hasn't already heard, I was assaulted last Monday afternoon.  I was at the corner of W. Warren Ave. and Westwood when two black teenagers came up from behind me. Without saying a word, one of them punch me in the face as the other one watched.  Both of them promptly ran away before I could do anything else.

Apparently, from what I've learned talking with people who work in the criminal justice system, this was a gang initiation.  One person runs up from behind and punches a random person to prove that he is tough enough to be allowed into the gang while a current gang member watches to verify that he did it.

My nose has long since stopped bleeding and my swollen lip has returned to normal.  Emotionally, however, it's been a rough couple of days.

The thing that has made all of the difference in the world has been all of the other Detroiters.  The staff at the Dog House Coney Island (19344 W. Warren) were quick to give me the napkins that I needed to stop my bloody nose and let me use their mens room so I could clean myself up.

More importantly, as word of this spread around town, more than 100 people have reached out to me over the past week offering friendly support.  From messages on my Facebook page to emails to phone calls to those who simply stopped me when I was at one event another around town, their outpouring of support was tremendous.  It's the support of those 100+ people, as well as the knowledge that there are many more like them who I simply haven't met yet, that keeps me going when I otherwise would have quit.

To everyone of them, I simply say "thank you".

As for the two individuals who assaulted me last week, I'm not worried about them.  I filed a report with the Detroit Police Department (DPD Complaint Number 0911090417).  Maybe something will happen as a result.  Maybe it won't.

The one thing that I can be confident of is that, with gang life being what it is, those two individuals will likely be dead or in jail within 5 years regardless.  It's revenge on auto-pilot.

This means that I can simply concentrate on the more than 100 Detroiters who are determined to make this town a better place and who I am proud to call friends.

Rouge Park Meeting This Wednesday

The Friends of Rouge Park will hold their next general membership meeting this Wednesday, November 18, at 6 p.m. at the Don Bosco Center (19321 W. Chicago St.), which is located in the former St. Suzanne School.

More information about the Friends of Rouge Park is available at http://www.rougepark.org.

Monday, November 09, 2009

First Meeting of the Charter Commission

The newly elected Charter Commission will be sworn in and have its first meeting next Tuesday, November 17, at 6 p.m.  This meeting will take place on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (2 Woodward Ave.).  Everyone in Detroit is invited to attend this and every other meeting of the Charter Commission.

The Charter Commission is charged with revising Detroit's city charter, which is its main governing document.

Updates on Two Stories

Today I get to update two previous stories that I didn't know until recently were related.  I posted two weeks ago about the Detroit Police Department blocking off Ashton between Whitlock and W. Warren Ave. as part of their investigation into an assault that had happened.  I also posted last week about a fire at 6817 Ashton that gutted much of that vacant house as well as damaged the occupied home immediately north of it.

It turns out that the assault investigation was at 6817 Ashton.  The previous occupant was evicted from their home on October 27.  Reportedly, this eviction resulted in heated words being exchanged and shots were eventually fired at that location.  Since the police only reported it as as assault, one can conclude this did not result in any fatalities.

It was this shooting that resulted in the Detroit Police Department closing much of Ashton as they searched for evidence and interviewed any potential witnesses.

Shortly after that date, someone then firebombed 6817 Ashton.  The identity of this arsonist is not confirmed, but one would presume that the individuals previously evicted for the home had something to do with it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

40th for Detroit Strip Clubs

It's amazing what a blogger can learn about his or her own web site, simply by using Google Analytics.

For example, I discovered this morning that there are more than 1.2 million web sites out there that talk about strip clubs in Detroit - and that the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog ranks number 40 for the search term "Detroit strip clubs".

Really?

Number 40 out of 1.2 million?


I blogged several months ago about the efforts to curtail - or even eliminate - strip clubs from the Detroit city limits.  I argued then and continue to believe that this is a really stupid idea.

In my opinion, the only thing that needs to be done about the various problems associated with strip clubs in Detroit is to enforce the rules that have been in existence for decades.  Adding new rules - when the existing ones are largely ignored - simply will not do anything but drive out those who currently comply with the rules.

And somehow, this made my blog the 40th most popular with Google for the phrase "Detroit strip clubs".

Of course, the simple fact that I'm a pervert might have had something to do with it as well.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Second Person to be Charged in Death of Walt Harris

I blogged a year ago about the tragic death of Detroit firefighter Walt Harris, who died when the roof of a burning house collapsed when he was inside fighting battling that blaze. That particular fire was later determined to be a case of arson.

It was announced this afternoon that a second individual will be charged in Mr. Harris' death. More details, of course, are available from the Detroit Free Press article that I've linked to below.

Please forgive them for their reference to "Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans". I'm not sure if they meant to refer to Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans or Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Second person to be charged in death of Detroit firefighter | freep.com | Detroit Free Press

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tip of the Week: Avoiding Email Scams

It's been a few weeks since I've done a Tip of the Week feature.  We're developing a television pilot at work and that has kept me insanely busy.  Regardless, I want to get back to this.

My tip this week comes to us from our friends at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who have a warning about a new round of spam attacks.  As with previous spam attacks, which have included the names of high-ranking FBI executives and names of various government agencies, a new version misuses the name of the United States Attorney General, Eric Holder.

The current spam alleges that the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were informed the e-mail recipient is allegedly involved in money laundering and terrorist-related activities. To avoid legal prosecution, the recipient must obtain a certificate from the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman at a cost of $370. The spam provides the name of the EFCC Chairman and an e-mail address from which the recipient can obtain the required certificate.

DO NOT RESPOND. THESE E-MAILS ARE A HOAX.

Government agencies do not send unsolicited e-mails of this nature. The FBI, Department of Justice, and other United States government executives are briefed on numerous investigations, but do not personally contact consumers regarding such matters. In addition, United States government agencies use the legal process to contact individuals. These agencies do not send threatening letters/e-mails to consumers demanding payments for Internet crimes.

Consumers should not respond to any unsolicited e-mails or click on any embedded links associated with such e-mails, as they may contain viruses or malware.

It is imperative consumers guard their personally identifiable information. Providing your information to these spammers will compromise your identity!  If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

Fires Down 12% Around Halloween

Mayor Dave Bing told a press conference this morning that the number of fires had dropped 12% during the three day period around Halloween. Statistics from the Detroit Fire Department showed that there were 119 fires (including 91 suspicious ones) this year.  In comparison, there were 136 fires in Detroit last year.

Locally, I know of at least two house fires that happened in the Warrendale neighborhood this year. There was one at 6817 Ashton, a vacant home, that damaged an occupied home immediately north of it. There was also another such on Brace.

Mayor Bing: Fires down 12 percent around Halloween | detnews.com | The Detroit News

Ford Posts an Unexpected Profit of $997 Million

It wasn't that long ago that workers from Ford Motor would fill many of the bars and restaurants in the Warrendale neighborhood during lunch hour as well as after work. Unfortunately, they have been sadly missing in recent years as Ford shed much of its workforce and those who remained became increasingly less likely to eat out as they worried about the next round of layoffs.

The fact that Ford Motor posted a profit today of almost $1 billion gives me a certain amount of hope that those days of Ford workers filling our restaurants might return in the coming months.

Ford Posts an Unexpected Profit of $997 Million - NYTimes.com

Hollywood Comes to Warrendale (Sort Of)

There's a new movie called Mooz-lim that is shooting in Detroit thanks to Michigan's tax incentives.  The film stars Danny Glover and Nia Long in a story about being Muslim in America.

Today, they are shooting at the Islamic Center of America (19500 Ford Rd.).  Before anyone chimes in, I know well that they're not technically in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood; they're in an immediately adjacent section of Dearborn.  However, since the cameras are set up within 30 feet of the Dearborn/Detroit border, I say that's close enough to count.

With that in mind, I say, welcome to the neighborhood to everyone on the cast and crew of Mooz-lim.