Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions for Detroit



In my video entry for today, I share a series of New Year's resolutions that I wish various people in Detroit would make. In addition to myself, I offer resolution suggestions for:

  • Mayor Dave Bing;
  • Police Chief Ralph Godbee;
  • The entire Detroit City Council;
  • Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans;
  • The national news media; and
  • The Detroit Lions.
Despite all of the challenges, 2011 has been a great year for blogging. I look forward to a lot more in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Tale of Two Piles of Trash



In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I talk about two different piles of trash that I found along the way and how the difference between them says a lot about the current state of Detroit.

Trash Not Collected in Warrendale

A large section of the Warrendale neighborhood didn't get its regular trash pick up today due a DPW truck breaking down while on its route.

Cool Warrendale Thing: Warrendale Cover Photos

As the folks at Facebook continue to roll out their new layout, two things are obvious. First, we will all hear a cacophony of complaints about who the new Facebook looks a lot like the old MySpace. Second, there's very little that anyone who isn't named Mark Zuckerberg can do about this except make the best of it.

With that in mind, I offer two new photos featuring the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit that are configured to be cover photos on Facebook. Blogger re-sizes the photos to show it here. However, if you click on the photo then you will be able to see it in its original size. Then simply right-click to save it, you should be able to use it as your Facebook cover photo.

My first photo features Rouge Park. It was taken at the top of Derby Hill, looking down during a rather foggy autumn day.

Rouge Park - Ready to Be Your Facebook Cover Photo

My second photo features the legendary Tipperary Pub - which was on the Southfield Freeway service drive, just north of Tireman. This bar has since closed - and many of us are still mourning our loss - but one car remember it here.

Tipperary Pub - Ready to Be Your Facebook Cover Photo
Being able to make Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood your Facebook cover photo is the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for this week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Detroit Has A Serial Killer

Detroit has many problems, but it would appear that we can now add one more to the mix. There is a serial killer operating in the east side of the city; one who targets female escorts that he meets through an internet ad service, BackPage.com.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee said in a statement that he is stopping short of calling this a serial killing spree. However, since a serial killer is generally defined as someone who kills two or more victims in two or more separate incidents, and since we now have at least four victims within a week, I believe its safe to refer to this individual as a serial killer.

Since its no secret that the investigative resources of the Detroit Police Department have been strained from  attempts by Chief Godbee and Mayor Dave Bing to preserve the high ratio of police officers assigned to politically desirable administrative positions, I certainly hope that they do not compound this error by hesitating to call in state and federal agencies for assistance with this. Stopping the Back Page Killer is simply too high of an importance for us not to take this seriously and bring every resource to bear.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Thought for the Day

As I was out walking through the Warrendale neighborhood this afternoon, I though about the Christmas light displays that I had posted about so many times on this blog and, in particular, what it was about them that I liked so much.

More than anything, I finally realized, what I like about Christmas lights is that they give a sense of normalcy in a world that has become incredibly abnormal.

We in Detroit have a local government that is, even on its best days, completely useless and appears to be getting worse.

The local economy is a disaster.

Each of these things presents a challenge for those of us who care deeply about our community. It is something that we need to work through. However, all of this can be incredibly tiring and frustrating.

In those moments when I simply feel like giving up and putting a hex on those who convinced me not to leave this town years ago, the normalcy of Christmas lights provide a reprieve. They are a moment when everything seems to be alright; a much needed sense that our world has not gone to hell just yet.

Moments like those, no matter how fleeting they might be, give me the strength to continue on and to try one more thing to improve our community. Lights in the darkness can be extremely comforting, especially when they are put there by my friends and neighbors.

The Single Best Thing You Can Do for Your Health



Dr. Mike Evans, an associate professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto and a staff physician at St. Michael's Hospital, created a short video in which he outlines the single best thing that you can do for your health. It's only nine minutes long and I highly recommend watching it.

It's the best thing you can do for your health and it's your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All of My Readers


I want to wish a very Merry Christmas to each and everyone of my readers in the Warrendale neighborhood and around the world. The past six years of authoring this blog have been a tremendous experience and I look forward to even more adventures in 2012.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bringing the Warrendale Neighborhood to Your Facebook Profile

Christmas in Warrendale - Ready to Be Your Facebook Cover Photo

Since Facebook is rolling out its new layout, I wanted to share a photo of the Warrendale neighborhood that is perfectly sized to be a cover photo. You are welcome to use it.

Blogger re-sizes the photo slightly to show it here. However, if you click on the photo then you will be able to see it in its original size. Then simply right-click to save it, you should be able to use it as your Facebook cover photo.

I will have more Facebook cover photos, from the Warrendale neighborhood and rest of Detroit, to share with you in the days and weeks to come.

Snow

It's snowing right now in Warrendale. We might actually have a white Christmas after all.

Update @ 11:53 a.m. - Bah! The snow didn't last long, only a few minutes. We woke up to a dusting of it and it's already melting.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Final Look at Christmas Lights in the Warrendale Neighborhood



In the final installment of my Christmas lights of the Warrendale neighborhood series, I take a look at some more of the great holiday light displays that we have.

Merry (Almost) Christmas everyone!

Gov. Snyder Discusses Detroit's Financial Condition



Governor Rick Snyder released a YouTube video yesterday in which he discussed his thoughts on Detroit's financial problems. It's quite clear that he is not enthusiastic about the idea of appointing an emergency manager for Detroit.

I, personally, have an enormous amount of skepticism as to whether or not he'll be able to avoid it. He will almost certainly have to do in the weeks and months to come. However, it's actually nice to know that Governor Snyder isn't rushing into it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Walk Through the Warrendale Neighborhood




In a quick walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I talk about a classic car that I found for sale, a sign that fell down, and a new business in the neighborhood.

It's Time for Dave Bing to Go

Two major announcements were made in the past 24 hours that, in my opinion, are of the utmost importance to everyone who cares about Detroit - or life anywhere in Michigan, for that matter.

Bad News for Detroit
The first was a preliminary financial report that was completed by State Treasurer Andy Dillion and released late yesterday. It showed that the City of Detroit's financial problems are even worse than anyone originally thought - $2 billion worse than anyone originally thought, to be precise.

$2 billion.

One would almost be surprised by the level of incompetence that is required to understate one's financial condition by $2 billion. However, I have lived in Detroit long enough, and have been watching my local government operate long enough, that this is unfortunately not a surprise at all.

As an aside, to give an understanding of how long I've been focusing on the problems with Detroit's governance, I once had a conversation with then City Council President Erma Henderson about the implications of litigation on the City's budget. She assured me back then that City Council was "working diligently with the Law Department" to bring it under control.

She left office in 1990 and that situation still isn't much better. Suffice it to say, I was not surprised to read about the City of Detroit being $2 billion deeper in debt than anyone had previously predicted.

The second announcement to happen this morning was the results of a survey that was conducted by the local public radio station WDET FM, which asked people outside of Detroit what it would take to get them to move into the city. Four of the top five responses were issues directly relating to local government and the local school district.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away


I was going to present my final installment in my Christmas lights of Warrendale series today. Unfortunately, rain all of last night, and more rain plus fog this morning, prevented me from doing so.

However, I did want to share a really cool Christmas light display that one of my viewers from Japan sent in. I hope to have more to share tomorrow.

Update @ 4:03 p.m.
The "caught in mid-fade" thumbnail image that is displayed on the video above looks a bit different. It was set automatically by the system. I could go in and change, but I'm not sure if I should.

I'll keep it for now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's late December and it's RAINING in Detroit right now. This is simply not right.

Christmas Lights in Warrendale Continue



As part of my continuing look at some of the cool Christmas light displays in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I bring you my fourth installment in this video series. My fifth and final installment will come tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Christmas Lights in the Neighborhood



As I continue to walk through Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit, I'm impressed by some of the Christmas light displays that I see. This is part three of my continuing series on the Christmas lights of the Warrendale neighborhood. I hope you enjoy it.

The Cold, Hard Truth About Bus Rapid Transit

Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder announced last week that they were abruptly cancelling the proposed Woodward Light Rail system; opting instead to focus on what they are referring to as a "bus rapid transit" system that will connect downtown Detroit with M-59 in northern Oakland and Macomb Counties. Mayor Bing argues that this will do a better job of servicing the needs of Detroiters; comparing his proposal with bus rapid transit systems in other major cities, such as Cleveland and Los Angeles.

Quite frankly, I believe that Mayor Bing and his supporters are being highly disingenuous, if not downright deceptive, in how they are portraying the bus system that they talk about in the news media.

Our neighbors in Cleveland have a bus rapid transit system, one that Mayor Bing points to as an example what they will be able to create by cancelling the Woodward Light Rail project and moving the funds to his suburban bus project. There is no arguing that the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has an amazing bus rapid transit system. I would prefer to have a light rail system, but if Mayor Bing wanted to create a system that is somewhat similar to Cleveland's then that would be a compromise that I could live with.

Send a Personalized Phone Call from Santa

Santa Can Call Your Child
It's almost Christmas - and most of us know of a child who would love to hear from Santa Claus.

Once upon a time, it would be difficult for a child to receive a personal telephone call from the Jolly Ol' Elf himself. Luckily, we live in the 21st century where such a thing is incredibly easily.

All one has to do is visit SendACallFromSanta.com, answer a few quick questions, and everything will be taken care of from there.

Sending a call from Santa is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My 100th Video


It has been my pleasure to author this blog for six years now and to have included video on it for almost two of those years.

To mark this occasion, I wanted to share a special "thank you" to everyone who watches these videos. It would be pretty pointless to make these things if no one ever watched them.

I also want to thank everyone who has every sent along a comment or suggestion for what I should showcase. Even if I don't follow your suggestion, I still enjoy receiving them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All of the street lights on W. Warren Ave., west of the Southfield Freeway, are currently out.

Muslims Are NOT Taking Over




There's been a lot of talk about the show All American Muslim in the news lately, on top of the usual theories that Muslims are out to impose Sharia law on the rest of us in the U.S. Since I live and blog about a neighborhood immediately adjacent to Dearborn, Michigan, I wanted to respond to all of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Lights of Warrendale - Cool Thing of the Week




In my walk through the Warrendale neighborhood today, I showcase more of the Christmas light displays that we have.

Christmas lights are the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Mayor Bing Says Detroit is Too Advanced

Mayor Dave Bing announced late last night that he was cancelling Detroit's planned light-rail line, preferring buses over light-rail service. Presumably, moving these funds around will enable him to offset most of the cuts that he has made in D-DOT budget in recent years.

I think it's ironic that at the same time Third World cities like Bogota, Columbia are moving away from buses in favor of light-rail, Mayor Bing wants to move Detroit away from light-rail to buses.

Mayor Bing is, essentially, making Detroit more of a Third World city than actual Third World cities.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Lights of Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood, Part 1





In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I showcase some of the cool Christmas light displays that we have.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Detroit's Long, Deep Revenue Decline

Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor at the Detroit Free Press, posted a series of charts on his blog this morning to illustrate the long, deep revenue decline that the City of Detroit has experienced over the past several years. The fact that the City has experienced such a long and deep decline in revenue isn't a secret.

Each step in our decline - as well as the corresponding cuts in services and the various "one-time fixes - have been documented extensively in the new media. Regardless, it is nice to see someone in the mainstream media looking at the complete picture instead of simply focusing on whatever the current crisis is.

The one area where I disagree with Mr. Henderson is his assertion that this steady decline in revenue is that something that "neither Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, city council, an emergency manager or even a bankruptcy can really address." This part is simply wrong. Each of those individuals could address the City's persistent decline in revenue. They simply lack the political will to do so.

It's clearly evident that there is a long track record of declining tax revenue in Detroit as more and more residents and businesses flee the city. One has to ask: why is Detroit's population continuing to decline when every other city is seeing population growth?

It's not just that more than half of Detroit's population has fled the city over the past 50 years, why does Detroit's population continue to decline?

Quite frankly, as I looks at the continuing exodus of businesses and residents from Detroit, I cannot help but recall the works of Professor Charles Tiebot.

10 Super Coupon Tips for Grocery Shopping

My friends at LiveInNanny.com published their list of "10 Super Coupon Tips for Grocery Shopping." I thought I would share a link to it here.

Personally, I'm not a fan of number 10 on their list, which is "shop at superstores." I find that a lot of smaller, independently owned stores can offer some great values that often match what the superstores offer. Plus, the customer service is better when you deal directly with the owner (who is in the store rather than in an office a thousand miles away). I also feel better knowing that my money stays in my community.

But I digress.

For the other 9 tips, I think they did a really good job. It's my pleasure to make their suggestions my Tip of the Week.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Good News/Bad News for Detroit

Bad News: The temperature is barely above freezing and is heading downward.

Good News: There are only 117 more days until Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Chick's Bar Supports Toys for Tots

Chick's Bar
The folks at Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) have launched a special promotion to support the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Community members are ask to bring an unwrapped new toy into the bar by December 21st and show the bartender your donation.

Donors will get a special surprise from the staff and management of Chick's.

The Keys to Detroit




A new video project has shown up on the internet called The Keys to Detroit. I have no idea who did this one, but think it looks so darn cool.

This should be an interesting project to watch for 2012.

Latin Mass Comes to Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood

This Sunday, December 11 at 12:15 p.m., Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.) will celebrate a mass in the Extraordinary Form, which is also known as the Tridentine Rite. If you want to experience how Mass was celebrated before Vatican II, please plan on attending. Mass will be in the Latin language, complete with beautiful Gregorian Chants.

There are very few places that still offer a Latin Mass. Quite frankly, I think it's cool that one of them will be in my neighborhood.

A short video from PBS about this form of the Catholic Mass is available below.




The Latin Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Playgrounds + Churches in Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood





In my walk through the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit today, I discuss the Ryan Playground as well as St. Thomas Aquinas Church (5780 Evergreen Rd.).

Naming the Cleptocracy in Detroit

There is a certain political clique, mid- to upper-level appointees who move from one Mayor of Detroit to the next will little regard for actually accomplishing anything nor for the welfare of Detroit residents. Up until now, this group has never really had a name and I think it's time we named them.

I propose the name Southfield Mafia since a fair number of them live in Southfield. However, I'm open to suggestions. What do you think we should call these people?

Please leave your suggestions below or on the comment thread that I started on Facebook.

Featured Place to Live: 7345 Minock St.

7345 Minock St. in Warrendale
7345 Minock St. is a beautiful ranch home on quiet street in Detroit's historic Warrendale neighborhood. It features nice landscaping, is well maintained, and is offered by the original owners.

This 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath single family home was built in 1956. It has 956 square feet of living space and includes a one car garage at the rear of the home.

This charming brick home is represented by Team 2000/Remax and is at only $50,000. More information and additional photos are available here.



View Larger Map

7345 Minock St. is your Featured Place to Live in the Warrendale neighborhood for this week.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Joy Road is a Downtown of Promise


The Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation will host a Downtowns of Promise meeting on Wednesday, December 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Edison Branch Library, 18400 Joy Road.

This is a planning meeting for the Green Corridor along Joy Road that will connect to Rouge Park. More information about this meeting is available here.

Pepsi Refresh and the Belle Isle Aquarium


The Belle Isle Aquarium is several miles from the Warrendale neighborhood, but it still has the potential to be one of the great jewels of Detroit. It is the oldest public aquarium and, while it's currently closed, there is a non-profit working to help restore it. You can help them through the Pepsi Refresh project, which allows you to vote for community projects that will receive financial support from Pepsi.

Please click here to vote for the Belle Isle Aquarium. You can also vote for the Aquarium by texting 110635 to 73774.

Easy support for the Belle Isle Aquarium is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Jobs at FedEx and UPS

Both FedEx and UPS are hiring for full-time and part-time help in the Detroit area. Information about FedEx jobs is available here. UPS job information is available here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

What's Wrong With the Detroit Police Department?

John K. Bennett of DetroitUncovered.com posted a question on Facebook earlier today. I wanted to share his question, which I quote below, as well as my answer.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on Mr. Bennett's question by leaving a comment below.

John Bennett asked:
I'm writing a new story for HuffPost Detroit and I need your input. What's wrong with the Detroit Police Department? How come we keep coming up short of late in solving high profile crimes? Do we have the proper direction? Is it leadership? Are we too soft? What can be done to make the police department more efficient and more effective? How do we get the most qualified people in charge? Are you satisfied with the current leadership of the police department?
In my opinion, the problem with the Detroit Police Department is that we have too many deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs (roughly double what any any city our size would have); we spend a ridiculous amount on administration (set a copy of the budgets from Atlanta, Columbus, Denver, Indianapolis, or Milwaukee Police Departments next to Detroit's and you'll be blown away by the differences); and finally - because so many resources are expended on those first two items - we are forced to short change our front line operations.

Because we short change our front line operations (e.g., not enough officers/detectives, not enough squad cars and equipment, minimal forensics, etc.), the Detroit Police Department isn't able to solve high-profile crimes or even most low-profile ones, for that matter.

As far as leadership goes, I approach the subject of leadership with a military background. In the military, there is a concept called Command Responsibility. Simply put, it means that if you are in command then you are responsible for anything - and I do mean anything - that goes wrong on your watch. Period.

In my life, I've seen a lot of things go wrong in cases where DPD was on the scene or should have been there. From the Malice Green beating to two 12 year boys who were killed in their own home on Mansfield a few blocks from me to the little girl who was killed during a SWAT raid, there have been instances where something went fundamentally wrong.

However, I have never once seen a command level officer within DPD stand up and publicly accept responsibility for whatever it was that went wrong. In the most fundamental terms, there simply is no leadership within DPD. There are just some guys in fancy uniforms with a big paycheck.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

71-Year-Old Warrendale Resident Goes Missing



Margaret Theut, who has lived on Patton Street in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood for decades, has been missing for almost a week and foul play is suspected. She was last seen leaving church services last weekend.

Anyone who has any information regarding the disappearance, or current location, of Ms. Theut is asked to contact the Detroit Police Department immediately.

Governor Snyder Launches Review of Detroit's Finances

It was announced yesterday afternoon that Governor Rick Snyder has launched a financial review of the City of Detroit. This, of course, is the first step in a process that may or may not lead to the appointment of an emergency manager to run the City. Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement yesterday that he will cooperate with this review even though he does not believe there is any need for action from Lansing.

In my opinion, the part of this that is the most surprising is how utterly unsurprising the entire matter really is. The City of Detroit has been moving in slow but certain direction towards this for years now, in spite of repeated union concessions that have been made as well as turn-around plans that have been never been fully implemented.

Mayor Bing, like his predecessors before him in recent years, began his time in office by promising a turn-around for the City of Detroit. Unfortunately, like his predecessors before him, those plans amounted to fairly little.

In the weeks and months to come, we will likely see if someone appointed by Lansing is capable of doing any better.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Mayor Bing Doesn't Want a Financial Review. Will It Matter?

Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing held a joint press conference yesterday afternoon, which included several members of the Detroit City Council as well as prominent labor and community leaders. The consensus that each of these people delivered is that they did not want Governor Rick Snyder to launch a financial review, which is the first step in the appointment of an emergency manager to run the City. "Detroit," Mayor Bing proclaimed, "needs to be run by Detroiters."

Mayor Bing went on to remind everyone that he has a plan; one that he believes will lead the City of Detroit out of its current financial crisis. (Outline of said plan available here.)

The question that one ultimately has to ask, though, is: will any of this really matter?

For starters, Mayor Bing's plan begins with a 90% increase in Detroit's corporate income tax rate. This is offensive, to say the least, to Governor Snyder and the Legislature, who would have to grant their approval before such a tax increase can go into effect.

The Bing Plan also calls for the Detroit Public Schools to pay $15 million in charges that it currently owes. While no one disputes the legitimacy of that debt, the fact remains that our school system isn't in any shape to pay anyone $15 million at the moment. Trading a financial crisis in our local government for an even deeper one with our local public schools doesn't solve matters.

Regardless of that, I have no doubt that Mayor Bing and his staff will find a way to make it through our current financial crisis. But then what?

The City of Detroit has had one financial crisis like this after another for the past several years. Once they patch the budget for the current problem another one will be here shortly.

The Detroit Police Department currently has the largest budget of any police department in the nation on a per resident basis. In spite of this, it also has the worst response time of any urban department.

More than a few residents and businesses have already decided that they are tired of this and are leaving Detroit. When they go, they leave the City of Detroit with yet another vacant home or commercial building that must be dealt with as well as less tax revenue to work with. With less tax revenue to work after those departures, another financial crisis becomes inevitable.

Governor Rick Snyder
This has become the story of Detroit. To quote the great Yogi Berra, "It's like deja vu all over again."

Mayor Bing has not proposed anything that will truly turn the City of Detroit around nor will his plan change the recurring state of financial crisis in our community. His plan will only hold our local government together until the next crisis hits.

In the absence of any true change, and with the knowledge that a financial review by the State of Michigan is likely inevitable at this point, one has to ask: what do we gain by putting it off?

Delaying the inevitable does nothing to benefit the residents, businesses, and visitors to our great city. If anything, it only serves to spread the misery. As Detroit's slow financial collapse drags on, it puts an ever growing strain on neighboring communities. Spreading this misery does not benefit anyone.

Therefore, I have to conclude that we may as well get this over with and let the financial review begin as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Future of Catholic Churches in Warrendale

Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church
The Archdiocese of Detroit released a series of recommendations last night entitled Together in Faith. These reports outline a series of recommendations for the Catholic Church to continue its mission in Southeastern Michigan and to adapt to the continuing shortage of priests as well as the financial hardships that at least some churches find themselves in.

The good news is that none of the three Catholic Churches in the Warrendale neighborhood will be closing in the near term. This includes Saints Peter & Paul (7685 Grandville), St. Thomas Aquinas (5780 Evergreen), and St. Christopher (7800 Woodmont).

However, as the shortage of priests continues to get worse, the Archdiocese does recommend that these three churches, as well as St. Suzanne/Our Lady Gate of Heaven, at least make contingency plans for a possible merger. A merger of these four churches into two churches might become necessary if the shortage of priests reaches a point where the Archdiocese is unable to provide them with a pastor/administrator.

Everything related to the Together in Faith proposals is available here on the Archdiocese's web site. The part that relates specifically to the churches in the Warrendale neighborhood is available here.

I hasten to remind everyone that these are still only recommendations. Nothing in the Together in Faith report will become official until February 2012.

I will, of course, have more on this situation as it continues to develop.