Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, Detroit

2013 is the year when I met some truly amazing people. I gave my first Pecha Kucha Night presentation and published The Roswell Chronicles. It's also the year when I got re-acquainted with so many of old friends from high school.

It was the year of the Duct Tape Fire Hydrant and other truly strange things.

It was the year when Detroit began the long, painful journey through bankruptcy and when some truly amazing Detroiters got elected.

2013 could have been better, but it also could have been a lot worse. Thank you, everyone, for being a part of this adventure with me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy 100th birthday to the Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station, circa 2009
Photo by Frank Nemecek
Michigan Central Station, formerly the main train station in Detroit and one of the most famous abandoned buildings in the world, turns 100 years old today. The first train pulled out of the station at 5:20 p.m. on December 26, 1913.

Across the internet, and in at least some the newspapers, one will find much written about the Michigan Central Station on this historic anniversary. My friend Dan Austin has a column about it in this morning's edition of the Detroit Free Press here. Tom Zoellner also has piece about what the place would be like if it were a part of a high-speed rail network here.

I would simply like to add my own birthday wish for the Michigan Central Station. I hope that the new year brings a new owner for the station; one who will give it the love that this historic landmark richly deserves.

Meet Detroit's new fire commissioner



Mayor-elect Mike Duggan has announced the appointment of Jonathon Jackson, a 25-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department, to serve as his new fire commissioner. In an interview with WXYZ-TV, Jackson promised:
  • More arson investigators in Detroit;
  • More firefighters;
  • Better equipment for those firefighters; and
  • Better response times for Detroit Fire and EMS.
Jackson, in my opinion, clearly has the background and experience to make great things happen within the Detroit Fire Department. He is also saying all of the right things.

However, I hasten to add that there has been a parade of experienced professionals over the past several years with the right resumes saying all the right things before becoming Detroit's new fire commissioner. The results that they have collectively produced have, unfortunately, been disappointing.

In the coming months, we will know for certain just how effective Jonathon Jackson is a fire commissioner. Until then, I wish him the best.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ss. Peter and Paul Church goes all out with Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Photo by Frank Nemecek
This Christmas season, the folks at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.) here in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit have gone all out with their decorations. I think they did an awesome job. It's worth attending mass there just to see them.

Once upon a time, when I was growing up in the neighborhood and attending grade school there, their decorations were much simpler. There was a nativity scene and the altar was decorated. However, the rest of the church had few, if any decorations.

I particularly liked the decorated statues at the rear of the church - simple yet elegant, in my opinion. There are more photographs of the Christmas decorations at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, including two panoramic shots, available on my Google+ page here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Breaking news: Minivan catches fire on Greenview


I was on Faust, near Dayton, this evening when I heard a sudden bang that seemed to come from a couple of blocks to west. Being the curious blogger that I am, I went to investigate.

When I reached Greenview I saw that a minivan was engulfed in flames, just south of Dayton. I called 9-1-1 and was told by the operator that the Detroit Fire Department was already on their way. From that point, the only thing left for me to do was to step back and shoot some video with my cell phone.

The Detroit Fire Department did indeed show up promptly. I could hear their sirens within a couple of seconds of hanging up with 9-1-1. Once on the scene, the firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze. There did not appear to be any injuries associated with this vehicle fire nor was their any other property damage besides the minivan.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Read the "Roswell Chronicles"

UFO Crash - Roswell, New Mexico
On a personal note, my sci-fi novel Roswell Chronicles is being published in serial format by Juke Pop Serials. It tells the story of Samantha Haut and her cousins as they are caught between a greedy corporation and pissed off aliens from outer space.

The first chapter of my novel is available for FREE by clicking here. If you like it, please click the "+ Vote" button at the end of the chapter to keep "Roswell Chronicles" alive on Juke Pop.

Phil Robertson, Michigan Treasury, and Hamtramck

When Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made remarks in an interview with GQ magazine that were critical of gays and lesbians, he was promptly suspended by the A&E television network. There has been much said elsewhere about Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, and the suspension - so much so that it almost seems pointless for me to comment further on it here.

Instead, I will simply say that it's interesting how the Phil Robertson situation was handled by A&E versus how the Michigan Department of Treasury handled allegations that their Emergency Manager in nearby Hamtramck Cathy Square made a series of inappropriate comments in the workplace. A&E promptly took disciplinary action whereas the Michigan Department of Treasury simply swept the entire matter under the proverbial rug.

With all of the commotion over Phil Robertson and his suspension, I cannot help but wonder what it would be like if the A&E television network ran the City of Hamtramck.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter craft projects at the Edison Branch Library

Snowy River - Photo by Garret Voight
The Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library (18400 Joy Rd.) will host a winter craft project on Saturday, December 28 from 2 - 3 p.m. Children and tweens will be able to make a craft item that celebrates winter and snow.

Children will also be able to take the winter-themed craft item that they make home with them.

This is event, like most events at the Detroit Public Library, will be free and open to the public. All children and tweens in the Warrendale neighborhood and surrounding areas are invited to participate.

Monday, December 16, 2013

More than 6 inches of snow

Measuring snowfall
Photo by Frank Nemecek
According to the Official Warrendale Snow Gauge (a/k/a - a ruler stuck in my yard), we received 6 1/2 inches of snow over the weekend. This makes this one of the biggest snowfalls to hit the Warrendale neighborhood in several years. Plus, the forecasts call for even more snow to fall soon.

No matter what the calendar says, I think it's safe to say that it is winter in Detroit.

The 12 Crimes of Christmas

The holidays are quickly approaching, and we can't help but gussy up our homes to make them look prim and proper to fit the theme of the season. Spiritedly doorways, radiant lights and fantastic inflatable decorations line the streets, kindling a warm feeling of security, tranquility and good fortune.

The only thing is, not everyone is as keen on the spirit of the season.

Unfortunately, the goodwill of the holidays doesn't necessarily drag down crime rates. In fact, in some areas of the country the holidays actually bring about slightly more crime. While Warrendale enjoys the blessings of a vibrant, connected community, holiday crime is a risk for every homeowner regardless of location.

Here're the 12 crimes you need to look out for this month, and a few tips on how to defend against them:
  1. Break-ins. With presents in the front window and lawn decorations at every corner, the holiday season is a burglar’s dream. Be wary of how you display your newest gizmos and gadgets and don’t let your outdoor ornaments create shadowy hiding places.
  2. Cybercrime. Some crimes are carried out digitally. This holiday season, guard yourself from spammers and hackers by installing anti-virus software and clearing out the cache on your web browser.
  3. Drunken driving. Holiday parties can lead to an influx of inebriated drivers, so keep an eye out for dangerous or erratic motorists when you hit the road. Drive defensively and practice caution. And if you partake of adult beverages yourself, use a designated driver, call a cab or take a bus.
  4. Public intoxication. Just like #3, beware of your surroundings (and the people around you) when you’re out and about.
  5. Vehicle crime. With millions of parking spaces packed to the brim at shopping malls and locals stores, carjackers and thieves may be on the prowl. Don't leave any enticing items such as a wallet or MP3 player sitting on your seat, and take care of your keys.
  6. Phishing/Vishing. Some scammers will use the holiday season to take advantage of the public's generosity. Always ask who is calling when you answer the phone and don't respond to any e-mails if you're not totally sure of the sender.
  7. Robbery. If you're out on the street with a brand new purse or nifty mobile device, you could be a target for a robbery. Stay completely aware of your surroundings, and try not to flaunt your new gifts.
  8. Littering. It sounds a little silly, but some communities dole out serious fines for littering. Dispose of all those boxes and wrapping paper properly. Or figure out a way to reuse it!
  9. Shoplifting. You know not to shoplift, but you may not know how to respond to a shoplifter. If you see a shoplifter, consult a store employee or security guard rather than confronting the person yourself. It's much safer to let the proper authorities deal with the issue.
  10. Identity Fraud. The holidays can mean quite a bit of spending. Be careful where you use your credit card and make sure you reveal personal information only at trustworthy establishments. IdentityTheftProtection.org has an entire feature on the topic if you need more information.
  11. Vandalism. If your yard or home is damaged in any way, report it to your local police department immediately. The glitz and glamor of holiday d├ęcor can be an open invitation for vandals, so it's fair to be suspicious if you notice something missing or dented.
  12. Commercial burglary. If you're a shop or restaurant owner, it might be smart to invest in a home security system. The addition of surveillance cameras will help you keep an eye on the store while you're enjoying your time off.
Publisher's note: My thanks to Drew Smithfield for contributing this article.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Detroit birth and death records transfer to Wayne County

Individuals will have to obtain Detroit birth and death certificates through the Wayne County Clerk’s Office beginning January 14. The Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion will close its Vital Records Division permanently at 4 p.m. on Friday, December 13.

During the transfer of services from the City of Detroit to Wayne County, birth certificates will not be available from December 16 – January 13, 2014. However, during the transfer period, funeral directors may file and obtain death certificates at the Wayne County Clerk’s Office in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Funeral directors, however, are advised to call (313) 224-7631 first because of Wayne County furloughs and the upcoming holidays.

In Person
Beginning January 14, 2014, individuals will be able to obtain Detroit birth and death certificates at 640 Temple Street, 6th floor with same-day service. Parking will be free.

By Mail
Individuals may also send requests for Detroit certificates by mail to:

Office of the Wayne County Clerk
City of Detroit Vitals
640 Temple Street, 6th Floor
Detroit, MI  48201.

All mail requests must be sent in letter form, and include the signature, return address, and phone number of the individual requesting a record. A photocopy of the requestor’s identification. must be included with all birth record requests. Payment by money order (payable to The Wayne County Clerk’s Office) must be with all requests. The cost for the first certified copy of a birth or death record is $22 and $7 for any additional copies.

Individuals may also obtain birth and death certificates through the State of Michigan Vital Records Office
by calling (517) 335-8666 by writing to Post Office Box 30721 in Lansing, MI 48909

For additional information on how to obtain a Detroit birth or death certificate via the Wayne County Clerk’s Office, visit www.waynecounty.com/clerk/birth_certificates.htm or call (313) 224-7631.

Warrendale to get new streetlights in 2014

Nightscene in the City
Photo by Dustin Steiner
According to a plan unveiled earlier this week by the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit, the Warrendale neighborhood is scheduled to get new streetlights next year. Other parts of the city will have a longer wait ahead of them. However, Warrendale and the surrounding neighborhoods will get new street lights in 2014.

There are several blocks in Warrendale where the street lighting is spotty at best, including one block that never had streetlights installed in the first place. All of this is in addition to the problems with streetlights along W. Warren Avenue, which is the main commercial thoroughfare for Warrendale.

My one hope is that state and local officials also do more to target metal thieves who steal the copper wiring from theses street lights, rendering them inoperable. That, however, is the subject of another blog post.

For the time being, I'm simply glad to know that the Warrendale neighborhood will finally get new streetlights within the next year.


My Dave Bing documentary

Movie Poster - Weekend at Bernie's
As a lifelong Detroiter and a documentary filmmaker, I seriously considered making a documentary film on Mayor Dave Bing and his four and a half year-long tenure as Mayor of the Motor City. However, I realized after a moment of reflection that someone else had already made that movie.

It was called Weekend at Bernie's, with Mayor Bing playing the role of Bernie Lomax. What is left of Kwame Kilpatrick's political machine, of course, played the parts of Richard and Larry in that movie.

There is no point in me making yet another sequel to that movie. I suppose this means that will just have to figure out a different project to work on in the coming months instead.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Leland wins Detroit recount

The Leland vs. Bennett election recount for the Detroit City Council's 7th district is now over. Gabe Leland will still represent the district, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood.

The margin of victory, however, did change - by one vote.

Yes, it changed by one vote.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Recount begins today in City Council race

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers recently approved a request for an election recount from John K. Bennett, one of the three candidates who sought sought to represent Detroit's seventh district on the City Council. Former State Representative Gabe Leland was originally declared the winner of that race, but
Bennett is contesting those results.

The recount will begin at 9:30 a.m. this morning in Cadillac Place (3044 W. Grand Blvd.), which is in the New Center area of Detroit. I will have updates on the results of this recount throughout the day.

Come to the December pizza party

Monthly pizza party at Gracie See Pizzeria
Everyone who reads this blog is invited to my monthly pizza party. The next one will be on Monday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Gracie See Pizzeria (6889 Greenfield Rd.).

Please join current and former residents of the Warrendale neighborhood, as well as some good people who just like good pizza, for our monthly pizza party. The staff at Gracie's will also have some great drink specials all night long.

As always, the first pizza will be on me. After that, we simply order from the menu and split the check when it arrives.

An RSVP is appreciated, but not mandatory. Guests may confirm their attendance on either the Facebook or Google Plus page for this blog.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Pizza and planning


I had dinner with our newly elected Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland this evening. We got together over pizza to discuss the future of our district.

As an added bonus, our waitress at Gracie See Pizzeria was Ashley, one of the coolest people around.

Twenty people charged in Medicare fraud

According to statement issued late yesterday, 20 Detroit-area residents have been charged for their roles in physician home visit, home health care, chiropractic, and psychotherapy schemes to submit more than $34 million in false billing to Medicare.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh, III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office made the announcement.

“Medicare fraud hits every taxpayer and harms so many who are in need of critical health care,” said Raman. “The defendants arrested yesterday and today include doctors, physical therapists, and home health care agency owners who were entrusted by Medicare to provide their patients with necessary care and services. Instead, they abused that trust for their own profit. The strike force’s operation reflects our continuing and unflagging commitment to put an end to these harmful fraud schemes.”

“These charges clearly send the message to criminals that committing fraud against government health care programs puts them squarely in the sights of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force,” added Pugh. “Taxpayers and patients should know that OIG with its Strike Force partners will continue to root out, expose, and hold accountable those who attack the Medicare program.”

Court documents unsealed this week in the Eastern District of Michigan charge defendants including physicians, owners, and operators of companies, office employees, and patient recruiters with submitting fraudulent claims for services that were never rendered and with paying kickbacks to obtain patients to be billed. Nineteen of the defendants were arrested or surrendered to authorities yesterday morning and this morning, and one defendant remains at large. In addition, law enforcement agents yesterday and today executed search warrants at nine locations and seizure warrants of 14 bank accounts related to the alleged fraud schemes.

The following charges were unsealed:

United States v. Goldfein, et al.
Two individuals, both medical doctors, were charged in an indictment with conspiring to commit health care fraud for their roles in a $5.4 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for physician home services that were not provided. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by a physician clinic that provides both in-home and outpatient health care services. The clinic, with locations in Livonia and Swartz Creek is known as Tri City Medical Centers P.C.

The defendants charged in the indictment are Aaron Scott Goldfein, 49, of Bloomfield Hills and William Clay Sokoll, 58, of Royal Oak.

United States v. Elhorr, et al.
Three individuals, one of whom is a medical doctor and one of whom is a nurse, were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in an $11.5 million scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting fraudulent claims for physician home services that were not provided. The superseding indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by a home visiting physician practice. The practice, located in Allen Park was known as House Calls Physicians PLLC.

The defendants charged in the superseding indictment are Ali Elhorr, 44, of Dearborn, Lama Elhorr, 31, of Hollywood, Florida (formerly of Dearborn), and Kelly White, 44, of Dearborn.

United States v. Khan, et al.
Ten individuals were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud or conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks for their roles in a $7 million scheme to defraud Medicare. The defendants include two medical doctors and three owners of home health care agencies, one of whom is also a physical therapist, as well as patient recruiters and office staff. The indictment alleges that the defendants caused the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary home health care services and paid kickbacks in the form of cash payments and prescription narcotics to Medicare beneficiaries for the use of their Medicare beneficiary numbers. The indictment also alleges that physicians received kickbacks in the form of cash payments to certify Medicare beneficiaries for medically unnecessary home health care services. The fraudulent claims were submitted by two home health care agencies, Advance Home Health Care Services Inc. and Perfect Home Health Care Services LLP.

The defendants charged in the indictment are Walayat Khan, 65, of Ypsilanti, Adelina Herrero, 72, of Ann Arbor, Amer Ehsan, 44, of Canton, Haroon Ur Rashid, 47, of West Bloomfield, Mohammad Rafiq, 47, of West Bloomfield, Salman Ali Sapru, 51, of Ypsilanti, Farhan Khan, 25, of Ann Arbor, James Zadorski, 48, of Detroit, Cynthia Bell, 55, of Detroit, and John Sanders, 59, of Pontiac.

United States v. Hassan, et al.
Two individuals were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks for their roles in a $4.5 million scheme to defraud Medicare. The indictment alleges that the defendants, the owner of a home health care agency who is also a physical therapist and a recruiter, caused the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary home health care services and paid kickbacks in the form of cash payments to Medicare beneficiaries for the use of their Medicare beneficiary numbers. The indictment also alleges that physicians received kickbacks in the form of cash payments to certify Medicare beneficiaries for medically unnecessary home health care services. The fraudulent claims were submitted by Cherish Home Health Services LLC.

The defendants charged in the indictment are Zia Hassan, 47, of Saline and Nathaniel Miller, 52, of Detroit.

United States v. Minhas
Naseem Minhas, 47, of West Bloomfield was charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks for his role in a $5.7 million scheme to defraud Medicare. The indictment alleges that the defendant, the beneficial owner of a home health care agency, caused the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary home health care services and paid kickbacks in the form of cash payments to marketers to recruit Medicare beneficiaries and to certify Medicare beneficiaries for medically unnecessary home health care services. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims were submitted by Tricounty Home Care Services Inc.

United States v. Lovett, et al.
The owners of a Detroit-area billing company were charged in a criminal complaint for their roles in a health care fraud scheme involving claims for chiropractic and psychotherapy services. The complaint alleges that the operators of ABIX LLC obtained the Medicare numbers of licensed medical service providers in and around Detroit and used this information to bill Medicare for chiropractic and psychotherapy services that were not provided.

The defendants charged in the criminal complaint are Elaine Lovett, 58, of Wayne County and Michelle Freeman, 54, of Livingston County.

An indictment or criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.

These cases were investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and were brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. These cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney William G. Kanellis, Trial Attorney Matthew C. Thuesen, and Special Trial Attorney Katie R. Fink of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Police response time improves by 79.5%

Detroit Police Officer on Patrol - Photo by Frank Nemecek
While much of the news media has focused recently on the City of Detroit's on-going bankruptcy, there have been some very powerful developments that have gone almost completely unreported. For example, since Chief James Craig took command of the Detroit Police Department in July, the agency has seen a 79.5% improvement in its response time for priority one calls.

The Detroit Police Department was averaging 57 minutes to respond to emergency calls five months ago. Since then, according the Detroit Performance Dashboard, that response time has improved to an average of 11.67 minutes. This translates to a 79.5% improvement during that time.

Make no mistake about it: the Detroit Police Department still has one of the worst response times of any law enforcement agency in any major city in the industrialized world. There is still a considerable amount of work that needs to be done.

However, a 79.5% improvement in only a few months is dramatic progress. It also gives me confidence that even more will be accomplished in the not too distant future. I congratulation Chief Craig and everyone else who has been a part of making this progress.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Detroit moves forward with bankruptcy

The City of Detroit will be moving forward through the Chapter 9 Bankruptcy process thanks to a ruling issued this morning by Judge Steven Rhodes. The City will now have to negotiated a plan of adjustment with its approximately 100,000 creditors to whom it collectively owes $18.5 billion.

I have argued for years that the City of Detroit faced financial problems that were simply too big to be addressed anywhere other in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. While no one should be happy that we as a community are collectively in this position, I believe the fact that it is moving forward offers compelling hope for better days to come.

In a prepared statement, Mayor-Elect Mike Duggan said in part:
I'm going to do everything I can to advocate on behalf of Detroit's future in this process. We need to make sure the retirees are treated fairly on the pensions they earned and we need to make certain we come out of bankruptcy in a way we can afford to provide the quality of city services the people of Detroit deserve.
I believe this is the perfect balance between two competing priorities. We as a community have a moral obligation to ensure that pensioners and other creditors are treated fairly in the process. However, we also need to be able to improve dramatically the quality of city services that Detroit receive on a daily basis.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Tip of the Week: Uber is hiring

Uber is a service that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire. The service is available in 58 cities in 22 countries around the world and recently expanded to include Detroit.

Since they are expanding, Uber is hiring drivers. Applicants must have a valid drivers license and be able to pass a background check. Those that qualify can earn as much as $50,000 per year driving in the Detroit area.

Interested drivers can start their application by clicking here.

Anyone who would like to try the Uber service can get $10 in free credits by visiting uber.com/Signup.

Driving for Uber is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Will Rob Ford be able to visit Detroit?

Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto
Photo by Shaun Merritt
When it comes to news stories that never seem to end, there are few bigger than Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto and his public admission that he has smocked crack cocaine. There have been hundred of headlines devoted to it across the United States and even more in Canada. It has even become routine fodder for late night comedy shows.

This story hits home because Mayor Ford has announced that he intends to visit the Detroit area in the coming weeks. He intends to attend the NHL Winter Classic, where the Detroit Red Wings will host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is problematic because, as the Toronto Star points out, U.S. immigration law deems anyone who admits to using illegal narcotics to be inadmissible to the United States. This holds true even if no criminal charges were ever filed, as is the case with Mayor Ford.

All of this makes me wonder: will Mayor Ford be allowed into the United States? Should he even be allowed in?

I'm not sure on this one. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this one in the comments section below.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving



On behalf of the entire Nemecek family, I want to wish the happiest of Thanksgivings to everyone in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood as well as to all of my readers no matter where you are. I hope you find yourself surrounded by the people that you are thankful to have in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas lights in Warrendale

Decorated home on Penrod Street - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I'm thrilled to see that some of the houses in Warrendale already have their Christmas lights up.

I saw this house on Penrod Street, just south of Paul Street, with their lights more than a week ago. I only get a chance to photograph it last night, though. I'm pretty sure they were the first family to decorate for the season.

And they did an awesome job at it.

If any Warrendale resident or business owner has their your home or business is decorated for the season, please feel free to mention it in the comments below or send me an email with your address. I would love to feature your home or business on this blog.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Follow me, please

There are many different ways in which one get content from the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. Since this is a slower, shorter week, I wanted to take a moment to review all of them for the benefit of my newer readers as well as those we aren't familiar with their options.

My favorite option is to receive email alerts when a new article is posted. To take advantage of this option, all one has to do is enter one's email address in box marked "receive email alerts" in the right-hand column of this blog. The folks at FeedBlitz will then, depending on one's personal preference, either send a daily digest of everything posted here or an alert for each article as soon as it's posted.

Another popular option is to subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog. The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog supports Atom, My Yahoo, and Netvibes. This is a great option if there are several different blogs that one wishes to follow. For those not familiar with RSS feeds, Wikiepedia has an article about them here that is both in-depth yet not overly technical.

For those who prefer to receive this content as part of their social media news stream, this blog has a page on both Facebook and Google Plus. I invite my readers who actively use those social media services to "like" or "follow" this blog there as well.

Regardless of which method one uses to keep up with the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog, I want everyone to know that I appreciate each and every one of my readers.

Patience, Please

Ever since my two posts about the ethical shortcomings of Hamtramck's emergency manager (online here and here), I have been inundated with voice mail and email messages. I have recently finished all of my freelance projects.

All of this, of course, is in addition to the people who reach out to me regarding life in the Warrendale neighborhood itself. Over the next day or two, I will reply to each and every one of the people who contacted me. Until then, I simply ask for a little bit of patience.

I post this message here, of course, because a couple of people have actually sent me multiple messages, inquiring why I haven't gotten back to them.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Improvements coming to Rouge Park

Rouge Park on a Foggy Day
Photo by Frank Nemecek
According an announcement that was made at the Friends of Rouge Park meeting this past Tuesday evening, some improvements will soon be coming to Rouge Park as a result of the State of Michigan taking over operations of Belle Isle. The change to means that some of the resources previously allocated to Belle Isle will instead be allocated to Rouge Park.

It's not clear, as of this writing, exactly how much of the $4 million that the City of Detroit used to spend on Belle Isle will be coming to Rouge Park nor is it clear exactly what it will be spent on. The details, it would appear, are still being worked on.

Regardless of that uncertainty, I have to say that I'm glad to know that these improvements are coming.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Michigan Treasury invites lawsuits

I posted previously about a series of inappropriate comments that the emergency manager of Hamtramck Cathy Square had said in the workplace; comments that would bring disciplinary action against any other employee in any other workplace in America. Since then, the Michigan Department of Treasury, which oversees emergency managers, released the following statement late last week:

Treasury staff has looked into the matter and discussed the allegations with Ms. Square. Ms. Square denies making any such offensive comments. No further action is expected at this point.

First, the fact that she denied everything isn't surprising. I suspect that if anyone asked her about it, Square would deny knowledge of the $1,000 that's reportedly missing from the city treasurer's office.

Second, I have to admit that I am even more troubled by this response from the Michigan Department of Treasury than I am by Square comments.

Kwame Kilpatrick
Photo by Frank Nemecek
Kwame Kilpatrick repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on his part. He denied it to the press. He denied to it to City Council and community groups. He even denied it under oath in depositions and at trial.

I mention this because Cathy Square is a close, longtime associate of Kwame Kilpatrick. She served as chief operating officer under him. She ran much of his operations.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that a close, longtime associate of Kwame Kilpatrick denied any wrongdoing when asked about it. What should be surprising, though, is that no one from Treasury spoke other city hall employees, offered them anonymity, and then asked them if they had ever heard Cathy Square say such things.

Instead, according the above statement and my conversations with current city hall employees, the investigation ended once Square denied everything.

This is important because if any current or former employees were to file a harassment lawsuit, they would have the right under Michigan Court Rules to subpoena every single city hall employee who interacted with Square on a regular basis. Those employees would then be legally required to answer questions under oath about what they saw and heard.

State Treasurer Kevin Clinton
Press Photo
This means that there is a realistic possibility that, if such a lawsuit were to ever happen, we could see dozens of current and former employees of the City of Hamtramck testify under oath that Cathy Square made a series of racially, ethnically, and sexually inappropriate comments in the workplace. This could then be further confirmed by the plaintiff requiring the City of Hamtramck to produce certain emails and other records in such a hypothetical lawsuit.

Once that were to hypothetically happen, Governor Rick Snyder as well as State Treasurer Kevin Clinton, and other officials within the Michigan Department of Treasury would be placed in the position of having to explain why they chose to end an investigation simply because a close, longtime associate of Kwame Kilpatrick denied any wrongdoing.


And that is a position I cannot imagine any public official wanting to be in.

The $4 million that had to be kept a secret in Detroit

The City of Detroit may pay Barclay's, a London-based bank, as much as $4 million in fees as part of a $350 million loan deal, according to published news reports. These fees are in addition to the interest that the City of Detroit would also pay to Barclay's.

The details of this deal were originally intended to be kept secret. However, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ordered all of the relevant loan documents to be made public yesterday afternoon.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure which part of this deal I find to be more ridiculous: the $4 million in fees or the fact that Kevyn Orr agreed to keep these details secret. Either way, I want to thank Judge Rhodes for making sure that the relevant details were made public.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Storm blows through Warrendale

Downed tree on Ashton - Photo by Frank Nemecek
A powerful storm blew through the Detroit area and the rest of the Midwestern United States last night. According to published news reports, this storm has left eight people dead across the Midwest, including two here in Michigan. More than 663,900 households across Michigan are without power at this moment.

In the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit, this damage appears to be confined to downed trees and tree limbs. Many homes in Warrendale had power outages during the storm. However, it would appear that most, if not all the homes and businesses in the neighborhood currently have power.

Regardless, DTE Energy advises anyone who encounters a downed power line to treat it as if it were dangerous. Individuals should not touch any power line nor anything that a downed power line is also touching, such as a metal fence.

Tip of the Week: DIY uses for scrap tires


There are more than a few scrap tires littered through the neighborhoods of Detroit; a fact that I have documented again, again, and again. I was pleased then when I found this idea for reusing an old tire online.

If one were to add legs to it, the result could serve as a coffee table. Without legs added, it would work as a footstool.

Personally, when I saw this, the idea that came to mind was to three or four of these scrap tires on top of one another to give it extra height without having to add legs. Once could then affix an acrylic sheet to act as the top. Although, I think it would also be cool to use some of the wood from discarded box springs as top instead.

One way or another, I think it's a cool idea to do something useful with all of the trash that gets illegally dumped in Warrendale and the other neighborhoods of Detroit.

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

The Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general membership meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, November 19 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. The group will meet inside the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood St.), which is north of the Warrendale neighborhood at W. Chicago Rd.

The agenda for this meeting will include:

  • Upcoming Volunteer Work Day in the Rouge Park Prairie on November 21 at 3:30 p.m.;
  • Progress on the development of a Master Plan for Rouge Park;
  • Additional updates and news about Rouge Park.
Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is invited to attend this meeting.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update on my Hamtramck story

I’m on deadline today for another project, but I wanted to share this. As I said yesterday, there would be more forthcoming about the Hamtramck EM situation. Word from inside city hall is that Cathy Square was on the warpath yesterday and I was informed that the State is calling her today to discuss the situation.

When they do, maybe they can ask her about more racist comments that are coming to light as current and former employees are sharing their experiences. For instance, did she really ask if an employee was a “Mexi-Can or a Mexi-Can’t”?

When I was told this is the ‘tip of a large iceberg’, I was somewhat skeptical. But after my post yesterday, people are coming out of the woodwork to share their stories. Large iceberg indeed.  A whole lot more to come! 

Duggan seeks volunteers for transition

Volunteers - Image by Hokuto
Mayor-Elect Mike Duggan is asking for Detroiters to volunteer to help with his transition in 12 key areas.

Those 12 areas include ethics, where volunteers will review current ethics policies and recommend improvements as well as:
  • Public safety. This will cover Police Department, Fire Department/EMS and Homeland Security;
  • Health. This will include the Department of Public Health and the Institute for Public Health;
  • Information Technology. This will include infrastructural needs as well as the use of technology to improve city services;
  • Quality of Life. This will include recreation, senior services, child services, arts and culture, disabled persons and education;
  • Public Services. This will focus on the Water Department, Public Lighting, and the Department of Public Works;
  • Neighborhoods. This will focus on the new Department of Neighborhoods, district manager, abandoned property reclamation/demolition, code enforcement, and vacant lots.
  • Transportation. This will focus on the Detroit Department of Transportation as well as the People Mover, Regional Transit Authority, and the M-1 Rail Project;
  • Economic Development. This will deal with both downtown and neighborhood development as well as job creation and training programs, City Airport, business licensing and permits;
  • Finance (Budget and Purchasing). This will deal with financial reporting processes as well as revenue generation opportunities;
  • Human Resources/Labor Relations. This area will focus on job classifications, civil service, and labor-management processes.
  • Law Department. This will deal with both legal issues and human rights.
Those individuals who are interested in helping in any of these key areas are asked to visit the Transition Detroit website. That website is available here.

Shooting on Brace Street

Fox 2 News Headlines

A woman was shot on the porch of a home on the 6200 block of Brace Street yesterday evening. This shooting happened at approximately 10 p.m., according to a report aired on Fox 2 Detroit. The victim is listed as being in critical condition at Oakwood Hospital.

The Detroit Police Department is investigating this shooting.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Big Trouble in Little Hamtown

Hamtramck, Michigan - Photo by Andrew Jameson
I have recently spoken with current and former employees of the City of Hamtramck. Three reputable sources have told me that the State of Michigan’s Emergency Manager, Cathy Square, has made a series of highly offensive remarks about race, ethnicity, age, gender, and sexual orientation while in the workplace and that she continues to do so.

Those sources have also told me that the incident was reported up the chain of command.

Cathy Square, for those who do not remember her name, was a long-time close associate of Kwame Kilpatrick. She served as his chief operating officer towards the end of his administration. As such, she ran much of his operations.

Here are a few examples, each of which was confirmed by current and/or former employees and described by one as “the very tip of a large iceberg.”

During a meeting where the possibility of bike lanes in Hamtramck was discussed, Square stated, “Seriously, how am I supposed to deal with these crazy ass Bengali drivers. We can’t have bike lanes with these Bengali drivers - they'll kill everyone.” This in a city with a large population that is of Bengali descent.

Not to be outdone by that, in a different meeting when the possibility of greater collaboration between the Cities of Hamtramck and Highland Park was suggested as a way to save money and also to qualify for more funding from the State’s Economic Vitality Incentive Program, she vetoed the idea. When asked why, Square (who is black) reportedly launched into a lengthy diatribe:
You know, I used to work there. You think it's crazy here? Highland Park is all crazy ass black people. Do you know what is wrong with most black people? Don't be telling people I told you this, but sometimes I need to pinch myself, 'Am I really black?' Crack was the fall of the black community. And no one wants to read or work. That's what ruined the black community.
As for the long-term prospects of the City of Hamtramck, Square does not appear to hold much confidence. She reportedly told one employee, "It doesn't matter what I do here. These white people are crazy. There is going to be another EM in a few years because the same crazy residents are just going to vote in the same crazy council members again."

I spoke to another employee on condition of strict anonymity. When I asked why no one else had come forward or reported anything, they reported to me that “Everyone is afraid for their jobs!” and that after the firings everyone saw how complaints would be handled. “It reinforced that she (Square) has complete autonomous power and no one up there (in Lansing) cares.”

There are many things about this matter that bother me.

First and foremost, there are the utterly offensive and inappropriate comments that have no place in 2013 America. It was simply wrong for Square to make such comments about “crazy Bengalis” in Hamtramck or black folks in Highland Park.

I am also troubled by the disparity in how similar situations were handled in two different cities under state-control. When reports were made that Jim Bonsall, the former chief financial officer for the City of Detroit, made similar comments in the workplace an investigation was conducted and Bonsall was quickly fired. When Square says such things in Hamtramck, though, no action is taken even months after it gets reported directly to the State Treasurer.

The whole thing simply seems wrong. It’s time for Governor Rick Snyder and our new State Treasurer Kevin Clinton to rectify this matter.

There will no doubt be additional twists and turns in this saga before it is played out. I will, of course, cover them here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Duggan sits down with incoming council

I'm glad to be able to report that Mayor-Elect Mike Duggan has been sitting down with all of the new City Council members. This provides him with a chance to get acquainted with the new council and talk about what they should do once they are each in office. In fact, Mr. Duggan and Council Member-Elect Gabe Leland sat down yesterday at Gracie See Pizzeria (6889 Greenfield Rd.) in Warrendale to talk about the future of our city.

I hope this is sign of a productive relationship between the Mayor and City Council to come.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Headless body found in Warrendale

According to published news reports, Detroit police discovered a body at the vacant Ruddiman Junior High School yesterday afternoon. The remains were headless and severely burned; presumably in an effort to prevent police from identifying the body.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner is working to identify the remains. Anyone who has any information regarding this case is asked to call the Detroit Police Department.

9 ways to prevent identity theft

According to published news reports, there were as many as 12.6 million cases of identify theft in the United States last year. In order to keep you from becoming another statistic, as my tip of the week, I wanted to share the top ten ways that you can protect yourself from it.

My top nine ways to prevent identity theft are:
  1. Don't carry more information with you than you need. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet unless you know you you're going to need it that day. Also, don't write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper kept in your wallet.
  2. Watch out for "shoulder surfers." Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using an automated teller machine.
  3. Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home for more than a day or two.
  4. Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late then contact the sender. It's possible someone intercepted them and will use that information to steal your identity.
  5. Shred personal information. This includes receipts, credit offers, account statements and expired credit cards. This will prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information.
  6. Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work. Don't leave it lying around.
  7. Don't respond to unsolicited requests for personal information. It doesn't matter if that request comes in the mail, over the phone or online, simply do not respond to it.
  8. Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer. Individuals who use Microsoft Windows can get Microsoft Security Essentials for free here.
  9. Check your credit report once a year. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows all consumers to get a free copy of their report once a year. You can get this, without any credit cards, through this website that was set up by the credit reporting agencies themselves. Check your report more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your account information.
                Protecting yourself from identity theft is your Warrendale Tip of the Week for the week of November 11.

                Thursday, November 07, 2013

                Leland reacts to City Council win

                This past Tuesday was Election Day in Detroit as well as in several other cities across Michigan. Mike Duggan was elected Mayor of Detroit. Equally important, though, were all of the races further down the ballot.

                My friend Ricardo Moore was election to the Detroit Police Commission by an impressive margin. I expect to see great things from him in the coming years.

                Gabe Leland reacts to news of his victory
                Photo by Frank Nemecek
                In addition, former State Representative Gabe Leland was elected to represent District 7, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood, on the City Council. This was a much narrower win.

                I had the pleasure of joining Leland's family and fellow supporters at Starter's Bar and Grill (18426 Plymouth Rd.) for an Election Night celebration. The photo at the right captures Leland's reaction when he got the news by telephone that he had won.

                I congratulate his opponent, John K. Bennett, and his supporters on a hard fought campaign.

                I am confident that Moore and Leland will work with our newly elected mayor to accomplish some great things for Warrendale and the surrounding neighborhoods of Detroit.

                Tuesday, November 05, 2013

                Today is Election Day in Detroit


                Today, my fellow Detroiters, is Election Day. We will elect a new mayor, city council, and - for the first time ever - a police commission that is directly accountable to the residents. This will likely be one of the biggest and most important elections for community in a long-time.

                I encourage everyone to get out and vote. I will be at St. Thomas Aquinas Church (5780 Evergreen Rd.), which is also my polling location, to greet voters and distribute literature for City Council candidate Gabe Leland and Police Commission candidate Ricardo Moore.

                I'll be there from 7 a.m. until approximately 2 p.m. Please feel free to stop by and say "hello." Most importantly, don't forget to vote.

                I will also be tweeting about election day events. If you don't currently follow me on Twitter, my user name is @fnemecek, please feel free to do so.

                Monday, November 04, 2013

                5 Tips for Better Blogging

                Over the weekend, I had a rather lengthy conversation over the weekend with John Knappmann of the Downriver Homes and Real Estate blog about what it takes to run a successful blog in general and local or hyper-local blog in particular.

                Many of the things that we talked about have been discussed in other articles by others people. However, there were a few things that I haven't seen addressed anywhere else. As such, I wanted to share them here as part of my weekly Tip of the Weekly feature.


                Tip #1. Know Why You're Blogging in the First Place

                This one is so basic that almost everybody forgets about it: I believe it's absolutely critical to know exactly what you hope to accomplish with your blog and to know it from the very outset. This motivation, in turn, becomes the standard by which every other decision that you make with your blog is judged.

                When I started the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog back in the winter of 2005, I was frustrated with the fact that there was almost no coverage of the neighborhood in any of the major media outlets. I started covering stories that no one else would cover. As the years went on, though, the major media outlets have begun covering Warrendale and the other neighborhoods extensively and the reporters who cover the area are well-informed on what's happening here.

                I'm not sure how much of this change is the result of my blog. Regardless, I'm glad to see it happen. The fact that it has happened has almost meant that my reason for blogging has changed. With my original mission accomplished, this blog is now a vehicle for effecting some sort of change in the neighborhood as well as at least a supplement to my monthly income.

                Other people have used their blogs as a way to improve their credibility in a given field, to impact social change in some other setting, or simply because they regard it as a fun hobby. There are also those who have used their blogs to launch writing or social media careers. No matter what your reason is for blogging, I believe it's essential to have that reason at the forefront of your mind from the very beginning.

                Friday, November 01, 2013

                Ashley Madison offers $10 million for Belle Isle naming rights

                Belle Isle in the Fall - Photo by Frank Nemecek
                In one of the stranger stories to emerge in Detroit recently, Ashley Madison, the website that helps more than 22 million members find "discreet affairs" with married individuals, has offered to buy the naming rights to Belle Isle. According to an article published by Crain's Detroit Business, the company has offered the City of Detroit $10 million for the naming rights for the next ten years.

                While Belle Isle is several miles from the Warrendale neighborhood, I'm confident that this is an offer that will have lots of Detroiters talking - which is probably why Ashley Madison made this offer in the first place.

                The question that I keep wondering, though, is: should the City of Detroit accept their offer?

                On one hand, $10 million for the naming rights to a park for the next 10 years is a good deal. The City of Detroit could use the money.

                On the other hand, though, I worry about the impact accepting such an offer would have on the other corporate sponsorships that are in play on the island. Would, for example, sponsors for the grand prix or the boat races object to having their event on Ashley Madison Island? Could Detroit get a similar offer from a less controversial company?

                These are the things that I wonder about as I consider Ashley Madison's proposal to buy the naming rights to Belle Isle. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share ideas in the comments below or on the Facebook page for this blog.

                Tuesday, October 29, 2013

                Bolger visits the Warrendale neighborhood

                State Representative Harvey Santana, who represents the Warrendale neighborhood and much of the surrounding area in Michigan House of Representatives, brought House Speaker Chase Bolger to the area to see the challenges that Detroiters face on a daily basis. Their tour included Warrendale and many of the surrounding neighborhoods in his district.

                Rochelle Riley has more on this story in the Detroit Free Press from this morning. Her column is available here.

                I want to thank Representative Santana for his efforts to highlight the challenges that Detroiters face every day. I also to express my gratitude to Speaker Bolger for taking the time to visit the neighborhoods of Detroit.

                Monday, October 28, 2013

                Tip of the Week: Listen to "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

                "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" - Image from Librivox
                Halloween is only three days away. As such, I wanted to share with all of my readers one of my favorite personal Halloween traditions.

                One of the many things that I love during this time of year is listen to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. It's a classic Halloween story about the quiet Dutch community of Sleepy Hollow, which lay in the Adirondack mountains on the western shore of the mighty Hudson River in America’s colonial period. The solitude of the woods was breathtaking, and not even a schoolmaster was immune from the eerie miasma which everyone knew permeated the dense forest.

                Written in 1820, Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow has become a classic of American literature and, in my mind, almost synonymous with Halloween. This story has been retold in many different ways, but I believe there is something special about listening to the original as it is read by a talented orator.

                The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is available to download for free on LibriVox.com. I invite everyone to download it and listen to a Halloween classic.

                Listening to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is your Tip of the Week.

                Friday, October 25, 2013

                The real benefit of Council by District

                Ladies and gentlemen, as a blogger and political activist, I feel a need to hop up on my soap box for a moment. I would like to talk about one of the great benefits of Detroiters electing their City Council by district instead of doing so on a citywide basis like we used to.

                There are many beautiful things about the fact that Detroit is now electing its City Council by district, instead of citywide. For starters, it's a lot easier to combat blatant lies that your opponent circulates.

                When your opponent tells everyone who will listen that your preferred candidate doesn't really live in the district, it's easy for voters to ask the people who have been living next door to him for years if he really lives there. They can talk to his neighbors, his mailman, his pizza delivery guy, and anyone else to see the truth for themselves.

                When your opponent tells everyone that your candidate took money from the insurance industry to screw over his own constituents, it's really easy to show them your candidate's voting record from his time in the state legislature - a voting record that is one of the most pro-consumer in Lansing.

                Voters in Detroit aren't as stupid as some people make them out to be. More importantly, now that we're electing our council by district, it's easy to check a lot of these things. In the end, not only does your candidate emerge vindicated, but your opponent ends up looking like a desperate asshole.

                I am so looking forward to Election Day. It's a new day in Detroit and those who resort to the same old tricks are going to get screwed.

                Update @ 2:30 p.m.
                This conversation has prompted a rather lengthy discussion on Facebook. I have the privacy settings for that post set to public so anyone can see it. It is available here.

                Monday, October 21, 2013

                Abbate named head of FBI in Detroit

                Earlier this afternoon, outgoing Director Robert S. Mueller, III announced the appointment Paul M. Abbate to be special agent in charge of the Detroit Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Abbate most recently served as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division in the Washington Field Office, where he oversaw the Joint Terrorism Task Force and all FBI counterterrorism personnel, investigations, and operations in the National Capital Region.

                Abbate began his career as a special agent in March of 1996. Upon completion of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to the New York Field Office, where he worked in the Criminal Division and white-collar crime program. During his tenure in New York, he was also a member of the SWAT team.

                In December of 2003, Abbate transferred to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served as supervisory special agent in the Iraq Unit within the Counterterrorism Division. Abbate provided program management for counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations and oversaw FBI counterterrorism operations and personnel deployments in Iraq.

                In October of 2005, Abbate deployed to Iraq, where he served as the senior FBI liaison officer to the U.S. Department of Defense and led a group of specialized FBI personnel conducting counterterrorism investigations and operations in theater.

                From February of 2006 to December of 2009, Abbate served as supervisory special agent on the Newark Division Joint Terrorism Task Force. He had responsibility for all international terrorism matters within the territories of Essex, Monmouth, and Ocean County, New Jersey.

                In September of 2007, Abbate was temporarily detailed to the Directorate of Intelligence at FBI Headquarters, where he provided support in the implementation of several national-level, intelligence-related initiatives.

                In February of 2008, Abbate deployed to Afghanistan and served as the FBI deputy on-scene commander, leading FBI counterterrorism operations and personnel in theater.

                In December of 2009, Abbate returned to the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters, serving as assistant section chief in the International Terrorism Operations Section I, where he provided national-level oversight for all international terrorism investigations within the United States. During this assignment, he was member of a team that received the 2010 Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service.

                In July of 2010, Abbate reported to the Los Angeles Field Office and served as an assistant special agent in charge for counterterrorism matters, overseeing the primary branch of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force.

                In August of 2011, Abbate was named section chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section II in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters. In that position, Abbate provided national-level program management and oversight of all FBI international terrorism investigations and extraterritorial operations outside of the United States.

                Job opening at Garden Ridge

                The home decor superstore, Garden Ridge (5901 Mercury Dr. in Dearborn), is currently hiring. They have openings for managers as well as supervisors and associates.

                Interested applicants are invited to apply either on their website or by visiting the store and asking for the manager on duty.

                Tip of the Week: Halloween decorations on sale

                Jack O'Lanterns in the clearance bin - Photo by Frank Nemecek
                Halloween is less than two weeks away. Interestingly enough, this means that most of the big box retailers have their Halloween decorations in the clearance bins already so they can make room for Christmas displays.

                The fact that many of them already have Christmas stuff out is the subject of a rant for another time.

                The important thing is that there are lots of cool decorations that are available super cheap. Some of the great deals that I found over the weekend include plastic jack o'lanterns in a variety of colors for only $1 at Wal-Mart (5851 Mercury Dr. in Dearborn) as well as:
                • Fake spider webs in either white or green for only $1.97 at Wal-Mart; and
                • Wide variety of inflatable ghosts, goblins, and jack o'lanterns on sale at Garden Ridge (5901 Mercury Dr. in Dearborn).
                 It's not too late to get your house ready for Halloween. These prices make it that much easier to do so.

                Halloween decorations on sale is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

                Sunday, October 20, 2013

                Detroit police officer dies from injuries

                video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

                Officer Patrick Hill of the Detroit Police Department died yesterday as a result of injuries that he received in the line of duty in April of this year. He was injured during a shoot out on the east side of the city.

                WDIV-TV has more on this breaking news story above.

                The family of this fallen officer will be in my thoughts and prayers today.

                4 Months until the Detroit Tigers begin spring training

                There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball; 20 of those 30 teams never even make it to the playoffs. Of those who do, only four make it to a league championship series.

                The Detroit Tigers, therefore, did better than 26 of the 30 other MLB teams. That's not too shabby. I would have preferred to have them play in the World Series. Still, making it to the American League Championship Series is a long way from where this team was 10 years ago when they were one of the worst in the history of major league baseball.

                The off-season gives them a chance to recover and come back even stronger. Spring training will start in less than four months from today. That's when the Detroit Tigers will begin their push for the 2014 World Series. Until then, I believe it's time to celebrate how far they came as well as to root for the Detroit Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings.

                Go Tigers!