Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving


I want to take a moment to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond. Detroit is a city that is filled with amazing possibilities and even more amazing people.

I want you to know that I am thankful for each and every one of you as well as for all that you bring to our community.

Happy Thanksgiving, Detroiters!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Warrendale Charter Academy to deliver baskets

Fruit - Death to Stock Photo
For the fifth year in a row, Warrendale Charter Academy students and staff will show the Detroit Police and Fire Departments how much they are grateful for their support and protection by delivering baskets full of treats after school at 3:30 pm, Monday, November 20.

The Student Council and the Parent Engagement Committee will collect the treats and fill the baskets for the Detroit Police Department's sixth precinct.

“We just want them to know how much we appreciate them, not just during the holidays, but all year long,” said Juanamia Kelley, a paraprofessional at the school, who helps organize the event.

Baskets will include apple cider, donuts, summer sausages, popcorn, crackers, cookies, nuts, candy, and fruit as well as cheese, boxed food items and canned food.

Warrendale Charter Academy is a free, public charter school serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Michigan named top spot for photographing fall foliage

Fall foliage - Stock photo by John Kovavich
For the second year in a row, Nikon Inc. has named Michigan as the top spot for photographing fall foliage as a result of the brand’s third annual Fall Foliage competition.

After a month of submissions that nearly totaled 10,000 images, Nikon tallied up the photos from each state and identified the top five states as follows:

  1. Michigan
  2. New York
  3. Colorado
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. New Hampshire

In coordination with the Fall Foliage campaign, Nikon Ambassador Moose Peterson recently offered his tips on how to best photograph outdoor content.

Additionally, for those looking to learn more about photography, Nikon School just released their 2017-2018 curriculum this past Monday, which also includes online classes for all photography levels and backgrounds.

For more information on Nikon School offerings, please visit here.

Mayor Duggan to meet with community

Mayor Mike Duggan - Press photo
Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit will hold a community meeting near the Warrendale neighborhood. This meeting will happen at Kadesh Baptist Church (20361 Plymouth Rd.), which is approximately a mile north of Warrendale. This meeting will happen on Tuesday, November 28 at 7 p.m. and is expected to adjourn at approximately 8:30 p.m.

This community meeting is an opportunity for residents and other community stakeholders to bring their concerns directly to the Mayor. These meetings happen once each year in each of the seven City Council districts and are mandated by Detroit's City Charter.

Free parking is available at the church. The venue is also conveniently along both the Evergreen and Plymouth Road bus routes.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Detroit may sell Rackham Golf Course

Golf - Photo by C. Flart

In yesterday's issue of The Detroit News, the City of Detroit is considering the possibility of selling or otherwise disposing of the Rackham Golf Course in Huntington Woods. The revenue generated from such a sale, according to the article, would be used to renovate the public golf courses at Rouge Park and at Chandler Park, which is on the east side of Detroit.

I want to say that I fully support this idea. In fact, I proposed something similar to this five years ago when the City of Detroit was on its way into bankruptcy. My original post on the subject is available here.

The Rackham Golf Course in Huntington Woods is a marvelous facility. It's a tremendous course that golfers love to play and a beautiful piece of local history. It is, however, located in Huntington Woods; not Detroit.

The public golf courses at Rouge Park and Chandler Park, in my opinion, should be a much higher priority for the City of Detroit than such a facility in the suburbs.

I applaud Mayor Mike Duggan and his administration for considering this idea. I encourage the various members of the Detroit City Council to support this idea.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Guy Fawkes and how Catholics saved the British Empire


Today is Guy Fawkes Day - a day that commemorates the fateful events in 1605 when Catholics saved the British Empire.

On November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes and the rest of the Gunpowder Plot were ready to blow up the British Parliment and kill King James I in response to the mistreatment of Catholics at the time. Fawkes and Company, of course, warned the Catholic Lords and Members of Parliament to stay away and save themselves.

Rather than doing that, though, those Catholics warned the authorities. Because of this, the conspirators were captured and their bombs were discovered. As a result, one can legitimately say that that on November 5,1605, Catholics saved the British Empire.

Granted, they saved it from another group of Catholics who wanted to blow everything up.However, let's focus on the positive.

My point here is that you're welcome, England. You're welcome.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Insurance reform defeated. What next?

Interior of the Michigan Capitol Building - Photo by Frank Nemecek

The State House of Representatives shot down a bill yesterday that would have lowered auto insurance rates throughout Michigan and in Detroit in particular. The reform bill was defeated by a vote of 45-63, in a sharp rebuke to Mayor Mike Duggan in lobbied strongly for it.

I have argued for years, on this blog and elsewhere, that finding a way to lower auto insurance rates in Detroit was crucial to this city's recovery. We simply cannot continue with so many residents being forced to drive illegally because they cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars for auto insurance nor can we continue to operate where a large portion of our residents live elsewhere on paper in order to get a somewhat normal rate on their insurance.

I give Mayor Duggan an enormous amount of credit for trying repeatedly to get some type of relief from the Michigan Legislature. Others have spent decades trying to get such relief and our mayor has gotten closer to success than any of them.

Still, after suffering under oppressive insurance rates for decades, I believe that it is time to try something different - even if that something might sound unorthodox at first.

It has become apparent that after decades of trying to reform insurance rates, Detroiters must reluctantly accept the fact that - in all likelihood - the Michigan Legislature will never allow auto insurance reform to happen. I could spend hours going over the various reasons why one group or another is steadfastly opposed to change. The bottom line, though, is that Detroiters need reform and Lansing is not going to allow that to happen.

Our only remaining option, therefore, is to bring about reform in a way that Lansing cannot easily interfere with. It is time, I believe, for the City of Detroit to set up its own insurance company - an insurance company that would be set up to deliver more affordable coverage to Detroiters.

It will not be easy or cheap for the City of Detroit to set up its own insurance company. There a multitude of licensing requirements to starting such a company, not the least of which is having an initial pool of cash on hand to pay any claims that might come about during the early days of the company's operations.

I will not sugar the size of those upfront costs. It will likely cost millions of dollars upfront to get such a new insurance company operating for Detroiters.

Instead, I will simply point out the following:

  • It took $416 million in 2016 dollars to build Comerica Park with much of that cost being born by Detroit's taxpayers;
  • Ford Field had a construction price tag of $666 million in 2016 dollars with Detroit's taxpayers paying much of that cost;
  • Taxpayers also spent $279 million to renovate Cobo Center in 2010; and
  • More recently, the Little Caesars Arena was built at a cost of $826.9 million with Detroit's taxpayers covering a healthy portion of that cost.
While I do not mean to disparage the value of these project, I do mean to point out that Detroiters found a way to come with approximately $2.2 billion to cover their costs.

$2.2 billion.

Let there be no mistake, the City of Detroit could establish its own insurance company - one that would provide quality auto insurance to Detroiters at much more reasonable rates than we currently see - for far, far less than $2.2 billion.

Detroiters found a way to get it done for each of these projects, It's time to do it again and establish our own insurance company.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

WCO meeting this coming Monday

Welcome to Warrendale - Photo by Frank Nemecek

The next general membership meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be this coming Monday, November 6. The meeting will be in the Activities Building of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.). It will start at 7 pm and is expected to last until 8 p.m.

Everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood is welcome to attend this meeting.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

PBS looks at rain gardens in Warrendale

Film crew from Detroit Public Television sets up - Photo by Frank Nemecek

I was interviewed yesterday by a film crew from Detroit Public Television, who was working on behalf of the show SciTech Now on PBS. An upcoming episode of the show will examine the four bioretention gardens in the Warrendale neighborhood as well as their impact on our neighborhood and the rest of Detroit. Barb Matney, president of the Warrendale Community Organization, was also interviewed for this episode.

The four bioretention gardens in Warrendale were designed by researchers at the University of Michigan. They are designed to soak up and help treat some of the rainwater that would otherwise go into Detroit's sewage treatment stream. More information about these rain gardens is available from my friends at CityLab over on their site.

I am personally glad to see some of the vacant lands in Detroit put to a productive use. These rain gardens improve the local environment. They also make it less likely for flooding to happen in our neighborhood and improve our overall quality of life.

The four bioretention gardens in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit are located at:

  • 8027 Greenview Ave.;
  • 8287 Evergreen Rd.;
  • 8084 Stahelin; and
  • 8091 Vaughan St.
SciTech Now air regularly on PBS (channel 56 in Detroit) and online. The producers were certain when the episode focusing on Warrendale's rain garden will air. As soon as I learn the date that it will air, I will share it here and on this blog's Facebook page.

All of this is why PBS and their look at the bioretention gardens in Detroit are my Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for this week.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Cybersecurity tips from the FBI


In conjunction with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is re-iterating the growing concern of cybercriminals targeting unsecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The number of IoT devices in use is expected to increase from 5 billion in 2016 to an estimated 20 to 50 billion by 2020. Once an IoT device is compromised, cybercriminals can facilitate attacks on other systems or networks, send spam e-mails, steal personal information, interfere with physical safety, and leverage compromised devices for participation in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

IoT refers to a network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items (often called “smart devices”) embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity enabling these objects to collect and exchange data. Below are examples of IoT devices:

  • Home automation devices (e.g., devices which control lighting, heating and cooling, electricity, sprinklers, locks);
  • Security systems (e.g., alarm systems, surveillance cameras);
  • Medical devices (e.g., wireless heart monitors, insulin dispensers);
  • Wearables (e.g., fitness trackers, clothing, watches);
  • Smart appliances (e.g., refrigerators, vacuums, stoves);
  • Office equipment (e.g., wireless printers, computer mouse, outlets, interactive whiteboards);
  • Entertainment devices (e.g., DVRs, TVs, gaming systems, music players, toys); and
  • Hubs (devices that control other IoT devices through a single app).

As more businesses and homeowners use Internet-connected devices to enhance company efficiency or lifestyle conveniences, their connection to the Internet provides new vulnerabilities for malicious cyber actors to exploit. In 2016 and 2017, cyber actors have demonstrated the ease in which IoT device vulnerabilities can be compromised and leveraged. Deficient security capabilities, difficulties in patching vulnerabilities, and a lack of consumer security awareness provide cyber actors with opportunities to exploit these devices.

In September 2016, cyber-actors using the Mirai botnet infected IoT devices—including routers, cameras, and digital video recorders—for the purpose of conducting DDoS attacks. The actors exploited openly accessible devices via the Internet with common default usernames and passwords.

In February 2017, a hacker compromised more than 160,000 printers with open connections to the Internet by scanning for those with specific open ports. The hacker claimed the devices were part of a botnet and sent print jobs to the affected printers.

In August 2017, a cyber actor released a list of over 33,000 usernames and passwords for IoT devices, including cameras, DVRs, and routers. While the majority of these devices were located in Asia and China, many of the devices were also found in the United States. A researcher conducted a test against this list and discovered many of these devices were almost instantly exploited, often taking less than two minutes between discovery and infection.

Unsecured or poorly secured devices provide opportunities for cybercriminals to intrude on private networks and gain access to other devices and information attached to these networks.

Cybercriminals often take advantage of default usernames and passwords to merge IoT devices with others into a large botnet. These botnets can facilitate DDoS attacks against popular Web sites or network resources. These attacks cause Web sites to run slow, prevent users from being able to connect, or potentially take down multiple Web sites associated with the network under attack.

Consumer Protection and Defense
It can be difficult to determine if an IoT device has been compromised. However, there are many reputable resources and tools available that search for vulnerable network devices. The following recommendations can be implemented to help secure IoT devices from cyber attacks.

  • Change default usernames and passwords. Many default passwords are collected and posted on the Internet. Do not use common words and simple phrases or passwords containing easily obtainable personal information, such as important dates or names of children or pets.
  • If the device does not allow the capability to change the access password, ensure the device providing wireless Internet service has a strong password and encryption.
  • Isolate IoT devices on their own protected networks.
  • Configure network firewalls to block traffic from unauthorized IP addresses and disable port forwarding.
  • Review and implement device manufacturer security recommendations, if available. Consider turning devices off when not in use.
  • Research your options when shopping for new IoT devices. When conducting research, use reputable Web sites that specialize in cybersecurity analysis, provide reviews on consumer products, and support consumer advocacy.
  • Look for products from manufacturers with a track record of providing security to their Internet-connected products. Look for companies that offer firmware and software updates, and identify how and when these updates are provided.
  • Identify what data is collected and stored by the devices, including whether you can opt out of this collection, how long the data is stored, whether it is encrypted in storage, and if the data is shared with a third party. Also, identify what protections and policies are in place in case there is a data breach.
  • Ensure all IoT devices are up to date and security patches are incorporated when available.
  • Use current cybersecurity best practices when connecting IoT devices to wireless networks and when connecting remotely to an IoT device.
  • Invest in a secure router with robust security and authentication.

Most routers will allow users to whitelist, or specify which devices are authorized to connect to a local network. Whitelisting can be used to identify malicious network traffic from unauthorized devices and prevent them from making a connection.

Additional Resources
For additional information on cyber threats to IoT devices, please refer to "Internet of Things Poses Opportunities For Cyber Crime," available at https://www.IC3.gov/media/2015/150910.aspx and "Internet-Connected Toys Could Present Privacy and Contact Concerns for Children," available at https://www.IC3.gov/media/2017/170717.aspx.

Victim Reporting
If you suspect your IoT device(s) may have been compromised, contact your local FBI office and/or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our Tip of the Week feature. Please check back next week for more advice for your home, money, and life.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Michigan's namesake ship arrives in South Korea

USS Michigan arrives in South Korea/Photo courtesy of the US Navy
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan arrived at Busan, South Korea on October 13 for a routine visit during a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. During the visit Sailors will experience the culture and history of the Republic of Korea (ROK), as well as foster outstanding relations between the U.S. Navy, ROK military and the local Busan community.

“The U.S. and ROK navies have always enjoyed a strong relationship. Today, our relationship is stronger than it has ever been and our ironclad partnership is further reinforced by this visit from Michigan," said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea. “Michigan Sailors were warmly welcomed by the ROK Navy today and I know they’ll receive the same wonderful welcome from the local community during their visit to Busan."

USS Michigan is one of four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines.  The Navy’s guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, guided-missile submarines are capable of launching missile strikes and supporting Special Operation Forces missions.

 “Throughout this deployment, the crew has been extremely professional and dedicated,” said Capt. Gustavo Gutierrez, Michigan’s commanding officer. “Everyone on board is mission ready, and I’m proud of being their commanding officer.”

Measuring more than 560 feet long and weighing more than 18,000 tons when submerged, Michigan is one of the largest submarines in the world.

“We are looking forward to working with our [Republic of Korea Navy] partners and experiencing the Korean culture, which is a first for many of us,” said Gutierrez.

Michigan is the second submarine of the Ohio-class of ballistic missile submarines and guided missile submarines, and the third U.S. Navy Michigan to bear the name. Michigan is homeported in Bremerton, Washington and is forward deployed from Guam.

Editor's note: This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rollover accident on Southfield Freeway

Rollover accident on Southfield Fwy. - Photo by Frank Nemecek
There has been a rollover accident on the northbound Southfield Freeway between Paul and W. Warren Ave. Police, firefighters, and an ambulance are on the scene.

Traffic in the area is at a virtual standstill. Motorists are advised to avoid the area, if possible.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Power outage in Warrendale

Screen grab from DTE Energy showing the areas without power
According to DTE Energy, 882 households in the Warrendale neighborhood are currently without power. These outages are happening in the area south of Whitlock and west of the Southfield Freeway in Detroit.

Crews are currently working to restore power. However, the utility does not have an estimate currently available as to when power will be restored throughout the neighborhood.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Southfield woman walks to save lives

When Patty Castelli of Southfield, Michigan became ill in 2013, she had a feeling something was seriously wrong. What she didn’t know was that the simple chest x-ray she insisted on would end up saving her life.

“I was lucky,” Patty says, “I was lucky that I chose to have that scan, and I was lucky that the dark spot on my lung showed up.” After more testing and a biopsy, it was confirmed that Patty had lung cancer. “Most of all I was lucky that we caught it early.” Shortly after the detection, Patty underwent robotic surgery to remove the tumor from her lower left lobe. “I am still doing fine four years later.”

But not everyone is as lucky as Patty. As the #1 cancer killer, lung cancer takes the lives of more women than any other cancer. Yet, according to the American Lung Association's 3rd annual Women's Lung Health Barometer — a survey of over 1,000 American adult women that measures their awareness, knowledge, and perceptions about lung cancer — 98 percent of women do not have lung cancer on their health radar. Awareness is critical because if lung cancer is caught before it spreads, like in Patty’s case, the likelihood of survival more than triples.

That’s why Patty has made it her mission to partner with the American Lung Association to help spread awareness and save lives.  In April, she was selected to represent the state of Michigan to meet with Congress in Washington, D.C. to personally advocate for lung cancer research. “This was one of the proudest moments of my life,” she remembers. “I was representing more than just myself and my own struggles. We are a force to be reckoned with, and we can make a difference!”

Patty will be continuing her mission this Sunday, October 1 at the LUNG FORCE Walk at the Detroit Zoo. The event features LUNG FORCE Heroes and their families, a LUNG FORCE Action Passport to interactive education areas, fun games and activities, and inspiring stories of hope. Funds raised support research, advocacy, and educational programs. Learn more and register at lungforce.org or call the American Lung Association at (248) 784-2000.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WCO to meet on Monday


The next general membership meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be this coming Monday, October 2. The meeting will be in the Activities Building of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.). It will start at 7 pm and is expected to last until 8 p.m.

This meeting will include a guest speaker from DTE Energy in Detroit.

Everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood is welcome to attend.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Keeping contaminants out of Detroit's recycling


To increase recycling rates, the City of Detroit created a single-stream recycling system a few years ago. They thought it would be easy. However, over the last five years, the value of recovered waste has plummeted while the effort to extract it has risen. One of the major challenges in single-stream recycling is contamination.

Contaminants - or those dirty, rotten scoundrels - are what happens when non-recyclable items are mixed with recyclables. Innocent papers smeared with food or grease, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, the dreaded Styrofoam - these are some of the reasons that tons of recyclables are rejected from Detroit's recycling system each year.

There’s a general rule of thumb we use to help those who are not sure if something is recyclable or not recyclable: When in Doubt, Throw it Out.

Contaminants pickup by season too. In the spring there will be garden hoses and plant containers. During the holidays, there will be broken Christmas lights and foil wrapping paper. So let’s take a look at the top three most common contaminants found in recycling today. Keep in mind that every community is different and some accept things curbside where others do not so check with your municipality for a current list of what can be recycled. For the most part, here are the top three things that material recovery facilities do not like:

Plastic Grocery Bags.  Number one thing facilities pull out during hand sorting. These bags can muck up the machinery and close it down. Grocery Bags can be taken back to your local grocer to be disposed of properly.

Speaking of plastic grocery bags: do not put recyclables in them and then into your cart. These would be automatically pulled and sent to a landfill. Workers should never open plastic bags to sort through recycling due to safety reasons.

Pizza Boxes. Some municipalities will allow these to be picked up curbside if you take the insert out and throw it away, but the truth of the matter is that a pizza box can ruin an entire batch of slurry. The delicious cheese that we love on our pizzas is greasy. That grease permeates the cardboard. Cardboard is mixed with water and squeeze-pressed to make new paper and that grease will cause holes in paper.

It’s really that simple. Oil and water do not mix and the facility will generally pull pizza boxes out during hand sorting.

Styrofoam. Expanded polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam, is problematic to recycle. The problem is the weight. The exact reason that makes Styrofoam so attractive to be used in packaging is the same reason it is difficult to recycle.

Profits from recycling are calculated per pound. With material so lightweight, it takes more money to cover the cost of transportation, handling, and processing. To process it so that it is cost efficient requires costly equipment. While it can be recycled, it isn’t accepted curbside because it is not cost effective to do so. Your best bet is to avoid Styrofoam when possible.

Other contaminants include food, trash, hardcover books, light bulbs, electronics, cookware (ceramics, plates, cups), window/mirror glass and construction debris.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our Tip of the Week feature. Please check back next week for more advice for your home, money, and life.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Discount on Educator.com subscription


Every parent wants their child to do well in school and getting a discount in the process is even better. When a student isn't able to live up to the full potential in the classroom, services like Educator.com can help a student succeed.
For those not familiar with the service, Educator.com is a startup e-learning site focused on delivering the highest quality educational content created by great teachers. The Educator experience is designed to provide you with everything you need to succeed in your high school and university level courses.
Their site creates a one-to-one learning environment with the instructor; emphasizing graphical explanations and working through solution steps. Their goal is to make learning accessible, affordable, and fun for every student. Plus, they have a special discount for readers of this blog that I'll explain in a moment.
First, I want to tell you a little more about Educator.com and some of the things that I like about it. I really like the fact that there are multiple examples worked out and explained in each lecture as well as:
  • Under each lecture video are comprehensive notes that detail things to remember and common student mistakes. It is the perfect tool to refresh your memory before a big test without having to watch the entire lecture again;
  • Taught by the most effective college professors;
  • All of their instructors have doctorate degrees and are current university professors. Several have more than 25 years of teaching experience; and
  • Interactive student community to answer questions.
With all of these benefits, I'm pleased to an exclusive 10% discount for any of their courses for readers of the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. All of these courses include a free introductory lesson.
To get this 10% off discount on a six-month or annual subscription, readers should enter the coupon code 399840D0EF at checkout.
This discount is brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our Tip of the Week feature. Please check back next week for more advice for your home, money, and life.

16 years ago

Sorrow - Photo courtesy of Max Pixel
16 years ago today, our world changed forever.

16 years ago today, at 7:59 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 took off from Logan International Airport in Boston on its way to Los Angeles. There were 81 passengers and 11 crew members aboard. Five highjackers were also aboard.

Within the hour, Flight 11 and three more commercial airliners would be highjacked. The deadliest terrorist attack in American history began 16 years ago at 7:59 a.m.

By the time that terrible day was over, 2,996 people had left this world before their time. More than 6,000 others were injured that day.

16 years ago today, our world changed forever.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dramatic police chase on I-75


Officers from the Detroit Police Department were taken on a high-speed chase through the streets of Detroit today, one that ended in a dramatic fashion on I-75. Footage from a helicopter, which is embedded above, shows the man who was suspected of murder pull over on the highway.

Rather than surrender, though, he jumped over the median and ran across the freeway - dodging both on-coming traffic and police officers who were now chasing him on foot. As a minivan approached, the suspect jumped on top of it and was surrounded by police officers.

One officer jumped on top of the minivan and engaged the fleeing suspect. The officer threw this man off the van and onto the ground. It was at this point that his fellow officers were able to take their suspect into custody without further incident.

While this was an exceptionally dramatic chase and arrest, I have to say that I am proud of each and every officer who was involved in it. They got their man and did it without putting the general public in undo jeopardy.

Wendy Hilliard returns to Detroit for National Gymnastics Day

Children learn gymnastics through the Wendy Hillard Gymnastics Foundation - Press photo

World-class gymnast and Detroit-native Wendy Hillard is returning to Detroit to celebrate National Gymnastics Day with a special event at the Joe Dumars Field House (1120 W State Fair) on Saturday, September 16 from 10 am until noon. Hilliard was the first African-American to represent the United States in rhythmic gymnastics in an international competition, including three World Championships (1979, 1981, and 1983).

At this event, aspiring local youth will experience a free gymnastics lesson from elite athletes, parents can sign their children up for the new classes, and attendees can hear from Wendy Hilliard about her experience as a gymnast. These free and low-cost gymnastics lessons are presented for urban youth by the Wendy Hillard Gymnastics Foundation.

Brenda Jones, President of the Detroit City Council, will also attend this event. She is expected to present Hillard with the Spirit of Detroit award.

National Gymnastics Day is an annual celebration of the sport that is currently in its 19th year. It is sponsored by Gymnastics USA. It is also celebrated in Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

Editor's note: This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Chris Polite releases new indie album


Detroit is a town that is famous for cars and music.

Detroit-native Bill Haley ushered in the rock and roll era in 1955 with "Rock Around the Clock."

In 1959, Barry Gordie created a "Motown sound" that embodied the streets of Detroit into the music of local artists like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye.

Techno was born here.

Artists from Detroit have reached the top in every music genre from gospel to rock to hip hop.

All of this is why I'm excited that Warrendale resident Chris Polite has released his newest indie album Death in Disguise EP. It is produced by Herschel Boone.

Death in Disguise features the new single from Chris Polite "Think It Thru." The video for that song was shot in Detroit by Diego Cruz and is embedded above.

You can find the Death in Disguise EP for purchase on iTunes and Google Play. It's also available on all of the major music streaming services.

Death in Disguise EP from Chris Polite - it's your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for September 5.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Training opportunity for the construction industry


Wayne State University is organizing an OSHA-approved training for those interested in obtaining certification for a Respirable Crystalline Silica Training. Spanish-speaking students will receive a $25 gift certificate to Honey Bee Market La Colmena at the end of the training.

This training will happen on Saturday, September 9 and Saturday, September 16 at La Sed Page Senior Center (7150 W. Vernor) in Southwest Detroit.

For any questions about this training opportunity in the construction industry for Detroiters, please contact Mary Carmen Muñoz at (313) 554-2015 or mcmunoz@lased.inc. One may also contact
Roberto Muñoz at (313) 815-3146 or munozrd@udmercy.edu with any questions.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Neighborhood flower competition

Flower garden in Tak, Thailand - Photo by Love Krittaya/Wikicommons
The District 7 office for the City of Detroit, which services Warrendale and nearby neighborhoods, is sponsoring a flower competition for local residents. Gardners are invited to show off their green thumb by submitting photos of their floral work.

Photo entries should be emailed to either Ray Solomon, District Manager at solomonr@detroitmi.gov or Mona Ali, Assistant District Manager at alim@detroitmi.gov. All submissions must be received by Friday, September 15.

There are a lot of great gardens in and around the Warrendale neighborhood. I would love to see a local Detroiter win this contest.

This contest is brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our Tip of the Week feature. Please check back next week for more advice for your home, money, and life.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Help wanted at Chene Modern Bakery

Chene Modern Bakery is hiring counter help - Photo by Alachua County/Flickr
The staff at Chene Modern Bakery (17041 W. Warren Ave.) are looking to hire counter staff. The hours would be Tuesday - Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. This would make for a great part-time or supplemental income or perfect as an after school job.

Interested applicants are asked to stop by the bakery to apply in person any day between the hours of 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Please ask for Janice and tell her that you heard about this opportunity through the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.

Round-up for Warrendale news

Waiting for surgery - Selfie by Frank Nemecek
I underwent surgery last week to repair a deviated septum and spent much of this past week recovering. Regardless, I wanted to give a quick rundown of news stories related to the Warrendale neighborhood that I've missed while recuperating.

South Warrendale Radio Patrol Featured on WDET-FM
Detroit's public radio station, WDET-FM, aired a story this week about some of the volunteer radio patrols. For the past 50 years, these patrols have been a key part of keeping our neighborhoods safe.

There are approximately 40 of these citizen-based radio patrols that operate in Detroit, including our own South Warrendale Radio Patrol. The Warrendale group was featured prominently in WDET's story. It is available online here.

Body Found in Alley
Early this past Monday, the remains of a 25-year old man later identified as Ahmed Alakoubi of Dearborn Heights was found in an alley near the Southfield Freeway and Paul Street. The Detroit Police Department is investigating this matter as a robbery turned murder, according to published news reports.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call the Detroit Police Department's Homicide Unit at (313) 596-2260. More details about this story are available at MI Headlines.com.

Sidewalk Repairs on Minock Street
I reported previously about a hazardous sidewalk on Minock and the rather crappy repair that was hastily done to it by a contractor for the City of Detroit. Since then, the contractor has been back to replace the sidewalk fully.

WXYZ-TV aired a story about the hazardous sidewalk in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood earlier this week. Their story is available online here.

Community Garden Featured on WXYZ-TV
The In Memory Of Community Garden, which is located at the corner of Minock and Whitlock Streets, was also featured on WXYZ-TV earlier this week. Their story focused on the efforts of these volunteer gardeners to prevent kidney disease throughout the Detroit area.

The full story from WXYZ-TV is available online here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Crappy sidewalk repair


The City of Detroit tried to repair a broken sidewalk on Minock Street in Warrendale today. The problem is that they appeared to be rather lazy and used asphalt patch rather than concrete.

William Penrod, who lives on Minock and reported the problem, posted an epic rant in which he called out Mayor Mike Duggan over this.

More on this story as it develops.

Awesome shot of the solar eclipse



Father Jerry Pilus, pastor at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, took this amazing shot of the solar eclipse. This photo was taken at 2:28 p.m. from the church grounds.

Father Jerry posted this photo of the solar eclipse as seen from Detroit to the church's Facebook page. I'm happy to be able to embed it here.

For anyone who missed it, the next time that a total solar eclipse will be visible in the Detroit area won't be until April 8, 2024.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Flying over the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit


One particular YouTube user flew a drone over much of the Warrendale neighborhood. The resulting video shows our section of Detroit from Ford Road north to Warren Avenue and from the Southfield Freeway east to Evergreen Road.

I have never seen the Warrendale neighborhood from this vantage point before. I have to admit that Detroit looks good from the air.

In fact, when I first saw what it looked like to fly over Detroit, I knew that I had to publish his video here so that everyone else in Detroit and beyond could see it.

And so I am.

Ladies and gentlemen, flying over the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review - "Forever and a Death"

Forever and a Death  by Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime)
Cover painting for the novel by Paul Mann

Like so many great novels, there is a story behind Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake that rivals the suspense of the fictional prose itself.

Donald Westlake had long ago established himself as one of the grandmasters of the suspense novel. Newsweek proclaimed him to be, "one of the great writers of the 20th century" while the San Francisco Chronicle observed years ago that "Westlake's ability to construct an action story filled with unforeseen twists and quadruple-crosses is unparalleled."

It was with that as background that United Artists Studio in Hollywood commissioned Donald Westlake to write an original screenplay for an upcoming James Bond movie. What Westlake eventually produced for them was a thrilling tale of a businessman who seeks revenge against the entire island nation of Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, the studio was nervous about the political implications of his story. They stuck his screenplay on a shelf and largely forgot about it.

Not wanting to waste what he thought was an exceptionally good story, Westlake converted this tale into a novel with a protagonist other than James Bond. The result of that was this novel, Forever and a Death.

Unfortunately, Donald E. Westlake died on December 31, 2008, before this book could be published. After two decades of delay, this story is finally available for readers to savor - complete with an afterword by Jeff Kleeman, one of the producers who helped to connect Westlake with the James Bond project in the first place.

One of the things that impressed me about this novel is that, even though Westlake wrote it decades ago, time did not dull its heart-pounding edge. The reader will no doubt notice something that places it as having happened in the not too distant past - with its references to pay phones, fax machines, and other things that have largely disappeared from everyday life - but there is still a thrilling quality to Westlake's writing that is as timeless as ever.

The characters are vivid. The dialogue is sharp. The way police inspectors are skeptical at first but eventually swayed into action by the evidence of our villain's plot rings amazingly true.

James Bond illustration by Tumisu/Pixabay
I highly recommend Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake for any reader who enjoys James Bond stories, devours the original works of Tom Clancy, or simply loves a good thriller.

Forever and a Death by Donald E. Westlake is available from Amazon.com or from your local bookseller.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Loud explosions in Rouge Park today - don't worry

Bomb squad vehicle - Photo by Raymond Wamsgans/Flickr
The Detroit Police Department has announced that their bomb squad will perform training exercises in Rouge Park this afternoon. Residents and visitors are cautioned that they may hear loud explosions but there is no cause for alarm - it's only a training exercise.

According to a statement from the Detroit Police Department, these exercises will happen at the archery range in Rouge Park, which is near Joy Rd. and Spinoza Dr. This is expected to begin at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Residents and visitors are also asked to avoid the area around the Rouge Park archery range while this training exercise is happening.

All 5 endorsed candidates move on to November

The primary election was this past Tuesday across Detroit and the rest of Michigan. It narrowed the field from dozens of contenders to the top two candidates who will move on to the general election in November for the offices of mayor of Detroit, members of the city council, and city clerk.

This blog made a total of five endorsements for these important offices in Detroit. I am thrilled that all five candidates have made it past the primary and will move on to the general election, which is set for Tuesday, November 7.

Congratulations and best wishes, therefore, go out to:
  • Mike Duggan for Mayor of Detroit;
  • Gabe Leland for City Council (District 7);
  • Brenda Jones for City Council (at-large);
  • Janee Ayers for City Council (at-large); and
  • Garlin Gilchrist for City Clerk.
I wish each of these candidates the best of luck as we move forward the election season in Detroit.

The history behind the streets of Detroit


There's a lot of history in the streets of Detroit - so much so that we forget how our streets themselves came to be in the current location. Thankfully, though, a friend of mine came across this short documentary that was originally produced by Wayne State University about the historic streets of Detroit.

In this short video, entitled Detroit's Pattern of Growth, Robert J. Goodman, a professor of geography at Wayne State University, and Gordon W. Draper explain how Detroit's street design went from a collection of ancient trails developed by Native Americans into the cityscape that we know today. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Light the Block - Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week


One of the many things that I love about Detroit is many ways that ordinary Detroiters find to solve everyday problems as a community. Cherry Selene and his Light the Block initiative is a perfect example of this.

When he noticed how dark his block was for pedestrians walking by, he started attaching motion-activated lights to wooden posts - the perfect thing to give light to pedestrians walking by. The lights themselves are powered by solar panels that charge batteries during the day.

Additional information about this project can be found on the Light the Block's Facebook page, which can be found here.

It has been too long since I've declared anything to be the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week. Regardless, Light the Block is one of those things that warrant bringing this feature back.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Detroit Police President Condemn President's Trump call for mistreatment of prisoners

President Donald J. Trump - Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr
During a speech to police officers in Long Island, New York, President Donald J. Trump called for a harsher treatment of prisoners who are taken into custody. "Please don't be too nice," the President pleaded to law enforcement. In response, the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners passed a resolution last week that condemned his remarks.

The Police Commissioners in Detroit stated in their resolution that rough or abusive treatment of prisoners is not only contrary to the Constitution, it is also counterproductive to efforts of community policing. They also remarked that, "along with (President Trump's) actions through the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, continue to roll back police practices to a rudimentary era of physical abuse, unlawful confinement, and wholesale discrimination that endangers all of our human rights."

Their resolution also condemned President Trump for using "an ethnic slur in his speech, a stark reminder of how ingrained discrimination has been in law enforcement and how some officials have used police powers systemically to intimidate people based on their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or heritage, as Irish immigrants once experienced. It was especially disturbing that President Trump’s audience included Suffolk County police officers, whose former chief right now faces prison for beating a man."

President Donald Trump has not responded to the Police Commissioner's resolution as of today. If he does have a response at some point in the future, it will be reported on this blog.

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners consists of seven individuals who are elected by district as well as four members who are appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan. They are mandated by the City Charter set policy for the Detroit Police Department, help to set the budget for the department, and other relevant matters for our police.

More details about the President Trump's speech - as well as a video of it - are available here. The full text of this resolution from the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is available here.

Review: "Two Lost Boys" by L.F. Robertson

Courtroom - Photo by Faye Rollinson/Wikimedia
Two Lost Boys is the stunning debut crime novel by LF. Robertson. The characters are thoroughly captivating. Her dialogue rings with the kind of truth that only an author who had spent the past two decades in the trenches as a defense attorney can muster.

It tells the story of Janet Moodie, a death row appeals attorney in California who was recently widowed. Her client is Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy who was convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty; labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory’s dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy’s previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy’s past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought.

There is never any doubt that Andy is guilty. However, by the end of this story, I feel that even those most jaded of us would find themselves if this character deserves to die.

Two Lost Boys takes the reader behind the scene to offer a look at a part of America's criminal justice system that few ever see. It does this without losing the reader. In doing so, I could help but think that this novel should be a serious contender for the Silver Gavel Awards.

I highly recommend Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson for anyone who enjoys crime stories or simply loves a really good story that is well-told.

Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson is available on Amazon.com.

Monday, August 07, 2017

WCO meets tonight

The Warrendale Community Organization will have its next regular membership meeting this evening at 7 p.m. The group will meet in the Activities Building of Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville). This event is expected to last until approximately 8 p.m.

Everyone who is interested in the future and betterment of the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Free vehicle etching this Thursday

The Crime Prevention Task Force, which is sponsored by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation's Community Security Program, will provide free auto VIN etching. This will happen at the Northwest Detroit Farmers' Market (18445 Scarsdale St.) on Thursday, August 10 from 4 - 7 pm.

Auto VIN Etching is a process where the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) is etched on the windows, as a deterrent to criminals who strip and sell a car for parts. VIN etching is a loss prevention strategy suggested by the Detroit Police Department and other law enforcement agencies as well as auto insurance companies. The process takes about 10-15 minutes. It normally costs $200 but is available for free through this program.

This Northwest Detroit Farmer's Market is located in the parking lot of the Grandmont Rosedale Community House).

VIN etching at the Grandmont Rosedale Community House is your Warrendale Tip of the Week. The tip of the week is a semi-weekly feature for this blog that is published most Mondays.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

My endorsements for Detroit's primary

There will be a primary election this coming Tuesday. During this contest, Detroiters will narrow the field for candidates who hope to serve as Mayor or City Clerk of Detroit and who will represent us on the City Council. The full list of candidates for each office is available on Ballotpedia or the City of Detroit's official website.

After much study, I am pleased to present my endorsements for these offices.

Mayor Mike Duggan - File photo
I am pleased to endorse Mike Duggan for re-election as Mayor of Detroit. He has done an excellent job of guiding Detroit out of bankruptcy. During his first term in office, we have seen a dramatic improvement in response times for police, fire, and emergency medical services.

There has also been a tremendous - almost mind-blowing - change in the corporate culture within Detroit City government. When I was president of Warrendale Community Organization during the Kwame Kilpatrick era, the WCO wanted information about police response times and other issues, we were routinely told that this information simply wasn't available.

Today, most of this information is readily available on the City of Detroit's website. This, I believe, is an important departure from the decades of failure that preceded Mayor Duggan's tenure. It shows that - even though there is still work that needs to be done - we have an executive team that is transparent in its dealings and accountable to the residents, businesses, and visitors who make Detroit one of the greatest cities in the world.

I am also pleased to make three important endorsements for the City Council.

Gabe Leland and I at the AIA Detroit Awards
Gabe Leland has represented Warrendale and the other neighborhoods that make up the 7th District admirably during his first term of office. As chair of the council's planning and economic development committee, he shepherded much of the work on the District Detroit project through the council and made sure that there were jobs and other benefits for residents.

His impact on the District Detroit project is particularly important, in my opinion. For decades, one project after another has moved forward downtown with far more benefits for developers than residents. The fact that residents are on track to get a healthy portion of the construction jobs and the more than 1,100 permanent jobs associated with it is impressive.

As one looks beyond our district representation, I am also thrilled to endorse Brenda Jones and Janee L. Ayers to continue representing all Detroiters as at-large members of the City Council. Both of these women have shown a strong, level-headed leadership that I believe has been a tremendous asset to all Detroiters. They have also been passionate about connecting with Detroiters throughout their tenure.

Brenda Jones at a Warrendale Community Organization meeting
Photo by Frank Nemecek
Brenda Jones is a veteran on the City Council, having represented Detroiters since 2005. Janee Ayers is a relative newcomer, having joined the Council in 2015 following the resignation of Saunteel Jenkins.

I especially like the combination of Jones and Ayers as at-large members. Jones brings a tremendous amount of experience with more than a decade on the Council and her previous role as president of the Communications Workers of America, Local 4004. Ayers brings a tremendous amount of energy to her work as she is the only member of the Council to serve on four different committees and she does it while still being an active and vibrant member of our community.

Again, I believe that the combination of Jones and Ayers is a dynamic duo that benefits all Detroiters.

Garlin Gilchrist, II - File photo
Finally, it is my pleasure to endorse Garlin Gilchrist, II to be the next City Clerk for Detroit. He has served with Mayor Duggan as his Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology. In this capacity, he worked to make the information that Detroiters needs about their local government readily available through social media and other technologies.

During his tenure, he implemented a technology solution to make sure city fire hydrants are regularly inspected and repaired. He also enabled anonymous police tips via cell phones and championed the Improve Detroit app which is used extensively in the Warrendale neighborhood.

As our next City Clerk, he is committed to improving the flow of information so that all Detroiters understand what is happening our government. He has also released a plan to help make voting effortless in Detroit.

I am proud of these endorsements.
  • Mike Duggan for Mayor Detroit;
  • Gabe Leland for City Council (District 7);
  • Brenda Jones for City Council (at-large);
  • Janee Ayers for City Council (at-large); and
  • Garlin Gilchrist for City Clerk.
These are the people who I believe have the dedication, expertise, and passion to continue moving Detroit forward. I am proud to endorse each of them for the primary this coming Tuesday.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Barricaded gunman causes evacuations on Archdale

A barricaded gunman who filled a house on Archdale Street in Warrendale with gas and threatened to blow it has been taken into custody, according to Commander Elvin Barren of the Detroit Police Department. No one was seriously injured during the incident, which happened early this morning.

Several homes in the neighborhood were evacuated as a precaution. However, the area is now safe. Residents have been allowed to return to their homes.

Fox 2 Detroit has more on this story here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Teen kidnapped from his home


Jaylon Wilson, a 17-year old boy who lives on Westwood between W. Warren Ave. and Sawyer in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit, was kidnapped from his home yesterday afternoon.

He was reportedly abducted at approximately 12:30 p.m. from the side of a home. The teen was seen with three males in an older-model silver Chevy Impala or Malibu driven by a female, according to sources within the Detroit Police Department.

Detectives described the three individuals in this car as African-American and said one of them had dreadlocks. Unfortunately, additional details are not available at available.

Anyone with information about this abduction is asked to call Detroit police at (313) 596-5640 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Remembering the Twin Pines Dairy


The Twin Pines Farm Dairy used to have one of their main production facilities near Warrendale. It was on Greenfield Rd., just north of Tireman, in Detroit.

I was intrigued, therefore, when I found a video from 1957, which I embedded above. It documents both the work that the City of Detroit Department of Health used to do as well as Twin Pines Farm Dairy itself.

This was produced more than a dozen years before I was even born. Regardless, I remember my parents, grandparents, and other older Detroiters talking about many of the things that were discussed in this documentary film.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Shooting on Ashton


The Detroit Police Department is investigating a shooting that happened on Ashton, near Tireman, at the northern end of the Warrendale neighborhood, early this morning. This shooting reportedly happened at approximately 4 a.m. this morning.

According to published news reports, Detroit police officers were in the area when they heard a series of gunshots. After racing to the scene, responding officers discovered an unidentified individual shot inside of an automobile. Two individuals were seen fleeing from that location as police approached.

An investigation into this shooting is ongoing. The two individuals who fled from the scene are wanted for questioning in connection to it. Anyone with information about this tragedy is asked to contact the Detroit Police Department.

Fox 2 Detroit has more in their story, embedded above.

One day in Detroit

Detroit skyline, seen from the Detroit River - Photo by Frank Nemecek
A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook that I wanted to repeat here. He asked, "What's your pick for most essential experience to have in Detroit if you're here for just one awesome day?"

Most people responded things like Eastern Market, the RiverWalk, Campus Martius Park, and so on. A few people suggested experiences like taking in a Detroit Tigers. Lions, Pistons, or Red Wings game (depending on the season when this awesome day is supposed to happen).

Quite frankly, I told my friend, I was reminded of what a park ranger replied when someone asked what he would do if he only had one day at Yosemite National Park.

According to legend, the park ranger thought for a moment before declaring, "if I came all the way here and could only stay for one day, I'd probably just sit right down on that bench over there and cry."

But, yeah - any of those other responses work. too.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy 4th of July

U.S. flag aboard the International Space Station - Photo from NASA
I want to take a moment to wish a happy 4th of July to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.

Fireworks are bursting across Detroit (perhaps too frequently). Barbecues are warming up. Parks like Rouge Park, Belle Isle, and others are busy. Flags are waving, including aboard the International Space Station.

Detroiters, without question, are busy celebrating the 241st birthday of this great nation.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!