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.