Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Accident on Paul and more

In today's edition of the Warrendale neighborhood news roundup, there was a traffic accident on Paul, help for Detroiters facing foreclosure, and a discussion about Michigan's no-fault auto insurance law.

Traffic accident at Paul and the Southfield Fwy. | Photo by Frank Nemecek
Accident on Paul
There was a rather nasty traffic accident yesterday evening at approximately 6 p.m., which involved two minivans. One of the vehicles struck and knocked down a pole on the south side of Paul.

The Detroit Police and Fire Departments reponded quickly. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

Home | Stock photo from Pexels
Foreclosure prevention workshop this Saturday
The United Community Housing Coalition along with the City of Detroit Department of Neighborhoods will host a foreclosure prevention workshop this Saturday. This is a great chance for homeowners and tenants to get the help they need to keep their homes.

The workshop will start at 10 a.m. and run until 1 p.m. this Saturday, February 29. It will happen in the Adam Butzel Recreation Center (10500 Lyndon), which is in Detroit and approximately four miles northeast of the Warrendale neighborhood.

Residents are asked to bring a copy of their deed, land contract, or lease along with:

  • Drivers license or valid photo identification;
  • Recent DTE bill, phone bill, or other mail with your name on it; and
  • All correspondence received from Wayne County.
There's no charge to attend this workshop.

Corvette on the highway | Stock photo by Autos8/Pixabay
Whitsett to discuss auto insurance
State Representative Karen Whitsett, who represents the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods, will lead a discussion of Michigan's no-fault auto insurance laws and regulations. This will presumably include an update on efforts to make auto insurance more affordable for Detroiters.

This discussion will happen at the Greater Southern Baptist Church (8000 Fullerton), which is in Detroit and approximately three miles northeast of Warrendale. This will be on Tuesday, March 3 at 6 p.m.

Detroit area doctor charged with fraud after perscribing 2.2 million doses of painkillers

Statute of Justice | Stock photo by William Cho/pixabay
Francisco Patino, M.D., a physician from the Detroit area who was the top prescriber of oxycodone 30 mg in Michigan was charged in a superseding indictment unsealed today. He was allegedly involved in a health care fraud and money laundering scheme that brought in more than $120 million in illicit funds. As part of this plot, he distributed more than the alleged medically unnecessary distribution of over 2.2 million dosage units of controlled substances that were medically unnecessary injections and resulted in patient harm.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s Chicago Regional Office made the announcement this afternoon.

Patinowas charged in the superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of money laundering. These charges are in addition to the two counts of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive health care kickbacks that was charged in the initial indictment. The case is pending before U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood of the Eastern District of Michigan. Trial is scheduled to begin on April 7 before Judge Hood.

The superseding indictment alleges the laundering of the proceeds of the health care fraud scheme to falsely portray the defendant as a legitimate doctor through the publication of a diet book and plan described as the “next Atkins,” paid-for appearances on a nationally syndicated television show, and the sponsorship of boxers, cagefighters and prominent Ultimate Fighting Championship world champions and hall of famers.     

Patino owned, controlled and operated numerous pain clinics and laboratories in Michigan – including Global Quality Inc., RenAMI, FDRS and Patino Laboratories – and was the top prescriber of Oxycodone 30 mg in Michigan from 2016 to 2017. From 2008 until his arrest, Patino induced patients to come to his clinics by offering unnecessary prescriptions for addictive opioids, of which he ultimately prescribed over 2.2 million dosage units of medically unnecessary controlled substances, including fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone. Patino prescribed these opioids to Medicare beneficiaries, some of whom were addicted to narcotics.

According the indictment, Patino forced patients to submit to unnecessary and sometimes painful back injections and other procedures in exchange for the opioid prescriptions as part of a scheme to defraud Medicare of over $120 million.  The superseding indictment alleges that Patino persisted with these unlawful practices even after Medicare informed him that the injections violated Medicare’s rules and after Patino entered into a consent order with the State of Michigan that his prescription of opioids “constitute[d] a violation of the public health code.”

Patino also ordered unnecessary urine drug testing in exchange for illegal kickbacks, the superseding indictment alleges. Patino was aware that his ownership structure and kickbacks were a violation of law and authored emails acknowledging that such ownership constituted  a “violation of the Stark and Anti-Kickback laws” and attempted to conceal and disguise the ownership structure and scheme in order to keep himself “out of federal prison & having all our assets seized to pay a $15 million fine.”

Patino also allegedly conspired to launder money in connection with the creation and promotion of the “Patino Diet” plan, which Patino described to others as the “next Atkins diet.”  In order to conceal and disguise his illegal health care fraud scheme, Patino allegedly paid for the authorship and publication of a book touting the diet plan, entitled The Age of Globesity, and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to promote the diet plan and appear as the exclusive medical expert on a nationally syndicated television show.

In addition to concealing the scheme by paying money to falsely portray himself as a media personality and a legitimate physician, the superseding indictment alleges, that Patino laundered the healthcare fraud and kickback money by entering into sham contracts or employment relationships to pay others on his behalf to sponsor boxers, mixed martial artists and UFC combatants.

The charges against Patino are related to a broader investigation into the Tri-County Network of pain clinics in Michigan and Ohio, which involves over $300 million in alleged Medicare fraud and the alleged distribution of over 6.6 million dosage units of controlled substances.  In connection with the investigation, 22 defendants, including 12 physicians, have previously pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Closing in on one million page views

Million dollar view | Stock photo by Haidir Rais/Unsplash
I started the Warrendale Detroit Blog in December of 2005 almost on a whim. I new that there was a lot happening in our neighborhood but was frustrated that it never got any attention from the local news media. When a friend suggested over on the Detroit YES forum that I create such a blog, I jumped at it.

That was 14 years and three months ago.

As of this afternoon, Google Analytics tells me that this blog has received a total of 990,262 page views during its time online. I also continue to revieve 400 - 450 pageviews ever day.

Those two things suggest that the Warrendale Detroit Blog should cross the one million page view threshold within the next couple weeks. In fact, my best guess after combing through the data is that this blog should see its one millionth page view on or about March 17.

I feel that this milestone deserves somekind of commemoration. Something that will say to the world - quite literally - thanks a million. I'm just not sure what it should be.

If you have any idea what that something should be then please feel free to leave a comment below or on the Facebook page for this blog. I appreciate any and all suggestions.

Monday, February 24, 2020

4 things to give up for Lent 2020

Lent | Stock photo by Gaston Perez/Pixabay
Lent is upon us. It begins with Ash Wednesday, which is the day after tomorrow.

I know that many Christians - myself included - sometime wonder what they should give up for Lent. Sweets are an old standby but I always feel like it should be something a little less generic. With that in mind, I spent a couple of hours over the weekend searching for advice on what one should give up for Lent.

With that in mind, I want to share five Lenten sacrificss that I feel are worthy of special consideration this year.

1 - Get rid of 40 things over the 40 days
It's always amazing how much random stuff one accumilates over the years. Lent can provide one with an opportunity to reflect on all of that stuff and ask if it is truly worthy of a place in your life. I'm confident that many people would be able to find 40 things in their life that are simply cluttering your life.

Many of these things may have a value to others. In which case, I would suggest that rather than tossing your Lenten clutter into the trash, donating them a charitable thrift store or selling them and donating the proceeds to a worthy charity. For those in the Warrendale neighborhoood, I recommend the Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center (8525 N. Telegraph Rd. in Dearborn Heights).

2 - Stop gossiping
Humans are social creatures. Sharing stories and information with our peers is a fundamental part of who we are. However, like most things, it can always be used in a destructive manner and that is something that one focus on during Lent.

3 - Say three nice things to your spouse and children daily
Family is the foundation of our society. Lent provides us with an opportunity to strengthen your family with a little extra positive energy. This idea, by the way, was inspired by YourModernFamily.com.

4 - Write 40 letters to people you've lost touch with
I saw this one on LifeTeen.com and love it. In the haste of modern life, it is all too easy to lose touch with people. Writing a letter to someone that you've lost touch with not only gives you a chance to re-establish those social connections but the fact that you do so in a letter forces you to put some extra thought into your words.

As a bonus, since letters have become so rare in the age of email and text messaging, an actual letter that shows up in the mail will stand out in mind of your recipient that much more.

There are, of course, many more things that one can give up or do as a Lenten sacrifice. I hope that these ideas spark some inspiration in your life.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. The rest of the tips are are avilable here.

Please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Ducks Unlimited invests $2 million in Michigan

Wildflowers bloom on a Ducks Unlimited project in Michigan | Press photo
Ducks Unlimited and its partners are investing $2.3 million to protect, enhance or restore 2,100 acres of wetland habitat across 10 Michigan project sites in 2019. This will greatly improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

The milestones in 2019 added to a sizeable historical investment in Michigan. Over the last 30 years Ducks Unlimited has invested $46 million to protect, restore or enhance more than 85,000 wetland and grassland acres on more than 420 project sites across the state.

Partners included the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, corporate partners such as Axalta Coating Systems, major donors and Ducks Unlimited members. Vital federal funding also came from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

“Michigan’s wetlands have a significant impact on Great Lakes and continental waterfowl,” explained Kali Rush, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist in Michigan. “But our wetlands are also crucial for water quality for drinking and recreation. Michigan has lost 50% of its wetland habitats, which filter rainwater before entering the Great Lakes. More wetlands mean cleaner water and less severe algae blooms and flood damage.”

The group highlighted three particular projects from 2019.

Upper Peninsula habitat revamped
Ducks Unlimited and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources enhanced water level management capabilities at Sturgeon River Sloughs State Wildlife Management Area in Baraga and Houghton counties. The Sloughs are one of the Upper Peninsula’s most productive wetland areas.

Major Monroe County marsh enhanced
Ducks Unlimited completed the third phase of a 900-acre coastal wetlands enhancement at Erie Marsh in North Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. This project will provide improved wetland habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds that depend on the western Lake Erie basin of Michigan.

Saginaw Bay donation ready for restoration
In 2019, James and DeAnn Sattelberg donated 250 acres of former farmland to Ducks Unlimited for wetlands restoration. Since then, Ducks Unlimited has secured funding to design water level management infrastructure which will produce healthier habitat for waterfowl and wildlife. When complete, the property will be transferred it to a professional conservation organization for permanent protection.

For a complete report of 2019 activities, and a look into what’s planned for 2020 and beyond, view the Michigan Conservation Report. For all Ducks Unlimited events and programs in Michigan, visit www.ducks.org/Michigan.

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.

Please follow this blog on Facebook for more great content. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Warrendale students organize trip to Ivy League schools

Screenshopt of GoFundMe campaign
Students from the Warrendale Charter Academy in Detroit have organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds so they can visit Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. All funds raised as part of this campaign will go towards the travel expenses of these 26 middle school students.

Janae Anderson, the middle school dean at the Warrendale Charter Academy, described this campaign as follows:
Warrendale is a k-8 charter school in the heart of Detroit with a little over 750 students currently enrolled. WCA is a Title 1 school that has created a positive climate and culture that focuses heavily on student proficiency and academic growth. Most recently, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy recognized WCA as a top 200 school in the state, a top 50 school in the county, and a top 20 school in the city and gave an A letter grade for academic performance in context.
Part of our school's success comes from providing our students with unique opportunities that foster their thirst for learning and education beyond the classroom. For the past two years, our middle school students have had the opportunity to visit universities and historical landmarks in both Washington D.C. and Atlanta. This year is very special in that students will be taking tours of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, which are universities that do not have a heavy population of Black students. The goal of the college tour is to not only allow students to see and visit these Universities in person but to also learn what it takes to become a part of the student body.
Currently, there are 26 middle school students who are attending this wonderful experience. The money donated will be added to the funds that students have already raised individually and lower the overall cost of travel fees associated with visiting the schools. By making a donation you are helping our students learn about college early in life and set them on a path of success.
The Warrendale Charter Academy operates from the building that used to house Ss. Peter and Paul Grade School once upon a time. If you are interested in supporting this campaign, please visit its page on GoFundMe by clicking here.

Shinola Hotel only hotel in Michigan to be named to "It List"

The Shinola Hotel | Photo by Wild Wind Studios
Earlier today, Travel + Leisure magazine announced its 15th annual “It List”. This is an editor-curated list of the best hotels in the world with only 72 new or recently renovated destinations in the entire world making the cut.

Only one of those 72 hotels to make the “It List” happens to be in Michigan. The Shinola Hotel in downtown Detroit has the distinction of representing not only the Motor City but all of Michigan.

“The beauty of staying at a hotel is that you can drop both your physical and emotional baggage and be the best version of yourself,” explained Jacqueline Gifford, editor in chief of Travel + Leisure in a prepared statement. “With over 70 honorees — including a Loire Valley ch√Ęteau and a series of lodges in Bhutan — our annual It List is packed with hotels that make you feel spoiled, nurtured, and seamlessly connected to the outside world.”

The Travel + Leisure 2020 It List includes 19 hotels across the United States including four in California, three in New York, and two in Hawaii, as well as in places such as Asbury Park, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.

Guest room in the Shinola Hotel | Photo by Nicole Franzen
The Shinola Hotel, which is a boutique property that opened in downtown Detroit in early 2019 from local companies with a love for the city, Shinola and Bedrock. It has become a meaningful gathering place for visitors and locals alike. With 129 rooms and suites, a thoughtfully curated art collection by Library Street Collective, and six restaurants and bars from award-winning Andrew Carmellini of NoHo Hospitality.

There are a lot of Detroiters who have worked incredibly hard and taken some big risks to make the Shinola Hotel a premiere destination.

The other 11 American properties that made Travel + Leisure’s It List this year are Asbury Ocean Club in Asbury Park, New Jersey as well as:

  • Four Seasons Hotel Lanai at Koele, a Sensei Retreat in Lanai, Hawaii;
  • Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection on the Big Island, Hawaii;
  • Soho Warehouse in Los Angeles, California;
  • Palihouse Miami Beach in Miami, Florida;
  • Maison de la Luz in New Orleans, Louisiana;
  • Equinox Hotel in New York, New York;
  • The Times Square EDITION in New York, New York;
  • Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • TWA Hotel in Queens, New York;
  • Santa Monica Proper Hotel in Santa Monica, California;
  • MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa in Sonoma, California;
  • Willow House in Terlingua, Texas;
  • Posada by the Joshua Tree House in Tucson, Arizona;
  • Blackberry Mountain in Walland, Tennessee;
  • The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection in Wanship, Utah;
  • Captain Whidbey Inn in Whidbey Island, Washington; and
  • Canyon Ranch Woodside in Woodside, California.

The list of wonderful things in Detroit keeps growing. Each new development means more jobs and more tax revenue for a city that, quite frankly, is still in dire need of both things. The fact that a major media outlet like Travel + Leisure notices their work is always worth celebrating.

I congratulate each and every person who played a part in this accomplishment. I look forward to seeing even more great things in the near future.