Wednesday, June 27, 2007

City Council Wastes $500,000 - Kids Get Shot

The City of Detroit recently spent $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Famous Door II, now Bouzouki's II, a strip club in downtown Detroit. The lawsuit was the result of the City Council's efforts to prevent the club from transferring its ownership. Various religous leaders, such as Pastor Marvin L. Winans of the Perfecting Faith Church and Rev. Ronald Griffin of the Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ, vigorously opposed the transfer of ownership.

Those opposed to allowing strip clubs to operate, or allowing them to change ownership, point to those facilities as havens for crime and urban blight. Quite frankly, I think those arguments are downright stupid.

Two children were shot in their home in the Warrendale neighborhood this past February. The shooters weren't strippers; they were drug dealers. The shooters were drug dealers who were looking for more drugs. The drug dealers killed those two children (ages 11 and 13) just because they were in the house.

A 1-year old boy was shot and killed, and two other people were wounded, in a seperate shooting this past Sunday. Again, the shooters were not strippers; they were drug dealers.

We have also seen an especially violent streak these past few days. Two children, ages 8 and 9, were shot in Detroit this past Saturday. A man in a wheelchair was killed in a Saturday shooting. Three other people were shot Thursday on Detroit's east side.

In none of these cases was the shooter a stripper.

Detroit's problem, in my opinion, isn't that we have too many strippers or strip clubs. It's that we have too many drug dealers. We could shut down every strip club in the city and it wouldn't do a single thing to prevent these crimes.

Our neighbors in Dearborn, for example, currently have two strip clubs operating in their main commercial areas. Those clubs haven't turned Dearborn into a slum nor have they caused a noticable increase in crime. Dearborn imposes tough regulations on those clubs and they are enforced.

When the City of Detroit went into a legal battle with the owners of the strip clubs, we as a community lost $500,000 that we really can't afford to lose.

That's $500,000 we could have spent hiring more police officers to crack down on the drug dealers who are shooting our children.

$500,000 that we can't spend on protecting our children because we wasted it trying to prevent a strip club from changing owners.

I'm disappointed that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and the City Council allowed this to happen. We as a community gained nothing in this fight.

More importantly, I believe there is a better way to handle this situation; one that allows us to address the problems that strip clubs do have the potential to bring into a neighborhood while still protecting our neighbors, our children and ourselves from drug dealers.

I have previously pointed out on this blog that the women who dance in strip clubs earn a considerable amount of money and they earn it entirely in cash. Some of them are honest enough to pay taxes on it. A great number of them, however, do not pay any taxes to anyone.

All of these dancers are required to get a caberet license from the Detroit Police Department. It would be relatively easy to cross-reference a list of people who obtained this dance card with a list of people who filed a City of Detroit tax return.

No one is going to pay the $250 that it costs to get a dance card in Detroit unless they intend to dance professionally. And that means they're subject to a city income tax.

If they didn't file a City of Detroit tax return, the Income Tax Division of the Detroit Department of Finance should spring into action to collect that revenue.

By my calculations, the City of Detroit is losing somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million in uncollected income taxes from these dancers. That's enough tax revenue to post a police officer in front of every strip club in town to respond to any issues that develop and to deter those who intend to commit a crime.

More importantly, that would also leave us with enough revenue to hire another 200 or so police officers. Those additional officers could, in turn, go after the drug dealers who have been using our children as target practice.

In addition, the enforcement and collection of these taxes would be much easier if it was coordinated with the IRS, the Michigan Department of Treasury and the other cities around Michigan that have both strip clubs and a city income tax (e.g., Flint, Highland Park and Lansing).

I have argued this for months. Hopefully, someone will listen before another child gets shot it in Detroit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Homeowner Workshops

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and the Detroit Home- ownership Preserv- ation Enterprise will partner to host two workshops to provide current homeowners and future homebuyers with information to make homeownership easier in the NEXT Detroit.

The first Detroit Neighborhood Homeownership Workshop, and the one closest to the Warrendale neighborhood, will happen on Tuesday, June 26 at the Northwest Activities Center (18100 Meyers) from 2-7 p.m. A second one will take place on Thursday June 28 at the Samaritan Center (5555 Conner) from 2-7 p.m.

Counselors will be present to answer questions about:
  • Financial and Credit Management;
  • Predatory Lending;
  • Foreclosure Prevention;
  • Home Preservation;
  • Renter/Landlord Rights and Responsibilities; and
  • Taxes and Insurance.
They will also give tips about being a first time homebuyer. Homes available for purchase in the city of Detroit will also be featured during these workshops. Each workshop is free and open to any resident interested in becoming more financially savvy.

Refreshments will be served. There is no charge for parking and there will be prize drawings.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Upcoming Rouge Park Meeting

The Friends of Rouge Park will next meet at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20. This meeting will be held in St. Suzanne School.

The focus of their meeting will be feedback on the Rouge Park clean-up. They will also plan for the upcoming Fall Run.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mansfield Park: Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

I was working on a shoot for a client last night and met a great local band, Mansfield Park, and was pleasantly suprised to learn that they're from the Warrendale neighborhood.

In fact, a little voice in my head starting singing "It's A Small World" as soon as I heard what street their drummer lives on.

Anyway, you can hear some of the band's work on their MySpace page. You can also see them live in concert at 8 p.m. tonight at Studio 142, which is located at 142 Maple St. in Wyandotte.