Friday, October 31, 2008

Work Day at the MMBA Mountain Bike Trail

Rouge Park in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood is home to the only mountain bike trail in Wayne County. The group that operates it, the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, is having a work day on Sunday to do some maintenance on it. Volunteers are greatly appreciated.

They will be trimming brush, raking out leaves, picking up trash, and clearing any fallen trees. We would love to have you join us.

Work will begin at the northeast corner of Tireman and Outer Drive at 10am on Sunday. Volunteers are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and gloves; please bring any rakes or hedge loppers, if you have them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Endorsements

The entire nation goes to the polls in less than a week. With so much at stake, I want to take a moment to encourage everyone to go out and vote.

I would also like to offer my personal thoughts on who I think is the best qualified candidate for each of the various races. Please note that these are my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of the various organizations of which I am an officer.

With that disclaimer duly given, I offer to the world my endorsements for this year's general election.

President of the United States
Barack Obama (Democrat)

United States Senator
Jack Hoogendyk, Jr. (Republican)
Our incumbent Senator Carl Levin has done a decent job in Washington, DC. However, he was also one of the primary people responsible for screwing up Michigan's presidential primaries. I'm still annoyed over that.

Representative in Congress
Clyde K. Shabazz (Green)
Incumbent Congressman John Conyers has largely been dead weight these past couple of years, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the Republicans didn't even bother to put anyone up against him. Therefore, I'm endorsing one of the third party candidates.

Prosecuting Attorney
Matthew R. Able (Green)
I'm annoyed with the fact that it took the incumbent Kym Worthy 8 months to bring the case against former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to the point where it was ready for trial. She wasted way too much time with motions early on that were nothing but a waste of our time.

Unfortunately, the Republicans aren't putting anyone up against her either. Therefore, I'm endorsing one of the third party candidates.

Warren C. Evans (Democrat)

County Clerk
Cathy M. Garrett (Democrat)

Proposal 1

Proposal 2

Mileage Renewal - Wayne County Community College


I there is one simple fact about the way things are around town that helps me to keep things in perspective. That is this: no matter how many problems I may have at the moment, my life is still better than Kwame Kilpatrick's at the moment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lawn Art - Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week

I've missed a couple of days worth of blogging because, well, let's face it - work sucks. Regardless, it's high time that I post another installment in Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week series.

This week's winner is the home at the southeast corner of Artesian and Paul Streets. I affectionately call it the Warrendale Sculpture Garden. In reality, it's an ordinary homeowner who has an astonishing collection of lawn sculptures.

I lost track long ago of the number of times when I was at some party or event, started chatting with some random person or another and shortly after I'd tell them where I live, their eyes would light up and they would start talking about this collection of lawn sculptures that they saw when they were in the neighborhood for one reason or another.

This homeowner has created something that is, quite literally, unforgettable. Everyone who has ever stopped to look at it remembers it fondly months or years after they first saw it. More over, they have a desire to share they joy at finding this collection of lawn sculptures with someone else.

This, in my opinion, is the very epitome of coolness. The collection makes its own statement. Everyone who views it does the bragging on its behalf.

For the benefit of those who haven't seen this in person, I have a few more photos of this collection over on Flickr.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Raid at the CAID Revisited

I posted previously about a raid at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (the CAID) and how I thought it was a terrible use of police resources. If you don't remember it, please take a moment to review all of the gory details here.

The charges against all of those patrons were later dropped, which I reported on here.

I learned today that Funk Night, the monthly CAID event that prompted the raid in question, will return this month as their Halloween party. More importantly, they're bringing it back with a sense of humor.

First, they intend to screen surveillance footage from the now infamous police raid. In and of itself, I thought that was kind of ballsy.

The piece de resistance, however, is the fact that they are offering door prizes to anyone who comes to this Halloween party dressed as a police officer. For some reason, that just strikes me as downright priceless.

I do, however, have to take issue with one thing that they posted on their website.
The police are our friends. Sometimes some police do bad things. We must, however, recognize and be grateful for those who continue to do good, who preserve the honor and dignity of their profession while they serve and protect our safety and basic civil rights.
I think this was well-stated. However, I think it's important to remember that it wasn't the police officers themselves who got together and decided to ignore the higher priority crimes that nearby residents were calling 9-1-1 about. The police officers themselves didn't decide to do this.

They were acting under order from former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and the command officers that she put in place. It wasn't the officers on that scene who have anything to be ashamed of. It was their superiors with the Department at the time. Luckily for all Detroiters, many of those supervisors are no longer associated with the Detroit Police Department.

Featured Place to Live: 8229 Penrod

One of the unique things about the mortgage crisis that the entire nation is dealing with is that there lots of cool places to live around the metro area that available at a very reasonable price. Therefore, I thought it would be cool to add a new feature to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog - the Featured Place to Live. It joins the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week as one of my regular features.

8229 Penrod is a three bedroom, 1,100 square foot bungalow that was originally built in 1941. This home with aluminum siding has been completely remodeled and includes:
  • Hardwood flooring;
  • One car detached garage;
  • New plumbing throughout;
  • New electrical throughout;
  • New interior doors;
  • Full basement; and
  • Oak cabinets in the kitchen.
The seller is also throwing in a $2,000 Home Depot gift card, which one can use towards appliances or anything else.

This home is located on Penrod, south of Joy Rd. It's between Constance and Belton.

View Larger Map

Additional details about this charming home are available on-line here. One can also view photos of this home, including several of the interior, here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Detroit $100 Million Problem

The Detroit Free Press reported this morning that the City of Detroit is currently facing a budget deficit of at least $100 million and that it could be as high as $150 million. Reportedly, interim Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. is considering a plan to sell bonds and lay-off employees in order to close the gap. Quite frankly, I'm not thrilled with either of those options so I'm hear to add a few of my own suggestions.

Sell Detroit's Share of the Tunnel
Former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick negotiated a deal whereby Detroit would sell its share of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to the City of Windsor for $65 million. The City of Detroit currently gets $700,000 in annual revenue from the tunnel so the sale essentially gives us 92 years worth of revenue all at once. Plus, our neighbors in Windsor actually like the idea because it guarantees them that there won't be any toll increases for the tunnel.

I believe it's an outrage that the tunnel hasn't already been sold.

Sell the Rackam Golf Course
The Rackam Golf Course is owned by the City of Detroit, but located in Huntington Woods. Our previous mayor tried selling the golf course once before. However, his efforts were stymied by the Michgian Court of Appeals, which ruled that because of deed restrictions, the golf course must always remain publicly owned. This means that we would have to sell it to the City of Huntington Woods or some other public entity.

It's a bit of a long shot, but with a few million dollars at stake, I think this is still an option worth exploring. We should make one more effort to sell the Rackam Golf Course or otherwise make money from it.

Review City Contracts
The folks at AFSCME have been telling anyone who would listen that the City of Detroit could save millions of dollars by reducing how much work is outsourced to contractors. Admittedly, AFSCME does have an inherit bias against any work being outsourced since it's their members who are affected by it.

However, and this is the important part, if someone says that they have a way to save millions of dollars then Mayor Cockrel and his staff out to sit down with them immediately. If AFSCME's claims stand up to scrutiny, we should move forward with them.

Every dollar that we can save from other means is one that we don't borrow in new debt that we can't afford anyway.

Friday, October 03, 2008

National Fire Prevention Week

National Fire Prevention Week starts this coming Sunday and runs through October 11. The Detroit Fire Department is participating in several different ways.

Fire Department Open Houses
The Detroit Fire Department will have Open House programs at each of its firehouse locations, including the one on Joy Rd. near the Southfield Freeway in the Warrendale neighborhood. The public is invited to visit and tour firehouse facilities from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Great American Fire Drill
This a perfect opportunity for every family to practice their fire escape plan. If you don't already have an escape plan, you can find a guide for creating one here.

Then, at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 6, the Detroit Fire Department's Fleet of Fire Apparatus will sound their sirens for 30 seconds to alert Detroit residents to practice their home escape plan.

Alternative Heat Sources Public Service Announcement
On Wednesday, October 8, the Detroit Cable Commission will begin airing a Public Service Announcement that will feature the Community Relations Division and Fire Marshal Division’s Public Instruction Section providing critical safety tips regarding alternative heating sources.

Firefighter Appreciation
Of course, let's not forget that no matter how we do to prevent fires, there will always be a need for those gallant few who put their lives on the line for others. With that in mind, I'd like to share this video that I found on YouTube.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Register to Vote

I want to remind everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood - not to mention the rest of Michigan - that the last day for one to register to vote is this coming Monday. If you're not registered by that time, you won't be eligible to vote in the elections this November.

I encourage every citizen who isn't a registered voter , or who isn't registered at their current address, to register. One can do so at the city or county clerk's office or at any Secretary of State's office.

DPS Gets Failing Grade in Audit

The Detroit News reported today that the Detroit Public Schools received a failing grade in an audit by the Council of Great City Schools, a nationally recognized organization that represents urban school districts. Some members of the school board were quick to criticize Superintendent Connie Calloway for the findings of this audit, even though most of the problems preceded her tenure.

I personally commend Dr. Calloway for having the vision to call for this audit in the first place. The first step towards solving a problem is to identify precisely what is wrong.

The all-important question though is: now that this audit is complete, what will happen next?

Will the school board use this information to begin making significant improvements within the Detroit Public Schools? Or will this become just one more document that sits on a shelf collecting dust?

Only time will answer that question. In the meantime, the children of Detroit remain trapped in a poorly performing school district.

D-DOT Bus Drivers Protest

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that as many as 200 D-DOT bus drivers apparently refused to leave the terminal after one of their co-workers was fired for "multiple disciplinary actions." You can say what you want about former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, but when a local TV news crew showed city workers not doing their jobs, he fired them. It's a shame that his replacement, Interim Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr., hasn't followed that pattern.

This city has too many people out of work for us to put up with bus drivers - or any other city worker - who doesn't want to do their job. If this was a legitimate strike, one that was called by their union because of a contract issue, then that would be a different thing. It's unacceptable for these individuals to decide that they're simply not going to do the job that they're paid to do.

It's also a shame that Mayor Cockrel wasn't willing to take action in this matter.