Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blogs Get Makeovers Too

It's been awhile since I've made any changes to the layout of the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. It's been well over a year since my most recent round of "freshening up" and that's an eternity in internet time.

The most important parts - the news about Warrendale and the surrounding neighborhoods - remain unchanged. The new masthead is perhaps the most noticeable change. It's a photo of Rouge Park on a foggy November morning.

One of the reasons for this change is that people now read blogs in a variety of different ways. Some readers subscribe to email alerts, such as the 26 people who get daily alerts from Feedblitz. Other readers prefer to follow it - and usually several other blogs - on Google Reader or another RSS feed. My changes, of course, do the best to accomidate for this, which is why one will notice Google's "Join This Site" as well as the RSS feeds in the right-hand column.

As always, if you simply prefer to bookmark and visit this page directly, you will continue to find the same quality content that I've been posting since way back in 2005.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about these changes. Please take a moment to look around and leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Redeveloping Kosciusko Elementary

The Detroit City Planning Commission and its Historic Designation Advisory Board received a grant from the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office to do adaptive reuse studies for two closed Detroit Public Schools. Simply put, they are looking for new uses for this vacant and historic building.

The Planning Commission, in turn, has contracted with the University of Michigan's Detroit Community Design Center to manage a process to come up with a community-driven design for new facility uses.

On the west side, the school building selected is Kosciusko Elementary (20220 Tireman St.) which was built in 1955. The Community Design Center has scheduled a series of four community meetings to gain neighborhood input on potential new uses for this building. The ultimate goal is a design plan for the chosen reuse option, to be completed by University of Michigan architecture students who will be led by architect and faculty member Dr. Craig Wilkins.

The first community meeting will be this coming Monday, July 27 at 6:00 pm in the Don Bosco Hall (19321 W. Chicago St.). Refreshments will be served. Everyone from the Warrendale neighborhood is invited to attend.

Additional meetings on this topic are scheduled for:
  • Monday, August 24 at 6 pm;
  • Monday, September 21 at 6 pm; and
  • Monday, October 19 at 6 pm.
Each of these meetings will be at the same location, the Don Bosco Hall.

I should caution everyone that simply because we as a community come up for a plan for reusing Kosciusko, that does not necessarily mean that funding will be available to implement whatever plan people come up with. However, a plan such as this is the first step in the process.

Monday, July 20, 2009

John Bennett for City Council

John K. Bennett is a Detroit police officer who is perhaps best known for his FireJerryO.com web site that, in turn, morphed into DetroitUncovered.com after Jerry O. (a/k/a - former police chief Jerry Oliver) really was fired. His web site was repeatedly named "Best Local News Site" by the Metro Times readers poll.

Of course, before any of that happened, John K. Bennett was a police officer who had a distinguished career with the Detroit Police Department, receiving several commendations for outstanding service. He holds a bachelors degree in public administration from my alma mater, Wayne State University, as well as a masters from Eastern Michigan University.

John K. Bennett's years as a Detroit police officer, his academic background and his track record in investigative reporting are all things that, in my opinion, will serve him well on the Detroit City Council.

I am pleased to join the Detroit Fire Fighters (IAFF, Local 344), the Detroit Police Officers Association, the Detroit Police Sargents & Lieutentants Association, the Retired Detroit Police & Fire Fighters Association, Teamsters Joint Council 43 and many others in endorsing John K. Bennett for City Council.

David Cross for Detroit City Council

David Jonathon Cross is a self-employed attorney and real estate developer. His years of experience in this field give him the kind of expertise that is largely vacant from city government at the moment.

More information about him is available on his campaign web site as well as on his Facebook page.

I am pleased to join the Detroit Free Press in endorsing David Jonathon Cross for the Detroit City Council.

Lisa Howze for City Council

Lisa Howze is the only certified public accountant in the City Council race. In a city that is dealing with both a crush tax burden and staggering budget deficits, I believe there is a certain value to having an accountant on the City Council.

Lisa Howze has 14 years of public accounting and client service experience, which includes creating budgets, reviewing contracts, analyzing financial results, performing financial as well as operational audits, and managing client expectations. During her tenure with Arthur Andersen LLP, once a “Big Six” accounting firm, Howze worked on the City of Detroit audit engagement.

Lisa Howze has made crime, education, housing, jobs, mass transit and neighborhood stabilization key parts to her campaign. More information about her is available on her campaign web site. I am pleased to join the Detroit Free Press in endorsing her.

Saunteel Jenkins for City Council

Saunteel Jenkins spent her professional career serving the community. She is the director of the residential treatment program at Mariners Inn, a shelter and treatment center for men who are homeless and drug addicted.

Prior to her current position, Saunteel Jenkins was a National Business Development Director for Platform Learning, a private education company that provides free tutoring to low-income children in under performing school districts. While at Platform Learning, she worked with school districts in Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, New York City and Tampa. In Detroit, she made free tutoring available to thousands of children in under served communities and schools.

Saunteel Jenkins' long career of service to the community also includes working with the Boys and Girls Republic as an adolescent therapist, Detroit Edison as a community educator, Healthy Start, an infant mortality reduction program and Focus: HOPE Food Program.

Also an entrepreneur, Saunteel Jenkins is the founder of Petite Sweets, which is a dessert catering company that she started in her home. It grew to supply multiple companies, as well as five gourmet grocers and convenience stores.

One of the greatest highlights of Saunteel Jenkins' career was serving as a policy analyst and chief of staff to the late Maryann Mahaffey, President Emeritus of Detroit City Council. During her six year tenure in Maryann’s office, Saunteel served as a liaison to the business community. She also worked on issues including affordable housing, predatory lending, the ethics ordinance and the casino agreements.

Saunteel Jenkins has made improving police services and creating new jobs a key part of her campaign for the City Council. More information about her is available on her campaign web site. I am proud to join the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO in endorsing her.

Roy McCalister for City Council

Roy McCalister, Jr. brings an astonishing level of experience to his campaign for the Detroit City Council. I am proud to endorse him.

As a police officer, Roy McCalister rose through the ranks to become Commanding Officer of the Homicide Section for the Detroit Police Department.

As a soldier, Roy McCalister served on active duty and reserves in the U.S. Army. He was a part of the Army's Criminal Investigative Division and was responsible for interrogating some of Saddam Hussein's top aides during Operation Iraqi Freedom and helped to train the Iraqi police force.

As a candidate, Roy McCalister has made edcuation, mass transit and public safety key issues in his campaign. He also has a strong focus on historic preservation; understanding that it can be a key ingredient to creating jobs and improving tax revenue.

I am pleased to join AFSCME (Local 3082), the Detroit Police Officers Association, Hood Research and the union employees of Henry Ford Health Systems in endorsing Roy McCalister for the Detroit City Council. More information about him, is available on his campaign web site.

Matthew Naimi for City Council

Matthew Naimi is one of the tireless community activists who work daily to make Detroit a better place. He is also someone that I am proud to endorse for the Detroit City Council.

Matthew Naimi has a proven track record of success as a community activist. He spent the past four years developing the Recycle Here! program for the City of Detroit. Along the way, he worked with non-profits, block clubs, schools, and City Government to create the first comprehensive recycling program in the history of Detroit.

To date, more than 2,500,000 pounds of trash has been recycled because of Matthew Naimi's efforts. He has also launched pilot programs with Detroit's Department of Public Works as well as eductional programs with the Detroit Public Schools.

Because of his experience, Matthew Naimi will make illegal dumping, recycling and urban agriculture a priority on the City Council. His voice and experience, in my opinion, will make for a valuable addition to the City Council.

Matthew Naimi lives in the Midtown area with his wife, Kristen. He previously served as president of the West Canfield Historic District from 2005 - 2007. More information on Mr. Naimi is available on his campaign web site.

Charles Pugh for Detroit City Council

I met Charles Pugh for the first time on May 18, 2005, which was the day that the City of Detroit decided to demolish the historic Madison-Lenox Hotel and replace it with a parking lot. I was the local press contact for the historic preservation groups, which meant that it was my job to remind everyone that there were developers ready to redevelop the hotel, creating jobs and tax revenue in the process. (There is more from that fateful day over on my personal blog.)

I also got to remind everyone that the City of Detroit had recently falsified the inspection reports for that hotel. They argued that the building was found to be in eminent danger of collapse when, in truth, their own records showed that the building hadn't even been inspected.

Charles Pugh was one of the reporters who got the importance of the story. He seemed to understand the value of not only preserving a piece of Detroit's cultural identity, but the importance of jobs and tax revenue that a reborn hotel can create.

Of course, it didn't stop there. When Detroit Synergy launched its Shop Detroit project to encourage people to discover some of the retail options that exist within Detroit, Charles Pugh went out of his way every year to make sure that the project got the media attention that it deserved.

Charles Pugh is also one of a handful of individuals who never let his celebrity status get to his head. Over the past few years, I have seen him on several occasions on Riverfront downtown or at one restaurant or another. He is one of the most approachable people around; always willing to listen to anyone who wants to talk - regardless of whether they're happy or upset with him.

He takes that experience as a reporter and a lifelong Detroit resident into the campaign with him. He has made crime and police response time key issues in his campaign as well as taxes, mass transit and economic development. You can read more about his platform here.

It's for all of these reasons that I join the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO and others in endorsing Charles Pugh for Detroit City Council.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Evans Becomes Chief of Police

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing fired former Chief of Police James Barren late on a Friday afternoon. Specifically, he did it at 4 p.m. on the Friday before the 4th of July holiday, according to an interview that Mr. Barren gave WXYZ-TV. In the realm of public relations, doing something late of a Friday afternoon is a famous tactic of burying a story since most reporters are gone by then.

Of course, it didn't work. A quick review of Google shows 420 stories about the firing and the fact that Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans has replaced him as chief of police.

Mayor Bing told reporters that this had nothing to do with the shooting last Tuesday of 7 teens at a bus stop in the Warrendale neighborhood. Quite frankly, I don't believe him.

Having worked for a few politicians, I believe this has everything to do with that shooting and - more to the point - the fact that Detroit Police Department still doesn't have any suspects in custody; that their only suspect to date was someone that they couldn't bring charges against due to a lack of evidence.

This is an election year. When things like this shooting make headlines around the year, and solid arrests aren't made promptly, politicians inherently start looking for someone to blame before the public piles the blame entirely them.

Mayor Bing, of course, is a businessman and not a career politician. This, in turn, means that there was likely a senior staff member within the Bing Administration who brokered this deal for Barren to be fired and for Evans to replace him.

Politics. This entire matter is pure politics, in my analysis.

Of course, the fundamental problem is that the next time a crime like this happens - like, say, 4 teens being raped on Detroit's east side - there won't be anyone left for Mayor Bing to fire as a diversion.

The roughest days for the Bing Administration clearly ahead.