Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool Warrendale Thing: Missile Launchers

Most people are shocked to believe that there used to be missiles in Rouge Park. I can't say that I believe them. When my assistant scoutmaster told me almost 30 years ago, I thought he was kidding.

But he wasn't.

NIKE Missile Battery D-69.

This military facility was activated in January 1955 and decommissioned in February 1963. The integrated fire control area was located north of Joy Rd., between Spinoza and Trinity. The launchers themselves were located near what is now Lessenger Middle School (8401 Trinity St.).

The site reportedly held 20 Nike Ajax missiles, which were surface-to-air missiles designed to shoot down incoming Russian bombers in the event of an attack. Thankfully, those missiles were never needed.

When the military closed the facility, the City of Detroit was quick to demolish it and revert it back to parkland.

More information about the facility is available on-line here. One can also find more information about the Nike missile system here.

I may have a really warped sense of humor, but this missile site is my pick for Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

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.

Featured Place to Live: 6537 Grandville

The featured place to live for this week is 6537 Grandville. This 1.5 story bungalow was built in 1948 and is an excellent starter home in the Warrendale neighborhood. Its approximately 1,000 square feet offer three bedrooms and two baths as well as a one-car garage, replacement windows, newer siding, a basement and hardwood floors under the carpeting.

This property is represented by Joyce Bear of Real Estate One. Additional information about the property is available here and a video tour is below.

This home has a lot of potential and, because of the current market, is available for the asking price of only $22,000. It is also eligible for the Federal Housing Tax Credit, which provides an outstanding opportunity for first time home buyers.

Between that tax credit and the current real estate market, there has never been a better time to buy a home.

Redeveloping Kosciusko: The Vision

The Detroit Community Design Center and the City of Detroit's Historic Designation Advisory Board convened the first of four community meetings that are designed to solicit community input regarding the potential redevelopment of Kosciusko Elementary (20220 Tireman St.), which has been shuttered for years now.

This meeting began with Janese Chapman and Deborah Goldstein of the Historic Designation Advisory Board started the evening by giving people an overview of what historic preservation is, why it's important and how it fits into the overall mission of community revitalization. One can get much more from reviewing this page from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's web site than I could replicate, so I'll simply invite anyone who isn't familiar to visit their site here.

Ms. Chapman and Ms. Goldstein also explained that there are 110 current and former Detroit public school buildings that have been found to be historically significant. Their office is current preparing the paperwork to have each of these buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

These applications will be presented to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board at their January, which reviews and approves them.

Once that was completed, Dr. Craig L. Wilkins of the Design Center took the audience of more than a dozen residents through a series of three exercises to help everyone identify and describe elements that help and/or hinder the area's improvement and growth.

The next step will be to discuss various options for the Kosciusko building and chose the one most relevant to the residents vision for our area. This, of course, will happen at our next meeting on Monday, August 24 at 6 p.m. in Don Bosco Hall (19321 W. Chicago).

Everyone who has an interest in the Warrendale neighborhood is invited to attend this next meeting, even if you were not able to attend the first one.

Monday, July 27, 2009

CORRECTION: John Bennett for City Council

In my original endorsement of John K. Bennett's campaign for the Detroit City Council, I incorrectly identified him as a former Detroit police officer. It has since been pointed out to me that Mr. Bennett is currently a Detroit police officer.

I apologize for this mistake.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Featured Business: Chick's Bar

In keeping with my theme this week of bringing back features that have regrettably fallen by the wayside, I give you the return of my Featured Business of the Week. There are some business owners who - through a combination of brains and hard-work - have managed to stick in there when so many others have run away. These businesses bring jobs and tax revenue to a community that - to be quite frank - is in desperate need of both.

And they deserve a little recognition every now and then.

This week, I would like to recognize Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren). This is a Warrendale institution that dates back to the mid-1940s, according to their web site, when it was opened by a man nicknamed "Chick".

Chick's is one of the places where you step in and the place just feels like home, even if you haven't been in for months. (Yes, I allowed way too much time to lapse in between my visits to Chick's Bar but was glad to have ended that losing streak recently.)

Besides, if Fergie shows up at the place then you know it has to be cool.

Oh, and their Friday Fish Fries are the stuff of legend.


I've been to other bars - because my liver likes to be abused in different ZIP codes from time to time. Time and time again, I have heard random strangers extol their undying love for Chick's Bar and their fish fries.

Thank God! Housing Market Starting to Rebound

The National Association of Realtors reported earlier today that sales of existing homes are up for the third month in a row. There is still a glut of homes on the market - particularly in neighborhoods such as Warrendale - however, the fact that we are seeing some improvement is very promising.

In related news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 9,000 for the first time since early January. This was due to a combination of factors, such as the improved housing numbers and improved earnings by companies such as Ford Motor.

It will unquestionably take some time for all of this to be truly noticeable at the neighborhood level. However, it gives me hope that we have at least hit bottom and are starting to climb upwards.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Detroit Restructures Sewage Bonds

Mayor Dave Bing announced that the City of Detroit has completed a $305 million restructuring of the City’s sewage system revenue bonds, saving customers an estimated $11.5 million per year.

“This transaction represents a tremendous savings for the citizens of Detroit and all customers of the sewage system,” said Mayor Bing. “I commend our finance team for moving quickly to find a solution that saves our residents money in the short term and puts us in a more secure position going forward.”

The completion of this process is expected to save the sewer system and its customers more than $220,000 a week in interest on the bonds.

Dexia, the bank that backed the City’s bonds was downgraded by the major credit agencies during the fallout of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, triggering a spike in additional interest payments from the sewer system.

“The financial crisis necessitated bold action from the city,” explained chief financial officer Norman White. “We moved quickly to develop a solution that would eliminate costs and reduce the risk for rate-payers in the future.”

To address the heightened interest charges, the City remarketed the sewage system bonds to new investors at fixed interest rates and terminated most of the associated interest rate swaps. The remarketing also eliminated the last of the system’s variable rate bonds.

The City’s underwriting team was led by Goldman Sachs & Co. The City’s bond counsel was Lewis & Munday. Robert W. Baird & Co. served as its financial adviser. Co-managing underwriters were Barclays Capital, Citi, KeyBank Capital Markets, Morgan Stanley and Siebert Branford.

Trash Fee Reduced

While the dreaded fee that Detroit residents for trash collection hasn't been eliminated, it has been reduced. Detroiters will see a 20% reduction in the amount they pay for solid waste.

The City of Detroit Department of Public Works (DPW) will reduce the solid waste fee for residents from $300 to $240 per year and from $150 to $120 per year for seniors and hardship cases. The fees have been reduced because DPW has been successful in reducing its costs pertaining to the collection and disposal of trash.

"The City of Detroit has reduced its costs for solid waste collection and disposal, so we are pleased to be able to pass on some reduction, be it small, to our residents," said Alfred Jordan, DPW Director.

The solid waste fee covers the cost of all municipal solid waste operations such as recycling, trash collection, curbside bulk trash pickup, processing and disposal. The fee also reduces the burden on the general fund for trash pickup, allowing the City to keep critical jobs such as police officers and firefighters.

Cool Thing of the Week: Neighbors Who Care

I regularly go on long walks throughout the Warrendale neighborhood. I do it partly because it give me a chance to think and partly because it gives me an almost never-ending source of material for this blog.

Mostly I do it, though, because I seriously need to lose some weight. (Hey, I've lost 6 lbs. in the past couple of weeks.)

Anyway, it never fails that when I'm out, I will invariably see someone outside fixing up one of the homes in the neighborhood. Be it picking up trash at one of the vacant homes, repairing a previously vacant home so someone can move in or simply taking care of their own property - I constantly see people out there taking care of things.

It reminds me of Cooper's post on the think Detroit blog. Detroit's salvation, he argues, will not come from a corporate titan or some government program. It will come from us, the ordinary neighbors who live and work here.

It would certainly be nice if we got a little bit more help from those who take our tax dollars. However, it's clear that our ultimate salvation will come from us.

And one person after another is stepping up to the challenge.

As a result, this week I would like to recognize my fellow neighbors as the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Putting Detroit on the Map

David at The Incorrigible City blog found an interesting map on-line. It shows each of the murders or other instances of gun-related violence in the city of Detroit during 2009 - or at least the ones that were mentioned in the various media outlets.

It is one of those things that I simply can't stop looking at.

Anyway, if you're interested, the full map is available here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Featured Place to Live: 6501 Penrod

I haven't done one of my featured places to live post in months because, quite frankly, the real estate market in Detroit has been too depressing to talk about. However, I have since learned that the most recent place that I featured has since been sold to a proud new homeowner. This, plus a couple of other long vacant homes being reborn, has convinced me that it's time to bring this feature back.

The featured place to live for this week is 6501 Penrod. This two bedroom, one bathroom 686 square foot ranch was built in 1950. It features hardwood floors, an updated kitchen and has been freshly painted. The property is represented by Don Locascio of Real Estate One. A brochure for this property is available here.

A video tour of this property is available below.

I also want to remind everyone that properties such as these are eligible for the Federal Housing Tax Credit, which provides an outstanding opportunity for first time home buyers. Between the tax credit and the current real estate market, there has never been a better time to buy a home.

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

City Council Endorsements

Detroit's primary elections are only a couple of weeks away. We have a couple hundred candidates for the City Council to consider. After talking with lots of people and doing lots of research, I have come to my own opinion as to who the best candidates are for the primary.

I originally started to write all of my picks into one blog post. However, with nine candidates in the mix, it turned out to be an extremely long blog post. Therefore, I broke them up into a separate post for each candidate, with this as the master post that simply gives the names of my picks.

For each candidate, simply click on their name to go to a separate post that will outline precisely why I endorsed this particular candidate.
There are a number of very good candidates for the City Council. However, in my opinion, these are the best ones.

John Bennett for City Council

John K. Bennett is a Detroit police officer who is perhaps best known for his web site that, in turn, morphed into 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.

Gary Brown for City Council

Gary Brown is best known for being the deputy police chief whose firing promoted the whistle blower case, which ultimately led to former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick's demise. This, of course, was simply one chapter in an exemplary career as a police officer and as a United States Marine.

His in-depth knowledge of the police department - as well as city government in general - puts him in select company of those who are able to help guide Detroit out of its current troubles. More information about him, of course, is available on his campaign web site.

I am pleased to join AFSCME, Crain's Detroit Business, the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Firefighters, Detroit Police Officers Association, Detroit Police Sargents & Lieutentants Association, the Detroit Regional Chamber, Metro Regional Council of Carpenters, Michigan Building Trades Council, Michigan Spanish-Speaking Democrats and Michigan Joint Teamsters Council 43 in endorsing Gary Brown for the 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.

Fred Hall for City Council

Fred Elliott Hall is founder and president of Novatech Computer Services Company. He is also president of H&P Protective Services, which he acquired in 2005.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I believe Fred Hall brings some valuable insight to the City Council. His voice, in my opinion, will likely be crucial as Detroit wrestles not only with budget problems that never seem to go away but with a business climate that only seems to get worse with each passing year.

More information about Fred Hall is available on his campaign web site.

I am pleased to join the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit Regional Chamber in endorsing Fred Elliot Hall 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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Breaking News: Pedestrian Hit By Car

An 18 year old male, who was reportedly visiting Detroit from South Carolina, was the victim of a hit and run in the Warrendale neighborhood this evening. The incident happened shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Paul St., just a few feet west of Penrod. He was transported by ambulance in serious condition to a local hospital.

The victim was first seen by witnesses in the middle of Paul St., lying on his back. However, he was able to stagger to the side of the road before collapsing onto the grass. He slipped in and out of consciousness from that point forward.

After 9-1-1 was called, but before either the police or paramedics arrived, a group of six individuals arrived at the scene. One of them identified himself as the victim's cousin. They tried to move the victim, in spite of warnings from on-lookers.

One of the individuals in this group was heard remarking repeatedly, "I can't believe they did this." The tone of his voice and the words that he used, made this observer believe that he at least had a strong suspicion as to who would have done this. He refused to give any further indication as to who "they" were.

In addition, one of the female members of the group cautioned the various on-lookers that they should leave the scene. She said, "You all need to leave before you get in trouble."

However, as soon as officers from the Detroit Police Department arrived at the scene, this group promptly left the area on foot - leaving their injured friend and/or cousin behind. The group was last scene heading west on Paul.

Once the police and paramedics arrived, their lights clearly illuminated the area. There was no sign of skid marks on the pavement, such as one might expect to see if the car had hit its brakes.

The Detroit Police Department continues to investigate this incident.

Recycle Old Computers Tomorrow

Wayne County's Department of Environment will host a computer and computer peripheral waste collection tomorrow morning at the Henry Ford Centennial Library (16301 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn). This collection are designed to accept unwanted electronics for recycling.

Only the following items will be accepted:
  • Computer monitors and CPU’s;
  • Cell phones;
  • Copiers;
  • Fax machines;
  • Keyboards;
  • Mouse devices;
  • Printers; and
  • Scanners.
Other items, such as televisions, boxes, manuals and software, will not be accepted tomorrow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Film Discussion @ Edison: Sunset Blvd.

The next film discussion group at the Edison Branch (18400 Joy Rd.) of the Detroit Public Library will be on Wednesday, July 29 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. We will watch and discuss the 1950 classic film Sunset Blvd. Directed by Billy Wilder, this film won three Academy Awards.

In Hollywood of the 50's, the obscure screenplay writer Joe Gillis is not able to sell his work to the studios, is full of debts and is thinking in returning to his hometown to work in an office. While trying to escape from his creditors, he has a flat tire and parks his car in a decadent mansion in Sunset Boulevard. He meets the owner and former silent-movie star Norma Desmond, who lives alone wit her butler and driver Max von Mayerling.

Norma is demented and believes she will return to the cinema industry, and is protected and isolated from the world by Max, who was his director and husband in the past and still loves her. Norma proposes Joe to move to the mansion and help her in writing a screenplay for her comeback to the cinema, and the small-time writer becomes her lover and gigolo. When Joe falls in love for the young aspirant writer Betty Schaefer, Norma becomes jealous and completely insane and her madness leads to a tragic end.

Detroit College Promise

I met with the staff and executive director of Detroit College Promise this afternoon. Their program is similar to the Kalamazoo Promise, which offers to pay the college tuition of students from their public schools.

The Detroit College Promise is still fairly small, but that doesn't diminish its importance. Students who participate in it receive $500 scholarship from them. More importantly, they help students target other scholarship and grant opportunities that exist.

Students in the Detroit College Promise receive, on average, $7,000 in scholarship and grants opportunities. This program currently focuses on students at Cody High School (18445 Cathedral), which serves the Warrendale neighborhood.

More information on the Detroit College Promise is available on their web site.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week: 400

The Warrendale, Detroit group on Facebook recently blew past the 400 member mark. To commemorate this august occasion, 400 skydivers in Udon Thani, Thailand did a 400-way sky dive to set a new world record.

Well, okay - the jump was completely separate. But I'll take any excuse to watch videos like that one.

Mountain Bike Trail To Be Completed

Three volunteer crews from the Student Conservation Association will soon begin work on the mountain bike trail in Rouge Park. They will finish the western loop of the trail, thereby completing the only mountain bike trail in Wayne County.

The project is expected to take six weeks to complete.

Rouge Park Butterfly Walk

The Friends of Rouge Park will conduct a Butterfly Walk on Sunday, August 2 from 2 - 4 p.m. Attendees will learn to identify the various butterflies in Rouge Park and how to attract them to your own yard. This walk will be led by Brenda Dziedzic and Caryle Spence of the Southeast Michigan Butterfly Association.

The walk will be postponed if it isn't sunny. A rain date will be announced on

Friends of Rouge Park Meeting

The next meeting for the Friends of Rouge Park will be on Wednesday, July 22 at 6 p.m. They will meet at the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center, which is at Joy Rd. and Lahser in the former Detroit Police Department horse stables.

The general public is invited to this meeting. It's a great place to get started if you want to see improvements in Rouge Park.

Tip of the Week: Reverse Mortgage Scams

I meant to publish this week's Tip of the Week on Monday. Unfortunately, I was dealing with an extremely slow internet connection that made it unfeasible. (It was only 1.3 kbps for the geeks who read this. Yes, my DSL connection was actually slower than dial-up.)

Anyway, with all of the problems in the housing market these days, more and more senior citizens are turning to reverse mortgages. In fact, reverse mortgages, also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, have increased more than 1,300% between 1999 and 2008.

This growth, unfortunately, creates significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a few things that senior citizens should know so that they don't become victims. This includes:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements;
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment;
  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand;
  • Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase; and
  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor.
More details are available from the FBI here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Breaking News: SOMETHING Happened at the Dollar Store

I went past the World One Dollar Store (16840 W. Warren) this afternoon. There was an ambulance out front with its flashing lights on. I also saw at least 4 plain clothes police officers on the scene. The area in front of the store was taped off as a crime scene.

I'm not certain what happened there this afternoon, but I know that something certainly did. There isn't anything about this on any of the news outlets as of yet.

More on this as I learn more details.

UPDATE @ 9:17 p.m.
According to one of the business owners on W. Warren Ave., an unidentified man was shot this afternoon in front of the former Steve's Three Brothers Restaurant (17620 W. Warren Ave.). The victim was reportedly able to run 4 blocks from that location to the dollar store, before he eventually collapsed.

No details are available about the man's condition or identity. There are also no details available regarding the shooter or motive.

Vote Early and Vote Often

I can't help but feel that we need something to take our mind off our troubles for at least a moment or two. Luckily for us, Brandon Inge is on the final ballot for this year's MLB All-Star Game.

You can vote on-line until 4 p.m. this afternoon by clicking here. You can also vote as often as you'd like.

Please vote early and vote often.

UPDATE @ 12:14 p.m.
WXYZ-TV is reporting that Brandon Inge is currently in the lead in on-line vote. Come on, Detroit! Let's keep it up.

UPDATE @ 9:14 p.m.
Brandon Inge has officially snagged the final spot on the 2009 MLB All-Star Team for the American League. I take full credit for this fact. No one stuff ballots like me.

Read This

Brian Dickerson has a column in this morning's Detroit Free Press that I simply cannot say enough good things about. It's about the shooting of 7 teens in the Warrendale neighborhood and the aftermath of it.

Please take a moment to read it at

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.

Detroit is Dangerous for Teens

Last week, we saw 7 teens shot at a bus stop in the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit.

This week, 4 teens have been raped over on the east side of Detroit, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Detroit Police Department has promised to beef up patrols in response to the rapings.

Unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact that Detroit is currently dangerous for teens.

Anyone with information about the sexual assaults is asked to call the Detroit Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit at (313) 596-1950. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July

I want to wish everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood - and the rest of nation - a very happy 4th of July.

There is much for us to discuss, but it can collectively wait until Monday.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I'm Sick & Tired of Feeling Sick & Tired

Robert C. Bobb, Emergency Financial Manager of the Detroit Public Schools, told the Detroit Free Press that he expects to see an arrest made in the shooting yesterday of 7 teens near the Cody 9th Grade Academy (7350 Southfield Fwy.) in the Warrendale neighborhood. I pray that this happens. I pray that those responsible for this violence are brought to justice.

There have been lots of discussion around the neighborhood on whether to place blame for this on the families of the shooters who should have raised these kids better, on the police or on the mayor. Quite frankly, I'm angry enough to blame all of them.

The parents brought the two (more than likely teenage) shooters into this world should have done done a better job at raising their off-spring. They ought to occupy a jail cell right next to them.

However, the fact of the matter is that there are always going to crappy parents and people like the two individuals who did this shooting. This is why the police exist in the first place: to protect the rest of us from the results of bad parenting.

Let's not forget that Warrendale is the neighborhood where, two years ago, two boys (ages 11 and 13) were gunned down in their own home by a group of drug dealers. There was a surge of police activity immediately after that shooting. The Mayor and the City Council spoke out about it. Former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick even made a point of it in his State of the City Address a couple of weeks later.

A few days later, though, it was like nothing ever happened. The police were gone. The drug dealers and gangs were back, as if it was nothing but a minor interruption in their lives.

As president of the Warrendale Community Organization, I pleaded with the Mayor and the City Council to invest more of our tax dollars into public safety in the aftermath of that shooting. They ignored me.

Instead of investing our money in public safety, they spent $19 million in City funds on the Harmonie Park/Paradise Valley project, which has thus far yielded one new restaurant.

Instead of investing our money in public safety, they decided to fund 5 different economic development agencies - none of which are doing a very good job.

Instead of investing our money in public safety, they went off and did a few hundred other incredibly stupid things.

As far as I am concerned, the blood of these 7 teenagers is on their hands. They had the ability to act. They had the responsibility to act. They chose not to.

It's that simple.