Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better Days

2009 has been a difficult year for many people in the Warrendale neighborhood and around the world.  All of that, however, comes to a close in a few hours.

I can't help but feel that there is something much better for all of us, right around the corner.

With that in mind, I want to dedicate this song to everyone.

I'll be back to blogging on Monday, with much to share and talk about. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful, New Year's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's the holidays! I know this not only because of the non-stop Christmas music that is playing in my house and the dozens of Christmas cards that are taped to my wall, but because the good folks at Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) threw one of the best holiday parties ever last night.

Anyway, I am going to take a few days off from blogging to enjoy the holiday with the umpteen family members and friends who are returning to Detroit for a few days.  I will be back to blogging in full force on Monday, January 4th.

Until then, I want to wish everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's Your Favorite Chistmas Carol?

Since traffic on this site has grown exponentially this year and a lot more people take the time to share their thoughts in my comments section, I thought it would throw a question out for discussion.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is your favorite Christmas carol?

As for me, my favorite one has always been "The Little Drummer Boy." In particular, my favorite version of it is the one done by Jars of Clay. If you're not familiar with this band, you can find video from one of their live performances below.

What is your favorite Christmas carol? Please leave a note in the comments section below with your answer.

Tip of the Week: Holiday Fire Safety

The Christmas season is a wonder time of the year.  However, it's an unfortunate reality that Holiday accidents result in 400 deaths, cause over $90 million in damages yearly and around 1,400 people are injured due to holiday fires.

This is a great time to review some basic holiday safety points.

As Sgt. Esterhaus used to say to me every week, "Let's be careful out there."  (Bonus points, by the way, to anyone who catches the reference.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Job Alert: Gracie See Pizzeria Is Hiring

I take no small amount of pleasure in reporting my third job opening in less than a week in the Warrendale neighborhood.

The folks at Gracie See Pizzeria (6889 Greenfield Rd.) are hiring a server.  They require that this person be at least 18 years of age.  Interested applicants are encouraged to apply in person.

As always, if anyone else knows of any job openings in or around the Warrendale neighborhood, please let me know.  I look forward to posting more openings soon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Follow Me, Please

When I started blogging, w-a-a-a-y back in 2004, pretty much the only way to read blog content was to visit the web site. Today, however, things have evolved. People can read this material in any number of different ways.

In fact, of the more than 300 people who read this every day, there are now five different avenues of getting this material.  With that in mind, I'd like to take a moment to recap each of them.

Some folks prefer to have blog posts delivered to their email inbox every morning.  If this sounds like something that you would prefer, simply enter your email address into the "receive email alerts" box at the right, click the "subscribe" button and my friends at FeedBlitz will send my posts to you via email every morning for free.  More than 30 other individuals follow the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog this way every day.

For avid Facebook users, I invite you to join the 87 other people who follow the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog on Networked Blogs. If you're interested, simply visit this blog's Facebook page and click the "follow this blog" hyperlink. My posts will then appear in your Facebook news feed.

My personal favorite is Google Reader, which enables you to follow any number of blogs and then read all of them all on one consolidated page, instead of having to visit each site individually. There are currently 20 Google users who follow this site via Google Reader. If you're interested in doing this, please click Google's "follow" button to the right of this post.

If you prefer to use a different RSS reader besides Google reader, simply your preference from the "Subscribe to RSS feed" pull-down menu at the right.  One can then add this to a Netvibes, Newsgator or Yahoo feed.

Of course, if you prefer to keep things simple, you can always simply bookmark this site in your web browser of choice and visit my site periodically. This is the original method of doing things. Quite a few people still do it this way.

I also want to remind everyone that, in addition to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog, I also author my personal blog, which is called The Voices in Frank's Head.  It features a lot of truly random content.

Regardless of how you find your way to the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog, I thank you for visiting and taking a look at my content.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cool Warrendale Thing: Kosciusko

I posted before about the efforts to renovate and reuse the long-shuttered Kosciusko Elementary School (20220 Tireman St.) as a community center. The Detroit Community Design Center, which is a part of the University of Michigan's College of Architecture and Urban Planning, held a series of community meetings. All of this was done in partnership with the City of Detroit, with support from the Michigan Historical Center.

Over the course of several meetings with neighborhood stakeholders during the summer and autumn of this year, they were able to ascertain the needs of the Warrendale community. They then worked with residents and others to design a concept to adapt this vacant school into something that would meet those needs.

While the architects are still finalizing their plans, and things can still change going forward, I am proud to be able to discuss at least the preliminary details.

One of the shortcomings of the Warrendale neighborhood is that there is a shortage of quality child care facilities relative to the sheer size of its population.  This is why the preliminary plan envisions reusing some of the space on ground floor as a child care facility.  An independent, licensed day care facility would then rent this space in a redeveloped Kosciusko Center.

Also on the ground floor, these conceptual plans call for some of the old classrooms to be made available as office space for either non-profits or local business start-ups.  Each of these tenants would pay some type of rent, which is crucial in covering the utilities and other operating expenses for the building.

A fitness center is tentatively planned for the old gymnasium.  This space could also be repurposed as a banquet facility, if the need arose.

The old auditorium is reimagined as rehearsal and performance space for local artists.  It could also be used for lectures or meeting space for various community groups.

The second floor of this facility is imagined as supporting counseling and guidance resources for troubled or at-risk youth. It would also potentially have a computer lab, library and production studio.

The outside of Kosciusko is almost as interesting as its interior.  Besides having a separate play area for the day care center as well as a football field and community garden area.

Finally, the entire area would be connected to the proposed greenway project that is likely to move through the Warrendale neighborhood.

I need to emphasize, of course, that all of this is still preliminary.  However, the early signs for this project are extremely encouraging in my opinion.

As always, as more details become available, they will be reported on this blog.  Until then, Kosciusko Elementary and its potential reuse as a community center is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

With that, I'd like to open this up for discussion. What do you think of efforts to reuse Kosciusko Elementary as a community center?

Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Detroit Project

I found this article in The New Republic called "The Detroit Project".  My first thought was, "Oh, great!  Another bleeping article by someone from the East Coast who is going to telling us to fix everything in under 2,000 words."

However, there were a couple of things about it that I can't help but comment on.

First, the article mentioned that the federal government spent $18.4 billion in Detroit - just in 2008.  I've got to wonder:  what the heck did that money go towards?

The only thing that I can think of is that they're counting money that was loaned to the automotive companies.

Oh, but I did like their suggestion that the City of Detroit should go into receivership as a condition of any further assistance.  In fact, I seem to recall someone else suggesting that very same thing about a month ago.

More @ The Detroit Project | The New Republic

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tip of the Week: Jobs

When one remembers that the Detroit metropolitan area is still dealing with a jobless rate of 17.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it provides a certain amount of comfort to know that there are at least two businesses in the Warrendale neighborhood who are hiring.

These jobs aren't the greatest. However, the fact that there is someone hiring at all gives me a modicum of hope.

First, the Dog House Coney Island (19344 W. Warren Ave.) is hiring an experienced waitress.

Second, the Toy Chest (18725 Ford Rd.) is hiring a shot girl.

Anyone interested in either position should apply in person at the respective establishment.

Finally, if anyone hears of another position opening in or around the Warrendale neighborhood, please let me know. I look forward to posting many more such opening in the coming weeks.

Cruising the Comments

I want to thank everyone who has posted a comment on my blog as of late (with the exception, of course, of that douche bag who posted more than 30 spam links over the weekend.)

Anyway, I appreciate it when people take the time to give me some feedback.  I especially enjoy it when this results in an actual conversation about some of the things that are happening in and around the neighborhood.  A great example of this were the comments posted in response to Michigan's new smoking ban, which is huge because of the number of bars and restaurants in Warrendale.

I look forward to reading a lot more of these comments.  It's one of the things that keep me motivated to continue this blog.

Thank you, everyone!

Jailing the DPS?

I posted last week about how students in the Detroit Public Schools had received the worst scores in history on a standardized national test designed to measure their academic progress.  In my opinion, this is a clear sign that there is something fundamentally wrong within the Detroit Public School system; something where everyone involved shares responsibility.

According to The Detroit News, however, my reaction is downright tame in comparison to the approximately 500 attendees of a rally downtown last Friday.  They report that several parents called for the jailing of various public school teachers in Detroit over these test results.

I believe that much of this is a certain amount of political grandstanding.  There is no legal way in which one could jail a teacher whose students produce the worst test scores in history on a national test any more than one could lawfully jail the Detroit Lions for their abysmal performance.

However, I believe that this rally serves as a gauge as to magnitude of the political firestorm that is brewing within Detroit.  I'm confident that we're going to see a lot more this in the coming days.

I simply hope that at least some of this eventually results in tangible improvements for our students in the Detroit Public Schools.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

3D Detroit in Google Earth

There's a quick virtual tour of downtown Detroit in 3D available on Google Earth. You can see it below.

I think it's always fun to count the number of parking lots in downtown Detroit.  And by fun, I mean depressing.

Anyway, to see more of Detroit in Google Earth, please make sure that the 3D Buildings layer is turned on.

Kwame Sutra

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters M.L. Elrick and Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press have released a new book entitled, The Kwame Sutra.  It is, according to Drew Lane of WRIF-FM, "a one-stop shop for all of Kwame's best BS."

This new book captures Kwame M. Kilpatrick as no one ever has. In his own words, including never-before-published quotations, this former mayor of Detroit reveals himself in many ways as a liar, a Lothario and, yes, a leader.

Mr. Elrick and Mr. Schaefer will sign copies of their book at Hugh (2233 Park Ave.), which is a new men's boutique in downtown Detroit - right behind the Fox Theater.  They will be there this coming Tuesday, December 15, at 9 p.m.

I met Mr. Elrick and Mr. Schaefer at the Anchor Bar (450 W. Fort) once.  I was there late one night with some friends and they came in after working late at the paper.  I look forward to seeing them again and, in particular, to reading this book.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Michigan Bans Smoking

Michigan became the 38th state in the union to ban smoking in most workplaces, which includes bars and restaurants.  This ban goes into effect on May 1, 2010.  There are a handful of exemptions, such as the gaming floors in Detroit's three casinos.

There are several such bars and restaurants in the Warrendale neighborhood.  None of them qualify for one the exemptions, which means that they will feel the full impact of this ban.

Critics of the ban charge that it goes too far and that it will hurt businesses.

Supporters claim that it will actually help businesses because potential patrons who have stayed away because of the smoke will return.

What do you think about all of this?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Interesting Emails

I had an interesting email conversation with two retired police officers about the current state of the Detroit Police Department.  With their respective permissions, I'd like to share excerpts from those conversations with you today.

David L. Malhalab, a retired sergeant from the Detroit Police Department, commented in an email that:

DPD can't do the job of protecting residents - their leadership, their low hiring standards,  lack of personnel, poor equipment and low morale - are difficulties they can't overcome unless they get an infusion of money and personnel. Detroit needs a former Police Chief Bratton of LAPD to come in and clean house.

Mr. Malhalab remarks about former Chief William J. Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department inspired me to reach out to Thomas E. Page, who began his career with Detroit Police Department before moving to the Los Angeles Police Department where he retired as a sergeant and officer in charge of the LAPD's Drug Recognition Unit.

I asked him if he thought Detroit needed a police chief like Bill Bratton.

For the most part I agree with David. As I think I've said before, I don't know if the DPD can be saved.  I really do believe it should be shut down and merged into the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.  Tear up the union contracts that make seniority the prime qualification for elite assignments, and that also prevent civilianization of jobs that sworn officers shouldn't be doing (e.g., directing traffic at Tiger games).  Above all, the police need to be held accountable.  Does anyone blame the DPD for the persistently high crime rate and the abysmally low clearance rate?  No, they don't.  Nobody holds their feet to the fire and says do something!  And that's really what Bratton did.  The underlying philosophy of Bratton's style (really all he did was  rename the old LAPD style of broken windows policing) is that police CAN do something about crime.  What I do disagree with David about is the need for more personnel.  The DPD needs better personnel and better utilization of that personnel.

Chief Bratton's reputation for holding his police officers accountable is legendary.  During his tenure, it was fairly common police stations to have a board listing each officer along with the number of arrests that they've made, number of citation issued and so on each month.

Registration Extended for Detroit College Promise

The deadline for seniors to apply for the Detroit College Promise scholarships to January 15, 2010.  There are currently over 475 Detroit Public School students registered online for this scholarship.

Registration takes only a few minutes.  For detailed instructions on how to register, click here.

The Detroit College Promise is providing an unlimited number of scholarships to seniors at Cody High School (18445 Cathedral) in 2010.  Each scholarship is good for $500 per year for up to four years.

The only requirements to qualify for the scholarship are being enrolled at Cody High School from December 1, 2008 through graduation and being a Detroit resident during this time.  More details about this scholarship are listed on their procedure page.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game

Okay - so Time/CNN has been doing a series of articles about life in Detroit.  They're going to keep it up for several more months as part of a year-long focus on Detroit that they are calling Assignment Detroit.

To date, they haven't been to the Warrendale neighborhood as of yet.  A part of me is sad they haven't made it over.  However, as I listen to my friends in neighborhoods that they have visited complain about their coverage, my sadness is eased at least marginally.  (I would still love to have them stop by for a tour of the neighborhood.)

Anyway, one of the other blogs in town posted an Assignment Detroit drinking game.  I don't have any grudges or ill-feelings about Time/CNN, but this is some seriously funny stuff.  Just follow the link below.

Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Snow Removal Is Everyone's Job

Kelly Larson of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority wrote a post in the Michigan Main Street blog, arguing that snow removal is everyone's job - especially in an economy like ours.

I'd like to make sure that everyone along W. Warren Ave., and the rest of the Warrendale neighborhood, reads it.  This blog is simply the rest step along the way.

Please take a moment to read it yourself here.

DPS: Worst Test Scores Ever

The Detroit Public Schools posted the worst scores on record in the most recent test of students in large central U.S. cities.  The test for urban districts is part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test given to school districts nationwide.

Please allow me to repeat this so that it truly sinks in: the Detroit Public Schools posted worst scores on record.

This is nothing, if not frustrating.  Unfortunately, however, I have to admit that I was not surprised when I heard this news.

Over the years, I have heard teachers demand that they should receive some of the highest pay and benefits in the nation while insisting that they have absolutely no responsibility for how their students perform.

Over the years, I have heard parents talk about their children's school as if it were a daycare center rather than one of the most important places that they will ever enter.

Over the years, I have heard students talk about the Detroit Public Schools as if it were either a social event or simply a place to hide at.

The news that the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test schools on record is frustrating, but not surprising.  The full magnitude of this can be summarized by a quote from Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council on Great City Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of urban school districts.

There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers.  They are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.

The news that the Detroit Public Schools posted the worst test schools on record is frustrating, but not surprising.  For anyone who is interested in reading more about this story, it is available at Crain's Detroit Business.

Monday, December 07, 2009

WACO Goes to the Police

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners will have their next public meeting this Thursday, December 10, at 6:30 p.m. in Holy Redeemer (1721 Junction). The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents Warrendale east of the Southfield Freeway, will have a contingent of its members there.

WACO intends to express their collective concerns about police response times.  Everyone in the area is invited to joint them.

I have another commitment that evening so I won't be able to join them.  I wish them well and hope that other will be able to make it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gratuitous Self-Promotion

It's time, I'm afraid, for me to do a little gratuitous self-promotion.

Apart from my adventures in blogging, I've been working on the pilot for a home improvement show for the past few months.  It'll be at a trade show in Las Vegas next month, where we'll pitch it to every outlet from ABC/ NBC/ CBS to Bob's Cable Channel as well as everything in between.

The show is tentatively called Fresh Start with the Design Divas.  One of designers on this show used to be a product designer for Gucci Italy before starting her own interior design company.  She is joined by three other wonderful professionals in the construction industry.

I know that many of my readers use Facebook pages.  I invite each of you to check the show's fan page out on Facebook, watch the video clips and become a fan of this show.  You can find my page on Facebook directly by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Best Quote in Weeks

Sonny Eliot from WWJ-AM gave what has to be one of the funniest and most insightful quotes that I've heard in weeks.  As part of his regular weather report, he added:
It's 52 degrees in Three Rivers; that's the highest temperature in the state. Three Rivers--that's where they started a new business, making the front ends of horses. Then they ship them to the Detroit council chambers for final assembly.
I love that quote.  It seems totally appropriate.