Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years

I'm about to head off to my New Year's Eve celebrations. However, I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone who reads this blog (now almost a hundred or so people every day) a Happy New Years!

I'll be back with more next year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Quote for 2011

Spirit of Detroit
Every once in awhile, I hear a quote that so perfectly summarizes how I'm feeling at a given moment, I am compelled, it would seem, to emblazon it on the wall by my desk. Today, I came across such a quote.

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man," Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed, "but he is brave five minutes longer."

Today, as I ponder the challenges that our neighborhood faces as well as those that we face individually, I pray that each of us finds the strength to hang onto our bravery for those extra five minutes.

5 Years of the Warrendale Blog

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog is now five years old. When I launched this site, quite frankly, I never thought I would still be doing it five years later. Regardless, here we are.

Anyway, I thought I would take a moment to look back over that past few years in the neighborhood.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from Bing, Fred, and Me

My dear friends, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, wanted to send along their holiday wishes to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond. I join then in wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Violent Crime in Detroit Drops by 8%

The Detroit Police Department announced this morning that violent crime in Detroit has dropped by 8% in the first six months of 2010, in comparison to the same period last year. The homicide rate dropped by 28% and armed robberies dropped by 9%. Arsons, unfortunately, increased by 16%.

I congratulate all of the police officers and other individuals who were a part of making this happen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Benefits of the Detroit Works Project

Mayor Dave Bing
I posted previously about Mayor Dave Bing's plan to encourage Detroiters to consolidate our population into smaller, denser communities, which is commonly known as the Detroit Works Project. Specifically, I wrote about some of the things that DWP will not accomplish. In this post, I would like to discuss the positive things that this will bring about.

I believe that the Detroit Works Project has the potential to stimulate new retail businesses and, as a result, create new jobs for Detroiters. I also believe that it will help to focus the limited efforts of our state and local governments and make the charitable foundations more effective.

The cornerstone of the Detroit Works Project is increasing population density in targeted neighborhoods. More people living in a given area mean more potential customers for local businesses. More potential customers for local businesses, in turn, invariably results in more businesses opening and remaining open in those areas. It also means that existing businesses will be able to expand their operations as their customer base grows.

As additional retail businesses open in our neighborhoods, it will also mean new opportunities for other businesses that cater to retailers. Bars, restaurants, and stores, for example, all need insurance for their business as well as tax and legal services. This creates new opportunities for insurance agents, accountants, and attorneys.

Each of these areas of development bring with them new jobs for Detroiters as well as additional tax revenue for our local government. As one examines the current state of Detroit, it is hard to escape the fact that Detroit is in desperate need of both of these things.

In addition to these benefits, there is also the fact that the Detroit Works Project brings about the ability for the limited efforts of our state and local governments to become more focused and for charitable foundations to be before more effective.

The Street Maintainance Division of Detroit's Department of Public Works, for example, has a relatively small budget that is less than 1% of the general fund. If its efforts are spread across the full 138.8 square miles of our city, its limited efforts are hardly noticeable. However, when these efforts and the efforts of similar government agencies are focused on a targeted area, one begins to see tangible results quite quickly. Our budget for street maintainance won't get any larger, but its impact will be stronger.

Similarly, the impact of the various charitable foundations will be much stronger if their efforts are targeted towards key geographic areas. While it isn't necessary that private charities focus their efforts in the same areas that are targeted by government, doing so does produce the strongest potential benefit.

The Limits of the Detroit Works Project

Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing is still developing his Detroit Works Project. Since it will likely be a far-reaching affair, I want to take a moment to discuss the things that it will not be able to accomplish. I choose to start with these simply because I have heard so many people, particularly in the news media, talk about DWP solving problems that it has no chance of solving. I'll get to what it can do next.

The Detroit Works Project is built on the idea of encouraging people to move from the lowest density neighborhoods to some of our higher density neighborhoods. Some individuals in the news media have argued that this will enable the City of Detroit to improve police and fire protection by focusing our resources in those areas. They are simply wrong.

Every part of Detroit will still need police and fire protection. All of it.

Unless every part of Detroit receives adequate police and fire protection, it will be a danger to all Detroiters. This will continue to be true even if everyone moves out of low density neighborhoods that Mayor Bing hopes to further depopulate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Corruption Charges Against the Kilpatrick Clan

Federal prosecutors announced a new wave of corruption against former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, his childhood friends (and prominent members of his inner circle) Bobby Ferguson and Derrick Miller as well as the former director of the Water & Sewage Department Victor Mercado. The Detroit Free Press has a complete recap of the charges available here.

Personally, I'm enamored by the fact that one of Facebook friends summed this announcement up perfectly this afternoon.

"Kwamzaa came early this year," he posted.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rouge Park Amphitheater

The next Friends of Rouge Park will hold their next meeting will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, December 15 at the Don Bosco Center (19321 West Chicago St.) from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. This meeting is open to the public.

Clinton Snider, an artist planning a design for a new amphitheater at Joy Road and Spinoza Street in Rouge Park will attend this meeting. He needs input from the community on this design.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Former Detroit Public Schools Bookkeeper Charged with Federal Program Fraud

Allen Swayze, 34, a former Detroit Public Schools bookkeeper, was indicted by a federal grand jury today in Detroit on charges that he fraudulently obtained money from Detroit Public Schools, according to a statement release by U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

U.S. Attorney McQuade was joined in this announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The indictment charges that between August 2006 and May 2009, Mr. Swayze, who worked as a bookkeeper at the Breithaupt Career and Technical Center, issued fraudulent checks to himself and to his company, Swayze Management Industries, in the amount of $148,000. Mr. Swayze then deposited the checks in his bank accounts or cashed them at banks where his accounts were located.

Ms. McQuade said,"As our community works to fund and improve our schools, we will not tolerate anyone who steals money intended to educate our children."

Mr. Arena added, "This individual has abused the public trust by illegally obtaining money designated for educating the children in the City of Detroit. The FBI is committed to investigating individuals who fraudulently obtain money through business with the Detroit Public Schools."

If convicted, Mr. Swayze faces a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the DPS Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Thompson.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Detroit Police Enact Verified Response System

Photo Courtesy of David Malhalab
The Detroit Police Department announced on Friday that they will enact a verified response system for alarms. This will require alarm companies to confirm the validity of an alarm before dispatching an officer to the scene.

This effort is designed to minimize the number of false alarms that police officers have to deal with. As a result, it is expected to improve the police department's overall response time.

Tip of the Week: Fire Safety During the Christmas Season

The Detroit Fire Department urges residents to take the time this holiday season to observe the following fire precautions when using lighting, decorations, and Christmas trees. If you use a natural Christmas tree in your home, pleas keep your tree stand full of water and check it daily.

Other holiday fire safety tips include:
  • Keep the tree away from any heat source, such as a heat vent, radiator or fireplace, and out of exit paths;
  • Do not plug more than three sets of lights into one extension cord;
  • Make sure lights used outdoors have been approved for outdoor use and are waterproof; and
  • Smokers should keep smoldering cigarettes and cigar butts away from gift-wrapping, Christmas trees, lights and other holiday decorations.
If you use candles this holiday season, please remember to:
  • Keep burning candles, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children;
  • Don’t place candles near natural Christmas trees, decorations, draperies, or combustible items such as furniture, paper, and clothing; and
  • Place candles in sturdy, non-combustible holders.
Staying safe this holiday season is your Warrendale Tip of the Week, courtesy of the Detroit Fire Department.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2010

    Another Guilty Plea in the Gardenview Estates Case

    A businessman from Northville, Michigan entered a plea of guilty as part of the ongoing federal investigation into fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice involving the Gardenview Estates public housing project in the Warrendale area, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced earlier today.

    Rodney Burrell, age 57, of Northville, Michigan entered the guilty plea in U.S. District Court before Judge David M. Lawson. According to court documents, the activity involved falsely inflated project bid documents submitted in the name of Mr. Burrell’s, R & R Heavy Haulers. Last month, a second defendant named Brian Dodds also pleaded guilty to participating in the same bid rigging scheme on behalf of his company D & R Earthmoving.

    The false bids were created at the direction of Bobby Ferguson and were used to make it appear that the $11.9 million bid submitted by Bobby W. Ferguson’s company Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. was the "lowest" bid presented to perform demolition, earth work, and utilities installation at the Gardenview Estates project. The Gardenview Estates development is a large-scale, multi-use public housing project being developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Detroit Housing Commission. It exists on the site of the former Herman Gardens project.

    In return for allowing this false bid to be submitted in the name of his company, Rodney Burrell and R & R Heavy Haulers received a subcontract from Bobby W. Ferguson worth more than $180,000. In February of 2009, Mr. Burrell provided misleading and incomplete testimony to federal law enforcement agents and to a federal grand jury in an effort to conceal the commission of the underlying conspiracy to defraud the United States.

    "Fraud in the bid process has no place in city government," McQuade said in a prepared statement. "The citizens of Detroit deserve better, and we will continue to prosecute cases like this one to deter others from cheating the public."

    Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation added, "This plea is a result of the continuing investigation into the corruption and fraud that has long plagued the City of Detroit. The FBI, with our law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate and expose the individuals who participate in these schemes involving blatant greed."

    Breck Nowlin, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, Housing and Urban Development said, "Hope VI program, through revitalization and demolition of severely distressed housing, serves a vital role in the HUD efforts to transform public housing in the hardest hit communities, communities like Detroit. The charging of Mr. Burrell sends a very clear message that the US Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement will put a stop to the abuse of such programs, including holding responsible those who allow it to happen."

    Under the plea agreement, Mr. Burrell faces up to six months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

    This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Judge.

    Breakfast with Santa

    The Detroit Recreation Department will host Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Belle Isle Casino.  There will be two seatings: one at 9 a.m. and the other at 11:30 a.m. Participants will enjoy breakfast, crafts, letters to Santa, and a winter wonderland walk!

    Tickets are $5 per person.  Pictures with Santa will be available for an additional fee.  For tickets and additional information, please contact your local recreation center or call (313) 628-2081. A map and directions are available here.

    While this isn't happening in the Warrendale neighborhood, it's still cool enough to be your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Bikini Follower

    Corinne Theile
    Corinne Theile, who became famous recently for going through LAX in a bikini, is now following me on Twitter. So, my question is: why don't you join her?

    Click here and follow me on Twitter, too.

    Pay Your Water Bill On-Line

    The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) has instituted a number of features to make the customer service experience simple and convenient.  Detroit customers can now go online at to access important account information and to pay bills using a credit or debit card.

    There is no extra charge for this service.  Although card issuers charge a small fee per credit card transaction, DWSD is absorbing this cost to make it easier for customers to enjoy these online services.

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Tip of the Week: Winter Safety

    Winter will soon be upon us in Michigan. As I pointed out last week, we are predicted to have approximately 20% more snowfall than normal this year. With that in mind, I have a few winter safety trips for everyone.
    • Have a basic safety kit in your car. It should have flares, flashlight (with extra batteries), and jumper cables;
    • Be sure to bring blankets for everyone in the family as well as water and non perishable snacks in case of getting stranded in a storm; and
    • Be sure you have some method of communicating if you do get stuck, such as cell phone that is charged.
    If you don't have a cell phone, ask a friend to borrow one that they no longer use but that still works, is charged, and has a charger. You can call 9-1-1, even on phones that are not currently activated.

    It's also a good idea to stay on well traveled roads as they tend to have better lighting.

    And of course, always be aware of your surroundings.

    Winter safety is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

    Density Doesn't Solve Everything

    Jane Jacobs
    I'm a huge fan of population density. I have lived in and visited other cities with a lot more density than Detroit. I've seen its benefits on a firsthand basis. I've also been known to thrust Jane Jacobs's books in the faces of random people and urge them to read her works.

    When Mayor Dave Bing started talking about increasing Detroit's population density, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a moment when I thought that we had an administration that got it; one that was able to move Detroit forward. Unfortunately, a year later, all we have is talk.

    The worst part of this is that Detroiters still pay a tax burden that is roughly double national averages and we still suffer through public services that are almost non-existent. There seems to be a general acknowledgement that we need to change these things. However, we as a community have not made any real progress towards improving these matters over the past year.

    I have, however, heard several people postulate that once a plan to improve Detroit's density is finalized and implemented things will start to improve. I have even heard people argue, in complete seriousness, that improving Detroit's population density is a prerequisite for improving basic city services.

    This argument is, in my opinion, downright terrifying. The fact that I keep hearing this means that a sound urban principle, such as population density, has become nothing more than a corporate buzzword that is thrown around in lieu of actual ideas or actions.

    For everyone who believes that Detroit cannot improve its core city services or reduce its tax burden until it improve its population density, I ask you to consider a few things:

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    The Marine Corps Wants You

    For those who might be interesting in working on a commercial for the U.S. Marine Corps, this notice showed up in my email in-box. It's from one of the larger casting agencies in the Detroit area.

    Right to Farm Isn't an Excuse

    The Detroit Free Press chronicled the challenges to urban farming in Detroit earlier this month. One of the issues that they cited is the city officials are reluctant to approve these farms out of concern that the Michigan Right to Farm Act will make it impossible to regulate these farms once they are established. In my opinion, that concern is simply devoid of any legal or factual merit.

    In order to for a farm in Michigan (urban or otherwise) to claim protection from zoning or other regulations, the Right to Farm Act sets two specific conditions. First, the farm in question must conform to generally accepted farm management practices as specified by the Michigan Agriculture Commission. This is the simple one. The second condition is more relevant to urban farming in Detroit.

    MCL 286.473 further states (emphasis added):
    (2) A farm or farm operation shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if the farm or farm operation existed before a change in the land use or occupancy of land within 1 mile of the boundaries of the farm land, and if before that change in land use or occupancy of land, the farm or farm operation would not have been a nuisance.
    Please note the explicit requirement that the farm has to be in existence before any changes in ownership or land use in the surrounding areas. If the farm came into existence after, or as a result of, such a change in land use then it does not meet the explicit black letter requirements of the Michigan Right to Farm Act and the Act simply does not apply to any such case.

    All of this makes me wonder: Do I really have to explain to Mayor Dave Bing and his Administration what the words before and after mean?

    Do they really need someone to explain this to them?

    Or is this argument about the Michigan Right to Farm Act simply a lame excuse to avoid doing anything? Are they simply hoping that no one will bother to read the Act and notice its requirements and conditions?

    I'm not sure which is worse - having a Mayor who needs basic concepts like "before" and "after" explained to him or one who uses lame excuses to avoid doing any work?

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Snow Is Coming

    There's a large amount of snow on our way. It won't be here for a few weeks, mind you. However, I thought I should mention it because we're supposed to get a lot more of the white stuff this year.

    The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is predicting that the Detroit area will a get 20% more snow this year an average Michigan winter. Since it's safe to say that the City of Detroit will not be plowing streets - unless, of course, those streets happen to be in Turin, Italy. This means that we're pretty much on our own to deal with this above average mess.

    If don't already have one handy, please go get yourself a snow shovel or two. Also, I'd say that in addition to shoveling the snow in front of your own house, everyone should plan on shoveling in front of one or two of the abandoned houses and maybe even some of the street.

    In the mean time, I simply take solace in the fact that Indianapolis is projecting to get hit even harder this winter than Detroit is.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Westboro Baptist Church Comes to Dearborn

    The Westboro Baptist Church came to Dearborn this morning. This is the group that is famous for protesting at the funerals of fallen soldiers.

    This time the Westboro Baptist Church protested Islam at the Islamic Center of America (19500 Ford Place in Dearborn), which immediately borders the Warrendale neighborhood.

    My video report from the site is available below.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    WACO Meeting This Thursday

    The Warren Avenue Community Organization will hold its next meeting this Thursday, November 18 at the NFL Boys & Girls Club (16500 Tireman St.) from 6 - 8 p.m. This meeting will feature a presentation from Raphael Johnson of the Detroit 300 Organizing for Neighborhood Safety.

    The public is invited to attend this meeting.

    Follow Me, Please

    I love the fact that 200 - 300 people visit my web site every day. A great way to keep up to date with this site is to subscribe to it, in whatever fashion best suits your preferences.

    For those on Facebook, simply click "Follow this Blog" in the right hand column. My friends at Networked Blogs will then deliver each of these posts into your Facebook news feed for free.

    If you prefer to receive an email alert when I post new content, simply enter your email address in the box at the right and click "subscribe me". You will then receive a daily email from FeedBlitz that is secure and free of any spam.

    For those who prefer to follow multiple blogs simultaneously, there is Google Reader and the other RSS aggregators (Newsgator, Netvibes, etc.). You can subscribe to this blog via Google by clicking the "follow" button that also has the Google logo. For the other RSS feeds that are available, simply select your preferred RSS feed from the drop down menu under "Subscribe to RSS Feed" in the right hand column.

    As always, you can bookmark this blog and visit the site periodically. The other options simply automate things for you nicely.

    I also invite you to check out my personal blog, The Voices in Frank's Head. That blog contains posts about dating, movies, music, the space program, television, and my life in general as well as a surprising number of posts about bacon. It is available here.

    Rouge Park Meeting this Wednesday

    The Friends of Rouge Park will have their next membership meeting this Wednesday, November 17 from 6 - 7 p.m. in the Don Bosco Center, which is the former St. Suzanne School. The center is located at 9357 Westwood at West Chicago.

    The public is invited to attend this meeting.

    From Turin, Italy With Love

    Turin - the Detroit of Italy
    Mayor Dave Bing, along with the leaders of various non-profits, are travelling to Detroit's sister city of Turin, Italy to see what lessons they can learn from them. Turin, of course, is the automotive manufacturing capital of Italy. Its population and land mass are almost identical to Detroit. Torinesis face many of the same challenges that Detroiters do.

    There is one other interesting connection between Turin and Detroit; with the Warrendale neighborhood in particular. Turin is capitol of the Piedmont region in Italy. Piedmont Street in the Warrendale neighborhood was named after it.

    I commend Mayor Bing for making this trip. In particular, there are a few questions that I believe he should ask Mayor Sergio Chiamparino of Turin while he is there. I encourage him to ask:
    • How many police officers and fire fighters do the Turin Police and Fire Departments currently employ?
    • How often does the Turin Fire Department shut down multiple fire stations?
    • How often does a Torinesi call their local police department, only to have their call go unanswered?
    • What is the average response time of the Turin Police Department for those calls that do get answered?
    • What is the average response time for ambulances and emergency medical personnel in the Turin Fire Department?
    • Was there recently been a sudden predictable 41% spike in fires over a three day period in Turin?
    • If the chief of the Turin Police Department managed to produce a 25% drop in homicides in that city as well as a 29% improvement in police response time - all while saving taxpayers more than $1 million in police overtime - would Mayor Chiamparino even care if his chief made a pilot for a television show?
    • If a pair of paramedics in Turin were to point out problems that were jeopardising the health and safety of Torinesis, would Mayor Chiamparino discipline them for doing so?
    I am glad that Mayor Bing and others are travelling to our sister city in Italy. I firmly believe that Detroiters have much to learn from our Italian counterparts.

    I hope and pray that Mayor Bing and those travelling with him will take full advantage of this trip to learn all that they can to help make Detroit a better place.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Grocery Shopping in Detroit

    The folks at Time magazine's Assignment: Detroit project said that they could never find fruits and vegetables in the city of Detroit during their stay here. In this video rant below, I demonstrate where they should have gone.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Ready for Christmas

    Ready for Christmas
    I stopped by L. George's Coney Island (16835 W. Warren Ave.) the other day. They were already decorated for Christmas.

    It's not even Thanksgiving and they are ready for Christmas. This just seems wrong.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Bus Stop Shooters Arrested

    During the summer of 2009, seven teens were shot at a bus stop in the Warrendale neighborhood. All of Michigan watched in horror as the aftermath played out on our television screens.

    This is my report from the site of that shooting. The shooters responsible for this crime are now in police custody.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Appeals Court to Hear Arguments on 2009 Election

    The Michigan Court of Appeals (3020 W. Grand Blvd. in New Center) will hear arguments on Tuesday, November 2 at 11 a.m. regarding the November 2009 election of Mayor Dave Bing. Challenger Tom Barrow is asking the Court to allow him to challenge the 60,000 ballots that were excluded by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

    In the recount immediately following the November 3, 2009 Detroit mayoral election, Mr Barrow and his team of accountants uncovered massive irregularities with the conduct of the election that affected the outcome. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers subsequently ruled that nearly 60,000 ballots, including all of the City’s absentees and an additional 10,000 neighborhood precinct ballots, were deemed “excluded” and irregular from the city’s official tally.

    In addition, there were a number of other irregularities involving the November 2009 election. The Board discovered empty ballot boxes that were counted toward the total as well as date and time irregularities with the electronic voting machines, breached seals, and falsified records.

    Henry Ford Community College Is Hiring

    Henry Ford Community College (5101 Evergreen Rd. in Dearborn), currently has six full-time job openings available. They are hiring:

    Teller - Financial Services
    Employment Date: December 2010.
    Deadline to Apply: Friday, November 5.

    Financial Aid Systems Manager
    Employment Date: December 2010.
    Deadline to Apply: Friday, November 5.

    Director of Human Resources
    Employment Date: December 2010
    Deadline to Apply: Friday, November 12.

    Coordinator of Financial Aid Services
    Employment Date: January 2011.
    Deadline to Apply: Friday, December 3.

    Director of Campus Safety
    Employment Date: January 2011.
    Deadline to Apply: Friday, December 3.

    Athletic Director
    Employment Date: December 2010
    Deadline to Apply: Friday, November 12.

    Working Together to Prevent Violent Crime

    The U.S. Attorney's Office, along with several local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as community service agencies, have come together to form the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership (CVRP). The aim of CVRP is to bring together resources from every law enforcement stakeholder serving the metropolitan Detroit area to effect a measurable decrease in the incidence of violent crime.

    One of the key components critical to the success of CVRP is community outreach. In an effort to bring law enforcement and the community together to discuss this very important issue, the United States Attorney's office has put together a town hall meeting entitled "Lets Work Together to Prevent Violent Crime," being held at Western International High School (1500 Scotten St. in Southwest Detroit) on Thursday, November 4, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Felipe Martinez, Multi-Cultural Liaison for the City of Detroit will moderate the town hall.

    U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stated, “We refuse to simply accept the current violent crime rate as normal. We all have a stake in reducing violent crime, and we have the power to change our destiny if we all work together."

    Our highlighted speakers will include Barbara L. McQuade, United States Attorney; Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor; Thomas Brandon, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Ralph Godbee, Chief, Detroit Police Department; and Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also in attendance will be representatives from Homeland Security Investigations, Michigan Department of Corrections, Michigan State Police, U.S. Marshal's Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Blogging for the Beast

    As of this moment, my earnings from Google Adsense (those ads that you see on this blog and over on my personal one) for the month of October have amounted to $6.66. Intellectually, I know that this is purely a coincidence.

    However, this is one of those coincidences in life that still manages to make me feel a wee bit nervous. The fact that this is happening on Halloween only makes it worse.

    Will someone please click on one of those links so my final total for the month isn't $6.66?

    Update @ 8:40 p.m.
    Thank you, everyone!  I know no have to worry about that ominous total for the month.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Charlie LeDufff Has Left the Building

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff has resigned from The Detroit News. Mr. LeDuff reportedly intends to work as a freelance writer while he continues to weigh his options. Mayor Dave Bing and many others who hold political power in Detroit have complained that Mr. LeDuff never showed the good news about Detroit.

    Charlie LeDuff
    Instead, Charlie LeDuff reported on other things. He reported on ambulances that didn't arrive when they were desperately needed. He reported on the homeless man who was found dead in an abandoned building and the man who hunts raccoons to supplement his meager income.

    It is doubtful that any of the people in power will miss Mr. LeDuff's presence at The Detroit News. I, in stark contrast, will miss him dearly.

    One of the great tragedies in Detroit is the state of local journalism. The overwhelming number of "reporters" at the various media outlets worry about being denied "access" to one politician or another. As a result, they are downright timid when it comes to their reporting.

    Mr. LeDuff instead seems to prefer the style of Finley Peter Dunne; a man who proclaimed a mission to, "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." In my opinion, both the city of Detroit and the entire profession of journalism would be in much better shape if there were a few more Charlie LeDuffs around.

    I do not know where Mr. LeDuff's career will take him next. I pray, however, it keeps him in Detroit and focused on Detroit.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    When Detroit Says 'Eat Local,' It Really Means It

    I love the Warrendale neighborhood. However, as I look at our neighbors in Corktown, Eastern Market, and Midtown there is one district area where they us beat by a significant margin.

    There are lots of bars and restaurants in Warrendale. However, none of them stock beer, wine, or liquor that is made in Michigan. Michigan's breweries, wineries, and distilleries have won awards around the nation, but you can't buy them anywhere in Warrendale.

    And then there is the food itself. There is growing trend among restaurants and grocery stores in other neighborhoods to buy food from local growers - often only a few blocks from the restaurant.

    This is not only a lot better for the environment, because it minimizes how much energy is used in transporting food across the country, it's also a lot better for the local economy.

    The Atlantic has an article about the local food movement in Detroit. I encourage everyone to read it.

    When Detroit Says 'Eat Local,' It Really Means It - Tracie McMillan - Food - The Atlantic

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Featured Business: Planet Fitness

    David L. Malhalab  - MNS Photo
    Planet Fitness (18450 Ford Rd.) is now open in Warrendale. They are located behind Chilli's in the former Office Depot location.

    I've been to other Planet Fitness locations and have always been impressed with them. I'm glad to have them operating in the Warrendale neighborhood.

    They are currently running a series of specials for membership. Please check their web site for more details.

    Planet Fitness is your Featured Business of the Week.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Cool Warrendale Thing: Halloween

    It's almost here.

    My House on Halloween
    This weekend is All Hollow's Eve.

    Or Halloween, as the kids today are calling it.

    Regardless of what one calls it, the fact of the matter is that every bar in the Warrendale neighborhood is having a Halloween party this weekend. The folks at Gracie See Pizzeria are offering a year of free pizza to whoever wins their costume contest. The other bars all have something going on, too.

    This much spooky fun activity makes it easy for me to proclaim Halloween the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Featured Place to Live: 7340 Fielding

    7340 Fielding in Warrendale
    7340 Fielding is a three bedroom brick bungalow in the Warrendale neighborhood. It includes a good roof with some new windows as well as a one car garage. This home also has a partially finished basement.

    Some of the added benefits to this home is that it is within walking distance of Rouge Park. It is also only a few blocks from the major bus lines for D-DOT and SMART.

    This 1,100 square foot home is excellent choice and is available for only $33,900. It is available on a land contract with only $5,000 down and $550 per month. More details and additional photos are available here.

    7340 Fielding is your Featured Place to Live for this week.

    Tornado Watch at the Strip Club

    Yes, there is currently a tornado watch in effect for the Detroit area. I guess guys have to seek shelter from it somewhere.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Reform Michigan's Constitution

    One of the ballot initiatives next week will be Proposal 1, which will decide whether or not Michigan will have a constitutional convention. Almost every special interest group and lobbyist in Michigan is opposed to this. I would ordinarily argue that anything that upsets that many lobbyists must have some redeeming value to it.

    However, given the challenges that Michigan currently faces, I believe it is important for me to go a bit farther than that. As one considers whether or not to support a constitutional convention in Michigan, I ask everyone to consider a few basic questions.

    Why does Michigan need a bicameral legislature? It exists at the federal level as a compromise between two different ways to electing legislators. In Michigan, however, it simply repeats the same process; creating an unnecessary redundancy and making our government more expensive.

    Why does the Michigan House of Representatives have an even number of members? In the 1990s, there was an even split in the number of Democrats and Republicans. No one was ever really in charge and nothing got done during those two years.

    Why do we have a State Officers Compensation Commission that is set up to give elected officials raises automatically? Does anyone else around here get automatic raises at their job?

    Why do we still have term limits in Michigan? They've been a complete failure at doing everything they were intended to do. More importantly, they have simply made the bureaucracy in Lansing more entrenched than ever.

    The list of things about Michigan's Constitution that don't make sense and should be fixed immediately goes on and on. In my opinion, Michigan's Constitution is fundamentally broken. One could try to fix all of these problems through a lengthy series of amendments. However, that is the logical equivalent of buying a new car piece by piece at an auto parts store instead of walking into a local dealership.

    I will vote "yes" on proposal 1. I encourage all voters in Michigan to do the same.

    The Aftershocks of Crime

    The Economist published an interesting article this week about how the Los Angeles Police Department is using new technology to predict when crimes will happen ahead of time.
    LOS ANGELES is one of the most under-policed cities in America. With a mere 26 officers for every 10,000 residents (Chicago, by comparison, has 46), the Los Angeles Police Department needs all the help it can get.

    That help may be at hand, with a modification of technology used to predict another type of threat that the city is prone to: the aftershocks from earthquakes. Big earthquakes are unpredictable. Once they have happened, however, they are usually followed by further tremors, and the pattern of these is tractable.
    The entire article is available at It's great to see technological innovations being brought to police work.

    WACO to Meet this Thursday

    The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents that portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is east of the Southfield Freeway, will have their next membership meeting this Thursday, October 28, from 6 - 8 p.m. This meeting will happen at the NFL Youth Education Town (16500 Tireman St.). Attendees are asked to enter the building through its east entrance.

    The guest speaker for this meeting will be Ms. Lisa Whitmore-Davis from AARP.

    Tip of the Week: Mini-Grants for the Arts

    The Warrendale neighborhood is lucky to be home to a few artists. With that in mind, I pleased to remind everyone that the City of Detroit has an opportunity available for a $4,000 mini-grant for the arts and cultural projects. The application deadline is Monday, November 1 and projects funded must be completed between February 1, 2011 and September 30, 2011.

    This Isn't in Warrendale - YET
    Mini-grants fund locally developed, high-quality projects that address local arts needs and increase public access to the arts.  Mini-grants support a broad range of artistic expression from all cultures through projects that preserve, produce or present traditional or contemporary arts.  

    The grants are financed by the State of Michigan through the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and administered by the City of Detroit Recreation Department, Arts and Culture Section.  Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 1, 2010.  The awards will be announced in January 2011. 

    To obtain a grant application or for more information, click here, or call (313) 224-1129 between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Cool Warrendale Thing: Fall Colors of Rouge Park

    It's fall in Michigan. The trees in Rouge Park are full of color.

    And that makes them your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

    Friends of Rouge Park Will Meet This Evening

    The next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will be held this evening from 6 - 7 the Don Bosco Center, which was formerly St. Suzanne School. The center is located at 9357 Westwood, at W. Chicago. More information and a map is available on their web site.

    The group will hold their annual board election. Please consider nominating someone or yourself for the board positions of:
    • President;
    • Vice President;
    • Secretary;
    • Treasurer; or
    • Trustee.

    Featured Place to Live: 7703 Grandmont

    7703 Grandmont is a three bedroom, 1,200 square foot brick bungalow that is available for the low asking price of only $39,900. This house has a one car detached garage and is in the Warrendale neighborhood.

    7703 Grandmont
    This home has a good roof and is in good overall condition, only needing new carpeting and some painting.

    The seller is making this home available on a land contract. With only $5,000 down, the monthly payments would only be $600 per month. Even once property taxes and insurance are added in, buying this home would still be cheaper than what many people in the area are paying in rent.

    Additional details about this property, including the seller's contact information and more photos of the home, are available here.

    7703 Grandmont is your Featured Place to Live for this week.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Join Detroit Synergy at the Historic Dossin Mansion

    Detroit Synergy will present its inaugural fundraising gala, Circa 1925, this Friday, October 22 at the historic Dossin Mansion (450 Keelson Dr.) in the Grayhaven Subdivision. This will include an evening of complimentary hors d'oeuvres, cash bar including beer, wine, and classic cocktails cocktails, as well as music from DJ Chris Guyer.

    All of this will take place in the historic Dossin Mansion, which a Prohibition era venue that is rarely open to the public. Guests will be able to see the boat well that (presumably) once allowed for the clandestine delivery of alcohol as well as the speakeasy that operated in its basement.

    Exterior of the Dossin Mansion
    There will also be a "tin can" auction of various prizes that have been donated by the Detroit Tigers and other prominent businesses in the Detroit area.

    Tickets for this gala are available in advance for only $25. At the door, they will be $35. Advance tickets and other details are available on Detroit Synergy's web site here.

    Missing Dog Found

    This dog found its way into a Warrendale homeowner's yard recently. If you know who it properly belongs to, please leave a comment below.

    Police Seek Help to Identify Murder Victim

    The Detroit Police Department and the Michigan State Police are working together to identify the remains of a homicide victim found in a shallow grave on Detroit’s Westside in March of 2008.

    Composite Photos of the Murder Victim

    On March 14, 2008 investigators were called to the alley behind 7401 Mansfield Street, where a set of unidentified human remains were found buried. An anthropologist later determined that these were the remains of a black male, aged 30-45. He was 5’6”-6’ in height and was wearing a black button up short sleeved shirt with a dramatic Chinese style dragon on the front and back. A black leather sandal was also found, suggesting that he had died during a warmer month.

    The individual had several physical findings suggesting that he had a broken nose, several healed broken ribs and possibly had indications of lung problems during life.

    If anyone has information, please call Detroit Police Homicide at (313) 596-2260 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

    Tip of the Week: Stay Safe at the Bank

    It's my pleasure to present a video Tip of the Week for this week. This one focuses on staying safe at the bank.

    Stay safe at the bank. It's your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Rouge River for Blog Action Day

    Today is Blog Action Day, which a day when 5,148 different bloggers from 138 different countries around world band together to talk about the importance of clean water. My post about it is below.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    BREAKING NEWS: Police Officer Shot, Gunman Barricaded

    An unidentified Detroit police officer was shot in the shoulder this evening in the vicinity of Mound Rd. and E. McNichols, which on the far east side of Detroit. According to WXYZ-TV, the shooter is reportedly barricaded in a nearby home.

    The officer was reportedly treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital and released.

    Police Officer Shot, Gunman Barricaded

    Update @ 11:10 a.m. - October 16, 2010
    The Detroit News is reporting that three men have been taken into custody in connection with this incident. They reportedly seized an undisclosed amount of narcotics as well as an AR-15 assault rifle.

    Warrendale Resident Featured in

    James Canning, founder of the Detroit-based public relations and marketing firm CANNING Communications and a resident of the Warrendale neighborhood, is featured in a new article titled “5 Reasons to Start a Business in Detroit.”

    The article is available in its entirety here.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Happy Binary Day

    I want to wish a Happy Binary Day to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.

    Today is 10/10/10. We'll never see the ones and zeros of the calendar line up in perfect binary fashion like this in our lifetimes.

    Life is about enjoying the odd moments like this.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2010

    Collect Seeds at Rouge Park

    Volunteers are needed to help collect native prairie seeds on Saturday, October 9 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. as part of the annual Rouge Park Seed Collection Day. Interested volunteers are asked to meet on the west side of Outer Drive just south of Joy Rd. This event is organized by the Friends of Rouge Park.

    If one is able to, the Friends would appreciate volunteers bringing any of the following:
    • Plastic buckets;
    • Empty plastic gallon jugs; or
    • Large paper shopping bags.
    Seed Collection Day is vital to maintaining and growing the native prairie landscape in Rouge Park. RSVPs are appreciated via email to rougepark [at] gmail [com].

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Digging Up Gas Mains

    Update on "Caveman"

    The homeless man, commonly referred to as "Caveman", who frequently panhandles at the corner of Southfield Freeway and W. Warren Avenue, and his girlfriend have been discussed several times on this blog. I received the email below from a source familiar with them.

    Caveman's real first name, by the way, is Scott. I'm not sure about his last name. Reportedly, he grew up in the Warrendale neighborhood.

    With all of this said, I present an email update from my source with only minimal editing by me.
    I can tell you that Scott and his girlfriend have been arrested numerous times.  Both of them are heroin addicts and every time they get locked up, they just let them go again.  There is nothing else we can do.  We kick them off the corner and they just come back.  They both have numerous diseases on top of their addictions so they don't want them in the cells.  I don't know what else to do with them.  We have tried and tried but it is a never ending battle.  Scott grew up in Warrendale and I remember him when he was straight.  I am sorry but I am at a loss on what to do. Everyone in the sixth precinct knows these two but....

    Saturday, October 02, 2010

    Update: Missing Woman Found

    I reported on September 11 of this year about a Warrendale resident, Marisha Gibson, who had simply gone missing. Ms. Gibson reportedly had medical problems that may have been a contributing factor in her disappearance.

    I happy to report that, according to her family, Ms. Gibson has been located. She is currently hospitalized and receiving the medical care that she needs.

    Both the family and I wish to thank everyone who helped to locate Ms. Gibson.

    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Breaking News: Attempted Carjacking in Warrendale

    There was an attempted carjacking in Warrendale earlier this afternoon. The attack happened at 4:55 p.m. this afternoon on the northbound Southfield Freeway service drive, just south of W. Warren Avenue. Two black males reportedly exited a gray Honda Civic and attempted to carjack a resident.

    The resident managed to flee the scene in his vehicle. The assailants managed to steal his cell phone and sunglasses. However, they did not manage to steal his car.

    The male resident sustained a broken cheekbone and nose in this attack. He victim is currently being treated at an area hospital, according to a family member.

    Anyone with information about the identity of these two attackers is asked to call the 6th Precinct of the Detroit Police Department at (313) 596-5600.

    Update @ 11:32 p.m.
    I have spoken with the victim's family again. In addition to the broken cheekbone and nose that I reported earlier, he reportedly also suffered a torn rotator cuff and a concussion during this assault. Reportedly, he was pulled from his truck but managed to hold onto his keys and resist his attackers.

    The attack reportedly ended when an onlooker hollered that they were calling the police. It was at that point that the two men fled the scene in their gray Honda Civic.

    In spite of his injuries, the victim is in reasonably good spirits at a local hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Grass Cut at Vacant Lots

    Blue Collar Jobs are Coming Back

    CNN reports that there has been a 1.6% gain in manufacturing jobs this year, which is roughly twice the growth in other private sector jobs. This represents the largest gain in manufacturing jobs since 1994.

    In a city like Detroit, which is dominated by blue collar manufacturing jobs, this is extremely good news. It gives me hope that things might actually turn around.

    Surprise! Blue collar jobs are coming back

    Tip of the Week: Chili's Donates Profits Today

    The Chili's Grill & Bar (5707 Southfield Fwy.) in Warrendale is joining thousands of other participating Chili's restaurants across the United States and donating 100% of their profits for today to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to help fight childhood cancer.

    To date, participating Chili's restaurants have raised more than $30 million for St. Jude, moving the brand beyond the halfway point of its 10-year goal of $50 million. Once completed, Chili's contribution will be the largest donation from a single partner campaign in St. Jude history.

    Eat at Chili's and help fight childhood cancer. It's your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    If Only Detroit Could Learn

    The City of Los Angeles, California has roughly five times the population that Detroit has. It also has fewer police officers per capita than the Detroit Police Department does - although they do make extensive use civilian employees in the LAPD.

    Anyway, in spite of all of this, Los Angeles is on track to record fewer homicides than Detroit. Not fewer per capita - but fewer homicides period.

    And did I mention that Los Angeles has five times the population of Detroit?

    Oh, and this will also mark the ninth year in a row of declining crime in Los Angeles, a city that not long ago was dominated by riots, drug trafficking, and gang warfare.

    This, ladies and gentleman, is what happens when you don't have a police department that is dominated by Byzantine politics. It is what happens when the police department - as well as the elected officials who oversee it - are consistently held accountable by residents, the business community, and the news media.

    L.A. on track for record-low number of killings, police chief says

    Metro Parent Education Expo 2010

    Metro Parent presents an educational, fun, and free day at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Sunday, September 26, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Discover the best opportunities for your children's academic success from metro Detroit's educational leaders.

    Explore the exciting galleries at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Families are welcome to enjoy free museum entrance, free activities, and receive the latest and greatest information on what’s new in education from over sixty five exhibitors.

    Metro Parent Education Expo 2010 - Events Exhibitions at The Detroit Institute of Arts

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Residents Deserve Better Services, and Bing Must Start Delivering

    I moved home to Michigan a little over two years ago to raise my daughter here because I am from here. As a reporter, naturally I'm attracted to the Big City. And Detroit is Michigan's Big City.

    I couldn't believe what I saw. Firefighters with holes in their boots. Ambulances without blankets, police cars with flat tires and computers that did not work. The Fire Department brass did not compile statistics (500 arsons a month). The Police Department brass lied about the number of murders. (It was 375 in 2008, not 306.)

    I wrote these stories and people in power started complaining. "Where's the good news. Where's the fair and balanced?"

    More at Residents deserve better services, and Bing must start delivering | | The Detroit News

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Detroit Police Seize SUV

    Officers from the Detroit Police Department seized a black sport utility vehicle on the 6400 block of Ashton this afternoon, in connection with an on-going investigation.

    Police Officers Seize a Vehicle

    No further details about the case are readily available.

    Traffic Enforcement in Warrendale

    A quick, impromptu video about traffic enforcement in Warrendale. Of course, this could also be a video about why I should always shave and be ready to make a video at any moment.

    But I digress.

    Breaking News: Home Invasion in Warrendale

    An elderly woman, living between Whitlock and Paul on the Southfield Freeway service drive, was the victim of a home invasion shortly after noon this afternoon. A black male in his early twenties broke into a home, assaulted the resident, and stole the estimated $100 that she had in her purse before fleeing the scene.

    The victim reportedly hit her attacker with a vacuum cleaner upon noticing his illegal entry into her home. The assailant then shoved her against a wall and reportedly pistol whipped her with a handgun. She is in good condition at her home.

    Anyone with information on the identity of this attacker is asked to call the Detroit Police Department.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Resurfacing Paul Street

    Paul Street, between Stahelin and the Southfield Freeway, was recently resurfaced. This, by the way, is the second time in five years that this same stretch of road has been resurfaced.

    And that warrants a video from me.

    Green Speaks in Code

    Deputy Mayor Saul Green announced today that he will keep Ralph Godbee as chief of police. He had previously only been chief on an interim basis.

    What I thought was most interesting was this part of the announcement.
    Ralph Godbee has proven that he is the right man to lead the Detroit Police Department. We received a number of quality candidates, but believe Chief Godbee is the person to lead DPD in our efforts to improve public safety.
    Chief Godbee has proven that he's the right man for the job?

    I wonder which one of the half dozen or so high-profile shootings we've had since he took over "proved" that.

    I believe what Mr. Green meant to say is that Chief Godbee has proven that he won't run for mayor when Mr. Green tries to remove the word "deputy" from his job title.

    Bing names Godbee Detroit police chief | | The Detroit News

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Bing to Make Police Chief Announcement Tuesday

    Mayor Dave Bing is expected to announce his decision on a police chief this coming Tuesday. I look forward to hearing what he intends to do and who intends to announce.

    Help Board Vacant Houses

    There is a group of us within the Warrendale neighborhood who are trying to the vacant houses in our neighborhood boarded up.  We could use your help.

    This video explains it all.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Warrendale Burns the NFL

    The Detroit Lions got screwed this past Sunday when what should have been Calvin Johnson's game winning touchdown catch was ruled an incomplete pass. It was one of those moments that truly makes me think that those in the NFL are lawyers and not athletes.

    Yesterday, a group of Warrendale residents organized a protest on Facebook. We gathered at Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) and burned the section of the NFL rule book that was cited as the basis for overturning the touchdown catch.

    Burning Pages from the NFL Rule Book

    While this doesn't undo the injustice that was done to the Detroit Lions, nor guarantee that it won't happen again, I have to admit that it was a lot of fun.

    Read This

    The Detroit News published a piece about how bad things are for paramedics within the Detroit Fire Department. I recommend that everyone take a moment to read it.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Parking Enforcement or Coincidence

    Fox 2 News is reporting that the City of Detroit has been aggressively enforcing parking ordinances in neighborhoods that have already been devastated by the fire storms earlier this month. Some residents, for example, were ticketed for having vehicles that block a sidewalk.

    Other vehicles were booted and/or towed by the City of Detroit's Municipal Parking Department.

    I'm normally supportive of parking enforcement - and blocking the sidewalk is a pet peeve of mine. However, I can't help feel that targeting neighborhoods that were already been hit hard by the firestorms is just wrong.

    There has already been a certain amount of blow back from this.

    And that makes me wonder about all of the parking enforcement vehicles that I have seen in the Warrendale neighborhood as of late.

    I wonder if the parking vultures are targeting our neighborhood to make up for fines that they aren't getting now that targeting the fire storm neighborhoods are politically impractical.

    What about you? Have you seen an increase in parking enforcement in the Warrendale neighborhood?