Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blogger Says: Got'cha

Detroit police officer and political blogger John Bennett brought controversy into the Michigan Secretary of State race by posting photos on his Detroit Uncovered site accusing Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Daniel Baxter, Detroit's director of elections, of illegally using city-issued cars to attend a campaign event on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in Ms. Winfrey's bid to become the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State this year. She is opposed for the nomination by Wayne State Law Professor Jocelyn Benson. Four Republicans are currently in the race as well to replace our current Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land.

Metro Times - News Views: Blogger says: Got'cha

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tip of the Week: Cheap DVDs at Movie Mania

The folks at Movie Mania (18251 W. Warren Ave.) are having a special deal while it lasts.

They are offering 5 previously viewed DVDs for only $20. It's a great chance to add some quality films to your home collection.

This special discount is your Tip of the Week.

Guns, Guns, Guns

Today has been a weird day for gun violence, which only reminds me that it is a full moon tonight.

The violence started this morning when two men were shot on the Southfield Freeway service drive at Joy Rd in the Warrendale neighborhood. The victims were treated at Sinai Grace Hospital (6071 W. Outer Dr.) and are expected to make a complete recovery.

Later in the day, police arrested a 17-year old boy who had a shotgun stuffed into his pants.

Yes, a shotgun stuffed into his pants.

This reportedly happened near Mumford High School (17525 Wyoming), which is approximately five miles away from the Warrendale neighborhood.

There are only so many ways in which a guy with a shotgun in his pants can end. Perhaps the best ending, for all parties involved, was the one that actually happened - the police caught this kid before he managed to hurt himself or someone else.

Regardless, I can't help but imagine what would have happened if that weapon had fired before the kid managed to whip it out.

Congrats, Claire!

A dear friend of mine, Claire Nelson, was honored by the Detroit Young Professionals at their 2nd Annual Vanguard Awards last week. The awards were presented at the Amnesia Nightclub (2901 Grand River) downtown.

I'm not sure, but I think this award for was being one of the most genuinely awesome people on the planet.

Or it could have been for co-founding Open City Detroit, which has helped several Detroiters open new retail businesses in Detroit.

Or it could have been for the business that she and her husband opened a few years ago.

Anyway, photos from the event are available here courtesy of After 5 Detroit.

Neither Claire nor her husband, Francis Grunow, live in the Warrendale neighborhood, which might make it odd then that I talk about this in the Warrendale Blog.

Part of my reason for mentioning this here is that I'm simply proud of my friend.

Of course, I have to admit that I do get a certain amount of joy in simply saying, "Claire, this video is for you."

And yes, that was an inside joke that started on Facebook, but has now spilled over into the blogosphere.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Full Moon

There was a nut job in the parking lot of the Borders bookstore (5601 Mercury Dr. in Dearborn). He was howling at the full moon as it rose this evening.

Oh, wait - I forgot. That was me.

Never mind.

Enjoy the full moon, everyone.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kosciusko Goes Back to Lansing in May

I previously posted about the plans to convert the long shuttered Kosciusko Elementary (20220 Tireman) into a community center.

Kosciusko is one of several Detroit Public Schools that have been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Once the process is completed, the project will be eligible for various sources of funding that will make its redevelopment possible. The next step in the process is a hearing before the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board in Lansing.

The Kosciusko application, as well as all of the DPS applications, were originally scheduled for a hearing this past January. However, there was a problem with one of the other schools on the list that required an amendment. As a result, the Board decided to table all of the DPS applications until their next meeting, which will be in May.

Everyone that I have talked to, both in Lansing and in Detroit, expects Kosciusko and the other Detroit Public Schools to be approved. This is only a short delay in the process.

As always, I will continue to update this story as it develops.

Mailbag: Warrendale Community Development Corporation

In response to my post about Warrendale Rocks!, Nick Kovach wrote in to ask:
This sounds like a great idea frank. Will you provide more details about the CDC?
Warrendale unfortunately has more than its fair share of vacant, blighted homes. The City of Detroit is doing what they can about them. However, they are having their own financial problems at the moment and aren't able to address the problem fully.

The Warrendale Community Development Corporation exists to supplement what the City and other entities are doing. Hopefully, some of the things that the Warrendale CDC will do will serve as a prototype for other neighborhoods.

One of the things that the Warrendale CDC will do is deconstruct some of the properties that are too far gone to be restored. This involves taking them apart piece by piece so that almost everything is recycled or reused. Hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead paint, can't be salvaged. Everything else can and will be.

The Warrendale CDC is also working with various historic preservation groups to identify those structures that are eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

More details on these programs will be forthcoming.

Rick Snyder for Governor

I've been talking with the people who were behind the initiative to elect Detroit's City Council by Districts. They're a loosely nit group of small business owners, staff from various non-profits, and so on.

The interesting part is that there seems to be a growing concensus amoung them that Rick Snyder is the guy who should be Michigan's next governor.  Many of them appear to be convinced that the Democrats aren't likely to hold on to the governorship this year and Mr. Snyder seems to be the Republican that they like the best.  In their assessment, he's moderate on all of the social issues, understands that the economy needs to be his highest priority, and seems to understand the importance of Detroit in any economic turnaround.

This is one of those things that I think will be interesting to watch in coming weeks to see how it all plays out. The race for the Republican nomination is currently a three-way tie. This informal group of Detroiters is very media savvy and extremely good at organizing a grass roots political campaign.

In short, I believe that they could have a significant impact in selecting Michigan's next governor.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

37 Minutes with Jason Friedmann in Hamtramck

One of my friends, Jason Friedmann, was featured in Model D where he discussed some of the great things that he is working on in Hamtramck. Besides being the guy in charge of economic development in Hamtramck, he is also one of those working to develop the mountain bike trail in Rouge Park.

I recommend taking a moment to read it. It provides some inspiration for what is possible in the Warrendale neighborhood.

37 Minutes with Jason Friedmann in Hamtramck

Trees in Rouge Park Targeted

The Friends of Rouge Park report that someone has cut and hauled away many large, beautiful trees in Rouge Park. These illegal cuttings have happened on the east side of Outer Drive just north of W. Warren Ave.

Please keep a look out when you pass by and call 9-1-1 if you see someone cutting trees.  Roll down your window and listen for chainsaws as well.  After you call 9-1-1, please leave a message on the Friends of Rouge Park voicemail line at (313) 799-FORP and give them the exact location, descriptions of people and vehicles, license plate numbers, as well as date and time.  You can also email information to rougepark [at] gmail [dot] com.

I will keep everyone updated as this story develops. Hopefully, one of my future posts will be about the apprehension of those responsible.

More Jobs

It's true.

I love passing along the various job openings that make their way into my email in-box. I simply hope that this information is beneficial to someone in the Warrendale neighborhood or elsewhere in Detroit.

FAA Hiring
If you have or know persons between the ages of 18-31 with a high school diploma, the Federal Aviation Association is taking applications for air traffic controller school. Air traffic controllers can reach a salary of over $100,000 with benefits in about 3 years. You need only a high school diploma to apply and credit is given for college on the exam.

Detroit Zoo
Service Systems Associates, the exclusive service provider for concessions, retail, grounds keeping, and custodial positions at the Detroit Zoo (8450 W. Ten Mile in Royal Oak) is seeking individuals for the following positions:
  • Concessions/Retail Cashier;
  • Food Service Intern;
  • Grounds;
  • Janitorial – (morning and mid-day);
  • Retail Merchandising Intern; and
  • Warehouse (18 years old with a valid driver’s license).
Please visit the Detroit Zoo's web site for more information and for an on-line application that is available here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tip of the Week: Illegal Dumping Pisses Me Off

Warrendale has been looking rather trashy as of late.

The Department of Public Works picks up bulk trash four times a year, which is actually more often than it in some of our suburban communities. Most people pay attention to the rules and don't put anything out until the night before our next bulk collection, which is this Friday, March 26.

Unfortunately, there's also a handful of people who throw anything out any time that they feel like doing so.

Illegal dumping by companies, such the two dozen scrap tires at right, only make matters worse.

Therefore, I would like to remind everyone that illegal dumping is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $10,000. This is a lot more than the cost of disposing of these things properly.

My Tip of the Week, therefore, is to encourage anyone with any information about illegal dumping or individuals who put bulk trash out well before the next scheduled pick up to report it. The City isn't as efficient at responding to these cases as they probably should be. However, they are getting better and your cooperation can make a huge difference.

You can report this by calling 3-1-1 from a standard land line or by dialing (313) 224-4636 from a cell phone.

Detroit Needs A New Crime Lab

The Detroit Police Department needs a new crime lab. This is one of the few things that everyone in Detroit politics seems to agree upon.

The challenge is that some of the Detroit City Council have profound concerns about the multi-million cost associated with building and operating such an institution. There can be no denying that a crime lab is an expensive operation. However, not having one can be even more expensive because that often results in the police being severely hampered in their ability to investigate and respond to crimes.

WXYZ-TV has more on this story below. In the meantime, I urge everyone in the Mayor's Office and City Council to figure out a way to create the kind of crime lab that our police department and citizenry deserve.

Incompetent Lawyers Don't Like Being Called Incompetent

Former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick has been in news again. He is obviously running low on cash. I know this not only because he hasn't been able to pay restitution to the City of Detroit, but because he's had to resort to hiring a bottom of the barrel attorney like Daniel Hajji.

Mr. Hajji represented the former mayor during his recent probation violation hearing as well as the subsequent appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Judge Karen Fort Hood described the motion that Mr. Hajji filed as "grossly noncompliant and inappropriate."

My friend over at the Dyspathy blog then wrote a post entitled "An Incompetent DUI Lawyer Only Gets You So Far" in which he criticized Mr. Hajji's performance. It's well worth the read, in my humble opinion.

Shortly after that post was published, Dyspathy was reportedly served with a cease and desist demand from Daniel Hajji.

From this, one can only deduce that incompetent lawyers like Daniel Hajji do not like being called incompetent. However, if the judge in a given case refers to a given motion that an attorney has prepared as "grossly noncompliant and inappropriate" then I feel that said incompetent attorney really ought to suck it up.

Otherwise, you're justing calling added attention to your own incompetency.

Suspect Arrested in Double Murder Case

Detroit Police Chief Warren C. Evans announced an arrest this afternoon in connection with a double homicide that happened earlier this month on Glastonbury Street, which is approximately five miles north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

Derrick Smith, 42, was arrested in California by the U.S. Marshals Service in response to a series of tips that the police received from residents. He will be extradited back to Michigan to face trial on murder charges.

Video from the Chief's press conference is available below.

I commend everyone who involved in putting this individual behind bars.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thank you, Mom and Dad

I was at the Ram's Horn (6356 Greenfield in Dearborn) having dinner earlier.

There was a young boy, approximately 5 or 6 years old, who there with his parents. He was a hyperactive child who kept jumping up and down in the booth screaming for no particular reason - all while his parents ignored him.

I kept thinking about how my parents would have beaten the crap out of me when I was his age if I did anything even remotely like that.

His parents just calmly sat there and ignored him.

Perhaps the worst part of it all was the fact that there was another child two tables over this rambunctious brat, one who had been behaving reasonably well until this other boy started misbehaving so badly. Once the first child kept acting up with impunity for a few minutes, the other child started to become loud and rambunctious as well.

It was at that precise moment that I became more and more grateful to my parents for everything that they must have gone through while raising four sons.

As a side note, I originally snapped a photo of the crappy parents at the center of this fiasco with my cell phone.  However, I later decided not to share it with the entire world - more out of concern for the child's privacy than that of the crappy parents.

Instead, I replaced it with a photo of a Tasmanian devil.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Warrendale Rocks Your Radio

I had a great time this afternoon as a special guest on WHFR-FM.  I was invited to talk about the Warrendale Rocks! benefit concert that will happen tomorrow at the Magic Stick (4140 Woodward Ave.).

I was lucky enough to be joined by Christina Morgan of Bricktown Station, which is one of the three bands that will perform at the show. (That's a candid photo of her at the left during our appearance.)

I didn't know this earlier but, according to the folks at WHFR, a rather significant portion of their station's listeners come from the Warrendale neighborhood. As I plan more of these events, I'm sure I'll be working talking to WHFR-FM a lot more.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Drag-Racing Kills Pedestrian

A vehicle, that was apparently drag-racing through the streets with another one, struck and killed an unidentified pedestrian this afternoon at the corner of W. Warren Avenue and Montrose. Both drivers managed to flee the scene.

According to two witnesses, the victim was dismembered by the impact of the collision and subsequent dragging.

The Detroit Police Department is investigating this crime. Anyone with information about either of the drivers is asked to call the fatal squad at (313) 596-1462. Tipsters may also send an anonymous text to 874411. Text messages must begin with "DPD", followed by the tip information.

Drag-racing Blazer kills pedestrian, flees scene | Detroit Free Press

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Detroit Plans Deficit-Easing Debt

The City of Detroit will go to Wall Street tomorrow as they look to sell $250 million in new debt.

The good news is that this bond offering will keep the City of Detroit from running out of cash in the short term.

The bad news is that it adds an addition $1.5 million per year in interest payments that will have to come out of our general fund. This, in turn, leaves less money available for police and fire protection, working street lights, and all of the other public services that people in other communities take for granted.

Detroit Plans Deficit-Easing Debt - Bond Buyer Article

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Historic Warrendale

Last week, I had the pleasure of taking a group of people from Preservation Wayne and other historic preservation groups on a tour of the Warrendale neighborhood.

I've known for years that there are a few spots around the neighborhood that are likely worthy of special attention.  It was great to get their feedback.

More details will be forthcoming soon.

Warrendale Rocks!

It's no secret that the Warrendale neighborhood has more than its fair share of vacant homes, many of which have become a blighted due their prolonged state of abandonment. In order to deal with this problem, I'm launching the Warrendale Community Development Corporation - a non-profit entity to preserve those properties that can be salvaged and to deconstruct the ones that can't.

The deconstruction element is important, in my opinion. One that needs a bit of explanation.

With a conventional demolition, a couple of guys come in with heavy equipment. They smash everything and cart it off to a landfill.

In a deconstruction model, a team of eight or more workers takes the building apart piece by piece. The goal is to salvage or recycle all of the materials.

The advantage of a deconstruction over a demolition is that it not only removes a blighted property, but it does so in a much more environmentally responsible manner. Plus, a deconstruction model creates a lot more jobs than a demolition one.

One of the Warrendale CDC's early mission then will be to deconstruct some of blighted properties in Warrendale that are vacant and open to trespass. There is simply more of these properties than the City of Detroit can reasonably handle.

In order to raise funds for this mission, I am pleased to announce that three talented artists have agreed to perform at a benefit concert called Warrendale Rocks! on Friday, March 19 at the Magic Stick (4140 Woodward Ave. in Midtown). Tickets are only $8 in advance (available at Ticketmaster) or $10 at the door.

The three incredibly wonderful performers for that evening are:
Doors will open at 8 p.m.  The first band will take the stage at 9:30 p.m.

I hope to see lots of familiar faces at this event.

The Good Samaritan

I was reminded this evening that there are still some very kind and genuinely honest people left in this world.

I made the mistake of leaving my credit card behind, inside one of those self-serve machines, at FedEx Office (5801 Mercury Dr. in Dearborn). As soon as I realized what I had done, I rushed back to the store in a panic.

It turns out that some random stranger had found my credit card and turned it in to the store's management. A quick check with my bank confirmed that there were no unauthorized charges to my account.

To the unknown person who did me this great favor, I simply say "thank you!"

Monday, March 01, 2010

Rouge Park Featured in Hour Detroit

Rouge Park, with its 120 acres of parkland, was briefly featured in the February 2010 issue of Hour Detroit. The article gives a brief overview of the park's history and why it's so cool.

You can read it on-line at the link below.

Rouge Park - Hour Detroit