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 www.dwsd.org 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.