Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions for Detroit

In my video entry for today, I share a series of New Year's resolutions that I wish various people in Detroit would make. In addition to myself, I offer resolution suggestions for:

  • Mayor Dave Bing;
  • Police Chief Ralph Godbee;
  • The entire Detroit City Council;
  • Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans;
  • The national news media; and
  • The Detroit Lions.
Despite all of the challenges, 2011 has been a great year for blogging. I look forward to a lot more in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Tale of Two Piles of Trash

In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I talk about two different piles of trash that I found along the way and how the difference between them says a lot about the current state of Detroit.

Trash Not Collected in Warrendale

A large section of the Warrendale neighborhood didn't get its regular trash pick up today due a DPW truck breaking down while on its route.

Cool Warrendale Thing: Warrendale Cover Photos

As the folks at Facebook continue to roll out their new layout, two things are obvious. First, we will all hear a cacophony of complaints about who the new Facebook looks a lot like the old MySpace. Second, there's very little that anyone who isn't named Mark Zuckerberg can do about this except make the best of it.

With that in mind, I offer two new photos featuring the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit that are configured to be cover photos on Facebook. Blogger re-sizes the photos to show it here. However, if you click on the photo then you will be able to see it in its original size. Then simply right-click to save it, you should be able to use it as your Facebook cover photo.

My first photo features Rouge Park. It was taken at the top of Derby Hill, looking down during a rather foggy autumn day.

Rouge Park - Ready to Be Your Facebook Cover Photo

My second photo features the legendary Tipperary Pub - which was on the Southfield Freeway service drive, just north of Tireman. This bar has since closed - and many of us are still mourning our loss - but one car remember it here.

Tipperary Pub - Ready to Be Your Facebook Cover Photo
Being able to make Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood your Facebook cover photo is the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for this week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Detroit Has A Serial Killer

Detroit has many problems, but it would appear that we can now add one more to the mix. There is a serial killer operating in the east side of the city; one who targets female escorts that he meets through an internet ad service,

Police Chief Ralph Godbee said in a statement that he is stopping short of calling this a serial killing spree. However, since a serial killer is generally defined as someone who kills two or more victims in two or more separate incidents, and since we now have at least four victims within a week, I believe its safe to refer to this individual as a serial killer.

Since its no secret that the investigative resources of the Detroit Police Department have been strained from  attempts by Chief Godbee and Mayor Dave Bing to preserve the high ratio of police officers assigned to politically desirable administrative positions, I certainly hope that they do not compound this error by hesitating to call in state and federal agencies for assistance with this. Stopping the Back Page Killer is simply too high of an importance for us not to take this seriously and bring every resource to bear.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Thought for the Day

As I was out walking through the Warrendale neighborhood this afternoon, I though about the Christmas light displays that I had posted about so many times on this blog and, in particular, what it was about them that I liked so much.

More than anything, I finally realized, what I like about Christmas lights is that they give a sense of normalcy in a world that has become incredibly abnormal.

We in Detroit have a local government that is, even on its best days, completely useless and appears to be getting worse.

The local economy is a disaster.

Each of these things presents a challenge for those of us who care deeply about our community. It is something that we need to work through. However, all of this can be incredibly tiring and frustrating.

In those moments when I simply feel like giving up and putting a hex on those who convinced me not to leave this town years ago, the normalcy of Christmas lights provide a reprieve. They are a moment when everything seems to be alright; a much needed sense that our world has not gone to hell just yet.

Moments like those, no matter how fleeting they might be, give me the strength to continue on and to try one more thing to improve our community. Lights in the darkness can be extremely comforting, especially when they are put there by my friends and neighbors.

The Single Best Thing You Can Do for Your Health

Dr. Mike Evans, an associate professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto and a staff physician at St. Michael's Hospital, created a short video in which he outlines the single best thing that you can do for your health. It's only nine minutes long and I highly recommend watching it.

It's the best thing you can do for your health and it's your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All of My Readers

I want to wish a very Merry Christmas to each and everyone of my readers in the Warrendale neighborhood and around the world. The past six years of authoring this blog have been a tremendous experience and I look forward to even more adventures in 2012.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bringing the Warrendale Neighborhood to Your Facebook Profile

Christmas in Warrendale - Ready to Be Your Facebook Cover Photo

Since Facebook is rolling out its new layout, I wanted to share a photo of the Warrendale neighborhood that is perfectly sized to be a cover photo. You are welcome to use it.

Blogger re-sizes the photo slightly to show it here. However, if you click on the photo then you will be able to see it in its original size. Then simply right-click to save it, you should be able to use it as your Facebook cover photo.

I will have more Facebook cover photos, from the Warrendale neighborhood and rest of Detroit, to share with you in the days and weeks to come.


It's snowing right now in Warrendale. We might actually have a white Christmas after all.

Update @ 11:53 a.m. - Bah! The snow didn't last long, only a few minutes. We woke up to a dusting of it and it's already melting.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Final Look at Christmas Lights in the Warrendale Neighborhood

In the final installment of my Christmas lights of the Warrendale neighborhood series, I take a look at some more of the great holiday light displays that we have.

Merry (Almost) Christmas everyone!

Gov. Snyder Discusses Detroit's Financial Condition

Governor Rick Snyder released a YouTube video yesterday in which he discussed his thoughts on Detroit's financial problems. It's quite clear that he is not enthusiastic about the idea of appointing an emergency manager for Detroit.

I, personally, have an enormous amount of skepticism as to whether or not he'll be able to avoid it. He will almost certainly have to do in the weeks and months to come. However, it's actually nice to know that Governor Snyder isn't rushing into it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Walk Through the Warrendale Neighborhood

In a quick walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I talk about a classic car that I found for sale, a sign that fell down, and a new business in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away

I was going to present my final installment in my Christmas lights of Warrendale series today. Unfortunately, rain all of last night, and more rain plus fog this morning, prevented me from doing so.

However, I did want to share a really cool Christmas light display that one of my viewers from Japan sent in. I hope to have more to share tomorrow.

Update @ 4:03 p.m.
The "caught in mid-fade" thumbnail image that is displayed on the video above looks a bit different. It was set automatically by the system. I could go in and change, but I'm not sure if I should.

I'll keep it for now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's late December and it's RAINING in Detroit right now. This is simply not right.

Christmas Lights in Warrendale Continue

As part of my continuing look at some of the cool Christmas light displays in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I bring you my fourth installment in this video series. My fifth and final installment will come tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

More Christmas Lights in the Neighborhood

As I continue to walk through Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit, I'm impressed by some of the Christmas light displays that I see. This is part three of my continuing series on the Christmas lights of the Warrendale neighborhood. I hope you enjoy it.

The Cold, Hard Truth About Bus Rapid Transit

Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder announced last week that they were abruptly cancelling the proposed Woodward Light Rail system; opting instead to focus on what they are referring to as a "bus rapid transit" system that will connect downtown Detroit with M-59 in northern Oakland and Macomb Counties. Mayor Bing argues that this will do a better job of servicing the needs of Detroiters; comparing his proposal with bus rapid transit systems in other major cities, such as Cleveland and Los Angeles.

Quite frankly, I believe that Mayor Bing and his supporters are being highly disingenuous, if not downright deceptive, in how they are portraying the bus system that they talk about in the news media.

Our neighbors in Cleveland have a bus rapid transit system, one that Mayor Bing points to as an example what they will be able to create by cancelling the Woodward Light Rail project and moving the funds to his suburban bus project. There is no arguing that the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has an amazing bus rapid transit system. I would prefer to have a light rail system, but if Mayor Bing wanted to create a system that is somewhat similar to Cleveland's then that would be a compromise that I could live with.

Send a Personalized Phone Call from Santa

Santa Can Call Your Child
It's almost Christmas - and most of us know of a child who would love to hear from Santa Claus.

Once upon a time, it would be difficult for a child to receive a personal telephone call from the Jolly Ol' Elf himself. Luckily, we live in the 21st century where such a thing is incredibly easily.

All one has to do is visit, answer a few quick questions, and everything will be taken care of from there.

Sending a call from Santa is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My 100th Video

It has been my pleasure to author this blog for six years now and to have included video on it for almost two of those years.

To mark this occasion, I wanted to share a special "thank you" to everyone who watches these videos. It would be pretty pointless to make these things if no one ever watched them.

I also want to thank everyone who has every sent along a comment or suggestion for what I should showcase. Even if I don't follow your suggestion, I still enjoy receiving them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All of the street lights on W. Warren Ave., west of the Southfield Freeway, are currently out.

Muslims Are NOT Taking Over

There's been a lot of talk about the show All American Muslim in the news lately, on top of the usual theories that Muslims are out to impose Sharia law on the rest of us in the U.S. Since I live and blog about a neighborhood immediately adjacent to Dearborn, Michigan, I wanted to respond to all of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Lights of Warrendale - Cool Thing of the Week

In my walk through the Warrendale neighborhood today, I showcase more of the Christmas light displays that we have.

Christmas lights are the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Mayor Bing Says Detroit is Too Advanced

Mayor Dave Bing announced late last night that he was cancelling Detroit's planned light-rail line, preferring buses over light-rail service. Presumably, moving these funds around will enable him to offset most of the cuts that he has made in D-DOT budget in recent years.

I think it's ironic that at the same time Third World cities like Bogota, Columbia are moving away from buses in favor of light-rail, Mayor Bing wants to move Detroit away from light-rail to buses.

Mayor Bing is, essentially, making Detroit more of a Third World city than actual Third World cities.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Lights of Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood, Part 1

In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I showcase some of the cool Christmas light displays that we have.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Detroit's Long, Deep Revenue Decline

Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor at the Detroit Free Press, posted a series of charts on his blog this morning to illustrate the long, deep revenue decline that the City of Detroit has experienced over the past several years. The fact that the City has experienced such a long and deep decline in revenue isn't a secret.

Each step in our decline - as well as the corresponding cuts in services and the various "one-time fixes - have been documented extensively in the new media. Regardless, it is nice to see someone in the mainstream media looking at the complete picture instead of simply focusing on whatever the current crisis is.

The one area where I disagree with Mr. Henderson is his assertion that this steady decline in revenue is that something that "neither Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, city council, an emergency manager or even a bankruptcy can really address." This part is simply wrong. Each of those individuals could address the City's persistent decline in revenue. They simply lack the political will to do so.

It's clearly evident that there is a long track record of declining tax revenue in Detroit as more and more residents and businesses flee the city. One has to ask: why is Detroit's population continuing to decline when every other city is seeing population growth?

It's not just that more than half of Detroit's population has fled the city over the past 50 years, why does Detroit's population continue to decline?

Quite frankly, as I looks at the continuing exodus of businesses and residents from Detroit, I cannot help but recall the works of Professor Charles Tiebot.

10 Super Coupon Tips for Grocery Shopping

My friends at published their list of "10 Super Coupon Tips for Grocery Shopping." I thought I would share a link to it here.

Personally, I'm not a fan of number 10 on their list, which is "shop at superstores." I find that a lot of smaller, independently owned stores can offer some great values that often match what the superstores offer. Plus, the customer service is better when you deal directly with the owner (who is in the store rather than in an office a thousand miles away). I also feel better knowing that my money stays in my community.

But I digress.

For the other 9 tips, I think they did a really good job. It's my pleasure to make their suggestions my Tip of the Week.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Good News/Bad News for Detroit

Bad News: The temperature is barely above freezing and is heading downward.

Good News: There are only 117 more days until Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Chick's Bar Supports Toys for Tots

Chick's Bar
The folks at Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) have launched a special promotion to support the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Community members are ask to bring an unwrapped new toy into the bar by December 21st and show the bartender your donation.

Donors will get a special surprise from the staff and management of Chick's.

The Keys to Detroit

A new video project has shown up on the internet called The Keys to Detroit. I have no idea who did this one, but think it looks so darn cool.

This should be an interesting project to watch for 2012.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Playgrounds + Churches in Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood

In my walk through the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit today, I discuss the Ryan Playground as well as St. Thomas Aquinas Church (5780 Evergreen Rd.).

Naming the Cleptocracy in Detroit

There is a certain political clique, mid- to upper-level appointees who move from one Mayor of Detroit to the next will little regard for actually accomplishing anything nor for the welfare of Detroit residents. Up until now, this group has never really had a name and I think it's time we named them.

I propose the name Southfield Mafia since a fair number of them live in Southfield. However, I'm open to suggestions. What do you think we should call these people?

Please leave your suggestions below or on the comment thread that I started on Facebook.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Joy Road is a Downtown of Promise

The Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation will host a Downtowns of Promise meeting on Wednesday, December 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Edison Branch Library, 18400 Joy Road.

This is a planning meeting for the Green Corridor along Joy Road that will connect to Rouge Park. More information about this meeting is available here.

Pepsi Refresh and the Belle Isle Aquarium

The Belle Isle Aquarium is several miles from the Warrendale neighborhood, but it still has the potential to be one of the great jewels of Detroit. It is the oldest public aquarium and, while it's currently closed, there is a non-profit working to help restore it. You can help them through the Pepsi Refresh project, which allows you to vote for community projects that will receive financial support from Pepsi.

Please click here to vote for the Belle Isle Aquarium. You can also vote for the Aquarium by texting 110635 to 73774.

Easy support for the Belle Isle Aquarium is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

What's Wrong With the Detroit Police Department?

John K. Bennett of posted a question on Facebook earlier today. I wanted to share his question, which I quote below, as well as my answer.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on Mr. Bennett's question by leaving a comment below.

John Bennett asked:
I'm writing a new story for HuffPost Detroit and I need your input. What's wrong with the Detroit Police Department? How come we keep coming up short of late in solving high profile crimes? Do we have the proper direction? Is it leadership? Are we too soft? What can be done to make the police department more efficient and more effective? How do we get the most qualified people in charge? Are you satisfied with the current leadership of the police department?
In my opinion, the problem with the Detroit Police Department is that we have too many deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs (roughly double what any any city our size would have); we spend a ridiculous amount on administration (set a copy of the budgets from Atlanta, Columbus, Denver, Indianapolis, or Milwaukee Police Departments next to Detroit's and you'll be blown away by the differences); and finally - because so many resources are expended on those first two items - we are forced to short change our front line operations.

Because we short change our front line operations (e.g., not enough officers/detectives, not enough squad cars and equipment, minimal forensics, etc.), the Detroit Police Department isn't able to solve high-profile crimes or even most low-profile ones, for that matter.

As far as leadership goes, I approach the subject of leadership with a military background. In the military, there is a concept called Command Responsibility. Simply put, it means that if you are in command then you are responsible for anything - and I do mean anything - that goes wrong on your watch. Period.

In my life, I've seen a lot of things go wrong in cases where DPD was on the scene or should have been there. From the Malice Green beating to two 12 year boys who were killed in their own home on Mansfield a few blocks from me to the little girl who was killed during a SWAT raid, there have been instances where something went fundamentally wrong.

However, I have never once seen a command level officer within DPD stand up and publicly accept responsibility for whatever it was that went wrong. In the most fundamental terms, there simply is no leadership within DPD. There are just some guys in fancy uniforms with a big paycheck.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

71-Year-Old Warrendale Resident Goes Missing

Margaret Theut, who has lived on Patton Street in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood for decades, has been missing for almost a week and foul play is suspected. She was last seen leaving church services last weekend.

Anyone who has any information regarding the disappearance, or current location, of Ms. Theut is asked to contact the Detroit Police Department immediately.

Governor Snyder Launches Review of Detroit's Finances

It was announced yesterday afternoon that Governor Rick Snyder has launched a financial review of the City of Detroit. This, of course, is the first step in a process that may or may not lead to the appointment of an emergency manager to run the City. Mayor Dave Bing said in a statement yesterday that he will cooperate with this review even though he does not believe there is any need for action from Lansing.

In my opinion, the part of this that is the most surprising is how utterly unsurprising the entire matter really is. The City of Detroit has been moving in slow but certain direction towards this for years now, in spite of repeated union concessions that have been made as well as turn-around plans that have been never been fully implemented.

Mayor Bing, like his predecessors before him in recent years, began his time in office by promising a turn-around for the City of Detroit. Unfortunately, like his predecessors before him, those plans amounted to fairly little.

In the weeks and months to come, we will likely see if someone appointed by Lansing is capable of doing any better.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Mayor Bing Doesn't Want a Financial Review. Will It Matter?

Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing held a joint press conference yesterday afternoon, which included several members of the Detroit City Council as well as prominent labor and community leaders. The consensus that each of these people delivered is that they did not want Governor Rick Snyder to launch a financial review, which is the first step in the appointment of an emergency manager to run the City. "Detroit," Mayor Bing proclaimed, "needs to be run by Detroiters."

Mayor Bing went on to remind everyone that he has a plan; one that he believes will lead the City of Detroit out of its current financial crisis. (Outline of said plan available here.)

The question that one ultimately has to ask, though, is: will any of this really matter?

For starters, Mayor Bing's plan begins with a 90% increase in Detroit's corporate income tax rate. This is offensive, to say the least, to Governor Snyder and the Legislature, who would have to grant their approval before such a tax increase can go into effect.

The Bing Plan also calls for the Detroit Public Schools to pay $15 million in charges that it currently owes. While no one disputes the legitimacy of that debt, the fact remains that our school system isn't in any shape to pay anyone $15 million at the moment. Trading a financial crisis in our local government for an even deeper one with our local public schools doesn't solve matters.

Regardless of that, I have no doubt that Mayor Bing and his staff will find a way to make it through our current financial crisis. But then what?

The City of Detroit has had one financial crisis like this after another for the past several years. Once they patch the budget for the current problem another one will be here shortly.

The Detroit Police Department currently has the largest budget of any police department in the nation on a per resident basis. In spite of this, it also has the worst response time of any urban department.

More than a few residents and businesses have already decided that they are tired of this and are leaving Detroit. When they go, they leave the City of Detroit with yet another vacant home or commercial building that must be dealt with as well as less tax revenue to work with. With less tax revenue to work after those departures, another financial crisis becomes inevitable.

Governor Rick Snyder
This has become the story of Detroit. To quote the great Yogi Berra, "It's like deja vu all over again."

Mayor Bing has not proposed anything that will truly turn the City of Detroit around nor will his plan change the recurring state of financial crisis in our community. His plan will only hold our local government together until the next crisis hits.

In the absence of any true change, and with the knowledge that a financial review by the State of Michigan is likely inevitable at this point, one has to ask: what do we gain by putting it off?

Delaying the inevitable does nothing to benefit the residents, businesses, and visitors to our great city. If anything, it only serves to spread the misery. As Detroit's slow financial collapse drags on, it puts an ever growing strain on neighboring communities. Spreading this misery does not benefit anyone.

Therefore, I have to conclude that we may as well get this over with and let the financial review begin as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Future of Catholic Churches in Warrendale

Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church
The Archdiocese of Detroit released a series of recommendations last night entitled Together in Faith. These reports outline a series of recommendations for the Catholic Church to continue its mission in Southeastern Michigan and to adapt to the continuing shortage of priests as well as the financial hardships that at least some churches find themselves in.

The good news is that none of the three Catholic Churches in the Warrendale neighborhood will be closing in the near term. This includes Saints Peter & Paul (7685 Grandville), St. Thomas Aquinas (5780 Evergreen), and St. Christopher (7800 Woodmont).

However, as the shortage of priests continues to get worse, the Archdiocese does recommend that these three churches, as well as St. Suzanne/Our Lady Gate of Heaven, at least make contingency plans for a possible merger. A merger of these four churches into two churches might become necessary if the shortage of priests reaches a point where the Archdiocese is unable to provide them with a pastor/administrator.

Everything related to the Together in Faith proposals is available here on the Archdiocese's web site. The part that relates specifically to the churches in the Warrendale neighborhood is available here.

I hasten to remind everyone that these are still only recommendations. Nothing in the Together in Faith report will become official until February 2012.

I will, of course, have more on this situation as it continues to develop.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Flooding at the Southfield Freeway

A portion of the Southfield Freeway flooded recently because of the tremendous amount of rain that Detroit has received over the past couple of days.

Lance Rosol of Pixel Perfect Photography managed to snap this photograph of what is now the Southfield River. It shows the Southfield Freeway, near Outer Drive, which is approximately 4 miles south of the Warrendale neighborhood.

Walking Through the Warrendale Neighborhood

In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I talk about some of the interesting things that I saw along the way: cool houses, vacant houses, flooded streets, crews working, and so on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Building a Boat Out of Trash, Part 1

I've been thinking for quite some time about what to do with all of the trash that gets illegally dumped in the Warrendale neighborhood since the City of Detroit doesn't seem interested in doing anything. It occurred to me that someone could actually build a boat out of the stuff that gets dumped here.

1,100 People on Facebook in the Warrendale Group

I started a group on Facebook a couple of years ago for the Warrendale neighborhood. When I started it, it was primarily a vehicle for organizing a regular dinner party that I had with some friends at Gracie See. Since then, it has taken on a life of its own and now encompasses just about anything to do with life in the Warrendale neighborhood - either today or memories of bygone eras.

Anyway, I just wanted to mention that this group now has more than 1,100 members and is still growing. If you're on Facebook and you're interested in Warrendale, please check the group out here.

Featured Place to Live: 6490 Brace St.

6490 Brace St. - Featured Place to Live in Warrendale
6490 Brace St. is a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom Cape Cod home that is available in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. This 1,036 square foot home was built in 1928 and is in move-in condition today.

This beautiful, historic home features a newer roof, a remodeled bathroom, and professional landscaping. It also includes amenities such as:

  • 1 1/2 car detached garage;
  • Central air conditioning; and
  • Partially finished basement;
The stove and refrigerator are both included with the home.

View Larger Map

This home is represented by Remerica Premiere. The asking price for this lovely single family detached home is only $39,500.

6490 Brace St. is your Featured Place to Live in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood for this week.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flood Watch in Effect for Wayne County

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for all of Wayne County from 7 p.m. today until Wednesday morning. Please be careful in low-lying areas.

Tip of the Week: Follow the Blog on Facebook

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog now has a page on Facebook. If you "like" this blog's page, the posts will appear in your news stream.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog's page is available here on Facebook.

This blog in your Facebook news stream. It's your Tip of the Week.

One Way to Fight Littering

One of my Facebook friends posted this anecdote about he decided to combat littering in Detroit. It amused me so much that I felt compelled to re-post it here.

I was just out of an Occupy Detroit team meeting and in a car at Woodward & Forest and see someone toss a McDonald's bag out the passenger rear window. I really don't like seeing litter all over, so I hopped out while the light was red and tapped on the window to give them their bag back. He didn't want it! 
So I shoved the bag in the door handle on the SUV. Oh - we did get the license plate DJ313RD. Please let the passenger know not to litter in Detroit.
The Litter Vigilante has spoken!

Now, I just wonder what kind of creative things he can do with all of the bulk trash that is all over the neighborhood.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Detroit Police Response Time: Now 113% Worse

Warren Evans
A little over a year ago, when Warren Evans was chief of police, the Detroit Police Department had a 24 minute response time for priority one calls. More importantly, their response time had improved by 29% from where it was a year earlier.

Now, however, things are different.

Warren Evans has been replaced as chief of police by Ralph Godbee. Chief Godbee is a fine individual, but he is someone who has spent almost his entire career in administrative posts within the department as opposed to being on the front lines fighting crime on a daily basis.

I tried not to hold Chief Godbee's lack of operational experience against him. However, it is becoming clear that he is simply not up to the task of leading one of the largest police departments in the nation.

Even though the department's budget is just as large, the Detroit Police Department's response time has now climbed to an average of almost 52 minutes, according to statistics released by the City of Detroit.

52 minutes.

Protecting and Serving - in 52 Minutes
The national average for police response time in major cities, by the way, is only 7 minutes. A review of police statistics shows that the Detroit Police Department currently has the largest budget of any police department in North America on a per resident basis as well as the worst response time of any urban police department in the industrialized world.

At 52 minutes, this means that the Detroit Police Department's response time is 113% worse than it was when Warren Evans was chief of police. That is a dramatic change for the worse in such a short time period.

To say that this is unacceptable does a disservice to the word "unacceptable." If the safety of Detroiters were truly a priority for Mayor Dave Bing, he would demand immediate changes within the leadership of the Detroit Police Department.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mayor Bing Loses It In Interview

Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing gave an interview with the Detroit Free Press, which was published yesterday. He proclaimed, "It's time to go to war (against the City Council and the labor unions)." If there was any doubt that Mayor Bing was no longer in full possession of his faculties, I believe this puts it to rest. The man has simply lost it.

Five months ago, the City Council cut this City's budget by far more than what Mayor Bing said was necessary. He even went so far as to criticize the City Council for cutting the budget as much as they did.

That, of course, was five months ago.

The City of Detroit today is on the verge of running out of cash, in spite of the spending cuts that Mayor Bing recently argued weren't necessary. If the deeper cuts that were proposed by Council President Pro Temp Gary Brown and Council Member Ken Cockrel were indeed carried out last summer, we as a community would not be in the financial bind that we find ourselves in today.

As for the plan that Mayor Bing proposed last week, the argument that it doesn't go far enough to address our current problems isn't one of politics. Instead, it's math. Mayor Bing's plan does not cut enough to compensate for the shortfall that he insisted five months ago would not happen.

As for the labor unions, they have made concession after concession over the past several years. Civilian employees of the City of Detroit today make less, as measured by their total compensation package, than their private sector counterparts. Mayor Bing asked them last week for yet another round of concessions. However, he hasn't offered anything to assure them that they won't be asked for even more concessions in a few months.

Mayor Dave Bing may well be on the verge of going to war with the City Council and Detroit's labor unions. Unfortunately for him, though, he doesn't have very much to fight with.

Seeking a Disney-Loving Family for a Makeover

If your family dreams of a backyard makeover that is worthy of a Disney theme park and even bigger and better than last year's My Yard Goes Disney creations, HGTV is looking for you. I would love it if something like this came to the Warrendale neighborhood.

Between now and January 30, HGTV wants you to submit your compelling story, photos and video in a nationwide search for the perfect family to help create a fantasy-filled backyard inspired by Disney Parks. One lucky family will be selected to transform their outdoor living space into their own year-round recreational resort.

Last season, My Yard Goes Disney host Brandon Johnson helped homeowners create a Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired makeover complete with a pirate ship, water cannons and a water battle station; a Disney's Animal Kingdom park-themed design with thatched-roof tree houses, a replica of a safari Jeep and a handcrafted fire pit. Other backyards featured a Tinkerbell-inspired oversized teapot playhouse, a Mickey Mouse-shaped swimming pool and a 200-foot long Disney Magic Kingdom park-inspired train.

"In 2011, we saw spectacular fantasy makeovers that only the Disney Parks team could imagine and HGTV could deliver - transforming everyday backyards into ultimate family hang-out spots," said Kathleen Finch, general manager of HGTV. "With this new opportunity, we're searching for one lucky family ready to make their space an ultimate Disney Parks-inspired dream come true."

If you think you have a compelling story and want to be the family bringing Disney Parks to your backyard, visit before January 30, 2012 to find out how to submit your story, photos and/or a video to apply for your chance to receive one of this year's amazing outdoor spaces based upon favorite Disney Parks inspirations.

The family selected for the makeover will be featured in the season finale of My Yard Goes Disney as one of the 11 Disney Parks-inspired makeovers in 2012. In addition, HGTV will take the magical inspiration inside as well in their special, My House Goes Disney, airing in March 2012.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Motor City Meltdown or Business As Usual?

As the City of Detroit finds in the midst of yet another financial crisis, I share a few details that everyone probably should know - and offer my usual sarcastic commentary of the whole situation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Detroit Police Stage a Sickout

Officers at the Detroit Police Department's Northeast District appear to have staged a sickout last Friday in an apparent protest of Mayor Dave Bing's call for as many as 1,000 layoffs as well as cuts to police pay and retirement benefits. Detroit police officers, one should note, currently have a pay and benefit package that is well below national averages, even before any additional cuts are made.

Again, this was in the Northeast District, which does not include the Warrendale neighborhood nor any of the neighborhoods that immediately border it. However, I believe that all Detroiters should be concerned about this because, as the City of Detroit's financial condition continues to deteriorate, there is a distinct possibility that we could see more actions like this in the not so distant future. Those future actions, of course, could possibly effect the Warrendale neighborhood directly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Tree Lighting in Detroit's Campus Martius Park

I went to Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit for the lighting of Detroit's official Christmas Tree last night. For the past several years, this has been the start of the holiday season for me.

Come along and see all that was there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting Information from the City of Detroit

I felt frustrated that the news media kept talking about this infamous report from Ernst and Young, which supposedly showed that the City of Detroit was about to run out of cash, but the report itself was never available. Therefore, earlier this afternoon, I filed a request for a copy of it under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

It's unfortunate that anyone has to go through this trouble to get basic information about how one's local government is doing. However, this is the City of Detroit that we're talking about. Transparency has never been a hallmark of its operations.

Of course, one of the great ironies of the situation is that, after filing this request and talking about it on Facebook and Twitter, the Bing Administration finally made the report public while this video was still uploading.

I'll have more on the report tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Music for Violin and Organ

The SS. Peter and Paul Parish Concert Series (7685 Grandville) continues with Stacey Mason and Johnny Kash as they perform a concert for Violin and Organ. There is no admission charge and all are welcome! 

Stacey Mason
Stacey Mason is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music where she studied voice and violin and earned her Bachelor of Musical Arts Degree in Violin Performance and Communication. 

Ms. Mason is a violinist with The Birmingham/Bloomfield Symphony. She has also performed with the Plymouth Symphony and The Dearborn Symphony, as well as several small ensembles throughout Metropolitan Detroit. She was a vocal soloist with the Livonia Symphony, the Downriver Community Voices, and was recently featured with the Southern Great Lakes Symphony singing "Songs from The Auvergne" under the direction of Charles Greenwell

Ms. Mason has been a music educator for over 20 years and currently maintains a private violin studio. She is a liturgical musician, choir member, and cantor at St. Regis in Bloomfield Hills and is the Director of Music for the Chapel at St. John in Plymouth. More information can be found at

Johnny Kash attended Wayne State University in Detroit, studying organ with Ray Ferguson and Gale Kramer. He earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance in 2000 and a Master of Music Degree in Organ Performance in 2005.

Mr. Kash has served as the Director of Music and Worship for Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in the Warrendale neighborhood since 1999. In addition to overseeing the Music Ministry at Ss. Peter and Paul, he also coordinates their yearly concert series, which he founded four six ago, that showcases local, national, and international musicians. More information can be found at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friends of Rouge Park to Meet on Wednesday

The next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will next meet on Wednesday, November 16 from 6 - 7 p.m. at the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood St.), which is approximately one half of a mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood at W. Chicago. 

The group will discussing the planned controlled burn of the Rouge Park Prairie, which is at the southwest corner of Joy Rd. and Outer Drive. This controlled burn will happen Spring 2012 and is part of an on-going effort to maintain the habitat.

They will also continue their discussion of the development of a master plan for the future of Rouge Park.

Everyone who is interested in the future of Rouge Park is invited to attend this meeting.

Detroit as a Haven for Artists

The Los Angeles Times reported in their travel section over the weekend that Detroit is evolving into a haven for artists. I ignored this story when I first saw, because it doesn't really seem like news. However, I've since seen so many people post it on Facebook and talk about it that I feel like I can't really ignore it any longer.

Here's the deal as I see it.

The Warrendale neighborhood hasn't seen as much of this phenomena as other parts of Detroit, in large part because we don't have as many vacant houses as other parts of the city. (We have hundreds where others have thousands.) We also don't have as many vacant commercial properties as other parts of the city do. (Again, we have them, but no where near as much as most other neighborhoods.)

Of course, even though the focus of my blog is the Warrendale neighborhood, I visit pretty much every corner of Detroit on a fairly regular basis.

With all of that said, I have been seeing artists from New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere set up shop in vacant warehouses, commercial spaces, and old factories like the Russell Industrial Complex for most of the past decade. I know that the national press is always a little behind the curve on what is happening in Detroit and that the travel section is always behind the curve on business and cultural trends. However, the fact that they're reporting about something that started in the late 1990s in November of 2011 is, well...

Well, I'll be charitable and say that it's another reminder about the current state of journalism in America.

But, hey - thanks for the coverage anyway.

Warren Avenue Community Organization

Please join the Warren Avenue Community Organization on Thursday, November 17 6 - 7:30 p.m. at NFL YET Boy's and Girls Club (16500 Tireman). Please enter via the east entrance to the building.

This is a very important meeting. They will nominate and elect officers for the 2012 - 2014 term.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

Remembering Those Who Served
I would like to take a moment to thank every veteran who ever served this great nation of ours. Your service allows me to be as big of a pain in the ass as our First Amendment allows and to enjoy all of the other freedoms that our Constitution enshrines.

I will be back on Monday, with much to say about the state of the Warrendale neighborhood as well as our fair city of Detroit.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Occupy Detroit Being Kicked Out of the Park?

I posted last month about how the rest of the country could learn a few things about the way in the Detroit Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in Michigan responded to the Occupy Detroit protests. Prior to today, they had consistently showed a remarkable amount of restraint and avoided the kind abuse that not only violated the Constitutional rights of the protesters and impugned the reputation of law enforcement officers everywhere, they simply added fuel to the protests themselves.

Now, however, I fear that I may have praised them too soon.

According to a note on the Occupy Detroit Facebook page, the City of Detroit has ordered that Grand Circus Park be closed beginning at 10 p.m. This park, of course, is the encampment for the Occupy Detroit protesters. It is also a location where other protesters have camped out over the years, without any harassment from the local authorities.

I fear that Detroit might be on the verge of repeating the tragic mistakes that Boston, New York, Oakland, and other major American cities have made in recent weeks. I hope that I'm wrong, but I fear that I am not.

I will post more on this situation as it develops.

Update @ 9:08 p.m. - In one of the most abrupt about faces in bureaucratic history, the City of Detroit has reversed itself within hours of issuing its order for the Occupy Detroit campers to leave Grand Circus Park. Instead, they have issued a formal permit that gives them explicit permission to camp in the park until November 14.

Occupy Detroit originally asked for permission to stay in the park until November 29. It is not clear if the protesters will leave on November 14 or not.

Job Opportunity: HUD Compliance Officer

The City of Detroit Finance-Purchasing Division has posted a job opportunity for a HUD Section 3 Compliance Officer. There is one contract position available. The City began accepting application for this positions on November 7 and will continue to do so until November 14. This position is to be filled by November 25, 2011.

Online submissions only. Please apply by clicking here.

All required City of Detroit clearances will apply for this position.

Grocery Shopping in Detroit

One of the most frequently repeated complaints about life in Detroit that I hear - particularly from members of the news media - is that there's no place to shop for groceries here. They argue that everyone has to go to suburbs. I do my best to debunk this myth by taking you on a stroll through one mile of the Warrendale neighborhood to look at all of markets, bakeries, and supermarkets.

This, of course, is an updated version of a similar video that I produced last year. It has even more shopping options in it. Plus, the production qualities are better since the last one was done with a cheap cell phone.

My Really Lame Victory Dance

With 99% of the precincts reporting, Proposal C appears to have passed with 58% of voters approving it. This gives the City of Detroit a new City Charter, with tough new ethics standards and a multitude of other reforms. I couldn't help but record my incredibly lame victory dance.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Early Election Results

With 19% of precinct reporting, Proposal C is getting a 51% "yes" as of this moment. The night is still young. 81% of precincts still have to report.

Update @ 10:19 p.m. - With 45% of precincts reporting, Proposal C is now getting a 59% "yes" vote.

Update @ 10:39 p.m. - With 57% of precincts reporting, Proposal C is now getting a 58% "yes" vote.

Update @ 10:58 p.m. - With 69% of precincts reporting, Proposal C is now getting a 59% "yes" vote.

Update @ 11:10 p.m. - With 86% of precincts reporting, Proposal C is now getting a 58% "yes" vote.

Update @ 11:20 p.m. - With 99% of precincts reporting, Proposal C is now getting a 58% "yes" vote.

Polls About to Close

The polls close in a few minutes in Detroit. I will have much to post about once results are available.

Election Day 2011 in Detroit

Today, of course, is Election Day in Detroit. This is a short video blog that I made at my local polling place in the Warrendale neighborhood.

Monday, November 07, 2011

My Emergency Manager of Detroit Rant

Mayor Dave Bing says that the City of Detroit will need an "emergency manager" and he would like to be it. I ask: if he can't do his current job, what makes him think he would be able to handle something even more complicated?

Thrilled to Be Nominated

I am thrilled that the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog has been nominated for the 2011 NATPE Digital Luminary Award. My thanks go out to the National Association of Television Program Executives and everyone on their award committees.

It has been a fun and rewarding experience to create content about the Warrendale neighborhood for the past six years. As the technology has improved, plain text has evolved to include photographs and, over the past couple of years, video as well. All of it has been part of telling a compelling story about one of great neighborhoods in Detroit.

I look forward to even better things in the years ahead.

Vote Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Election Day. In Detroit, we will decide whether or not to adopt a new Charter for the City of Detroit, which contains tough new ethics and accountability standards.

I hope to see everyone at the polls tomorrow.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Is Mayor Bing Just Making It Up?

It Makes No Sense

Less than 5 months ago, Mayor Dave Bing argued that a 4.8% cut in the City of Detroit's budget, which was proposed by City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, was impossible and, most importantly, it was unnecessary. Today, however, Mayor Bing tells us that a 1.9% shortfall will cause the City to run out of cash and require an emergency financial manager.

Is it just me or does anyone else get the feeling that our esteemed Mayor is just making it up as he goes along?

WCO to Meet This Monday

The Warrendale Community Organization will hold its monthly general membership meeting is this coming Monday, November 7 at 7 p.m. in the Sts. Peter & Paul Activities Center (7718 Westwood St.).

Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to attend.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dave Bing Screws Up - Poor Detroiters Suffer

Mayor Dave Bing
 Mayor Dave Bing told the City Council that he cannot explain why his Administration did not spend $9.2 million that it was given by the federal government to help low-income Detroiters weatherize their homes and lower their energy bills. The City of Detroit had to return this money because, after three years, it wasn't able to spend the money.

If the Bing Administration spent that money the way it was intended, thousands of Detroiters would have lower energy bills. This, in turn, would have enabled them to spend their limited funds on other things that could help them climb out of poverty.

If the Bing Administration spent that money the way it was intended, jobs would have been created; putting unemployed Detroiters to work doing these home improvements. Those jobs would have been temporary ones, but they still would've been jobs in a community were nearly half of its population is unemployed or underemployed.

If the Bing Administration spent the money the way it was intended, our air and water quality would improve as thousands of homes began to use less energy.

In fact, about the only people who gain anything from this, is that DTE will not lose any money now that thousands of Detroiters won't have lower energy bills. They will continue to be just as profitable as they've ever been.

Money, Money, Money...
I suppose I shouldn't attempt to draw any conclusions from this. I mean, it's not like Mayor Bing has appointed former DTE executives to fill key spots in his Administration.

And it would absurd to suggest that all of the campaign contributions that he received from DTE has had any impact in something like this.

Absolutely absurd.

That, of course, is why I would never suggest such a possibility.

Chief Godbee to Present Report to the Community

Chief Ralph Godbee of the Detroit Police Department will present his third quarterly report to the community on Monday, November 7 from 6 - 8 p.m. in the Breithaup Career & Technology Center, which is just two miles outside of the Warrendale neighborhood at 9300 Hubbell. The public is invited to attend this meeting to discuss their concerns directly with our chief of police.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

M-DOT to Hold Pedestrian Bridge Workshop

The Michigan Department of Transportation will conduct workshop tomorrow, November 3 from 4 - 6 p.m. in the Community Room at the offices of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (19800 Grand River). This intended to help plan the pedestrian bridges that are an on-going part of the M-39 Corridor.

The public is invited to attend this meeting.

Obama Gas Station + Henry Ford's Grave

I was do some field research for a client today and took my camera along with me to show a few off the beaten path things about the Warrendale area of Detroit.
  • Brennan Pools;
  • Henry Ford's grave; and
  • The Barack Obama gas station.
Detroit is always full of surprises. This collection of oddities from around the neighborhood is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Vacant Houses + Big Pile of Trash

In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I talk about a couple of cool vacant homes that I came across as well as the largest pile of trash that I've seen in the neighborhood thus far that did not hold elected office.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween, Everyone

Happy All Hallows Eve to all of my neighbors in the Warrendale neighborhood and to everyone around the world who reads my blog. I hope your Halloween is a spooky spectacular one!

Disconnecting Downspouts from Your Sewer Drain

Michigan law now requires Detroit residents to disconnect downspouts from their sewer drains. During heavy rain storms, each down spout on your home can deliver 12 gallons a minute to the sewer system, which can contribute to basement backups and sewer overflows. By simply disconnecting a down spout, you can make a difference in keeping excess water out of the sewer system.

But, there’s a proper way to disconnect down spouts to avoid problems and special how-to workshops are available to help. The Greening of Detroit, in partnership with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. and SEMCOG, are hosting the following hands-on instruction and free materials to participating residents.

There will be a total of seven of these workshops over the next few weeks in the Warrendale neighborhood as well as others throughout the city. I encourage everyone to find the time to attend at least one of them.

Joy-Southfield Community Development Corp. (18917 Joy Rd.)

  • Wednesday, November 2 from 6:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.;
  • Monday, November 14 from 6:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.;
  • Friday, November 18 from 10 a.m. -11 a.m.;
  • Wednesday, November 30 from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.;

NFL/YET Boys & Girls Club (16500 Tireman St.)

  • Tuesday, November 8 from 6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.

Don Bosco Hall (19321 West Chicago St.)

  • Tuesday, December 6 from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Dixon Elementary (8401 Trinity St.)

  • Tuesday, December 13 from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Outside of the Warrendale area, there will also be another workshop at the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation (19800 Grand River Ave.)

  • Tuesday, November 15 from 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Disconnecting you downspout from the sewer drain, while it isn't glamorous, is none the less your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Detroit Police Gear Up for Halloween

The Detroit Police Department is geared up for its Halloween Family Fun 2011, but it’s important that you and your children remain safe. These simple tips will help make your Halloween celebration one of the best ever:

  • Wear clothing that is bright, reflective and flame-retardant. Also, children should not wear long, baggy or loose costumes or oversized shoes to prevent tripping.
  • Wear sneakers or comfortable shoes.
  • Don’t wear floppy hats or wigs that slide over the eyes.
  • Stay away from pets. The pet may not recognize the child and become frightened.
  • Children should stay within familiar areas and surroundings. Parents should establish a route for children.
  • Children should use flashlights and stay on sidewalks.
  • Children should cross the street at corners / crosswalks and not between parked cars. Motorists should drive slowly and watch carefully for children
  • A curfew for minors will be in effect and a parent or guardian must accompany children under the age of 18.
  • Use face paint (non-toxic, hypoallergenic) and avoid masks, especially if the eye-holes obstruct the child’s vision.
  • Avoid toy weapons. If desired, use costume knives and swords that are flexible, not rigid.
  • Everyone is asked to turn on his porch light from dusk until dawn.
  • Adopt a vacant house in your neighborhood.
The Detroit Police Department also reminds everyone that is unlawful for a minor under eighteen years of age to be on any public street, sidewalk, alley, park, playground, vacant lot, or any other unsupervised outdoor public place on Saturday, October 29  from 6 p.m. through Sunday, October 30 at 6 a.m. and from Sunday, October 30 from 6 p.m. through Monday, October 31 from 6 a.m.

Normal curfew hours will be in effect for Monday, October 31 after 6 a.m. The regular curfew will resume on Monday, October 31. Youth 15 and under should be off city streets from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Youth, ages 16 and 17, should be off city streets from 9 p.m. on until 6 a.m.

All curfew offenders will be issued a civil infraction and parent/guardian may be issued a “Parental Responsibility” citation, which will require a court hearing. The presiding judge/magistrate will determine the fine for the violations which may range from $50 to $500.