Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interviewed by CNN

I was interviewed by CNN Radio earlier today. We talked about crime, housing, and life in the Warrendale neighborhood.

The interview will air some time next week. Until then, it's fun to be able to say, "This is the guy who was on CNN."

Monday, February 21, 2011

WACO Meeting

The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents the portion of Warrendale that is east of the Southfield Freeway, will have their next meeting on Thursday  February 24 from 6 - 8 p.m. at the NFL/YET Boys & Girls Club (16500 Tireman St.). Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to attend. Attendees are asked to use the east entrance to the building.

Guest speakers for this month will be a representative from DTE, who will discuss their Neighborhood Energy Savings Outreach Program, as well as a representative from the Adams Butzel Community Center.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cool Warrendale Thing: Mr. Big Check

I've always said that a person truly hasn't lived until they've met a 6 foot tall guy dressed as a giant check.

I can now cross one more item off my bucket list.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Responding to RoboCop

RoboCop Wants A Statue
If one pays much attention to social networks, it's almost hard to ignore the idea of building a statue of RoboCop near Michigan Central Station. The idea started as a joke, but has since taken on a life of its own.

Thankfully, none of the proposals call for even a single penny of public funds to be used. It would all of be done with private donations from folks who really like RoboCop.

At least some of the debate has focused on "old Detroiters" vs "new Detroiters". This most often breaks down to people who moved to the inner city in the 1980s or 90s vs. people who moved here post-Super Bowl XL.

As someone who has lived in the Detroit city limits longer than many of the "old Detroiters", I'm amused by the simple fact that there's actually a controversy here. I would never consider donating to this project. I have dozens of other projects that I'm focused on. However, if someone decided to do this in Warrendale, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it either.

One issue in particular, though, seemed like it was worthy of direct response. One of the reasons why opponents of a RoboCop statue are opposed to it is that some feel such a statue would be insulting police officers. I asked an acquaintance of mine, who happens to be a retired police officer, if he thought such a statue would be insulting to the police officers.

RoboCop Wants A Beer
"Give me a break," he replied. "Back when some hippie threw a pile of dog crap at me, that was an insult to police officers. A RoboCop statue? That's just money that could've been spent on beer."

Truer words, I believe, have never been spoken.

Detroit Water Workshops

The WARM Training Center (4835 Michigan Ave.) will host a water workshop tomorrow. At these workshops, residents will learn how to use less water, find and fix leaks, choose and install water-saving devices, and save money.

The workshops will also explain how a watershed works and how saving water during heavy rainfalls may help protect the Detroit and Rouge Rivers from combined sewage overflow events. The first 20 participants will receive a free water-saving kit at each workshop.

These workshops are sponsored by Sierra Club, the People’s Water Board Coalition, WARM Training Center, and Vanguard CDC.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Former Detroit Lead Inspector Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison

Former City of Detroit Health Department lead inspector Donald M. Patterson, age 50, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison following his conviction on wire fraud charges, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced yesterday.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Randall Ashe, EPA Special Agent in Charge, and Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge.

Patterson was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 11, 2010 on charges of soliciting bribes, wire fraud, and making false statements concerning lead inspections. The four-count indictment charged that, as a result of his position as a lead inspector, Patterson would become aware of homes in the city of Detroit in which children had been identified with unsafe blood lead levels. His job was to ensure that all paint-based lead hazards were safely removed from those homes. Instead, on several occasions, Patterson used his position to obtain cash from the owners or the renters of these homes, in exchange for his falsely certifying that the homes were free of lead, or in exchange for his fraudulently pretending to provide instruction on how to safely remove the lead-based paint.

On several occasions, Patterson used threats of criminal prosecution, and even child neglect charges, to convince the tenants and landlords to pay these bribes and conceal the matter from state regulators. In particular, the indictment charges that between October 2008, and August 2009, Patterson demanded $1,350 in connection with fraudulent abatement of lead hazards to which children were being exposed at four separate properties.

On July 9, 2010, Patterson pled guilty to one count of wire fraud before the Honorable Patrick J. Duggan, United States District Court Judge. The facts underlying that charge established that Patterson was given the responsibility of inspecting a Detroit home where a 2-year-old child, who had been admitted to the hospital with high blood-lead levels, was residing. Patterson identified lead paint hazards, and then told the grandfather he needed to either pay a private training provider $500 to become certified to address the hazards, or pay Patterson $200 for this certification, which, in fact, Patterson was not qualified to provide.

Patterson’s “training,” or directions on how to abate the lead, in fact exacerbated the conditions in the home, and created additional lead emissions which were pervasive on the ground, floor and even on the toys in the home. In addition, to conceal his actions, Patterson instructed the grandfather not to speak with any state inspectors who might visit the residence, falsely insisting that the state would attempt to take the grandchild away from the family and fine the grandfather for child neglect.

The defendant then informed a hospital nurse, where the child was receiving treatment, and the child’s family that the home was “safe” for the child’s return. Upon the defendant’s assurances, the child was returned to the home, where he was exposed to additional lead contaminants until health inspectors with the Michigan Department of Community Health discovered that the home was still unsafe and the child could be relocated.

James Harvey, the child’s grandfather, spoke at the sentencing hearing, and detailed how his grandson has suffered as a result of the defendant’s actions.

“Lead paint poses a serious health risk, particularly to children," U.S. Attorney McQuade stated. "We hope that this conviction will deter others from putting residents at risk.”

“The protection of the public health depends on governmental health officials doing their jobs in an honest and competent manner,” said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Detroit. “So it is reprehensible that in this case a city health inspector, whose job was to identify lead-paint hazards in homes and ensure that these dangers were properly removed, instead solicited tenants and landlords to pay him bribes, in exchange for either providing improper lead paint abatement training, or creating false reports about the lead hazards in their homes. Actual harm was done as witnessed by a child who suffered elevated blood-lead levels. Today’s sentencing should serve notice to anyone who knowingly places the public at risk: you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The case was investigated by special agents of the Environmental Protection Agency and FBI, with assistance from the city of Detroit, state of Michigan, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Helland.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Be On The Lookout

There is a three person crew that has been hitting some of vacant houses in the Warrendale neighborhood; stealing furnaces, water heaters, and anything else that they can. A witness described these individuals as being two white males, each approximately 5'8", and a white female with long brown hair. They drive a black Ford pickup truck with red on its sides and no license plate.

Stealing items like this from a vacant house makes it much more difficult and expensive to restore it and bring it back to code so that a new family can move in. Neighbors are asked to keep an eye out for these individuals and call the Detroit Police Department, if you see them.

Detroit Police Re-Open the 6th and 8th Precincts

The Detroit Police Department’s 6th and 8th Precincts, which serves the Warrendale neighborhood and is located at 11450 Warwick (telephone number: 313-596-5600), are once again open to service the public. The heating and ventilation system at this precinct has been repaired. The 6th and 8th Precincts Investigative Operations (telephone number: 313-596-5640) are also open to review open cases. 

Citizens, who wish to file a police report by telephone, can still call the Department’s Telephone Crime Reporting Unit at (313) 267-2600, Monday – Sunday, from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

There are days when I simply feel like giving up. Luckily, when those moments arrive, someone shows up and brightens my day with a simple random act of kindness, like shoveling my snow for me.

It's moments like these where I am grateful to have so many wonderful neighbors.

While they are hardly unique to our neighborhood, random acts of kindness are your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Featured Place to Live: 6842 St Mary's

6842 St. Marys St. is a three bedroom bungalow that is available for only $5,000 as a foreclosure sale from the bank. It is a 900 square foot home that needs some work but, for the right buyer, can make a great home.

More information about it is available here.

Detroit Police Close the 6th and 8th Precincts

The Detroit Police Department’s 6th and 8th Precincts, which serves the Warrendale neighborhood and is located at 11450 Warwick, will not be open to the public until further notice.  Because of a malfunction of the heating and ventilation system, citizens are encouraged to go or call one of the following precincts for assistance, such as filing reports:
Persons arrested within the 6th and 8th Precincts boundaries will be conveyed to the Southwestern District, which is at 13530 Lesure | (313) 596-5200.

Persons can call the 6th and 8th Precincts Investigative Operations regarding their open cases at (313) 596-5640.

Persons who wish to file a police report (e.g., breaking and entering of a residence or business that is not in progress, telephone threats, identify theft, larcenies of a motor vehicle or private property, abandoned vehicles) by telephone, can call the Telephone Crime Reporting Unit at (313) 267-2600, Monday – Sunday, from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Lesson Before Dyin

The Kiwanis No. 1 Foundation (in Detroit) invites you to join them for an afternoon out to benefit the Detroit College Promise with a theatre fundraiser. The play, based up on a prize winning novel, is called A Lesson Before Dying, and will be shown at the Detroit Repertory Theatre (13103 Woodrow Wilson) on Sunday, February 6 at 2:00 p.m. There will also be a reception at 1:00 pm.  The cost of a ticket is $20 with all proceeds benefiting the Detroit College Promise. Gold and Silver Sponsorship levels are available for $100 and $50, and provide reserved seating and donor recognition.

All proceeds are used to provide scholarships to Detroit Public School students to attend a Michigan public college or university.  We currently have 4,000 seniors who have registered for our program - your support means a lot to them, and to younger students who are motivated to stay in school by the prospect of a scholarship when they graduate.

To purchase tickets, contact the Detroit College Promise at (248) 646-3269. A brief synopsis of the play, or to get directions to the Detroit Repertory Theatre, click here.