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.