Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Applications Available for the National Association of Black Suppliers Scholarship Fund

The mission of the National Association of Black Suppliers Scholarship Fund is to provide graduating high school seniors, in and around the inner-city areas, with the financial, psychological, and spiritual support to assist with their pursuit of higher education. Through the initiative of its members, it has provided over $1 million in scholarships to outstanding and deserving students to attend college via the NABS Scholarship Fund. 

To be considered for the NABS Scholarship, potential scholars must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a graduating African-American high school senior;
  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Plan to be enrolled in a full-time (12 credit hours or more) undergraduate engineering, technology, business, or a related curriculum of interest to NABS; and
  • Posses a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or better on a 4.0 scale throughout your high school career.

More information on deadlines for this scholarship, as well as a downloadable application, are available here.

Controlled Burn to be Discussed at the Next Friends of Rouge Park Meeting

Stock Photo by Bill Silvermintz
In lieu of their regular monthly membership meeting, the Friends of Rouge Park will host a community informational meeting on the controlled burn that is planned by the Alliance of Rouge Communities for Rouge Park and Eliza Howell Park this spring. This meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 15 from 6 - 7 p.m. at Don Bosco Hall's Community Resource Center (19321 West Chicago).

Everyone who is interested in Rouge or Eliza Howell Parks is invited to attend this meeting.

The Friends of Rouge Park have a detailed flyer regarding the controlled burn and this meeting, which is available here.

Featured Place to Live: 6776 Stahelin Ave

6776 Stahelin Ave.
6776 Stahelin Ave. is a three bedroom, 1.5 bath brick bungalow in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood that is available for an asking price of $75,000. This charming single family home, which was built in 1953, features a one car detached garage as well as a full basement.

This property is represented by Darryl Sanders of Treasure Homes Realty in Southfield. More information about the 876 square foot, 1.5 story home is available here.

6776 Stahelin Ave. is your Featured Place to Live in the Warrendale neighborhood for this week.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Preventing a Cyber Attack

Cyber criminals can damage their victim's computer systems and data by changing or deleting files, wiping hard drives, or erasing backups to hide some or all of their malicious activity and tradecraft. By wiping, or "zeroing out," the hard disk drives, which overwrites good data with zeros or other characters, the criminals effectively erase or alter all existing data, greatly impeding restoration.

This sort of criminal activity makes it difficult to determine whether criminals merely accessed the network, stole information, or altered network access and configuration files. Completing network restoration efforts and business damage assessments may also be hampered.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security encourage businesses and individuals to employ mitigation strategies and best practices such as:

  • Implement a data back-up and recovery plan to maintain copies of sensitive or proprietary data in a separate and secure location. Backup copies of sensitive data should not be readily accessible from local networks:
  • Regularly mirror and maintain an image of critical system files;
  • Encrypt and secure sensitive information;
  • Use strong passwords, implement a schedule for changing passwords frequently, and do not reuse passwords for multiple accounts;
  • Enable network monitoring and logging where feasible;
  • Be aware of social engineering tactics aimed at obtaining sensitive information; and
  • Securely eliminate sensitive files and data from hard drives when no longer needed or required.

The US-CERT Web page at www.us-cert.gov hosts a wide range of tips, best practices, and threat information for business and home users.

Protecting your home or business network from cyber criminals is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Police Community Relations Meeting Postponed

The Northwest District 6/8 Police Community Relations meeting that was scheduled for Monday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m. at Bushnell Congregational Church has been cancelled due to building problems.

While the Northwest District Police Community Relations Organization apologizes for the late notice, they ask that everyone joins them for their next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

House Explodes in Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood

The Detroit Fire Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is currently investigating a house that exploded this afternoon in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. The explosion also reportedly set two neighboring houses ablaze. According to WXYZ-TV, crews from DTE Energy have already ruled out a gas leak as an apparent cause of this explosion at 7834 Faust.

All of the homeowners affected by this explosion, and the accompanying fires, are being helped by the American Red Cross.

Scholarship Opportunity from Kroger

$60,000 in Scholarships are Available

February is Black History month and Kroger would like to invite students to participate in its 5th annual I Can Make History contest. Kroger will award more that $60,000 in scholarships, laptop computers, and family field trips to student winners in four categories: art, essay, music, and poetry.

The I Can Make History contest is open to Michigan students in the Michigan Kroger Division in the 4th through 12th  grades. Entries must be each student's original work, with one entry accepted per student per category.

All entries will be judged by an independent organization. Winners will be notified by March 14.  

Every student entering must fill out an application and submit a signed authorization form. The latter will give Kroger permission to display each winning entry at designated venues in Michigan. Visit ICanMakeHistory.com for more information and to download registration forms.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Detroit Meets the State of the Union Address

I have to say that I loved all of the references to Detroit that President Barack Obama made in his State of the Union Address this evening. He talked about the auto industry, manufacturing, and how all of this is vital to America.

I don't think any other President has ever included as many references to Detroit in his State of the Union address.

Michigan Community Resources Posts a Job Opening

Michigan Community Resources seeks a self-directed, enthusiastic and energetic candidate to fill an immediate vacancy for the position of Program Manager. We provide free legal, educational, and technical services to nonprofits and community organizations in Michigan. Since its inception in 1998, we have secured legal representation for over 900 non-profit organizations. The estimated market value of these services exceeds $10 million. Michigan Community Resources is also leading an effort in Detroit called the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign to address the foreclosure and vacancy crisis.

The Program Manager will report to the Director of Education and Outreach programs and will be responsible for managing Education and Outreach Initiatives, which could include the direction, coordination, and implementation of Michigan Community Resources’s education workshops, seminars, publications, the Community Resource Library, and various outreach andcommunity engagement activities. Qualified candidates will be pro-active, able to manage multiple projects at once, possess excellent written and communication skills, and work well with diverse groups. The Program Manager will work closely with the other Program Managersand will coordinate work flow both internally and externally in order to meet time-sensitive project goals.

Specific Responsibilities Include:

  • Promote Michigan Community Resources’s mission, purpose, values and provide value to our clients;
  • Build community relationships and networks of support for Michigan Community Resources with the nonprofit, legal, community development, government, and philanthropic communities;
  • Promote our products and services and recruit new clients;
  • Facilitate the execution of Education and Outreach Initiatives, which includes helping to design scope, goals and deliverables of specific projects;
  • Analyze the systems in place that affect neighborhood quality of life (i.e., vacant properties, foreclosure process, tax reversion, nuisance abatement, code enforcement, repair/rehab resources, property disposition, etc.) and offer ideas for program offerings;
  • Identify innovative and comprehensive strategies to connect communities to program resources as well as public decision making processes;
  • Assist in the continued development of the Education Series and the development of a Community Resource Library;
  • Manage distribution of education materials;
  • Track program deliverable using appropriate tools;
  • Develop reports defining program progress, problems, and solutions;
  • Write technical reports and other communications;
  • Assist with writing educational publications on relevant community issues;
  • Support the Director of Education and Outreach in identifying program needs and opportunities and raising funds to support the education and outreach programs; and
  • Other duties as assigned by Program Director or Chief Program Officer

Skill Requirements and Preferred Qualifications:

  • Master's Degree in Education, Social Work, Nonprofit Administration, Political Science or a related discipline;
  • Highly proficient with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Microsoft Access, and Adobe Creative Suite, strongly preferred;
  • Exceptional project management skills, qualification or certification in project management a plus;
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • Direct work experience in project management capacity;
  • Proficient in project management software a plus;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills in multiple, diverse settings;
  • Exceptional organizational and time management skills;
  • Ability to work effectively in a dynamic, highly-productive, team environment;
  • Enthusiasm for Michigan Community Resources mission to serve non-profits and low-income communities; and
  • 3-5 + years relevant experience, preferred.

Michigan Community Resources is an equal opportunity employer and offers a full range of benefits, including paid vacation, health, dental and optical insurance, short term and long term disability insurance, and basic term life insurance. Annual salary starts at $40,000 and is commensurate with experience and credentials. Interviews begin immediately. Interested persons should send a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references to Shamyle Nesfield, Director of Education and Outreach of the Michigan Community Resources at 615 Griswold, Suite 1805 in Detroit, Michigan 48226 or via email to snesfield [at] clronline [dot] org.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Winter That Wasn't

In my short walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I talk about the winter of 2011/12 and how it really hasn't been winter.

64.2% of Detroiters Don't Believe Chief Godbee

Detroit's Police Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr. issued a statement on Friday, January 13 in which he declared that, while Detroit's homicide rate had gone up by 12% in 2011, our overall crime rate had actually gone down by 8%. I, of course, put aside the obvious question of wondering whether or not one might be tempting fate by making a major announcement on a Friday the 13th. Instead, I asked if anyone believed Chief Godbee's claim that crime was down overall in Detroit.

I asked this question on Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter as well as in person at a variety of establishments throughout Detroit. In all, a total of 106 Detroiters answered my question as to whether or not they believed that crime really was down in our city. My completely unscientific polling found:

  • 7 Detroiters (6.6% of respondents) said they believed Chief Godbee that crime really was down in Detroit in 2011 in comparison to the year before without any further clarification; 
  • 31 Detroiters in my sample (29.2% of respondents) indicated that they believed that crime was only  down because of a declining population; and
  • 68 Detroiters (64.2% of respondents) said that they did not believe Chief Godbee's claim at all.
I have to say that it does not bode well for Mayor Dave Bing nor Chief Godbee when such a large group of Detroiters indicate that they do not believe the Detroit Police Department's official crime statistics. Official statistics, after all, are supposed to be comprehensive, objective, and credible. When a solid majority of Detroiters don't believe them, it is indicative of a larger problem within the Bing Administration, in my opinion.

My personal opinion, in the interest of disclosure, is that Detroit has likely seen a significant drop in the number of crimes that have been reported to police. However, since my sources tell me that almost 30% of calls to 9-1-1 do not yield a response, the fact remains that there is a large amount of crime in Detroit that never makes it into our crime statistics. Unless those individuals who called 9-1-1, but did not get a police officer to show up when one was needed, took the time to go to a police station and file a report then the crime that they called 9-1-1 to report would have never made it into our statistics.

It seems highly doubtful, to me at least, that someone who wasn't able to get a response to a 9-1-1 call would take the time to file another report. Therefore, we likely have thousands of additional crimes in our city that aren't included in the official statistics. The most likely conclusion, in my estimation, is that our true live of crime in Detroit was up in 2011; not down.

I'm confident that Chief Godbee and Mayor Bing will disagree with me on this. Of course, if they could make it so that Detroit police officers showed every time that they're needed and did so in a timely manner then we would likely have a better picture of what is really happening on our streets.

KFC Scholars Program - Apply by February 8

KFC Colonel's Scholars is looking for high school seniors with entrepreneurial drive, strong perseverance, and demonstrated financial need who want to pursue a college education at an accredited public institution in the state they reside.

The KFC Colonel's Scholars Program is about you, your dreams and aspirations, and the perseverance to succeed. This program is offered to high school seniors planning to attend a public in-state college or university. Students who meet the criteria may apply online to become a KFC Colonel's Scholar. Students selected for this scholarship are eligible to receive up to $20,000 to complete a bachelor's degree program.

More information is available at www.kfcscholars.org.

The KFC Colonel's Scholars Program is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Suspect Arrested in Warrendale Shooting

Earlier this month, a young man was fatally shot inside a tobacco store at the corner of W. Warren Ave. and Minock. Yesterday evening, the Detroit Police Department announced that they have arrested the shooter.

On Tuesday, January 3, at approximately 6:30 p.m., Detroit Police responded to a priority run of a “fatal shooting.” Officers arrived at the scene and discovered the victim, a black male aged 22, fatally wounded.

After a thorough investigation by homicide investigators, the shooter was identified as Alon Turner, age 30 of Detroit. The police allege that Mr. Turner entered the business, confronted his victim, and fired shots, which fatally wounded him.

A murder warrant was issued for Mr. Turner. The Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team arrested him on Thursday, January 19 in the 18000 block of Prairie without incident.

Mr. Turner was arraigned on felony charges of first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. His next court date is scheduled on January 30 at 1:30 p.m.  Until then, he was remanded to the Wayne County Jail.

“The Detroit Police Homicide Investigators are determined to apprehend persons who commit heinous crimes,” Chief Ralph Godbee said in a prepared statement.  “With any homicide, the family needs and deserves to see those persons brought to justice.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ruin Porn Goes to the Sundance Film Festival

I don't usually do movie reviews on this blog. However, I've seen enough conversation about Detropia on Facebook and elsewhere that I feel compelled to opine, especially since the Warrendale neighborhood has been hit by the scrappers that are the subject of this movie.

For those who aren't familiar with Detropia, it's a new documentary by Academy Award nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Ostensibly, it looks at the "scrappers" who make a living by illegally tearing down vacant buildings in Detroit; selling the scrap metal that they find. A preview of it is available here.

Quite frankly, from the preview that was shown, it's clear that this movie could have been done entirely with stock footage and no one would know the difference. It rehashes the old "lots of people have moved out of Detroit and - look - some folks are tearing down the old buildings" shtick that has been played over and over for decades in this town.

Another look at this subject wouldn't have been so bad, if only Heidi Ewing or Rachel Grady introduced something original into their movie. But they didn't.

There's a portion in the preview where some of the scrappers talk about how the police don't bother them, which is a quote that I've heard dozens of times. It would have been nice if the filmmakers asked why this is or talked to the police. That would have been something original.

But they didn't do that.

There's a portion in the preview where one of the scrappers revealed that he came from Kentucky to tear down buildings illegally in Detroit. It would have been nice if Heidi Ewing or Rachel Grady asked him why he chose to travel more than 300 miles - and go past thousands of other vacant buildings in the process - in order to tear down the ones in Detroit. That would also would have been something original.

But they didn't ask that question.

Instead, all we have is yet another film that is shockingly like the thousands of others that have been done on this subject. In the meantime, we still have Detropia - a film wastes the filmmakers time and, more importantly, it wastes the audiences's time.

There's a part of me that simply cannot believe that a boring, derivative monstrosity like this made it into the Sundance Film Festival. Unfortunately, there's an even larger part of me that find it all too easy to believe. Making boring and uninspired movies about Detroit is one of those things folks living in New York or Los Angeles simply can't stop themselves from doing.

It is, however, sad that ruin porn has made it to the Sundance Film Festival - and sadder still that this was almost inevitable. I simply hope that someone somehow manages to bring some semblance of originality and authenticity to the story.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Friends of Rouge Park to Meet Tomorrow

The next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 18 from 6 - 7 p.m. at the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood). 

Updates on the developing plan for the future of Rouge Park will be presented as well as updates on the planned controlled burn of the Rouge Park Prairie at the southwest corner of Joy & Outer Drive this spring.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Godbee Says Crime is Down. Will Anyone Believe Him?

Ralph Godbee, Chief of the Detroit Police Department, announced on Friday that crime in Detroit was down for 2011 in all categories except for homicides, which saw a 12% increase over 2010. The question is: will anyone in Detroit believe him?

I'm sure there are some folks in the suburbs, who never see any part of Detroit other than the sports stadiums, the casinos and possibly the Wayne State Police Patrol Zone, who might be tempted to believe him. However, I cannot find a single person in any of Detroit's regular neighborhoods who believes that crime is going down in our community.

I have talked to dozens of Detroit residents since this press conference happened. Everyone that I've talked to in recent days has either was a victim of crime during 2011 or knows someone well was. Less than half of the crime victims that I talked to actually filed a police report. Because no police report was filed, those incidents never made it into the Detroit Police Department's statistics.

Very few Detroit residents have any confidence that the Detroit Police Department will be able to solve a crime that is reported to them. The sad fact is that Chief Godbee's desire to keep his administrative and command ranks flush have compromised Detroit's front-line operations. This, in turn, leaves them largely unable to respond to crime with anything other than a report that the victim can file with their insurance company.

If one doesn't need a police report for their insurance claim, or the crime isn't something that an insurance claim can address, then a great many Detroiters don't believe it's worth the effort to file a police report. This creates the illusion that crime is down in Detroit at a time when residents and business owners know first-hand that it is up.

Regardless, Chief Godbee feels a need to take credit for doing something about crime. It's a shame he isn't able to actually do something about crime rather than simply try to take credit for improvements that never really happened.

What You Need to Know About the Pension Tax

State Representative Harvey Santana, whose district includes the Warrendale neighborhood, included an explanation of the changes to how pensions are taxed in Michigan in a recent newsletter. In my opinion, this is the best summary of the changes that I have seen. Therefore, I wanted to include it here, without any further editing from me.

Understanding the taxes on pensions is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

In May, the Governor signed legislation that changes Michigan’s tax structure. This new legislation took effect on Jan. 1, 2012 and does not apply to or otherwise impact 2011 tax returns that are due in 2012. Instead, the first returns that are affected by this legislation are those returns that are due in 2013.

For tax year (TY) 2011 all Social Security, public pension income, and most private pension income is deductible from the state income tax.

Though I did not support it, beginning in TY 2012, the tax treatment of retirement income will be largely based on the age of the taxpayer. Retirement/pension deductions will be based on the oldest spouse for married taxpayers. Military pensions and retirement benefits received under the federal Railroad Retirement Act will continue to be exempt. However, other retirement income exemptions will phase out the current exemptions based on age:

People 67 years old and older in 2012 are held harmless.

People who are between 60 and 66 years old in 2012 are able to exempt up to $20,000 (for a single taxpayer) or $40,000 (for those married filing jointly) of retirement income.

When these individuals are 67 years old and older, they will receive a special senior exemption of $20,000 (or $40,000 for those married filing jointly) in addition to their Social Security and personal exemptions.

People younger than 60 years old in 2012 will receive no retirement income exemption until they turn 67 years old.

When these individuals are 67 years old and older, they will receive a special senior exemption of $20,000 (or $40,000 for those married filing jointly) OR they may take the Social Security and personal exemptions.

I hope that this information proves useful to you. An additional resource for information on taxes and tax preparation can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/taxes.

As always, I want to be available to you to answer any questions or to hear your thoughts and concerns. You can reach me by contacting me by calling (517) 373-6990 or by email.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mayor Bing Puts a Smile on Failure

Mayor Dave Bing cannot get the police, fire, or EMS to show up when they're needed in Detroit's neighborhoods. His solution to this isn't to reform the system or to improve services. Instead, his solution is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to coach employees on customer service skills.

I'm not kidding.

Mayor Bing is not trying to fix our problems with the police department, which has the largest budget in the nation on a per resident basis and the worst response time in the nation.

Mayor Bing is not trying to fix our problems with EMS, which has response times that are well below national norms.

Mayor Bing is not trying to fix our problems with the fire department, which also has a response time that is well below national norms.

Instead, he is coaching city workers on how to deliver inferior service with a smile.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Future of Mass Transit in Detroit

The future of mass transit in Detroit now consists of a so-called "bus rapid transit" project that is so watered down that it's basically a dressed up express bus between downtown and M-59 along with a "light rail" project that's just a street car.

Oh, and the hope that these two things will somehow inspire the region to create regional transit authority that works.

I don't think I could be less excited.

One More Reason Why Detroit Is Kind Of Badass

The folks at Triple Pundit came out with their list recently of the 10 Emerging Sustainable Cities to Watch in 2012. Detroit, of course, was on their list.

This is one more example of Detroit being kind of badass, in a long stream of such examples. All of which makes me wonder how incredibly awesome this town would be if we had a local government that was only mildly incompetent and/or corrupt.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Calling All Book Clubs

Edison Branch Library
The Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library (18400 Joy Rd.) would like to support your book club. Please talk with one of the librarians if you are looking for a comfortable meeting location, book swaps, or special events.

Books clubs at the Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The Pervert In Me Is Happy Right Now

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog got its 69th "like" on Facebook today. I just want to say that the part of me that is still a 14 year old boy is very happy at this moment.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Dearborn Police Beef Up Traffic Stops

The Dearborn Police Department is doing heavy enforcement near Warrendale tonight. I've seen traffic stops on Paul and Greenfield thus far.

Guest Commentary: Virtual Precincts Don't Address Real Problems

I have to admit that I'm torn in regards to the "virtual police precincts" that Detroit's Police Chief Ralph Godbee announced yesterday. I've advocated cutting administrative jobs within the police department for years. However, what I've advocated for was to cut the jobs at headquarters, rather than the ones in the precincts.

I'm still not sure about these "virtual police precincts." That's why I'm glad to have a retired police sergeant, and longtime resident of the Warrendale neighborhood, David L. Malhalab available to share his thoughts. The comments below are his own, with only minimal editing from me.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee has foisted the most outlandish reorganization plan on the residents of Detroit - one that will put the lives of Detroit Police Officers and residents in danger.

He will close precincts - a necessary public building that should be kept open, at all costs. Close City Hall, cut the City Council staff and budget, but keep police precincts open 24/7. Detroit is not Boston or Lansing, it is Detroit - a deeply troubled city with very serious crime problems. Say goodbye to Detroit's false claim of "community relations."

Godbee, the Chief that shouldn't have been, and with the apparent approval of Mayor Dave Bing, will close the precincts between 4 p.m. - 8 a.m. (16 hours) to the public. Precincts have been an essential safe haven, crime reporting, and contact point between the community and the police. It is outrageous and simply, defiantly wrong to close any Detroit Police precinct for any time.

There needs to be some restructuring  within the police department - some inside police duties should be shifted to sworn civilians - but to denigrate and deceive Detroit residents, into believing that police officers don't serve the needs of residents by working inside the precinct stations - is a damnable lie - and Chief Godbee comparing officers who work inside to "Maytag repairman - waiting for a crime to happen" is insulting, and clearly dim witted. Godbee has insulted all police officers in Detroit and throughout the nation, with this clear misrepresentation of what police officers do - while assigned to inside duties.

Detroit needs more police officers on the street patrolling, but officers are needed to take thousands of police reports that citizens make inside the station - that patrolling officers can't take - which frees officers to keep patrolling.

Detroit needs police detectives in the precincts - to investigate the crime that patrolling officers and desk officers take. They need to be the contact point for residents who can't figure out where to go to get follow up information on their reported crime.

Crisnet, the primary crime report system for DPD has been a mistake and a ball and chain around the ankles of police officers since former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings approved using it - it keeps police officers from properly patrolling the streets - I have complained about it for years - former Assistant Police Chief Ronald Haddad (now Dearborn Police Chief) wrote an infamous memo, confirming my criticism of Crisnet.

Every police chief since Cummings has said that Crisnet would be dropped. It has not been - so police officers continue to be burdended by a slow crime report system.

Councilman Gray Brown has said that he could save the Detroit Police Department $8 million dollars, but has failed to put his suggestions on the table. He continues to try con Detroit residents with his ignorant blather - rather that putting a concrete proposal out so it can be discussed.

Bing put his faith and the lives of Detroit police officers and residents in the hands of Godbee - and we have got nothing good from him.

I have complained about the low hiring standards, lack of training and lack of equipment in the Department, and for years about the nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism that has corrupted and destroyed the Detroit Police Department.

I have said for years that Detroit police officers and residents deserve better from its political leaders and it police executives - Godbee's 'virtual precincts' and his lack of real, solid, and creative solutions to the Departments problems and Mayor Bing's support of him - shows that both Bing and Godbee need to be replaced, and the sooner the better - for the safety of officers and residents.

What do you think ???


Detroit Police Plan Changes

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee held a press conference yesterday in which he outlined his proposal to create "virtual police precincts." Under this plan, police stations will be closed to the public from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m. Citizens will have to telephone the police for any services, although he did promise that telephone services would be improved.

He also announced that this is only the first of many restructuring efforts for the Detroit Police Department. We will have to see what comes next.

In the meantime, several residents and police officers, such as Officer Carol Furstenau of the Northwest District, which covers the Warrendale neighborhood, are speaking out against these "virtual police precincts." One can read more of Ms. Furstenau's comments here.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Mayor Bing Stops Trying to Fix Detroit

Mayor Bing Stopped Trying
Mayor Dave Bing and key members of his administration appeared before the Detroit City Council earlier this afternoon with the stated purpose of presenting an update on the Mayor's plan to address Detroit's current round of budget problems. I didn't think this was possibly, but I actually have even less confidence in Mayor Bing's ability and willing to address Detroit's problems right now than I did before.

To Mayor Bing's credit, he did report that the City of Detroit had received $15 million in payments that were owed to it by the Detroit Public Schools. The rest of his presentation, however, consisted of nothing more than a) repeating the claim that previous administrations didn't do anything about Detroit's long-term problems and b) repeating his promise that he would soon get concessions from the labor unions that would solve all of our problems.

I have been following Detroit's budget problems since the days of Mayor Coleman A. Young when I worked for the City while going to college. The fact of the matter is that every Mayor of Detroit in the past half century has blamed his predecessors for not doing much about the City's financial problems. Every Mayor of Detroit in the past half century has promised that they would be the one would finally set things right. Every Mayor of Detroit in the past half century has also gone to the same well of demanding concessions from the unions as their way of accomplishing this.

All of them have done this. None of them have ever accomplished anything - even when the labor unions have gone along with the concessions.

The fundamental problem is that labor concessions will not take Detroit very far. Even before our current round of budget problems began, the City of Detroit had a civilian workforce where their total cost of employment (i.e., wages + benefits) was lower than their private sector counterparts. If those costs are driven down further then the best employees we have don't have a reason to stay with the City.

The end result is that we may well end up with a workforce that consists of people that no one else wants to hire. That hurts the quality of services that we can deliver, which - in turn - hurts our ability to attract and retain residents and businesses. All of that contributes to the next round of budget problems that we will again encounter.

This, of course, is why the City of Detroit has been in an almost never ending spiral of budget problems and short-term fixes. I have proposed options for addressing some of the financial challenges that we have without cutting services that our residents rely on. Others have offered similar suggestions. Mayor Bing, unfortunately, has chosen to ignore almost every one of them.

Instead, we simply have a repeat of the budget addresses that Mayors Young, Archer, Kilpatrick, and Cockrel have all offered. I'm seriously starting to think that the Mayor's Office is trapped in a Groundhog Day time warp.

All of which leads me to have even less confidence in Mayor Bing's ability and willingness to make a difference now more than ever before.

Update @ 7:48 p.m.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the City Council isn't buying Mayor Bing's assurances that he's on top of this either. Their take on this is available here.

Council and Mayor to Discuss Budget Plan

The Detroit City Council will meet with Mayor Dave Bing at 2 p.m. this afternoon to discuss his budget reduction plan. Comcast customers in Detroit can watch this meeting live on channel 22. Everyone else can watch it online here.

I will, of course, have much more to say about the City of Detroit's finances after this meeting.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Shooting at W. Warren and Minock

According to multiple sources who live near the intersection, there was a fatal shooting yesterday evening at the corner of W. Warren Ave. and Minock. The shooting reportedly happened at approximately 6 p.m.

No additional details are available at this time.

Update - January 21: Detroit Police have arrested a 30 year old man, Alon Turner, in connection with this shooting. They allege that Mr. Turner was the shooter in question. More details are available here.

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I also invite you to check out my personal blog, The Voices in Frank's Head. That blog contains posts about dating, movies, music, the space program, television, and my life in general as well as a surprising number of posts about bacon. It is available here.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Town Hall Meeting to be Held Today Regarding an Emergency Manager for Detroit

A town hall meeting will be held later today to discuss the possibility of an emergency manager in Detroit's financial crisis.

This meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church (2080 W. Grand Blvd.), which is approximately 10 miles east of the Warrendale neighborhood. Various leaders are expected to attend the town hall including Mayor Dave Bing, Congressman John Conyers, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin as well as members of the Detroit City Council.

In December, Governor Snyder named the members of the city's financial review team. Those appointments came after a preliminary review by the Michigan Department of Treasury found "probable financial stress."

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Fewer Gun Shots Than Last Year

For what it's worth, it would appear that New Year's 2012 began with far less celebratory gun fire than previous years. I heard some, but it was much, much less than a year ago. Also, as I check in with friends on Facebook and elsewhere, it would appear that this trend is citywide.

For this, I am thankful. Very, very thankful.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.