Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Operation: Spend Frank's Money" Is In Effect

Ladies and gentlemen of interwebs, I'm pleased to announce that Operation: Spend Frank's Money is once again in full effect. Please go "like" the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog on Facebook. Once another 44 people click the "like" button, I will again buy folks pizza and beverages at Gracie See Pizzeria, which was named "Best Pizza in North America" at the 2008 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

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

Leap Into Placemaking This Afternoon

Today is Leap Year Day; a day that only arrives once every four years. Our friends at Let's Save Michigan, will celebrate this ocassion at 1 p.m. this afternoon by hosting an event on Twitter called Leap Into Placemaking. It will bring four really cool national experts together for an on-line conversation about what makes for a livable place and you get to join in on the conversation.

Full details about this event are on-line here. Leap Into Placemaking is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Former City of Detroit Treasurer Indicted for Taking Bribes

Former City of Detroit Treasurer Jeffrey Beasley, of Chicago, Illinois, was charged in an indictment, unsealed today, with taking bribes and kickbacks in return for approving more than $200 million in investments by the two city of Detroit pension funds, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

Joining Ms. McQuade in the announcement was FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena.

The indictment charges that Beasley conspired with others to personally enrich himself and his co-conspirators by accepting bribes in the form of cash, travel, meals, golf clubs, drinks, gambling money, hotel stays, entertainment, Las Vegas concert tickets, massages, limousine service, private plane flights, and other things of value. These bribes to Beasley and his co-conspirators came from individuals who had business before the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit.

As city treasurer, Mr. Beasley was a member of the boards of trustees of the two pension systems, and he had a fiduciary responsibility to make decisions on investments pending before the boards in the best interests of the retirees and beneficiaries. The two Detroit pension funds suffered more than $84 million in losses from investments associated with Beasley’s bribery conspiracy. The charges were set forth in an indictment issued by a Detroit federal grand jury on January 18, 2012 that was unsealed today.

According to the six-count indictment, between January 2006 and September 2008, when Mr. Beasley served on the boards of trustees of the two pension funds, he conspired with other individuals to defraud current and retired city of Detroit employees who contributed to the two pension funds. The indictment alleges that Beasley deprived the employees of their right to honest services, including their right to Beasley’s service as a pension fund trustee, free of bribery and corruption. The indictment details the manner in which Beasley and his co-conspirators demanded and accepted bribes and kickbacks from individuals who were seeking investment monies from the two pension funds or who otherwise had business before them. The indictment alleges that Beasley personally received more than $100,000 in cash from people having business before the two pension funds. Another part of the scheme included demands by Beasley and others that individuals having business before the pension funds contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund in order to receive approval for their investment requests.

Beasley also is charged in the indictment with five counts of extortion or attempted extortion. The indictment alleges that Beasley extorted more than $10,000 in cash from persons doing business before the two pension funds at a “birthday party” in his honor. Mr. Beasley demanded $250,000 from the owner of an investment company in exchange for Mr. Beasley’s support of $44 million in investment funds from the two pension funds. Beasley demanded and received $20,000 from Marc Andre Cunningham, an aid to former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, who acted as a consultant for a communications company that received $30 million in investment funds from the two pension funds. Mr. Beasley and his co-conspirators demanded and received trips, private plane flights, and lavish entertainment from an investment manager of the Police and Fire Retirement System who managed more than $150 million in properties owned by the system.

If convicted, Mr. Beasley faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the six counts of extortion, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $225,000 in unlawful payments received by Mr. Beasley and his co-conspirators in connection with his extortion and the conspiracy.

Ms McQuade explained, “Employees of the city of Detroit are entitled to honest services from the trustees of their pension funds. We will prosecute public officials who abuse their positions of trust to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the people they were intended to serve.”

Mr. Arena added, “This is another example of a once trusted public official abusing their power for personal gain. The FBI remains dedicated to rooting out this type of corruption and reminding public officials they serve the citizens not themselves.”

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Cares and David A. Gardey.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. It will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

WDET Call to Action

Community Groups in Warrendale
WDET has challenged Detroiters to pledge 10,000 hours of volunteer hours of community service to community groups working in the city of Detroit. They are a quarter of the way towards their goal and have added some great organizations operating in the Warrendale neighborhood, such as the Warrendale Avenue Community Organization, which represents that portion of Warrendale that is east of the Southfield Freeway. The Friends of Rouge Park and the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center are also included.

You can learn more about this initiative, and make your pledge to help our community, by visiting the WDET Call to Action here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tip of the Week: Stolen Gas

My Tip of the Week for this week is a personal one.

As another sign that gas prices are going up and up, someone siphoned half a tank of gas from my tank last night. If they were willing to do it to my car, they'll do it to any other one; including yours.

The best course of action is to store your car in a locked garage every night. If you're not able to do that then I encourage you to get one of those lockable gas tank caps. It's $20 well spent and is a lot cheaper than the gasoline that it protects.

And that is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Tale of Two Mayors - How Different Mayors Have Handled Crises in Detroit

Detroit Police on the Job
Five years ago yesterday, on the evening of Friday, February 23, 2007, the region's attention was suddenly focused on Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood in shock, horror, and - above all else - moral outrage. It was on that evening that six individuals walked into a home on Mansfield Street looking to collect on a drug debt. Before the evening was over, two young boys, ages 11 and 13, were shot and killed inside their family home. Their 23 year old cousin was also shot that evening, but survived.

In the aftermath of that shooting, then Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick responded quickly. He and former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings not only spoke out fiercely against the tragedy that had unfolded in our neighborhood; they organized prayer rallies and community meetings to talk about what could be done to prevent this from happening again.

In the days and weeks after the shooting, the Detroit Police Department was everywhere. They projected a visible presence to assure residents that this would not happen again and to warn against retaliatory shootings. My coverage of the aftermath is available here.

More importantly, within a matter of days, the Detroit Police Department had all six of those perpetrators in custody and facing a judge.

That, of course, was how Kwame Kilpatrick handled the situation.

Scene from the 2009 Bus Stop Shooting
Flash forward to the afternoon of Tuesday, June 30, 2009 and this time the entire nation's attention was turned on the Warrendale neighborhood after two masked gunmen opened fire at bus stop, shooting seven teenagers in the process. Video from the shooting was on all of the local news stations as well as CNN and the other national networks.

By this time, Kwame Kilpatrick was gone. He was replaced our current mayor, Dave Bing, who repeatedly promised Detroiters "change with a sense of urgency" during his campaign.

There weren't any statements of condemnation from Mayor Bing after that shooting. No rallies or community meetings. There wasn't a surge of activity from the Detroit Police Department this time. Most importantly, it would take the police more than a year to apprehend the two shooters this time.

The impact that shooting had on the neighborhood was tremendous. Every concern about crime that every resident or business owner had became magnified. The Detroit Free Press and others wrote editorials pleading for Mayor Bing to take an aggressive public stance in this matter. Those pleas, of course, were met with deafening silence.

And then, almost five years to the day after the Mansfield Street Shooting, gunfire again claimed the life of another child in the Warrendale neighborhood. This time it was a nine month old boy on Greenview Street who was killed when three unknown assailants fired round after round of automatic gunfire into his home early in the morning.

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
This time around, there was at least a cursory state from the Chief of Police imploring Detroiters not to use firearms as a way to resolve disputes. However, we haven't seen the dramatic escalation in police presence in the neighborhood that we saw five years ago. More importantly, in contrast to the Mansfield Street Shooting, the police do not have any suspects in custody after almost a week of investigation.

All we have is inaction from the man who once promised us "change with a sense of urgency."

This is also on top of the disappearance of Margaret Theut, a seventy one year old resident of the Warrendale who mysterious disappearance last December remains an unsolved case; one that continues to garner more complaints of inaction from residents than any kind of official response from the police.

From an academic standpoint, I find it interesting to compare the active engagement of Kwame Kilpatrick with the almost Zen-like disengagement of Mayor Bing. From a personal standpoint, however, it is simply too frustrating to analyse properly.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Polish Rock Sensation Comes to Detroit

Since the Warrendale neighborhood still has a decent number of Polish Americans, and because the bands in question are just freaking awesome, I wanted to mention that the Polish rock/pop group Feel is coming to the Detroit area. Feel has been a staple of the Polish radio air waves since 2007. They are on their second U.S. tour and are touting their new CD, feel-3. Everyone in attendance at the Friday, February 24, 8:00 p.m. rock showcase at the PNA Concert Hall in Hamtramck will get a complimentary copy of their CD.

This, by the way, will be the first time Feel will play in the Detroit area.

Magda Kaminski
There will also be three other Polish pop-rockers who will open for Feel. Opening acts of Marcin Kindla, Sebastian Riedel, and Detroit favorite Magda Kaminski will warm up the crowd.

Tom Czuprynski, one of the two promoters for this show, touted the popularity and unique pop sound of Feel.  He added with enthusiasm, “The whole night will be about great music and there will be a lot of it.”

Rafal Nowakowski, the other promoter for this show, added, “We brought Magda Kaminski on the bill because she is so popular in Detroit and we wanted attendees to get an added-value bonus. Magda will do cuts from her Who I Am CD.  Feel has such a great following and lead singer Piotr Kupicha is just so giant in Europe. They have a popular sound and this will be so special for Detroit.”

Feel had their big breakout in 2007 after winning the famed Sopot International Song Festival in Poland. Their biggest hit to date has been “And When the Dusk Comes” which still tops the charts. PNA Concert Hall, 10211 Conant Avenue, Hamtramck, MI 48212. Tickets are only $40 and are available by calling 313-530-0209.

Feel members are Piotr Kupicha (lead vocals and guitar) as well as Łukasz Kożuch (keyboard), Michał Nowak (bass), Michał Opaliński (percussion), and Paweł Pawłowski (guitar).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Treasure Buddies" Comes to the Detroit Public Library

The Edison Branch (18400 Joy Rd.) of the Detroit Public Library will show a great family film, Treasure Buddies, this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The film is free and complimentary popcorn will be served.

Treasure Buddies at our local branch of the Detroit Public Library is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

9 Month Infant Murdered on Greenview Street

Early yesterday morning, at approximately 4 a.m., three unidentified men opened fire on a house on Greenview Street in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, killing a 9 month old baby boy in the process. Police believe this shooting was gang related and that someone else in the house was intended target.

WXYZ-TV has more on this story below. First, their original report from shortly after the shooting.

They also filed an update to this story later in the day.

If you know anything about the identity of these shooters, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP. Your call is anonymous and there is a $5,000 reward.

Renting a Village - Or a Piece of Detroit

The Detroit Works Project may be back on. One of the challenges of consolidating Detroit's neighborhoods is the question of what to do with all of that extra space that is left over once residents are relocated out of the less dense parts of Detroit. Quite frankly, whatever emerges will likely be a collection of several different options, all of which are still to be determined.

Of course, Detroit isn't the only place to have ever faced such questions. In Europe, there were villages that were largely depopulated. One of the solutions that they developed is to make it possible to rent an entire village.

Most of those who take advantage of this option are large corporations who use it to host retreats and other events. Those renting these villages will rename streets, incorporate their logo into the scenery, and do other things that simply are not possible in an ordinary hotel or convention center.

Something similar to this could be done in one of the depopulated parts of Detroit. It would require a considerable amount of investment to upgrade the housing stock and other infrastructure. However, the revenue from such a move could justify the expense to an investor.

This is just one of the many things that are possible as Detroit considers its future.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wayne State Police

Can we get the Wayne State Police Dept. to cover all of Detroit? It's been a long time since a kid was shot in THEIR patrol area.

Shooting on Greenview

Shooting on Greenview in the Warrendale neighborhood kills a 9 month old boy. Tragedy beyond words.

My Charles Pugh Rant

City Council President Charles Pugh is hosting a Call to Action this coming Wednesday on the campus of Wayne State University, with the stated goal of getting Detroiters to commit to 10,000 new volunteer hours in Detroit. Quite frankly, I'm a little frustrated with this.

I'm getting annoyed with city officials calling on residents and others to volunteer. Seriously. What the hell do do these people think has kept this town afloat for the past several years?

It sure as hell wasn't anything that President Pugh, or any of our other elected officials, have done that's for sure.

While the City Council was making vague, unspecified cuts to the City of Detroit's budget - and leaving it to Mayor Dave Bing to figure out the details - ordinary Detroiters were not only offering him specific suggestions on how those cuts could be implemented, but picking up trash and cutting grass at vacant lots.

While the City Council - and Mayor Bing, for that matter - were busy not responding to said suggestions for improving our budget, ordinary Detroiters were busy cleaning up parks and securing homes that were vacant and open to trespass.

While the City Council and Mayor Bing were busy cutting services and trying to extract another round of concessions from the unions so that politically connected vendors and high ranking employees wouldn't have to suffer, ordinary Detroiters were clearing flooded streets, mentoring children, deterring crime, and generally keeping this city afloat.

While President Pugh is calling on Detroiters to volunteer even more, I would like to call on everyone on the upper floors of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to do their jobs or resign.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Detroit Finalizes City Council Districts

Map of the New Districts for the Detroit City Council
The Detroit City Council approved a map earlier today for the City Council districts that will go into effect when we elect a new Council next year. They went with what was commonly known as "Option 3."

I was disappointed that they chose not to consider a map that was proposed by Data Driven Detroit, which would have kept neighborhoods together. However, I take comfort in knowing that at least all of the Warrendale neighborhood - both sides of the Southfield Freeway - is together.

None of the current members of the Detroit City Council live in District 7, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood. This means that we will see someone new represent us, beginning January of 2014.

The One with Liquid Marijuana

I find some of the darnedest things while walking through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood - including, well, liquid marijuana.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fish Fry Returns to SS. Peter and Paul Church

The SS. Peter and Paul Fish Fry is returning. It will again happen every Friday during Lent so please join them from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Activities Building of SS Peter and Paul Church for a delicious meal and fellowship. The Fish Fry dates are February 24, March 2, March 9, March 16, March 23, and March 30.

The Lenten Fish Fry at SS. Peter Paul Church is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Volunteer Your Time
The Fish Fry is a way to enable parishioners, neighbors, and friends to socialize and enjoy a meal either before or after attending Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season. The church has, unfortunately, lost quite a few of their past volunteers that were so dedicated in making sure their Fish Fry run smoothly.

They are in need of volunteers for the following areas:

  • Thursday morning/afternoon prep group (prep the salad bar, desserts, fish and coleslaw);
  • Beverage seller;  
  • Cooks;
  • Dessert table;
  • Dining room assistants;
  • Dishwashers; 
  • Meal servers;
  • Orders fillers; 
  • Order taker and/or cashier;
  • Salad bar prep and refill;
  • Ticket order announcer; and
  • Clean up

If you have any questions, or would like to volunteer, you can contact Robert Janashousky at (313) 846-2222 ext. 114 or Lawrence Kowalski at ext. 100. You can also email Bob at rjanashousky [at] comcast [dot] net or Larry at sspeterandpaul [at] comcast [dot] net.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Featured Place to Live: 7351 Penrod St.

7351 Penrod St. is a cozy single family home in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. This three bedroom, one bathroom bungalow with approximately 1,000 square feet of living space as well as a detached one car garage. It features a number of great amenities, is conveniently located, and is available for an asking price of only $45,000.

More information about this home is available on-line here. My video above showcases this property as well.

7351 Penrod St. is your Featured Place to Live in the Warrendale neighborhood for this week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Detroit Police Trying a "Broken Windows" Approach to Policing

Detroit Police on the Job
According to published reports, the Detroit Police Department has retained a consultant to help them implement a community policing program; one that is similar to those implemented years ago in other cities. This consultant will reportedly be paid more than $100,000 per year for his services.

Quite frankly, I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this news.

I firmly believe that a properly implemented community policing program, such as what we've seen in other cities, can do wonders for Detroit. This is a strategy with a proven track record in New York City and other major cities across the country. It can work in Detroit. It should have been implemented here years ago.

However, I also believe that if someone is above the rank of police lieutenant and doesn't already know how to implement a community policing strategy without the aid of consultant then, in all candor, that person should not be above the rank of lieutenant. Therefore, the fact that the Detroit Police Department needed to bring in someone to help them implement this is troubling, to say the least.

I simply hope that they are able to implement this promptly. We, as a community, can deal with the inability of the Department's executives to do their jobs - as well as Mayor Dave Bing's unwillingness to hold them accountable - in the election next year.

The One with the Collapsed House

In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I discuss several things - including a house on Artesian St. that collapsed overnight. This, by the way, was a vacant house that caught fire in August 2010. I posted a video about the original fire here.

Tip of the Week: Presidents Day Savings at Kmart

Our friends at Kmart have thousands of items on sale later this week as part of their Presidents Day Sale. Clothes, housewares, electronics, and everything one could need for the family. Plus, they will also offer free shipping on orders of $59 or more.

Please click the banner below for more details and to see all of the opportunities to save this week.

The Presidents Day Sale at Kmart is your Tip of the Week.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mayor Bing Needs to Do Something About Murder in Detroit

Charlie LeDuff
Charlie LeDuff of Fox 2 News posted an editorial yesterday in which he called passionately on Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to take a much more aggressive approach to responding to Detroit's growing homicide epidemic. I believe it something that every Detroiter should read.

Mr. LeDuff's piece is available on-line here. Please take a moment to read it.

I invite everyone to post comments below. Please share your thoughts on Mayor Bing, Mr. LeDuff, crime, and/or the Detroit Police Department.

Follow Me, Please

I love the fact that an average of 300 people visit the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog every day from around Michigan as well as from more than 50 countries around the world. A great way to keep up to date with this site is to subscribe to it, in whatever fashion best suits your preferences.

For those who enjoy using Facebook, simply click "Follow this Blog" in the right hand column. You will then see each of these posts into your Facebook news feed.

If you prefer to receive an email alert when I post new content, simply enter your email address in the box at the right and click "subscribe me". You will then receive a daily email from FeedBlitz that is secure and free of any spam.

For those who prefer Google +, you can also add the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog to your circles. A G+ box is also in the right hand column with the others.

For those who prefer to follow multiple blogs simultaneously, there is Google Reader and the other RSS aggregators (Newsgator, Netvibes, etc.). For the other RSS feeds that are available, simply select your preferred RSS feed from the drop down menu under "Subscribe to RSS Feed" in the right hand column.

As always, you can bookmark this blog and visit the site periodically. The other options simply automate things for you nicely.

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

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Reviewing the National Mortgage Settlement

The federal government and the attorneys general of forty nine different states (all of them, except for Oklahoma) reached a historic settlement earlier with the five largest mortgage service providers to address many of the illegalities that led to the mortgage crisis. Borrowers whose loans are serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are all affected by this settlement.

Since the Warrendale neighborhood was quite literally the epicenter for the mortgage crisis in southeastern Michigan, I wanted to take a moment to review what this means for homeowners in our area.

Immediate Aid to Homeowners Needing Loan Modifications
This includes a good deal of homeowners in the Warrendale area. This portion of the settlement includes both first and second lien principal reduction.  The five banks are required to work off up to $17 billion in principal reduction and other forms of loan modification relief nationwide.

State attorneys general anticipate the settlement’s requirement for principal reduction will show other lenders that principal reduction is one effective tool in combating foreclosure and that it will not lead to widespread defaults by borrowers who really can afford to pay.

Aid to Borrowers With Mortgages That Exceed Their Home’s Value
This is another common situation in Warrendale, since housing prices have dropped 80% in the past few years. Under this settlement, borrowers will be able to refinance at today’s historically low interest rates. The five banks are required to provide up to $3 billion in refinancing relief nationwide.

Other Key Provisions of the Settlement
This settlement will provide immediate payments to borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure with no requirement to prove financial harm and without having to release private claims against the servicers or the right to participate in an OCC review process. $1.5 billion will be distributed nationwide to 750,000 borrowers.

It further provides immediate payments to the forty nine states to help fund consumer protection and state foreclosure protection efforts.

The settlement also calls for the first ever nationwide reforms to servicing standards. This is something that no federal or state agency has been able to achieve. These servicing standards require single point of contact, adequate staffing levels and training, better communication with borrowers, and appropriate standards for executing documents in foreclosure cases, ending improper fees, and ending dual-track foreclosures for many loans.

Oversight of national banks by state attorney generals for the first time. This is something that no court could award.

National banks will be required to regularly report compliance with the settlement to an independent, outside monitor that reports to state attorneys general. The banks will have to pay heavy penalties for non-compliance with the settlement, including missed deadlines.

This agreement holds the banks accountable for their wrongdoing on robo-signing and mortgage servicing.  This settlement does not seek to hold them responsible for all their wrongs over the  years and the agreement and its release preserve legal options for others to pursue.

Specifically, the settlement announced earlier today does not: 
  • Release any criminal liability or grant any criminal immunity;
  • Release any private claims by individuals or any class action claims;
  • Release claims related to the securitization of mortgage backed securities that were at the heart of the financial crisis;
  • Release claims against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS);
  • End state attorneys general investigations of Wall Street related to financial fraud or the financial crisis.  
The agreement settles only some aspects of the banks conduct related to the financial crisis (foreclosure practices, loan servicing, and origination of loans) in return for the second largest state attorneys general recovery in history and direct relief to distressed borrowers while they can still use it. 

State cases against the rating agencies, as well as cases related to bid-rigging in the municipal bond market, will continue unimpeded by this settlement. Claims and investigations against MERS and how Wall Street packaged mortgages into securities will also continue.

On January 27, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder along with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Securities and Exchange Commission Director of Enforcement Robert Khuzami and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the formation of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group.  The working group will investigate those responsible for misconduct contributing to the financial crisis through the pooling and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.

More information about the National Mortgage Settlement is available here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Play Wii Games at the Detroit Public Library

Residents and visitors to Detroit's Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods are invited to play Wii video games at the Edison Branch (18400 Joy Rd.) of the Detroit Public Library. Games will be available to play for free this Saturday, February 11, from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Playing Wii games at the Detroit Public Library is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Random Moments in Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood

It's time for another walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. In today's walk, I talk (again) about the weird weather that we've been having (with a video contrast this time), how busy some of the businesses are, and other random moments in the neighborhood.

Separating the Warrendale Neighborhood from Detroit

It's no secret that those of us who live in Detroit pay taxes that are almost double national averages yet receive services that, to put as diplomatically as possible, are severely lacking. The Detroit Police Department has the worst response times of any urban department in the industrialized world, in spite of having one of the largest budgets of any such department. Street lights are problematic, at best. The list simply goes on from there.

All of this stands in stark contrast with our suburban neighbors. Their local governments get more done, faster, and with a lot less money than the City of Detroit does.

As a result, one of the common musings that I hear is: why doesn't the Warrendale neighborhood secede from with the City of Detroit and either become a part of Dearborn or simply become an independent city?

Leading the Warrendale Liberation Movement

I dealt with this question frequently when I was vice president of the Warrendale Community Organization in 1995-96 and again when I was president. The idea has been around for more than a decade, if not longer. As such, I wanted to post about this in detail since I'm hearing it with greater and greater frequency as Detroit's troubles continue on and on.

I sat down with an attorney to gain perspective on exactly what it would take for the Warrendale neighborhood to dissolve its relationship with the City of Detroit. The fundamental problem is that there currently isn't a procedure in place for residents of one city to succeed and either form a new city or join an existing city. Current law in Michigan, I have learned, is built on the assumption that individual cities - not the residents of those cities - would initiate any changes in their political boundaries.

As a result, if residents of the Warrendale neighborhood wanted to dissolve their relationship with the City of Detroit, the first thing that we would have to do is create the legal procedure that we would later have to follow to do such a thing. This, by the way, would most likely mean that we would have to gather enough signature to create a ballot initiative and put it on the statewide ballot.

We would then have to wage a statewide campaign to get said ballot initiative passed. The majority of voters across Michigan would have to approve legislation to give us the legal authority to secede from Detroit and to set a procedure for such a thing to happen.

Once we complete the statewide campaign to create a procedure for such a secession to happen, and the ballot initiative passes, then and only then would we be able to begin the process to secede from the City of Detroit. All told, between launching a statewide ballot initiative to create the process for us to secede and then implementing such a process, it would unquestionably take more than a year to complete - even longer if the ruling kleptocracy within Detroit decides to fight such a move.

My personal opinion is that such a move should be an absolute last resort, simply because of the amount of time and effort that would be involved. There may well come a point where we have to resort to such a move. However, I don't think we're there yet.

Detroit will almost certainly have a new mayor in less than two years from today. Mayor Dave Bing has failed so miserably that it's unlikely he will even make it past the primary, let alone gain re-election. We will also have a new City Council that will be elected by districts, an elected Board of Police Commissioners, and new ethics rules. All of this adds us to a considerable amount of changes that are coming in the next 23 months; changes that do not bode well for the kleptocracy.

I respect those who have quietly advocated for separating the Warrendale neighborhood from the City of Detroit. If they decided to move forward with it without, I would wish them the best and sign their petitions. However, when one considers the amount of time and effort that such a move require as well as the magnitude of changes that are in store for Detroit in the coming months, an effort towards secession is not where I would put my resources at this time.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Congressman Hoekstra Shots Himself in the Foot

Since I already posted about one of the two Super Bowl ads that everyone is talking about in Michigan, I figure I may as well comment about the other one. Congressman Pete Hoekstra released a commercial that even conservatives have attacked as racist, xenophobic, and just plain stupid.

Of course, that's not the biggest problem that Republicans should have with Congressman Hoekstra's ad. The fact of the matter is that this leaves him open to some devastating attacks.

All the Democrats will have to do when the general election draws closer is show voters the hundreds of press releases that Congressman Hoekstra sent out during his tenure in Washington, DC in which he bragged about all of the federal money that he brought back to his district. I suppose, after all, that he only has a problem with government spending when it is going to someone else.

If there's one thing that I've learned over the years it's that voters may not be happy about borrowing money from the Chinese, but they really, really don't like hypocrisy. This commercial simply reeks of it.

Tax Help for Seniors at the Detroit Public Library

Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library
Volunteers from the AARP will be at the Edison Branch (18400 Joy Rd.) of the Detroit Public Library to assist low-income seniors with tax preparation. They will be available to help on Tuesdays, February 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 10:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Tax help for senior citizens is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

It's Halftime in America

My thanks go out to Clint Eastwood and everyone at Chrysler for another great Detroit-themed commercial in this year's Super Bowl. Everyone knows that Chrysler makes some great products. It's nice to see them embracing the city where those products are built like this.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Blogging on Facebook

Thank you to everyone who has "liked" the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog on Facebook. My page is currently at 93 likes and climbing. Once it hits 100, I'll have a party at Gracie See Pizzeria to celebrate.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog page is located here on Facebook. Please suggest it to your friends from the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Imagine ZORBing in Detroit's Rouge Park

I discovered this thing on-line called ZORBing, which is basically rolling downhill in a large inflatable globe.

It looks like a lot of fun and I keep thinking: how awesome would it be to do something like this down Derby Hill in Rouge Park?

There are currently only a handful of locations in the world where one can go ZORBing, with the closest one to us being in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. However, I think this would be a really cool thing to bring to Michigan and I can't think of better place for it than Rouge Park.

Former Detroit Public Schools Accountant Indicted on Corruption Charges

Sandra Campbell, a former Detroit Public Schools contract accountant and school board candidate, as well as her daughter, Domonique Campbell, a Detroit Public Schools teacher, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of program fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and tax charges, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced yesterday.

Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.

The nine-count indictment charges that between 2004 and 2008, Sandra Campbell, 56, and Domonique Campbell, 37, obtained in excess of $530,000 from the Detroit Public Schools through a fraudulent scheme in which orders were placed with the Campbells’ sham company for books and educational materials never provided to the schools. The indictment further alleges that Sandra Campbell and Domonique Campbell conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and failed to report the money they fraudulently obtained from the Detroit Public Schools as income on their tax returns.

Sandra Campbell is also charged in the indictment with wire fraud. This count alleges that Ms. Campbell obtained a $40,000 discount payoff of a $250,000 mortgage on her home through a fraudulent “short sale” of the property to her mother.

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said in a prepared statement, “Anyone who considers stealing from our school children should take note that we are scrutinizing records and conduct, and will prosecute wrongdoers. “

Agent Arena added, “The FBI would like to thank all of our partners who continue to assist us in battling corruption. In particular, I would like to note the continued support of DPS Inspector General Van Marsh and his team, The alleged actions of these subjects do nothing more than steal the opportunity for quality education from our children. Such actions can not be tolerated and will be pursued by the FBI and it’s partners.”

Agent Martinez also stated, “Those who profit at the expense of our children and steal from our community will be held accountable for their greedy actions.”

The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI, IRS, and Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of Detroit Public Schools, Office of Inspector General. The case is being investigated and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Michael Buckley and Pamela Thompson of the Public Corruption Unit.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Celebrate the Super Bowl at Chick's Bar

This Sunday is Super Bowl XLVI and there's no place better in the neighborhood to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday than at Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.).

Come enjoy Super Bowl XLVI at Chick's Bar with some free food, fun games, and giveaways. Plus, as always, there will be lots of cheap drinks.

Super Bowl XLVI at Chick's Bar is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

My Budget Rant

The Detroit City Council threatened a new round of budget cuts on Monday. Quite frankly, I find the idea of making these cuts, when they haven't even tried more common sense approaches, to be incredibly stupid.

I just needed to rant to get a few things off my chest. Please let me know if you agree, disagree, or just think I'm nuts.