Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Men Sentenced in Dearborn Armored Car Robbery

Stock Photo by Cyan Li
Two men were sentenced this morning for murder, bank robbery, and conspiracy relating to armored car robberies in Dearborn and Detroit, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced this morning. Shewas joined in this announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Edward Hanko of the Detroit Division of the FBI.

U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts sentenced Kevin Watson, 41, and Norman Duncan, 42, both of Detroit. Mr. Watson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was convicted by a jury on November 22, 2011. Mr. Duncan was sentenced to thirty-seven years in prison, which will run consecutive to his state sentence for a third armored car robbery after pleading guilty on January 10.

Mr. Watson continued to maintain his innocence at his sentencing today. However, Judge Roberts stated that she believed the witnesses against him and found that he committed perjury when he testified.

The evidence presented during the trial showed that during the early morning hours of December 14, 2001, Watson, Duncan, and four other men robbed an armored truck delivering money to the ATM machines at the Dearborn Federal Credit Union, which is south of the Warrendale neighborhood. During the course of this robbery, armored truck guard Norman Anthony Stephens was shot in the back and killed with shotguns used by the robbers.

Mr. Watson, Mr. Duncan, and their fellow robbers escaped the scene with $204,000 in cash. At the time, Mr. Stephens and his two fellow guards were employees of Total Armored Car Services in Detroit. Mr. Stephens was married; he and his wife had six children. The evidence also showed that Mr. Duncan and two other men robbed an armored truck delivering money to an ATM at a Comerica Bank branch in Detroit on June 19, 2003. During the course of the robbery, armored truck guard Jonathan Smith was shot by the robbers.

Co-defendants Timothy O’Riley and Earl Johnson have been sentenced to life in prison. Co-defendants Khayyam Wilson and Henry Matthews are set to be sentenced on June 25 and Archie Broom is set for sentencing August 1.

“It is gratifying to see significant sentences for these defendants and to know that justice has been done for Norman Stephens and his family,” Ms. McQuade said in a prepared statement. “These sentences show that violent behavior that harms innocent people will result in severe consequences.”

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Chasteen, Kenneth Chadwell, and Maggie Smith.

Tip of the Week: Enjoy Fireworks Safely

Stock Photo by Joseph Hart
As we head towards the 4th of July, and fireworks are hear throughout the Warrendale neighborhood with increasing regularity, the Detroit Fire Department offers a few suggestions about how to enjoy them safely. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home - period. The safest thing to do is attend public fireworks displays and leave lighting them to the professionals.

If you ultimately decide to engage in this very dangerous activity, make sure fireworks are legal in your area and follow these safety tips:
  • Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.;
  • Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly;
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks;
  • Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a devise does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it;
  • Always read the directions and warning labels on fireworks. If a devise is not marked with the contents, direction and a warning label, do not light it; and
  • Supervise children around fireworks at all times.

Enjoying fireworks safely is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Fire in Warrendale

I hear several fire trucks in the vicinity of Paul St. and the Southfield Fwy. Not sure what's on fire but something sure is.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Chicago Alderman Worries About Becoming Detroit. He Has Nothing to Worry About

The Chicago Sun-Times published an article about a road rage shooting that may or may not have been gang-related. In it, was a quote from an unnamed Chicago alderman who worried about his city "becoming Detroit."

From the article (complete with an uncorrected spelling error):
When you start having that [violence] in a place where people generally feel safe, that’s when we start becoming Detroit,” said one alderman, who asked to remain annonymous.
There are several points about this that concern me.

I'll start with the fact that The Chicago Sun-Times published an article with the word "anonymous" misspelled. I simply hope that journalists in Detroit will be able to take a break from their Pulitzer Prize acceptance speeches to send their counterparts in the Windy City a dictionary. Mistakes like that one make everyone look bad.

Second, you know a thought is a really stupid one when a Chicago alderman doesn't want his name associated with it. Quite frankly, the only problem most Chicago politicians have with narcissistic personality disorders is that they aren't named after one of them.

Finally, I have to ask: how in the world can someone from the city that made gangland shootings famous worry that one more shooting means Chicago is "becoming Detroit"?

Don't worry, Chicagoans. You have a long way to go until you reach Detroit status.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Community Plans for Restoration of Joy Road in Detroit

Photo from
Joy Road is scheduled for a total restoration in 2013 as part of the Downtowns of Promise program that is sponsored by Michigan State Housing Development Authority. As part of the community design initiative, Michigan State University will facilitate a meeting to obtain input into how this should happen.

This meeting will on Wednesday, June 20 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. It will be held at the Edison Branch of the Detroit Public Library (18400 Joy Rd.).

Everyone who lives in, works in, or otherwise has an interest in Joy Road, which is the northern boundary of the Warrendale neighborhood, is invited to attend this meeting and share their thoughts.

Tip of the Week: Barbecue Safety Tips

Stock Photo by Mihai Dumitru
Barbecue season is upon us. One can smell its aroma throughout the Warrendale neighborhood. With that in mind, I wanted to share some tips from the Detroit Fire Department about barbecue safety.

Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Also, make sure that the venturi tubes - where the air and gas mix - are not blocked.

A few other safety tips include:
  • Do not overfill the propane tank;
  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue;
  • Be careful when using lighter fluid; Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flame can flashback up into the container and explode.
  • Never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas - carbon monoxide could be produced;
Also, backyard cooks should be advised to dispose of hot coals properly. Douse them with plenty of water and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.

If children will be around the barbecue, there are special tips for keeping them safe. Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.

Finally, make sure everyone knows to Stop, Drop and Roll in case a piece of clothing does catch fire. Call 911 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Focus: Show Your Work at Pecha Kucha Night

PKN Detroit Poster - Click for Larger Image
Pecha Kucha Night is an event that takes place in more than three hundred cities around the world. It provides creative professionals with an opportunity to showcase their work in a lively, engaging format that's fun to watch. Locally, the next installment of PKN Detroit will happen on Belle Isle on Thursday, July 26 with doors at 6:30 p.m. and presentations starting promptly at 8:20 p.m.

Anyone with a creative body of work that they would like showcase is invited to apply to be one of those presenters. Interested professionals and students should send a description of themselves, a description of their work, and a 3 MB sample of their work, along with their contact information, to pkndetroit [at] gmail [dot] com no later than July 9.

Some of the professionals who have presented at PKN Detroit before include:
  • Architects;
  • Dancers;
  • Filmmakers;
  • Furniture designers;
  • Graphic designers;
  • Historians;
  • Landscape architects;
  • Interior designers;
  • Painters;
  • Photographers;
  • Sculptors;
  • Software developers; and
  • Urban planners.
Presentations will happen inside the Belle Isle Conservatory (7000 Inslerue Ave). There will also be a special reception inside the Belle Isle Aquarium, which is attached to the Conservatory.

PKN Detroit is presented locally by the AIA Detroit Emerging Professionals Committee and Detroit Synergy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Detroit's Consent Agreement

Judge William Collette, Chief Judge of the Ingham County Court, dismissed the lawsuit moments ago brought by Detroit's Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon that challenged the legality of the consent agreement between the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan.

This, by the way, was predicted by almost every person with a law degree, except for Ms. Crittendon and her staff. The one interesting point is that Judge Collette decided to only rule on Ms. Crittendon's authority to bring this lawsuit and not on the underlying points in her complaint.

Update @ 12:12 p.m.
Gary Brown, President Pro Tem of the Detroit City Council, released a statement regarding this dismissal on his Facebook page.

Now that the litigation with the State brought by Corporation Counsel is dismissed, it's time to move forward. We will appoint our representatives to the Financial Advisory Board tomorrow and approve the duel appointment by Governor Snyder and Mayor Bing. Then, we must have a razor-sharp urgent focus in partnership with the Bing Administration and the State to implement restructuring and focus on our core municipal services.

Detroit Water & Sewage to Hold Public Hearing for Sewage Project

Stock Photo from Stock.Xchng
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will hold a public hearing regarding its draft Project Plan covering a proposed new Combined Sewer Overflow Control Facility. This will be built at the Puritan Outfall, which discharges into the Rouge River at a location that is in the Warrendale neighborhood.

DWSD will seek low interest loan from Michigan's Clean Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund in order to fund the construction of this new facility. This fund provides loans for construction of pollution control facilities to communities throughout Michigan.

The public hearing will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27 in the 5th floor board room of the Water Board Building (735 Randolph). More information about this water project is available here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mayor Bing Orders Crittendon to Drop the Lawsuit Against the State of Michigan

Mayor Dave Bing, in the fourth change of position that he has had on this issue, has ordered Krystal Crittendon, Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit, to drop her lawsuit against the State of Michigan, which challenged the legality of consent agreement that City and State governments entered into recently. Mayor Bing previously stated as recently as yesterday that, while he opposed the lawsuit, he was powerless to stop it. In a letter to Ms. Crittendon, a copy of which is available here, Mayor Bing today argued that the City Charter does indeed give him the authority to compel her to drop this case.

Judge William Collette, of the Ingham County Circuit Court, is scheduled to hear arguments in this case tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. in Lansing. It's not clear as of this writing whether or not Ms. Crittendon will, in fact, drop her lawsuit before that time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Open Letter to Krystal Crittendon, Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit

Michigan Capitol - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Dear Ms. Crittendon:

It seems that Mayor Dave Bing has thrown you under the bus by initially supporting your lawsuit against the State of Michigan, then saying that he's neutral, and now - in a third change of his position in less than 2 weeks - he now says that he opposes it, but is powerless to stop it. It seems that Mayor Bing wants you run this fool's errand, but doesn't want the foolishness to be seen as being on his hands.

That must put you in a very lonely position, one only made worse by media outlets calling for your removal from office. The fact that almost every attorney, and even most law students, in Michigan ridicules your interpretation of the law presumably adds insult to this injury.

Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to make what will most likely be last days as an attorney more enjoyable.

File Motions in Klingon
Michigan Court Rules, believe it or not, do not specifically require attorneys to file their motions in the English language. Therefore, in the interest of making you seem more intimidating, I recommend that you file all of your motions, briefs, and appeals in this case in the Klingon language.

I'm certain that our friends at the Klingon Language Institute will be happy to help with the translation. Besides, it's not like people will take you any less seriously once you start speaking in Klingon.

Re-File Your Lawsuit in England
The Michigan Territory was returned to the United States after the Treaty of Ghent in December of 1814. This treaty called for the purchase of land as a buffer zone between American forces and Native American tribes that were loyal to the British Crown. The land was never paid for, in violation of said treaty, so this is clearly a defaulted debt, similar to the ones that form the basis for your lawsuit.

If the alleged debt between the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit voids the consent agreement then a similar debt between Great Britain and the United States must also void the Treaty of Ghent. This, in turn, means that Michigan is properly a part of Great Britain. Thus, your case should be heard in London.

Oh, and as a bonus, British judges love it when you speak Klingon in their courtrooms.

No matter where you file your lawsuit or what language you file the paperwork in, this case will eventually end up in a courtroom and the City of Detroit will still be broke in spite of the exceptional financial management skills of everyone in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. When this happens, I believe that it should become a pay-per-view event.

People around the globe will gladly pay $9.95 to watch a judge delegate to a first-year law student the task of explaining the inherent absurdities of this case to you. This should easily get you the $224 million that you are looking for from the State of Michigan.

Unless, of course, that first-year law student decides to start speaking in Vulcan. Nobody pays to hear someone talk in Vulcan.

Your Friends at the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog

Detroit Works to Host a Telephone Town Hall Meeting

The Detroit Works Long Term Planning Project will host a Telephone Town Hall meeting tomorrow evening from 7 - 8 p.m. Detroit residents are invited to participate in this meeting to learn about long term plans for growing Detroit and to ask questions about what will come next.

More details are available in the video above.

Body of Missing Woman Found in Rouge Park

Stock Photo by Lehcar/Stock.xchng
The decomposed body of Margaret Theut was found in a heavily wooded area inside Rouge Park last month. However, at the request of the family, news of this fact was not released until DNA testing was completed to confirm her identity.

The 71-year-old lived on Patton Street in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood for decades. She went missing last November and was presumed to have been murdered.

A police investigation into this matter is continuing. Anyone with information about her disappearance or death is asked to contact the Detroit Police Department.