Sunday, September 30, 2012

Members of AFSCME Local 207 Doesn't Show for Work Today

Stock Photo by Maciec Pelc
According to sources within the Detroit Water & Sewage Department, employees who were represented by AFSCME Local 207 did not show up to work today. This is the union local that voted earlier in the week to go on strike in response to plans to outsource 81% of all jobs in the department and was scheduled to picket at the waste water treatment plant, according to a statement from the union.

It's not clear whether this is the beginning of a full-fledged strike by the union against DWSD, which could last for weeks or months, or if this is a smaller "sick-out", which normally serves as a warning shot.

More on this as the story develops.

Update @ 5:56 p.m.
According to the Detroit Free Press, AFSCME Local 207 is officially on strike over the DWSD restructuring plan. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Featured Place to Live: 5745 Artesian Street

Renovated Kitchen in 5745 Artesian St.
5745 Artesian Street is a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom bungalow in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. It was built in 1953 and features 1,300 square feet of living space. This lovely home has been renovated from top to bottom.

This home has a 2 car detached garage. It also has a finished basement and central air conditioning.

This home is represented by Edyta Raganiewicz of Century 21 Curran & Christie. More information about this home and additional photos of it are available here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Greening of Detroit Planting in Warrendale a Success

Stock Photo by Andreas Krappweis
The Greening of Detroit held their latest tree planting in the Warrendale neighborhood this past Saturday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend, which is a shame because I heard nothing but good things about it from everyone who was there.

Luckily, the crew from the Detroit Regional News Hub was on the scene. Their report and more than a dozen photos from the event are available here.

One of the great things about this that I did not know is that, according to the U.S. Forest Service, having healthy, mature trees on one's property adds an average of 10% to its value. Trees, therefore, are not only good for the environment, they're also good for the bottom line.

My thanks go out to everyone who was there on Saturday. I hope to see some folks at future plantings. The next one in Warrendale will be on Saturday, October 6 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Getting Bill Collectors and Telemarketers to Hang Up on You

Stock Photo by Sanja Gjenero/RGBStock
Steve Dibert of MFI-Miami is one of my most favorite people in the world. He investigates and reports on some of the sleaziest things that banks and mortgage brokers have ever done.

Last week, he posted some advice for people who continuously received annoying phone calls from bill collectors. It also works for telemarketers, which I can attest to after having received more than a dozen phone calls from DTE Energy trying to sell me their worthless "protection plan." I told them to stop calling me after the fist call, but they kept calling again and again. Thanks to Steve's advice, I was able to get them to stop.

Therefore, I recommend that everyone read "I Don't Hang Up on Bill Collectors, They Hang Up on Me" over on Steve's web site. It is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Greening of Detroit Comes to Warrendale

Stock Photo by John Kovacich
The Greening of Detroit will come to the Warrendale neighborhood for a tree planting this Saturday, September 22, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Volunteers will plant trees at triangular lot near 7250 Brace Street, which is at the corner of Patton and Braille Streets. This is one of several such plantings in the coming weeks.

They will also plant trees elsewhere in the Warrendale neighborhood on Saturday, September 29; on Saturday, October 6; and on Saturday, November 3. Each of these tree plantings will happen from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Greening of Detroit also has a series of tree plantings scheduled outside of the Warrendale neighborhood. They will do a planting with the Philip Southend Block Club on Saturday, October 6 as well as:
  • Saturday, October 13 on E. Outer Drive from W. Warren Ave. to Mack Rd.;
  • Saturday, October 20 in the Cody Rouge South neighborhood;
  • Saturday, October 20 in the Scarcyny Park neighborhood; and
  • Saturday, October 27 in the Snowden/Hartwell neighborhood.
All of these plantings will happen from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Greening of Detroit can sign up online at (click on "Get Involved") or call them at (313) 237-8733.

The Greening of Detroit inspires sustainable growth of a healthy urban community through trees, green spaces, food, education, training and job opportunities.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Air Force

Happy 65th birthday to the men and women of the United States Air Force.

On behalf of everyone in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, and all Americans that you proudly serve, thank you for your willingness to fly, fight, and win.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Free Genealogy Research Class at the Edison Branch Library in Detroit

Stock Photo by Marcos Santos
The Edison Branch (18400 Joy Rd.) of the Detroit Public Library hold a class on Saturday, September 22 to help individuals research their family tree on-line using the library's online resources. This class is free and open to library patrons of all ages. It will run from 10:30 a.m. until noon.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about your family's history. It's also your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Parts of the Belle Isle Lease

Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing announced an agreement whereby the State of Michigan will lease Belle Isle from the City of Detroit; turning it into a state park. As with so many other things in life, the devil of this matter is in the details. Their announcement was made with great fanfare and, quite frankly, included a release of the worst Photoshop photos ever. (Example below.)

Official Rendering of What Belle Isle Will Eventually Look Like. No, Really.
The full text of the lease is available here. I thought I would take a moment to run through the parts of this deal that are good, those that are bad, and those that are just plain ugly.

The Good
This deal will definitely free up cash in the City of Detroit's budget. This revenue could be used for improving core services in the neighborhoods.

There will be some, although unspecified, improvements to Belle Isle. That's always nice.

The lease does commit the State of Michigan to negotiating in good faith with the Belle Isle Conservancy.

Section 2.9 of the lease does call for an annual audit of park revenue. This includes any funds from grants, special events, private leases of the park, payments from vendors, and such. This does not, however, include revenue from the $10 annual pass that visitors will have to get if they want to use the park.

The Bad
This lease does not provide any specific assurances as to what upgrades the State of Michigan will make nor does it promise when those upgrades will be made.

Many of the upgrades that will be made will be paid for using funds that the Michigan Department of Transportation would have otherwise appropriated for the rest of Detroit (see section 2.3.2 of the agreement). In other words, money could have been otherwise used to fill in some of the umpteen potholes in this town will now be used for improvements on Belle Isle.

There is also the fact that there is absolutely no assurance that revenue from the $10 annual pass that we'll have to buy in order to use Belle Isle will not find its way to another state park.

Finally, there is the fact that while this lease does free up cash that could be used for improving core services in the neighborhoods, there is no assurance that it actually will happen. In fact, when one considers Mayor Bing's track record over the past 4 years, it is doubtful that this will actually happen.

The Ugly
Section 4.3 of the lease specifies that the City of Detroit can terminate the lease and regain full control of Belle Isle if we aren't happy with the way the State of Michigan is administering the park. The City will have to give 18 months advance notice to said effect and commit to 3 negotiating sessions in an effort to resolve whatever issues have prompted this desire to terminate the lease.

In the final analysis, how good of deal this turns out to be will depend entirely on what improvements the State of Michigan decides to make beyond those using Detroit allocation from MDOT, if they make any such improvements at all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bing + Snyder Ready to Sign Deal for Belle Isle

Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing appear close to a deal for the State of Michigan to lease Belle Isle from the City of Detroit and take over its operations, according to published news reports. It's not clear, though, whether or not the Detroit City Council will approve such a deal.

In my estimation, a lot will depend on how much the State of Michigan is willing to commit into improvements to the island. From a political standpoint, the burden of proof will need to be on Governor Snyder and Mayor Bing to show that they have a deal that will be better than what the City of Detroit could do on its own by simply charging an entrance fee.

Some of the key questions to look at in assessing the odds that this will gain City Council approval are:

  • Will the Belle Isle Aquarium re-open on a full-time basis instead of just 3 days a month?
  • Will the Dossin Great Lakes Museum re-open full-time basis instead of just on weekends?
  • What kind of other commitments will the State of Michigan make for other improvements at the island?

Depending on the answer to those questions, when this comes to a vote before the City Council the tally could be anywhere from 6-3 in favor to 8-1 against.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

12 Year Old Boy Missing in Detroit's Warrendale Neighborhood

Joshua Morgan, age 12, is Missing
The Detroit Police Department is asking for the public's help to locate 12 year old Joshua Morgan who went missing from the Christ Child House (15751 Joy Rd.) in the northeastern part of Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. The boy is described as being 5’9”, 120 lbs, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a white T-shirt, blue jean shorts, and black and red tennis shoes.

The boy’s family is particularly concerned because he has not taken the medicine he needs. He reportedly is emotionally impaired with a bipolar disorder and is borderline autistic.

Anyone who sees this boy, or who has information on where he might be, is urged to contact the Detroit police at (313) 596-5600.

Update @ 4:09 p.m. - Fox 2 Detroit reports that Joshua Morgan was found safe this afternoon.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Open Letter to the Detroit City Council

There have been 251 murders this year alone in Detroit, as of September 3. That's 251 human beings - sons and daughters; neighbors and fiends - who are no longer with us. 251 lives that were needlessly snuffed out.

Incidentally, the economic cost of those crimes, based on data from the RAND Corporation, is $1.3 billion. If that money had continued to circulate in our local economy, instead of being lost through criminal behavior, it would be enough to create more than 20,000 jobs in Detroit.

Meanwhile, as I continue to think about crime and its impact, there is the fact that the Detroit Police Department's response time is so bad that many of my neighbors don't even bother calling 9-1-1 when they see a crime in progress. They simply don't believe the police will do anything so they don't bother.

Turning away from issues of crime for a moment, there is also the fact that the Detroit Fire Department has been so decimated by layoffs that they are seriously considering inviting tourists to ride along on their rigs to help fight fires. I thought that was a joke when I first read it, but here it is on Fox 2 Detroit.

And what has been the big issue before the Detroit City Council this week?

A series of charter amendments that would allow them to accept gifts while in office and to take lobbying jobs once they are voted out of office.

To everyone on the City Council I would simply like to say: FUCK YOU!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

How to Create 20,000 Jobs in Detroit

I posted yesterday about how Detroit's murder rate effectively costs us as a community between $1.2 - $1.9 billion based on data from the RAND Corporation. This, of course, only accounts for the economic impact of murders in Detroit. Other crimes have their own economic impact.

I want to follow up on this today by adding one important point.

If, hypothetically speaking, there were no murders in Detroit this year then there would, based on the RAND data, be an additional $1.2 billion in our local economy. If there were an additional $1.2 billion floating in our local economy then I would propose that Detroit would be a very different place. For starters, based on some very simple estimates, having that much money in our local economy would likely result in the creation of more than 20,000 jobs.

I would like to ask everyone who reads this: what do you think Detroit would like if we had an additional $1.2 billion in our local economy and more than 20,000 full-time permanent jobs for Detroiters?

I would imagine that Detroit would be a very different place; a much better one, in fact if we had that much more money in our local economy and that many more jobs for our citizens.

If Detroit can brings its crime problem under control, these are the sorts of things that are possible. We will always have a certain amount of crime. Every community in the world has at least some crime. However, if we could begin to reduce it dramatically then we see a huge improvement in our lives - both from the obvious standpoint of not having as much crime in our community as well as the economic impact.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

6437 Plainview Ave - Featured Place to Live

6437 Plainview Ave. - Featured Place to Live
6437 Plainview Ave. is a 3-bedroom bungalow in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood with a little more than 1,000 square feet of living space. It is a professionally landscaped property with a newly renovated kitchen, finished large, upstairs bedroom,  and updated lower bath. It also has recent carpeting throughout the home as well as a newer roof, siding and driveway.

In addition to all of that and a partially finished basement this home also has a security system. There is also a 1-car garage at the rear of the property.

This home is represented by Century 21 Town & Country in Northville. Addition information about this home is available here.

Murders Cost Detroit $1.2 Billion This Year Alone

Stock Photo by Brian Lary
The RAND Corporation published a report recently that chronicles the true cost of crime on a given community. From the cost of investigating it to the economic impact on businesses and residents that flee as a result of crime and everything in between, they factored it all in. Their results were published in a study entitled Hidden in Plain Sight: What Cost-of-Crime Research Tells Us About Investing in Police.

They estimate that each murder ultimately costs a given community between $5 - $8 million. Since Detroit has experienced a total of 240 murders as of August 26, this means that this crime has costs us as a community someone between $1.2 - $1.9 billion.

There is a lot that the police can do to reduce the levels of murders and other crimes that happen. All too often, though, discussions about those things get sidetracked by an institutional desire to maintain the status quo for those in senior leadership positions as the City of Detroit navigates its way through the latest budget crisis. Too many people in positions of power would rather keep the 12 assistant and deputy chiefs on the payroll - and with their sizable personal staff - than redirect resources to the street level activities that have proven to reduce the murder rates in other cities.

Of course, one would think that the $1.2 billion (and counting) in economic impact would prompt them to reassess their priorities. So far, it hasn't but there's is always hope.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Happy Labor Day, Detroit

Stock Photo by the Horton Group
I want to take a moment to wish a happy Labor Day to everyone in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday. There's a lot of wonderful things happening in the Detroit area this weekend - from the Detroit Jazz Festival to Arts, Beats, and Eats in Royal Oak as well as the Labor Day Festival in Hamtramck. Please enjoy them safely.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Beware of Flying Plants Near Detroit

A woman from Costa Rica died early Saturday morning when the small airplane that she was travelling in crashed near Brighton, Michigan, which is approximately forty miles west of Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood. Unfortunately, when The Detroit News ran the story this morning, they referred to it as a plant crash.

Screen image from Emphasis add to their typo.
Yes, one really does need to be careful around those flying plants. Those things can be very, very dangerous.

For some reason, I simply cannot help but chuckle when I see mistakes like these.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend.