Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wii Drinking Games at Gracie See Pizzeria

My friends at Gracie See Pizzeria now have Wii Drinking Games at the restaurant. I am going to have to check this out on Friday.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fair Warning to All Guys on Facebook

Collection Agent - Photo by Summer Fisher
For my Tip of the Week feature this week, I must issue a warning to everyone who uses Facebook, especially guys. According to published news reports, there is a growing trend among collection agencies to create fake profiles that include a photo of an attractive young woman in a bikini.

The collection agency will then send targeted consumers a friend request on Facebook. Since most guys will (let's face it) accept any Facebook request that a woman in a bikini makes, the collection agent in disguise is almost always accepted as a friend.

Once this happens, the collection agency then has access to additional personal information about their intended target. They are also able, as their target's "friend," to begin posting collection requests directly on his target's Facebook wall where everyone else can see them.

This practice, I should point out, violates multiple points of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It is legally defined as harassment. While the targeted consumer does have some legal recourse, it never fully undoes the potential damage to one's reputation nor is the personal information the collection agent has gathered ever deleted from their respective files.

While nothing reduces the legal and ethical hazards inherent in this type of activity on the part of the collection agent, I have to admit that - as a small business owner who is currently sitting on almost $30,000 in noncollectable invoices as well as two court judgments that aren't worth the paper they are printed on - there is a little part of me that appreciates the ingenuity of this tactic.

More Agents - Photo by Robson Oliveria
I have experienced collection agencies from both sides. I have been their intended target because not getting paid by my clients makes it hard for me to pay my own bills. I have also been the guy who hired a collection agency. I would never condone doing anything illegal because two wrongs do not make a right.

I'm just saying that I understand the creditor's motivation. I will leave the rest up to the lawyers and the government agencies that regulate collection agencies.

Still, my point in all of this is warn everyone on Facebook that not everyone who sends you a "friend request" is really your friend.

This has been your Tip of the Week from the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ralph Godbee Still Employed by the Detroit Police Department?

Charlie LeDuff of Fox 2 News broke a story late Wednesday night that Ralph L. Godbee, Jr., former Detroit chief of police, was still employed by the Detroit Police Department. This is more than four months after he retired he supposedly retired effective immediately as a result of a sex scandal.

It would be one thing if Ralph Godbee were simply collecting a pension. However, according to the pay stubs that Fox 2 News obtained and showed in this report, he is still be paid as a regular employee. He continues to earn vacation time and other benefits. This is highly unusual because it means that a city as broke as Detroit is essentially paying for two police chiefs: Ralph Godbee, the supposedly former police chief, and Chester Logan, our interim police chief.

Mayor Dave Bing and his press spokesman refused to comment on this story or explain why this supposedly retired police chief is still on our payroll.

Quite frankly, the worst part of this story, in my opinion, is how unsurprising it all is. When I first saw this story, I wasn't surprised by the revelation nor were any of the Detroit residents that I have talked to about it.

It is time, I believe, for a forensic audit of the City of Detroit's books. This simply should not be allowed to continue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vindication from 24/7 Wall Street

The Spirit of Detroit
The folks at 24/7 Wall Street, which provides analysis to equity investors, published a list of best and worst managed cities in the United States. I don't think it surprises very many people that Detroit came in at number four on their list of the worst managed cities.

Plus, the only reason why Detroit wasn't rated even worse than it actually is that Mayor Dave Bing has enacted at least some of the reforms that he opposed when he first came into office. Their full list of the best and worst managed cities in the United States is available here.

As someone who has spent more than 20 years following the financial operations of the City of Detroit, and who has submitted several proposals on how to improve the situation only to be ignored or ridiculed by those who were in power who insisted that they had everything under control, I have to admit that I feel a certain amount of vindication from this listing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

City of Detroit Declares a Tax Amnesty

Mayor Dave Bing has declared a tax amnesty. Under this program, anyone who owes either business or personal income taxes to the City of Detroit has until February 22 to pay them without any penalties.

Additional details can be found on the link above.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Have A Dream

We as a nation celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. today. In honor of the occasion, I want to share a video with Dr. King's full "I Have A Dream" speech.

There isn't much that I can add to words such as those.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Building Rehabilitation Workshop

Tipperary Pub - Photo by Frank Nemecek
There are lots of buildings in the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods that could use a little tender loving care. Many of them are old enough that they can know be considered historic and thus potentially eligible for special tax credits and financing.

As such, I wanted to bring to everyone's attention a free workshop that will happen next Friday, January 25 from 3 - 5 p.m. that will focus on providing the owners of commercial buildings with an overview of federal historic preservation tax credit. This workshop will happen at the Southeast Michigan Office of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which is inside Cadillac Place (3018 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 4-600 in the New Center neighborhood).

This workshop is presented jointly by the Michigan Historic Preservation Office and Technical Preservation Services Bureau of the National Park Service. Anyone interested in rehabilitating a commercial building that is at least 50 years old is invited to attend. Since most of the buildings in the Warrendale neighborhood were built shortly after World War II, most of our commercial buildings are eligible for these tax credits and special financing.

While there is no charge for this workshop, those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP by sending an email to preservation [at] michigan [dot] gov with their name, email address, and telephone number. Please put "Tax Credit Workshop" in the subject line of your email.

Additional information about these free workshop on financing the rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings is available in the flyer below.

I hope at least a few property owners in the Warrendale neighborhood will be able to make use of this workshop.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Benefits of Historic Preservation in Warrendale

Flyer in Downtown Detroit - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I had the pleasure of taking several board members from Preservation Detroit on a tour of the Warrendale neighborhood a few weeks ago. There is a decent chance that a few sites in the neighborhood, or even a portion of the neighborhood itself, might receive a historic designation in the not too distant future.

This would likely mean more money flowing into Warrendale, stronger property values, and a lot of other positives. The designation process is a lengthy one with lots of public meetings.

Before that starts, though, I invite everyone to read this article on the benefits of a local historic district from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Cannon of Rouge Park

The Cannon in Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The folks at Preservation Detroit published a story about the history of the Warrendale neighborhood and, in particular, the cannon in Rouge Park. Our cannon appears to be almost 300 years old. More interestingly, it was originally used by to the Spanish Navy.

The full text of their article is available here. Please take a moment to check it out.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Featured Place to Live: 6375 Grandville Ave.

6375 Grandville Ave. - Featured Place to Live
This week's Featured Place to Live is a great investment opportunity for those who are interested. Located at 6375 Grandville Ave. in the Warrendale neighborhood, this historic bungalow was built in 1926. It features 882 square feet of living space that includes three bedrooms and one bathroom.

The home is a turnkey investment opportunity. It comes with an existing tenant. Additional details about the home are available here.

How to Get Rid of Your Old Gadgets

It's always great to get the latest and greatest electronic gadget. However, the question of what to do with your old stuff is something that plagues many people. Luckily, Meghan Brennan from WXYZ-TV has a lot of great suggestions in the video above.

As a side note, I should point out that I worked with Meghan once before. She almost took my head off. Quite literally.

This was a few years ago; she a Nike field reporter and I was contracted as one of two videographers to shoot a video of her for Nike. I was set up to get a shot of Meghan kicking a soccer ball into the goal. She kicked harder than I thought she would and came within inches of taking my head off.

I'm pretty sure that more than one politician wishes that her aim had been better that day.

Anyway, Meghan is awesome to work with and her tips are great. I'm glad WXYZ finally got around to posting them to YouTube so I could share them with everyone.

The best ways to get rid of your old electronic gadgets are your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Friends of Rouge Park to Meet Tomorrow

Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will be tomorrow evening, Tuesday, January 15 from 6 - 7 p.m. The group will meet inside the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood St.), which is just north of the Warrendale neighborhood at West Chicago.

The agenda for this meeting will include an update on the development of a master plan for Rouge Park by faculty and students from Lawrence Tech. There will also be additional updates and news about the park

Anyone interested in preserving and promoting Rouge Park is welcome to attend this meeting.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Snark-Filled Detroit Thoughts for a Saturday

There are a multitude of things happening in the Detroit area that are never quite worthy of their own blog post. I thought I would compile my thoughts on each of them into one snark-o-licious post since I usually don't post on Saturdays.

Words to Save
Wayne State University - my alma mater, by the way - released their annual list of the top ten words that should be saved. These are useful, underutilized that they feel should be saved from the brink of extinction. Their list is available here.

Thoroughly Thawed
After the warmest year on record last year, the normal January thaw in Detroit that we are now experiencing could also set a new record. More details on this are available over on the Freep.

Personally, I wonder how much of this warming is a result of the buncombe and esoflage emanating from the troglodytes in the mawkish confines of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. (If you read the list of words that should be saved, you'll get these references.)

Selling Belle Isle
A developer offered to buy Belle Isle from the City of Detroit for $1 billion. Their plan is to convert the island park into a commonwealth that would succeed from the State of Michigan and adopt the most libertarian of policies.

Personally, I would like to see Mayor Dave Bing accept this proposal on the condition that they come up with a non-refundable deposit of 5% of the purchase price within 90 days. This would then give them an additional year to finish the rest of their financing. Since they likely won't be able to come up with the rest of the cash, this becomes an easy way to solve Detroit's budget problems.

Word from the NRA
On behalf of Wayne LaPierre and N.R.A. members across this great nation of ours, I would like to remind everyone that if convicted felons and illegal aliens aren't allowed to walk into a gun show and buy as many AR-15s as they want then this country has basically become Nazi Germany.

If anyone tries to sully this sentiment with meaningless facts like that Germany had stringent anti-gun laws before Adolf Hitler came to power and that Hitler actually relaxed them, they are basically a socialist.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Future of Warrendale

Later today, the Detroit Works Project is scheduled to release its final plan for the adaptive reuse of the depopulated parts of Detroit. The Detroit Free Press published a summary of it, which is complete with a few maps.

Under this plan, the Warrendale neighborhood should see more small-scale community gardens and pocket parks that will take the place of vacant homes in the neighborhood. They also propose a few smaller ponds to capture rainwater and keep it from overtaxing our sewage system.
Excerpt of the Detroit Long Term Project
The report from The Detroit Free Press is available here.

Update @ 8:37 p.m. The Detroit News reports that the Kresge Foundation is going to support this initiative with $150 million. Their report is available here.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Benny Napoleon, Palmer Woods, and the Future of Detroit

Benny Napoleon - Press Photo
Wayne County Sheriff and mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon set off a flurry of controversy when he remarked to reporters that the Palmer Woods neighborhood isn't really a part of Detroit. His remarks were a not so subtle swipe at fellow mayoral candidate Mike Duggan who moved from his longtime home in Livonia to Palmer Woods so he could run for Mayor of Detroit. Sheriff Napoleon has since backpedaled, but that hasn't stopped the criticism of him.

With so many people rushing to criticize him for his comments about Palmer Woods, though, I think it would be a good idea to take a look at some numbers. In the past week, there was 1 crime reported to the Detroit Police Department in the Palmer Woods neighborhood. In contrast, during the same time period, there were 4 burglaries, 2 armed robberies, 1 larceny from an automobile, and 2 assaults near my house in Warrendale.

That is a dramatic difference in crime rates between the neighborhoods; one that is nothing if not statistically significant.

I don't want to belittle our neighbors in other parts of Detroit. We need them. However, the fact remains that life in places like Palmer Woods are very different from what they are in most of the city.

We need to find a way to move the entire city of Detroit forward. We need to respect and value every single person who lives here. Most of all, we need to have the courage to be honest with ourselves.

Life is different in Palmer Woods, the Villages, and Midtown. This isn't to vilify the people who live there, but we are doing ourselves a disservice if we ignore the reality of this situation.