Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Will Detroit be Able to Avoid an Emergency Manager?

WXYZ-TV reports that a deal may be afoot that would enable the City of Detroit to avoid an emergency manager.

Watch "New developments in Detroit's financial crisis" on YouTube

Update @ 2:46 p.m.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the executive session of City Council, that may or may not have averted an emergency manager, has been cancelled for today.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Prevent Dryer Fires

WXYZ-TV ran an interesting story recently on how one can prevent dryer fires in one's home. It's fairly simple and worth sharing.

Preventing dryer fires is your Warrendale Tip of the Week for this week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Pick for Emergency Manager of Detroit

According to published news reports, Governor Rick Snyder is having problems finding someone to take the job of emergency manager for the City of Detroit. I recommend that he offer the job to one of the reformers on City Council, like Gary Brown or Ken Cockrel.

They are elected, respected, and qualified. More importantly, for the past three years, they have pushed harder for reform than anyone in the Bing Administration.

As an added bonus, I don't think either of them actually wants the job. This makes them more likely to move in, fix things, and move on with their lives.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tune in at 7 p.m. Tonight

I will be on the TapDetroit.com podcast at 7 p.m. this evening. I will be discussing the newly formed Warrendale Community Development Corporation and its plans to rebuild the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit.

Please tune in to hear all the good news.

Tax Tips for Job Seekers

Illustration by Billy Frank Alexander
Whether you were employed or unemployed and looking  for a new job in 2012, there are several tax breaks that can be claimed on your income tax return. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service offers job seekers a few commonly overlooked deductions and credits that can increase your refund amount or lessen your tax burden.

"Landing a job can have its tax perks even before you get your first paycheck," explained Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.

“If you are continuing your search in 2013, you can still apply your expenses from 2012 to your income tax return now," he continued. "The job search experience is different for everyone. A knowledgeable tax adviser can work with you to accurately claim all the deductions and credits that apply to your situation."

To help you get started, Jackson Hewitt offers a list of job search-related expenses you may be able to claim as itemized deductions on your federal income tax return: 

Preparing and sending your resume. You can deduct amounts you spend for preparing and sending copies of your resume to prospective employers, as long as you are looking for a new job in your present occupation. Resumé paper, printing costs, long-distance calls, faxes and postage, are all tax deductible. 

Employment agency fees. You can deduct employment / recruitment agency fees you pay while looking for a job in your present occupation. If your employer pays you back in a later year for employment agency fees, you must include the amount you receive in your gross income, up to the amount of your tax benefit in the earlier year.

Travel expenses. If you travel to an area to look for a new job in your present occupation, you may be able to deduct travel expenses to and from the area, including meal and lodging expenses. You can only deduct the travel expenses if the trip is primarily to look for a new job. The amount of time you spend on personal activity compared to the amount of time you spend looking for work is important in determining whether the trip is primarily personal or is primarily to look for a new job.

Moving expenses. If you secured a new job in 2012, but the position was more than 50 miles from your old job, you may be able to claim the expenses of moving yourself, your family, your pets and your household goods and personal vehicles. Moving expenses are a direct deduction against income on form 1040.

For unemployed job seekers, federal unemployment benefits, job severance payments, and debt forgiveness are considered taxable income.  Early withdrawals from your retirement plans are also taxable, even if you use those monies for job search-related expenses. Taxpayers under the age of 59 1/2 will also owe a 10%  penalty for early withdrawals, though there are a few exceptions, such as paying for medical insurance after the loss of your job.

These tax tips for job seekers are your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rock On, Penny Lady

I met a woman at work today who owes the City of Detroit $87 in resident income taxes. She swore she would head downtown to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and pay it all in pennies.

I believe I speak for all Detroit residents when I say, "Rock on, Penny Lady. Rock on."

Mike Duggan to Appear Near Warrendale

The Joy Community Association, which represents the area immediately north of Warrendale, will meet this evening at 6 p.m. in the St. Martha's Apartments (15875 Joy Rd.). Their guest for this evening will be Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan.

The public is invited to attend this meeting.

Happy Valentine's Day

Photo by J. Stuart
I want to take a moment to wish a Happy Valentine's Day to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.

I hope your Valentine's Day is the best.

Mayor Bing Delivers Speech, Redefines Irony

Mayor Dave Bing delivered his final State of the City address yesterday evening. One of the more interesting parts in his speech, in my opinion, was when he said:
Corruption will not be tolerated. We have created an environment of integrity and trust. There is no pay to play requirement in this administration. Today, there is a level and fair playing field.
I think it's incredibly ironic that Mayor Bing would talk about corruption not being tolerated at the same time that his administration is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Friends of Rouge Park to Meet on Tuesday

The next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 19 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood), which is approximately a half mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

The agenda for this meeting will include:

  • A 30 minute presentation by the Detroit Works Projects on the future plan for Detroit, which will focus on Rouge Park and the surrounding area;
  • Progress on the development of a master plan for Rouge Park by students and faculty from Lawrence Technological University; and
  • Attendees will be asked to complete a park survey to provide feedback on park usage.
In addition, the FoRP will present additional updates about Rouge Park and the recently announced park closures in Detroit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Plan to Rebuild Warrendale

The Warrendale neighborhood has some serious problems, as does the rest of Detroit. Therefore, I want to share with everyone my plan to rebuild the Warrendale neighborhood. It's a simple plan to convert the blight that we deal with every day into an asset that we can be proud of.

I will be on an on-line radio show next Monday, February 18 at 7 p.m. I will be joined by Dorn Zurawski from the Last Call Bar (19432 W. Warren Ave.) to talk about some of the things going on in Warrendale.

Please check it out the show at TapDetroit.com on Monday evening.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Benedict XVI for Emergency Manager?

Governor Rick Snyder confirmed over the weekend that the City of Detroit will receive an emergency manager soon. More over, this person is expected to come from outside of Michigan.

In addition, we also learned this morning that Pope Benedict XVI will resign his papacy.

Is this a mere coincidence?

Almost certainly so. Regardless, I think it's fun to wonder what kind of emergency manager Pope Benedict XVI would make.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy (Chinese) New Year

Chinese New Year - Photo by Irum Shahid
Today is the Chinese New Year. Billions of people will celebrate beginning of the year of the Snake today with fireworks, food, and other festivities. For those who believe in gambling, today is also considered by some to be the luckiest day of the year.

As for me, I will mark this occasion with Chinese food and lots of friends.

In a related note, today is also the day when I usually make all of my New Year's resolutions. When I make them on January 1, I never keep them. However, when I make them on the Chinese New Year, I almost always do.

Friday, February 08, 2013

FBI Launches Investigation into Detroit EMS

I posted a prediction on my Twitter feed last week that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing would likely face his first federal indictment by June of 2014. A lot of people thought I was nuts when I posted that.

Of course, those who think I'm nuts for predicting a criminal indictment against Mayor Bing haven't spent the past few years digging through the City of Detroit's financial records and its budget, attending community meetings, and filing Freedom of Information Act requests.

In a completely unrelated event, Charlie LeDuff of Fox 2 News broke the story last night that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Michigan Attorney General's Office are investigating the Emergency Medical Services Division of the Detroit Fire Department. They are looking at whether or not the Detroit's EMS has been used by the City's administration to obtain fraudulent reimbursements for services from Medicaid and Medicare.

I have to admit that there is a part of me that just wants to sit back with a large bowl of popcorn as this story evolves. Things, my dear readers, are going to get interesting in the coming weeks and months.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Orchestral Concert this Sunday at Ss. Peter and Paul Church

Stock Photo by Rueben G.S.
The Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.) will continue its 2012-2013 concert series this Sunday with an Orchestral Concert featuring the Wayne State University Chamber Orchestra, directed by Professor Kypros Markou. The concert will begin at 4 p.m. in the church this Sunday.

While this concert is free, donations will be gratefully accepted to benefit the Wayne State University Department of Music Orchestra. If you wish to make a donation of any amount, please contact Johnny Kash at (313) 846-2222, extension 119 or email him at kashsspp [at] gmail [dot] com.

You may also simply mail a check of any amount, made out to Ss. Peter and Paul Parish (memo: WSU concert) to the parish.

SS. Peter and Paul Parish
7685 Grandville Ave.
Detroit, MI 48228

Additional information about this concert is available on the Facebook page for Ss. Peter and Paul Church. A free orchestral concert at Ss. Peter and Paul Church is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week, that just happens to be a day late.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

New Plan for Belle Isle Emerges

According to WXYZ-TV, a new plan has emerged to fund improvements to Belle Isle. This idea would have the City of Detroit charge an entry fee to drive onto Belle Isle, instead of the State of Michigan.

Watch "New proposal for Belle Isle" on YouTube

Monday, February 04, 2013

Fight the Flu with Ice Cream

I get a lot of unusual things in my email in-box. It's a side effect of running a blog and doing a lot of freelance writing. However, one of the weirdest - yet also one of the coolest - things that I have stumbled upon in a long time is Influenza Sorbet by the folks at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams from Columbus, Ohio.

Influenza Sorbet - Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Influenza Sorbet is flavored with Cayenne pepper, ginger, Maker's Mark bourbon, and honey as well as orange and lemon juices. These ingredients are formulated to alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

The closest store to the Warrendale neighborhood that sells this is Market Fresh Fine Foods (31201 Southfield Rd. in Beverly Hills). If you don't want to make that commute, Influenza Sorbet is also available for home delivery via Jeni's website. You have to order four pints of their ice cream to get it delivered. However, it's worth it.

Influenza Sorbet (two words that I never thought I would connect together) is your Warrendale Tip of the Week for this week.