Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blocking Bulk Trash Pick Up

I have to admit that I am more than a little annoyed with this guy on Ashton who left his car parked in front of trash pile on bulk pick up day. In doing so, he prevented the City from picking it up. This, of course, means that it will sit there for 3 more months unless someone hauls it to the DPW Service Yard (12255 Southfield Rd.).

Idiot Block Bulk Trash Pick Up - Photo by Frank Nemecek

Monday, March 25, 2013

10 Things Detroit's Emergency Manager Should Do

I would like to welcome Kevyn Orr to his new job as emergency financial manager for the City of Detroit. I'm not thrilled that the City of Detroit has an emergency financial manager. However, I believe in making the best of things. Therefore, I want to share with him, and everyone else, the following 10 suggestion as to what he should do over the next eighteen months that he will serve in this capacity.

#1. Don't Take It Personally.
You are going to be called a lot of names in the coming days by a lot of different people, Mr. Orr. Much of the name calling will come from people who have their own agenda to serve. Some of it will come from people who are mad about the condition of their hometown and need to vent. Others are frustrated at how little their elected representatives listen to them and fear that an emergency manager will listen even less. More still will come from people who are simply piling on.

No matter what you do in this position, Mr. Orr, please don't take any of it personally. Turning around one of the most troubled cities in the industrialized world is a big job with tremendous consequences. We don't have time for anyone to take these things personally.

#2. Bring Back Warren Evans
Former Chief Warren Evans
Crime is rampant in Detroit. It is quite literally destroying our city as residents, businesses, and visitors flee for their own safety.

When Warren Evans was chief of the Detroit Police Department, violent crime dropped dramatically and police response times improved by 29% in less than a year. Plus, he did it all while reducing the amount that DPD spends on overtime by almost $7 million. He was so much better than either of the police chiefs that Detroit has had since then that it's not even funny.

I don't think there is anyone else who is as prepared to hit the ground running as chief of police for Detroit.

Some critics will argue that Warren Evans was too much of a showboat to be in a high-ranking position. He did, after all, have a pilot for a reality television show. However, as far as I'm concerned, if he can effectively reduce crime and improve police response times then he can be on whatever television show he wants.

#3. Fire Ralph Godbee
Ralph Godee resigned as chief of the Detroit Police Department last year. However, according to a report from Fox 2 News, he is still on the payroll as a DPD employee. Neither Mayor Dave Bing, Mr. Godbee, nor anyone else have refuted their report nor offered any explanation as to why someone could still be an employee of the department long after resigning.

For all of these reasons, as well as the fact that he was flipping incompetent as a police chief, Ralph Godbee should be fired immediately. Whoever decided to keep him on the payroll long after he resigned should also be fired.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Novi Police Officer Involved in Warrendale Shooting

An unnamed officer from the Novi Police Department was involved in a shooting this morning. It's not clear as of this moment if there were any casualties.

Investigators are looking at 2 different scenes. The first is in the Warrendale neighborhood. The other is on Plymouth Rd. and Piedmont St., just west of the Detroit Police Department's Northwestern District.


Update @ 11:07 p.m.
WXYZ-TV reports that police officers opened fire on the suspect, while they were in Warrendale, after the suspect tried to run over a Novi police officer in an effort to escape arrest. The suspect then fled our neighborhood with the police in pursuit. The chase later ended at Plymouth Rd. and Piedmont.

Their full report is below.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Featured Place to Live: 7428 Patton St

7428 Patton St. - Image from Google Streetview

7428 Patton Street is a charming brick bungalow in the Warrendale neighborhood, just 2 blocks from Rouge Park. This 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home has 947 square feet of living space, a detached garage, and was built in 1947.

Among the many amenities for this single family home are:
  • Central air conditioning already installed;
  • Stove and refrigerator are included;
  • Hardwood floors throughout the home; and
  • Updated kitchen with cherry cabinets and ceramic tile flooring.
The new roof, furnace, central air conditioning, driveway, and porch make this home an incredible bargain at only $39,900. This home is represented by Keller Williams Realty in West Bloomfield. More information about it is available here.

7428 Patton St. in Warrendale is your Featured Place to Live for this week. Please check in next week for another great place to live.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Detroit Residents Can Save on Prescriptions

Detroit residents can save money on their prescriptions with a drug discount card available through the Detroit City Clerk's office.  These free prescription drug discount cards provide an average savings of 20% off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs at participating pharmacies.  The prescription discount card is available to residents through the City of Detroit in collaboration with the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C.  

Detroit residents have saved $550,000 through the City of Detroit Prescription Discount Card Program since program's launch in March 2010, according to City Clerk Janice Winfrey

This prescription discount card offers savings on prescription drugs to residents who do not have health insurance or a traditional benefits plan. It also provide discounts for prescriptions that are not covered by insurance. The card is free to all Detroit residents, regardless of age, income, or existing health insurance.  

Residents may obtain a card from either of the City Clerk' Offices or from participating CVS pharmacies located in Detroit. The City Clerk's Office is located inside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (2 Woodward Ave., Suite 200) or at the Department of Elections (2978 W. Grand Blvd.).

For more information, call (313) 224-3261. Prescription discounts for Detroit residents is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Cool Warrendale Thing: Fish Fries at Chick's Bar

Chick's Bar - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Chick's Bar (18550 W. Warren Ave.) is famous for its Friday fish fries during Lent. And by famous, I mean famous.

I have bumped into random people as far away as Chicago who, when they heard where I live, started talking about Chick's Bar and it's Friday fish fries during Lent. The food is good, plentiful, and cheap. Plus, it's served with a neighborhood charm.

If you haven't experience it yet, I highly recommend trying it this Friday. It is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Crime in Warrendale: East vs West

Map Displaying Crimes Reported Near Warrendale
I have been following crime reports in the Warrendale neighborhood and the rest of Detroit for years. One of the trends that I have noticed is that crime is much more rampant in the area west of the Southfield Freeway than it is to the east of it.

It seems to be particularly concentrated in the one-square mile area bounded by Paul to the south, Tireman to the north, Southfield Freeway to the east, and Evergreen to the west. Crime exists west of the freeway and south of Paul, just at a lower level.

I don't know why crime is concentrated in this area. If anyone has any idea, please leave a comment below.

Update @ 10:05 p.m.
Several people have asked me where I got this image and crime data. Everything comes from CrimeMapping.com, which provides detailed crime statistics from jurisdictions around the country.

Also, one of the possible explanations for the east vs. west phenomena that has been suggested is that the Dearborn Police Department might be a crucial factor. Since Paul St. is the border between the cities of Detroit and Dearborn in the area east of the freeway, the Dearborn Police Department does a decent amount of traffic enforcement along Paul. However, they only do that east of the freeway.

I find myself wondering a great police presence from the Dearborn Police Department along that one road really can that big of an impact. It's probably a part of answer, at least. I cannot, however, think of a better explanation.

Again, if you can think of a reason why the east vs. west phenomena exists, please feel free to share it.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Guest Commentary: Things the Emergency Manager Should Do

Erik Drader, a resident of the other fine neighborhoods in Detroit, posted a series of comments on the Facebook page for this blog that outlined what he thinks our soon-to-be appointed emergency manager should do once in office. I agree with some of ideas and disagree with others. However, I think this is a great way to start the conversation about what the emergency manager for Detroit should do.

Therefore, with his permission, I am proud to present his comments as a guest commentary on this blog.

There is no entity or organization in the country that is more wasteful, incompetent, and utterly broken as Detroit city government. Given that, the emergency manager should dismantle as much of city government as possible, and transfer the authority and operations to different organizations and/or units of government. Use Cobo, Campus Martius, Eastern Market, and the Riverwalk as successful examples of the city turning over responsibility to dedicated non-profits, private/public partnerships, regional authorities, or different units of government, and replicate these successes as much as possible. 

I would love to see the city completely get out of the transit business and hand off everything to the new regional transit authority  The city should let Belle Isle become a state park, and then try to find partnerships to help fund and maintain as many other city parks as possible. 

I would also like to see if city airport could be turned over to the county airport authority and expanded. City airport could be a huge asset if the runways were expanded to allow full size aircraft to land there. The City tried to do that while Mayor Coleman A.Young was in office, but there were too many businesses and residents that would have had to move at that time. That area has experienced massive population loss and abandonment, so it should be much easier to acquire the needed land now than it was 30 years ago.

There are many departments that should be eliminated and turned over to state or county control. The departments of health, human services, and human rights are good starting points. The City should also look at turning over property tax collection to the county. 

Any help that we can get from other law enforcement agencies should be welcomed and expanded as much as possible. The county sheriffs department offered to take over responsibility for policing the bus system a couple years ago, and was turned down. The state is willing to deploy more state police officers in the city to help out. Wayne State is willing to help police areas that are a little outside of the Wayne State University district.

If the Detroit Police Department can turn over certain duties and/or partner with other law enforcement agencies, coverage can improve and response times can be cut. Also, there needs to be reorganization within the DPD itself. Shortly before leaving the job, Chief Ralph Godbee said that the DPD had 100 officers working on payroll, which was still being done with paper and pencil. He said that they planned to spend $600,000 on a new payroll system to try to get more efficient. WTF? An organization of 2,500 employees can be properly serviced by a payroll department of 3 civilians. Also, a modern payroll system doesn't cost $600,000 to purchase. Internal restructuring and outside partnering could result in hundreds of additional police patrolling the streets, without any additional expenditure from the city. 

These are just starting points. There is much more that can be done to cut costs and improve service delivery. 

Also, the EM should figure out exactly how much long-term debt is owed by the city and how much of that debt the city can actually afford to pay, and then make a settlement offer to the unions and bond holders. The 2007 United Auto Workers contracts are a good template to work from. The city should set up a union-controlled Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association with a set amount of seed money (negotiated in settlement talks) and then switch over to a defined contribution retirement plan for all city employees.

If the unions and bond holders can not come to a settlement agreement with the city, bankruptcy should then be pursued.