Friday, May 31, 2013

Katsuni Comes to Warrendale

Promotional Poster for Katsuni
Asian adult film star Katsuni will make a special guest appearance at the Toy Chest Bar (18728 Ford Rd.). She will be there both this evening and tomorrow night. The club will further celebrate her appearance with specials on Saki bombs and Asian food for both nights.

Katsuni was born in Lyon, France. Her father is Vietnamese and her mother is from France.

To date, Katsuni has appeared in a total of 322 adult films. She has received 20 different awards for her work in that industry.

Her appearance at the Toy Chest Bar in the Warrendale neighborhood this evening will mark Katsuni's first public appearance in Detroit during her career.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Former Detroit Library Official Charged with Corruption

The former chief administrative and technology officer of the Detroit Public Library was charged with taking more than $1.4 million in bribes and kickbacks from contractors of the library, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced yesterday in a prepared statement. She was joined in this announcement was Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez from the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Timothy Cromer, age 46, who held his library position from 2006 to 2013, was charged in a 21-count superseding indictment. James Henley and Ricardo Hearn, both contractors at the library, were also charged yesterday.

According to the indictment, Cromer helped Henley create a business in 2007 called Core Consulting & Professional Services and then instructed him to submit a proposal for information technology services at the Detroit Public Library. Cromer arranged for Core to win the bid and approved various change orders and extensions, causing the Detroit Public Library to pay Core a total of about $1.8 million. Henley is alleged to have kicked back about $500,000 to Cromer until Core’s contract with the Detroit Public Library was terminated in January 2008. Cromer terminated the contract to prevent officials from discovering the kickback scheme. Even after the contract was terminated, Cromer instructed Henley to continue submitting invoices on behalf of Core. Cromer continued to approve the invoices, and Henley kicked back an additional $125,000 to Cromer.

Cromer was also charged with receiving kickbacks from Hearn, another contractor. Cromer allegedly approved no-bid professional services contracts for Hearn’s company, Cubemation LLC, to perform information technology services for the Detroit Public Library from 2008 until 2010. According to the indictment, Cubemation received about $2.8 million in payments from the Detroit Public Library, and Hearn delivered about $800,000 in cash to Cromer during that time period.

If convicted, Cromer, Henley, and Hearn each face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each bribery count. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of proceeds and payments associated with the bribery scheme.

U.S. Attorney McQuade stated, “Our public libraries exist for the cultural and intellectual enrichment of our citizens, not for the personal profit of the officials who work there. The bribery scheme alleged in the indictment represents a betrayal of the honest employees who have dedicated themselves to serving the Detroit Public Library and its patrons. We will do all we can to root out such corruption and deter officials from using public funds for self-enrichment.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley, III added, “We will aggressively pursue violations of the public trust such as that demonstrated in this case.”

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI and the IRS. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth A. Stafford and Julie Beck.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. It will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg - Photo by Guillaume Paumier
Dear Mark Zuckerberg:

Several times a day, your system pelts me with "suggestions" to promote certain posts on the Facebook pages that I administer. I usually ignore them, but you've become rather pushy with it as of late. Therefore, I thought I would give you a response.

If you want me to spend money to promote the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog page on Facebook with promoted posts and such, you have to give me a way to make money on Facebook as well. That is simply not the case with the way Facebook is currently set up. As such, I will not be spending money on promoted posts, ads, or anything else regardless of how often you suggest it.

Spending money to make money is a good idea. Spending money just to get a few more "likes", however, is not. It's really that simple.

Frank Nemecek

Monday, May 13, 2013

James Craig to Become Chief of Detroit Police Department

Cincinnati police chief James Craig has been officially offered the job as chief of the Detroit Police Department, according to WDIV-TV. The station also reports that Mr. Craig has accepted the position. It's not clear at this time exactly when he will assume his new duties in Detroit.

Mr. Craig is a Detroit native who rose to the rank of captain with the Los Angeles Police Department before retiring. He previously served as chief of the Portland Police Department where he implemented that department's first strategic plan before moving to the Cincinnati Police Department.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Observation Tower in Rouge Park

Observation Tower
Photo by Michal Zacharzewski
One of the more interesting proposals to come out of the master planning session for Rouge Park is the idea to create an observation tower atop the sledding hill, north of Joy Rd. On a clear night, it is possible to see all the way to downtown Detroit - some 14 miles away - from the top of that hill.

Adding an observation tower to the hill gives the area a signature feature as well as an awesome amenity. This tower would be approximately four stories tall. There is also a possibility of adding something to this tower like a climbing wall that would make it just that much more awesome.

While this observation tower is still just an idea that the Friends of Rouge Park and Lawrence Technological University are collectively floating. It is, in my opinion, one of the more interesting ideas that I've seen in recent years.

Restricting Cars in Rouge Park

Road in Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek

The master plan presentations for the future of Rouge Park were earlier this week. One of the many ideas that are currently on the table to is to limit the access of automobiles into the largest park in Detroit. There is even talk of banning them from the area outright.

I could dwell on the irony of a place like the Motor City banning cars from the park. However, there are lots of different reasons why some residents and other stakeholders in Rouge Park would like to see less automobile traffic in the area.

The presentations on Wednesdays spent a fair amount of time discussing this idea. There was even more documentation in the reports themselves. Here is a quick summary of the rationale behind limiting automotive access to Rouge Park.
  • We've seen lots of speeding through that area. The posted speed limit in the area is 25 m.p.h., but drivers routinely travel through Rouge Park at 40 m.p.h. or faster. The Detroit Police Department has been rather ineffective at enforcing speed limits in the area.
  • The infamous cars "parked" along the side of road throughout Rouge Park. This includes people who park their cars along the side of the road while engaging in a variety of illicit activity, none of which is conducive to kind of parkland that residents want in their neighborhood. Again, the Detroit Police Department has been rather ineffective in 
  • Plus, it's hard to do much illegal dumping in Rouge Park area if you can't take your car through it (at least not the large-scale dumping of construction debris that we see so much of there).
The solution recently proposed is to take all of the roads in the Rouge Park to only one lane in each direction and to limit the areas where one can legally park. If/when they identify enough funding to operate a shuttle service in the area, they might also pursue an outright ban on cars in the park.

If that happens, there will be a few park and ride lots near the park entrances and a shuttle will take people where they want to go. Walking, bicycling, and so on would not be effected by this proposal at all.

Since the picnic areas are mostly near the various park entrances, which is where the park and ride lots would also be, this wouldn't be much of a change for people carrying coolers and such. They would simply go from carrying coolers from the side of the road to the picnic area to carrying from the lot to the picnic area; a difference of a few yards.

The park users who would be effected by this the most are those activities that more along the interior of the park. This includes things like the archery range, the mountain bike trail, tallgrass prairie visitors, and so on.

Limiting the number of lanes and instituting certain "no parking" areas seems like a good idea in my opinion. It'll be interesting to see if the outright ban on cars ever materializes.

Better Signage in Rouge Park

Illustration by Michael and Christa Richert
One of the most basic solutions that was presented as part of the master plan for Rouge Park earlier this week was to introduce better signage, maps, and other ways to help people find their way through the largest park in Detroit. This is also one of the easier fixes for the Friends of Rouge Park and the City of Detroit to work on in the coming months.

For example, a lot of people who visit Rouge Park in northwest Detroit don't know where the archery range, the mountain bike trail, or the horse stables are. Since most visitors don't know about these things or where they are located, they never use those amenities. Each of those resources has their own network of hardcore users - especially the mountain bike trail - but the fact that most visitors are unfamiliar where these things are, the number of people using them is greatly diminished.

In addition, very few visitors to Rouge Park know about the tallgrass prairie or why it is that the grass is deliberately never cut in that section of the park. This leads many of them to complain at how poorly the park is maintained by Detroit's Recreation Department.

A better means of way-finding throughout Rouge Park will do a lot to remedy these problems. Plus, in comparison to some of the other challenges that need to be overcome, this is one of the simplest and easiest fixes around.

Disc Golf in Rouge Park

Disc Golf - Photo by Pierre Amerlynck
The Friends of Rouge Park, in cooperation with students and faculty at Lawrence Technological University, presented drafts of a master plan for the largest park in Detroit this past Wednesday. The master plan itself is still being worked on. Regardless, I did want to share a few of the options that are being considered with my readers.

One of the options being considered under the master plan for Rouge Park is to create a disc golf course at the northwest corner of W. Warren Ave. and Outer Drive. The land in that section of the park is currently underutilized. Creating this course would not only bring a new amenity to the area, it would also generate some revenue for other needs in the park.

There are a few other places where one can play disc golf in the Detroit area. However, the closest one for most westsiders is in Northville.

There is definitely a market for another disc golf course. Plus, the success of the MMBA Mountain Bike Trail in Rouge Park shows that people will travel to try something like this.

Update - May 12, 2013
I'm not sure how this will impact the effort to establish a disc golf course in Rouge Park, or even if it will have an impact, but I discovered that there is also an on-going effort to establish such a course on Belle Isle. has more about that story over here.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Detroit Scales Back Collection of Yard Waste

Yard Waste Awaiting Pick Up - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The City of Detroit Department of Public Works announced in a press release last Friday afternoon that they are changing how they collect yard waste, such as grass clippings, leaves, and small twigs. Effective immediately, they will only collect yard waste twice a month, even though they are still charge residents the same fee for trash collection.

The schedule for yard waste collection will vary throughout the city. Residents in the Warrendale neighborhood and most of the west side will have yard waste collection on the second and fourth weeks of each month. Yard waste will be collected during the first and third weeks of the month on the east side and in southwest Detroit. The bi-monthly collections will occur now through the first week in December.

Residents can place yard waste in biodegradable paper bags or personal containers on the same day their weekly refuse is collected. For specific yard waste information, residents may visit

In addition, DPW has switched to spring/summer hours of 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. at four drop-off locations. A fifth location, J. Fons Transfer Station at 6451 E. McNichols is open weekdays from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Residents with proper identification may use the drop-off locations to discard bulk items, yard waste, and recyclable items. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

My Endorsement for the Police Commission

I've complained for years about the way the Detroit Police Department operates. Now that the police commission is not only elected but elected by districts, I thought about running. However, it's clear that Ricardo Moore is better qualified than I am for the position. After spending a couple of hours talking with him today, I'm more convinced than ever that he is the right person for the job.

He is a former police lieutenant, a veteran of the United States Army, and is currently serving as a team leader for the Detroit Medical Center Police Authority. As a graduate of both Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University, I believe he has the education and experience required to help transform the Detroit Police Department into the kind of law enforcement agency that I know it can be.

It is my pleasure to endorse him for the police commission this year. For those of you who live in the Warrendale neighborhood, you will probably see me knocking on doors this summer in support of him.

Monday, May 06, 2013

WCO to Meet This Evening

Warrendale Community Organization meeting
Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Warrendale Community Organization will hold their next membership meeting this evening at 7 p.m. in Activities Building at Ss. Peter & Paul Church (7685 Grandville Ave.). Their guest speaker for this evening will be Arthur Edge, a building inspector for the City of Detroit.

The Activities Building is located at the north end of the church parking lot. Attendees should enter through the parking lot, which is at the rear of the church.

Their next meeting will be on Monday, June 3 at 7 p.m. where the guest speaker will be Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano. That meeting will also be held in the Activities Building at Ss. Peter & Paul Church.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Grandmont Rosedale Open House This Sunday

House in Rosedale Park - Photo by Andrew Jameson
Our neighbors to the north, in the Grandmont Rosedale area, are having their eighth annual neighborhood-wide open house this Sunday, May 5. As many as 20 historic homes in the Grandmont, Rosedale Park, Minock Park, and North Rosedale Park neighborhoods in northwest Detroit will be open for tours from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Many of these historic homes were built in the 1920s, with some of them built even earlier. The entire area is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A free shuttle will take visitors to on a self-guided tour of the houses, with people available at each location to answer any questions.

The tours start at the North Rosedale Park Community House (18455 Scarsdale St.). Visitors will receive a list of historic homes for sale that will be open for tours that day. They will also have to option to view a brief presentation about the neighborhood, learn about home financing options, and get information about a 15 year tax abatement available to new buyers. One can also meet with current residents of the five neighborhoods that make up the Grandmont Rosedale area.

This tour is presented by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. More information is available on their website.