Friday, June 28, 2013

City Council Candidates Appear at WACO Meeting

The Five City Council Candidates for the 7th District Appear  at a Meeting of the Warren Avenue Community Organization
Photo by Frank Nemecek

The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents that portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is east of the Southfield Freeway, hosted each of the candidates for City Council. These candidates seek to represent the 7th district, which includes all of Warrendale as well as some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

John Bennett began his introduction by talking about his family, his experience as a Detroit police officer, and trying to grow Detroit. He argued that the City of Detroit cannot cut it's way out of budget problems. He also proposed entering into an intergovernmental agreement with other law enforcement agencies so that they could supplement what the Detroit Police Department does.

Rob Bennett, who isn't related to John Bennett, talked about his experience as a D-DOT bus driver and an Inkster police officer. Both he and John Bennett talked about how they would like to see a dedicated source of revenue for public safety.

As a related note, I should point out that the City of Detroit once had a dedicated source of revenue for public safety. It was the utility tax, which later went into the general fund and will soon be the primary source of revenue for public lighting. My personal belief is that, rather that pursuing another dedicated revenue stream that may or may not get sucked into the morass of abysmal accounting that is the City of Detroit, it would be much better if we instead tried any of the dozens of suggestions I've offered on this blog to save money without cutting services. Examples of those suggestions are available here, here, and here.

But I digress.

Dustin Campbell talked about his experience at many different levels, having worked at the city, county, and state levels. He also talked about the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with resident and came out against privatization of city devices.

Gabe Leland talked about experience as a state legislator, representing a district with boundaries that are almost identical to our current City Council district. His top priorities, if elected, would be to better deal with crime in Detroit, fighting blight in our neighborhoods, upgrading out street lights, and improving our parks.

Interestingly, Gabe Leland also talked about cutting the City Council's staff. He said that when he was a state legislator, he represented roughly the same population, but did so with less than half the staff that the City Council currently has. I've been following Detroit politics for a couple of decades now and I don't think I've heard a City Council candidate propose cutting their own staff.

Regina Ross talked about her history in Detroit and working together as a community. One of the things that she proposed was bringing the Michigan National Guard into Detroit to help demolish some of the blighted properties in the neighborhoods.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Disappointed in Charles Pugh

Once upon a time, I saw a lot of potential in Charles Pugh. Even after the debacle with his mortgage and his grandstanding orange peel video, I thought he had the potential for a long-term career as a political leader in Detroit.

But then we had his current not-quite a sex scandal sex scandal with one of the young men that he mentored and his abrupt disappearance from public life when he was supposed to be at City Council meetings doing his job.

Once upon a time, I saw a lot of potential in Charles Pugh. Today, however, I simply have lawyer friends who see a lot of billable hours in him.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Deactivated Facebook Account

Screen Shot of my Disable Facebook Account
Image by Some Guy Claiming to be "Frank Nemecek"

My personal Facebook account was deactivated this morning. It would appear that someone filed a claim with Facebook alleging that I'm not really Frank Nemecek of Detroit, Michigan. This also means that the Facebook page for this blog is also stuck in limbo since I'm the only administrator of it.

Needless to say, the whole thing is complete bullshit. I cannot prove it, but I strongly suspect that this was done by one of the politically powerful people that I have infuriated over the years or their respective minions. Unfortunately, that does leave me with a fair amount of suspects.

Regardless, I will recover from this momentary setback. I will regain full control of my Facebook account and the pages associated with it. More importantly, I will continue to be just as big of a pain in the ass to those who desire to exploit this community.

And, yes, while it will likely take a certain amount of time, I will find out who filed this bogus complaint against me with Facebook.

Bumping Into Paul Tait

Penthouse Club Detroit - Secret Headquarters of SEMCOG
Photo by Frank Nemecek
When I first walked into the Penthouse Club, my attention immediately went to the mostly naked gyrating bodies on stage. There is something about a barely clothed woman spinning on a pole that will grab anyone’s attention. After a moment, though, I allowed by eyes to scan the rest of this establishment.

There was a group of middle aged white men at a table at the far end of the club that I thought I recognized. I took a few steps towards them. For better or worse, one of them recognized me before I recognized him.

“You’re that blogger,” he called out. “You’re the reason ‘#AbolishSEMCOG’ was trending on Twitter last Friday.”

“And you must be Paul Tait, executive director of Southeast Michigan Council of Governments,” I replied as I continued to walk towards them.

“And these are the rest of the people that you would put out of a job,” he added as he gestured to his staff seated around the table.

“Am I interrupting anything, gentlemen?” I inquired.

“Just our usual staff meeting,” one of the others replied.

“Well, as long as I’ve got you here,” I wondered aloud, “do you mind if I ask for you a few questions as an interview for my blog?”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Duct Taped EMS Rig

EMS Rig Repaired with Duct Tape and Bandages
When I shared the fire hydrant that had been "repaired" with duct tape, a friend of mine sent me this photograph. It shows a mirror for a Detroit EMS rig that had been patched with duct tape and adhesive bandages.

This photograph was reportedly taken by an EMT for the Detroit Fire Department who did not want his or her name revealed publicly. I have to have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for those who persevere when this is the conditions that they have to work with.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fire Hydrant in Detroit Gets Repaired with Duct Tape

Fire Hydrant at the Southwest Corner of W. Warren Ave. and Evergreen Rd.
Photo by Frank Nemecek
I heard about this one, but I had to see it with my own eyes before I was ready to believe it truly. There is a fire hydrant at the southwest corner of W. Warren Avenue and Evergreen Road in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit that was repaired with duct tape.

Duct tape!

A fire hydrant!

I don't know if this is an official repair that was done by someone within the City of Detroit. More than likely, one of the construction crews in the area damaged the thing while they were repairing the sidewalk and used duct tape to repair the fire hydrant. It's also possible, this is Detroit after all, that the thing was leaking for a couple of days and some random resident decided to repair it as best as he or she could.

But still...

Duct tape!

To repair a fire hydrant!

I love this city, but I have to admit that Detroit can be dysfunctional in such comical ways sometimes.

Update: July 11 @ 7:00 a.m.
This story is now also covered on Deadline Detroit here.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Both Flattered and Disappointed

It is both flattering and disappointing when people aren't sure whether or not a piece that I've written is real; a piece that I specifically labelled as satire. On one hand, it means that my skills as a writer are strong enough to suspend a reader's disbelief no matter what. That, of course, is quite flattering to me as a writer.

On the other hand, well, it just makes me worry about some people. It really does make me worry about them.

Memo to Self: I must only use this power of mine for good.

Addendum to Above Memo: Earning enough money to keep the single moms at the Toy Chest Bar fed and clothed counts as "good."

Friday, June 07, 2013

An Open Letter to Virginia Postrel

Will Van Gogh Go to Los Angeles?
I want to thank you, Ms. Virginia Postrel, for having the courage to say what so desperately needed to be said. As you pointed out in your most recent column for Bloomberg View, Vincent Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Straw Hat really would be much better off in Los Angeles than it ever would be at its current residence in Detroit.

Many of my fellow Detroiters, of course, will disagree with this assertion. Nancy Kaffer wrote a blog piece this afternoon in which she pointed out that, on a per capita basis, there are more Detroiters who visit the Detroit Institute of Arts than there are Los Angelenos who visit the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Of course, you and I know that isn't why Van Gogh's work - and all of the other great masterpieces that Detroit has been holding hostage for generations - would be so much better off in Los Angeles. These artworks would simply get better exposure in Southern California than they ever could in the Motor City.

I mean, think of the opportunities that shipping these priceless masterpieces out west would represent to art lovers everywhere.
  • The art could be featured on NCIS: Los Angeles and other great television shows. A super villain, who would no doubt be British, could steal one of these masterpieces while in transit, only to have our heroes recover it exactly three seconds before it's sold to a Middle Eastern art dealer as part of a plot to finance another Al-Qaeda attack.
  • Or maybe it could be featured in Fast & Furious 27 - where the gang has to steal the prize of the Getty collection in order to pay for their monthly prescriptions
  • Or, if we're really, really lucky then maybe this artwork will be the star of a new reality television. Contestants could spend hours trying to paint Van Gogh's other ear onto his portrait. In order to keep it up to the current standards for television, though, those contestants will have to do so using nothing more than their genitals.
Of course, I regret to inform you, Ms. Postrel, that the biggest obstacle to bringing this art to California may actually be from Los Angelenos themselves. I took an informal poll of my friends and former classmates who live in Los Angeles.

They simply do no see you the opportunity that you and I see in this matter. Their most common reaction was, "You've got to be [expletive deleted] kidding me?"

It would appear that these individuals, including some native Los Angelenos, simply do not relish in the idea of exploiting another community's misfortune. They would rather get on an airplane, travel to Detroit, and see these great works of art where they currently are.

But don't worry, Ms. Postrel. I'm confident that after a few more columns, you'll be able to change their collective minds.

That is, of course, unless they were actually serious about boxing you up and shipping you back to Texas before you further embarrass the great city of Los Angeles.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Michigan State Police to Test Rape Kits

Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy yesterday announced a $4 million plan to test thousands of unprocessed rape kits from crimes committed in the city of Detroit. The goal of this plan is to remove rapists and other violent criminals from Southeastern Michigan streets, protecting the region from serial criminals, as well as beginning the process of securing justice for women who were the victims of horrific crimes.

“Thousands of victims have been waiting too long for the justice they deserve,” Governor Snyder explained.  “This initiative will start us on the path to find justice for these victims. It also will help us improve public safety in Michigan by catching and locking up more of these vicious criminals. This initiative is a prime example of how state and local agencies can work together to find innovative ways to fight crime. I congratulate Attorney General Schuette, Prosecutor Worthy, and the Michigan State Police for developing this cooperative approach that will help improve public safety in our state.”

To fund the rape kit testing, Snyder included a $4 million appropriation for the State Forensics Laboratory Fund in his proposed supplemental budget currently under review by the legislature. The appropriation is funded by settlement monies successfully recovered by Schuette from state and national litigation.

In 2009, approximately 11,300 untested rape kits dating back 25 years were discovered in a Detroit Police Department property storage facility. Each rape kit has the potential to solve multiple crimes, including those committed by serial rapists. Since the closure of the Detroit Police Department Crime Laboratory in September of 2009, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has been providing forensic science services to the city of Detroit and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. The MSP’s Forensic Science Division has been instrumental in the laboratory analysis of sexual assault kits and will continue to work with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department on efforts to test the remaining sexual assault kits.

Although media reports suggest untested kits have been problematic in cities around the country, Detroit and Houston are two jurisdictions currently working with the National Institute of Justice to determine how to approach the testing of previously untested kits to determine the best criminal justice outcome. Prosecutor Worthy has worked with a unique collaborative team of law enforcement officials, prosecutors, researchers and victim advocates to work toward testing every kit. With a grant from the federal government’s Office on Violence Against Women to the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, Worthy joined the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, and Michigan State University to create “Project 400”, an effort to test 400 randomly selected kits in order to determine the nature of the evidence and what kinds of cases are connected to the evidence.  Since the completion of Project 400, an additional 1,600 kits have been submitted for testing. To date, 569 have made it through the lengthy testing process.

Snyder, Schuette and Worthy look forward to working with the legislature to appropriate the funds and begin the testing process promptly. The State intends to work with established private laboratories to secure the most competitive rates to test as many kits as possible in a timely fashion. Worthy remains committed to prosecuting any potential suspects that result from the testing.

Michigan victims of sexual violence are encouraged to call the national sexual assault hotline toll-free, 1-800-656-HOPE.  All calls are confidential, and will be answered by a local counseling center affiliated with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Assistance is also available online at

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Summer Break Praise and Prayer Fest

Soaring Eagle Ministries and the Chosen Generation Choir (Johnnie L. Moore, Pastor) are proud to present their Summer Break Praise and Prayer Fest on Sunday, June 30. This event will start immediately after Sunday morning service. The service starts at 11 a.m. and lasts approximately 95 minutes. The church is located at 18750 Sawyer St., which is near Brace St.

There will be good music, singing, prayers for the neighborhood, and free food right off the grill. Everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood is invited to come out and fellowship with others from this neighborhood in an exciting, spirit-filled atmosphere.

Kids, bring your parents. Parents, bring your kids. All are welcome. Come as you are. Jeans and gym shoes are welcome. The church is on Sawyer st. near Brace st.

Please call (313) 334-0069 at anytime, if you have any questions.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Cyber Criminals Using Photo-Sharing Programs to Compromise Computers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has seen an increase in cyber criminals who use online photo-sharing programs to perpetrate scams and harm victims’s computers. These criminals advertise vehicles online but will not provide pictures in the advertisement. They will send photos on request. Sometimes the photo is a single file sent as an e-mail attachment. Other times, the victim receives a link to an online photo gallery.

The photos can contain malicious software that infects the victim's computer, directing them to fake websites that look nearly identical to the real site where they originally saw the advertisement. The cyber criminals run all aspects of these fake websites, including “tech support” or “live chat support,” and any “recommended” escrow services. After the victim agrees to purchase the item and makes the payment, the criminals stop responding to correspondence. The victims never receive any merchandise.

The FBI urges consumers to protect themselves when shopping online. They offer the following tips for staying safe:

  • Be cautious if you are on an auction site and lose an auction and the seller contacts you later saying the original bidder fell through;
  • Make sure websites are secure and authenticated before you purchase an item online. Use only well-known escrow services;
  • Research to determine if a car dealership is real and how long it has been in business;
  • Be wary if the price for the item you’d like to buy is severely undervalued; if it is, the item is likely fraudulent;
  • Scan files before downloading them to your computer;
  • Keep your computer software, including the operating system, updated with the latest patches; and
  • Ensure your anti-virus software and firewalls are current – they can help prevent malware infections.