Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vote cookie for mayor of Detroit

Chocolate Chip Cookie - Photo by Frank Nemecek
All 13 of the candidates for Mayor of Detroit appeared at a debate at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 E. Warren Ave.) in Midtown. The Detroit Free Press has their coverage of it here.

Rather that belabor all of the points, I would simply like to say that I'm not sure which one of the candidates for Mayor of Detroit I'm least impressed with. In fact, after watching the debate last night, I would like to nominate this chocolate chip cookie as mayor.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Real cause of Detroit's bankruptcy

Since July 18, when Kevyn Orr filed for chapter nine bankruptcy protection on behalf of the City of Detroit and made the Motor City the largest municipality to do so, there has been a plethora of pundits who have offered their own theories about why our city went bust. According to a columnist at Forbes, for example, Detroit's bankruptcy is the result of former President Richard Nixon abolishing the gold standard in 1971. Steve Dibert at MFI-Miami, however, blames a large chunk of it on credit default swaps and the $5 billion that Detroit lost due to banks manipulating the LIBOR index.

Others targets for blame among the vastness of bankruptcy pundits include:
  • Corrupt politicians;
  • Racism;
  • Urban sprawl;
  • Poor management;
  • Collapse of American manufacturing;
  • General neglect from Lansing and/or Washington;
  • High taxes/socialism; and
  • Strawberry yogurt.

I, however, blame all of this on the Canadians.

Yes, you read that correctly. I place blame for the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history squarely on the maple syrup-loving shoulders of the Canadian people.

After all, Detroit is the only major American city that is north of Canada. This fact makes us especially vulnerable to their insidious manipulation.

I mean, just think of Canada's impact on our fair city. Hockey Night in Canada shows up on televisions throughout the Motor City. Labatt Beer or Molson Canadian are served in almost every bar in Detroit. Plus, there's the fact that almost every Detroiter has at least a few Canadian coins in their pocket, which undermines our economy.

Yes, I blame Canada for all of the problems that one of this nation's great cities is currently experiencing and I'm not the only one who feels this way. Academy Award winning actor, and Detroit Country Day alumnus, Robin Williams obviously agrees with me on this point.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy birthday to Detroit

Tequila - Photo by Miguel Prado
Today is the city of Detroit's 312th birthday. It was on this day in 1701 that Antoine de la Mothe sur de Cadillac landed in Detroit and established Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit to protect French fur trading routes. That military fort, of course, later evolved into the city that we know and love today.

There was also some Canadian guy who decided to celebrate Detroit's birthday recently by getting drunk and swimming across the Detroit river. I guess that's how they celebrate a 312th birthday in Canada.

Anyway, today is also National Tequila Day. This is appropriate because, now that the City of Detroit is in bankruptcy, we will all need lots of tequila to get through this mess.

If anyone needs me, I'll be at Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen (18950 Ford Rd.) after work to celebrate both occasions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Daily Show talks about Detroit's bankruptcy

Last night, The Daily Show discussed the City of Detroit, its chapter nine bankruptcy filing from last week, and the news media's coverage of said filing. It was the smartest and most insightful piece that any outlet produced on the subject to date.

Therefore, I felt almost obligated to post it here. If anything, I feel bad that I didn't think of these things first.

In related news, my man crush on John Oliver has just gotten much deeper and more profound.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jones to Host Summit for Senior Citizen

Detroit Councilwoman Brenda Jones will host the 4th annual Detroit Senior Citizens Informational Summit on Thursday, July 25 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Shed 8 on Belle Isle.

This annual event will feature vendor displays, speakers, senior information, gift raffle, music, and light refreshments. To RSVP, please call (313) 224-1245.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit Cannot File for Bankruptcy, Judge Rules

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of the Ingham County Circuit Court ruled that Governor Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr violated both Michigan's Constitution and state law when they filed for chapter nine bankruptcy protection for the City of Detroit. She ordered Governor Snyder to direct Mr. Orr to withdraw Detroit petition for bankruptcy protection.

Quite frankly, I did not see this one coming. While I haven't studied the issue well enough to opine on Judge Aquilina's decision, I can say that this is yet another first sign that Detroit's bankruptcy process is going to be a long, drawn-out one.

The Detroit Free Press has more on this story on their website here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Detroit Could File for Bankruptcy Tomorrow

The Detroit Free Press reports that the City of Detroit could file for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection as soon as tomorrow. Kevyn Orr, emergency manager for the City of Detroit, is reportedly preparing the appropriate documents to begin the such a filing.

While bankruptcy is never an ideal solution, I'm glad to see that Kevyn Orr is moving forward with this. There is, unfortunately, no realistic chance that the City of Detroit will be able to stabilize its finances outside of bankruptcy. With that being the case, the simple fact remaining is that the sooner Detroit goes into bankruptcy, the sooner it can emerge from it.

Update @ 4:24 p.m.
WDIV-TV is reporting that the City of Detroit actually filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection today.

Update @ 4:27 p.m.
USA Today is confirming that the City of Detroit has already filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Update @ 4:36 p.m.
All of this means that Jennifer Kochan has won this blog's "Guess the Filing Date" contest. She will receive a free lunch at the Warrendale restaurant of her choice.

Update @ 5:12 p.m.
Governor Rick Snyder released a statement this afternoon in which he explained his rationale for approving Kevyn Orr's request to allow the City of Detroit to file for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. This statement is available on-line here.

Update @ 5:36 p.m.
Ms. Kochan has decided to donate her prize to a veteran. If there are any veterans who would like to join me for lunch (or dinner) at Gracie See Pizzeria, please leave a comment below.

Bambu Jessica Comes to Warrendale

As part of my on-going effort to cover all the news in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit, I wanted to mention that Bambu Jessica of the Suicide Girls will be at the Toy Chest Bar (18728 Ford Rd.). She will perform there live both Friday and Saturday evening.

The Suicide Girls are an alternative burlesque/pin-up troupe made up of tattoo-covered beautiful women. Bambu Jessica has an impressive fan base, drawn not only by those attracted by the way that she looks but the intelligence and personality that comes across in everything that she does. All of this comes across in the interview that Bambu Jessica gives in the video embedded above.

I'm pleased to welcome Bambu Jessica of the Suicide Girls to the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit. I'm grateful that the Toy Chest Bar has decided to bring her here all the way from her home in Las Vegas.

More information about Bambu Jessica, as well as additional photos and videos of her, are available on her website here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

X Games Goes to Austin. Detroit to Do Its Own Version.

While I'm disappointed that the X Games will not be coming to Detroit at this time, I join those who organized the X Games Detroit Bid in congratulating everyone in Austin, Texas on their success. I wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.

I'm also thrilled to learn that my fellow Detroiters are exploring the option to create their own version of the X Games, which will happen here in Detroit. The fact remains that Detroit has hosted more high-profile sporting events than almost any other city in the nation. The Detroit area has also hosted a tremendous variety of major sporting events such as the 2004 Ryder Cup as well as:
  • Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2005;
  • National Basketball Association Champions in 2005;
  • National Football League Super Bowl XL in 2006;
  • Major League Baseball World Series in 2006;
  • World Wrestling Entertainment's WrestleMania 23 in 2007;
  • NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Sweet Sixteen in 2008;
  • National Hockey League Stanley Cup Championship in 2008;
  • Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2008;
  • National Hockey League Stanley Cup Championship in 2009;
  • NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Four in 2009;
  • NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Frozen Four in 2010;
  • Major League Baseball World Series in 2012.

All of this, of course, is in addition to annual high profile sporting events such as the American Power Boat Association Gold Cup Race on the Detroit River, the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, the Professional Bowlers Association Motor City Classic at Taylor Lanes, and the Detroit Marathon. Detroit is also one of the few cities in the world to host four professional sports teams, numerous lower profile sporting events, and several semiprofessional teams.

Adding extreme sports, such as those in the X Games, into our portfolio will be a tremendous growth opportunity for Detroit. It would have been preferable to have a partner like ESPN to make that happen. However, I respect ESPN and their decision not to partner with Detroit in this matter.

Even without ESPN and the X Games brand, I am confident that Detroit will produce a world-class extreme sports event. The Detroit area has experience and resources that few communities can match. I look forward to that experience and those resources being used to give extreme athletes one more opportunity to compete.

In the meantime, I look forward to Detroit hosting the the 2013 AAU Junior Olympic Games from July 24 - August 3. This event will bring more than 18,000 athletes and 28,000 visitors from across the nation. It will have events both here in at Cobo Center and in Ypsilanti at Eastern Michigan University.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Foreign Born Detroiters Throughout the Region

Ellis Island - Photo by David Stern
The folks at Data Driven Detroit have released a new demographic report. This one shows where foreign-born residents are concentrated throughout the Detroit metropolitan area. Everything is broken down by census tracks.

It would appear, after reviewing the report, that approximately 10-15% of the current population in the Warrendale neighborhood was born outside of the United States. This, by the way, is consistent with what I see from covering so many other stories in the neighborhood.

The number of immigrants in Warrendale is higher than most of metropolitan Detroit, where only an average of 8% of residents are not native to this country. However, it is much lower than nearby Dearborn.

The full report, entitled Global Detroit - Demographics, is available on-line here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

City of Detroit Likely to File for Bankruptcy in August

I launched a contest last week, in which I asked readers to guess the exact date when Kevyn Orr finally files for bankruptcy on behalf of the City of Detroit. Since then, I've received dozens of predictions. Many of these predictions came in through the Facebook page for this blog, but I also received several more by email or elsewhere.

The consensus among entrants thus far is that the City of Detroit will file for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in August or early-September of this year. Almost all of the entrants have been in that date range, with only one person so far predicting that they will make it into the new year without filing.

If you would like to win a free lunch courtesy of this blog, please enter your guess as to when the City of Detroit will file for bankruptcy. The full details are here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Alexa Spierling Rises in the Country Music World

Alexa Spierling
Photo by G&L Collins Photography
There's an exciting new artist on the country music scene and her name is Alexa Spierling. She is from Michigan, but has performed concerts here, in Nashville at the Silver Dollar, and elsewhere. Her musical style is similar to that of Jewel or Taylor Swift.

I love her song "Playing Pretend." It's a smooth classic country ballad that's a lot of fun to listen to.

Of course, while she is a great country musician, one of the reasons why I'm so excited to highlight her here as part of my Friday Focus series is that her mother, Angela Adams Spierling, grew up in the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit and graduated from Ss. Peter and Paul Grade School. While Alexa herself has grown up in South Lyon, I think it's cool that there's still that connection between Warrendale and her.

For more on Alexa Spierling, to hear some of her music, or to learn about her upcoming concerts, please check out her Facebook page, watch her YouTube channel, or follow her on Twitter. She is also on Reverb Nation. Each of these sites have links to her music.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guess the Filing Date Contest Launches

U.S. Bankruptcy Court - The Destination for Detroit
It's painfully obvious that the City of Detroit is on a collision course with bankruptcy. Since there isn't much that any of us can really do about it, unless you happen to have a few billion dollars in cash lying around, I am hereby launching the "Guess the Filing Date Contest."

Enter your guess in the comments section below as to the exact date when the City of Detroit will file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. The guess closest to the actual filing date wins lunch with me at your choice a fine dining establishments in the Warrendale neighborhood, such as 3 Nicks, Chick's Bar, Gracie See Pizzeria, J.S. Fields, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, or any of the other fine options in Warrendale.

Entries will also be accepted on the Facebook page for this blog, via email, or in person if you happen to see me at any of these establishments between now and when Kevyn Orr finally moves forward with a bankruptcy filing.

Update @ 7:48 p.m.
In response to a reader question, I'm going to decree that only one entry will be accepted per person for this contest.

Also, since there are multiple ways in which someone may enter this contest (Facebook, Google Plus, email, in person, or by leaving a comment), I will also rule that if more than one person guesses a certain date, the first person to guess a given date said shall have the rights to it. I someone has already guessed your date, I will let you know so you can pick another date.

This contest will expire as soon as the City of Detroit files for bankruptcy protection. The prize has no cash value, but it may be transferred to another person (for the benefit of all of my readers who live outside of the Detroit area and who may want to give it to a friend or relative who still lives here).

Any other issues arising from these rules, shall be subject to the decision of the guy who is giving away the free lunch.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cool Warrendale Thing: Summer Break Prayer and Praise Fest

The Summer Break Praise and Prayer Fest happened on Sunday, June 30 at Greater Sonora Missionary Baptist Church (18750 Sawyer St.) in Warrendale. After the regular Sunday service, there was a special live performance from Chosen Generation Choir. Plus, the folks at Soaring Eagle Ministries served free hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks.

It was a great event; a church social where the entire neighborhood was invited to join. In fact, several people who just happened to be walking past with no connection to the church at all were offered free food and beverages by their volunteers.

This event happened on the same afternoon that Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church celebrated their 90th anniversary. My report from that event is available here.

There several photographs from this event that are available on Flick here. There will likely be more events at the church in the not too distant future and you will read about them on this blog.

Until then, I am proud to proclaim the Summer Break Prayer and Praise Fest my Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for this week.

Detroit Sends Cash to Dearborn

Earlier this afternoon, I saw a marked car from the Dearborn Police Department operating a speed trap along the Southfield Freeway, but within the Detroit city limits. For the record, it's been years since I've a car from the Detroit Police Department or anyone else issue speeding tickets along that stretch of road.

It's pretty clear that the City of Detroit believes they so much cash that they don't need to worry about the potential revenue from things like traffic tickets. Therefore, the Detroit Police aren't worrying about it.

I have to say, though, that it's nice that the Detroit Police are so neighborly as to let other police departments come into a city overflowing with cash like Detroit it and a little extra make money for themselves.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

My Predictions for the City of Detroit

Crystal Ball - Photo by Steve Knight
I'm putting on my swami hat and making four predictions regarding the future of Detroit.

#1. The City of Detroit will go into bankruptcy. (Yes, I know. I'm not going very far out onto the limb with this one.)

#2. It's going to be a long, ugly battle and things are only going to get worse for residents. Quite frankly, I think we've got another six to eight months before we even see what the bottom looks like on this ride.

#3. When the City of Detroit finally does emerge from bankruptcy, the final resolution of its financial problems will look relatively little like what Kevyn Orr has already proposed. The bond holders will still have to take sizable hair cut, but it won't be as large as they are being asked to take now. The other details (e.g., protecting the old Friends of Kwame contracts, tax cuts, etc.) will all go out the window.

#4. Kevyn Orr will not be around when the City of Detroit finally does emerge from bankruptcy.

These are my predictions. I would love to hear what you have to say about them or what prediction you have for the financial future of Detroit.

Update: July 22, 2013 @ 1:08 p.m.
Because Kevyn Orr filed for chapter nine bankruptcy protection earlier than I thought he would, I am going to revise one of my four predictions in this post. I now believe that residents will at least see what the bottom looks like on this bankruptcy roller coaster a good five to six months from now instead of six to eight months.

I continue to believe that my remaining predictions are accurate.

Featured Place to Live: 7409 Greenview

7409 Greenview - Image from Google Streetview
7409 Greenview is a charming, three bedroom, two bathroom brick ranch with a full basement that has been very well kept. This 1,008 square foot single family home was originally built in 1955, but has been updated throughout the years. It features a finished basement as well as a two car detached garage at the rear of this property.

More information about this historic home in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit, as well as several more photographs of it, are all available here.

7409 Greenview is your Featured Place to Live in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit for this week. Please check back next week for another great place to call home.

Detroit Library July Lecture Series to Feature Diva Groups

Diva - Photo by Juanita De Paola
The Detroit Public Library’s E. Azalia Hackley Collection will host a 70th Anniversary Lecture Series. The next lecture will highlight the three top female musical groups of all time, also knows as the Diva Groups. Those groups are The Supremes, TLC and Destiny’s Child. This lecture will happen tomorrow Wednesday, July 10 at 6 p.m. in the Detroit Public Library (5201 Woodward Ave.) in Midtown.
The E. Azalia Hackley Collection is part of the Detroit Public Library’s Special Collections Department. It is located on the third floor of the Main Library. For more information, please call (313) 481-1397 or visit

Monday, July 08, 2013

Mansfield Street is Flooded

Mansfield Street Floods - Photo by Frank Nemecek
A heavy rainstorm roared through the Detroit area, late this afternoon. A large section of the Southfield Freeway in Dearborn was completely flooded, leaving several motorist trapped inside of their cars until helped arrived, as The Detroit Free Press already reported.

In the Warrendale neighborhood, the storm was a particular challenge on streets where the storm drains were clogged for one reason or another. Mansfield Street at Paul Street, for example, has not only the street itself flooded but also the sidewalk.

Additional photographs of this are available on my Flickr account.

Friends of Rouge Park to Meet on July 23

For those interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit, the next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will be held Tuesday, July 23 from 6 - 7 p.m. at the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood). This, by the way, is a one-time deviation from their regular meeting date.

The agenda for this meeting will include:
  • Report on tour of Rouge Park we gave to Biederman Redevelopment Ventures;
  •  Update on Butterfly/Prairie Walk for July 28; and
  • Progress on the development of a Master Plan for Rouge Park.
There may also be additional updates and news about Rouge Park, if they are warranted.

This meeting is open to the public. Anyone interested in the future of Rouge Park is invited to attend.

Friday, July 05, 2013

July Pizza Party at Gracie See Pizzeria

Good Times at Gracie See - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I will once again host a pizza party for fans and followers of the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog. It will happen this coming Monday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m. in Gracie See Pizzeria (6889 Greenfield Rd.). Everyone is welcome to join us.

As always, the first pizza of the evening will be on me. Gracie See Pizzeria will have drink specials all evening. After the first pizza, we simply order from the menu and split the check when it arrives.

This is a great time for current and former residents of the Warrendale neighborhood to get together and socialize.

Breaking News: Detroit Emergency Dispatching Goes Down

Detroit Police Squad Car - Photo by Frank Nemecek
According to multiple sources within the Detroit Police and Fire Departments, the emergency dispatching system that is used to deploy police officers, fire fighters, and ambulances where they are needed has been inoperable since approximately 5:30 this morning. Ambulances in Detroit are being dispatched to treat medical emergencies via the personal cell phones that most paramedics carry with them. It's not clear how police emergencies are being dispatched.

To say that this is a troubling failure is an understatement.

More on this situation as it develops.

Update @ 12:26 p.m.
WDIV-TV is reporting that this is the result of a "hardware issue" that cause all of the radios used by the Detroit Police and Fire Departments to fail. They have reportedly had limited success by tapping into the radio system used by the Michigan State Police. In the meantime, the personal cell phones of police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs are being used to communicate with dispatchers.

Additional updates will happen as more information becomes available.

Update @ 3:17 p.m.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that approximately 80% of the city's dispatch system has been restored. They are also reporting that the "hardware issue" previously reported was an equipment failure with emergency radios that, according to police officials they spoke with, had not been inspected in two years.

That's right: the equipment that Detroit uses to dispatch police, fire, and EMS had not been inspected in two years - and broke down this morning, forcing everyone to rely on their personal cell phones to get everything done. I'll let that thought rattle around in everyone's brain for a moment before you think about the summer property tax bills that are due next month.

Chief James Craig, the new chief of the Detroit Police Department who started work this past Monday, has pledged accountability in this incident. We will see for certain, in the coming days and weeks, if his promise holds any validity.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

People throughout this great nation have several different ways to celebrate the 4th of July. Many will head to the beach, watch some fireworks, and barbecue with friends and family.

I will likely do all of those things. However, my 4th of July festivities will kick off by listening to Jimi Hendrix perform The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. I invite you to do the same.

Happy 4th of July to everyone in the Warrendale and across the country.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Woman Assaulted and Robbed on Grandmont Street

According to Fox 2 News, a woman was allegedly assaulted and robbed this morning inside her home on Grandmont Street near Whitlock in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. This reportedly happened early this morning.

The thieves reportedly stole the victim's dogs, jewelry, 50 inch television,  and her wedding ring, as well as her 2006 white Infiniti SUV with the license plate CEF 9963.

The woman was taken to Henry Ford Hospital for treatment, according to news reports, and is expected to be fine.

No arrests have been made as this moment. Anyone with information is asked to call Detroit police.

90th Anniversary of Ss Peter & Paul Catholic Church

Ss. Peter & Paul Church - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.) celebrated 90 years of serving the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit this past weekend. More than 400 parishioners and invited guests attended a special mass to commemorate the occasion.

The mass was followed by a catered luncheon in the lower level of the church. In keeping the Polish heritage of the parish, most of the food they served was Polish.

There are additional photos of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church and its 90th anniversary celebration available on Flickr here.

Sonora Missionary Baptist Church (18750 Sawyer St.) also had their first annual Summer Praise and Prayer Fest that same day. My report on that event is here.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Tip of the Week: Keeping Pets Calm During Fireworks

Fireworks - Photo by Joseph Hart
Fireworks have been booming throughout the Warrendale neighborhood for weeks now. It will likely only get worse with Independence Day on Thursday. This, of course, can be particularly troubling for cats and dogs as well as the humans who love them.

Luckily, there are a three things that pet owners can do to help keep their animals calmer (or at least calmer) when fireworks echo throughout the neighborhood. It's my pleasure to present this as your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

One important tip for keeping dogs and cats calm during fireworks is to exercise them thoroughly during the day so that they are much more tired when the fireworks start later on. This, combined with everything else, makes it more likely that they will sleep through the fireworks or at least be much calmer.

Retreat to the Basement
I also find that fireworks are much less noticeable when I'm in the basement of my home than when I'm on the upper floors. This is both because most of the basement is underground, the foundation of my house literally surrounds me, and doesn't transmit sound as well, and because there aren't as many windows that do transmit sound. Being in the basement when annoying neighbors launch fireworks at all hours does a lot to mitigate the non-stop "Boom! Boom! Boom!"

Play Music
Finally, it's also a good idea for pet owners to also play music or have the television on when fireworks are booming outside. This helps to drown out the noise of fireworks.

These, of course, are only three suggestions. If you have any other tips that you would like to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Keeping your dogs and cats calm during fireworks season is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.