Friday, August 30, 2013

Dark and stormy night in Warrendale

Tonight, my friends is the kind of "dark and stormy night" that inspires horror stories. The way lighting flashes, casting shadows that you see out of the corner of your eye - thinking that it was something.

But then, as you turn around to look at it closer, the shadow has disappeared back into the night.

You hear something move and tell yourself that it's just something being blown about by the wind. But then...

Then you realize that it sounds too big to be an ordinary piece of trash. It's moving towards you. You try to figure out what it is, but now it's sound is muffled. Maybe it stopped or is just downed out the persistent gurgle of rain and the sound of thunder.

You tell yourself that it's nothing.

And then - another flash of lightning. Another shadow that moves in the corner of your eye and that sound keeps moving closer...

Send Miley Cyrus to Syria

I believe that, rather than bombing Syria over the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons, the United States should send Miley Cyrus over there instead. In fact, I started a petition on the White House web site, asking President Barack Obama to do just that. If you are so wiling, I would appreciate it if you took a moment to sign my petition on We the People.

Sending Miley Cyrus to Syria would accomplish what I believe are four important objectives for American foreign policy in the 21st century.
  1. Her endless, overdone twerking will punish President Bashar al-Assad and his regime for their apparent use of chemical weapons against dissidents within Syria;
  2. It will provide an adequate deterrent against Iran, North Korea, or any other rogue nation from using weapons of mass destruction against unarmed civilians;
  3. It will rid the American people of the Miley Cyrus menace once and for all; and
  4. It will accomplish all of this with minimal risk of American causalities - other than Miley Cyrus, of course.
There are those who argue that this is an extreme measure. Some of my friends have even argued that it might be considered a war crime for the United States to do such a thing. However, after a great deal of reflection, I believe that it is a risk we as a nation must take.

I hope that you will join me in encouraging President Obama to send Miley Cyrus to Syria than bombing them. My petition to the White House is available on-line here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mike Duggan releases 10-point plan to rebuild neighborhoods

Mike Detroit - Photo by Detroit Free Press
Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan released a 10-point plan Tuesday evening that outlines his proposed strategy for rebuilding neighborhoods in Detroit. Quite frankly, I like his plan. There is only one thing about it that I would change about it.

Before I discuss the one change that I would make, though, here are the 10-points to Mike Duggan's plan to rebuild the neighborhoods in Detroit.
  1. Establish a single Department of Neighborhoods;
  2. Base the Department of Neighborhoods in seven neighborhood district offices to create true partnerships with neighborhood groups and block clubs;
  3. Seize abandoned houses and drug houses through a nuisance abatement program, similar to the one Mike Duggan started when he served as Prosecutor for Wayne County;
  4. Create positive incentives to move families from sparsely-populated areas into to stronger neighborhoods. This, presumably, would include most of Warrendale as one of the stronger neighborhoods;
  5. In order to rebuild neighborhood business districts, he would seize abandoned storefronts and move in entrepreneurs;
  6. Streamline demolition process and strategically target neighborhoods;
  7. Create much tougher code enforcement;
  8. Require banks to participate in neighborhood redevelopment;
  9. Clean up vacant lots; and
  10. Reform the Detroit Land Bank so we can re-use vacant land.
Mike Duggan's plan for a Department of Neighborhoods sounds a lot like the Neighborhood City Halls that used to exist in Detroit until Mayor Dave Bing eliminated them as part of his budget cuts. Regardless of what one calls them, though, I believe that having such an office in each of the districts is a good idea.

The one thing that I would change about Mike Duggan's plan to rebuild neighborhoods would be to substitute a vigorous deconstruction program instead of streamlined demolition process. In neighborhoods throughout Detroit, there are lots of blighted buildings that I need to removed and Warrendale is no exception to that, as I have pointed out before.

The tragic fact is that Detroit has far more blighted properties than it has resources to deal with them adequately and that, in turn, means that we need to be more innovated in how we respond to blight in our neighborhoods. Moving from a conventional demolition process to a deconstruction model is, in my opinion, a huge part of that innovation.

With a conventional building demolition, a couple of workers and some heavy equipment come to a location, and smash everything. They will then haul what used to be a building away to an ordinary landfill.

In contrast, under a deconstruction model, a half dozen to a dozen workers are on site for a week or more. They take the building down piece by piece, salvaging everything that can be salvaged, and then recycling what is left. The only things that ever go into a landfill are pieces of hazardous waste (e.g., asbestos or lead paint) and those things will go to a special landfill that is designed to accept hazardous materials properly.

Even in places like Detroit, and even after scrappers have already attacked a vacant home numerous times, a deconstruction crew can still salvage thousands of dollars worth of materials from it. Because of that, it is almost always cheaper in the end to deconstruct a blighted property than the $12,000 - $14,000 that the City of Detroit currently pays to have one demolished.

Moreover, because it's ultimately cheaper to deconstruct a blighted property than to demolish it, the City of Detroit would be able to remove more of these dangerous buildings from our neighborhoods through a deconstruction model than it currently can under its old model. I argue that anything that enables us to remove more of these dangerous buildings from our neighborhoods is a good thing and a change worth making.

In addition to that, because deconstruction relies on people more than it does heavy equipment, switching to a deconstruction model for removing dangerous buildings would also mean the creation of thousands of new jobs. This is important in a city like Detroit where so many adults are without jobs and have been without them for quite some time.

Finally, because almost nothing from a deconstructed building goes into a landfill, it is also much better for the environment.

Mike Duggan's plan doesn't specifically call for the use of conventional demolition instead of deconstruction. However, I believe his plan would be much better if it did specifically call for deconstruction.
  • More blighted properties removed from the neighborhoods of Detroit;
  • Thousands of new jobs created for Detroit residents; and
  • Better for the environment with less trash going into a landfill.
It's hard to argue with something that can deliver results like that. I hope Mike Duggan incorporates deconstruction in plans for Detroit.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Michigan housing official sentenced on bribery and fraud charges

A former employee of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority was sentenced this afternoon to a year in prison after her conviction on charges related to bribery and fraud. Angela Reed, age 42, of Detroit, pleaded guilty on November 6, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to accept bribes and make false claims to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook, Jr., who imposed sentence today.

Reed was the waiting list coordinator for the Homeless Assistance Recovery Program, a HUD program established to give homeless persons preference in the awarding of housing vouchers. Reed and other co-defendants devised a scheme to have persons on the voucher waiting list improve their chances of getting their vouchers much more quickly by creating false document so that they would receive certification even though they were not homeless. At the direction of Reed and her co-defendants, applicants made false entries in their applications. The scheme also involved the forging of signatures of employees of homeless shelters. In return, Reed received cash from the persons who fraudulently received homeless vouchers

In addition to Reed, four other persons have been convicted for their participation in this scheme.

“The defendant abused her position of trust to divert benefits intended for people who are homeless,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said. “Prosecutions like this one are necessary to ensure the integrity of programs to help those in true need.”

The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and the HUD Office of Inspector General with the assistance of Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Historic preservation workshop coming to Detroit

Flyer on pole - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and the Technical Preservation Services Branch of the National Park Service will present a joint workshop this autumn, which will give an overview of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program for owners of commercial buildings. This workshop will take place on Wednesday, September 11 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the MSHDA Detroit offices (3018 W. Grand Blvd, Suite 4-600) in the nearby New Center neighborhood.

This program will address the basics of the historic preservation tax credit program as well as the application process for those tax credits. This event is free and open to the public. However, space for it is limited.

Those interested in attending this workshop are asked to send an email with their name, address, and telephone number to preservation [at] michigan [dot] gov. Please include the words "tax credit workshop" in the subject line of your email.

Space, again, is limited. Owners of historic commercial buildings in the Detroit area are encouraged to claim their spot at this workshop today.

There is also a flyer for this workshop, which is available below.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Home invasion on Westwood

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

There was a home invasion this past Friday on Westwood, near Tireman. An elderly man and his grandson were beaten, and $200 was stolen from them, by two black males in their 20s who were dressed entirely in black.

Anyone with information about this attack is asked to call the Detroit Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

The most ridiculous objection to Detroit bankruptcy

I have seen some utterly ridiculous things in this world. None of them, however, have been more ridiculous than this 21-page objection that was filed with the U.S. District Court last week by an individual who calls himself "Peter the Divine."

I'm not kidding.

This is either the most well-constructed practical joke in years or the work of someone with one of the most well-constructed schizophrenic delusions of all times. Either way, I am curious to whether this person appears at the hearing that Judge Steven W. Rhodes has scheduled for October.

Gracie See launches $19.69 special

Gracie See Pizzeria - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Gracie See Pizzeria and Sports Lounge (6889 Greenfield Rd.), one of the sponsors of this blog, has launched a $19.69 special. The dollar amount, of course, honors the year that they opened.

Customers can get any large pizza and a six pack of beer for only $19.69. This offer is good for dine-in, carry-out, or delivery. Please call them at (313) 581-8070 for full details.

The $19.69 special at the Gracie See Pizzeria and Sports Lounge is your Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shinola in GQ magazine

Shinola's two page spread in GQ - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I was flipping through this month's issue of GQ over lunch when I noticed that the folks at Shinola have a two page advertising spread in it. The company is located several miles outside of the Warrendale neighborhood in Midtown, but they have embraced Detroit in their marketing efforts more than almost any other company around. (They don't have a Super Bowl ad yet, but give them time.)

Still, it makes me quite happy to see a company like Shinola moving more and more onto the national stage; taking Detroit with them as part of their marketing effort. I look forward to seeing what they do next.

Happy birthday to me

Happy birthday - Photo by Alessandro Pavio
I received a telephone call at 8 a.m. this morning from my Aunt Grace. She called to wish me a happy 24th birthday.

I knew there was a reason why I always liked that woman.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guilty plea in the Gardenview Estates project

Construction at the Gardenview Estates site in July, 2006
Photo by Frank Nemecek
The former vice president of a Detroit based construction management firm entered a plea of guilty today as part of the ongoing federal investigation and prosecution involving the Gardenview Estates public housing project in the Warrendale area of Detroit, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced this afternoon. The Gardenview Estates project was built on the site of the former Herman Gardens public housing project.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Robert D. Foley, III, Special Agent In Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CI); and Barry McLaughlin, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG).

Calvin Hall, 45, of Detroit, entered the guilty plea in U.S. District Court before Judge David M. Lawson.

According to court documents, Hall and others prepared and submitted a proposal for XCEL Construction Services Inc. that included false information. Based upon the false documents, XCEL Construction Services Inc. was awarded a contract worth more than $11 million to act as the construction manager of the infrastructure phase of the Garden View Estates public housing project, which was funded by a $24 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. At the time, Hall was the vice president of XCEL Construction Services.

During the plea hearing, Hall stated that he conspired with Michael Woodhouse, the president of XCEL Construction Services Inc., and Bobby W. Ferguson, the founder and original owner of XCEL Construction Services Inc.

U.S. Attorney McQuade said in a prepared statement, "We hope that this conviction will deter people from committing fraud against public housing programs, which are intended to provide housing to needy people in our community.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Foley added, "Those who use false documents to receive millions of dollars in government contracts will face severe consequences for their illegal acts. The FBI will remain committed to pursuing and prosecuting such criminals."

HUD-OIG Special Agent in Charge McLaughlin said, “The funds for this project were dedicated to improve the quality of life for Detroit’s neediest families. Working with our law enforcement partners, the Office of Inspector General for HUD will redouble our efforts to combat the fraud that limits that opportunity.”

Under the plea agreement, Hall faces up to 18 months of imprisonment as well as a fine of up to $40,000. In addition, Hall agreed to forfeit more than $2.2 million in assets, including multiple bank accounts and certificates of deposit seized from XCEL Construction Services Inc. during the course of the federal investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Michael Buckley, Bruce Judge, and Rita Foley.

Rich Harwood on WDET-FM

Downtown Detroit - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Rich Harwood from The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation appeared on the Craig Fahle Show on WDET-FM earlier today. He was the first of three guests on that show today. He also gave one of the best interviews regarding the future of Detroit that I've heard in quite some time.

The entire show from today is currently on-line. I encourage everyone to at least listen to Rich Harwood's portion of it.

The episode of the Craig Fahle Show from earlier today can be found on-line today here.

10 tips for amending your federal tax return

If a taxpayer discovers that he or she made an error in his or her federal tax return, and discovers this fact after filing said return with the Internal Revenue Service, it is generally best to file an amended return. The IRS will automatically correct simple mistakes involving errors in arithmetic without any action from the taxpayer. However, any other mistakes should be corrected with an amended return.

With that said, here are 10 tips from the Internal Revenue Service about amending one's federal income tax return:

  1. When to amend a return. You should file an amended return if you need to correct your filing status, number of dependents, total income, tax deductions or tax credits. The instructions for Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, list additional reasons to amend a return.
  2. When NOT to amend a return. In some cases, you don’t need to amend your tax return. For example, the IRS usually corrects math errors when processing your original return. Also, if you did not include a required form or schedule then the IRS will send you a request for whatever is missing.
  3. Form to use. Use Form 1040X to amend a previously filed Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Make sure you check the box to show the tax year that you are amending on the Form 1040X. You cannot e-file an amended return. You must file an amended tax return on paper.
  4. Multiple amended returns. If you’re filing an amended return for more than one year, prepare a separate 1040X for each return. Mail them in separate envelopes to the appropriate IRS processing center.
  5. Form 1040X. Form 1040X has three columns. Column A shows figures from the original return. Column B shows the changes you are making. Column C shows the corrected figures. There is also an area on the back of the form where you should explain the specific changes and the reasons for the changes.
  6. Other forms or schedules. If the changes involve other tax schedules or forms, attach them to the Form 1040X. Failure to do this will cause a delay in processing.
  7. Amending to claim an additional refund. If you’re expecting a refund from your original tax return, don’t file your amended return until after you have received that refund. You may cash the refund check from your original return. The IRS will send you any additional refund you are owed.
  8. Amending to pay additional tax. If you’re filing an amended tax return because you owe additional tax, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to limit any interest and penalty charges.
  9. When to file. To claim a refund, you generally must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  10. Processing time. Normal processing time for amended returns is eight to 12 weeks.

One can obtain a copy of IRS Form 1040X by visiting the IRS website here.

How to amend a federal income tax return is your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Commission turns down demolition of State Savings Bank

My thanks go out to everyone else who came out to the Historic District Commission meeting this evening. I'm thrilled that we were able to block the unnecessary demolition of the State Savings Bank Building in downtown Detroit. The Detroit Free Press has more on this story here.

Next up?

Developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to meet the need for parking in downtown Detroit that doesn't involve acre upon acre of empty asphalt. Tonight, though, we shall celebrate.

Former pension official pleads guilty

George Stanton, the former chief of staff to a member of the Detroit City Council, pleaded guilty today to accepting $15,000 in bribes from Roy Dixon, an investment sponsor before the two Detroit pension funds, in return for pushing Dixon’s investment proposal before the Police and Fire Retirement System, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Robert Foley of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

During a hearing this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, Stanton, 49, of Detroit, admitted that during the latter part of 2007, he accepted multiple payments in cash amounting to $15,000 in total from Dixon as a reward for supporting Dixon’s proposed investment. Stanton served as the chief of staff for a member of the Detroit City Council. In 2006 and 2007, that city council member was selected by the city council to serve as a trustee of the Police and Fire Retirement System. Stanton’s duties as chief of staff included supporting and advising that city council member relating to duties as a trustee. In 2007, Dixon was acting as a representative of PR Investment Group, Ltd., a company that was seeking a $15 million investment from the Detroit pension funds in order to purchase speculative real estate in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Dixon gave $15,000 in cash to Stanton in an effort to secure the pension fund’s support for Dixon’s investment proposal.

In a prepared statement, McQuade added, “Detroit’s bankruptcy and the risk to retirees’ pension benefits demonstrate the importance of rooting out corruption from Detroit’s two pension funds. The pension funds should be managed to benefit retirees, not to line the pockets of public officials.”

Robert Foley added, "Public officials who accept bribes and choose to serve themselves rather than citizens by committing illegal acts, will face severe consequences. The FBI-led Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force remains committed to ensuring citizens have honest government."

Based on his guilty plea and felony conviction for accepting bribes, Stanton is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

A criminal indictment is pending against Dixon, against Jeffrey Beasley, the former Detroit city treasurer and trustee to the two Detroit pension funds; against Paul Stewart, a former vice president of a Detroit Police union and a former trustee of the Police and Fire Retirement; and against Ronald Zajac, the former general counsel of the two Detroit pension funds. As part of the indictment, Dixon is charged with paying bribes to Stanton, Beasley, Stewart, and others in return for their support of the Turks and Caicos investment. Furthermore, Dixon is charged with embezzling more than $3 million in Detroit pension fund money from a separate private equity investment by both Detroit retirement systems in a used car dealer who specialized in customers with poor credit.

In addition, a number of other defendants have been convicted in relation to the pension fund investigation, including:

  • Monica Conyers, a former trustee of the General Retirement System and former member of the Detroit City Council, for conspiracy to take bribes, including bribes relating to a proposed multi-million-dollar pension fund investment in Wireless Resources and a $10,000 extortion payment relating to the Police and Fire Retirement System’s investment in the Romulus Deep Injection Waste Well;
  • Samuel L. Riddle, Conyers’ chief of staff, for conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion relating to the Wireless Resources and Romulus Deep Injection Well investments;
  • DeDan Milton, a former trustee of Detroit’s two pension funds, for conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion;
  • Andrew Park, an owner of Asian Village, who paid a bribe to obtain a $2.75 million loan from Detroit’s General Retirement System;
  • Derrick Miller, former chief information officer of Detroit, who accepted the bribe from Park and who took a kickback of more than $500,000 on a $44 million investment by Detroit’s two pension funds; and
  • Chauncey Mayfield, for conspiracy to commit bribery with Treasurer Beasley by supplying Beasley and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick with tens of thousands of dollars in hotel, entertainment, and private jet flights, as well as a job for Beasley’s paramour and significant contributions to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, all in return for maintaining Mayfield’s position as an investment adviser controlling over $200 million in pension fund money.

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Labor. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Cares and David A. Gardey.

Checking In: The Story of the Book-Cadillac Hotel

I made a feature-length documentary back in 2003 to tell the story of what is now the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. This film has sat in a desk drawer for a couple of years. Now, with the 5 year anniversary of the grand re-opening of this hotel rapidly approaching, I figured it was time to dust it off and share it with a wider audience. Therefore, it is currently available on YouTube for free and in its entirety.

Besides, with the proposal to demolish the former State Street Bank in downtown Detroit for yet another surface parking lot, I cannot help but feel that there are at least some people in this town who could use a refresher course in just how important historic preservation actually is.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Residents receive bankruptcy notice

A formal notice was mailed to residents recently, informing them that the City of Detroit has filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. District Court. Many residents of the Warrendale neighborhood have already received this notice and, presumably, residents of other neighborhoods have received it as well. A copy of the notice is embedded below.

The City of Detroit is required to send this this notice to all of of its residents as part of the bankruptcy process. If any resident wishes to object to this bankruptcy filing then, in accordance with this notice and the order from the court, he or she has until August 19, 2013 to file an objection with the court. Although, since the City's labor unions and creditors are already expected to file their objections, there really isn't much of a point in individual residents piling on additional objections, at least in my opinion.

The one part of this notice that I found to be at least someone disturbing is that it was mailed to all residents by a firm in California. This means that the City of Detroit, by and through its attorneys, hired a California-based firm to send this notice to everyone in Detroit. I'm quite confident that, if they had looked, they could have found a company in the Detroit area who could have done this job for them. Unfortunately, it does not appear that they bothered to look.

Evening of food and spirits at Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen

Tequila - Photo by Miguel Prado
The family at Tijuana's Authentic Mexican Kitchen (18950 Ford Rd.) will host a special evening of food and spirits on Saturday, August 17 at 6 p.m. Chef Trevino will prepare a series traditional Mexican dishes as part of a five course meal that will be accompanied by a flavorful margarita.

This evening will also include a live Mariachi singer starting at 6 p.m. The cost for this five course meal, drinks, and entertainment is only $45 per person.

Seating for this special evening is limited. Reservations are also required.

Please call (313) 982-1455 to reserve your seating or for more information.       

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tip of the week: Turn it off

Did you know that idling your car for only ten seconds actually wastes more gasoline than restarting it?

Once upon a time, this wasn't always the case. However, with modern electric starters and engines, almost any car currently on the road will use more gas by idling for a few seconds and that extra gas consumption can amount to $116 - $233 being wasted at the pump every year for a typical driver.

More information about the economic and environmental costs associated with idling your car versus turning it off can be found on-line here.

Turning your car off, rather than letting it idle, is your Warrendale tip of the week.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

O say, can you sing?

American Flag - Photo by Keith Syvinski
As part of Fan Appreciation Weekend at Comerica Park, Comerica Bank is giving back to local heroes through the Home of the Brave National Anthem Singing Contest. The contest, which is open to Southeast Michigan police and firefighters, runs August 18. One lucky hometown hero will be offered the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the September 22 game at Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers will take on the Chicago White Sox. The winner will also receive 40 tickets to the game as well as a $10,000 grant to his or her police or fire station.

"Local police and fire departments are the backbone of our communities, keeping us safe day in and day out," said Mike Ritchie, president of Comerica Bank – Michigan, in a prepared statement. "This is our way of recognizing their invaluable work and saying thank you to the best and bravest."

Police officers and firefighters who are interested in entering should upload a video of themselves singing the National Anthem to the National Anthem tab on the Comerica Cares Facebook page. Entrants must be 18 years or older and a member of a police or fire department in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw or Wayne Counties.

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges from the Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank who will narrow the field to the top ten contestants. On August 30, the top ten videos will be uploaded to the Comerica Cares Facebook page and open for public voting. Voting will end on September 14 and the winner will be announced on Monday, September 16.

For more information and to enter, head to

Friday, August 09, 2013

Toy Chest Bar looking to hire a cook

Chef - Illustration by Julien Tromeur
The Toy Chest Bar (18728 Ford Rd.) is looking to hire a qualified cook to work for them on a part-time basis. Interested applicants should apply for this job in person at their location.

Questions about wages, hours, and benefits can be discussed with the bar's management at the time of application.

Toy Chest Bar bills itself as "where adults come to play." Additional information and photos regarding the bar is available on their website.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Memo to Kevyn Orr

To: Kevyn Orr, Emergency Manager for the City of Detroit
From: The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog
Re: Your comment to the Wall Street Journal

It's been a little more than two months since you and I had our extended interview at Chick's Bar. Based on the media firestorm that continues to encircle your office after you referred to Detroit as "dumb, lazy, happy, and rich" and the approximately 672,000 references to it that are currently found on-line, I believe it is time that we talk again.

You're busy. I'm busy. I'll make this brief.

Mr. Orr, if you still have to explain a certain quote a week after it was published then it is time to admit that you misspoke and move on. Your "it wasn't really a mistake" shtick is creating too much of a distraction from the business of actually transforming Detroit.

The Ant and Grasshopper - Illustration by Milo Winter
You need to admit that you misspoke. You need to explain what you actually meant and you need to do it without creating yet another brewhaha. I recommend something simple and familiar, such as a reference to Aesop's The Ant and the Grasshopper.

And then stop talking.

People will ask questions. They will poke and prod. They will look for you to screw up again. They will want something that they can write another 672,000 articles about.

Once you have admitted that you misspoke and offered a simple, non-controversial explanation, you then need to change the subject and move the proverbial ball forward. The best way to do that is to announce a new accomplishment.

Ideally, this would be something that would improve the lives of every day Detroiters. Other options would be something to resolve Detroit's debt burden or, at minimum, something that shows that real change is close at hand, such as a high-level meeting with the two pension boards to talk about their long-term future in more detail.

You have a simple choice. You can do these things or you can allow sit back as more articles continue to be published and the noise from those things drown out everything else.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Leland and Bennett advance to general election in City Council race

11,221 votes were cast yesterday in the race for district 7 of the Detroit City Council. A mere 60 votes, it turns out, made the difference between who will advanced to the general election in November and who will not.

This November, voter in Warrendale and the surrounding neighborhoods will chose between former State Representative Gabe Leland and John Bennett to represent us on the City Council. Political newcomer Regina Ross narrowly missed getting a spot on the fall ballot.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Predictions for mayor and city council elections in Detroit

Today is the primary election for mayor and city council in Detroit. Two candidates will advance to the general election in November in the mayor and city council district races; while four candidates will compete this fall for two at-large seats on the city council.

The polls in Detroit are open for another nine hours. Regardless, after consulting my crystal ball, my predictions for the outcome are as follows:

1) Benny Napoleon;
2) Tom Barrow; and
3) Mike Duggan.

City Council - 7th District
1) Gabe Leland;
2) Dustin Campbell; and
3) John Bennett.

City Council - At-Large
1) Saunteel Jenkins (incumbent);
2) Roy McCalister, Jr;
3) Brenda Jones (incumbent); and
4) Jessica Rayford-Clark.

There are only two candidates running for the Detroit Police Commission in the 7th district. Therefore, both of them will automatically move on to the general election in November.

Update @ 11:16 p.m.
Results are still coming in. Regardless, I think it's safe to say that my predictions for today were seriously wrong.

I'll have more to post tomorrow. For now, just know that my crystal ball has a serious crack in it.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Huge drug bust on Rutherford

The Detroit Police Department, along with agents from the several different state and federal agencies, announced a series of indictments that will bring to justice members of a violent, armed drug gang members that operated on Rutherford Street. This investigation is the result of an on-going partnership between local, state, and federal law enforcement, which is commonly known as Detroit One.

The indictment unsealed today charges three brothers, Mohamed, Abed, and Fouad Faraj, with distributing marijuana and prescription pills on the 6800 block of Rutherford Street and the greater Warrendale neighborhood in the city of Detroit. The criminal enterprise led by the Faraj brothers employed numerous teenagers and young men to act as their street level distributors. These young workers regularly had access to firearms supplied by the leaders and used arson as a tactic to create stash houses and to further the enterprise’s narcotics distribution activities.

Among those charged today are:
  • Mohamed Faraj, 29, of Dearborn Heights, charged with continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking, and use a telecommunications device in furtherance of narcotics trafficking;
  • Abed Faraj, 38, of Detroit, charged with continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking;
  • Fouad Faraj, 43, of Dearborn Heights, charged with continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking;
  • Mohammed Abdul Alhakami, 22, of Detroit, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking;
  • Ali Al-Hisnawi, 20, of Detroit, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; and
  • Adnan Bazzi, 28, of Dearborn, charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession of firearms in furtherance of narcotics trafficking, and felon in possession of a firearm.
“Detroit One is bringing a unified focus to arresting violent offenders in Detroit," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade explained in a statement. "Dismantling violent drug gangs will help restore peace in our neighborhoods."

“We know that illegal narcotics and firearms are a major threat to the safety of our citizens and to law enforcement officers,” added Acting Special Agent in Charge Daryl McCrary of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “Today’s operations and arrest warrants highlight ATF’s and our law enforcement partners’ effort to remove armed violent drug dealers from our streets. We are committed to reducing violent crime and this case emphasizes a repetitive problem of illegal narcotics traffickers willing to use and carry firearms to protect their drug proceeds.”

“This is the perfect example of law enforcement teamwork,” said Chief James E. Craig. “Working with our local, state, federal law enforcement agencies has and will continue to enhance our crime-fighting efforts in providing a safe environment for visitors and residents of the city of Detroit.”

Detroit One is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit. By working cooperatively, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are maximizing their ability to identify and arrest the individuals and groups committing violent crime.

In this case, investigators were able to share information and resources to identify the leaders and key members of this organization, leading to charges against six individuals in federal court. The case was initiated by the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership, consisting of representatives of the Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections, and ATF and assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and Internal Revenue Service.

Update @ 7:14 p.m. I was interviewed about this story by WXYZ-TV this evening and gave background information about narcotics trafficking in Warrendale. More 

Crash on Tireman kills 1, injures 7

WXYZ-TV reported that at least seven people were injured and one was killed in car crash at the corner of Tireman and Plainview in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. The crash reportedly began when the driver of a Chevy Suburban, who was driving on a suspended license, sped away after being pulled over by police. He then crashed into another vehicle at approximately 70 m.p.h.

The driver in question was later arrested. He will reportedly face murder charges.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Rouge Park gets featured on WXYZ-TV

Dave LewAllen of WXYZ-TV in Detroit did a feature story on Rouge Park recently. He talked at length with Sally Patrella of the Friends of Rouge Park about the past, present, and future of the largest park in Detroit. He also talked with some of the student volunteers who are maintaining the MMBA mountain bike trail in the park.

I think it's a great feature. I invite everyone to take a couple of minutes to watch it.