Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bolger visits the Warrendale neighborhood

State Representative Harvey Santana, who represents the Warrendale neighborhood and much of the surrounding area in Michigan House of Representatives, brought House Speaker Chase Bolger to the area to see the challenges that Detroiters face on a daily basis. Their tour included Warrendale and many of the surrounding neighborhoods in his district.

Rochelle Riley has more on this story in the Detroit Free Press from this morning. Her column is available here.

I want to thank Representative Santana for his efforts to highlight the challenges that Detroiters face every day. I also to express my gratitude to Speaker Bolger for taking the time to visit the neighborhoods of Detroit.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tip of the Week: Listen to "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" - Image from Librivox
Halloween is only three days away. As such, I wanted to share with all of my readers one of my favorite personal Halloween traditions.

One of the many things that I love during this time of year is listen to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. It's a classic Halloween story about the quiet Dutch community of Sleepy Hollow, which lay in the Adirondack mountains on the western shore of the mighty Hudson River in America’s colonial period. The solitude of the woods was breathtaking, and not even a schoolmaster was immune from the eerie miasma which everyone knew permeated the dense forest.

Written in 1820, Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow has become a classic of American literature and, in my mind, almost synonymous with Halloween. This story has been retold in many different ways, but I believe there is something special about listening to the original as it is read by a talented orator.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is available to download for free on LibriVox.com. I invite everyone to download it and listen to a Halloween classic.

Listening to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is your Tip of the Week.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The real benefit of Council by District

Ladies and gentlemen, as a blogger and political activist, I feel a need to hop up on my soap box for a moment. I would like to talk about one of the great benefits of Detroiters electing their City Council by district instead of doing so on a citywide basis like we used to.

There are many beautiful things about the fact that Detroit is now electing its City Council by district, instead of citywide. For starters, it's a lot easier to combat blatant lies that your opponent circulates.

When your opponent tells everyone who will listen that your preferred candidate doesn't really live in the district, it's easy for voters to ask the people who have been living next door to him for years if he really lives there. They can talk to his neighbors, his mailman, his pizza delivery guy, and anyone else to see the truth for themselves.

When your opponent tells everyone that your candidate took money from the insurance industry to screw over his own constituents, it's really easy to show them your candidate's voting record from his time in the state legislature - a voting record that is one of the most pro-consumer in Lansing.

Voters in Detroit aren't as stupid as some people make them out to be. More importantly, now that we're electing our council by district, it's easy to check a lot of these things. In the end, not only does your candidate emerge vindicated, but your opponent ends up looking like a desperate asshole.

I am so looking forward to Election Day. It's a new day in Detroit and those who resort to the same old tricks are going to get screwed.

Update @ 2:30 p.m.
This conversation has prompted a rather lengthy discussion on Facebook. I have the privacy settings for that post set to public so anyone can see it. It is available here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Abbate named head of FBI in Detroit

Earlier this afternoon, outgoing Director Robert S. Mueller, III announced the appointment Paul M. Abbate to be special agent in charge of the Detroit Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Abbate most recently served as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division in the Washington Field Office, where he oversaw the Joint Terrorism Task Force and all FBI counterterrorism personnel, investigations, and operations in the National Capital Region.

Abbate began his career as a special agent in March of 1996. Upon completion of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to the New York Field Office, where he worked in the Criminal Division and white-collar crime program. During his tenure in New York, he was also a member of the SWAT team.

In December of 2003, Abbate transferred to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served as supervisory special agent in the Iraq Unit within the Counterterrorism Division. Abbate provided program management for counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations and oversaw FBI counterterrorism operations and personnel deployments in Iraq.

In October of 2005, Abbate deployed to Iraq, where he served as the senior FBI liaison officer to the U.S. Department of Defense and led a group of specialized FBI personnel conducting counterterrorism investigations and operations in theater.

From February of 2006 to December of 2009, Abbate served as supervisory special agent on the Newark Division Joint Terrorism Task Force. He had responsibility for all international terrorism matters within the territories of Essex, Monmouth, and Ocean County, New Jersey.

In September of 2007, Abbate was temporarily detailed to the Directorate of Intelligence at FBI Headquarters, where he provided support in the implementation of several national-level, intelligence-related initiatives.

In February of 2008, Abbate deployed to Afghanistan and served as the FBI deputy on-scene commander, leading FBI counterterrorism operations and personnel in theater.

In December of 2009, Abbate returned to the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters, serving as assistant section chief in the International Terrorism Operations Section I, where he provided national-level oversight for all international terrorism investigations within the United States. During this assignment, he was member of a team that received the 2010 Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service.

In July of 2010, Abbate reported to the Los Angeles Field Office and served as an assistant special agent in charge for counterterrorism matters, overseeing the primary branch of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force.

In August of 2011, Abbate was named section chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section II in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters. In that position, Abbate provided national-level program management and oversight of all FBI international terrorism investigations and extraterritorial operations outside of the United States.

Job opening at Garden Ridge

The home decor superstore, Garden Ridge (5901 Mercury Dr. in Dearborn), is currently hiring. They have openings for managers as well as supervisors and associates.

Interested applicants are invited to apply either on their website or by visiting the store and asking for the manager on duty.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Detroit police officer dies from injuries

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Officer Patrick Hill of the Detroit Police Department died yesterday as a result of injuries that he received in the line of duty in April of this year. He was injured during a shoot out on the east side of the city.

WDIV-TV has more on this breaking news story above.

The family of this fallen officer will be in my thoughts and prayers today.

4 Months until the Detroit Tigers begin spring training

There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball; 20 of those 30 teams never even make it to the playoffs. Of those who do, only four make it to a league championship series.

The Detroit Tigers, therefore, did better than 26 of the 30 other MLB teams. That's not too shabby. I would have preferred to have them play in the World Series. Still, making it to the American League Championship Series is a long way from where this team was 10 years ago when they were one of the worst in the history of major league baseball.

The off-season gives them a chance to recover and come back even stronger. Spring training will start in less than four months from today. That's when the Detroit Tigers will begin their push for the 2014 World Series. Until then, I believe it's time to celebrate how far they came as well as to root for the Detroit Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings.

Go Tigers!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dinner party at Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen

Gracie See Pizzeria - Photo by Frank Nemecek
For the past five years, I have invited people friends and fans of the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog to join me for a pizza party at Gracie See Pizzeria. Over the years, it has attracted hundreds of current and former Warrendale residents, elected officials and political candidates, as well as a multitude of visitors from other parts of Detroit and as far away as Ann Arbor.

All of this centered around award-winning pizza and some great conversations.

The only problem is that, no matter what night I schedule these monthly events on, there are always several people who tell me that they cannot make it due to a scheduling conflict. Therefore, I have decided to expand it with a second event at different location on a different night. My hope is that this will bring even more amazing people together for an evening of good food and laughter.

I will continue to host a monthly pizza party at Gracie See Pizzeria on the second Tuesday of each month. However, I am thrilled to announce that I will also begin hosting an evening of great Mexican food and informal conversations at Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen (18950 Ford Rd.).

Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen
The first one of these events will happen this coming Wednesday, October 23 at 6:30 p.m. Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen, of course, is located at the northeast corner of Ford Rd. and Artesian St., which is at the southern end of the Warrendale neighborhood along our border with Dearborn.

The staff at Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen have agreed to extend their their happy hour drink specials for this event. They will also create a special discounted dinner menu just for those who attend this event. We will be in a seperate part of the restaurant from their other patrons for the evening. The staff will be happy to show you exactly where we are as soon as you arrive, just tell them that you are there for the Warrendale Blog party.

Several people have already confirmed their attendance on this blog's Facebook page. I want to extend an additional invitation to everyone else, regardless of how you read this blog. Please join me for an evening a great Mexican food this coming Wednesday at Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen.

Halloween Decorations in Warrendale

House decorated for Halloween - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I haven't seen many homes in the Warrendale neighborhood decorated for Halloween as of late. I suppose that's why I was thrilled to see this home on Greenview, just south Dayton, decorated for the season.

We still have a couple of weeks until Halloween. I look forward to seeing even more homes decorated for Halloween festivities between now and the end of the month.

With that in mind, I wanted to share links for some other sites with Halloween decorating ideas. My favorite ideas can be found from Better Homes & Gardens here and from HGTV here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and start decorating my house for Halloween.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

The Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general membership meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15 from 6 - 7 p.m. This meeting will happen at the Don Bosco Center (9357 Westwood), which is just north of the Warrendale neighborhood. Everyone interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is invited to attend.

The agenda for this meeting will include:
  • October 29 Vista Maria volunteer project;
  •  Progress on the development of a Master Plan for Rouge Park; and
  •  Election of board members for the organization.
There will also be additional updates and news about Rouge Park.

Candidates go door-to-door in Warrendale

Ricardo Moore campaigns on Memorial Street
Photo by Frank Nemecek
As Detroiters prepare to elect a new mayor, city council, city clerk, and police commission next month, most of the candidates have been knocking on doors across the city. The Warrendale neighborhood has seen its fair share of aspiring political leaders on our respective doorsteps.

Ricardo Moore, a candidate for the police commission who this blog has already endorsed, spent much of the afternoon yesterday canvassing Warrendale east of the Southfield Freeway. I caught up with him as he knocked on doors on Rutland and Memorial Streets.

Moore previously canvassed homes in Warrendale west of the freeway. This is in addition to campaigning that he has done throughout the district.

I have also seen other candidates, such as Gabe Leland who is running for the City Council district seat in our area, campaigning door-to-door in Warrendale.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

5 Stories that don't involve Kwame Kilpatrick

Newspaper - Photo by Sanja Gjenero
News of disgraced former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick's 28 year prison sentence has most Detroiters talking today. It particularly engulfs Facebook and Twitter news feeds, which has prompted at least some of my friends to complain; wanting news that doesn't involve him.

With that in mind, I compiled a list of five big news stories that have absolutely nothing to do with Kwame Malik Kilpatrick, prison terms, nor political corruption.

Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter passed away at 86
M. Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth in 1962 flight in a Mercury space capsule that was marred with technical glitches and left many Americans wondering if he had even survived the flight. He, of course, did and became the fourth American in space. He passed away today at the age of 86.

Carpenter's death leaves John Glenn as the only surviving Mercury astronaut.

ABC extends Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of my favorite new television programs. I was excited, therefore, when ABC announced earlier today that they were extending the series of a full season.

Astronomers find planet without a sun
Astronomer Michael Liu with the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii - Manoa announced today that his team has identified a planet 80 light years from Earth that does not have orbit around a star. Astronomers had identified lonesome planets before, but it was never clear whether they were failed stars or orphaned planets. This is the first time astronomers have been able to conclude decisively that what they were looking at was a planet without a sun.

Breakthrough in Alzheimer research
Scientists in England have identified a chemical that appears to prevent the death of brain tissue in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. This would appear to be a major breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's diseases as well as other related neurological diseases.

Munro wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Canadian author Alice Munro has published short stories since 1968. Her work has consistently received critical acclaim. Today, though, that acclaim reaches new levels as the Nobel Prize Committee announced this morning that she will receive their prize for literature this year.

While the sentencing of a disgraced former mayor is newsworthy, I think it is also important to take a moment to remember all of the other stories that also happened today. Since so many of them will likely fall through the gaps in our collective attention span, I thought it best to publish a reminder.

Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in jail

Kwame Kilpatrick - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Disgraced former Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in a federal prison on public corruption charges this afternoon. This is good. I'm glad to see it happen.

I will be even more excited, though, when the City of Detroit starts purging its payrolls of Kwame Kilpatrick's cronies and tearing up every contract that his administration ever entered into.

There are some good people who worked for the City of Detroit during that tenure, including some who I am proud to call friends. However, the sad reality is that the level of corruption that we witnessed in the Kilpatrick era simply could not have happened in a vacuum. As a result, everyone who work for or did business with the City of Detroit during the Kilpatrick Administration remains under an unspoken cloud of suspicion.

If we as a city are ever going to truly move on from this, we need to know that the guilty truly have been removed from power. We cannot simply say that those at the top of this corruption racket have been charged and promptly declare "an end to corruption in Detroit" as U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade proclaimed back in 2008.

We need to start asking questions like who knew about this corruption, when did they know about it, and what did they do about it. More importantly, we need to examine how much of this continued on into the tenure of Mayor Dave Bing.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Update on the stolen and stripped SUV

Stripped Dodge Durrango - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I reported last week about a severely stripped, and presumably stolen, Dodge Durrango that was found in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. This vehicle was located on Kirkwood Street in between Rosemont and Penrod Streets. 

The vehicle was stripped of is engine as well as all of its doors and windows. In fact, pretty much anything else a thief could sell as parts was removed from the vehicle.

The rope that was tied to the front of its chassis would indicate that this vehicle was towed to that location. That tow-rope was then cut once they got it to its destination. All of this presumably would have been done by who ever stole it and stripped it of its parts.

Street in Warrendale - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I pleased to follow up with this story and say that this vehicle is no longer at that location as the photo at right clearly shows. I reported it on Monday. By the following Wednesday afternoon, it was already gone. One would presume that it was the Detroit Police Department who impounded and remove it before it could become a source of further blight in the neighborhood.

I'm happy that this problem has been solved.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Saul Green to discuss ceasefire initiative with WACO

Saul Green - Press Photo
Former U.S. Attorney, and former Deputy Mayor of Detroit, Saul Green will address the Warren Avenue Community Organization on Thursday, October 24 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. His subject will be the Ceasefire Initiative of the Detroit Police Department. This is an effort that brings together law enforcement, social service agencies, and the community to impress upon young offenders the price that they will pay for criminal activity, the alternative paths that are open to them, and the negative effects their behavior has on their own communities.

This WACO meeting will happen inside the NFL/YET Boys and Girls Club (16500 Tireman Ave.). It, like all of their other membership meetings, is open to the public.

WACO represents that portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is east of the Southfield Freeway.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Freep hosts chat with City Council candidates

The Detroit Free Press hosted an on-line chat with John K. Bennett and Gabe Leland, the two candidates who hope to represent the Warrendale area on the City Council, yesterday afternoon. This moderated event allowed ordinary Detroiters to ask the candidates any question they wanted in advance of the upcoming election. A full transcript of of the event is available here.

There were several individuals who asked Leland about what contributions he received from the insurance industry. Those questioners implied, or in some cases outright stated, that his integrity was compromised by those contributions and that Detroiters suffered as a result.

Since this issue is likely percolating outside of internet forums as well, I wanted to take a moment to address it with some facts. All of Leland's campaign finance reports are available on-line here. More importantly, they have been available on-line for years. All anyone who wants to know about what Leland got from the insurance has to do is look it up.

For the record, Leland received a total of 532 contributions during his tenure in the Michigan House of Representatives. The only campaign contribution he got from anyone related to the auto insurance industry was a $500 contribution he received on October 13, 2006 from the Insurance and Financial Advisers PAC, which is a group that includes insurance agents among its members. He did not receive any money at all of from any company that sells auto insurance, any insurance executives, nor from the Insurance Institute of Michigan, which is trade group that does almost all of the lobbying for insurance companies.

This is one of the lowest amounts any member of the Michigan Legislature has ever received, let alone a three-term legislator. More importantly, his voting record in the Michigan House of Representatives was about as pro-consumer as anyone gets.

Suffice it to say, the record is quite clear that Leland was anything but compromised by insurance industry lobbyists. Those who suggest otherwise aren't just wrong, they're just plain sad.