Sunday, February 23, 2014

Demolishing homes isn't the same as eliminating blight

Frank Nemecek of Warrendale - Photo by Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press
Mayor Mike Duggan and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr unveiled a plan this past week to spend $520 million battling blight in Detroit's neighborhoods over the next five years. The Detroit Free Press was kind enough to let me share my thoughts on the matter in the last section of their article about it, which is available here.

There haven't been a lot of details regarding this plan released yet, beyond its price tag. However, one of the things that I hope happens is that we shift our focus from demolition to deconstruction. Doing so would create thousands of new jobs for Detroiters as well as divert thousands of tons of debris away from landfills.

I would also like to remind everyone that demolished a building that has become an eyesore isn't always the same as eliminating blight. If there isn't a plan for what to do with the land once the building is removed, or if that plan isn't executed properly, then it will soon become a vacant parcel of land with waist-high grass and weeds; likely overflowing with trash. In doing so, we are simply trading one form of blight for another.

The way for us to avoid that, I submit, is to have a plan as to what to do with that land once the building is removed. The Detroit Works Project has a framework plan for doing this sort of thing. I simply hope that efforts to remove vacant buildings is fully integrated into that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gabe Leland kicks off literacy initiative

There's an old adage in politics that elected officials and candidates should avoid wearing goofy hats. However, I'm pretty sure one can make an Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland, who represents the 7th District, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood.

Leland kicked off a literacy initiative earlier this week at Ann Arbor Trail Magnet Middle School to encourage children to read more. As part of the effort, he read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss to them and wore a distinctive Seuss hat for the occasion.

"When I was a kid my favorite book was Cat in the Hat, which made reading fun," he explained. "Today, reading continues to be fun because it's meaningful."

As someone who has published two novels, I applaud anyone who encourages children to read more. The hat just makes it that much more awesome.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

LED streetlights arrive in Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan and the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit recently installed the first LED streetlight in Detroit. These are the new streetlights that will soon illuminate all of our city over the next couple of years.

For those who are interested, there is also an extended video (1 hour, 11 minutes in length) that discusses all of the changes coming to street lights in Detroit. It is available on YouTube here.

Snowshoeing in Rouge Park

Two of my friends, Nicole Hudson and Petur Gislason, recently spent a portion of their Sunday afternoon snowshoeing in Detroit's Rouge Park. They posted a few photos from their adventure to Facebook and, with their blessing, I converted them into a 30-second video.

I love this because it's a reminder that Rouge Park is still incredibly cool and that there are a lot of great things to during the winter months.

If anyone else has any cool photos or videos of winter fun in or around the Warrendale neighborhood, please feel free to share them with me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DTE Energy accepting applications for interns

DTE Energy is currently accepting applications for its popular 2014 Summer Student Employment Program Feb. 10 to Feb. 23. This program is an important part of the company 's efforts to develop future talent for our company. It provides full-time, temporary employment opportunities for students who are either college undergraduates or high school seniors who will attend college in the fall.

Students wishing to apply for an internship must complete an electronic Summer Student Questionnaire at under Careers between Feb. 10 and Feb. 23. No paper applications will be accepted. When a student accepts an offer, he/she will receive instructions on how to complete the application packet from the recruiter with a specified completion date.

Applicants also should know:

  • Students MUST provide a copy of their official transcript in order to be considered;
  • Employee referrals are not required; and
  • Leaders may request the rehire of former students on the "Summer Student Employment Requisition" eForm.
Reporting relationships must not violate DTE Energy Policy EM18, Personal Relationships. Consistent with policy EM18, summer students should not be placed in an area where they are in a reporting relationship (either directly or indirectly) to employees with whom they have a familial relationship.

Students will be hired and participate in orientation on predetermined dates in May and June.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Good bye, Mr. Patterson

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has stated in a published interview that he intends to walk away from the water deal that Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr has proposed. I'm okay with that.

Orr's deal does much more for Oakland County than it does the City of Detroit. If Patterson isn't ridiculously happy with it, I'm fine with him rejecting it.

In my opinion, it's time for the City of Detroit to sell that portion of its Water and Sewage Department that is in the suburbs. The portion that is within the city limits should continue to be owned and operated by the City of Detroit. The suburban portion, however, should be sold to a private utility who can provide water and sewage service to suburban customers at market rates.

Detroit will be better off with the cash that such a sale would generate than it would with the lease to the suburbs. Patterson & Company can simply deal with a private utility for their water.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Save the date - May 31 in Rouge Park

Mountain biking - Photo by Paniti Marta
The Motor City Mountain Biking Association, which built and maintains the mountain bike trail in Rouge Park, is planning a special event for May 31. It will begin at 1 p.m. and celebrate all of the special things in Detroit's largest park.

This special celebration of Rouge Park will include, of course, our mountain bike trail. It is the only such trail in Wayne County and spectacular trail for beginning to intermediate riders.

More information about this is forthcoming. I will share it as it becomes available. Until then, please save the date on your calendars.