Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good bye 2016 and hello 2017

Looking forward
Today is the day.

Today is the day when say good bye to 2016; a year that has been challenging in so many different regards for so many in our community.

Today is also the day when we say hello to 2017; a year that I greet with cautious optimism.

I hope that each of us navigates through the challenges that will invariably meet us in the coming year and find the joy we all deserve.

Happy New Year, my friends.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher and our dystopian future

Carrie Fisher - Photo by Riccardo Ghilardi
Earlier today, legendary actress and writer Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60. She joins Richard Adams, author of Watership Down who also died today at the age of 96, George Michael, and so many other high-profile deaths in 2016 that I have lost count.

Carrie Fisher doesn't have any particular connection to Detroit or the Warrendale neighborhood. Indeed, none of these deaths have any particular connect to Detroit nor the Warrendale neighborhood. However, I still need to rant about something and, well, this blog is my opportunity to do so.

It seems to me that the bankers and politicians who have screwed our world up will continue to live. Meanwhile, the artists like Carrie Fisher and others who have collectively made living in this world worthwhile are dying off rapidly.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how the dystopian future begins.

Detroiters vs wolves: what matters more in Lansing

Gray wolf - Photo by Isster17/Wikicommons
It was this past Friday that Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that would authorize wolf hunting in Michigan. This, by the way, was the fourth time in four years that there has been one legislative attempt or another to allow wolf hunting in this state.

I repeat, wolf hunting has resulted in four different pieces of legislation reaching the governor's desk in the past four years.

Meanwhile, legislation authorizing the D-Insurance program has been languishing in the Michigan Legislature for almost two years.

Hunting wolves has resulted in four different bills moving through the Michigan Legislature. However, when it comes to helping inner-city residents cope with out-of-control auto insurance costs, the Michigan Legislature can't be bothered to do anything.

This is frustrating, to say the least.

Based on all of this, I believe that it well past time for the City of Detroit to reexamine an issue that has been discussed for years now - that is, the City of Detroit to start its own insurance company.

Lansing isn't going to help Detroiters get affordable auto insurance. They are too busy worrying about whether or not people can hunt wolves in northern Michigan.

The insurance companies aren't going to help Detroiters get affordable auto insurance. Quite frankly, I don't think they even want to insurance anyone who lives in the inner city.

This is an issue where Detroiters need to help ourselves. And that means starting our own insurance company.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from outer space

Peggy Whitson at the International Space Station - NASA photo
Astronaut Peggy Whitson wishes everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a very Merry Christmas. She is currently spending Christmas aboard the International Space Station, as the photo above clearly shows.

There is simply no view in this world like the view from our space station.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that this holiday season brings the best of everything to our community.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflections on life in a post-truth world

Photo courtesy of  DTTSP
There has been a lot of discussion as of late about fake news; how it has evolved from harmless site on sites like The Onion to something that has an increasing impact on our life. It has reached the point where social media sites like Facebook have launched an effort to combat the spread of fake news on its pages.

This proliferation of fake news, misinformation, and misinterpreted data has caused some to refer to our modern age as the "post-truth era." The extent to which this has become embedded in modern life was perhaps best exemplified when the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary named "post-truth" as their word of the year for 2016.

All of this makes me wonder more and more about how we got to where we are.

How did this become the so-called post-truth era?

How did we get here? How can we function in this type of an environment? How can we get back to a world where the truth actually matters?

I won't pretend to have all of the answers to this one. I will, however, mention that this phenomenon is not a new.

C.H. Spurgeon
Back in 1859, the British author and pastor C.H. Spurgeon published a compilation of his sermons in a book entitled Gems from Spurgeon. In this opus, he observed, "A lie will go round the world while the truth is pulling its boots on."

A lie will go round the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on. There's a lot of truth in that simple sentence, I believe.

In my opinion, what we now refer to as the post-truth era is merely the logical evolution of what Spurgeon opined about 157 years ago.

In Spurgeon's time, the telegraph was still a relatively new invention. Information could move vast distances in a short period of time. However, it was nothing like what we see today with the internet.

In the modern era, any liar with an internet connection can blast his or her misinformation around the world with a speed that Spurgeon could never have dreamed of. Plus, those lies can be shared with much less effort that it would take one to write a letter or send a telegram. Meanwhile, it still takes the truth the same amount of time to put its proverbial boots on.

I won't pretend to have a solution for the challenges of living in a post-truth world. I simply do not have such an answer to these questions.

I do, however, take a certain amount of comfort in knowing that other great individuals have muddled through similar challenges. Until I have an epiphany as to how to best live in a post-truth world, I invite anyone with a better idea to leave a comment below.

Editor's note: This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Detroit finishes installing 65,000 new street lights

The relighting of Detroit – a city that just three years ago was in chronic darkness – has been completed on time and under budget. The Public Lighting Authority installed the last of 65,000 new LED streetlights earlier today. This marks the completion a massive relighting program that began in February 2014 after Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Council appointed a new board to lead the project.

A lit street in Detroit - Photo by Steve Koss
“For the first time in a generation, Detroiters can step outside at night anywhere in their city and have an expectation of a street lit to the national standard,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a prepared statement. “They also can have the expectation that if a light goes out, it will be replaced within five days. This major accomplishment for our residents would not have been possible without the hard work of the professional staff and board we have at the PLA.”

Prior to the start of the LED project, about 40% of the city’s streetlights did not work, including entire neighborhoods in some cases. To bring relief to residents as quickly as possible, the Mayor worked with the PLA to reverse the original plan that called for lighting major thoroughfares first in order to light neighborhoods first and complete them a year earlier. The new plan also called for installing brighter and more energy-efficient LED lights, as opposed to the dimmer sodium lights.
The replacement of lights began in the city’s darkest ZIP codes on the far east and far west sides, and moved methodically across the city, eventually reaching the final destination: downtown Detroit.

At a ceremony held at dusk just east of downtown at Atwater and Riopelle, Mayor Duggan; President Obama’s budget director, Shaun Donovan; and other dignitaries joined with residents to turn on the last stretch of lights to be replaced in the city.

Dr. Lorna Thomas, chairwoman of the Public Lighting Authority, added that today’s celebration “is the culmination of three years of intense work that has brought order out of chaos with the city’s street lights and has created an effective solution to an issue that has plagued the city for decades. When we began installing new LED streetlights in Detroit’s neighborhoods in February 2014, many people thought what we were trying to do was impossible, because it had never been done. But we have done it. This an example of how government should work.”

“I’m proud of our staff and want to thank them for their dedication and long hours in relighting our city,” stated Nicolette Carlone, chief executive officer of the authority. “Their hard work is recognized in completing this monumental project on schedule and under budget.”

Prior to the formation of the Public Lighting Authority, Detroit’s street lighting system had been in increasingly serious disrepair, with minimal infrastructure investment having been made for at least the last 20 years. Approximately 40 percent of the lights in the system were not working for reasons that included copper theft, bulb outages, vandalism, obsolete technology, lack of repair staff and a lack of funds to pay for repairs.

“The completion of this project is an amazing step in Detroit’s comeback. It’s events like these that prove that this city is on the path to recovery and will continue to become an even better place to live, raise a family, and do business,” Governor Rick Snyder added.

DTE Energy has served as the owner’s representative overseeing the project from its beginning to completion.

“At DTE Energy, we are extremely proud to have assisted with the project to relight the City of Detroit,” said Trevor F. Lauer, president and chief operating officer, DTE Electric. “For our residents, businesses, employees, and the surrounding communities, Detroit’s new energy efficient streetlights symbolize progress, safety, and a tremendous sense of pride in our invigorated and revitalized city.”

The Public Lighting Authority was authorized at the state level by legislation that passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. The Detroit City Council approved the PLA’s articles of incorporation in February 2013. The authority was created to develop and implement a plan to get the street lighting system operating effectively and to provide a vehicle to secure the funds to make the badly needed improvements to Detroit’s public lighting system.
Twice as bright, more reliable

The LED lights the authority has installed on city streets are twice as bright as and more energy efficient than the high-pressure sodium lights that were replaced. In addition, the lights have a considerable longer life than high pressure sodium lights.

The PLA has eliminated the problem the old system experienced of copper theft by switching from copper to aluminum wiring. Aluminum has only a small fraction of the value of copper on the scrap market, making it unattractive to potential thieves. The new LED lights also do not require a copper coil at the base, as the old lights did, removing another target of thieves.

In another measure to improve reliability, the PLA has done away with the city’s old series-circuit lighting system, commonly known as “Christmas tree light” wiring, in which multiple lights were on one circuit – so if one light burned out, all the lights on that circuit would stop working. In the new lighting system, if one light goes out, the others stay on.

In addition, the authority has instituted a maintenance program that fixes lights that have ceased working within three to five days of the outage being reported. Under the old system, residents could wait months, if not years, for a street light to be repaired if it went out.

The authority financed the construction with a $60 million interim financing that was sold in December, 2013 and then a long-term fixed rate financing of $185 million that was completed in June of 2014. The bonds are being paid off through an annual allocation of $12.5 million from the city’s utility user tax. Citi served as the senior manager on the transaction. The bonds are being paid off through an annual allocation of $12.5 million from the city’s utility user tax.

“When the State of Michigan and the Public Lighting Authority came to us three years ago to help get the street lights turned back on in Detroit, we were happy to step up,” said Michael Corbat, chief executive officer of Citi. “Today, not only are the city’s streets safer, but the lights will stay on longer and use less energy. We’re honored to have played such a role in creating a brighter future for Detroit.”‎

The PLA is run by a five member board, all of whom are Detroit residents. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council each appoint two board members, and the fifth member is picked by Council from a list of candidates provided by the Mayor.

Man gets 40-82 years for murdering a firefighter in Warrendale

David Madrigal - Photo from the Detroit Firefighters Association
David Madrigal was a resident of the Warrendale neighborhood who lived on Vaughn Street and served as a Detroit firefighter for 26 years. He was murdered in his sleep last December. I wrote about this crime previously here.

One of three persons charged in Madrigal's murder, Timmy Lynn Soto of Detroit, was sentenced yesterday to 40 - 82 years in prison for this crime. A second individual, Christian Rasnick of Trenton, is scheduled to be sentenced later today. The third and final individual allegedly involved in this murder, Nicole O'Neill of Detroit, is scheduled for trial in March.

The Detroit Free Press has more on this story here.

I pray that these convictions and long prison sentences help to bring peace to the family that David Madrigal was forced to leave behind.

Update @ 7:43 p.m.

The second of three individuals to be charged in David Madrigal's murder was sentenced today. Christian Rasnick of Trenton was sentenced to 10 - 30 years in prison for his connection with this killing.

A video from his sentencing is available below.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Discounts available on Detroit property taxes

House on Tireman - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Low-income homeowners in the Warrendale neighborhood have until December 13 to apply to have their property taxes reduced or even eliminated. Individuals with an income of $19,160 or less are eligible for assistance.

Homeowners will need to complete an application that is available on the eighth floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (2 Woodward Ave. in downtown Detroit).

The Detroit News has additional information available here.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Photo by creepyhalloweenimages/Flickr
I want to take a moment to wish a happy Halloween to everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond.

This is a great time of year and it is a pleasure to spend it one of the finest neighborhoods in Detroit. From the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhoods to the autumn leaves in Rouge Park to the spooky quality of the two churches in Warrendale with graveyards, this is a special time of year.

Please be safe and enjoy the spooky festivities, everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Detroit responds to flash flooding. Again

Flooded street in Warrendale
Photo by Frank Nemecek
Southeastern Michigan was once again hit with heavy rainfall that flooded streets, stranded motorists and caused problems throughout the region. Mayor Mike Duggan released a report this evening that broke down how the city government has responded to this crisis.

The information below represents the City’s response as of 5 p.m. Agencies will continue to respond to flooding as long as needed. Residents who would like to report water and sewer emergency issues can call (313) 267-7401 or use the Improve Detroit - SeeClickFix” mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

More than 275 flooded street drains have been fully cleared by City agencies. The Mayor's Office released the following numbers to break down exactly how they have responded.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
Crews dispatched from West Yard: 5
Crews dispatched from Huber location: 24
          Sewer investigation crews: 3
          General crews: 21
Vactor Trucks dispatched: 8

Detroit Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Partially activated Emergency Operation Center
Coordinating efforts between Police, Fire, Public Works, General Services, Public Lighting and the Department of Transportation

General Services Department
5 crews reassigned to assist with flooding response
4 members per crew
Crews continue to canvass streets to identify and clean street drains

Department of Public Works
18 crews deployed
2 person crews
Crews continue to canvass streets to identify and clean street drains

Detroit Fire Department
Responded to and conducted 9 rescues in response to flooding

Detroit Department of Transportation
Through morning and afternoon hours, DDOT experienced minimal service interruptions. However, routes were behind schedule due to traffic and flooding issues.

For the evening commute, DDOT will have its normal deployment level on the road. They will work to keep delays to a minimum.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Friends of Rouge Park to meet this evening

The next general membership meeting of the Friends of Rouge Park will be this evening from 6 - 7 p.m. They will meet at the Don Bosco Hall (9356 Westwood St.), which is just north of the Warrendale neighborhood at W. Chicago Rd.

The agenda for their meeting this evening is:

  • Report on Mayor Mike Duggan's tour of Rouge Park;
  • Report on the Stone Bridge Nature Trail Project and Dedication Ceremony; and
  • Report on the Praire Pathway.
They will also discuss their upcoming volunteer work day in the park, which will be on October 1.

Anyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Detroit police officer dies after being shot

Sargent Kenneth Steil of the Detroit Police Department passed away this evening as a result of injuries that he received after being shot in the line of duty earlier this week. He served with the Department's 9th Precinct and had been a member of the underwater recovery team.

According to the police, Sgt. Steil and two other men were shot with a sawed-off shotgun by 21-year old Marquise Cromer of Detroit. Cromer reportedly shot two men during two separate incidents this past Tuesday - an attempted carjacking in Hamtramck and another carjacking later in Detroit.

Detroit Police later located Cromer in the vicinity of 7 Mile and Hayes on the city's east side. While attempting to apprehend this suspect, Cromer allegedly shot Sgt. Steil in the shoulder with a sawed-off shotgun. Officers managed to apprehend Cromer and transport their injured counterpart to St. John Hospital for medical treatment.

Doctors were initially positive about Sgt. Steil's prognosis. Unfortunately, his condition took a turn for this worse today and he succumbed to his injuries this evening.

The friends and family members of Sgt. Steil are in my thoughts and prayers today.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Road rage in Detroit

Road rage comes to an end in Warrendale - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Fair warning, people. If you get into a case of road rage on the streets of the Warrendale neighborhood, the Detroit Police Department will arrest your dumb ass and impound your car.

I know this will happen because one particular road rage came to an end in front of my house this past Saturday evening. The police were quick to respond and, after a thorough investigation by the officers, the offending driver was arrested. His car was also impounded.

In other news, looking at the photo from Saturday, it's also clear that I need to mow my lawn.

But that's another story altogether.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

DTE launches residential energy efficiency program

DTE Energy has launched a residential energy efficiency program. It is designed to help many consumers across southeastern Michigan, including those in and around the Warrendale area, use energy more efficiently and save money on their utility bills.

The DTE program includes a FREE home energy consultation, FREE products like LED light bulbs, and insulation. There are also a series of other potential benefits that may be available for certain income qualified customers.

For additional details about this residential energy program, or to schedule an appointment for your free consultation with one of their representatives, please call DTE at (866) 796-0512. Consumers can also log onto If one calls, please be sure to mention "home energy consultation plus."

A free residential energy consultation from DTE: your Warrendale Tip of the Week.

Monday, August 15, 2016

DWSD encourages residents to clear their storm drains

The U.S. National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for the Detroit area later tonight.They are calling for more than three inches of rain in our area in a fairly short period of time.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department encourages all residents to clear the storm drains near their homes. This will minimize the risk of streets flooding.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Guest commentary: Human trafficking (sex and labor)

Human trafficking - Photo by Imagens Evang√©licas
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his/her will.

Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age, (22 USC § 7102). Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues within the sex industry, including residential brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution.

Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery, (22 USC § 7102). Labor trafficking has been found in diverse labor settings including, domestic work, small businesses, large farms, and factories.

Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, manipulation, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable individuals in horrific situations.

For more information, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center: 1(888)373-7888.

Today's guest commentary comes to us from Ricardo Moore, who represents the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods on the Detroit Police Commission.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The future of mass transit in Detroit

Transit station - Photo by Ted C/
Earlier this afternoon, representatives from Macomb and Oakland Counties blocked a key vote that would have allowed voters in southeastern Michigan to decide on a millage to improve mass transit in the region. This is the 27th time that funding for a regional transit authority has been blocked due to parochial interests.

There are many across Michigan who a disappointed by this news. Many are even confused since the bulk of new transit options that would have been created under this plan would have been in Macomb and Oakland Counties.

While I join the echo of disappointed Detroiters, I must admit that I am not surprised by this development. Many in the northern suburbs, particularly the more distant suburbs, have long been hostile to public funding for mass transit.

The question that I believe all Detroiters must ask now is: where do we go from here?

There are no doubt those who will simply give up. Others will attempt to appease Macomb and Oakland Counties with an even greater share of transit benefits, most likely at the expense of those who live Downriver and in Western Wayne County.

I, however, advocate for a different option. The City of Detroit as well as Wayne and Washtenaw Counties are the three entities that were eager to move forward with improving mass transit in southeastern Michigan. There are also a few communities in our northern suburbs, such as Ferndale, who are also eager to see a better transit system in place.

Bus stop - Photo by Andre Montejorge
Rather than continue down the same path that we've been on for decades - of constantly trying to convince our holdout neighbors that this is in everyone's best interests and constantly being rebuffed - I believe it is everyone's best interest for those communities who see the value in transit to move forward on our own rather continuing to spend more time and resources convincing the holdouts that they're wrong.

By moving forward without these skeptics, we could improve upon the QLine and take it to 9 Mile. Build upon the walkable communities in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Ypsilanti. Provide coordinated support to the DDOT and AATA systems in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Based on what we've seen in other parts of the country, people and business will likely flock to those parts of our region where transit is improved. (For a detailed accounting of this trend, please see Transit-Oriented Development in the United States: Experiences, Challenges, and Prospects by Robert Cervero available for free here.)

The holdouts will likely circle behind once they see the progress and realize that they cannot extract even more from the people of Wayne County. If they don't, it's more their loss than anyone else's.

The bottom line is that I believe it is time to stop allowing a relatively small group of individuals to hold the transportation needs of more than 2.1 million Michigan residents hostage. It's time for us to move forward, with or without the holdouts.

Mayor Duggan addresses Democratic National Convention

Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last night. He spoke about the ongoing resurgence within the city of Detroit and the importance of making sure that everyone is included in it.

It was great to see him talk about Detroit, its challenges, and its opportunities, at a national event like this. I invite everyone who didn't get to watch this speech live to watch the video of it above.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

2,500 GM employees to help Detroit's neighborhoods

teamGM Cares - File photo
It’ll be all hands (and arms and legs) on deck when 2,500 General Motors employees return to Detroit’s Cody Rouge community, which includes much of Warrendale. They will volunteer the week of August 15. Employees will donate their time and talent to board up vacant homes, clean empty lots, spruce up streets, and tackle other neighborhood and school improvements.

The transformation is part of teamGM Cares, a company-wide volunteerism initiative that is partnering with the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance (CRCAA), Cody High School and additional corporations. Several of GM’s senior executives will join employees throughout the week.

The CRCAA and residents have been working with GM and The Skillman Foundation since early 2016 to determine the community’s needs and develop plans. “Our organization has been working for 10 years to create a strong, sustainable community for residents and businesses,” says Kenyetta Campbell, CRCAA executive director. “We are excited to partner with GM to help amplify our work.”

GM’s improvements to Cody High will include a concession stand, fitness park, dugout, soccer field, pavilion and a complete field cleaning.

“GM’s employees made great progress two years ago and now we are returning to work with residents and community leaders to create a safer, sustainable neighborhood where families and businesses can thrive,” added Heidi Magyar, director of GM Community Outreach.

Other partners working with GM in Cody Rouge include Quicken Loans, DTE Energy, The Skillman Foundation, PwC, Roncelli, Inc., and Oak Pointe Church. Their projects will include:

  • Employee volunteers from Quicken Loans will clean and paint boarded-up vacant structures and renovate the walking path at Rouge Park;
  • DTE Care Force employee volunteers to support board-up efforts by clearing trees, assessing utilities and service reliability and by planting new trees in the neighborhood;
  • The Skillman Foundation will provide logistical support to all employee volunteers;
  • PwC will do cleaning and painting at Cody High School;
  • Roncelli, Inc. will provide project management oversight; and
  • Oak Pointe Church will provide onsite support at Cody High School.

The week of sweat equity concludes with an Employee and Community Family Fun Day on August 20, where residents and employee volunteers will relax over food and music. GM employees will distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to neighborhood students at the Fun Day. GM employees stuffed 5,000 backpacks at Cobo Center in June alongside attendees at Points of Light, the world’s largest volunteering and service conference.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

47 years later

Astronaut on the Moon - Photo by NASA

Today, I feel an urge to set aside the needs and stories of the Warrendale neighborhood to focus on what I believe is an important anniversary. 47 years ago today, humanity left this rock we call Earth and took a stroll on the surface of the Moon.

47 years ago today, we lived out President John F. Kennedy's famous challenge to this nation.

47 years ago today, we did what so many skeptics said could never be done.

That, however, was 47 years ago.

Today, for the first time ever, the Hubbel Space Telescope examined the surface of two Earth-sized planets that are orbiting a star other than our Sun. While all of this is going on, NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter is still exploring the largest planet in our solar system and some of the best engineers in the world are getting ready to have the next generation of astronauts land on an asteroid and on to Mars.

It's all one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow evening

The Detroit-based nonprofit community group Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general membership meeting tomorrow evening, Tuesday, June 21 from 6-7 p.m. The group will meet in the Don Bosco Center (9356 Westwood St.), which is a half mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

This meeting will feature a presentation of the Detroit Recreation Department's Park Improvement Plan by Juliana Fulton.

Upcoming events in Rouge Park include:

  • June 18 - Revive Detroit Get out the Vote;
  • July 23 - Stay Fit for Health Run/Walk;
  • August 7 - Butterfly Walk; and
  • September 9 - Stone Bridge Nature Trail Grand Opening.
Everyone interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Guest column: Summer safety tips

Please share with family and friends the following summer safety tips:

  1. Drink water;
  2. Visit elderly people who live alone;
  3. While vacationing, have mail and newspaper deliveries stopped;
  4. Ladies: have a used pair of men's work boots on your porch;
  5. Call your local police department and have your home placed on special attention
  6. Place an alarm company sign in the front yard;
  7. Surveillance cameras are helpful on the home;
  8. Cut shrubs, trees, and grass on a regular basis;
  9. Introduce yourself to neighbors and tell them what you want them to know (i.e. my nephew is a police commissioner);
  10. Have your lighting/sprinkler system on a timer;
  11. Fireworks are dangerous, be careful;
  12. Basketball hoops and illegally opened fire hydrants should be reported immediately;
  13. Squatting is illegal, call the police;
  14. Don't get directly involved in police a good witness instead;
  15. When throwing away boxes from expensive purchases, reduce boxes to fit in trash cans;
  16. Get a shredder for old paperwork to reduce the chance of identity theft;
  17. Change up your travel pattern, times of departure and arrival times;
  18. Stop telling people all of your business;
  19. Don't volunteer information over the telephone; and
  20. Don't leave items you care about to be kept in open view for all to see

IMPORTANT: This is going to be a hot summer.....please look after each other!!!!

This guest column was submitted by Commissioner Ricardo Moore, who represents the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods on the Detroit Police Commission.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Triple murder on the west side of Detroit

Police officers respond to shooting - Photo by Frank Nemecek
There was a shooting this morning at 6523 Brace St. that resulted in three people being killed. The location is a known drug house, according to published news reports.

Police officers stress that they are very early into their investigation. However, it appears that an unknown individual or individuals entered the home at approximately 5:30 this morning through a basement window in the backyard of the home. The shooter then executed two individuals who were asleep before fatally shooting a third man who was standing outside in the driveway.

After word spread through the neighborhood of this shooting, a crowd of more than 100 people began to congregate outside of this home. The Detroit Police Department, with assistance from the Michigan State Police, managed to maintain order. People were allowed to watch from a distance, but had to had to stay behind a taped-off area to preserve evidence.

This investigation is still on-going. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Detroit Police Department.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Detroit City Council to host district meeting tonight

Detroit residents in District 7, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood, as well as neighboring communities may share their concerns and discuss any community-related issues at the City Council community meeting this evening, May 17.  The meeting will be  from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Evangel Ministries (13660 Stansbury Ave., near Grand River Ave.).

Citizens and community organizations have the opportunity to identify specific concerns, addresses of problem locations, or other community-related issues and may request discussions or public hearings on issues related to their neighborhoods. Requests for discussions before or presentations to the City Council should be made to the Legislative Policy Division staff at (313) 224-4946.

Representatives of City departments also will be present to note complaints and explain departmental plans and policies.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Minority Business Development Agency invests $1.5 million in Detroit

The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency today announced that the Michigan Minority Purchasing Council will receive a grant to operate an MBDA Business Center in Detroit.

This federal funding will be distributed annually during a five-year period with a start date of April 1, 2016.  The agency intends to release $301,225 per year for each of the next fives for the center in Detroit.

This grant program is designed to help minority-owned firms across the nation create jobs, develop their business, and compete in the global economy.  A key component of MBDA’s Business Center Network is providing minority firms with access to technical expertise and resources to grow their businesses.    

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners, minority-owned firms in the United States increased from 5.8 million in 2007 to 8 million in 2012, and employed 7.2 million people in 2012. In Michigan, there are currently 158,946 minority-owned firms, that contribute more than $23.6 million annually in economic output.  These firms employ more than 147,000 local residents.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The need for change within the Detroit Police Department

Mayor Mike Duggan and Chief James Craig have made a lot of progress bringing improvements to the Detroit Police Department. There are, however, moments that show just how much work needs to still be done.

One particular resident of the Warrendale neighborhood, who lives on Tireman Street near Rouge Park, discovered that two men were burglarizing her home on the morning of Wednesday, January 27. She called 9-1-1 to report this a total of three times, with her final call being logged at 9:47 a.m.

At 9:49 a.m., records from the Detroit Police Department show that her complaint was routed to police dispatching. The problem is that there weren't any police officers available to respond to her call.

And so her plea for help sat in their system.

Three Detroit Police vehicles drove past her home and this resident tried to flag each of them down to let them know that these intruders were still in her home stealing her belongings. Unfortunately, none of them stopped.

Each of those police cars were already en route to another call where someone else desperately needed them.

It wasn't until 12:06 p.m. - almost two and a half hours after her last call to 9-1-1 - that police officers with Scout 6-2 finally arrived at the scene. By that time, the perpetrators had already fled the scene. The burglary on Tireman Street has become another in a long series of unsolved felonies in Detroit.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Chief James Craig have made a lot of progress bringing improvements to the Detroit Police Department. Moments like this, however, show just how much work still needs to be done.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Attempted robbery at Chase Bank in Detroit

Chase Bank - Photo by Frank Nemecek
There was an attempted robbery at the Chase Bank (17733 W. Warren Ave.) located at the southeast corner of W. Warren Avenue and the Southfield Freeway. This incident happened at approximately 1:15 p.m.

Luckily for everyone who was in the bank at the time - except of course the robber - there was an off-duty Wayne County Sherrif deputy in the branch when this happened. Wally Beydoun of the Wayne County Sherrif's Department managed to stop the crime without incident.

The Arab American News has complete coverage of this attempted robbery on their website here.

I commend Beydoun for remaining calm during a difficult situation and thinking so quickly.

Friday, March 11, 2016

3 charged in murder of Detroit firefighter

David Madrigal was a 26-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department who lived on Vaughn Street in the Warrendale neighborhood for years. This past December, though, he was found murdered in his home on Vaughn near Tireman.

After almost three months, the Detroit Police Department has made three arrests in connection with this crime. Timmy Lynn Soto, age 32, of Detroit; Nicole O'Neill, age 33, of Detroit, and Christian Rasnick, age 19, of Trenton will all face felony charges in connection to Madrigal's murder.

The Detroit Free Press has more on this story here. My deepest gratitude goes out to each of the police officers who worked to bring these three individuals to justice.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chyna comes to Detroit this Friday

Chyna - Photo by Pinguino K
Actress and former WWE superstar Chyna will make a special appearance at the Toy Chest Bar (18728 Ford Rd.). The wrestling legend will be there this Friday evening, March 11.

Doors will open for Chyna's appearance at 7 p.m. A special meet and greet will happen for fans a little later with entertainment continuing until 2 a.m.

Chyna, of course, came to prominence with the WWE in 1997 as part of the D-Generation X. She later appeared on The Howard Stern Show, two episodes of Pacific Blue, and 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Since her retirement in 2011, Chyna has been teaching English in Japan. This Friday will be her only scheduled appearance in the Detroit area.

Toy Chest Bar is located on the north side of Ford Rd, approximately three blocks west of the Southfield Freeway, at the southern end of the Warrendale neighborhood.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

My pick for President

Today is the day.

Today is the day that voters across Michigan go to the polls to choose their preferred candidate in the presidential primary.

Will it be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders for the Democrats?

Among the Republicans, we can choose among luminaries like Donald Trump, who recently spent time in Detroit letting everyone know that his hands - and, by logical extension, his penis - are all of more than adequate size. (Side note: I really, really wish I could say that I was making this part up. Sadly, it's all true.)

Other worthy Republicans include U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

Each of these candidates has their own set of pros and cons. However, in my opinion, there is one person who outshines them all.

One candidate with hands large enough to make Donald Trump's seem small and dainty.

One candidate with more experience than Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich combined.

One candidate who we can count on to lead us during our darkest hour.

One candidate who we can count on to lead us towards the light.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to go to the polls today and choose Chewbacca. Let the Wookie win!

WCO meeting cancelled

The Warrendale Community Organization will not meet today, even though it is the first Tuesday in March. The group decided to cancel their meeting due to the presidential primary, which is today.

The next meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be on Tuesday, April 4 from 7 - 8 p.m. They will meet in the activities building at Ss. Peter and Paul Church (7685 Grandville).

Monday, March 07, 2016

Recycling expands in Detroit

Recycling container - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The City of Detroit offered free containers for the curbside pick-up of recyclables to all who attended a recycling workshop last month. Those containers are beginning to appear at local homes, including mine.

All of this, of course, is part of the City's on-going effort to expand curbside recycling in Detroit.

The next recycling workshop will be on Monday, April 11 at Ss. Peter and Paul Church (7685 Grandville). Full details for this workshop are available here.

As with the previous one, all residents who attend the upcoming recycling workshop will receive their own free containers.

Rest in peace Ray Tomlinson, inventor of email

Ray Tomlinson - Photo by Andreu Vea
Ray Tomlinson passed away this past Saturday at the age of 74 from an apparent heart attack. Back in 1971, he invented the modern system of email.

He was, according to those who knew him, a very kind, decent, and humble man; one who left his mark on the world, even if most people never knew who he was.

The passing of Ray Tomlinson brings me a certain extra sadness since most of the people who read this blog do so as a result of email alerts that they receive when I publish something.

Earlier this morning, I decided to pay tribute to him by simply sending an email to a few people that I haven't spoken to in awhile. I mention who he was and essentially used it as an icebreaker to say hello to a few souls where time and distance have gotten in the way of our friendship; all sent in a message to their Ray Tomlinson-invented in-boxes.

The responses that I have gotten back have been nothing but touching. Every one of them has brought a smile to my face.

Therefore, as a tribute to the man who invented email, I want to challenge everyone who reads this to send an email to someone who has slipped out of your life. Feel free to mention Ray Tomlinson and his story and just say hello to them.

Because everyone can use an extra smile or two in their day.

Tip of the week: 3 tips to prevent buglaries

Editor's note: this column was sent in by Commissioner Ricardo Moore, who represents the Warrendale and surrounding areas on the Detroit Police Commission. It was originally authored by Investigator Brian Fountain of the Detroit Police Department.

Being proactive is the key to preventing home break-ins. There are only two ways to enter the home - a door or a window.

Tip 1: Secure the doors
Photo by Brian Lary
First and foremost, all exterior doors should be made of solid wood or metal. Hollow doors can be punched out.

The best locks to attach on the doors are deadbolt locks with a one inch bolt. Shorter bolts can be pried out of the door jamb.

The strike plate and the hinges are the keys to your doors not being forced open or kicked in. The strike plate and hinge screws should be long enough to reach the wall studs (usually, three to four inches).

This will help to protect the doors against a forced entry attack.

Tip 2: Secure the windows
All windows should be alarmed or have bolt locking devices attached. Window bolt locks can be purchased for under $20 at the large home improvement stores.

You can put a nail between the two sashes on double hung windows or put a block of wood in the window to keep them from being forced open.

Security bars are an option, but keep in mind one set should be installed inside the home and a child should be able to unlock them and get out in case of a fire.

Basement windows should be alarmed or changed over to glass block windows.

Tip 3: Watch for suspicious people
Burglars will always knock on your door before they break in. Watch for suspicious persons or cars and report them to 9-1-1 as soon as you are sure they are casing the neighborhood.

IMPORTANT: Your safety is law enforcement's first priority!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Detroit launches assistance program for water bills

Today, the new Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) launches to provide multi-tiered financial assistance to residential customers.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, as part of a regional program, offers an innovative assistance plan to help low-income residents pay water bills. The WRAP will provide qualifying customers at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($36,450 for a household of four) with help in paying current and past due water bills.

WRAP is a Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) regional program offered in several counties including Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb. The program is administered by the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency in Detroit.Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) Flier

The WRAP Benefits for Eligible DWSD Customers Include:

  • A $25 monthly bill credit for 12 months ($300 total);
  • Freezing customer's past due balance upon entrance into the program;
  • Customers who successfully make their monthly payments for one year will receive an additional credit of up to $700 applied toward the past due amount;
  • Households in the program with water usage exceeding 20 percent of the average household water consumption in the city are eligible for a free home water conservation audit;
  • Based on the audit, participating program customers may receive up to an additional $1,000 for minor household plumbing repairs; and
  • Participants may continue in the program for up to 24 months but must reapply annually.

The WRAP will provide Detroit residents with approximately $1.5 million of the $4.5 million allocated for 126 municipalities in seven southeast Michigan counties.

“This is a game-changer for the region,” said Gary Brown, DWSD Director who helped negotiate the terms of the contract and who sits on the six-member regional water authority board. “It is a very robust, comprehensive program that addresses all the issues I’ve seen in the past that caused people to fall out of a plan.”

Justin Wedes agrees. "The WRAP is a step in the right direction for a department that is showing positive signs of reforming itself,” said Wedes, a community activist with Detroit Workers and Builders and a vocal critic of the water shutoff program in the past. “I'm optimistic that this additional assistance for many Detroiters coupled with much-needed debt relief and wraparound services like plumbing assistance will help DWSD towards the urgent goal of providing clean, affordable water to all of Detroit."

To apply for the WRAP, DWSD residential customers must make an appointment with Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency at 313-386-WRAP (9727) or DWSD Customer Care Centers will refer residents to Wayne Metro who are eligible for the WRAP. If you do not meet the qualifications, you may contact DWSD at 313-267-8000 or visit a Customer Care Center to discuss your options, including the 10/30/50 Payment Plan.

Sinkhole on Tireman

Fox 2 Detroit reports that a large sinkhole has opened on Tireman Street, near Greenfield Road, in the Warrendale neighborhood. Crews are working to repair it.

Motorists are advised to seek an alternate route.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Detroit to crack down on scrappers

Scrapped house - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Last night, during his annual State of the City address, Mayor Mike Duggan promised that if residents called 9-1-1 to report a vacant property where scrapping was in progress then the Detroit Police Department would respond. More importantly, he promised that they would arrest the scrappers.

Quite frankly, I would like to see the Warrendale neighborhood take Mayor Duggan up on this. Therefore, I ask everyone that if you see a home or business being scrapped in the Warrendale neighborhood, please call 9-1-1 to report it immediately.

Also, please leave a comment here or send me an email. I would like to let everyone know what kind of response you saw from the Detroit Police Department.

I'm excited by the Mayor's announcement. I believe it's an important step forward for Detroit.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Recycling workshop comes to Warrendale

I previously posted about a recycling workshop that will happen at Don Bosco Hall this Friday from 1 - 2 p.m. Since many people cannot attend due to work obligations, a second one has been added for Monday, April 11 from 6 - 7 p.m. in the Activities Building of Ss. Peter & Paul Church.

Eligible residents who attend either workshop will receive a free recycling bin. This will enable them to participate in the City of Detroit's curbside recycling program.

A flyer for this workshop is located above. Please share it with your neighbors.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Foreclosure prevent event coming to Ss. Peter and Paul Church

The City of Detroit is working with the United Community Housing Coalition to coordinate a series of tax foreclosure prevention events. The first will be in the Warrendale neighborhood on Tuesday, February 16 from 4 - 6 p.m. This event will happen at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church (7685 Grandville Ave.).

The two Saturdays prior, on  February 6 and 13, volunteers will be doing a neighborhood walk in the areas to deliver the information on the event to specific residents whose homes are subject to foreclosure. Additional volunteers, though, are appreciated for these pre-event walks. They will meet both Saturdays at the Ss. Peter & Paul Parking lot at 11:00 a.m.

Anyone who is available to help is welcome to come out on either Saturday.

Recycling workshop coming February 12

The City of Detroit and Zero Waste Detroit will present a workshop on community recycling. This is a chance for Detroiters to learn about the new curbside recycling program in our area. The workshop will happen on Friday, February 12 from 1 - 2 p.m. in the upstairs gym at the Don Bosco Center (19321 W. Chicago).

There is normally a $25 fee to receive a recycling bin and thus be able to participate in curbside recycling. However, most people who attend this workshop will receive one for free.

In order to receive the free recycling bin, Detroit residents must attend this workshop and live in either a single-family home or a multi-family housing unit with no more than four units in it. Residents of larger apartment complexes are not eligible. Trash and recycling in such complexes is generally handled by a private contractor rather than the City of Detroit.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Friends of Rouge Park to meet February 16

Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The next general membership meeting of the non-profit group Friends of Rouge Park will be on Tuesday, February 16 at 6 p.m. The group will meet at the Don Bosco Hall (19321 W. Chicago), which is north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is invited to attend this meeting. Plans for the future of the park will be discussed as always.

The Friends of Rouge Park has minutes of previous meetings available on their website for the benefit of anyone who missed a meeting or two. Those minutes are available here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Iron D by the Nordin Brothers

The Detroit Red Wings commissioned some friends of mine, the Nordin Brothers, to create a trophy for the Michigan State vs Michigan Hockey game to be played in Detroit. The trophy will be called the Iron D and will begin a tradition for the game hosted by the Red Wings in Detroit. They hope it will further build the rivalry between the teams.

This game is being named "The Dual in the D". Recently the Nordin's invited both Coaches, Red Berenson from U of M and Tom Anastos from Michigan State to help forge the Iron D, an 1 1/4" thick solid steel D that will be the focal point of the trophy. Both coaches were really excited about the trophy as well as having a hand in the creation process.

Current Detroit Red Wings and alumni of the universities, Justin Abdelkader, Luke Glendening, and Dylan Larkin also had a hand in forging the D. The trophy will be made of predominantly stainless steel with the Iron D at center, and will include a cup and elements of hockey, the city of Detroit, the new Red Wings Stadium, and both Universities.

This trophy will be unveiled and presented at the game at Joe Louis Arena on Friday, February 5.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My final visit to Gracie See Pizzeria

Last time at Gracie See from Frank Nemecek on Vimeo.

Gracie See Pizzeria has been an institution in the Warrendale neighborhood since they opened in 1969. For almost half a century have been what sociologists like Ray Oldenburg call "the third space" - places that are neither work nor home; places where neighbors can gather to catch up on each other's lives and share stories.

Places like this are part of what makes Detroit - or any other city - a truly livable community. For the past few years, it has been an honor to have Gracie See Pizzeria as a sponsor of this blog and a joy to host a monthly pizza party there.

It was with no small amount of sadness, therefore, that I walked into Gracie See Pizzeria for the final time before they closed. I will miss them. I will miss every single one of the people who made it a special place for decades.

While it doesn't diminish my sadness about losing Gracie's, I also remain thankful for Chick's Bar, Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen, Nick's and the dozens of other such places that remain in the Warrendale neighborhood.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Detroit Public Schools in crisis

The Detroit Public Schools are in the news a lot these days with a multitude of problems. As we as a community debate what to do about them, I feel it's useful to have strong data to frame our discussions.

I'm thrilled that my friends at LOVELAND - some of the best data crunchers around - produced a report that answers the question: What happened to the Detroit Public Schools?

Their full report is available for free on-line by clicking here. Please take a moment to read it.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Coming soon

Winter holiday - Illustration by Constantina Dricia
It's almost time.

After a three-month hiatus, the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1. I look forward to discovering more about this great neighborhood with each of my readers.

In the meantime, I hope to see as many people as possible at Gracie See Pizzeria on Wednesday, January 27 from 6:30 - 9 p.m. for the last pizza party ever at that location.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Great content soon

This blog is still on hiatus while I deal with the demands of a 12 - 14 hour workday in the insurance world. In the meantime, if there's a particular subject that you'd like to see more coverage of in 2016, please feel free to leave a comment below. I look forward to reading your feedback.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1.

Friday, January 08, 2016

One of 50 Detroiters

To mark the one year anniversary of Detroit's emergence from bankruptcy, The Detroit Free Press asked fifty residents how life had changed in their neighborhoods over the past 12 months. I was lucky to be one of the Detroiters highlighted in this piece.

I talked about the continuing challenges that we face, such as crime, taxes, and auto insurance. I also discussed the tremendous improvements that we have seen at the Ryan Playground here in Warrendale as well as upgrades at Rouge Park that are in progress.

The full text of my interview with The Detroit Free Press is available on-line here. One may read the thoughts of the other 49 Detroiters highlighted in this section here.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Last Party at Gracie's EVER

Pizza party at Gracie See Pizzeria - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I have hosted monthly pizza parties at Gracie See Pizzeria (6889 Greenfield Rd.) since 2008. They've been a great opportunity for friends and neighbors to come together to talk and share our lives. Unfortunately, they will soon come to an end.

Gracie See Pizzeria has been sold. The business will close on January 31. That location as well as the vacant liquor store north of there will be demolished for a new strip mall.

While it's sad to see an institution like this come to end, I feel it appropriate for us to gather one last time. My final pizza party at Gracie See Pizzeria will be on Wednesday, January 27 at 6:30.

I expect a large crowd for this one. Many former residents of the neighborhood have indicated that they will travel many miles for one last visit to the place that has been a Warrendale institution for nearly half a century.

RSVPs to the Facebook page are appreciated, but by no means necessary. I hope to see as many readers of this blog there as possible.

The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog will return in earnest on Monday, February 1.