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Friday, September 5, 2008

What’s good about Detroit? Children’s hospital, Buick Lucern, Bonding at a Detroit Lions football game.

Here I go again talking about my favorite city. As I was talking with some of my staff members, I asked them this question. What is good about Detroit? Why did I do that? They could not stop talking at all until I told them I had to go to bed. They brought up the fact that Detroit still makes some of the finest automobiles in the world. Despite what you hear about outsourcing, we still make the Buick Lucern, Cadillac DHS and DTS, Dodge Charger, Jeeps and the new Chevrolet Volt. They are all great automobiles and especially if you get a sun room installed. Recently these cars were cited for having a reliability rate of over 90 percent, which is much better than the Mercedes Benz. Although the news media rarely covers this, we know deep down in our hardcore Detroit hearts that we still produce world popular and reliable automobiles. The Detroit Auto Show is the premiere annual auto gala event.

Eastern Market features food and vegetables that are grown in Detroit! Hometown farming is a priority and our residents take pride in their work. There are no synthetic chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, or other genetically modified food products allowed in our city. Every Saturday from 6:30am to 3:00pm in shed #2, the finest food grown in the City is for sale. The Eastern Market is an international market offering fare for cuisine from cultures globally.

The Children’s hospital expansion at the Detroit Medical Center is another example of what is good about the city. Medical services are free for children regardless of income level and indigent status. This hospital is a world-renowned institution. Detroit is also a beacon for aspiring lawyers with three great law schools like The University of Detroit, Wayne State University, and the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University. These three instructions are producing graduates that can practice law with the best, and give back to their communities. So the two great professions medicine and law are both good in Detroit.

Given the high cost of fuel, ridership is growing on Detroit Department of Transportation busses. Detroit has always been committed to mass transportation despite being the motor capital of the world. We all know that the city is experiencing an economic downturn like the rest of the country. It is not a one state recession as being advertised, but a 50 state depression. It seems that we were the first ones to feel the crunch and we are not alone. The entire country is going through a depression with Michigan leading the way at the moment. We still have some excellent homes that are currently abandoned by people and neglected by the banks. But like a rubber band, the first city that is down will be the first city to lead the way to nationwide prosperity. When Detroit comes back, it will be roaring, soaring, and scoring with the nation and the world.

Most of us are political disciples and admirers of the late Mayor Coleman S. Young. We also share his dream of having commercial air service return to City Airport. Mayor Young was an excellent pilot and an honorary member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Detroiters owe it to him to make the dream happen by any means necessary. We are a much better city than people want to believe; a melting pot of all ethnic groups who bring distinct gifts to sustain and maintain the survival of the city.

The Lions, Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings are good things about Detroit. Ford Field Joe Louis Arena and Tiger Stadium are teeming with the melting pot of Detroit love. The Detroit Zoo is what’s good about Detroit visitors from around the globe visit here yearly for this attraction alone.

Old and new Detroit residents have a commitment to the city by participating in community cleanup efforts and voicing their concerns for the children at Detroit Public Schools board meetings. While the rest of the world sees our children as dropouts, hoodlums, and thugs, we see them as future citizens working as police officers, fire fighters, nurses, teachers, doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, mechanics, carpenters, farmers, plumbers, etc. The graffiti writer of today may be the webmaster and computer engineer of the future developing cross-platform applications for use all over the world. The saggy pants wearing youth that the adults criticize and berate now, will grow to be a contributing citizen. We must make sure Detroit is a metropolis/village that bears responsibility to our youth to help them learn and earn. This is good about Detroit.

For all those who participate in Detroit’s public and private schools, we as parents will see to it that they take every opportunity that is provided to them in the system. One day, the Detroit Public School system will feature an online syllabus for high school students and parents to help keep track of their progress. We Detroiters have a pride in our city that is unmatched and undisputed. Detroiters handle their business politically and professionally. I look forward to the day when Detroit employees live within the city boundaries, and then the concept of true public service will come to fruition.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stopping the Systematic Stealing – A prescription for the City of Detroit.

Do you know that the thieves who strip Detroit homes and property are better organized than the police? Think about it. Just like a junk yard for car parts, a companion market has grown in parts for homes too. The end result of this criminal work is the systematic destruction of property, and the rapid descent in neighborhood home values. For NEW property owners, survival in this hostile, blatantly criminal environment is a struggle also. Here are three frustrating but real situations that thwart growth in Detroit.

Example one.
1. A young man used his savings to purchase a two family home and invest in its development.
2. He upgraded the appliances and brought the property up to code paid for the cost of a rental license from the city, and had a contract drawn up by a lawyer for the tenants.
3. Things were fine until the renter abruptly moved out.
4. Within 2 hours of their leaving the property, the place was stripped of its metal, materials and mechanical apparatuses (furnace, garbage disposal, etc).
5. The young man still has to make the house note despite the damage to the property.

Example two;
1. Elderly parents die;
2. The grief-stricken children and family members neglect the property;
3. An estate is open to pay for Mom’s funeral, to cover her past due bills, and to continue to operate her bank accounts;
4. The home is stripped before the first appearance in Probate Court; thieves take the copper pipes the aluminum siding, the appliances, the doors, the windows, the furnace, the iron, and strip the brick from the foundation and structure. The police reluctantly take a report but do not visit the home to investigate the damage.

Example Three:
1. A woman inherits a home.
2. The husband abandons her and two children.
3. She works 2 jobs to take care of the children and pay the bills.
4. The neighborhood crack addict breaks in and steals their personal items.
5. The crack addict develops a schedule breaking in based on the schedule of the working woman not being home.
6. Eventually he decides that he can break in while the woman and her family are home and attempts entry through the window.
7. The woman calls 911 while the children.
8. A passer by and a few helpful neighbors show up and intervene helping the woman fight the crack addict.
9. One hour later the police show up.
10. The woman frustrated, has had enough and moves out of the home for the safety of her children.
11. The property is abandoned and stripped of its assets.

In the third example, if the neighbors and the passerby were not fortuitously there, we would have had another major tragedy in the City of Detroit.

But Cush, how can you say that the thieves are better organized than the police? This question to the editor comes from the blog contributor Richard Clement by way of Royal Oak Township Michigan and a hard core Detroiter with our roots in the cement of 8 mile road and points south.

A succession of authority have policed the city and metropolitan area since the founding of Detroit in 1701: a militia, local army, metropolitan police department, city police department and Wayne County Sherriff have exercised the power of the people to keep order and protect people and property. The police are successful when they have the support and co-operation, information, and confidence in those who deliver the police service. Fear feeds on itself and when the people fear police as mush as criminals we have dysfunction. Human nature tells us that people lookout for themselves first.

When I began my political career, the addition of strong Detroit ties to police department officer affiliations strengthens our police efforts. We began and expanded police community relations through precinct organizations, CB patrols, and expanded the Police Reserves. The key to curtailing crime is comprehensive information coordination combined with communicational and caring law enforcement that reacts to and is interactive with city-wide citizen networks.

The criminals know their neighbor’s movements and the police don’t because so few of us have police officers living in our neighborhoods. When Officer Clement lives next door, he has to recognize what is going on and has to do something about it 24/7 not as an employee of the city, but a resident and a public servant. Police who live in the neighborhood and know people can better investigate break-ins, property crimes, and the senior citizens and the single mothers in the neighborhood.

Police Officers are fearless and are not afraid of criminals. They know the neighborhoods they live in and know them well. They know where there are potentially problematic vacant homes and the goings and comings of senior citizens, youths and families: the officers are involved in their community. They make neighborhood observations, they protect senior citizens who give them valuable information, non-withstanding of major community folk and the street cop that make life bearable in the city. This is the key to making the city work again: the relationship between the street cops and citizens.

The systematic criminals who strip our property are watching the comings and goings in the neighborhood. They are stealing and selling mechanical devices, toilets, sinks, wire, pipe, furnaces, etc., to home contractors who use these stolen devices on someone else’s property. Contractors mostly do not, but should, question from where these devices are coming. Second hand dealers should be legally required to keep a log documenting all hardware they purchase and sell. Furthermore, I would support an ordinance to require building equipment, materials to be imprinted as we have done with auto parts to help track stolen merchandise.

Police Citizens Band (CB) units should help coordinate vulnerable people’s comings and goings. City Council needs to review ordinances and budgets so that CB patrols can provide police investigative information and to provide fuel for CB Volunteer automobiles and motorcycles. The CB patrols should be expanded to include cell phones and more reports though the 411 system. Police community relations should have access to virtual mps and other GPS devices.

A google-type picture of every home and business in the City of Detroit on file with the assessor’s office should be kept in a public database. We would have a new way of policing when a 911 call comes in and a picture of the home or business comes on the screen of the police car, the dispatcher, and the CB patrol, along with text message notification to the home occupier’s cell phone.

Scrap dealers should be legally required to question and keep logs of their bills of sale for the purchase and sell of home-related assets. As for punishment in lieu of jail time, first time offenders could be a part of the revitalization by paying their debt to society by assisting with restoring at least one complete home. Jobs on a property include tasks such as painting, installation, cleaning, construction, and other needs as determined by people selected from the home vandalism victim database which each municipality would be required to maintain. This is truly a statewide issue to find alternatives to imprisonment for stealing and illegal drug use. These actions would bring back the true meaning of community service and giving back to our community in a positive way. - Good Stuff on the Internet