Photo by Sharon Newton
Environmentalists and citizen groups were successful in keeping the problem of Detroit’s incinerator in the public eye through a protest rally on May 29th. The goal was to create public awareness, keep the issue in the press and pressure the mayor to do the right thing. Channels 2 and 4 did live broadcasts and ran footage the next day. The Metrotimes, Real Detroit, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, and the Michigan Citizen all ran stories about the incinerator and the protest. The purpose of the protest was to put pressure on the mayor to and send notice to the current owners of the incinerator that Detroit would not be renewing its lease. It is believed, however, that Mayor Kilpatrick and the Greater Detroit Resource and Recovery Authority (GDRRA) are planning to continue to operate the incinerator against the wishes of the Detroit City Council. The Mayor’s final decision regarding the future of the incinerator is due on July 1st. More pressure is needed to influence his decision.
Seven weeks ago the Detroit City Council voted five to three in favor of a new business model for solid waste that includes a recycling program and the phasing out of the incinerator. The mayor vetoed this bill. The next evening, council overrode his veto in a six to three vote. The Detroit City Council has put an effort into stopping the unnecessary and costly polluting of the Detroit neighborhoods reflecting the opinion of the people regarding this issue.
Photo by Sharon Newton
The future of the incinerator is the hands of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He appoints all members of the GDRRA board who manage the incinerator and answer only to him. Why would Kwame Kilpatrick want to continue the use of the incinerator which has been proven to contribute to asthma in the surrounding neighborhoods, cost more than recycling/landfill, contribute to globe warming, and deny the possibility of 1000 new green jobs? If he wanted to, he could turn off the burner today and use trains and trucks to ship garbage out of the city.
The GDRRA Snubs Incinerator Meeting
On Thursday, June 12th, the Detroit City Council scheduled an incinerator fact-finding meeting with GDRRA. GDRRA requested another incinerator closed-door meeting but the council did not agree to the request. GDRRA did not attend the meeting. The mayor and GDRRA are currently slowing access to information about the incinerator and its future. The council plans to subpoena GDRRA before July 1st meeting.
The June 12th meeting was held without GDRRA and it was learned that GDRRA was formed with the understanding that they would operate in conjunction with Highland Park. Highland Park is no longer on the GDRRA board and the city council is investigating to see if GDRRA is operating outside of their contract. The land that the incinerator sits on is owned by the city and leased to the owner’s of the incinerator. The city council is investigating the option of ending that lease.
The Detroit City Council has started an investigation to determine why the taxpayers have overpaid for trash removal over the last twenty years. It is estimated that Detroit has overpaid by 50 Million dollars per year. The council is making plans to dissolve GDRRA as soon as the bonds on the incinerator are paid off, July 1, 2009.
Call/email/fax the Mayor and the board members of GDRRA and express your concern about the continued use of the incinerator and urge them to do the right thing - (313) 224 3400.
Call/email/fax Governor Granholm and request that she pressure the Mayor to honor the City Council’s resolution for a new business model for solid waste and phasing out the incinerator -(517) 373 3400.
Continue to call/email/fax the City Council Members and thank them for their stronghold decision to stop the Detroit incinerator and remind them of your personal support behind the issue -(313) 224 3266.
Dan Sordyl, Committee to Shut Down the Detroit Incinerator, 248.890.0729, DanielSordyl@yahoo.com
Profile of Creative Designs & Signs, Inc
The 13th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise has come to pass. On Saturday, August 18th, over 40,000 classic cars pumped in and out of the region like a cyclic infestation of cicadas – the culmination of months of planning and one short weekend of festivities. Now gone, Detroiters take stock of what remains to show for it.
How can we measure the civic and cultural impact of this nationally acclaimed, people’s auto show? The communal pride of widespread adrenaline can be best understood by a proliferation of knock-off auto-related t-shirts sold at curbside stands. The economic benefit of 1.7 million visitors in a weekend (according to the official Dream Cruise website) is certainly profound, albeit short-lived. These are undeniable impacts; however, one of Detroit’s true reaping of the cruise comes from a small and underrepresented virtue of the area’s civic fabric – a mom and pop shop that takes pride in an artful sense of charm, personality, and professionalism.
Creative Designs & Signs is a five-employee sign shop one block from the loop at downtown Pontiac. Most of its business comes by word-of-mouth. Despite the fact that some of its clients have grown to include Waterford School District and the City of Ferndale, much of the work over its 27-year existence has been for small new businesses, architects, general contractors, and people like you and me. One of its biggest notches to date was recently (and practically in secret) unveiled for this year’s Dream Cruise - the installation of six 8x15ft stainless steel etched panels of automotive-related historic Detroit on the bridge at 8 Mile and Woodward.
The images that were transferred to the steel panels cast a touch of history and nostalgia as daily reminders of what is undoubtedly the most recognizable regional brand – Motor City. There are two panels on 8 Mile under the bridge: a shot of autos in downtown Ferndale from the 1960s and a scene of the bridge’s original construction during 1956-57. There are four other panels on the service drives to and from Woodward: of trolley cars, an interurban bus, a police officer directing traffic, and the early years of Ambassador Bridge.
In the fall 2006, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) began a $17 million reconstruction of the 50-year old bridge at the Detroit-Ferndale border. They successfully completed the project on-time - which included new decks, pavement, and guardrails - just days in advance of the 2007 Dream Cruise. But let’s not forget that MDOT does not work alone.
Creative Designs & Signs won the sub-contract to administer the beautification portion of the bridge’s redevelopment project, which included three main services - to transfer images of historic automotive Detroit to the stainless steel etched panels, to build the 1500 lb quarter-inch thick steel frames, and to install them on-site at the bridge.
Owners and designers Al and Jody La Londe said that it was a simple project…in theory. “What made it challenging was the weight of the components,” Jody said, “and handling them.” It was their largest job, which begs the question: how does such a small design and sign shop win this bid? “Because we were able to fabricate and install the panels,” Jody said. “(MDOT) originally was looking at three different companies to pull it off – one to fabricate the frames, another to fabricate the panels, and yet another to install (them).”
So, for a mom and pop shop, where to from here? Jody had to say, “Last year we did the intersection of Woodward and 9 Mile. We would love to work our way through the cities up Woodward and end with doing a big splash in Pontiac!”
The mission on their website reminds us “your sign is your image.” No one can argue that automobile history is a valued image of the area. The particular care given to the long-term beautification of such a dynamic intersection (and region) can make any Detroiter proud. Kudos to the little guy – for rising to the occasion and leaving us with a truly lasting impression from this year’s Dream Cruise.
Creative Designs & Signs, Inc is located at 146 Cesar E. Chavez Rd, Pontiac.
(248) 334-5580, or www.creativedesigns-signs.com
David Bartone is a published historian, poet, and short fiction writer. He is Poetry & Fiction Editor for thedetroiter.com. He knows a good sign when he sees one. He lives in Pontiac with his cat, Hey Molly.
I tend to spread myself a bit thin when it comes to entertainment. Much as it may appear from my online presence that I live, breath, and die books, I also spend a nearly embarrassing amount of time watching television, listen to my fair share of music, see the occasional movie, and have always been a huge sports fan.
I’ve noticed that when a local high school or college sports hero moves on professionally, and the local team has a chance to obtain his (or occasionally, her) services, the local media is quite loud about it. The Lions HAVE to draft so and so from Michigan, or the Tigers can NOT pass up on Anderson from Divine Child. It gets discussed in papers, on the radio, and local television news. You hear people chat about it at work, at lunch, in restaurants.
When a local band makes it, huge stories all over the place – papers have their return shows on the front page, not just of the entertainment section. Radios screech how they used to play the band before anybody knew them (which is usually close to absolute bullshit). Local news shows cover their concerts. Here in Detroit, it's amazing how many people “knew” Jack White was destined to be a star, but don't have a clue who Dan Miller is (google Blanche, or Goober and the Peas), but ask a music fan in Europe who he is.
It’s similar when a former Detroiter gets a role on a television show, or motion picture. So, it seems there is always a clamoring when Detroiters or former Detroiters do well in the sports and entertainment fields. Well, almost always.
I had the opportunity to go see Tyehimba Jess, former Detroiter, come back and read his poetry. Where was the clamoring for his return? Yes, the Detroit Free Press had a small column about Jess and his return last week (though, I’m thinking it helped greatly that the columnist who wrote it also hosted the event). Nothing on television. Nothing on the radio. Not even local NPR stations begging for interviews or for him to read a bit of his work on the air. There were less than 60 people in attendance. Where is the clamoring for our local writers beyond a very small underground (which would include these virtual pages)? Even our alternative weekly paper, The Metro Times, while covering the hell out of movies and music, seems satisfied to review a couple of books per month. Per month! Is this just a Detroit issue? Is it like this in other cities?
Jess is an award winning poet. His debut collection, leadbelly, was included in the National Poetry Series. He just was issued a $40,000 Whiting Award. He is an important voice in the future of poetry. He is also an incredible reader of his work.
And he lives and teaches in Illinois. Not at Wayne State University. Not at the University of Detroit-Mercy. Not even out further at the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. Instead he's at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He read in Detroit, the city of his youth, as a VISITING writer. When one looks around, and listens for the clamoring about writers and, more specifically, local writers, is there any question as to why?
For more on Tyehimba Jess and his book, please see his website www.tyehimbajess.com.
A version of the following was originally posted online at the EWN Blog.
Dan Wickett is founder of the Emerging Writers Network (www.emergingingwriters.typepad.com) and has recently co-founded Dzanc Books (www.dzancbooks.org), and is committed to continuing to develop and help raise exposure to as large an audience as possible for those working with literature and poetry as an art form. He was born in Detroit and has lived within an hour of the city his entire life.
(January 18, 1925 - July 27, 2006)
By Vince Carducci
If those who came of age in America during World War II are truly the "greatest generation," then Maryann Mahaffey, a distinguished Detroiter who died of a rare
form of leukemia on July 27 at age 81, was surely among the brightest and the best of that illustrious cohort. She served on the Detroit City Council for more than three decades, and was president for 11 of the last 15 years before retiring at the end of 2005 due to complications from her illness. Mahaffey was an advocate for social and economic justice at a time when "blame the victim" increasingly came to be accepted as sound public policy.
Mahaffey was born in Burlington, Iowa, on January 18, 1925. She received a Master's of Social Work degree from University of Southern California in 1951 and taught in Wayne State University's Department of Social Work from 1965 to 1990. As an academic she wrote numerous papers on social problems and then as a politician set about fixing them. Her initiatives included support for the homeless, affordable housing for low-income residents, and protections for women's rights.
Her path down the road of advocate for the rights of the less fortunate began during that galvanizing period of World War II when she worked in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans. Witnessing firsthand the wrongs of racist paranoia changed her life. In the obituary for Mahaffey in the Detroit Free Press, her daughter Dooha is quoting as saying, “It was such a powerful lesson about injustice and human rights that it was really a touchstone for the rest of her life ... about basic justice for human beings.”
Mahaffey was also an unflagging supporter of labor in the period starting in the 1970s when the bottom first began to drop out of working-class prosperity, a time when workers were being excused from their place at the table of the American abundance that had been pioneered by the automobile unions in Detroit. (Indeed, sociologist Daniel Bell famously called the 1950 union contract between General Motors and the UAW the "Treaty of Detroit," the cessation of class war that ushered in rising standards of living for a generation of workers across the nation.) She maintained this commitment until the end, and as recently as the mid-1990s was arrested for taking part in a sit-in against the Detroit News during the newspaper strike, which tore an already beleaguered city apart.
Detroit has lost one its greats. Anyone looking to define themselves as progressive in this town (not that too many are lining up for that duty these days) would do well to study her example.
For more information on this remarkable Detroiter, click on Mahaffey's homepage on the Detroit City Council's website.
Addendum: Peering into the memory hole
When doing my research for thedetroiter.com obituary at the passing of City Councilwoman Maryann Mahaffey, I noticed something peculiar. The Detroit Free Press version of Mahaffey's obit reported on her lifelong commitment to unionism, while the Detroit News didn't. The difference in coverage wasn't what struck me. After all, in the old days, when the Freep was ostensibly liberal and the News was the conservative "Old Gray Lady" down the street, that would almost have been expected. The thing that caught my attention was the mention in the Freep about Mahaffey demonstrating her labor bona fides by getting herself arrested in front of the News building during the 1995 Detroit newspaper strike. At the time of the strike, the News was owned by Gannett, which now owns the Freep. And it was Gannett that led the union-busting jihad that pretty much ruined two papers that were already suffering from a nationally consolidating media market. Now the Freep obliquely points a finger at their competition for something that happened on Gannett's watch. It's a move that would do Orwell's character Winston Smith proud.
“Get Your Money Right” financial literacy tour.
When legendary MC’S Doug E. Fresh and MC Lyte were joined on stage by Academy Award winners Three 6 Mafia, the standing room only crowd at the second annual “Get Your Money Right” financial literacy tour exploded with screams and applause. Here was a bridge from Hip-Hop’s past to the present, both examples of success in the Hip-Hop game. Most of the young crowd at Wayne State’s Bonstelle Theatre was familiar with both MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh, probably from their parents’ record collections. Thanks to “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” the Oscar winning song of the year from the movie “Hustle & Flow,” everyone knew who Three 6 Mafia were. The impressive panel of Hip-Hop stars included Detroit’s Obie Trice, along with his Shady Records label mates Bobby Creekwater and Stat Quo. Hip-Hop’s leading couple Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons were also on hand to show how making sound, smart, financial decisions could lead to a financially successful future.
“That is what this whole affair is about,” Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, (HSAN) told the young audience. Along with Doug E. Fresh, Dr. Chavis was the moderator of the event. “The power you can attain with good credit and good saving habits will allow you to purchase that car you’re looking at. Or that house you want.” Added Doug E Fresh, “Without having a good credit score, or no credit history, most banks and lending institutions are very reluctant to give you credit. Entrepreneurs in the Hip-Hop game know this first hand. You got to have your stuff together. That’s how you begin to get your money right.”
This message was pounded home over and over by the panel of Hip-Hop stars: to develop good saving habits, get and maintain a good credit score, and become financially knowledgeable. Some of the people in the audience were there stargazing, hoping to get a picture or an autograph. Others were rappers or beat makers, needing a chance to supply anyone of importance with their CD. Producers, trying to set up meetings for their acts, were also in abundance. However when it came time to quiet down and listen to the advice that was being presented, the Hip-Hop generation did their part. They showed an interest in something they don’t get enough credit for doing: learning something other than rap lyrics.
:: Next Page >>