Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 29, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on October 29, 2012

Topics Include
  • Electronic Sign Ordinance
  • Overlay Districts

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

A city council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on October 22, 2012

 Topics Include

  • The swearing in of the newly appointed Police Chief, Eric Hawkins and Fire Chief, Keith Rowley
  • A Requested Tax Abatement for DENSO International America Inc.
  • Road Reconstruction From 12-Mile Road to 13-Mile Road
An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Nobody Likes A Presidential Shrug

At the moment I am currently watching the third presidential debate via The New York Times. And something occurred to me as I was watching Obama speak about the prospective draw down of troops in Afghanistan.

Many of the issues that will decide this election have been simplified into platitudes for the people. The truth is that there is no magic bullet for the recession or the crisis in the Middle East. What our world will look like in the coming years is unpredictable, because these are complicated issues with many competing factors.

The reason why we are beginning to look at leaving Afghanistan is because there is a doubt that it is possible for American and Afghan troops to trust each other in the field, not because we've "won" or are winning the war on terror.

My gut tells me that regardless of who is elected the economic recovery will be a long and difficult road. For our debt to seriously be cut we will have to touch programs that nobody is happy to cut, Democrat and Republican alike.

There is no easy solution. But that is not what I feel the candidates are telling the public. Regardless of who is elected there will be no magic bullet, no instant fix, no cure. Largely because we the American people aren't interested in anything else. We aren't interested in asking "What can we do for our country?". Nor do we really even pose the question of "What can our country do for us?" No because we feel that the ballot is the end and the beginning of it all, and as long as our guys are in power everything will work itself out.

All we get are the platitudes because we seek nothing more. Nobody wants the doc to give it to them straight. To us it is patriotic to patronize.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Denso Abatement October 15, 2012 Presentation

On October 15, 2012 Denso International America Inc. gave a presentation to Southfield City Council.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Hate Silly Love Songs

Okay because I'm Black I feel guilty that there is a large swath of Black music that I don't like. I try to give it a chance and I still hate it. Right now I'm in the process of listening to and reviewing Brandy's Two Eleven and I figured it out. I figured out why I don't like Jill Scott's Under the Sun or Anthony Hamilton's Back to Love.

So now allow me to tell you what's wrong with silly love songs. First off let me say that while I noticed this in R&B it's not just them.

By the way Paul love you, hell I like, "Silly  Love Songs" just not silly love songs.

Anyway. Let's look at R&B. And yes there is a racial component for better or worse R&B is one of the flag-bearer genres for Black music. When Hendrix first came on the scene he had a hard time getting airplay because he didn't fit easily to that mold.
For a more contemporary example take FeFe Dobson.

Okay she's technically Canadian, but the point stands.

Though I disagree with it, when people think Black music they think either hip hop or R&B, which means that for a lot of folks this is going to be their first or even on occasion primary experience with Black culture and by extension Black people. And that statement includes the black teenager coming to grips with racial consciousness having figure out for the first time in their lives this weird subconscious line between black culture and mainstream culture, asking themselves what it means to be Black in America.

And since this is a post about music.

The point I'm trying to make is that this music is one of the few ways African Americans as a group can communicate with the American people as a whole. I love the Wire, but it had horrible ratings. I also love listening to and reading Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, but do they have the ear of the people watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta though?

Now I'm not one of those positive message wonks, but I do believe that if this is how the American people are going to view the African-American experience it needs to be more diverse than, "I love you. You love me. We're a great big family"

What are our likes, dislikes, fears, worries, experiences etc. We as a people are more than silly love songs.

Now onward my donkey towards that windmill. This is not just R&B. It seems like the entirety of the mainstream music industry, hell the entertainment industry as whole has been moving this way. And what I am going to say has echos as to what I said before. This is American culture. Movies and music are how to a large degree how we commune together as a people. And silly love songs are dumbing us down. They aren't just love songs they're silly love songs. They don't talk about relationships in an adult way.

Reading Romeo and Juliet you know what I realize their fatal flaw was? They were in love with the idea of being in love rather than actually being in love. And unlike twilight Shakespeare wrote in a way the audience could see how rash and stupid they were being, especially with the convoluted fake death plot. What could possibly go wrong? I don't know?  They die.

Okay now I'm going to be an ass and impose my definition of love on the rest of you.  Love is knowing that despite how much a person bugs the shit out of you, you want to have that person around you anyway. You enjoy who they are enough to overlook the crap that would want to make you want to smash someone else's face in. Because let's face it in a long-term serious relationship that lovvy dubby crap is going to get old fast.

Of course this is coming from the maladjusted misanthrope who's probably going to die alone and miserable so what do I know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Presentation Given to Southfield City Council Regarding the City's Tax Abatement History

A presentation given to Southfield City Council on October 15, 2012 by Shelly Freeman, Southfield Business Development Manager regarding the city's tax abatement history.

The current abatement policy can be found here, and the proposed changes can be found starting on page 8 of this document.

Southfield City Council Discusses the Downtown Development Authority Sale of Property

At the October 15, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting council discussed the Southfield Downtown Development Authority's(DDA) Sale of property to Oakland County Community College that the DDA had purchased from the city during the summer of 2012 through a tri-party agreement.  General ideas on how to in the future develop the area were also discussed.

The Tri-party agreement was discussed in a June closed session, and approved in late July.

October 15, 2012 Southfield City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on October 15, 2012

Topics Include
  • A Presentation by Shelly Freeman, Southfield Business Development Manager regarding the history of the city's use of  tax abatements
  • Proposal to change tax abatement guideline language
  • A proposed tax abatement for Denso International America, Inc.
  • The appointment of the Southfield Fire and Police Chiefs
  • Sale of property from the Downtown Development Authority through a tri-party agreement to Oakland Community College
  • An update on the proposed fence ordinance and current moratorium
  • Discussion regarding the city's involvement in the Oakway Mutual Aid Association

An agenda and related documents can be found here

Southfield October 15, 2012 Acting Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins, and Acting Fire Chief Keith Rowley are Appointed as Southfield Police Chief and Southfield Fire Chief

On October 15, 2012 Acting Southfield Police Chief, Eric Hawkins was appointed Southfield Chief of Police and Acting  Southfield  Fire Chief Keith Rowley  was appointed Southfield Fire Chief.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 9, 2012 Southfield Board of Education Meeting

Southfield Board of Education Meeting Held on October 9, 2012

Topics Include
  • Student Board Representatives
  • Saturday School
  • NCAA Requirements and an Online Course Record Keeping Error

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Useful Links: Week of 10/8/2012

Okay I suck at covering police and public safety but too much happened recently for me to just kind of ignore it so here is a list of articles written by people who are more competent than me.

"Suspect sought in Southfield bank robbery"  | South Oakland Eccentric

"$1 Million bond set in crash that injured Beverly Hills officer" | South Oakland Eccentric

"Southfield officals probe EMS response in boys death" | Detroit Free Press

And while I'm at it there is a Southfield Board of Education meeting tonight.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Urban Agenda

I've been hinting at this for a long time, but now it's time poked the bear. We as a country and as a society need to start thinking about urban policies.  A few days ago a New York Times article came out about the GOP's declining urban agenda. Heck a year ago the Metrotimes, had damn near the same article nearly a year ago.

Almost everytime I read an article in the Detroit Free Press or Detroit News I alwasys see comments along the lines of just let Detroit die. I'll address Detroit specifically in a moment but for a moment I just want to speak on why cities, and urban policies are important in general.

Why Are Cities Important ?

The world is rapidly urbanizing. There are social and economic forces behind this trend, but in the United States 80% of the populous lives in urbanized areas defined as areas (the article was unclear as to what constituted an area I am going to say local governmental unit) with more than 50,000 people.

First of cities serve purposes, they tend to be economic, industrial, or governmental hubs. I am going to rip of a line from Urbanized, or at least close to it. They are the places where the larger forces that guide the lives of the people coalesce. They are the places where government and economic leaders make decisions. They are the places where goods are produced. They are the places where services are rendered. And most importantly they are the places where a large portion of the population lives.

They are the places where the forces of progress move. That's not to say that that rural constituants should be ignored, but as stated in terms of number of people the scales are tipped in one direction.

Problems of Cities
As stated cities have numerous purposes, but anytime you have a large population of people it's going to generate problems. Part of the reason why an urban agenda is needed is so that the effects of these problems can be minimized. You need to minimize the the negative effects of an increased population density like, parking, crime, fire, transportation and traffic, housing, sanitation and drinking water, power, air and water pollution, garbage disposal, lighting, education, jobs and more recently public internet access.

These are the things that people deal with in their everyday lives. How are my kids doing in school? If I want access to knowledge and information how do I go about getting it (adult education and the press)? Where am I going to work? How am I going to get to work? What is there to do after work? Where is a good place to park my car? Where am I going to live and how much is it going to cost? Who do I call in the case of an emergency situation that I can't deal with on my own like a burglary or a fire? Where can I get food? Where can I get medicine and medical attention? Where can I find someone to babysit my kids when I have to go to work? Where can I get access to the goods and services I need to live, because as obvious as it sounds, people need things.

And then there are the things we don't think about because we have civil engineers and urban planners to think about it for us. Where does our biological waste go? How do we get fresh drinking water? How far apart should the buildings be so they are safe yet appealing? How wide should the roads be? How do we, especially in Michigan, limit environmental damage, like water and wind damage to buildings and roads so we can maximize their use. How do we bring in new business? How do governments foster, cooperate with and encourage an urban commercial and industrial community? How do we preserve nature in a place that is man made? How do we make roads and bridges safe and economically feasible? How do we direct the flow of pedestrian and automobile traffic?

These are important questions that deserve an active discussion, because we as a society have collectively made our choice to live in urban areas, even if it's not the big city.We need our leaders on the local, state, and even federal levels to think about these things and the only way that is going to happen is if we the people also commit to some contemplation.

An Appeal To Save the Big City
I live in Southfield an innerring suburb of Detroit. That puts me in a weird place. I don't live in Detroit, but I do live literally a half of a mile from it. While I am not of Detroit, the city affects my life. When the idea of the suburb came into being, there was an assumption that people would live in the suburbs and commute to do everything else. Honestly I don't want to live like that, but for the sake of the argument let's say that you, my audience, are fine with that. You are fine with a half-hour to 45 minute drive to do just about everything. Many of your services such as water and electricity are still headed by companies and governmental institutions housed in the big city. Many of your commercial institutions are housed in the big city. Many of your court houses and state legislatures are housed in the big city. Many of your entertainment options are housed in the big city. So goes the city so goes the suburb.

I may be wrong, but when I read those comments on I think that people believe themselves to be insulated from the city, as if Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles or Brooklyn are a world away, but they're not. What separates the suburbanite from the city dweller is often nothing but lines on a map. The people who you are so afraid of are the same people checking you out at the store, counting your money at the bank, building your roads, cooking your food, and writing your laws.

Damn class stratification!

Lore List

So while watching Once Upon A Time I came across one of the things that bugs me about the series. If Mulan, the Mad Hatter and the Genie of the Lamp exist in this world why are they sticking so much to Grimm and Anderson lore? So here is the list of folks I want to see show up.

and why not while I'm at it,  Yog-Sothoth (Great. Excuse me while I go insane for a bit

... okay I'm back), John Henry, and Jonah Hex
What can I say, I like tricksters and badasses. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fortunate One

I ain't no fortunate one
All those American chiefs caused me nothing but grief
And all those songs I sung
I just let those dreams die in peace

What now can be done
I don't know but I can't stand to be called a thief
Down on the ladder last on the rung
But I refuse to cease

Even if the day can't be won
I'll cling to the tree, the last leaf
Even if I wind up hung
I'll keep going even without a piece

Cause doing anything less, well it aint me
It aint me
I ain't no fortunate son

Dark Clouds Playlist Part II

Okay so I relapsed. So Dark Clouds Playlist Part II
Here is part 1.
"Roses" : Outkast

"Don't Speak": No Doubt

"Bring Me to Life": Evanescence
"Cleaning Out My Closet": Eminem

"Slip Out The Back": Fort Minor

"Six Days": DJ Shadow

"You're Standing On My Neck": Splendora

"Tomorrow Comes Today": Gorrilaz
"I Fought The Law": The Clash

"Hollow": Tamar-Kali
"L.A. Song": Christian Kane

Jane Says: Jane's Addiction
Kryptonite: 3 Doors Down

"Loser": Beck

Ohh Ahh: Grits

"Got Me Wrong": Alice in Chains

"Can't Even Tell": Soul Asylum

"Where Is My Mind": The Pixies
You met me at a very weird time in my life.

Album Review: Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part I

Lupe Fiasco
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1

On the one hand I really want to like this album. It's exactly the type of rap I always say I like. So why don't I? Don't me wrong I like Lupe Fiasco. The original Food & Liquor tops my list as one of the best hiphop albums of the last decade. I think I'll steal a line from one of the best ones of the previous one.

About my people she was teaching me, by not preaching to me, but speaking to me, in a method that was leisurely so easily I approach.
"I Used to Love H.E.R."

Fiasco uses Food & Liquor II to talk about everything he feels is wrong with the black community and black culture. I agree with a lot of his points but here is the thing about becoming the preacher-man,  it takes a certain amount of arrogance to tell people how to live. And that arrogance can come off as obnoxious. I know. I was there at 16. It's one of the many reasons why my 24-year-old self would slap the shit out of my 16-year-old self.

It doesn't help that he subtitled the thing, "The Great American Rap Album". By the way stop. Just stop I'm looking at you too Blige and Jay-Z. If you're album has more than two sequel and or part numbers in the tittle you need to rethink it.

Anyway back to Lupe Fiasco. When doing social commentary a certain amount of subtlety and or humor is needed not to come of like... well an ass, and here Fiasco flirts with that line.

Don't get me wrong the album my be a bit preachy but it is technically proficient, while there isn't much as catchy and fun as the original food and Liquor's "Kick Push" the flow is good and the lyrics aren't completely inane.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Bottom Line of the Water Strike

While the current Detroit Water strike is a very serious issue, I feel that it is a consequence and facet of Detroit's larger financial debate.

However before I discuss it let's talk about some of the relevant parties and the general relationship between Detroit's city and Michigan's State government.

Before I talk about Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder specifically, I want to point out that both men came in after long incumbent periods. Mayor Bing is the first elected mayor of Detroit after Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick whom was mayor for 6 years, former Acting Mayor and current City Councilman Cockrel aside.

Not unlike Mayor Bing, Governor Snyder came in after the Granholm administration which served for 7 years. Both mens' administrations saw several changes in their respective areas of government under their leadership.

Mayor Bing
Many people, admittedly including myself, feel that the Kilpatrick administration took the city for a ride. Let's just say I've heard some cowboy stories.

If they are true or not will be discovered by the current trial, but my point is that many of the woes of the city can be attributed to corrupt or inept administration. There is a feeling that permeates Detroit and even the suburbs that its municipal government is uninterested in or unable to do the basic things that residents should be able to take for granted, pick up garbage, light the streets, protect them from crime, provide for public transportation.

This perception of public corruption and ineptitude is one that the Bing administration has been rallying against. Now let me be clear. I am not knocking the people of Detroit, merely pointing out some of the problems the city has. Most of the people I come across are folks just trying to get by in a rough town in rough times. To that end the Bing administration has had to deal with the underlying problem of trying to fix the city. The money isn't there

I could write an entire dissertation on why the money isn't there, but that is not the point. The point is that fixing things in the city is going to require funding that the city currently does not have. Furthermore the city isn't even breaking even in terms of finances and that brings in a new set of problems.

In trying to deal with the city's financial problems the mayor has made several controversial moves.

Governor Snyder
Governor Snyder is a fiscal conservative. Many of the changes of his administration have been aimed at cutting state spending. His 2012 budget was particularly controversial because of this. However, as a result of the cuts the state currently has a $457 million surplus.

Governor Snyder has a complicated relationship with cities of the State because of two reasons the first is that his administration, in an attempt to make local governments more accountable and transparent, changed the rules of how revenue sharing works. A lot of the money that some municipalities use are actually provided through the state's revenue sharing program. Municipalities until recently generally believed that they could predictably budget the funds provided through revenue sharing. The Snyder administration changed things by requiring municipalities to meet certain conditions in order to receive revenue sharing dollars.  

The second is the recently suspended for a public referendum Public Act 4, the emergency financial manager law.

I feel as though the ballot language on the referendum of the law, proposal 1 does a good job at explaining it so I will "borrow" it.

 Public Act 4 of 2011 would:
  • Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts.
  • Authorize Governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.
  • Require EM to develop financial and operating plans, which may include modification or termination of contracts, reorganization of government, and determination of expenditures, services, and use of assets until the emergency is resolved.
  • Alternatively, authorize state-appointed review team to enter into a local government approved consent decree.
And now for the particular problem. Because of the dire straits of Detroit finances the law could easily be applied to Detroit. Furthermore the Detroit Public School District already has an emergency financial manager though to be fair they had a previous one under Public Act 72, a previous version of the financial manager law.

Detroit City Council
It is difficult to summarize the role of the Detroit City Council in financial talks between the city and the governor, however it can be said that they have been very resistant to changes proposed by both the mayor and the governor going so far as to subpoena the mayor for information on his plans. The council has been a vocal opponent of a reluctantly voted for consent decree, whereby the mayor and a state appointed financial advisory board would have powers to restructure various operations of the city.

They have also been opponents of other proposed changes such as the lease of Belle Isle Park to the State of Michigan.

It Hits the Fan
While it was somewhat common knowledge that the city had a lack of funds, in the tail-end of  2011 reports started coming out painting a picture of just how bad it was. One report stated that without major change the city would run out of money by spring of 2012.

I believe that the reasons why this would be bad are self-evident, but allow me to go through them. If the city were unable to make its payrolls, buy gas for fire trucks and police cruisers, or provide for even the most basic of services that would be bad.
The Consent Agreement

In March of 2012, the city was officially declared to be in a state of financial emergency, allowing PA 4 to come into action. In an attempt to avoid an emergency financial manager the city council voted in favor of a consent agreement, allowing a state appointed board numerous powers, including the power to amend various city contracts. The consent agreement also allows the mayor to renegotiate or even terminate union contracts. Through the consent agreement the state also has the right to withhold revenue sharing dollars or place the city under a financial manager if it feels that the city isn't upholding its end.

Almost immediately the agreement was disputed in court. Several parties separately sued to void it, including the Detroit City Attorney Kristal Crittendon. Despite the lawsuits the consent agreement held up.

The Water Report
In the mist of all the talks of cuts, in August a report came out describing bureaucratic waste in the city's water department. As a result the city laid down plans to reorganize it, including (possibly) cutting 81% of its workers over 5 years.  And that people is where we are.

Correction: While the 81% number had been thrown around, some officials are doubtful that cuts would be that deep.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Album Review: No Doubt: Push and Shove

No Doubt
Push and Show

First some background. Back in the late '90s and early '00s Gwen Stefani was everywhere.

But before Stefani was on her own, hell, even while she was on her own, she ska'd it up with her band who went on an extended hiatus, the kind of extended hiatus where let's face it the band broke up. A few years ago they started touring again. And here we are, their first studio album in years Push and Shove

While I wasn't a hyper fan of No Doubt. I always liked them. To this day when feeling down I put on "Don't Speak"

While its stuff was definitely stuck in the '90s I thought it aged well, kind of like Daria and Chasing Amy.

Listening to this album is a lot like coming across your best high school friend you haven't seen in a few years. They're different but still themselves.  This is No Doubt, but an older No Doubt. They've grown up, but still are the same fun band they were back in the day.  There are even songs on the album that discuss this. "Sparkle" is a song about change.

All that said the band still sound like themselves. They're still a ska band.If you were ever a fan of theirs check it out.

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