Friday, March 23, 2012

"White Flight" Remark Right On Target

Jon Gruenberg made a big mistake when he uttered two words that have now been used to strip him of his position as vice president of the East Detroit board of education.  His real mistake was to say what others have been whispering for years.  

His comments about past white flight were more raw than racist, but in an effort to demonstrate how racist they are not, his colleagues stripped him of his position as vice president of the board of education.  Political correctness should have clear boundaries; thank God they couldn't kick him off the board altogether.

While everyone is running around trying to prove that they are not racist, Gruenberg is the sacrificial lamb who took the hit for bringing up what is a clear historical and quantifiable fact: flight occurs when a community feels threatened by what it feels to be an invading culture. It is akin to the "fight or flight" syndrome. And Gruenberg committed the cardinal sin of saying it just might happen again.

"Fight or flight" is an often a justifiable human behavioral response to perceived threats.  There are emergency financial managers popping up all over Michigan largely due to the impact of white flight on urban cities once diverse and economically and socially stable. When people had enough of the breakdown of their cultural and community fabric, and then voted with their feet, they took their wallets, too. The consequence is just pure historical and quantifiable fact.

Were they wrong to leave, trying to escape to a quality of life safety net?  Of course not.  They left for the same reasons some black parents will say was their own motivation to leave cities like Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and's all about personal safety, civility, unfettered opportunity, quality education, and other values which reflect community stability; amenities and cultural values that sometimes can only be found by leaving one place to find another where others share, respect, and evidence the same values.

You'd be fooling yourself if you still think that school of choice enrollment alone is the issue in Eastpointe.  There is a legitimate concern that district academic performance could take a major hit by an influx of students from failing schools where sometimes just showing up gets you by... or where dress code enforcement is non-existent...or where socially-unacceptable behavior blooms into loitering, fights, increased petty crime, and paralyzing fear of the end of a calm that once was and which cannot be reclaimed except by flight.  Ride down Gratiot between Eight Mile and Nine Mile around 8 AM or 2:30 PM and determine for yourself how the transition is going.

Additionally, there is a strong sentiment held by Eastpointe residents that there are times when money alone is not worth the hassle.  The East Detroit school district is struggling with an $8.5 million deficit that probably cannot be erased except through open enrollment.  As cash strapped as they are, is it not indeed ironic that the black and other minority students they fear may be their school district's only financial salvation?

Others cannot believe that the board of education cannot see that their school district and city has already been tagged as non-receptive to minority "encroachment".  You don't need an anthropologist to discover that Eastpointe has a prolific history of alleged discrimination, racial profiling, and a host of other alleged insensitive conduct; however, for parents who want the best education possible, fleeing east of 8 Mile is simply just another example of seeking a quality education that hopefully will lead to achieving the American dream.  

The East Detroit school board response to this situation is similar to the way some people view certain comic routines that target blacks and whites.  Black comedians can wax poetic about white people and their strange behaviors, but let a white comedian unload a barrage of antidotes about behaviors or beliefs predominate amongst black people and all hell will break out.  Whites will nervously laugh at jokes aimed at them by black comedians; blacks will call for a rally, a firing, and a congressional hearing.

This dust-up is a strong example of the need to explore the relationship between what I dare call black flight to white life. That sentence will surely or hopefully get some people going.   Gruenberg's comments should help to compel the conversation.  It is a conversation worth having and it is a shame that Gruenberg's integrity has to be sacrificed to have it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

'Condom Killer" May Lead To Different Kind of Local Arab Spring in Detroit This Summer

Gas Station Shooting May Escalate Tension in Local Community; Radio Show Hosts Urges Community to Shut Down Station

The Detroit Police has arrested a gas station attendant who shot and killed a young man for pushing "Little Debbie" cakes off a rack at a BP station on Fenkell and Myers in north-west Detroit.

Details are still coming in, but what is known at this time is that the attendant went into an office behind the bullet-proof glass, got a gun, came from behind the bullet-proof enclosure, and shot the young man in the shoulder as the man attempted to leave the station.  Accompanied by another person into the store, his friend and one other person drove the injured man to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The incident began when 24 year-old Michael Haynes II attempted to return condoms he purchased but which he thought were over-priced.  His attempt to get his money back was rebuffed by the attendant. That lead to the Haynes knocking over a rack of "Little Debbie" cakes, which then prompted the attendant to go get a gun.

The account of the events were relayed by the owner of the station and another employee of the gas station, in addition to the dead man's friend. Reportedly, there may be video-tape of the incident well.  The stories told by each of the three are practically identical but the investigation continues.

Popular local radio talk show host Mildred Gaddis today asked the community  to shut down the  gas station.  Gaddis pointed to a pattern of disrespectful behavior on the part of BP gas station attendants throughout Detroit as a reason for her call for community action.

Was the attendant right in coming from behind the bullet-proof enclosure?  Did Haynes' action rise to the level of warranting the use of a weapon when the attendant was not placed in any danger of physical harm?  What do you think?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I appreciate feed back from readers of this blog.  Thanks go out to one anonymous reader who did not reflect on the content of the blog but who found four errors in my blog and posted them to this blog.  Below, you can read my reply to him.  Please continue to do so as I want my blog to be as tight as possible.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meet Amanda Clayton, Michigan Welfare Queen


Lottery Winner

Meet Amanda Clayton.  She is a million dollar lottery winner.  She also has the distinction of being the new face of welfare abuse in America.

Despite getting a $700,000 lump sum payout after winning a $1 million lottery game, she felt she was still entitled to receive food stamps.  No, she is not from Detroit (she is from Lincoln Park), and by the looks of her, she is not a minority.  But she is a new homeowner (she bought another house, so she now has two), and she bought a new car with the loot she won in September 2011.

Ms. Clayton has managed to shatter the stereotype and has set a new bar for those who try to game the system.  This story went viral in no time flat, much like that of the one man union in Detroit (more about that later).

The state just cut her food stamp benefits this week. No word on whether she will have to pay back the food stamps she received since September, so that will require a follow-up.

Well, what do you think about this? Did she personally eventually tell her worker about her good fortune or was she stone cold busted by a family member who did not share in her sudden blessing?  Should she have done the right thing, right away (of course, but we want to know what you think!)? 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Heroin Deja Vu Strikes Suburbia


Back in the day, the “Cass Corridor” in Detroit was a highway for heroin and other drugs...junkies would blend in amongst students and the homeless, making it hard to differentiate between those three classes of urban dwellers.  

Homeless shelters seemed to be on every other corner from Forrest to I-375.  Drug houses were smartly camouflaged within the area, which ran from West Grand Boulevard down to Michigan Avenue, and from John R over to the Lodge freeway. 
That grid was a virtual 24-7 Detroit Woodstock, the main thoroughfare for locals and suburbanites alike, shopping for their drug of choice.

Fast forward to today---two homeless shelter zoning and standards ordinances, along with aggressive law enforcement campaigns, has successfully thinned out the corridor’s homeless service providers and drug house clientele.  Morphed into a vibrant mix of university, medical, theater, entertainment, and sports districts, the grid has emerged as one of the most racially and socially diverse eclectic safe-zones in Detroit.

A few years back, I wrote an editorial column for the Macomb Daily reporting that Smart 560 buses were the chariot of choice for Macomb County residents shopping for drugs off the Gratiot strip in Detroit.  I caught hell for it, and local leaders denied there was a problem or that the bus line was a hit-it and quit-it express for safely getting (to) a fix that could not be gotten locally.

A few months later, cooperating law enforcement agencies used the 560 as a surveillance tool, leading to the arrest of more than 70 druggies, raids on Detroit drug houses located off Gratiot and the impounding of vehicles, resulting in what was later considered a strong message to those who thought they were smart to use SMART.

While drug consumption in the "Cass corridor" has not completely disappeared, and access to drugs on the 560 has not been quite so evident lately, one thing is painfully clear; access to heroin is on the rise and no longer exclusively a two-way trip to Detroit. In fact, recent reports suggest that heroin use, and its local availability, is up...way way up, in metro "suburbia".... perhaps in a city or township near you.

A few years back, counties as far out as Genesee and Livingston started reporting sharp spikes in heroin use.  Overdoses were on the rise, and communities which thought themselves immune from the "scourge of Detroit" had reality checks that shook their communities to the core.  Then, things got quiet for a while, and local interventions seemed to be stemming the tidal wave of suburban substance abuse.

However, evidence now seems to suggest that heroin use has circled back to the suburbs.  While it is clear that drug use is no respecter of race, stature, or any other demographic or social or political class, what is crystal clear is that heroin users are getting younger, are upgrading from bathroom cabinet prescriptions, and are much more close to their dealers.

Just last December, Clinton Township police discovered that 19-year old twins had set up a heroin house in their grandmother's home right across from Chippewa Valley High school.  Clinton Township Detective Captain Richard Mairle told the Macomb Daily that “Heroin is a big problem out here….Parents have to make sure they keep a close eye on the children…We’ve had a lot of problems with overdoes.”

Warren, Michigan's third largest city, has such an alarming spike in heroin use that it just assigned additional officers to a drug unit for a three-month wheels-up campaign targeting heroin dealers and users.  There have been nearly 10 deaths in Warren by overdose in less than half a year, which may not seem like a lot in some people's eyes for a city the size of Warren (one death is a death too many) but, for Warren and other suburban centers, it is a marked increase warranting specialized attention.  

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has recently announced a campaign against the sale of "Lollipipes" in Oakland County stores.  "Lollipipes" are described as candy crack pipes which cost a few cents short of six bucks but which can also possibly be used to smoke the real thing.   Patterson announced a hot line (248.858.8746) for reporting the sale of these items in Oakland County.   No such action appears to have been taken in either Wayne or Macomb County. 

Vigilance is a key tool in combating drug use on a personal level as well as it is a strategy for local municipalities.  Keeping your medicine cabinet free of certain prescriptions is as important as it is for cities to enforce drug-free zones. Parents cannot assume it cannot happen to their kids any more than a community can take false comfort in an "It can't happen here" mentality.  It is happening again, right now, and for the sake of our children and our communities, this fight needs to again take center stage.  The fight need to taken to our streets, our schools, and to our neighborhoods; more importantly, though, the fight needs to be taken seriously.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Older Vets to Get GI Bill Benefits

Montgomery Bill Gets A "Do-Over"!

Veterans who are under 60 years of age whose 10 year educational benefit statue of limitation has expired under the Montgomery GI Bill but who are are unemployed will now be able to go back to school thanks to VOW To Hire Veterans legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.

This lifeline for unemployed veterans is part of President Obama's effort to increase employment opportunities for those who served our county but who are having a hard time finding work.

The president's initiative hopes to eventually result in the hiring of nearly 850,000 veterans based on their completing their degrees or successfully completing vocational or certification programs matched to the needs of local communities.

GE has announced plans to hire nearly 5,000 veterans through its "Hiring Our Heroes" initiative.  Tyson Foods and ConAgra Foods have committed to step up its hiring of veterans as well.  Check out a separate effort to promote hiring vets at at

When it is all said and done, the sacrifices men and women and their families make to keep this country safe should be reciprocated in ways that confirm our appreciation for their service to America.

Well...what do you this political theater or a patriotic plan to help those who have helped us remain the most powerful and free county in the world?