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belle isle detroit michigan

Belle Isle Becomes A State Park In 2014

I was surprised to learn that Belle Isle is becoming a state park as of January 1st, 2014. Governor Rick Snyder just approved a deal with Bobby Orr, the emergency manager, that leases Belle Isle to the State for 30 years. This move will save the city of Detroit $4-6 million annually, so it’s a pretty good move. Detroit will still technically own the Belle Isle, but the Department of Natural Resources will manage it. Starting next year, you will need the $11/yr recreation passport sticker on your license plate to enter Belle Isle State Park. Man, that sounds weird to say.

I visited Belle Isle for the first time in almost 15 years this summer when I attended the Orion Festival there. This was the first time I had heard of the island being used for a concert, too. The buildings on the island looked like they were crumbling away, only slightly less than the rest of the city. Now that the DNR is managing the island, state funds will be available. The DNR also will also seek $10-20 million in grants for repairs and renovations to the island’s infrastructure.

I’m glad to hear Belle Isle will finally receive the care it needs to bounce back. This deal seems like a good thing for both the city, the state, and the people. However, not everyone is happy about it. City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson had this to say:

It’s an absolute treasure, and Belle Isle is ours. It flies in the face of all the public pronouncements of the state trying to help the city. It sounds like a rape to me. It should never be touched. It’s a disgrace before God to have this outrageous seizing of an asset.

Now, when I read this I immediately realized why Detroit is in such bad financial shape. The city has people like this making decisions. Important decisions. I don’t think this woman understands what a lease is. The city still owns the island. They don’t have to pay to maintain it (which they couldn’t afford to do anyway), and everyone can still us it (with the recreation passport). So, where’s the drawback? Apparently, councilwoman Watson would rather see the island fall into further despair, eventually to the point that it’s unusable. Unusable like a huge percentage of Detroit already is, full of desolate urban prairies piled high with old tires. Sometimes you just gotta know when to let go, Detroit. It’s for the better.

Source: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131001/METRO01/310010072/Snyder-finalizes-Belle-Isle-deal-Detroit?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

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map showing the racial segregation of detroit michigan

Detroit is the Most Segregated City in the US, According to the 2010 Census

I recently read an article on the most segregated cities in the United States, and guess what? Detroit was number one. Not too surprising. If you’ve ever driven across 8 Mile you’d know. Or, cross Alter or Mack road from Grosse Pointe into Detroit. There are several youtube videos that show the stark contrast of the Detroit/Grosse Point Border… multi-million dollar mansions on one side, crack houses on the other. Search wiki for “Alter Rd”… they refer to it as somewhat of a “Berlin Wall” separating communities. The point is, when you cross into Detroit, you know it. Segregation apparently has not changed much in the last several decades according to reports from the 2010 US Census.

The map measured segregation in major cities with a dissimilarity index, which identifies the percentage of one group that would have to move to a different neighborhood to eliminate segregation. A score above 60 on the dissimilarity index is considered extreme.

The 21 most segregated cities in the US are as follows:

[table id=1 /]

Here’s a picture of Detroit’s segregation map. I drew a general outline around the border of Detroit so the map makes more sense to you out-of-towners.

detroit segregation map

And here’s another map taken from google maps showing the actual borders of Detroit.

Detroit City Map

You can read the complete Census report on segregation here: http://www.s4.brown.edu/us2010/Data/Report/report2.pdf

I found it kind of funny that in the report, they actually referred to cities in the Northeast and Midwest as the “Ghetto Belt” because of their unusually high black-white segregation numbers. So there’s a new term for ya… now you can say you live in the Ghetto Belt!

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Kwame Sutra

5 Books About Detroit & Kwame Kilpatrick, Former Mayor

I was browsing Amazon for something totally unrelated tonight when I came across a book called “Kwame Sutra” in the “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” section. The name of the book caught my attention, so I clicked on it. Seems like it might be an interesting read, as well as a few other books published about Detroit and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

I’m thinking about ordering numbers 1, 3, and possibly 5.

1. The Kwame Sutra: Musings on lust, life and leadership, from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

This book was written by 2 guys who work for the Detroit Free Press newspaper, covering him since 2002. It includes quotations, public pronouncements, candid asides, unscripted outbursts and secret text messages made by Kwame, many of which have never been published or released.

2. Surrendered: The Rise, Fall & Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick

This book received a lot of really bad reviews by those who bought it on Amazon. But what do you expect? It was written from Kwame’s point of view, and supposedly he tries to make himself out to be better than he really is. Pro-Kilpatrick propaganda as one person called it. And if you think the money will go to support Kwame, SUPPOSEDLY the judge residing over his legal case ordered that the proceeds of this book go to repay the city of Detroit. I don’t know if that went through officially though, because the lawyer for the publishing company never showed up for the court date!

3. Badge of Honor: Blowing the Whistle (The True Story of a Mayor’s Bodyguard)

Written by a former(?) Detroit police officer who became one of Mayor Kilpatrick’s bodyguards, later blowing the whistle on some of the crimes he committed while in office.

4. Kwame Kilpatrick: The Untold Story

This one is a DVD actually, but since it’s about Kwame I threw it in here for those who don’t want to read!

5. Detroit: An American Autopsy

Written by Detroit native and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charlie LeDuff, this book had excellent reviews on Amazon. It covers the downfall of Detroit and paints a very dismal but true to life picture of the city.

 

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former detroit mayor

Kwame Kilpatrick Faces Up To 20 Years In Prison After Being Convicted On 24 Counts Of Racketeering, Extortion, And More

Last week, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was finally convicted on 24 charges, including racketeering, extortion, bribery, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns. The 5 month trial also found Bobby Ferguson, a contractor and friend of Kilpatrick who was given several city contracts illegally, guilty on 9 charges. Kilpatricks father Bernard was also found guilty on one tax charge. Kwame is facing 20 years in prison and is being held without bail as they consider him a possible flight risk. He is currently awaiting sentencing, but no date has been set for the hearing.

Ferguson was given $84 million in contracts by Kwame Kilpatrick, which forced people to hire Ferguson as a subcontractor if they wanted to be awarded city deals.

former detroit mayor

 

Count One: (All Three) Racketeering conspiracy: Joining together to conduct a criminal enterprise, which in this case the prosecution dubbed the “Kilpatrick Enterprise,” an alleged scheme of kickbacks to enrich themselves using the mayor’s office. It’s punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson: Guilty
Bernard Kilpatrick: No verdict

Count Two: (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in the sewer lining contract. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson:  Guilty

Count Three: (K, Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in an amendment to the sewer lining contract. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson:  Guilty

Count Four: (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in the Baby Creek/Patton Park contract. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson:  Guilty

Count Five: (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Attempted Extortion Oakwood Pump Station contract.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson: Guilty

Count Six: Dismissed

Count Seven: Extortion (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in the Outfalls contract. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: No verdict
Bobby Ferguson: Guilty

Count Eight: Extortion (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in an asbestos abatement contract. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: No verdit
Bobby Ferguson: Guilty

Count Nine: (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in repair of eastside water mains. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson: Guilty

Count 10: (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Extortion in eastside sewer repairs. Extortion carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Not guilty
Bobby Ferguson: Not guilty

Counts 11-14: Dismissed

Count 15: Attempted Extortion (B. Kilpatrick) Sludge contract.

Bernard Kilpatrick: Not guilty

Count 16: Bribery (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Soliciting funds for personal purposes.

Kwame Kilpatrick: No verdict

Count 17: Bribery (K. Kilpatrick, Ferguson) Soliciting funds for personal purposes.

Kwame Kilpatrick: Guilty
Bobby Ferguson: Guilty

Kwame Kilpatrick has also been found guilty on one wire fraud count, as well as one tax count and several mail fraud charges.

 

Kilpatrick left Detroit’s City Hall in 2008 after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice related to a text message sex scandal with a former employee. He served about a year in jail for those crimes and agreed to pay the city of Detroit $1 million in restitution. In August 2011, only a week after he was paroled, Creative Publishing Consultants Inc out of Tennessee released a book that was co-written by Kilpatrick, titled Surrendered: The Rise, Fall & Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick. However, the Wayne County prosecutor pushed the state courts to see to it that any proceeds that Kwame would have received from the book go to repaying the $1 million he owes to the city of Detroit.

In January the ex-mayor also spent a weekend in jail for violating his parole by not reporting cash gifts he received in 2012.

 

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