Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Handout Charity with Wayne State University Connection

You gotta love when the suburban charities advertise their activities in Midtown online.  It makes it so much easier for us to keep track of them and monitor what piles of cast-offs and garbage they are leaving.  It makes it so much easier for the police department to prosecute litterbugs.

Any activity on the corner of Mack Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Third Avenue which draws folks away from getting real, professional, advanced social services at responsible neighborhood charities is a problem.

PBJ Outreach Inc in Plymouth is actively recruiting volunteers to hit Detroit's feel-good-about-yourself-and-then-leave crossroads every Saturday morning from 8:00-10:00 am.  They're registered as a charity with the State of Michigan, so if their activities should leave any mess we have an address to which the DPD can send a ticket.  And to think they're bringing kids as young as seven years old to that corner!

PBJ Outreach, if you really want to make a difference, open up a homeless shelter out there on North Territorial in Plymouth and take Detroit's homeless there Satuday mornings so they can see what all they're missing out on;  otherwise, please let our licensed and trained professional non-profit welfare service agencies take care of our down and out.

Wayne State University, please know that we don't appreciate WSU's ProjectVolunteer endorsing this kind of activity anywhere in Midtown.

Wayne State's Project Volunteer may provide volunteer opportunities for students at excellent non-profits like The Greening of Detroit and Habitat For Humanity, but they shouldn't be encouraging sammich distribution in the lot at MLK & Third or anywhere else off-campus in 48201, because Wayne State University certainly wouldn't tolerate this activity on their campus.

"... You Let No Stranger Wait Outside Your Door ..."

San Francisco Examiner editorial calls out some candidates for mayor for not having any plans to deal with homelessness in the city.  Editorial notes that among their homeless population there are 20 homeless people who have cost the city "$2.3 million in repeated ambulance and emergency care as well as detox and psychiatric services."
The candidate on the list who stood out -- I know nothing else about him, but I like how he thinks:
Tony Hall advocates replacing what he calls “nonprofit homeless industry providers” that are “scamming the system” with “organizations whose business is charity, not welfare.”

Tell it like it is, Tony!   Welfare, not charity!  Not the other way around!

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:
And keep checking back here where we will continue document charities-gone-wild and other activities that lure homeless people away from the resources they so desperately need.  We will continue to keep you updated on affairs in Cass Park and Midtown, goings-on at CAYMC, and things you can do to give people facing hard times a hand up instead of a handout.
Wonder if Detroit has ever even tallied how much we have spent on medical, psych, and detox bills for our chronically homeless, money that could have been saved if the homeless in Midtown could have made it to the charities that best serve them instead of getting sidetracked by sideshows in Cass Park.  Call your councilmembers and mayor to find out how much it's costing our city.  Just don't bother calling Kwame Kenyatta's office -- he must have had a helluva week after Diane Bukowski's article came out.

Charity Gaming

A classic, "Chaser's War" talks giving and gambling:

Buckets of Cash

City of Detroit accumulated deficit:  $194,900,000.00

Detroit Public Schools deficit:   $327,000,000.00

The tax revenue generated from cramming 50,000 people into 5 acres?

Money raised for charities by this year's event or 2009's event:  ?

I thought for sure the good people who opened their hearts and emptied their wallets and pantries would have learned by now how much money was raised, how many food donations were collected.  I thought for sure Forgotten Harvest could have tallied up by now how many pounds of food they got -- after throwing out the expired or damaged ones, if any -- and given us a ballpark dollar amount on the donations.  I thought for sure the event organizers would be let event-attenders know by now how much cash was collected in those plastic buckets for the ten charities who were to "directly" benefit from the event. 

Maybe my Googler ain't working today, but it's still coming up with no results for "money raised by Kem concert." 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Please Tell Me Pretend Homelessness is not the Next Big Thing

I mentioned yesterday the Street Retreats offered by a West Bloomfield charity.  And now news that four members of a church in Franklin, Indiana (and a dog) are living in a van "without the comforts of home ... outside the Franklin Walmart."

"[T]hey hope their experiment in homelessness will help those whose struggles last more than a week."

Getting your kicks slumming it outside a Walmart will in some way help those who are chronically homeless?   

For-Profit Business on Government Property

The Department of Veterans Affairs gives Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Tumbleweed Charter Buses, and Sodexho the boot after the VA was accused of misusing the property, putting "commercial interests ahead of housing homeless vets." 

What the Homeless Need is Twitter?

On "The Michael Eric Dyson Show," Dyson interviews Mark Horvath about teaching homeless people how to use social media.  Horvath's YouTube introduction to tweeting away homelessness:

If it is possible to get the homeless population phones that have a foursquare app that can't be turned off, it would be easier to find them when the next Census count comes around.  Heck, they could even check their friends into places.  Heck, one day one might become the "Mayor" of Detroit.  I see the homeless chatting away on cell phones in the park all the time; whether or not these phones are functioning I just don't know.  If only there were "an app for that," think of how greater the homeless population's chances of finding permanent housing would be.

On the flip side, when the hot-dogs-and-bibles truck-and-trailer shows roll into town from the far reaches of the Detroit metropolitan area and beyond, the feel-good-about-yourself-and-then-leave groups might Tweet where the chuckwagon is going to be parked and draw the homeless out of the responsible shelters trying so hard to find housing and services for them.

Maybe the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition could look into enTwittering Detroit's homeless?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Life and Limb

During the takedown of the stage, which took place from midnight to 4:00 am, the worst damage yet was done to one of the trees in the park.  Maybe if the take-down crew had waited to take down the stage when the sun was shining today -- instead of keeping me up all night with their clanging and banging -- further destruction from this event would not have been inflicted on the park's trees :

But does Detroit, like world-class cities across the country, have ordinances on the book protecting city trees from being damaged?  If so, I hope they go after the event's volunteer coordinators and the Lowe's volunteers who helped get rid of the evidence.  If not, then it's just look-the-other-way, business-as-usual at city hall.

Where is the outcry from the city's union foresters or The Greening Of Detroit?

Foam Containers, Denials, Messes

The Mack and Third concert organizers got all the garbage out of Cass Park, but the lawns on properties surrounding the park were not cleaned up by the cleanup crews:

Employees of the African-American-run Michigan Chronicle arrived to work today to find a pile of event trash on their front lawn.  I'm not keeping my fingers crossed that they'll note where this mess came from in their next edition, as they were one of many media outlets promoting the event last week:

"Interestingly, Cass Park has long been known for the multitude of illegal activities that go on there. However, in preparation for the 2009 concert, the benches were removed. Afterwards they were not replaced, thus re­ducing the number of unsavory characters hanging out and doing business there.

'I didn’t know that,' said KEM." (24 August 2011)

Maybe if the Michigan Chronicle calls the event organizers and tell them trash was left on their lawn, Kem will say he knows nothing about that, too:

But the Kem event has a history of denying responsibility.  After a year of trying to get them to pay for the restoration of the sculpture in the middle of the park -- which a citizens group had to pay over a thousand dollars to restore -- the event organizers said that it wasn't the event volunteers who painted over it.  But in the first two seconds of this Kem video on YouTube his volunteers are seen white-washing the sculpture:

Didn't know about that either, eh, Kem?

There would have been a lot less garbage in the park if Detroit was forward-thinking enough to cut down on park waste by outlawing the use of foam containers in parks as California state legislators are proposing.  There would have even been less park waste had the organizers used reusable flatware, plates, and drinking glasses when they served the homeless with dignity, but providing real plates, real flatware, and other tableware was an expense organizers weren't willing to pay.

Mack and Third promoters, please come back and clean up the rest of the mess you left.  The city of Detroit is hurting and doesn't have the money to clean up after you or any of the other foam-container fly-by-day charities your activities encourage to come down and make messes of Cass Park. 

Piles of garbage bags in front of the former assisted-living facility:

Pallets abandoned by the Forgotten Harvest trucks:

Twenty Cottage Inn pizzas were delivered to the Baptist Center, Kem's base of operations, after Kem performed.  I guess the pizza from Midtown pizzerias weren't good enough for them:

Litter and and an overflowing garbage can east of Cass Park:

UPDATE 5:00 PM:  It looks like someone came by and cleaned up in front of the Michigan Chronicle, but the other piles of garbage remain.

The Detroit Homelessness Experience, West Bloomfield-style

Kemistry Records' neighbors in Lathrup Village, or any Oakland County resident, who missed this weekend's up-close-and-personal-with-homeless album promotion can experience the Midtown homeless experience firsthand, thanks to the efforts of year-old West Bloomfield charity and urban adventure organizer Action By Presence.

For $250, the startup charity will let you participate in a Street Retreat, and get face-to-face with the drugs and guns in Detroit.  They'll event let you camp out with homeless people overnight at Redmond Plaza at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Selden, which is walking distance from an elementary school, upscale condos, Detroit restaurants Mario's and Traffic Jam, and the performing arts high school.

Participants are even encouraged to blog their experience in real-time as they make their way across the city begging for bus fare and handouts.  One participant described the experience in Zen detail:

"... We heard stories of the Detroit Rescue Mission, open 24 hours, where one can come as long as one stays in a seat, and people being shot and throats being slit."
It's hard for folks living out in West Bloomfield to get a real feel for the Midtown Detroit experience, so the non-profit's Street Retreats help participants "experience homelessness first-hand, begging for money, finding places to get food, to use the bathroom, etc."

Stray-cations, hmm?  I wonder if participants have to sign a waiver that they won't sue the upstart charity if they are approached by this guy with the gutter spike.

Action By Presence's website doesn't offer its financials and their 501(c)(3) is still under review by the Feds.  I'm off to check to see if there are other non-profit stray-cation companies offering homeless tours of Detroit. 

If Action By Presence's Street Retreats keep encouraging people to pretend to be homeless in Detroit, how much harder is it going to be to find the people who really are homeless and in need of help to get the help they need?  Think of all the responsible Detroit charities who go from park to vacant lot every day to get people to resources and imagine the waste of their time when they have to filter through pretend homeless people standing between them and the truly needy.

So whatever you do, Detroit, please don't do anything to get the homeless out of vacant lots and city parks and into substance abuse treatment, to get them the medical attention they need, to get them into homes.  You'll only hurt the suburban charity Action By Presence's ability to send people on Street Retreats. 

And special thanks to our neighbors in the Willis Selden Historic District for allowing Action By Presence to draw drug traffic and charity outreach away from Cass Park and from "Mack" and Third further in the direction of the Oakland County-based non-profits who serve them by opening up Redmond Plaza to outreach groups.  You're doing your part to help keep drugs and violence out of Cass Park.

Charities in Detroit That Know How to Stretch a Dollar

We mentioned Mariner's Inn, a Detroit non-profit that offers substance abuse treatment to adult men in Southeast Michigan as well as short-term and long-term housing (getting guys off benches and into beds and eventually into their own homes).

This afternoon I'll mention another Detroit non-profit with an excellent track record, Alternatives For Girls which provides shelter to at-risk and homeless young women age 15-20.  This charity has been looking out for young women in the city since 1987. 

"AFG Street Outreach serves as a lifeline to many young and adult women seeking to remove themselves from situations and activities that threaten their well-being, their futures, their lives. Staff and volunteers encounter girls and women on the streets, in all seasons, during daylight and after dark, providing harm-reduction kits, a ride to AFG and other safe places, referrals, and direct services — links to life-saving and support services."
If you cannot afford to give a donation to Alternatives For Girls because you put your last $5 in the bucket at the Kem Fest yesterday, see if there's anything on their wish list you might have lying around -- like extra 5-subject notebooks or school supplies so the girls can succeed in their studies -- or scrapbooking supplies.

If you cannot donate in-kind, they are also always looking for adults who can mentor or tutor. 

Whatever you do, please don't donate them cans of food that have been sitting in your pantry for five years.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

People Finally Asking Questions, But Not in Detroit

Like Mack and Third, the Burning Man organizers are in the process of switching to non-profit status, but unlike Mack and Third, people are actually concerned about the money that Burning Man raises:

"How much money has the [Burning Man] festival made over the years? Its organizers don’t disclose revenue figures on a year-by-year basis. Burners know little about the finances behind the event they work so hard to create, and that bothers some of them."
In Detroit we don't care what happens to the money.  We just like believing we've made a difference and don't dare ask where the pocket change thrown in the buckets at the Kem concert ended up, how much was raised, or if it just disappeared.  Since the Kem concert's non-profit partner, Detroit Rescue Mission, doesn't make its audits accessible (at least on their website), we might never know.

The Atlantic's Take on the N-word

Megan McArdle, senior editor of The Atlantic, talks windmills and Walmarts and the N-word:

Ms. McArdle assures her readers that they're not NIMBYs to think that stranding "a whole lot of people with a whole lot of problems in a pretty small neighborhood" makes problems even worse for the homeless and neighbors alike.
"But the fact remains that a lot of the homeless people hang out in what passes for the area's park space between meals, and more than a few spend the day drinking single-serving beers from the area's many liquor stores." 
Sounds like she was describing Cass Park, but she was writing about Washington, DC.

A lot of the few hundred residents who live in the immediate vicinity of Cass Park are living paycheck to paycheck, and this weekend's event gave them trouble getting to work, to church -- even just getting out for groceries or to do some laundry. 

And for what it's worth, when I finally made it out to the only liquor store here that remained open after the concert ended I found a line of people upset that all the beer coolers were completely empty.  A dry event, but the other liquor stores that weren't open must have sold out of beer as well, which explains the Milwaukee's Best cans littering the street:

First Real Meal in a While?

"Thanks to local charities they ate what may have been their first real meal in a while."
I see the homeless fed three or four times each day every weekend in Cass Park, and also see them fed three or four times daily on the Mack and Third.  They eat more meals than I do.   But once again this weekend the myth that homelessness equals hunger in Midtown Detroit was broadcast and loudly.

So much more can be done to eliminate homelessness, and there are several excellent, responsible charities in Detroit who do so and do so transparently.  Had the sponsors of this weekend's event each given their $60,000 directly to charities, like Mariners Inn, instead of blowing the wad on staging and lighting and other organizer overhead, think of how much a difference could have been made with those hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I'm off to bed, to try to fall asleep despite the loud clanging of the work crews disassembling the stage, sound equipment, generators and all the other stuff.  But I'm thankful that Kem and company might wait another two years before coming out with another album that needs to be promoted.

Soft Money In Detroit

Yesterday, Detroit Rescue Mission's low Charity Navigator score was noted

This event needed a fiduciary through which they could raise money for charities.  People were encouraged to give money by PayPal through the month-old Mack and Third Foundation's website.  People who were able were also asked to bring money in lieu of canned goods to gain entry into KemFest today.

The Kem team of volunteers went around getting people to throw money in buckets:

But like soft-money campaign donations, soft-money charity donations collected by a for-profit through one of Detroit's lowest-rated charities are hard to keep track of.  Who knows how much money went into those buckets and how much money eventually made it to the Detroit Rescue Mission for distribution to the other beneficiary charities who participated today.

Since the DRMM doesn't use external auditors we have no way of knowing how much the last Kem concert brought in, in hard-money or soft-money, and may never know how much money was collected in the plastic buckets and brought back to concert headquarters all throughout the evening. 

We'll have to wait for when the open, responsible charities who do benefit from this event release their revenue statements at year end.

Loaves and Fishes

The "A Meal & A Message" had 50 tables and each table sat 8 people.  By my math, that's at most dignity-maintaining seating for only 400 people.  But the Detroit News and other media are reporting that over a thousand homeless were served.  Some of the tables in the photo above were half empty, so I don't know who did the head count.

Where did Detroit News Reporter George Hunter get his "... more than a thousand ..." statistic?  I guess that's what the press release told him to write.

1,000 Homeless?

The News and Freep are reporting that the event served meals to over 1,000 people today.  I've got pics of the meal.  Once I do a headcount, I'd be surprized if there were 500. . . .

As much as I respect Forgotten Harvest, a meal made with donated, second-hand, nearly expired food hardly counts as a "special," sorry.  When you collect $60K per corporate sponsor, you'd think Kem might serve steak.  But, hey, they're homeless, so it's chicken thighs no one else would buy.

And that stage is expensive.

400' x 400'

The park is waaayy over capacity today.  Security is having a very hard time with the edges of the crowd, and there's lots of back-and-forth pushing.  Folks are even climbing on top of the giant electric generators.

There are proper venues for this sort of event, and they're Hart Plaza and Chene Park, not Cass Park.

To cram 40,000 people into a 160,000-square-foot park and not predict that people will fall out from heat stroke in a little 2' X 2' patch of grass is cruel.  They needed a much larger venue.

No Consolations

If there was any redeeming value of the 2009 event, the music was pretty good, and it was all live.  This year, the whole thing registers as a cheesy radio-station promotion -- which is to say that it's like listening to commercial radio.

The live acts are few and far between, spaced among call-outs, 105.9 promos, sound effects, and recorded music like Black Eyed Peas' bar mitzvah song.  Oh, it's the Cupid Shuffle!  I'm off.

I'm a sucker for canned wedding music.

Volunteers Give Seniors a Hard Time

A woman, Barb, stopped by and asked if she could just sit on the porch.  She needed to take her 4:00 pill and had to be sitting for it to kick in.  I asked her to take a load off.  She told me that she had asked some volunteers if she could use one of their chairs for a few minutes and they told her they were for volunteers only and sat down on them.  As she walked away, they stood back up.

Several concert-goers expressed anger that there weren't enough bathrooms for the estimated 40,000 people here today, and some seniors were annoyed that there were no chairs set up for the over-50 crowd.  Maybe "Prince" had the same complaint when he was interviewed?

I guess letting seniors who needed to take a load off just wasn't their flavor of charity, even with those stacks and stacks of unused chairs:

Herbal Remedy for Homelessness?

I'm sure he's referring to the sweet smell of the unmaintained lots of goldenrod, burdock, wild carrot, mallow, and all our other native species, but I could be mistaken.

The herbals are strong in the air here at cass park. Maybe the contact will keep everyone extra chilled out

Friend of mine told me that folks upset with the long lines at the PortaJohns have taken to watering cars, watering neighborhood buildings, watering cars in the street, watering everything except the native wildflowers noted above.

Security -- private, public, and religious -- are having a hard time securing the perimeter.  Hope to have photos of that soon, or maybe the video people in the park can catch some footage.

Hurricane Formerly-Known-As-[Symbol]

Neighbors prayed for rain, but the orations were mistranslated and we got Purple Rain.

Videotaping Rule Not Being Enforced?

Not much streaming coming out of the Cass Park Kem concert on YouTube yet.  So far only this one popped up, and this poor woman did not seem pleased about being ambushed, and I'm not sure whether "Are you videotaping me?" was permission enough to upload her to YouTube.

Spitting Distance of John Conyers, Jr

I was just standing there on the curb and saw Mr. Monica Conyers getting into a car and taking off an hour ago.  It seems the organizers are pulling out all the stops today.

Only got harassed once by the bowtied ununiformed security guards, but was glad to see a Detroit Police Department presence balancing out the suburban and NOI guards.  DPD is even employing Segways:

No horse patrol today.  What ever happened to the horses.  Maybe they were banned from the concert between the lines when they banned event-attenders from bringing their dogs.  But that ban didn't stop some concert-goers:

Just hoping those who did bring dogs are cleaning up after them.

"Love Is The Light/ Exit Is The Sex... That's Why It's L-O-V-E"

The day starts with a breakfast prayer by Khary Kimani Turner, disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's cowriter and a local freelancer who invoked today's call to service. 

I've never had barbeque for breakfast.  It must be a Nashville or Lathrup thing.

Kem is expected at noon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Charity Navigator Highlights MLive Story, Rates Charity Poorly

Detroit Rescue Mission, whom a neighbor heard is the fiduciary (read: "charity") through which the for-profit Kem entities are raising money in Cass Park tomorrow, has an embarrassingly low Charity Navigator rating of 42.21, with 11% going to administration and 12% going to "fundraising efforts" like this weekend's concert; well-run charities are able to keep admin at 5% or lower and get higher scores from Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator also notes that the charity does not use outside accountants to audit their financials, and their website has no Form 990s or Audited Financials statements on it, so we may never know how much money the Kem concert brought in for DRMM and the other ten or so charities supposedly benefiting from this weekend's fundraiser.  There is nothing on the interwebs about how much the concert brought in last time.  You'd think this was something they'd want to brag about, no, unless a disappointing amount of money actually made it to the charities for whom they claimed to raise money.

But the good news is that Charity Navigator's charity news feed automatically updates, and the article discussing neighborhood concerns about the event is at the top of their news feed, and is also near the top of the list on Google searches.

Latest on Kwame Kenyatta

Thank heavens for the Michigan Citizen and reporter Diane Bukowski.  She dug up some dirt on everyone's favorite councilman, Kwame Kenyatta, out of whose committee came the permit allowing Kem's advance crew to tidy up Cass Park this morning:

“Kwame Kenyatta brought me the check from the Wisdom PAC, saying it was his PAC ...”

So I thought I'd go check out what is allegedly the councilman's PAC at the state election website.  The latest records at the elections bureau showed unpaid PAC fees of $2,500, so the elections bureau refused Wisdom PACs request to dissolve itself two years ago.  But somehow, as Ms. Bukowski reported, the PAC is still able to funnel money, more money than is owed to the state elections bureau, even though it is not in good standing with the state, unless they've paid up before I posted this. 

How could this even be possible, you might ask?  Welcome to Detroit.
Current city council member Kwame Kenyatta also channeled money from his Wisdom PAC, largely funded by Sun Valley Foods, to several board members.

Lest We Forget

For anyone with a short memory, people have been shot and killed standing in line for handouts at Detroit's Cass Park.

Two Ways To Rid Yourself of the Red Devil, Cass Park-Style

Here's how the church folks scare off the devil when in Cass Park:

Nain Rouge did it differently:

Off to the park to see what new fresh hell is going on there in advance of tomorrow's concert.

But, Really: What is a Day?

Kemistry Records and Project Producers, LLC, were granted a permit to shut down streets around Cass Park this Sunday, August 28, but that didn't stop them from starting the closures a day early.  I guess somewhere between the lines of the council petition was some just-add-lemon-juice invisible ink extending the definition of "August 28" to include most of August 27, but I haven't yet found that part:

Kenyatta, reso. autho. Petition of Kemistry Records (#1055), requesting to host a walkathon and concert performance, "Mack and Third", at Cass Park on August 28, 2011; with temporary street closure of Temple Street between Cass and Third; Ledyard between Third and Cass; and Second between Temple and Ledyard.

Nothing there allowing street closures on Saturday, eh?

The event organizers went with a Detroit-based Warren, Michigan-based company for the tents.  Organizers have already closed off southbound Second Boulevard from Temple and have blocked eastbound Ledyard traffic with a hundred-foot-long canopy.  I'm just wondering who will have the pleasure of sitting in that shaded area come Sunday.

Detroit's Public Lighting Department Has No Money to Fix Lights

At how many neighborhood and community meetings have residents been told that there just isn't any money to fix street lights to make our streets safe?  Too many times to count.  Too many times being told that the parts are out of stock but will be in in a few weeks, only to wait two months and still not have street lights.  Too many times told to call 311 and get a tracking number.

Well, somehow the PLD found money to fix the lights in Cass Park in time for this weekend's event.  Two PLD trucks were here fixing lights yesterday and returned with more parts to fix some more during this morning's cleanup.

Somehow there's no money when residents are repeatedly asking for streetlights in neighborhoods to be fixed, but somehow there's money when the Lathrup Village singer has to get his show on the road.

Kem Lui-Meme Arrives To Sign Autographs For The Volunteers

Well, he found four people looking for a Kim Owens autograph:

Oh, here's another woman who wanted his autograph.  That brings the total up to five.

But once the only five people who got theirs had gone, he wandered around looking for more fans.

Well, at least he didn't run out of ink.

I suppose folks who want his autograph but missed out on this morning's volunteer effort could always send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Kemistry Records or the event organizers, Project Producers, LLC.

Not A World-Class City?

"We have to be realistic ... We're not a world-class city."
-- George Jackson, DEGC

How do soi-disant "world-class cities" handle event permitting, one might ask?  Let's take a circle-tour around the continent and see how world-class municipalites respond to unreasonable permits:

San Francisco is concerned about the public's safety during large events.

New York City doesn't seem to like large crowds.

And all they wanted to do in Olympia, Washington was baptize one of their faithful, but the state wouldn't have it -- something about church/state separation, or what-not.

In Toronto, city officials seem to be bothered by "issues related to noise, parking, damage to turf, excessive garbage and failure to clean up."

But the prize for best response to city park permit requests goes to Santa Barbara, California, "The American Riviera," where officials demanded $9,000 when extra police were needed to control the previous year's crowd and billed the event organizers an undisclosed amount for damages to city sidewalks.  The city eventually denied one group a permit because of crowd control and parking issues and past event mismanagement.

Considering that damage sometimes happens when one drives 18-wheelers into a park, one has to wonder if Detroit does what Salt Lake City does, if it requires event organizers to be bonded to cover any damage, accidental or otherwise, to city property.

But as George Jackson said, we aren't world-class, folks.

I Thought That I Should Never See

" ... A tree that looks at God all day / And lifts her leafy arms to pray ... ." 
-- attributed to Joyce Kilmer

One has to wonder where the God-fearing Christians who normally take over the park were today.  Well, since they weren't there to help me find God in the details, I took a stroll to find God in the details myself.  For anyone who was wondering if the "union (?) foresters" who were trimming trees actually checked out a how-to video before the hackjob, what you'll see below are some of the un-Band-Aid-ed scars they left.  For what it's worth, quite a few of the scars were on the streetside sides of the tree and would not even block the views of the projected 15,000 people who are expected to be crammed into this not-larger-than-a city block tomorrow afternoon.

Most everyone ignores the stop sign at corner of SB Second Boulevard at Ledyard, anyway.

If the event organizers were truly concerned about charity involvement as they claimed, perhaps they should have given the trained trimmers at The Greening of Detroit a call to help them with their deblighting, or the city could have rounded up certified conservation stewards from the Friends Of Belle Isle to help with the removal of the invasive, community-planted garden in the park.

But why waste time calling in Detroit eco-charities when you can just grab some guys and give them trimmer thingies.

Private Security On-Hand to Tell Neighbors Where They Can Go

The event organizers, wanting to save a buck or two, opted for a Mt. Clemens-based rent-a-cop company to patrol the city streets for the weekend.  Above, one of their finest stops a passing car to ask them their business.

The event organizers complained to residents that they were unhappy that they were asked to employ Detroit Police officers for the event, saying, "Don't they realize paying for DPD takes money from the charities?"

I suppose getting more money for Kem charities is why they went with a Mt. Clemens-based rent-a-cop shop instead of using a Detroit security company or DPD. 

Union (?) Foresters Cut Branches Blocking View of Stage

These fellers were good enough to take a break from their de-boughing and mug for the camera ...

... but one couldn't keep them from their clearcutting ...

... especially when the Redcoats of Lowe's were waiting to break up and bag the branches...

... before allen-wrenching some purty park benches together ...

Are those benches ADA compliant?  If they aren't, I'm sure someone will give Uncle Sam or Uncle Sam a call.

And Then the KEM Circus Rolled into Town

KEM's back! 

He was here in 2009 to promote an album -- I mean, "help the homeless" -- and he's here again "to help the homeless."  Actually, he's here to promote another album.

In 2009:

Event organizers whitewashed Jim Lawton's sculpture Pink Landscape:  Three Trusses Plus (which the city had recently refinished).  Through the efforts of onemorespoke, the sculpture was again refinished in 2010.

Event organizers whitewashed community murals installed to prevent graffiti.  And. . .the graffiti's back.

Event organizers cut down park trees to improve their sitelines.

Event organizers hired private security to patrol city streets and to harass neighborhood residents.  Folks were prevented from coming and going for the weekend, prevented from walking their dogs, getting groceries, leaving the house.  Private security even prevented folks from going to church on Sunday.

The 2009 event collected canned goods and left them in the park overnight to be pilfered.  KEM got a Grammy nomination, though, so it was totally worth it.

In a functional city with rational, intelligent leadership, these sorts of abuses would have been stopped and then prevented from happening again.  Not in Detroit, though; city leaders are anything but intelligent or functional about the use of public space.  Just say "help the homeless" and you can do pretty much anything, even whitewash a city-owned sculpture as a means to promote yourself.  Those morons who whitewashed the Joe Louis fist should have thought of that.

Over the objections of neighborhood residents, Kwame Kenyatta and Dave Bing pushed KEM's event petition through committee and granted a permit.  Here we go again.

Stay tuned for updates.