Dubious achievement awards 2004 - July 

Jail Guitar Doors: Circuit Judge Edward Servitto sentences Kimberly Mathers, the ex-wife of rapper Eminem, to one year in Macomb County Jail and subsequent drug rehabilitation because she left a drug treatment program without permission. The judge also issues a stern warning that prison awaits her if she doesn’t finish rehab. We feel for Kim — who made several appearances in last year’s Dubious Achievements issue — and would caution her that if she wants that get-out-of-jail-free card, she doesn’t need the help of a hip-hop husband. You need the help of a hip-hop mayor for that.

Captive audience: A brief news item in the July 6 Freep told how state Rep. Artina Tinsley Hardman (D-Detroit) was stuck in an elevator — for an hour — with two lobbyists. Lobbyists Jean Doss and Stephanie Wuttke were granted unprecedented access to the lawmaker when a power outage shut down the state Capitol building, leaving their car stuck between floors. The article didn’t say whether they chose to talk policy during the unscheduled layover, but one hopes they weren’t from the electrical lobby.

Carnage coverage: Violence hits the headlines with ferocity this month. On July 6, it’s reported that shootings and stabbings during a six-hour period the previous day resulted in five dead. The following week it’s reported that 10 people were shot in an eight-hour span. Some cry foul — not at the bloodshed, but at the media coverage of it, saying all the ink and airtime is a sensationalistic attempt to portray Detroit as the Wild West. How fair is that? For a comparison, we offer this snippet from an 1860s story written by Mark Twain during his days as a reporter in Nevada: MORE CUTTING AND SHOOTING. — The devil seems to have again broken loose in our town. Pistols and guns explode and knives gleam in our streets as in early times.

In other words, if the boot fits …

Matter of priorities: As July wears on and violence continues to bring bodies thumping to the ground, lifeless, throughout town, Detroit City Council leaps into action July 14, approving … fines for cars that blare loud music. The ordinance, drafted by Barbara-Rose Collins, seeks to tackle a quality-of-life issue: motorists whose thumping subwoofers puncture the eardrums of anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. That’s our council — always ready to tackle the tough issues.

(Yet another) one for the Gipper: The death of Ronald Reagan gave a second wind to the race to name every airport, library, municipal building and landfill after the controversial president. In early July, the state House votes to approve legislation laying the cornerstone for a Reagan monument in Lansing. While we can’t help but note the irony of a memorial to a man whose memory constantly slipped its gears, we also wonder what great quotes will be immortalized for posterity. Will it be his description of Medicare recipients as “... a faceless mass, waiting for handouts”? Will it be “A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at?” Or how about, “Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?”

In other monument news: After seven months of legal wrangling, Canton Township agrees to a compromise that allows restaurateur Tony Matar to keep his 6-foot Big Boy statue outside his eatery on Ford Road. Canton officials had argued that the township’s ordinances forbade more than two “monument-sized” signs on a given property. In the end, the township tacitly admits it had bit off more than it could chew and alters its ordinance to allow for the husky fella. It’s good to see that it’s not only in Detroit that public officials have their priorities well-ordered.

Having a gas: After receiving an anonymous tip, Wyandotte cops and state police narcs raid what appears to be a rave at the Island Bar on Biddle Avenue. Police searching through the balloons and glow sticks find two tanks of nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas. Authorities believe the pain reliever was being sold in balloons for $5 a pop. The raid bursts the bubble for 34 arrested partygoers, who find out that, to the cops, huffing nitrous is no laughing matter.

A Rolls in every garage: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry appears in the Motor City to stump for American autoworkers facing tough times. Perhaps oblivious to the strident “buy American” sentiments of Detroit’s blue-collar rank-and-file, the Kerry crew designs the press pass for the event with a photograph of a shiny Rolls-Royce 100EX convertible, which has a sticker price of approximately $330,000. In a city where most union workers aren’t even allowed to park foreign vehicles in the union hall lot, it’s a hard sell, to say the least.

Kwame K., morale builder: Citing no evidence or proof, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick blasts the officers who pulled over chief of staff and alleged paramour Christine Beatty, accusing them of purposely harassing her. Speaking in an interview on WJR-AM (760) the day after the story breaks, the big K says, “It sounds like a setup to me,” and calls the story told by officers a “piece of crap.” The theory that officers were unfairly bothering Beatty probably struck below the belt for officer Zack Weishuhn, who endured a lengthy tirade from the toilet-mouthed Beatty. Of the encounter, Weishuhn says, “I’ve had dope men treat me better.”

The bitch is back: Two cops allege that mayoral chief of staff Christine Beatty ranted her way out of a ticket after being nabbed for speeding her city-owned Crown Vic along a rain-slicked Livernois Avenue. Beatty, whose driving record is checkered with speeding violations, reportedly berates officers, flashing a police-like badge and demanding, “Do you know who the fuck I am?” Beatty dials up Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, and suddenly Sgt. Robert Lalone appears on the scene, letting Beatty off the hook and telling the officers to be more discreet. “I’d show the same courtesy to any city worker,” Lalone says, “because we’re all underpaid and overworked.”

Where’s the love, Ann Arbor? Throughout the month of July, a series of brawls plagues Ann Arbor. On July 8, 10 men fight it out at the corner of Main and William streets, leaving the street littered with broken glass, vomit and blood. On July 18, a group of teen boys attack a smaller group of male teenagers, and a gang of girls attacks a young woman over an alleged tryst. On July 26, several women duke it out inside a parking structure, with one smashing a bottle over another’s head. Justin Derisley, general manager of Ann Arbor’s Touchdown Cafe, offers these words of healing: “I think a lot of things are being overplayed. I don’t think we’re turning into Detroit.”

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