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While roaming Detroit’s southwest side, News Hits happened upon a block of boarded-up homes along both sides of Ferdinand Street. It appears there may be plans to redevelop the area by either renovating the old homes or tearing them down and starting from scratch. Looking to learn more, News Hits contacted the Planning and Development Department weeks ago to find out what plans the city has for the area. But the department was mute on the subject, saying it is under orders from Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to direct all media questions to his office.

The problem with that strategy is interim mouthpiece Bob Berg has a tendency to blow off reporters’ calls, including those from News Hits. We left five voice-mail messages with Berg since the end of February regarding the Ferdinand Street properties and we still haven’t received a response. Maybe it is time the mayor removed the gag he’s placed on department heads. Either that or hire more staff in his office to handle media calls. Until then, we thought you might have better luck than we did prying info about this project out of the Mayor’s Office. Berg’s phone number is 313-224-4034.

News Hits was written by Ann Mullen, Lisa M. Collins and Curt Guyette. You can reach the column at or

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