Dubious achievement awards 2004 - September

Static Shock: So much for midseason relief and new resolve. When the league takes a month off for the 2004 Summer Olympics, the reigning 2003 WNBA champion Detroit Shock manage to return to the hard court the same so-so team they’d sadly become before the games in Athens. The Phoenix Mercury remind the ladies, with a 63-58 beating in their first game back, of just how far the mighty can fall from one season to the next. The Shock make it as far as the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they are bounced by the New York Liberty. On the bright side, the Shock make it through the entire season without one melee involving beer-throwing fans and players rampaging through the stands. Maybe next year.

Twixt Gary and a hard place: The Rockefeller Institute of Government, in an analysis of 86 cities, reports that Detroit has the sixth highest level of hardship among American cities. That’s right, the D is right there in the mix, sandwiched between Gary, Ind., and Cleveland. According to the report, 30 percent of Detroiters didn’t finish high school and 24 percent live in poverty. There’s good news, though. The city had the fourth-best level of improvement during the economic boom of the 1990s. The bad news is that the boom has gone bust, and any gains made are being wiped out by staggering budget deficits.

Clocked by the clerk: When Metro Times went to check local activist Carol Weisfeld’s complaint that her six-week attempt to obtain voter registration forms from the elections office in the New Center was unsuccessful, we found out that other elections offices, when out of the forms, were instructing people to download forms from the Michigan Secretary of State Web site. Fat lotta thanks to the Detroit elections office for not informing Weisfeld, and possibly other proactive citizens like her, about the accessibility of forms via the Internet and, by virtue of being in the dark, aiding the evil empire of Bush & Co. by making voting more difficult in a city that’s overwhelmingly Democratic.

Shulgon the shrewdy: Here’s to you, Alan Shulgon. When Hamtramck citizens voted in a recall election to boot you, Camille Colatosti and Richard Hyska off the Hamtramck school board, you didn’t take that kick in the ass bent over. Nooo, you found a loophole in the state law that allows recalled board members to run anew, as long as they run for a different seat, in a different term. By going for Colatosti’s old seat, which is one term older than your old one, you “pulled a shrewdy” on the Hamtown citizenry, ran unopposed and snuck back onto the board. What we wanna know is, why? It’s a gig that pays you 50 bucks a month to take part in some of the ugliest municipal politics going. We just don’t get it.

Detroit’s shot to the heart: Detroit’s image suffers yet another grisly setback when two men — Antonio “Wipeout” Caddell and Anthony Roberson — are shot to death downtown outside the Candy Bar. Fears are heightened when one of the dailies hastily reports that the shootings are connected to a brewing rap war. Caddell was the leader of local rap group East Side Chedda Boyz. The shooter was thought to be connected to the Street Lordz, another local outfit. What’s first thought to be a killing related to rap rivalries turns out to be even more senseless, if that’s possible. When Metro Times looks into the story, we’re told the shootings were probably prompted by the theft of an expensive necklace.

Family tradition: George McGinty and his teenage daughter Celia of Clarkston, Wash., stop Andrew Osantowski, 17, from potentially carrying out a Columbine-style massacre at Chippewa Valley High School, where he’d enrolled only weeks before. The daughter, who’d chatted online with Osantowski in August, told her dad about his increasingly violent messages. Police raid his home and find guns, knives, bomb-making materials and Nazi paraphernalia. They arrest the kid, plus his dad, Marvin, who’s accused of, among other things, receiving and concealing stolen weapons. Prosecutors say among the items seized is a videotape of Pops and his boy blasting away with a stolen assault rifle. With bonding like that, how could the kid possibly have gone wrong?

Mugabe’s handling the land acquisition: Detroit City Council votes 7-2 to use city funds to establish a black business district. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson introduced the idea, dubbed “African Town,” during the summer. Cries of racism, racial isolation and racial redundancy rain down. The council had already paid controversial economist, author and former Detroiter Claud Anderson $112,000 to develop the plan. The mayor came out against it in July. Along with Anderson’s racially inflammatory language, a plan that would provide such special favor to one minority group is almost certainly illegal. In October the council punts, voting to hand a revised plan (one that tones down Anderson’s racial rhetoric) over to the quasi-public Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

Sheila’s shadow: OK, everyone knows that Detroit politics are frustrating. Who hasn’t wanted to wring the neck of a solon or two over the state of the city. But if the charge against Sarana Tyler, 43, is true, she’s way over the top. Detroit police arrest Tyler for allegedly stalking Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel from October 2003 to August 2004. She’s charged with aggravated stalking, after she sent threatening voice messages and e-mails to the politician. According to Detroit police reports, Tyler promised to “get” Cockrel on several messages, called her a white (bleep), and even phoned Cockrel’s house on Thanksgiving Day, saying the councilwoman still had time to “repent.” Talk about superfluous. Anyone at all familiar with Detroit’s City Council can tell you it’s such a loony bin that the last thing it needs is any outside help.

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