Candy Cane or Coal?
The Hour Detroit staff hands out annual gifts to those newsmakers who have been nice … and those who have been naughty. See who’s on our list this year.
A Candy Cane to...
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan,
for threatening a lawsuit when Marathon Oil sought to increase sulfur dioxide emissions. They submitted a new permit that would yield lower emissions; it was approved by the Department of Environmental Quality in May.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources officers,
for receiving lifesaving awards from the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division in their roles in rescuing two lost visitors at Belle Isle Park who fell through the ice and then were stranded in the woods.
Former Detroit Lion Calvin Johnson,
for retiring with class. Team officials didn’t require a decision before free agency began March 9, but Johnson announced on March 8 … one last attempt to take one for the team.
Vernors ginger ale,
for 150 years of fizzy goodness.
The UAW-GM department and Detroit Riverfront Events,
for giving new life to the Spirit of Detroit HydroFest in time for the 100th anniversary of the first time Detroit hosted the Gold Cup.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin,
for being named by Pope Francis as one of 17 new cardinals in October. The Detroit native and former Indianapolis archbishop was the pastor at Detroit Holy Redeemer parish from 1979-90.
Detroit resident Glenn L. Graham,
for receiving the Carnegie Hero Fund’s Medal Award. When his east-home caught fire, he saved the life of one nephew, then died when going back in to try to save a great niece.
Marshall Fredericks’ ‘Boy and Bear,’
for finding a new home in the Southfield Public Library. The beloved limestone and bronze sculpture was a fixture at the now-shuttered Northland Center. The city of Southfield purchased it and other artworks that were at the mall for $500,000.
Diana Hussein (formerly @DietDrPepper),
for registering the Twitter handle years ago, then convincing the soft drink’s parent company to donate $5,000 worth of its DeJa Blue bottled water to Flint. The company first offered the Dearborn resident some swag, but she held out.
Detroit Pistons owner and Flint native Tom Gores,
for teaming up with Huntington Bank and FlintNOW to provide $25 million for programs to support businesses and residents of Flint and Genesee County.
The Detroit Zoological Society,
for a grand opening of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center. It’s just the tip of the iceberg of kudos the society has racked up for their attendance records, sustainable practices, and fiscal responsibility.
The Detroit Red Wings, Part 1,
for extending their consecutive playoff streak to 25 — the best in any North American professional sport. For the final season at The Joe, could we do it again and get out of the first round?
The Detroit Red Wings, Part 2,
for putting on a classy public memorial at The Joe after Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe died in June.
The Detroit Pistons,
or making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season. They were swept by the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s a start (see Detroit Red Wings, above).
Flint boxer Claressa Shields,
for becoming the first American boxer, male or female, to claim back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
Detroit Tiger J.D. Martinez,
for hitting that killer home run on his first pitch after returning from the injured list.
Steve Neavling (aka The Motor City Muckraker),
for staying “dangerous.” The ex-Freep staffer continues to question authority, file Freedom of Information requests, befriend firefighters (but not always their management), and often scoop his contemporaries, all on an independent, shoestring budget.
Dearborn police officer Amal Chammout,
for becoming the first police officer in the country to don a uniform and a hijab at the same time.
Our friendly Canadian neighbors,
for taking care of the people who accidentally wound up in their waters during the annual Port Huron Float Down.
Comedy Central’s show Detroiters,
for actually shooting in Detroit. The show is the brainchild of real-life Detroit comedians Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson.
for a decades-long career. The now-retired news anchor is a Detroit broadcasting legend. She joined WDIV-Local 4 in 1978. Seems like just yesterday she was reading the news in between Aerosmith and Queen tunes on rock station.
for receiving the Courage in Public Service award at the Arab-American Civil Rights League’s Fight for Justice dinner in Dearborn. During the Democratic National Convention, the Pakistani immigrant, whose son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq, famously asked whether then presidential Republican candidate Donald Trump had ever read the U.S. Constitution.
Author/illustrator Dave Eggers,
for his work with 826Michigan, part of a national organization that provides writing and tutoring programs. He was on hand for the ribbon-cutting of the Detroit Robot Factory in Eastern Market in October.
The U.S. Supreme Court,
for keeping straight-ticket voting an option for Michigan voters. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette had asked the court to block a ruling by U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain, who said it was likely the law would unconstitutionally disadvantage black voters.
A Lump of Coal to...
Former Vinsetta Garage manager Jeffrey Wells,
for embezzling by creating false vendor invoices. He had been with the Union Joints family of restaurants for five years. He pleaded guilty and received a delayed sentence. He must pay restitution of $133,506.80 by March 1 (and enroll in a mental health and substance abuse treatment program).
The Toy Chest strip club in Detroit,
for hosting several “Dwarf Tossing” contests this year. Seriously? How are dwarf tossing contests even remotely still a thing?
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, part 1,
for the state’s role in the Flint water crisis. No room for all the gory details here, but the buck stops at the top.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, part 2,
for appointing former lobbyist Heidi Grether to head Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. After Flint’s water woes, is someone who helped BP America respond to their 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig’s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the best choice?
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Darnell Earley,
for stepping down in February just as the Flint water crisis was heating up. It was under Earley’s term as Flint’s emergency manager that the city switched its water source to the Flint River, causing it to become contaminated with lead. DPS financing didn’t fare any better.
Grosse Pointe cadaver dealer Arthur Rathburn,
for obtaining donated bodies, then dismembering some diseased bodies and renting out the parts for medical or dental training. His estranged wife, Elizabeth, pleaded guilty. At press time, his trial was not finished. Rathburn could face 200 years in prison.
President-elect Donald Trump,
for so many reasons, but to be Detroit-specific, did he really have to pick here to talk about his “huuuuge” hands in response to a Marco Rubio joke? Keep it classy in the Oval Office, please.
The MSU Spartan basketball team,
for busting nearly everyone’s NCAA bracket when the No. 2 ranked team lost in the first round to the No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee.
Detroit Municipal Parking Department,
for overzealous enforcement, especially in Eastern Market. Last March, there was a slew handed out on Russell Street over the Fisher Freeway. They looked like parking spots (white stripes, right?). When trying to appeal (Editor’s note: Yea, I got one, too), the drivers were informed that “everyone should know” state law forbids parking on a bridge. Um, we do now.
for ranking second in the nation behind Cook County, Ill., in population loss, according to census data released in March. Silver lining? We dropped to No. 2 after eight years of leading the nation.
State Sen. Virgil Smith,
for his 10-month jail sentence for malicious destruction of personal property. He had shot up his ex-wife’s Mercedes-Benz.
Jahan Satati Green,
for running a tri-county prostitution ring.The Inkster man will serve 20-40 years after being nabbed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Human Trafficking Unit following an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
Detroit Tiger’s outfielder Tyler Collins,
for flipping the bird to fans after losing a ball in the lights and hearing boos from the crowd. Major League Baseball let it slide and didn’t suspend him. But for those keeping score at home, call it an “E-8” (that’s “error, center fielder,” for non-stat-geeks).
Grosse Ile High School lacrosse team members Tanner Coolsaet, Michael Roth, and an unnamed 16-year-old minor,
for killing a guinea pig in a ritual before a game. The adults are being charged with two counts each of felony animal cruelty.
Cake drop-kicker, Tricia Ann Kortes,
for proving the customer is not always right. She gained national attention for punting a birthday cake ordered from Kroger. Apparently she’s had anger management issues. She pleaded no contest to a disorderly charge over a 2015 workplace dispute, was convicted in 2003 for fourth-degree assault in Washington state, and was also charged for slapping a Ray’s Ice Cream manager in 2015 because they were out of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream.
The Michigan Court of Claims,
for ruling the state was not legally bound to count the petition signatures collected outside of a traditional 180-day window. MI Legalize submitted an estimated 354,000 signatures to the state on June 1, topping the 253,523 needed to make the ballot. But no voting on pot for you. Or fracking.
University YES Academy,
for shutting down 9th- to 12th-grade classes two weeks before school was scheduled to begin.
Mark Jerant, former co-owner of Bookies Bar & Grille,
for his statements about a Tulsa, Okla., police-related shooting. He has since severed ties with the Detroit bar.
Ex-Detroit Public Schools’ principal Kenyetta Wilbourn Snapp,
for her part in a kickback scheme. She once drove a Maserati with a “GUCCI1” personalized license plate. (Nothing like hiding in plain sight?) She cooperated with authorities and received a one-year sentence, plus she must pay back nearly $85,000 to the state’s Education Achievement Authority and the IRS.
for taking advantage of a bizarre national trend of creeping people out. Not. Funny. Just. Stop.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette,
for contradicting a legal opinion supported by Gov. Rick Snyder that would prevent the closing of Detroit schools until at least 2019 because they had been moved to a new debt-free school district. Anything to do with the fact Schuette gets a lot of contributions from the pro-charter school DeVos family?
The Detroit News editorial board,
for endorsing Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson — its first time ever choosing anyone other than a Republican in its 143-year existence. We get not backing Donald Trump (a national newspaper trend). And no way they’d ever back a Democrat. But why not abstain? They have three times before, as recently as the Bush/Kerry election of 2004.