2018 Candy Cane or Coal?

Santa has been keeping tabs on who’s been naughty and nice over the past year. He’s his jolly old self when awarding candy canes for good deeds but look out — he’s got an icy-cold North Pole attitude when punishing bad behavior.
Candy Cane or Coal
Candy Cane or Coal // Illustration by Joe Ficorelli

A Candy Cane to…

• The singer known as the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Michigan Opera Theatre founder and composer David DiChiera. Though they have left us, both musical titans gave Detroit a booster shot that rocketed to the heavens.

• Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, for signing an executive directive banning the “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” box on state employment applications. Kudos to Snyder for this move, because everyone deserves a second chance.

Forbes Management and Live Nation, for renovating the 1925 Fillmore Detroit theater downtown, previously known as The State, the State-Palms, and simply the Palms.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who stood firm during the disgusting Larry Nassar trial. While sentencing him up to 175 years in the pen, she also gave him a harsh scolding he’ll take to his death.

Lester Gouvia, who opened his Caribbean restaurant not in Midtown, and not downtown, but in one of the city’s long neglected neighborhoods, the East Jefferson-Chalmers district. Gouvia’s new Norma G’s eatery is also a carnival of cheer, decorated in bright hues of oceanic turquoise, canary yellow, and sunny coral.

• Departing Detroit Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin, for giving us 10 years of superlative music making. Bravo!

• Ford Motor Co. and Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., for buying and planning to renovate the Michigan Central Station in Corktown. And to those who whine about Ford’s tax abatements, we ask: Who else was standing in line with plans to refurbish one of Detroit’s most emblematic eyesores?

Rabbi Josh Bennett, of Temple Israel. He graciously accepted 6-year-old Solomon Kaplan’s invitation to attend a “Special Person” lunch at Lone Pine Elementary in West Bloomfield, then went a step further, saving Solomon’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver.

Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, members of the 1984 World Series-winning Detroit Tigers, for being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But we won’t be satisfied until Trammell’s double-play partner, Lou Whitaker, also gets his due.

A Lump of Coal to…

• University of Michigan associate professor John Cheney-Lippold, who first agreed to write a letter of recommendation for a student who wanted to study abroad. But when he discovered the young woman wanted to study in Israel, Cheney-Lippold reneged. The professor put his personal politics before the hopes, dreams, and education of a student. Grade? F.

Candace Streng, a Brighton nanny who faked breast cancer and collected more than $30,000 via GoFundMe and various other fundraisers. She was sent to the slammer.

• Wait … not just a lump of coal, but an entire coalmine, to Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician. Wasn’t it reprehensible enough that he sexually molested hundreds of women and possessed child pornography? The raunchy reprobate then asked for an appeal and a new judge because she signed his “death warrant” during sentencing. The appeal was denied.

MSU’s leaders, from former president Lou Anna Simon all the way down to the allegedly clueless trustees who allowed Nassar’s behavior to continue. Then, the Sparty simpletons chose former Michigan Gov. John Engler as interim president, who wasted no time in accusing a Nassar victim of expecting a “kickback” from lawyers. Whaaattt??!! Get a clue, MSU!

• Greedy garbage-hauling honcho Chuck B. Rizzo, who created his own stink by pleading guilty to bribery and wire fraud while he was CEO of Rizzo Environmental Services. He turned the waterworks on at his sentencing, but it didn’t wash away his guilt.

• Rookie Detroit cop Sean Bostwick, who posted this note to Snapchat, along with a photo of him in uniform: “Another night to Rangel up these zoo animals,” misspelling “wrangle” in the bargain. Just what any police department needs: a boy in blue who assumes all suspects are animals, leading to increased hostility between police and communities. Bostwick was quickly canned.

• Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. Big Daddy Brooks misplaced his muzzle again, trashing a group of CEOs for siphoning Oakland County businesses to Detroit. When asked if he’d join the group’s efforts, he said he’d “rather join the Klan.” Charming.

• To Macomb County and its Sheriff’s Office, for the staggering number of deaths at the Macomb County Jail. Since 2012, nearly 20 people have died at the jail, far exceeding the national average.

• Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland, for bringing the awful stench of corruption back to City Hall. In October, Leland was indicted on bribery charges.