Candy Cane or Coal?

“He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake!” That’s right. Santa has made a list and checked it twice. Now here’s his local roster of who’s naughty and who’s nice.
Illustrations by Kate Bingaman-Burt


The College for Creative Studies, for its redo and reuse of the Argonaut Building (since renamed the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education) in Detroit’s New Center.

Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager, for being brutally frank about the woeful financial state of the DPS and dealing with it. He even took his fix-it mission to the bus stops.

Southfield-based Doner Advertising, for its inspired “Vitamin Z, part of a complete childhood” ad for the Detroit Zoo.

Drew Barrymore, for heaping praise on metro Detroit, the location of her movie, Whip It, and for hanging out at Detroit’s Majestic and Ann Arbor’s 8 Ball, a PBR-style dive bar.

Whip It actress Ellen Page, who gushed about northern Michigan and added: “I’d live there in a second.”

Jay Leno, for his free shows at the Silverdome and for using a battery-electric Ford Focus ST in his Green Driving Challenge on The Tonight Show.

Time Inc., for taking an in-depth look at Detroit.

Furniture mogul Art Van Elslander used the golden anniversary of Art Van Furniture to raise funds for three health-care organizations. All proceeds from tickets sales for three galas went to: The Hermelin Brain Tumor Center and the Neuroscience Institute at Henry Ford Health System (metro Detroit), the Special Care Nursery at Genesys Regional Medical Center and the St. Mary’s of Michigan Cancer Transportation Van (Flint), and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation (Grand Rapids).

Dave Bing declined to accept a salary and asked City Hall workers to dress appropriately.

The organizers of Detroit Restaurant Week.

Kresge Foundation president and CEO Rip Rapson awarded 18 Detroit-area artists $25,000 each in fellowships — an incentive to retain our creative talent.

Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally avoided a federal bailout and helped the company achieve a hefty third-quarter profit.

DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin made good on his vow to bring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra into the community by offering a series of free concerts in September, mostly in schools.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts banned gifts at city hall, including free meals, concert tickets, and sporting events. “Any gift, including a box of doughnuts, is meant to influence employees in some way,” the mayor told the Detroit Free Press.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who keeps hammering away at disgraced and disgraceful ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. When he whined about his monthly restitution payments to Detroit, she pointed out that he lives in the lap of luxury in a gated community in Texas, and issued a subpoena for him to turn over financial records, including his salary info from Compuware.

The State of Michigan’s Land Bank Fast Track Authority, for offering to buy the once-lovely Farwell Building on Griswold downtown for $3.3 million. We can only hope that the eight-story Chicago School-style structure (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) might be restored to even a bit of its former beauty.

Greg Lenhoff, for taking the bold step of opening Leopold’s Books in Midtown Detroit’s Park Shelton.



Sheryl Robinson Wood, for “overseeing” Detroit Police Department reforms while exchanging inappropriate text messages with Kwame Kilpatrick and charging the city a boatload of cash for questionable expenses and duties. Then she made it seem as though she left her job of her own accord, when, in fact, a judge ordered her to resign.

• To GM President and CEO Fritz Henderson, for killing the sporty, youth-oriented Pontiac line.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who slashed arts funding and who has precious few ideas to jump-start the state’s economy, as well as for supporting the punitive Michigan Business Tax surcharge.

Sen. Carl Levin, for shilly-shallying about repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. “It has to be done in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military,” Levin said. (What sort of “buy-in” did Harry Truman need when he desegregated the armed forces?)

Newsweek writer Seth Colter, who expressed surprise that good music can come from a small Michigan college. In his review of the new two-disc set In C Remixed, a remake of the 1964 minimalist classic, In C, by Bill Ryan and his students and Grand Valley State University, Colter wrote: “This new version comes not from a loft-based hipster in New York or California, but via a mostly undergraduate crew from Allendale, Mich. Beyond the geographical surprise …” Apparently, like the lingering ability of In C to surprise, some people are still surprised that talent is not geographically based.

Monica Conyers — For a sleigh-full of reasons, but mainly for taking bribes, embarrassing the city, and shooting her mouth off.

Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, for drunken misbehavior before a critical game that, one could speculate, helped cost this city the benefits of post-season play.

Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland, for not benching Cabrera the next day.

Ex-Kmart CEO Charles Conaway who, the SEC says, should give back more than $22 million for his role in misleading investors about Kmart’s financial health in 2001. According to published reports, Conaway says he tried to act in Kmart’s best interests before its January 2002 bankruptcy filing.

• Detroit Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, for abandoning his North Rosedale Park house. And to Charles Pugh, whose Detroit condo was set
to go into foreclosure (at press time) after he quit two jobs to run for Detroit City Council. The Detroit News also reported that Pugh was served 11 eviction notices while living in Detroit’s Trolley Plaza building. How can these guys be expected to control the city budget when they can’t even get their personal finances straight?

36th District Judge Ruth Carter, for saying a prosecutor resembled “an Easter egg on crack!”

Martha Reeves, for putting her entertaining duties above her Detroit City Council responsibilities. When council voted to oust Monica Conyers, Reeves was performing in England. When she got back, she had no idea Conyers had resigned. Earlier in the year, she expressed ignorance that the demolition of Tiger Stadium had begun. She also didn’t return the money that Synagro gave to her as a campaign contribution.

Mitch Albom, for overuse of the word “I.”

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