Opinion

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Photo by Dawn Henry

A FRIEND JUST RETURNED FROM A TRIP TO BERKELEY (California, not our neighbors to the northwest of us), where he reported that walking down the city’s famed and freaky Shattuck Ave., one smells the pungent odor of marijuana constantly.

Our city of Berkley voted to decriminalize weed in a 2014 city referendum, as has Ferndale, Oak Park, even upscale Pleasant Ridge, plus 12 other Michigan cities. The momentum seems so strong that High Times, a cannabis legalization publication, rates our state as one most likely to soon decriminalize marijuana. Vermont’s governor recently vetoed a legalization bill.

However, don’t light up a fatty on any of the Oakland county cities which voted to permit recreational use of the herb. Even though the state passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2008, local law enforcement officials in Oakland County will not allow even marijuana medicinal dispensaries to operate, and you risk felony prosecution for possession if you don’t have a medical card permitting it.

However, Detroit, which voted to allow usage, has over 250 marijuana dispensaries, many of which dot Eight Mile Rd., conveniently close to a suburban clientele.

Nine Mile Rd. and Woodward isn’t Shattuck Ave. However, it might be soon. MI Legalize, the group whose efforts to get the legalization question on the 2016 ballot was thwarted by a technicality, has an organizing campaign aimed at next year’s election.

Even though 44 states allow medical marijuana, and several permit recreational use, the rub is that it remains illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act which classifies it with drugs like heroin. The Feds deny that marijuana is a medicine and the courts agree.

In a 2005 ruling, the US Supreme Court affirmed that the federal government has the constitutional authority to prohibit marijuana for all purposes.

Their decision wasn’t based on the right-wing, Puritanical desire to punish pleasure which is now being threatened by US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who is demanding increased enforcement of anti-drug laws. Rather, the court recognized the sovereignty of federal law over state or city statutes.
They reason that without that dominance, the state of Alabama could re-institute segregation or Ferndale could declare a minimum wage of $3.75 an hour. After all, it was the unwillingness of Northern states like
Michigan to enforce the Constitution’s guarantee of slavery and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act that led the South to rebel. It is much like the Sanctuary City movement of today which pits federal law against a city’s refusal to cooperate with immigration police.

But let’s go back to the Dylan song. What are the consequences of widespread and constant marijuana usage on a society and on the individual?

John Sinclair, 1960s MC5 manager and White Panther Party founder, who suffered two prison stints for possession of reefer, saw great political potential for getting high. In 1971, he wrote: “The Marijuana Revolution is just part of the world-wide revolution being carried out by peoples of the Earth who refuse to put up any longer with the exploitation, greed and oppression of the Euro-Amerikan ownership-class.”

Those were heady days and although Sinclair’s words may seem a lot more optimistic regarding the possibility of social change than what occurred, he was onto something. Getting high was part of the rebellion of the era, it was an intoxicant that brought pleasure and mental exploration without the deadening and toxic effect of the mainstream’s favorite mind altering substance—alcohol. Marijuana was part of a process that allowed the generation of the 1960s to shed the rigid strictures and demands of conventional society.

However, as weed and other drug use became more prevalent, state and federal governments realized the economic potential for harsh enforcement and the increase and militarization of their police apparatuses. Thus was born the Prison/Industrial Complex alongside its Military big brother. It’s estimated that $1 trillion has been spent on the so-called War on Drugs This constitutes a massive wealth transfer of our income in taxes to the government to stop people (often us) from altering their consciousness, and to create clients for the Prison/Industrial Complex. Or, as Sinclair once said, “to stop people from smoking flowers.”
We’re moving towards legalization, but what will result from a universal Shattuck Ave.?

Many people see decriminalization like Sinclair did—a force for liberating one’s mind which in turn would liberate society. In fiction, however, the result is often portrayed differently. In Aldous Huxley’s 1933 Brave New World, soma, a “euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant” substance is doled out to “Delta workers,” as a method of controlling rebellious impulses.

George Lucas’s 1971 directorial debut film, THX1138, is set in a dystopian 25th Century world, where use of mind-altering drugs is mandatory to enforce compliance.

Whether marijuana can be part of a process of liberation or used by the government as a mind-numbing substance that enforces the status quo isn’t clear. Let’s just be aware of the consequences of what we wish for. But, legalize it!

The MI Legalize campaign can be reached at facebook.com/MiLegalize

Peter Werbe is a member of Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective www.FifthEstate.org. On Saturday, July 15, he will moderate a panel at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History which will discuss the legacy of the White Panther Party. Panelists will include Atty. Buck Davis, Geni Parker, Pun Plamondon, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair. Admission is free. TheWright.org.

 


By Rebecca Hammond

BACKYARD HABITAT NEWS: There’s a robin population explosion this year. In our neighborhood, we’re noticing something: possibly because of greater numbers and more competition for food, they’ve slightly domesticated themselves, following various neighbors around as we garden. They wait for us to move from a spot we just dug, then rifling that spot for worms. It’s happened so often, and they stay so close to us, there’s no doubt of what they’re doing.

A few days before Mother’s Day, we performed duckling rescue, having spotted a mama mallard crossing Oakridge with her brood. Unfortunately, she picked a spot with a storm grate, and three of the maybe 12 ducklings fell through. Phil and a young man who’d stopped removed the grate and found that while ducklings don’t like falling down storm sewers, they also don’t like being rescued. And they really don’t like being carried across a front lawn to bushes where Mom and siblings had hidden. They’re like chasing pinballs. Mama duck charged us aggressively, then faked some wing injuries, maybe just to show off. Neighbors Tina and Dick happened to wander by and, since no one was home nearby, went to get a piece of plywood to temporarily cover the drain. Maybe Ferndale needs an Adopt-a-Drain program, for the brief period when mallards nest.

During my nightly sky gazing I see, just before full dark, large birds fly over as if shadowing Woodward to its west. Shaped like chunky gulls and with silent wingflaps but harsh croaks, these have been a nightly mystery. Again, I turned to Duluth ornithologist Laura Erickson, whose best guess is black crowned night herons. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that these are the world’s most common herons, and that “They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands.” My own guess is that they leave the zoo for places in Detroit, and that if I were watching just before dawn I’d see them return.

FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT: I saw my first monarch out front on May 16, two weeks earlier than last year. People on our Facebook page report-ed seeing them around the same time, even one in Telly’s Greenhouse. We gave away ten more common milkweeds at the perennial exchange at Blumz, making the project’s total 468, and we weren’t the only ones who brought milkweed to share this year. Someone also brought three pots of goldenrod, maybe the second-most important plant for monarchs, it being a late bloomer that gets Generation Four back to Mexico. If you thought that goldenrod caused allergies, join the club. Ragweed is the real culprit, but goldenrod’s showiness gets it all the blame. State Representative Robert Wittenberg and his legislative director Barbara Winter have taken an interest in Michigan following Ohio’s and Illinois’ lead, both states having initiated programs to plant milkweed along highways.

Perennial exchanges, like the recent one by the Ferndale Beautification Commission, are good places to gather plants, and maybe get rid of more grass. Most of the plants are hardier than grass, and more far ornamental. You don’t have to water daylilies or milkweed or coneflower much, and they don’t need a toxic bath to look beautiful, either. Do you need help starting an organic, native garden? Former Ferndale resident Danielle Etienne is starting Wild Bergamot Gardening for homes and businesses. wildbergamotgarden@gmail.com, 248-299-9295.

ALL HANDS ON DECK EVENTS: Are you a Great Lakes advocate, enthusiast, or activist? Do the Lakes soothe and renew you? Current multiple threats can make you seethe. Check out events on the morning of July 3 region-wide.

Organizer and Charlevoix resident Kimberly Simon told me this: “The overall idea for ALL HANDS ON DECK is to unite all water efforts throughout the Great Lakes Region whether that be organizations, Tribal water walkers, petition creators, protestors on various issues, scientists working on solving water issues for one hour on one day all together as a visual demonstration of how large and diverse the water protectors efforts are in the region. We hope to grow more every year since this issue is not going away, it is only on the horizon as the most difficult issue we will face in this country and as a planet – clean, affordable, accessible fresh water. We must get people talking about water, get them to the water to connect with it, educate them and inspire them about it, and introduce them to the many ways they may get involved with the cause.”

The project has grown since FF’s last issue. In two-and-a-half months, events have been planned in five states and Ontario, in over 50 communities. “In the UP, there will be sacred drumming and water blessings. In Detroit and Petoskey a speaker, some [events] will also have a clean up – it is one hour to come together about water in the way that will best educate your community . . . and keep them involved for another year. An advocacy petition will be at the event to sign in support of water policy creation based on unbiased science. Members of congress . . . are being asked to sign a pledge to create water policy using unbiased science.”

The website is allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org. There you can find the list of participating communities with links to specific events, which are all at 10 am on July 3rd. You can also buy shirts and flags. Got a blue marble? Bring it to share, along with a water story. Kimberly Simon:   “This isn’t an environmentalist issue, this is everyone’s issue . . . water is life.”

Becky Hammond is a former Green Cruiser of the Year, and the Michigan Sierra Club’s 2012 Alex Sagedy Cyber Punk Award winner. Anyone knowing her is surprised at the cyber-punk part.

By Jeannie Davis

WE SENIORS RECENTLY HOSTED A CATERED LUNCHEON honoring our members who were 80-years-old and over. It was a lovely affair, with cloth tablecloths, porcelain dinnerware, and real silverware. The room was decorated beautifully and everyone was happy. Our mayor, Dave Coulter, graciously spoke and brought gifts for each attendee. He had done his homework, and spoke about the things happening in the world in 1937, when our honorees were born. He spoke about how these happenings had brought hardships to people, and how in many instances, their characters had been forged by living in those times.

This got me to thinking about what myself and others in our ‘70s and ‘80s had indeed seen firsthand, and not through the condensed, sanitized nightly news. I am positive that while the Mayor was speaking, almost everyone in that room had fastened on a memory, and for a moment was reliving an incident, or fact of life from those previous times. Perhaps it was their mother saving bacon grease for frying, or tin cans for the war effort. Maybe, it was walking down their street, and seeing little banners with stars hanging in their neighbor’s windows.

Maybe they were reliving that glorious day when it was official and the war was over! I know, I was remembering my twin teenage aunts excitedly dressing to go downtown to join in the celebration. Grandma had given her permission and bless-ing. As a 5-year-old, I could only watch wide-eyed as they primped, combed, fluffed their hair, and drew eyebrow pencil lines down the backs of their legs to simulate nylon stockings. Grandma let me stay up, and we shared a glass of coca cola (I suspect that hers had more than coke), and we sat on either side of her old cabinet radio and listened to the reports of joyous merrymaking going on throughout Detroit. The air fairly crackled with excitement!

As I listened to the mayor, I reflected on the amount of memories and stories which were in that room. Each person had their own library of stories and pictures tucked away waiting to be drawn out from time to time, and each time invoking a fresh emotion. Much like my chuckle, remembering my aunts preparing to go out and participate in history. The number of stories our seniors hold must be staggering. They seldom speak of them, because, the occasion rarely calls for a trip down memory lane, and yet they are there, waiting to be told, waiting to allow the teller to relive that moment in time, hoping to impress the listener that they too had had interesting lives.

I know these are truly unusual times, with extraordinary things happening daily, and yet, look back: A world war, an atom bomb dropped not once, but twice, a president assassinated, and another impeached. This was pretty heady stuff.

I guess my message here is to you younger folks. Ask seniors about the wars they lived through, ask about President Kennedy, ask what daily life was like in the ‘40s and ‘50s. From the somber and serious, to the totally frivolous. From war to hula hoops. (By the way, for a while, I demonstrated hula hoops in the front window of Kresges at Eastland Mall!) You will be enchanted, and your senior will, for a time, feel relevant. I know, I have encouraged these stories from time to time during one-on-one conversations with some of my people. Believe me, it was eye-opening.

I remember Greg Pawlica and myself, listening avidly as our friend Elsie recounted her experience on a bus during the 1943 race riots. She was terrified as an angry mob stopped the bus she was on, and rocked it back and forth. Wow! Elsie is dead now, but her story is still go-ing. I have told several people, as I am sure Greg has. This could be how we keep those times and those people alive.

Listen, and retell.

Jeannie Davis 248-541-5888

By Rudy Serra

Q: I LIVE IN FERNDALE. I HAVE A NEIGHBOR who has a driveway and multiple cars. He
never uses his driveway, and parks all his cars on the street so I can’t park in front of my own house. Is there anything I can do?

ANSWER: THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO to prevent a person from legally parking on a public street. You cannot force a person to park in their driveway just because they have one. The key is-sue is whether they are parking legally.

The Ferndale Code of Ordinances talks about parking on residential streets in Title 10. Check it out online. Ferndale ordinances forbid anyone from parking a vehicle on any public street for more than 24 hours.

In addition, the ordinance says you cannot move a car from one spot on the street to another spot on the same street in order to avoid the 24-hour ban. Enforcement of this regulation would probably reduce or eliminate your problem.

The best way to resolve a problem like this, of course, is with a courteous conversation. If your neighborhood has a block club, or neighborhood watch, they might be helpful. It might be helpful for a community group to distribute copies of the parking ordinance door-to-door. You may want to share a copy of the ordinances, or this article in Ferndale Friends, with all your neighbors. I have neighbors who run a day care, there is a church nearby, and others have multiple cars, but there has never been a parking issue on wonderful Wordsworth that I know about.

The Ferndale Police prioritize resources. Parking enforcement in a residential area is not likely to get much attention unless you make your concerns known to the Public Works Director, who is responsible (see the parking ordinances) for parking regulations. If you do not get a reply from the Pub-lic Works Director, you might want to contact the City Manager and/or Mayor and City Council. The Public Works Director is the place to start.

The Ferndale Code says that the city should send written notice to the owner of any vehicle found to be in violation. The owner is given a chance to comply. If they fail, the car can be impounded and the registered owner can be fined. Some streets limit parking to certain hours or days. Many cities require cars to be off the street in the event of snow, and other forms of regulation may be avail-able to help you.

Please promote peaceful parking.

JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. This ¨ask the lawyer¨ format column welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to rudy.serra@sbcglobal.net. Advice about specific cases cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.

Photo by Dawn Henry

Very few people these days worry about nuclear war destroying the world, Dr. Strangelove-style. And the US’ unending war in Afghanistan and America’s military actions around the globe seem part of the wallpaper—there in the background, but not affecting anyone in the homeland other than that very small number doing the fighting.

However, if you drive by the heart of Ferndale at Nine Mile Road and Woodward, Mondays at 4:30-5:30 P.M., you’ll get a reminder of the ongoing conflicts and the persistent threat of nuclear destruction. Standing on the southwest corner, picket signs aloft, is a group that has brought their message of peace to passersby for the last 628 Mondays.

Beginning in 2003, the loosely-organized peace advocates echo part of the Postal Service credo — “Neither snow nor rain. . .” – showing up undaunted by weather conditions or even by a dust-up with the Ferndale police in 2008. As they did back then, the most prominent signs say, “Honk for Peace,” which is met with an unending response as cars drive by. It was those signs and the horn-honking that got the group in trouble when the police decided that the cacophony of horns created a disturbance and made some arrests. Eventually, it was all settled amicably and peace was made on the corner although the signs and the response continue.

I asked one of the stalwarts, Helen Weber, a board member of Peace Action of Michigan, whose office is on Nine Mile Rd., whether she ever gets discouraged since usually only a handful people take part each week. “Oh, no,” says Weber, who served a term on the Ferndale city council, “because there’s always such an enthusiastic reaction from drivers honking their horns in response to our signs.”

How can you describe people who brave the elements and, at times, scorn for their Cassandra-like warnings? They would shy away from heroes. Maybe just “the Nine Mile Peace People,” as they’ve been called.
But there are people who were strategically located at the center of nuclear decisions that saved the world, that maybe deserve a heroic depiction.

One must be extended to an obscure Soviet duty officer, Col. Stanislav Petrov, who, when working at a Russian early warning station, on September 27, 1983, received signals that the US had launched ICBMs at his country. He had seconds to decide whether it was a satellite glitch or real and launch the Soviet arsenal in response. Fortunately, he made the correct decision (we had not launched missiles, and thus no cause to retaliate).

Six weeks later, in the midst of US-NATO war games on Russia’s border, right after President Reagan had ramped up his anti-Soviet rhetoric and unveiled his Star Wars missile defense system that would have given the US nuclear superiority, another crisis unfolded.

The Russians, always terrified of US intentions, believed the games were the real thing—a preparation for a first strike at the Soviet Union. All Soviet and Eastern European bases were put on full alert, which could have led to a confrontation if the US had followed suit. US Lt. General Leonard Perroots, an intelligence chief at the American Air Force base in Germany, saw the elevated Soviet military alert but, rather than respond in kind, decided to err on the side of caution and defused what could have led to a nuclear confrontation. And, can we say, hail to Vasili Arkhipov, a Soviet submarine commander during the 1982 Cuban missile crisis who refused to give the okay for a nuclear strike against the US when a unanimous decision of three officers was necessary. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., an advisor to President John Kennedy’s administration wrote, “This was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in human history.”

So, whew, right? Courageous men saved the world. But all of our lives were on a razor’s edge, any one of which could have gone the other way. Not good.

And, what do we face today?

Trump falsely denounces the US having “fallen behind on nuclear weapons capacity,” and commits his administration to achieving “nuclear superiority,” a policy which will result in a new arms race. Add that to his call for a$56 billion dollar increase in war spending, and the situation seems very frightening.
But, the darling of the liberals, Barack Obama, proposed a $30 billion increase and a $1 trillion modernization of US nuclear forces.

As with so many other issues facing us, it is increasingly upon us, we the people, to demand an end to war and the outrageous expenditures being spent in preparation for one. And, that is partly done every Monday in downtown Ferndale.

Helen Weber says, “There is a reminder needed that a lot of work has to be done together for a better world.”
Sometimes she has been out on the corner by herself. Don’t let that happen.

See you on Nine Mile this Monday? Peace out.

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By Rebecca Hammond

Great Lakes Funding: Funding for Great Lakes restoration may be completely cut. While I feel that our Lakes are magnificent and worth cleaning up for their own sake, there is also nonetheless a massive financial benefit to having clean lakes, and the waterways that feed them. Our tourism industry is close to being entirely based upon our water. And, although I don’t hunt or fish myself, I believe that anyone who does should be able to eat what they catch with no fears of toxicity.

It’s odd that the very success of the Clean Water Act and the EPA has convinced people that not only are they unnecessary, they never were necessary. The whole point of relaxing regulations is to legalize practices that were halted only through legislative mandate. While it’s sad to realize that there are CEOs who seem willing to increase their pollution again as soon as possible, it’s just as sad that apparently there are many who believe it won’t matter. Think back to a time, decades ago, of a drive through SW Detroit when the industrial stench was at its worst. Now imagine it even stronger. Regulations make it as mild as it is now.

The popular push-back against these moves is enormous, like nothing I’ve seen in decades. While stalwarts like the Sierra Club have never gone off-duty (and we’ve taken them for granted), new grassroots efforts are popping up like, well, grass from roots. Charlevoix resident Kimberly Simon started a movement called “All Hands on Deck” to get people personally involved in local events and fight to keep funding in place for Great Lakes restoration. Kimberly told me, “The cuts are a nail in the coffin for the Great Lakes ecosystem on land and water and for the Great Lakes regional economy and lifestyle. Great Lakes issues are not political. The Great Lakes environmental concerns cross state, party, and national lines. I hope to show that in a time when we are divided in this nation about almost everything, water is something we can agree on.” The group’s first events will be July 3 at 10:00 A.M., on beaches all over the region, and their greater purpose includes communication with political leaders, having a website that will be a hub for information and volunteerism, and educating citizens to empower them to not only reach out to candidates, but to change everyday habits to keep our Lakes healthier.

Botanist Kate Chapel took this to heart and is organizing a downriver event. “I learned about ‘All Hands On Deck’ through Facebook and immediately started to get involved. I am a provisional interpreter at the Lake Erie Metropark, so protecting this resource is very important to me. Lake Erie provides a multitude of ecosystem services including fishing, recreation, and tourism. The wetlands associated with its shore teem with life, and filter out toxins and excess nutrients. It’s truly a remarkable system worthy of our protection and stewardship.” Everyday activism.

Ferndale Michigan Monarch Project: Monarch numbers are down again this winter. I send seed fluff out the car’s passenger window wherever a spot lacks milkweed, monarch’s only host plant. Look for meadowy places, grassy verges, goldenrod and thistles, which like the same kinds of spots. This has made many a dull car trip more interesting and purposeful. A family could break up the monotony kids experience on road trips by giving them each a bag of pods and a win-dow cracked open about an inch. Great opportunity to teach kids about butterflies while let-ting them participate in some everyday activism.

Boots and Beer: We love a Michigan hike followed by a stop at a microbrewery. Last Sunday, we drove to the Maple River State Game Area north of Lansing and walked the dikes. If you’ve driven on US 127, you’ve been right through its center and may have thought, like we did, it was just a flooded area, wild and not walkable. But most of the dikes bordering the man-made lakes are. They were partly-thawed and teeming with waterfowl: ducks, swans, geese, cranes. This seemed to be a photo of four sandhill cranes. Look closely. It’s five.

I emailed this to ornithologist Laura Erickson of Duluth. We met years ago on the Ohio turnpike, of all places, because I passed her Prius in mine, in the ‘90s it being a custom for Prius drivers to wave to each other (if you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm, you know this was A Thing, and it used to be an outright snub to not wave back). We ended up at the same rest area, and struck up a friendship.

Laura told me that this must have been a long-mated pair to fly so closely together. “Spring migratory flocks are made up of pairs, their one-or-two young from the previous year, and relatives/neighbors/new associates they meet during stopovers. They’re very sociable. But the primary units of Sandhill Crane society are the mated-for life pairs that hook up during their third to fourth years. The young (usually one chick but some times two) stay with their parents until the parents slip away at some point near their destination during spring migration – the parents to nest again, the young to wander and mix with other young birds and adults whose mates have died over the winter – those adults will meet new adults and the young will wander around in small groups all summer, starting new attachments that, if their bond survives fall migration and winter, will set up new pairs to join the adult pairs the following year.” Ordinary, everyday magnificence.

Becky Hammond is indebted to Gloria Steinem for this headline, sort of. She’s lived in Ferndale since 1986.

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By Jeannie Davis

I recently bought a new car. Yep, it was time to trade in my 2005 Subaru, with 26,000 miles, for a new chariot. My feelings were definitely mixed. After all, we had been through a lot together. How many flowers and pots had my little buddy carted home? I re-member campaign time, with tons of signs crammed into the back. Greg Pawlica and I always had such fun, driving around and placing the signs in lawns. I have a few memories but not a lot, because I am not a good driver and my friends always prefer to drive.

So, I was ambivalent. I was going to have to change, and change is a four-letter word to seniors. I knew where all the buttons were, and what they did. The radio presets hadn’t changed in six years, nor had the seat position or the mirrors. Yikes!

However, I soldiered through the credit checks and the appraisal on my little buddy. I signed all the papers, and made my final selection. At last came the moment of truth. I got into the driver’s seat, with Nichole (my wonderful sales-person) in the passenger seat.

This is when I learned that a radio isn’t just a radio, it also answers my phone, has a complicated thing called a “play list,” tells me when I get an e-mail, where I can get gas or food, and even delivers the weather. At this point, Nichole noticed my glazed eyes and said there were several features but perhaps now was not the time. She referred me to the manual, which equals War and Peace in size. She gallantly set up my phone so I could answer it on something called “blue tooth.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I rarely answer my cell phone anyway because, by the time I figure out how to answer it, the caller has given up.

Finally, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I bravely drove off the lot with the new  car, drove home, and spent the rest of the day on the couch, utterly exhausted.

The next day, it was time for a road test. I planned on being really brave, and going as far as the bird seed store. I managed to start the thing, and even adjusted the seat. However, when I went into reverse, the oddest thing happened! There, on that little screen on the dash was a picture of my driveway in back of me! I am not a total babe in the woods – I had seen this feature in Dan Martin’s car as a passenger but never as a driver. I was so distract-ed that I almost sideswiped a tree. Okay, got past that, and onto the road. I figured a little music couldn’t hurt, so I hit the radio button and soon was motoring gently along Woodward listening to Bach. A pleasant interlude, until the radio informed me that Craig Covey had posted on Facebook, as had Jean Russell. Like I care! What was this? After a few more blurbs, I turned the radio off, but did that stop the nonsense? No, my radio continued to inform me of Facebook posts, and e-mails.

I arrived at the bird seed store, made my purchases, and told the girl that I could carry both bags out to my car. I am strong, but, my downfall came when attempting to open the hatch. After fiddling with the dam key fob and tugging at the handle, the girl from the store came out and did something magical, opened my rear, stowed my bags, and returned to her perch inside the store.

I arrived home without further incident, poured a drink, and pouted. I know I am going to have to open the manual and learn how everything works, but I am dreading it. After all, I have learned other things, how hard can it be? Maybe by the time you read this, I will be expertly handling this annoyance on wheels. But if you see me driving with one hand and randomly poking at buttons with the other, perhaps you could help me out.

Change!  Who needs it? However, I do like the color.

By Rudy Serra

Q: My son returned from a visit with his cousin, and now he wants to install neon lights on the under-carriage if his car. Are those even legal? What about interior neon lights? What else should he know about tricking out his car?

Answer: The Dream Cruise is only a few months away. Welcome to convertible season and Daylights Savings Time. The law says you cannot install lights on a motor vehicle unless “expressly required or permitted” by the motor vehicle code. Otherwise, the law requires that such lights “are both covered and unlit.” Who wants to buy lights they have to keep both unlit and covered?

Neon undercarriage lights are not required. They are not mentioned in the motor vehicle code. Although they are not expressly forbidden, they are also not expressly permitted. This means that you can install neon under-carriage lights, but you cannot use them at any time that the car is on a public street. You cannot drive with such lights on. Your son can display the lights only while parked.

The law is also very specific about what color lights can be used in or on a car, and what direction they can be seen from. The only color lights that may be visible from the front of a vehicle are white or amber. If you can look through the windshield and see blue, red, green or other lights in the passenger compartment, it is a violation. Interior neon lights, therefore, would be subject to the same rules as exterior. You would need to be parked.

The only colors that may be visible from the rear of a vehicle are red or amber. On the sides of your vehicle in back, you can display only amber or red. On the sides of the front, anything other than white or amber is a violation.

According to the Michigan State Police: “No other colors are allowed and if any permitted color lamp is visible from any direction that is not allowed then it cannot be equipped that way. If the lighting causes a visual impairment for the driver or is potentially distracting, then such lighting is unlawful. Finally, like exterior neon lighting, there is no provision within the Michigan Vehicle Code that allows the use of interior neon lighting. Ultimately, it will be a matter for the courts to decide.”

Even neon license plate frames are regulated. They must be covered and unlit any time the vehicle is being driven, and they cannot obscure any information on the plate.

JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. This ¨ask the lawyer¨ format column welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to rudy.serra@sbcglobal.net. Advice about specific cases cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.

I’m writing to share the current real estate market conditions in the Metro Detroit area. Our inventory of available homes is at a critical low right now; and with the threat of interest rates continuing to rise, this is a big problem for buyers. It should also be a clear message to homeowners considering selling their homes.

I listed a home last week on Wednesday at 9:00 A.M. It was a typical 1200 sq. ft, bungalow located in the Woodward corridor. By 12:00 P.M., there were over 50 confirmed showings. I called for “highest and best” after receiving two offers. On Friday at 5:00 P.M., I had 19 offers for my client to review and 17 were over asking price. Great news for the seller, but bad news for the 18 buyers who did not get the home.

I want everyone in the Metro Detroit area to know this is the time to sell!! If interest rates continue to rise, the pool of buyers will shrink, and home sales will be affected. As inventory rises, this will change the market to benefit buyers, and home values will drop. If you’re thinking of selling, waiting could be devastating to your bottom line. It could also be damaging to the market as a whole. If inventories rise at the same time as interest rates, it could create the atmosphere for another real estate “bubble,” and we all know how damaging that can be to the housing market.

For those who think waiting until summer to sell will help your bottom line, I’d ask you to reconsider your rationale. Do you think you will profit from waiting until the time when others are more likely to put their homes on the market? Not likely! The time to put your home on the market is now, while supply is low. Cash in now!

Sincerely, Eric Blaine
Real Estate One, 26236 Woodward Ave Royal Oak, MI 48067
Cell: 248-808-4758.