Opinion

By Peter Werbe

WHEN RESIDENTS FROM THE CITIES SERVED BY FERNDALE FRIENDS attend city council or block club meetings, their greatest concern often isn’t crime, zoning, or water bills. It’s complaints about cars speeding on their neighborhood streets.

You hear: Can’t we get more patrolling; how about speed bumps, or parking a radar speed trailer showing how fast they’re going? Unfortunately, most traffic calming (as it’s called) has little effect. In fact, it is so expected that drivers will exceed posted limits that fines for violations are figured in as a component of city revenues.

Several of my neighbors and I have “Slow – 25” signs on our lawns, and I try to abide by the limit as an example but it’s hard to keep my Ford Fusion at that speed in a vehicle designed, according to TopSpeed.com, to go 155mph!

Part of the desire for driving faster than legally allowable is obviously to spend less time in our cars and arrive at destinations quickly. According to a study by the Harvard Health Watch, the typical driver will spend almost 38,000 hours behind the wheel during one’s lifetime, traveling 800,000 miles! So, it’s understandable that someone who has sat for eight hours behind a desk or in front of a machine wants to get home fast since there is so little time before having to do it all over again.

Statistically, speeding, say five or ten miles over the limit doesn’t get you anywhere appreciably faster; only a few minutes at best on short in-city trips. However, the compulsion is always to put the pedal to the metal.

SPEED AND RAPID TRAVEL to a destination are deeply rooted in contemporary human culture, perhaps even on our DNA, since the desire to move fast seems universal. Up until the advent of the automobile, other than 19th Century train travel, people couldn’t go faster than a horse would take them.

Fast equals good; slow equals bad became the measure of all things, particularly in production. In response, the early 19th Century English Luddites destroyed machinery, burned factories and attacked their owners. They correctly realized that the looming transition from a human-scale slow society to a fast one dominated by the values of production would create a world over which they had no control. Slow was the human pace; fast, that of the machine.

With the advent of internal combustion powered vehicles in the early 20th Century, an almost delirious fascination with speed swept Western culture. The fastest cars of that era were admired and those driving them became national idols. Races of all sorts dominated sporting news. Without a doubt, speed is intoxicating. A motorcycle riding friend of mine once sported a t-shirt reading, “Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”

Speed breathlessly entered art and culture, as well, along with the auto. The 1909 Manifesto of Futurism, issued by a radical art group enthralled with speed, machinery, violence, youth and industry, declared, “We affirm that the beauty of the world has been enriched by a new form of beauty: the beauty of speed.”

Henry Ford’s innovative assembly line is celebrated for allowing the rapid manufacture of Model Ts to meet a swelling demand, reducing production time per car from 12-and-a-half hours to a mere 93 minutes. Until recently, his anti-Semitism and fondness for Hitler was overlooked for his technical advances and his seemingly generous wage in 1914 of $5 a day for his workers. This, at the time, extraordinary wage was less a matter of Ford’s generosity than it was to stop the rapid turnover of his workforce that often quit due to the rate of the assembly line and its monotony.

AS IT TURNED OUT, the bigger paycheck compensated for the tedium, and soon humans acclimated to the demands of the machine and the modern, industrial workforce was created. Ford never wanted to be constrain-ed and sped up production according to sales demands. The idea that workers could have a say in this process through unionization is why Ford fought so long, and often so deadly, against union organizing, becoming the last of the Big Three to accept the United Auto Workers (UAW).

The idea of slowing down isn’t what most people want; if anything, they want faster cars, trains, and planes. However, a fast world, a super-fast world, is exhausting. A century ago, radicals exhorted, “Workers of the world, unite!” Not that it’s a bad idea, but maybe we need to also say, “Workers of the world, relax,” or, at least, “Slow down.”

Let’s get back to our hometown streets and speeding cars. The culture of going as fast as you can is being challenged by a movement called Slow Streets, where speed limits are reduced to as low at 20 miles-per-hour in residential areas. Also, road diets such as exist now on Pinecrest, north of W. Nine Mile Rd., reduce the road to two lanes with bike lanes curbside making speeding more difficult. Oak Park is planning the same strategy for Nine Mile Rd. from Scotia to the Ferndale city line.

But there’s been pushback from ordinary citizens who are in a hurry and don’t want to be slowed down. Publicly, the angry voice of Keith Crain, editor of Crain’s Detroit Business, who thinks bike lanes and narrowing roads are bad for business although studies show the opposite, goes on regular rants about the new traffic patterns. His is a misconceived economic argument, but it is also a cultural one. Crain says that we’re being inconvenienced by road configurations that accommodate bicyclists, a very tiny minority of the population, whose usage diminishes even more now that the snow is flying.

Also, something called “Shared Space” – the ultimate plan for traffic calming – is used in some small towns in England which have removed all traffic lights and signs, lanes, crosswalks, and even curbs, allowing cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians to share the same road space.

Although this may seem like a prescription for mayhem, the opposite has been the experience. The potentially lethal road-sharers – the cars – end up driving very slowly and carefully since they know the road isn’t theirs alone. Ready for that? Someone just went roaring down our street at 45 miles-per-hour and blew the stop sign. I wonder how’d they do on a Shared Space? Or, how we cyclists and pedestrians would fare. Transition periods are usually tough.

Peter Werbe is a member of the Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective.
www.FifthEstate.org.

ONE THING I’VE NOTICED ABOUT US CITY DWELLERS who try to lead outdoorsy lives is that not every foray into the outdoors has to be wonderful if you go often enough. A barrage of bullets deafening you from a shooting range 200 yards away doesn’t have to create a major disappointment if you hiked last week or know you will next. Things seem to even out when you stick with them. In the same vein, a single long hike will contain many moments of hassle or boredom or even pain, but if you pay attention, probably there’s a similar number of “Wow!” and “I love this. I just LOVE this” moments.

I like guidebooks. I like using them to dream and plan, when I’m feeling stifled in this city and feel like life is one big dense mistake. I like marking off hikes like badges of honor. I like keeping track of them because we used to sometimes find ourselves walking a “new” trail with a rising sense of déjà vu, then some unforgettable landmark, like an old chimney, popped up around some bend. I like having evidence of what I’ve done, and that I’m getting to know my region better. I like guidebooks the way I like gear, although I buy much less of that. Gear and guidebooks are signs of a life built around possibilities.

So, my new copy of The Best Hikes Near Detroit & Ann Arbor led us on a recent Sunday to a place southwest of Metro Airport called Crosswinds Marsh. The reason for the name is obvious as soon as you step out of your car and try to remain upright: You brace yourself, and gaze about at flatness, ponds, boardwalks, some welcome port-a-potties. No matter what Jeff Goldblum’s character said in The Big Chill, to the female of the species, the outdoors is not one big bathroom.

The guidebook’s map showed two big loops making a figure 8, with small loops in the center, easy to remember, impossible to get lost in, or so we assumed. We forgot about an equestrian trail shown circling the perimeter, but it didn’t seem like it could cause any problems anyway. So off we went, sans book. And were sorry in a pretty short time. Unexpected intersections were everywhere. Trails were named, but with no accompanying maps or even signs back to parking, the names were useless.

The afternoon was overcast, so with no sun to help us, often with houses in sight, with airplanes constantly overheard (in other words, not a wilderness) we got out compasses and finally, alas, Phil’s phone. If there was a prize for being as far as possible from where we thought we were, we’d have won.

Surprisingly, although it seemed to take only maybe 30 minutes, it ended up being two hours of nonstop walking, through third-growth forest, walls of invasive phragmites, glimpses of cornfields. It wasn’t necessarily a bust; we did see much beaver activity (lots of downed trees, two dams, and channels here and there). We saw waterfowl and an eagle’s nest in the distance that we never could manage to reach. But we were plagued by a sense of, well, falseness. Something didn’t exactly feel right in this place. Odd dumps of old, torn-up pavement, ponds with bottoms too even: There was something we couldn’t put our fingers on.

UNTIL WE GOT HOME and I hit the googles. In 1979, Michigan passed the Geomare-Anderson Wetlands Protection Act. This prohibits any destruction of wetlands unless 1.5 acres of new wetland is constructed for every acre destroyed. As all of Southeast Michigan was once swamp, maybe creating a new wetland can be merely a matter of no longer continuing to drain a previous one.

In 1993, runways were expanded at Metro Airport. The land needed for the expansion was wetlands which, by law, would need replaced. According to mLive, Michigan has lost 4.2 million acres of wetlands, mostly before the Wetlands Protection Act was passed, with the rate of loss now much slowed (but still a problem). In fact, also according to mLive, our state did such a good job protecting our waters and the wetlands that naturally filter them that Obama’s 2015 Clean Water Rule (hotly debated elsewhere) made little difference here. From an mLive article of that year: “’Most of Michigan is not affected by the federal Clean Water rule because we’re already administering those programs under state law,’ said Kim Fish, assistant Water Resources Division chief for the Department of Environmental Quality.” Good for us. What was built at Metro Airport was called Crosswinds Runway Expansion. The replacement for what was destroyed there was named Crosswinds Marsh.

Humans can destroy or replace a wetland, but animals will decide if a new one is “real” or not. The purpose of Crosswinds Marsh has been fulfilled. If beavers and bald eagles find it acceptable, I certainly should, although that is neither here nor there. Two urbanites thinking that as a hike goes it’s not the be-all and end-all has no effect on the ecosystem or what thrives there.

Recently neighbor Dick Towell told me, in a discussion of the environment, “In the end, there’s really only one issue.” It doesn’t matter if human visitors think a wetland seems worth a revisit, just as it doesn’t matter if we prioritize other issues over land and water and air and then assume that they’re actually more important. We’re not the deciders we think we are, and that maybe should be a relief: To be part of everything, no less and no more important than a beaver dragging downed trees through phragmites.

Find for online about the building of Crosswinds Marsh.

Becky Hammond knits socks and makes oboe reeds in Ferndale, as she’s done since 1986. Socks are more fun, and probably more useful.

By: Rudy Serra

Q: MY DAUGHTER PLED GUILTY TO A CRIME and her sentencing was delayed by the court. Now some friends of the accuser are sending text messages and snap chats with her picture and claiming she is on the run. Isn’t it a crime to harass someone by phone?

ANSWER: It’s important to look at the law where you live or where the crime is happening. Under Michigan state statutes, it is a crime to maliciously use a telecommunication de-vice to do any one of seven things, including threatening harm to a person or their property, falsely reporting their injury, and so on. But posting on social media that your daughter is “on the run” is probably not enough by itself to get any action under state law.

Some local communities have local laws that affect the answer. For ex-ample, the Ferndale City Code makes it a misdemeanor to use a phone to harass others. Other suburbs have similar ordinances that forbid repeatedly calling and hanging-up and similar activity.

Our local Ferndale ordinance says “A person is guilty of telephone harassment if he or she, by means or use of the telephone, disturbs or tends to disturb the peace, quiet or privacy of any other person or family by repeated and continued anonymous or identified telephone messages, intended to harass or disturb the person or family to whom the call is directed; etc.”

Under this local ordinance, a city attorney probably could decide to prosecute the harassers. Bear in mind, however, that they may consider your daughter’s criminal status against her, and may not be inclined to bring criminal charges. Whether the person posting made a mistake or intentionally lied might also be a factor.

Personal Protection Order (or PPO) is a civil order, issued by the circuit court, that can be obtained to protect a person from harassment and threats. Generally, three or more incidents are necessary and the person seeking the PPO has to be “reasonably fearful” for themselves, their property, or others to get a PPO.

Making a “statement of fact that is false in some material respect” is called “slander.” Slander is a civil action. No crime is involved. If the statement is a false claim that the target committed a crime, or has a contagious sexual disease, then the statement is “slander per se” and the victim does not have to prove

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they were damaged. Falsely accusing a person of being “on the run” from the court is a false accusation of a crime. Your daughter might be able to win a civil action for damages for slander, but the time and cost of bringing such an action and the amount you expect to get in return are important parts of the decision.

THE HOLIDAYS WILL SOON BE OVER, decorations gone from the stores, Christmas music no longer blaring from loudspeakers, our silly Christmas sweaters put away and, in general, everybody will be fa-la-la-la-ed out. We seniors will have finished our holiday luncheons, wrapped up our special gatherings, and endured the last of our family dinners. We could not grit our teeth and smile through one more cookie exchange, secret Santa gift drawing, and – could someone please just let Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney get it on, and leave me in peace? If I hear him crooning one more time, I am going to set my hair on fire and run into the street naked.

In short, I don’t think I am alone in being happy to settle down into a post-holiday mode. We seniors get tired of being “up” for groups of people. We get cranky after the 20th person asks how we are, then proceeds to fill us in on all their ailments. People telling us to have a “nice holiday”, urging us to take more of their green bean casserole slop, pawing us, and expecting us to be “merry and bright.” All of this happening in
crowded, overheated rooms, over an extended afternoon or evening that seems to never end.

Please, I don’t want your recipe for meatballs cooked in grape jelly. No, I don’t want you to drive me, I may never get home the way you drink. No, your tofu does not taste just like turkey, and I do not want a doggie bag.

Please don’t ask me to hold the baby…well, okay – I will just set the kid down here under the sofa.

We hate those bright newsy “letters” some people send out with their Christmas cards. Just once, I would like to get one of those telling the unvarnished truth. “Danny was arrested for pandering in front of the Shrine,” “Sue Ellen is recovering from that nasty rash and has responsibly informed all her previous partners,” “I have managed to cut my vodka consumption down to a fifth per day,” “Dad is doing well, and has finally lost that pesky 20 pounds, turns out prison food can do that.”

Yes, I am a Grinch. I have trouble believing that spreading a little magic Christmas dust will turn all the jerks I know into sweet, loveable elves. Don’t get drunk, give me a sloppy hug, while telling me that we can “let bygones be bygones,” and think we are good. No, not so. You are still a jerk. Don’t get me wrong, in general, I like most folks, it’s just that at this time of year people want everything to be all rosy and happy. Well, it ain’t going to happen.

And we seniors cringe when the gift-exchange time arrives. I admit, we are hard to buy for, and even harder to please. We have everything we need and almost all we want. We can’t eat most things, selecting clothes can be dangerous, knick-knacks are just stupid. Some people say, “Give something you made yourself.” Well, a nativity set made out of popsicle sticks will not float my boat, nor a wreath made of toilet paper rolls.

Honestly, the best gift exchange gift I ever got, was from one of my seniors. He gave me two joints wrapped in festive paper. Now, there was a useful, fun gift!

So, as I bid adieu to 2018 holidays, I plan on enjoying the winter lull. The pace has slowed, no events on the horizon, not so many demands on my time.

I am stockpiling old Joan Crawford movies on my DVR. I love the ones where she slaps someone. In fact, I frequently back the film up and watch that part again.

Good books are waiting on my shelves. I will pull out my old knitting projects. This may be the winter I finally finish that sweater I started in 2011. And, being like most people, I will look back with fondness on the past holiday season with fondness. Go figure.

Jeannie Davis, 248 541 5888

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By Peter Werbe

HAVING SEEN COUNTLESS EPISODES OF ANTIQUES ROADSHOW ON PBS, many of us dream that there is something hidden away in our attic or basement worth a fortune. Or, at least a surprising amount.

Could that painting, sculpture, doll, furniture, jewelry, or even those vinyl LPs bring in some big cash? One site lists The Beatles’ 1968, The White Album, with its original cover, first issue, at $10,000-$20,000. Whoa, I swear I have one. I’m going down to Found Sound used record store on W. Nine Mile Rd. tomorrow with my copy!

At the high end of old, a 1963 Ferrari GTO sold recently for $70 million, the most ever paid for a car. A portrait of Jesus by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, broke all records for artworks selling for $450.3 million at Christie’s in New York. That would be almost half a billion dollars for oil on canvas!

IT PROBABLY IS WORTH REMINDING OURSELVES at this point that all of this occurs in a world where, according to the United Nations, over 800 million people across the planet are undernourished. The main cause is poverty. And, poverty is all about distribution of wealth; how everything is divvied up. Here’s the way it shakes out:
• Half the world’s net wealth belongs to the top one percent,
• The top ten percent hold 85 percent of the wealth1
• The top 30 percent hold 97 percent of the total wealth.

Oh, those greedy, evil one-percenters! Just who are they? Well, along with the really, really rich 2,200 billionaires, the world’s one percent also includes most of us. In the U.S., if you make $50,000 individual income, you’re a 27-percenter making more than 73 percent of other Americans. Check your standing at graphics.wsj.com/what-percent.

World-wide, that sum puts one way up in the one percent. Of course, we’re not the core of the problem. It’s the one percent who maintain their loot (word intended) by controlling law and armies, and command wealth so great that they can buy cars and paintings worth millions but which assures poverty and hunger for others.  A personal note: These columns pretty much write themselves. I just start and let them flow. In my mind, I envisioned this to be a piece about collectibles and why things from other eras are so cherished.

ON THE FACE OF IT, supply-and-demand dictates price levels. If there are only a few of something and the demand is great, well. .. up goes its worth. But, why is there a demand for things like old street-and-factory signs, century ­old bottles and household items, every imaginable item that a few years ago before the fetish for the old would just have been tossed? Maybe because the era we live in brings so much anxiety and stress; where the future seems fraught with peril rather than promise. So, the past is mythologized to be a time when everything worked much better. Spoiler alert; it didn’t.

There was always a passion for antiques among some, but collecting doilies or clocks was usually the purview of grannies. (A different era then; now grandma is at the gym!)

Nobody thought to save things because they anticipated their growth in value. For instance, people who went to Detroit’s fabled Grande Ballroom between 1966 and 1972 each week got postcards and posters designed by the great rock artists of the era like Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren. Their original Grande printings for classic rock shows featuring The Who, MC5, Pink Floyd, and The Doors, now command
thousands of dollars (although reproductions simply because the majority of people discarded them after the concert as being out of date. If everyone had held onto theirs, they’d only be worth a couple of dollars.

From the same era, John Sinclair, MC5 manager, poet and writer, published a mimeographed circa 1965 magazine, This is Our Music, which the Detroit Artists Workshop Press sold for 50 cents. At the Fortnight Institute gallery on New York’s Lower Eastside late last year, it went for $300!

Also offered at the gallery was a complete set of Guerrilla, a revolutionary culture periodical co-­published by Sinclair for two issues as a tabloid with Detroit surrealist Allen Van Newkirk. Then, Van Newkirk alone produced four large format, single-sheet editions as a “Free Newspaper of the Streets.” Van Newkirk would often use copies in an “intervention” at a public reading of “a bourgeois poet” by running down the aisle of a venue shouting, “Poetry Is Revolution,” – echoing a headline from one of the sheets – and throwing them into the audience.

Van Newkirk’s free street sheet, now nicely framed and under glass, was going out the door of the Fortnight for $2,500!

HOWEVER, ANTIQUE FANTASIES ASIDE, you’re probably more apt to be disappointed than rewarded since just because something is old, doesn’t mean it’s valuable. I began looking through my books finding ones I thought could be worth a goodly sum. Particularly tantalizing copy of Arthur Koestler’s 1941 bestseller, Darkness at Noon, with a copy being offered online at $800!

I gathered up some other likely prospects and brought a box full to Martha Sempler’s wonderful Library Bookstore on Nine Mile Road across from the record shop. After Martha perused the Internet (something she’s usually averse to doing), she gently burst my bubble. There were several copies of the same edition in good condition going for $16 ! In other words, you can ask for whatever you want, but that doesn’t determine a book’s market value. She offered me her usual generous price for the books I brought, but I declined and decided to gift them out to friends and relatives.

Is there a lesson in all of this?  Well, one would be, we should fight to abolish the glaring wealth inequality here and around the world.

Second,you might want to save everything, but that means you’ll be carting around piles of junk all your life hoping it will be worth something someday.

Maybe the best advice comes from a line in the old Bob Dylan tune, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” – “Don’t follow leaders; watch your parking meters.”

Especially in downtown Ferndale. I said that.

Peter Werbe is a member of the Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective www.FifthEstate.org.

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By Rebecca Hammond

THE FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT BEGAN IN MARCH 2015 WITH A SIMPLE GOAL: Adding milkweed to the yards and parks of Ferndale to begin replacing habitat, the loss of which has been dooming the species. At the time I tossed the idea out on the FB Ferndale Forum, with John Hardy leaping in with help and support I didn’t even know people raised monarchs indoors.

A friend shared an article with much-repeated advice: Since only ten percent of eggs laid in the wild make it to the butterfly stage, search for eggs and raise some yourself. This seemed a sound idea. And raising them turned out to be fun and gratifying, if at times nerve-wracking. Caterpillars and butterflies may look alike, but they do not act alike. Their varying behaviors drove lots of us up the wall with worry. Letting them handle their small lives on their own, assuming they knew what to do, was hard for us modern, in-control humans.

THE HOBBY GREW, with many of us almost obsessively gathering eggs and sharing them and our successes on social media. We converted others, and assumed we were doing good. Then the unthinkable happened: Two science-based organizations, The Xerces Society, and Monarch Joint Venture, rocked our world. According to them, we have actually been putting the species at risk, and haven’t even helped it.

In the wild, monarchs usually lay one egg per milkweed, caterpillars do not live in crowded conditions, and the open air of their normal habitat helps keep diseases to a minimum. There are predators; wasps, spiders, ants, even birds, but the huge numbers of monarchs that used to exist did well enough with those risks. It was humans that began dooming them, with development, pesticides, “roundup-ready” crops.

Not all organizations agree that the risk of sending diseased butterflies into the wild where they might infect a mass of wild monarchs is real or dire, but to my surprise, none recommend raising monarchs indoors, either. I’ve shared Monarch Watch’s clear instructions many times (wishing anyone discussing raising monarchs online would do the same), and just assumed that since they were telling us how, they were telling us to. No, like every other major monarch advocacy group, they agree that while raising them might be a nice hobby, especially fun for kids, it’s not helping the species regain its former numbers. The only thing that can boost those number of additional milkweed stems needed, especially in the upper Great Lakes region, is at least a billion. But we can’t raise them back to species health in our homes. And as some of the scientists in these groups have stated, we don’t attempt to save other species, the Kirtland’s Warbler, say, by raising them indoors.

Certain “social” (as opposed to science-based) monarch pages are full of posts about diseased caterpillars or butterflies. Usually the poster asks how to cure them, or turns them loose anyway. Some ask how to keep them alive indoors, maybe until spring. The goal of doing a small part to save a wonderful species seems abandoned, the practice personalized, the butterflies treated as pets. And in this focus on individual people raising butterflies, the need to plant more milkweed is rarely mentioned.

I RECENTLY MADE TWO TRIPS TO POINT PELEE, one resulting in viewing massed monarchs at the tip, maybe 7,500 of them. The other trip, a week later? We saw two, less than I’d seen in my front yard that day! But a side trip to a wonderful place called the John C. Park Homestead, a farmstead on Lake Erie, led to a conversation with a staffer who directed me to some shrubbery that was full of monarchs. She was thrilled. They’d never seen them there in large numbers before. And she told me something surprising: the park had applied for and received a permit to raise them next year. A permit? Yes, raising a Species of Concern requires a permit in Ontario. Permits seem to go to educational organizations, and the numbers of eggs and caterpillars is limited. How many can Ontarian raise without a permit? One.

This time of year gives us our best opportunity to make a real difference, because there are stands of mature milkweed all over, in parks, rest stops, along roadsides, and one pod can contain as many as 300 seeds. Green pods are fine if the seeds are brown. And if you want easily-separated seeds, you want to pick the pods before they explode and the fluff starts drying. The whole inner works comes out looking like a pinecone, and the seeds flick off the damp clump easily. You can even do this indoors. Wait a week longer, and your house could resemble a snow globe.

Goldenrod is the second-most important plant to monarchs, because it and New England Aster give the butterflies the nectar they need for their long flight to Mexico. Scatter some of those seeds, too. Pick some flower clusters after the blooms dry and shake them out in some goldenrod-free areas. And look for our seed-exchange box in the Ferndale Library.

My FIRST COLUMN FOR FERNDALE FRIENDS, at least ten years ago, was called “Leave Your Leaves,” and was about the benefits of allowing leaves to rot on the ground. My formerly-sandy soil is now rich and filled with worms. Leaving leaves seemed worth it for this reason alone. Avoiding the environmental cost of the leaf trucks was another plus, since they’re usually diesel and usually very low-mileage. Now a number of researchers have pointed out that leaf litter is full of moth and butterfly eggs and even chrysalides and cocoons, and a number of things birds like and need. Leaving your leaves, or raking them into your flower beds, is so multi-­beneficial, I hope it’s soon the norm.

Becky Hammond lives in Ferndale and changes her mind as situations warrant.

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Judge Rudy Serra

By Rudy Serra

Q: I HAVE A JUDGEMENT AGAINST SOMEONE and they still refuse to pay. They drive a nice car, have top-of-the-line phones and computers, and constantly spend money on expensive jewelry. What can I do?

ANSWER: A court speaks only through its written orders and a judgment is an order of the court. Unless it is enforced, it is only a piece of paper.

The practice of “collecting” on a debt is now highly regulated. Debt collectors are subject to many limitations.

The process of getting a court “judgement” is one of the steps that must be taken to collect a debt without the cooperation of the debtor. Once you have the judgement, there are other steps required.

Before you can get the court to help you seize property, you need to know where it is located and who really owns it. The court rules provide a “creditor’s examination” procedure to allow creditors to question a debtor under oath about bank ac-counts and other assets. Titles to vehicles are easily proven and other personal property can be connected to the debtor in other ways.

Assuming the target of your judgement is “collectible” and you know they have valuable personal assets not real estate), you usually must wait 21 days after the judgment is issued. Then, you can go back to the judge who entered it and file a “request and order to seize property.”

A “request and order to seize property” applies to “personal property” and allows a court officer or deputy sheriff to seize the defendants’ personal property, such as cars, tools, jewelry, business equipment, cash and bank accounts.

The order allows the court officer to sell property after ten days, deduct their statutory fees and expenses, and return the remaining funds to the plaintiff. Court officers and deputy sheriffs sometimes are involved in property seizures and often do such work by contract. Some counties have a unit in the sheriff’s department for this purpose. The amounts deducted are spelled out by law, and again, other requirements exist to seize real estate.

JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. We welcome 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.

By PETER WERBE

ACROSS THE CITIES SERVED BY FERNDALE FRIENDS, lawn signs are displayed welcoming immigrants to our communities. What they proclaim are an echo of he familiar words mounted on the base of the Statue of Liberty—“Give me your tired, your poor. . .”

In Ferndale, Oak Park and beyond, the signs on our lawns state in three languages, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” These public pronouncements define communities committed to diversity, tolerance, and a charity of heart.

The “mighty woman with a torch,” as the full poem reads, reaches 305 feet into the sky, calling out a welcome to the “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse” to our shores.

Wonderful words, but rarely honored as we are witnessing today at the U.S. southern border. American history wasn’t much better on welcoming immigrants to our country either. In fact, from the first wave of European migrants, the new arrivals were despised and discriminated against.

Other than those from Northern Europe, many of our ancestors were accused of being the source of crime, disease, and social unrest, much in the way those from Central and South America are today by some. Although, it is well-known that current immigrants commit less crime than those born here, this doesn’t stop right-wing politicians from whipping up frightened Americans with images of criminal gangs and job theft.

The lower crime rate is actually somewhat surprising. Earlier ethnic groups often were disproportionately represented in law-breaking. The Irish (part of my heritage) were the targets of great discrimination, giving rise to signs saying, “No Irish need apply” at job sites, leading to lives of poverty and high crime rates.

Following their mass migration here in the 1840s and ‘50s, so many poor Irishmen were hauled off to jail that the police vehicle employed was dubbed a Paddy Wagon, using the word which became an anti-Irish slur stemming from the nickname for Pádraig (Patrick when Anglicized). And, just as the racist stereotyping of all Muslims results from the actions of a tiny fraction of those of the faith, so too were Irish thought to be more loyal to the Pope in Rome than their new country.

This was reinforced during the 1846-48 U.S. ware against Mexico, when hundreds of newly arrived Irishmen were gang-pressed into the American army. Hundreds of Dubliners deserted from the U.S. war of aggression and fought on the Mexican side, organizing themselves as the St. Patrick’s Battalion. These “red-headed fighters” battled American troops alongside the Mexican army from Metamoros to San Diego, finally falling to “the cannons from Boston,” as David Rovics’ lyrics puts it in his song about the Battalion. (Available at DavidRovics.com.)

As an aside, when condemning Russia’s inexcusable annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, we should consider the massive territory theft of Mexican territory—California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Putin’s moves are small change compared to that.

Other immigrating ethnic groups fared no better, being seen by the native born as people constantly under suspicion of crime and political radicalism. This included groups such as Jews (part of my heritage) and Italians, who upon arriving provided enough of their members involved in both to maintain stereotypes.

Although only an infinitesimal small number participated in criminal gangs, Italians in the Mafia and Jews in mobs like Detroit’s Purple Gang, they were often held to be representative of the entire nationality. For instance, in 1908, the New York City police commissioner claimed erroneously that half of the city’s criminals were Jewish.

Many Jewish immigrants were members of communist, socialist, and anarchist groups during the early years of the 20th Century, fueling anti-Semitism and a perception of disloyalty. Some recently arrived Italians were part of violent anarchist groups that carried out a string of bombings in the WWI era, including targeting Wall Street, and the homes of the U.S. Attorney General, and oil magnate, John D. Rockefeller.

Legislation such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the Immigration Act of 1924 gave lie to the Lady of the Harbor’s call to “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”

PEOPLE NOT WELCOMED, HELD IN CONTEMPT, DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, and stereotyped, find it difficult to integrate into their new homeland – which is why the signs appearing on our lawns are so important. In the tumultuous days of the early 20th Century, there was no one to say, “We’re glad you’re our neighbor.”

The early immigration waves came as a result of wars, famine, and poverty, and it is no less so today with those crossing the border from South and Central America. Rather than erecting a wall as a ridiculous way to stem illegal immigration, how about enacting a hemisphere-wide minimum wage of $15? Workers from Detroit to Guadalajara would see a rise in their standard of living and the corporations which currently benefit from paying slave wages would pay for it.

This alone would go a long way towards staunching the poverty and violence that is endemic to poor regions and cities, and could end the tide of migration. The poverty and violence of a century ago and that of today is what impels waves of immigrants to flee their homeland.

A huge redistribution of wealth in the form of an increased wage might mean that Richie Rich Guy won’t be able to buy a second Maserati or own his own island, but prosperity for all is the key to having stable, livable cities and countries.

So, let’s keep those signs up until our brothers and sisters from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are allowed to take their place in our society in the same manner as were our forebears.

Peter Werbe is a member of the Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective www.FifthEstate.org.

 

By Rebecca Hammond

 

LAST SPRING I BOUGHT A BEE HOUSE AT ALDI, being Aldi-priced into an impulse buy I didn’t really think would pan out. And last summer I was right. Although an occasional firefly hung out during the day, no bees showed any interest.

This May, mason bees found the house and got to work, and were as engrossing as birds at the feeder. They spent about a month filling almost every cavity, each now containing 4 or 5 larvae, each plugged with mud. The bees will not emerge until next summer. I noticed that they didn’t work in any form of bad weather. Maybe they have a union.

I recently watched a mother squirrel trying to get a half-grown offspring into a nest cavity in a silver maple. She crossed the street looking like she was wearing a fur stole, and ran up the maple, to spend long minutes stuffing the young squirrel into a hole it had no interest in entering. I was certain the hole was simply too small (she reminded me of a back-packer trying to get a sleeping bag into a stuffsack) but once the baby was in, she went in, too. Days later, small squirrels spent hours playing near that hole. Why that one young squirrel left the nest so early, and even crossing the street, I’ll never know, but it didn’t escape Mom. Our big, beautiful trees are wildlife assets. Our big oaks, especially, not only provide wildlife housing, but caterpillars that feed birds and their broods.

We have a bird house that has sheltered chickadees for almost 30 years, and they need thousands of caterpillars for each brood. We don’t, as recommended, remove the old nest each year, but we did have to repair a wooden house nearby, and found inside a perfect bagel-shape of cat fur and moss, fur from our 22-year-old cat Gizzie (we put the winter’s fur combed from her out every March), moss from who knows where.

So when spring cleanup at our cabin left us with a sheet of moss removed from a concrete step, a furthering of the habitat here seemed possible. Just bring the moss home, tear it up, press it down and keep it watered for awhile, right? Wrong. Robins, even in our fairly moss-free world, knew from the get-go that worms live under moss, and they tossed it around as they do leaves. I refuse to be thwarted by robins, so began holding the moss down with rocks, then poultry staples, 3-inch common nails with “washers” cut from a hummus lid, and finally T pins. All this does is make robins more creative. I now have hundreds of tiny pieces of moss that I hope soon become uninteresting. Online recommendations for getting moss started include putting moss in a blender (!!!) with water and buttermilk, and dumping the slurry here and there. This just seems mean to moss, possibly necessitating a Society for the Protection against Cruelty to Moss. But maybe the person who dreamed this up had robins.

ALTHOUGH WE HAVEN’T SEEN A NEIGHBORHOOD RAT since about 2015, they are still abundant in parts of Ferndale, and the Ferndale Rat Patrol dispenses advice and encouragement. Group leader Laura Mikulski messaged me this: “As a grassroots community group, we came together after a Ferndale neighborhood group met with the city and weren’t satisfied by the information from the pest control company the city brought in to address how to eliminate rats. They offered poison in heavy bait boxes as the only solution besides typical preventative measures. Myself and several founding members of the group had been trapping effectively for years, and decided coordinating efforts would be a more holistic, environmentally conscious way of eliminating rats.”

Why no poisons? “Because the second-generation anticoagulants are being proven to kill pets and wildlife over long periods of time. While pest control companies say that lethal doses of bromadiolone is impossibly big to achieve death of a pet, the sad fact is that second-generation poison bio-accumulates within animals, and eventually kills them. In wildlife populations studied in California, they’re finding that the poison can last eight months in the liver of animals, giving predators and pets alike ample time to consume more than one rat, and really skewing the possibility toward eventually poisoning. Due to predator secondary poisoning, rat populations flourish unabated. Remove the predators, and rats can repopulate ad nauseum.” I’m hearing screech owls, and neighbor Dan Tanner just got a wonderful shot of one taking off from a power line, and I concur. Let the predators live.

Erika Sandberg added a cautionary tale on the Rat Patrol Facebook page: “We don’t use poison, yet my dog still got into some. Other than a stressful afternoon and an unplanned vet bill, everything should be fine. But if I hadn’t witnessed her grabbing the poison, my dog probably would’ve eaten the whole thing and started unexplainably bleeding a few days from now. Thank you for discouraging the use of poison. I for one really appreciate your efforts. Poison is a selfish means of pest control as it impacts so many more than just the intended target.”

This is a banner year for monarch butterflies, both in numbers people are seeing, and in those planting milkweed and raising caterpillars indoors (where they are much more likely to survive). Raising monarchs is easy and close to foolproof. Some of the happiest people I know at this moment are currently raising their first families of caterpillars, and sharing the experience on social media. If you want plants, eggs, or caterpillars, find the Ferndale.

Rebecca Hammond lives with her husband Phil on their mini-sanctuary in Ferndale.

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I HAVE BECOME INCREASINGLY DISINTERESTED in doing the things that in the past gave me joy. I opt out of city gatherings, preferring to stay home and paint or gar-den. I began to worry about what could be wrong and why I just didn’t want to have “fun” anymore.  Chief Collins’ retirement party is a prime example. I love Collins, and wanted to go to show my respect and to see everyone. Yet, as the day rolled around: First, Virginia called to say she wasn’t going. Then I too backed out. For what? Stayed home and knitted. Huh, that’s not good.

While having lunch with my Timmy, I mentioned I didn’t want to have fun any more. He said maybe my ideas of having fun had changed. After all, nothing stays the same. Huh! I remembered how in my youth, fun meant all night parties, and the back seat of souped-up Chevys.

Then, I was a doting housewife and mother, whose idea of fun was to make cookies and sew dresses for my little girl. Later, it was work, and building my business. I immersed myself in real estate. No parties, few friends, just business transactions. I was having fun. Wheeling and dealing is kind of heady.

After the end of my second marriage, I went on a sort of spiritual/self improvement journey: Attending lectures and services at Church of Today, learning how to improve myself and be in tune with the universe. I stayed devoted to my business during this time.

After retirement, I became more interested in the community, working on a variety of commissions, and socializing and working with movers and shakers in Ferndale. I loved attending and helping with the various events: the Pub Crawl, Blues Fest, Foundation events, and especially the campaigns and elections.

But now I am happier with a few friends, and quiet lunches, and chats. Senior meetings where everyone knows me, and share the same problems and worries I have. I look forward to days without meetings so I can play with my garden or paints, or read. So, it turns out that I still like to have “fun.” The nature of “fun” has just changed.

It is interesting that some interests from phase to phase remain. I still work on my spiritual health, and any mention of real estate still perks me up. I still love baking cookies. And, I am still passionate about local politics.

Looking back at all these passages was interesting. Try it. Take some time to reflect on where you have been, and who you were. Your memories may give you new insight into your successes and failures. Then look at today and see how different it all is, and yet, some things remain. It is intriguing.

So, go out and have fun!

Jeannie Davis, 248 541 5888