Monthly Archives: October 2013

Packard Plant auction winner sends “the most insane press release ever”, bid cancelled by Wayne County

Detroit’s Packard Plant recently went up for auction, and the winner is a group led by Texas physician Dr. Jill Van Horn with a bid of just over $6 million. The press release sent on the occasion was described as “the most insane press release ever”. Some news coverage and the full text the PR missive follow below.

UPDATE 10/30/13: The Wayne County Treasurer’s Office has cancelled this bid, according to the Detroit Free Press. The second-place bidder is Chicago developer William Hults, and the third place bidder is Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo, both with bids of just over $2 million.

The Detroit News writes Statement from winning bidder on Packard Plant raises concern

Wayne County officials expect to see money Wednesday from a Texas doctor who won a tax-foreclosure auction for the Packard Plant, but acknowledge they’re concerned about a statement released by her staff that likened Detroit’s potential to hydroelectric power.

“It is the process that allows us to transform the lake from a canoeing and fishing kind of place into an energy producing kind of place,” reads a three-page statement from Dr. Jill Van Horn’s staff that was released to the media on Tuesday. “Detroit’s assets, like energy, also have a dormant value.”

The Detroit Free Press says Packard Plant auction winners release bizarre statement, still haven’t paid

Reached by phone Tuesday night, suburban Dallas family doctor Jill Van Horn said she and her investors have the $6 million that she bid for the property and she intended to come to Detroit to create jobs by investing in the site as a manufacturing plant.

She confirmed her group released the three-page statement Tuesday afternoon. The document, full of typos and titled “The Posential Energy in Detroits Assets,” contains nonsensical passages about her group’s plans for the plant and other vacant properties in Detroit. It mentions Van Horn’s “prophecy” to “resurrect Detroit.”

Does Texas Doc have $6M for Packard? Lots of red flags is the headline in Motor City Muckraker, and Deadline Detroit calls the news release a hot mess of weirdness.

A PDF of the press release comes from the Detroit Free Press, and there a copy on DocumentCloud from the Detroit News. The full text is below.


THE ENERGY IN DETROITS ASSETS

LED BY Dr. Jill Van Horn

Mark Day remarks to the Board:

“What is it that fixes the potential of the asset, so that it can put additional production into motion?”

What detaches value from a simple old plant such as Packard and fixes Detroiters to realize it as capital?

We can begin to finally answer by using an energy analogy that was put forth by Hernando Deesoto.

Consider Mountain Lake we can think about this lake in its immediate physical context and see come primary use for it such as canoeing and fishing.

But when we think about this same lake as an engineer would, by focusing on its capacity to generate energy as an additional value beyond the lakes natural state as a body of water. We suddenly see the potential created by the lakes elevated position. The challenge for the engineer, is the same challenge that all Detroiters face today, finding out how he can create a process that allows him to convert and fix this potential into a form that can be used to do additional work. IN the case of the elevated lake, that process is contained in a hydroelectric plant that allows the lake water to move rapidly downward with the force of gravity. Thereby transforming the placid lakes potential into the kinetic energy of tumbling water. This electric magnets that further convert into electrical energy.

As electricity, the potential energy of the Placid Lake is now fixed in the form necessary to produce controllable current that can be further transmitted through wire conductors in faraway places to display new production. Apparently Placid Lake can be used to light your room and power the machinery in a factory.

What was required was an external man made process that allowed us, first, to identify the weight of the water, second, convert this potential energy into electricity, which can then be used to create surplus value. The additional value we obtain form the lake I not the value of the lake itself, but rather the value of the manmade process intricate of the lake.

It is the process that allows us to transform the lake form a canoeing and fishing kind of place into an energy producing kind of place. Detroit’s assets, like energy, also have a dormant value.

Bringing them to life requires Detroiters to go beyond looking at the city’s asset as they are actively thinking about them as they could be.

It required a sophisticated process for fixing Detroit’s assets economical potential into a form that can be used to make additional production. Although the process to convert the potential energy in the water into electricity is well known. The one that gives Detroit’s assets the form required to put in motion. More production is not known, in other words while we know that it is the pin stop, turbaned, generators, transformers, and wires of the hydro-electric energy system, that convert the potential energy of the lake until it is fixed in a accessible form. We do not know where to find the key process that connects the economic potential of that Detroiters can benefit from.

This is because that key process has never been deliberately set up for Detroiters. Under the development plans that Jill Van Horn has co designed for Detroit. The city will develop through a variety of financial mechanisms that gradually will combine into a process that will churn out capital as never before.

Although the Japanese, Chinese and our financiers on Wall Street use their mechanisms all the time. Detroiters do not realize that none of the essential capital generating functions is being utilized in their area. Historically Detroiters used them as parts of the Banking and Financial system, but not as interlocking mechanism for fixing the economic potential of Detroit’s assets in such a way that they can be converted into capital for all Detroiters benefit.

This may sound complex, but consider the Penobscot building that sold for approximately
5 million dollars, but contains more than 1,000,000 square feet of luxurious office space. Then consider single family housing selling for $1,000.00 which contained more than 1,600 square feet. Then consider entire city block that are being sold for 100.00 a lot, further consider the millions of square feet in apartment buildings scattered throughout the city. Finally consider the fact that Detroit is in Bankruptcy and so is its sister city Hyland Park.

Now is not the time for native Detroiters to bicker over the price of the Packard Plant. Now is the time to form a coalition made of past and future developers in order to make a change in Detroit. Utilizing the private investors, the investment Bankers, Hedge Fund Lenders, International Bankers, and Faith Based Organizations located through the city to pull it up by its boot straps and make it whole again.

Dr Van Horn has assembled the investment Bankers, Hedge Fund Lenders, Private Investors and several Foundations, who intend to merge their financial resources with the local developers in Detroit, to transform the dormant capital the lies in every real estate parcel in the city of Detroit, into a fixed value of capital that will benefit all of the cities residence.

Prior to placing the bid on the Packard Plant, Dr. Van Horn’s prophecy was to resurrect Detroit by providing education, jobs and vocational training to the city’s residence, simultaneously unplugging the financial arteries of the city.

That decision was based on the gravity of the hour and the magnitude of potential jobs that the plant offers for the people of Detroit.

“Any intelligent foal can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. it takes a touch of genius– and a let of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein

Dr. Van Horn’s partners consist of all af the non–profit developers who elther own land or have designated development areas within the city. Furthermore, if the county doubts that we have the ability to perform, we challenge the caunty by stating at this time, Dr. Van Horn and her lenders, investors are prepared to travel fram Texas to Detroit and sit down with the county and make an offer for every vacant, abandoned and dilapidated apartment building within Detroit. Not only are we prepared to show that we have the ability to perform, but we are ready to perform.

Mark Day

if you have any questions or comments contact Davis Marshall (phone number redacted).

AT&T Uverse national outage on 29 October 2013

Reports are filtering in from hither and yon that AT&T’s Uverse (or U-Verse, as it’s sometimes spelled) service is having problems in multiple markets on 29 October 2013. It’s not clear yet the extent of the problem, how widespread the outages are, and what the root cause of the issue is.

This problem is also noted by DownDetector, a fabulous resource for figuring out who to point a finger at when things go wrong. The DownDetector ATT status at 2:30p EST on 29 October 2013 notes recent troubles in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Oakland, Richmond, Napa, Atlanta, Jefferson City, Tracy, and Indianapolis.

This Reddit thread purports to have a root cause, though nothing official has been released yet as of 10:00pm EST. From Redditor Jx22:

all ipdslams received an update last night, causing all rg’s (residential gateways) to have to reauth and the authentication servers cant cope, basically a ddos.

Chicago

The Chicago Tribune reports

AT&T is working to fix a U-Verse service outage in the Chicago area after a “software upgrade issue,” the company said Tuesday.

“A limited number of U-verse customers may be experiencing issues with U-verse services due to a software upgrade issue,” AT&T said in a statement. “Technicians have resolved the issue, and service has been restored for most impacted customers. We expect service to be fully restored for all customers by early afternoon. We apologize for this inconvenience.”

Los Angeles, California

Austin, Texas

Memphis

More details as they appear.

Write in candidate: Twenty Pound Carp, Ward 4, Ann Arbor

The Twenty Pound Carp is mounting a quixotic write-in campaign for Ann Arbor City Council in Ward 4, as evidenced by this campaign sign. It faces Democratic candidate Jack Eaton in the November 5, 2013 general election.

The back story on this is hard to describe, but suffice it to say that when a bottom feeder takes interest in a political campaign, all bets are off.

2013 is a record apple crop for Michigan growers, but migrant labor is hard to find

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 10.06.10 AM

2012 was a disaster for Michigan apple growers, but 2013 has been a good year. From Capital Press:

Michigan apple industry set new shipment records two weeks in a row in October — with the second and highest week being 414,702 boxes the week ending Oct. 12.

Michigan and New York are experiencing bumper crops following severely reduced crops in 2012 from spring freezes.

“Our growers, packers and shippers are working seven days a week, day and night, to move this crop,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee in Lansing.

One of the limiting factors in the apple harvest is the availability of seasonal workers to pick the crop. Last year was a bad year and some migrants resettled to other states. From MLive:

Market demand also will play a role in determining how many apples are left in the fields or sent to packers and processors, said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee that represents some 850 family-owned orchards.

Smith estimates the apple harvest workforce is short about 20 percent. Labor has been the industry’s top concern for many years, since it’s tough to find an adequate skilled workforce, she said, adding that immigration policies that allow migrant workers to go back and forth between the U.S. and their home countries would help.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle notes the impact in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula:

Some affected growers, particularly in the Grand Rapids area, are prioritizing and picking only varieties that have the best financial return, said Jim Bardenhagen, an area fruit and vegetable farmer and retired 20-year Leelanau County extension director.

Bardenhagen said several area farmers told him that only about half of migrant workers needed to pick apples in the region came to northwestern lower Michigan this year and that many are new to the work. He personally lost only one worker in his crew of three. Area crews generally can vary from about five to 30.

This would be a good year to look for orchards that are doing a gleaner’s harvest to donate to local food banks.

Image credit: Apples by Roger Yepsen, available on Amazon.

In this small and elegant book, artist/writer Roger Yepsen presents fascinating facts about more than 200 varieties of apples growing in the United States. With beautiful and distinctive watercolors, he makes identification a snap. He also reveals how each variety tastes and which varieties are best for eating and cooking.

Related articles

Michigan bumper harvest affects Washington apple growers
Growers say lack of immigration reform is crippling their efforts to harvest crops
Michigan Apple Harvest Recovers, But Pickers Are Scarce
‘It’s not easy being a migrant,’ panelists say
Students leave 91 bags of apples at Congressman Fred Upton’s office to call for immigration reform

Dug Song’s letter to the Ann Arbor News endorsing Kirk Westphal, annotated

Dug Song wrote a letter to the editor of the Ann Arbor News which was published on Sunday, 27 October 2013. It is annotated here with the hyperlinks to a variety of sources for further reading. The letter includes a political endorsement.


While I deeply appreciate city council’s dedication to a balanced budget and basic services, we cannot simply save our way to success. Post-Pfizer, Ann Arbor must increase its tax base by supporting a strong and diversified economy of high-growth, high tech companies.

In January 2007, Pfizer announced that the Ann Arbor facilities — primarily a large campus on Plymouth Road — would be closing by the end of 2008. The University of Michigan purchased the Pfizer campus, turning it into the North Campus Research Complex.

Software is eating the world, and franchises from Borders to Blockbuster have been obsoleted by innovative companies advancing new technologies we all quickly take for granted. Such companies have significant impact not just globally, but also drive the growth of the communities that host them. Pick up a copy of “The New Geography of Jobs” from Literati Bookstore to understand the multiplier effect high tech jobs have on local business, and why place matters.

“Why Software is eating the world” is a 2011 essay by Marc Andreessen in the Wall Street Journal.

Borders was an Ann Arbor based bookstore that grew from a single store into a worldwide bookselling leader. It closed its doors in 2011 after 40 years in business. This CNN story gives a good history of its rise and fall. Literati Bookstore is an independent bookstore that opened in Ann Arbor in 2013, inheriting several former Borders employees and a number of its bookshelves.

As CEO of a fast-growing high tech company, and mentor and advisor to many other innovative, venture-backed startups here, I can personally testify to the challenges of building a company downtown. All of my prior companies have been split between Ann Arbor and elsewhere, with most of their economic impact (hundreds of millions of dollars in jobs, services, investment, and spin-offs) outside of Michigan.

One of Dug’s prior companies was Arbor Networks, which split itself between Ann Arbor and the Boston area. Arbor was acquired in 2010 by Tektronix Communications, a division of Danaher. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

I’d like to see us reverse that trend. We have had far too many world-changing technology companies start in Ann Arbor, but leave to grow their people and fortunes elsewhere. It’s often for the most mundane of reasons that 20- and 30-somethings here understand all too well.

We need a city council that demonstrates fiscal responsibility, open governance, and good kindergarten skills, but also promotes a vision of positive growth for our community. In today’s economy, if we aren’t busy growing, we’re just slowly dying, and I’ve been terrified by the Tea Party-like obstructionism I’ve seen from council members on issues of development.

The “Tea Party” label has been applied to opponents on City Council before, most notably via the anonymous weblog “Middle of the Left” which uses the term Teapublicans.

For this reason, I support Kirk Westphal, Democratic candidate in Ward 2 for Ann Arbor city council. His vision of a vital, walkable downtown supporting diversity, density, and dynamism is a recipe for placemaking, and a natural engine for economic growth. We need downtown Ann Arbor to be a real place again and not just a hollowed-out franchise of Traverse City minus the bay.

The reference to “franchise of Traverse City” alludes to several TC based businesses that have set up shop in Ann Arbor, including Cherry Republic and the restaurants Blue Tractor and Jolly Pumpkin.

A vote for Kirk is a vote for progress!

Election day is Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

Dug Song

Ann Arbor

CEO, Duo Security

Founder, Tech Brewery & Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup

October 26, 2013: Saturday night shooting at Rush Street, Ann Arbor – eyewitness accounts from Facebook, Instagram

A 25 year old man from Illinois was shot by a 25 year old man from Westland on Saturday night, October 26, 2013, at Rush Street, a bar on Main Street in Ann Arbor.

The most detailed eyewitness report of this weekend’s shooting comes from Hatim Elhady’s Facebook page.

How did my WILD Saturday night OFF WORK go? Celebrated my friend’s, Sarita LH,birthday who is a medic as well with my other awesome medic buddy Tim Skeeters at Rush Street in Ann Arbor. While we were having a great time, 2 gun shots were fired on the dance floor. While everyone stampeded away from the dance floor, we rushed towards it. Before we can think twice we were atop the shooter and the victim. As far as the gentleman who was shot in the abdomen, he with conscious and alert with 2 other great medics stopping the bleeding and keeping him awake. We, then successfully backboarded and loaded the patient. Literally 2 hours later my shift began and now back at work, however getting paid for it this time.

The perpetrator’s walk to the police car was captured in this Instagram. (warning: language)

Other news coverage:

  • Ann Arbor News: “Man shot in Ann Arbor bar Sunday expected to recover”

The 25-year-old Illinois man shot in an Ann Arbor bar early Sunday is in stable condition and expected to survive, police said.
Detective Lt. Robert Pfannes said police were dispatched at 12:44 a.m. Sunday to Rush Street, 314 S. Main St., for a report of a shooting. A 25-year-old Westland man shot at the Illinois man twice before being tackled by patrons, Pfannes said.
“Initially, two citizens jumped on him,” Pfannes said.

A man was shot twice early Sunday at the Rush Street bar on Main Street and the suspected gunman is in custody.
The victim, a 25-year-old from Illinois, was hospitalized through the University of Michigan Health System and is in stable condition, according to Ann Arbor Police Department duty command.
Police expect the suspect, a 25-year-old man Westland man, will be arraigned Monday on charges.

Leaders in Science and Art (LISA 2013) conference Friday, November 1, 2013 at the Tishman Auditorium at The New School, New York City

In the category of “wish you were there” –

Leaders in Science and Art (LISA 2013) is a conference bringing together technology and the arts in New York City on Friday, November 1, 2013. From the LISA 2013 conference program:

On November 1, 2013, 40 of the world’s top experts in digital and interactive art installation, data visualization, software art, interactive advertising, 3D printing, electronic sculpture, LED design, projection mapping, mobile art, tech wearables, app development, open source art, augmented reality, hacker art, new media curating, and digital art collecting will gather on stage at the Tishman Auditorium at The New School.

Follow the @softwareandart Twitter channel for details in real time, and (hopefully) a live stream will be announced so that you can tune in from afar if you are far away.

Thanks to Isabel Draves who is organizing this whole thing for the heads up. The Kickstarter campaign for the event was a success, with a generous donation from Google putting the event over the top. Tickets are still available if you’re in NYC on November 1 and are interested in going.