Heroic WWTP workers walked out in wildcat strike Sept. 30, 2012 to stop what is happening now. Leaders of AFSCME Council 25 sabotaged the strike and now Detroit may lose the Water & Sewerage Department.

Heroic WWTP workers walked out in wildcat strike Sept. 30, 2012 to stop what is happening now. Leaders of AFSCME Council 25 sabotaged the strike and now Detroit may lose the Water & Sewerage Department.

Local207 2

Current Local 207 President Mike Mulholland, former Local VP Lekita Thomas (now transferred ), part of Local 207’s fighting leadership.

Long live the heroic spirit of AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl! Local Pres. 2000-2012, WWTP worker 37 years, died too early at age 62.


By Diane Bukowski

Oct. 9, 2015

(Editor: photos taken of this event by VOD did not turn out, others are used.)

AFSCME Local 2799 Pres. Cherlyn Rupert

AFSCME Local 2799 Pres. Cherlyn Rupert (Facebook)

Active city workers told State Sen. Coleman A. Young (D-Detroit), City Council President Brenda Jones, and Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty about the devastating effects the bankruptcy continues to have on them, during a meeting called by AFSCME Local 2799 Pres. Cheryln Rupert Oct. 5 at the AFSCME Council 25 hall downtown.

Under terms of the bankruptcy, the state continues its oversight of City of Detroit finances for 20 years, through a “Financial Review Commission.”

Romona Jones, a 27-year city employee currently with the Finance Dept. Purchasing Division, said all workers there are being forced to reapply for their jobs after completing online applications and testing.

“A lot of employees find the applications very difficult to complete, and they are afraid that if they don’t pass, they will be set on the street,” Jones said.

Vance Russell, a principal accountant who has worked for the city for 30 years, said workers in his division are also being forced to reapply for their jobs, under terms of Orr’s Executive Order 41, “Establishing Centralized Financial Management Organizational Structure.” See EM Order 41 Establishing Centralized Financial Management Organizational Structure.

Vance Russell/Facebook

Vance Russell/Facebook

“This is a bomb over our heads,” Russell said. “We have an existing union agreement, from 2014-2018, that delineates our positions and nowhere does it state we have to re-apply for our jobs. The city met with all city employees Jan. 8, going around the unions, and held a sledge hammer over them saying the same thing.”

Council President Brenda Jones said it was her understanding that all EM orders should have expired in Dec. 2014, upon Orr’s exit as emergency manager, and that she is researching the matter.

Mike Mulholland, Pres. of AFSCME Local 207, representing Detroit Water and Sewerage (DWSD) workers, told VOD last week that he expects 67 of his members to be laid off this week because the department changed their job titles and made them apply for the new jobs, which comprised the same work, then denied their applications.

Association of Detroit Engineers Pres. Shakil Ahmed recently emailed GLWA chair Robert Daddow as follows: “DWSD is laying 11 experienced engineers even with professional licenses and in their place are bringing engineers with no experience and without professional licenses. We are very short in engineering staff and this action will upset the operation of DWSD.”

Daddow replied that he could do nothing about it because the GLWA has not yet taken control. DWSD director Sue McCormick recently said that the department has eliminated 41 percent of its workers.


JOIN THE PETITION CAMPAIGN FOR A REFERENDUM VOTE ON THE CITY OF DETROIT CONTRACT WITH THE GREAT LAKES WATER AUTHORITY. Call 313-648-7018, 313-825-6126, email detroit2700plus@gmail.com or tweet @wethepeopledet.

 Click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/09/19/alert-still14-weeks-to-stop-detroit-water-take-over-more-shut-offs-rate-hikes-lay-offs-pollution/

Audrey Bellamy, President of the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraisers Association(SAAA), said the city has also told all DWSD workers that they are no longer Civil Service employees.

“I don’t believe that’s legal or that they have the capacity to tell our people that,” Bellamy said.

DWSD faces a takeover mandated under terms of the bankruptcy plan by the regional Great Lakes Water Authority, with a current deadline of Jan. 1, 2016. DAREA and other groups are circulating petitions under Public Act 233 of 1955 calling for Detroit to hold a referendum vote on the contract. If successful, the contract would be revoked, according to language in the Act.

AFSCME Local 2799 Pres. Delia Enright

AFSCME Local 2799 Pres. Delia Enright

Delia Enright, President of AFSCME Local 1023 representing 911 workers, said the City Clerk’s office no longer has minutes for the Civil Service Commission, which they had kept on file for decades until 2011. She said she finally tracked down copies of the minutes and made a startling discovery.

“Denise Starr, the new head of Human Resources, went to the Civil Service Commission in June and gave them a brief outline of some of the Civil Service rules she is going to change.”

According to the City Charter, the Human Resources Department operates under the direction of the Civil Service Commission, not vice versa. Civil Service actually predates union representation for public workers, having been established in most municipalities decades ago to stop corrupt hiring practices.

Phyllis McMillion, president of AFSCME Local 542, representing General Service and Recreation Department workers, said the city is refusing to notify the union as required of the contracting out of numerous union-represented positions, meaning the lay-offs of more city workers.

Catherine Phillips, staff representative for Michigan AFSCME Council 25, said the union has filed unfair labor practice charges on the matter. During bankruptcy proceedings, Council 25 withdrew its appeal to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Rhodes’ eligibility ruling, and later agreed to terms of the bankruptcy plan of adjustment.

AFSCME Local 542 Pres. Phyllis McMillion speaks at rally to save Belle Isle from state takeover Sept. 22, 2012.

AFSCME Local 542 Pres. Phyllis McMillion speaks at rally to save Belle Isle from state takeover Sept. 22, 2012. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr ordered takeover later.

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Members of DAREA sign affidavits for appeal of Detroit bankruptcy plan, initiated by DAREA Pres. Bill Davis

Members of DAREA sign appeal of Detroit bankruptcy plan, initiated by DAREA Pres. Bill Davis, (2nd from left), on Jan. 27, 2015.

“This changes nothing. The battle continues. It just gives us more time to raise money and recruit more people . . .I think the whole thing is racial.”—William Davis, Pres. DAREA

DAREA’s next membership meeting Wed. Oct. 7 @ 5:30 pm

Bankruptcy Judges Rhodes and Rosen to receive “Dennis W. Archer” awards Oct. 13 from Jones Day at DIA; protest planned

#Detroitbankruptcy, #DAREA, #BeatBacktheBullies, #DetroitWater, #BlackLivesMatterDetroit, #Standupnow, #OurWaterOurVote, #MaketheBanksPay, #StopWaronBlackAmerica, #WeFightBecauseWereRight

By Diane Bukowski

 October 6, 2015

U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman/Photo Jewish News

U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman/Photo Jewish News

DETROIT—William Davis, president of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), says he is not at all discouraged by U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman’s dismissal Sept. 29 of his appeal of the Detroit bankruptcy plan, along with four similar appeals filed by other  retiree groups.

Davis’ appeal had asked  that cuts to retirees’ pensions and benefits be nullified, on grounds that they violated Art. 9, Sec. 24 of the Michigan State Constitution, which states public retiree pensions cannot be “diminished or impaired,” as well as provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The Illinois State Supreme Court recently ruled vigorously against cuts to state retirees’ pensions and benefits  based on an almost identical clause in that state’s constitution. The Court held the Constitution represented “the will of the people,” and could not be challenged.

“It really wasn’t a surprise,” Davis said. “We are going to continue to fight, exercising all our options in further appeals. I still think the whole thing is racial. The bankruptcy defrauded poor people and Black and Brown people and they just don’t care. Even if Friedman ruled in our favor, the city would have appealed. This changes nothing. The battle continues. It just gives us more time to raise money and recruit more people. We recently did a mail-out to over 12,000 Detroit retirees.”

Tax DAREA BD 6 8 15

Bill Davis carries DAREA’s signature banner at protest against tax foreclosures June 8, 2015.

Davis thus disagreed with the Detroit Free Press’s headline claim that the “appeal was the final challenge to the plan of adjustment.”

Freep reporter Matt Helms quoted Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin (Butch) Hollowell.

“We’re pleased that Judge Friedman granted the city’s motions, and we are well under way onto delivering better city services to our residents in the post-bankruptcy world,” Hollowell told Helms. “This does, in fact, close out all of the appeals as they relate to the plan of adjustment.”

Davis noted Friedman’s boss, Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, who held closed door “mediation sessions” during the case, and bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes will be receiving “Dennis W. Archer” awards from Jones Day at the Detroit Institute of Arts Oct. 13. The behemoth global law firm represented Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr during bankruptcy proceedings and is now celebrating its establishment of an office in Detroit.

“Rhodes is becoming very popular with Jones Day, making money on speaking engagements,” Davis said. “He has been recommended to be an advisor in a likely Puerto Rico bankruptcy case. Rhodes should have recused himself because of his involvement with the pro-bankruptcy parties at a public forum a year before the trial. Giving him and Rosen awards is like the French Vichy government which sided with Hitler’s Nazis in World War II giving awards to other collaborationists after the war.”

Rosen RhodesDavis noted that Rosen said he thought retirees should have taken deeper cuts than the 4.5% slash in their pensions, the raiding of their Annuity Savings Funds, the loss of COLA and impairment of health care, which amounted to a total of $7 billion in losses.

“It sounds to me like Rosen doesn’t really believe that public workers should get pensions at all,” Davis said.

In his ruling, (link below story), Friedman upheld the city’s motion to dismiss the appeal primarily on the grounds of “constitutional and equitable mootness.”

“He only addressed the question of ‘equitable mootness,’” noted attorney Jerome Goldberg. “Strangely, he did not address the issue of constitutional mootness at all which [was] certainly argued in [Davis’] motion response, showing what a perfunctory analysis was done.”

“Equitable mootness” means the bankrupt party has taken irrevocable financial steps in enacting the bankruptcy plan.

Older city retirees were among hundreds who protested outside bankruptcy court April 1, 2014.

Older city retirees were among hundreds who protested outside bankruptcy court April 1, 2014.

Friedman said, “The Court disagrees with appellant’s [Davis’] suggestion that requiring the City to unimpair approximately $1.9 billion in GRS [General Retirement System] Pension Claims would not “produce a ‘perverse’ outcome–‘chaos in the bankruptcy court’ from a plan in tatters and/or significant ‘injury to third parties,’” Friedman ruled.” The relief appellant requests–sending the City back to square one to keep pensions intact–would require “nothing less than a wholesale annihilation of the Plan.’…. Having concluded that this appeal is equitably moot, the Court finds it unnecessary to address the City’s secondary argument that the appeal is also constitutionally moot.”

Friedman also denigrated Davis suggestion for replacing pension cuts.

“Appellant suggests that the City could avoid disturbing the Plan by making up for the funding deficit by applying for federal funds for blight remediation and “go[ing] after major banks, whose predatory lending policies led to the destruction of neighborhoods throughout Detroit.”

Davis’ appeal noted that Chapter 9 bankruptcies are almost never held to be irrevocable, unlike bankruptcies involving corporations and individuals (Chapter 11 and Chapter 7).

Alabama Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn.

Alabama Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn.

He cited Alabama’s U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn’s ruling Sept. 30, 2014, in the case of Bennett v. Jefferson County, Alabama (see link below story)that the doctrine of “equitable mootness” cannot apply to Chapter 9 bankruptcies.

In that case, Jefferson County sewage ratepayers appealed a County Chapter 9 bankruptcy confirmation plan which ordered increases in monthly sewage rate payments from $63 to over $360.

“The Ratepayers argue that they are creditors of Jefferson County because they overpaid for sewer services insomuch as the rates they paid incorporated the cost of $1.63 billion in Retired Sewer Warrants that they argue were void (or voidable) because they were obtained through bribery and corruption,” Judge Blackburn said in her opinion.

“Instead of the bankruptcy court enforcing the collection of sewer fees for the next forty years . . .the Ratepayers propose that the County comply with the demands of Amendment 73 to the Alabama Constitution and secure voter approval of new sewer warrants that would replace the old ones.”

Demonstration in Birmingham, Ala. against Jefferson County bankruptcy plan. JP Morgan Chase was involved in the corrupt "sewer warrants" that caused the majority of the county's debt.

Demonstration in Birmingham, Ala. against Jefferson County bankruptcy plan. JP Morgan Chase was involved in the corrupt “sewer warrants” that caused the majority of the county’s debt.

(Jefferson County’s “corrupt” sewer warrants resemble Detroit’s $1.5 billion Pension Obligation Certificate loans of 2005-06, which grew to $2.8 billion with default and interest charges. They should have been proposed as bond debt subject to state debt limits and voter approval, even according to EM Orr, who called them “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable,” in a lawsuit before Rhodes, which Rhodes threw out before confirming the bankruptcy plan and impairing retirees instead.)

Judge Blackburn held, “This court finds that “equitable mootness” is not applicable in a Chapter 9 appeal challenging terms of the Confirmation Order as unconstitutional . . .

In 1977, the House Report on the new Bankruptcy Act identified “two major differences [between Chapter 9, municipal reorganization, and Chapter 11,] general reorganization law: first, the law must be sensitive to the issue of the sovereignty of the States; [and] second, a municipality is generally not a business enterprise operating for profit, and there are no stockholders.”

She stated further, “The policy underlying Chapter 9 “’is not future profit, but rather continued provision of public services.’”

Proesters block entrance to Homrich, DWSD's contractor in charge of shut-offs, on July 18, 2014.

Protesters block entrance to Homrich, DWSD’s contractor in charge of shut-offs, on July 18, 2014.

On Sept. 15, Friedman also brutally dismissed an appeal of Judge Rhodes’ ruling denying a moratorium on massive water shutoffs in Detroit, filed by Detroit water customers and various advocacy groups.

Rhodes coldly said in his ruling a year earlier, “Michigan law does not permit a municipality to base its water rates on ability to pay. Rather, as noted above, M.C.L. § 141.121 requires a municipality to set water rates at the reasonable cost of delivering the service. Nothing in the case law suggests that it is unconstitutional for state law to require a municipality to fix the price of a service according to the cost of providing it rather than ability to pay. The Court therefore reaffirms its previous conclusion that there is no constitutional or fundamental right either to affordable water service or to an affordable payment plan for account arrearages.”

Nurses helped lead protest in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014 declaring water a human right.

Nurses helped lead protest in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014 declaring water a human right.

Friedman agreed entirely. Ironically, he said ” In a municipal bankruptcy such as this, the code states that “unless the debtor consents or the plan so provides, the [bankruptcy] court may not, by any stay, order, or decree, in the case or otherwise, interfere with (1) any of the political or governmental powers of the debtor; (2) any of the property or revenues of the debtor; or (3) the debtor’s use or enjoyment of any income-producing property.” 11 U.S.C. § 904. As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is an arm of the City of Detroit, and the City did not consent to the requested relief or agree to it in the plan, the Bankruptcy Court could not have awarded any of the relief plaintiffs seek without violating § 904.”

Rhodes recognized Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr as the City of Detroit at the outset of bankruptcy proceedings. Under 11 U.S.C. § 904, Orr gave broad consent to stripping the city of its major assets, including the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department and the art collection in the Detroit Institute of Arts, actions that have not taken place in other bankruptcies. Chapter 9 has long been construed as  to protect the assets of governmental entities from the claims of creditors.

To comply with the UN declaration that “water is a human right,” all Orr and later Mayor Mike Duggan, had to do was consent to end Detroit’s practice of massive water shut-offs.

Related documents:

Judge Friedman’s dismissal of DAREA appeal:  friedman dismissal DAREA

DAREA’s original appeal: Appeal brief DAREA 1 27 15

DAREA’s supplemental appeal based on Illinois Supreme Court ruling: DAREA supplemental appeal brief 6 5 2015.compressed

Friedman’s ruling upholding Detroit water shutoffs: USDC Judge Bernard Friedman ruling on water shutoffs lawsuit

Rhodes’ ruling upholding water shut-offs: Rhodes order on water shutoffs

Alabama ruling on Ch. 9 and “equitable mootness:” Bennett v Alabama opinion

Wealthy partygoers celebrate opening of Frieda Kahlo-Diego Rivera art display in courtyard. Ironically, they partied in front of Rivera's mural celebrating Detroit workers and representing his Communist beliefs.

Wealthy partygoers celebrate opening of Frieda Kahlo-Diego Rivera art display in courtyard of DIA. Ironically, they partied in front of Rivera’s world-renowned murals celebrating Detroit workers and advocating his Communist beliefs.


Retirees protest Feb. 25, 2015 at Crains Detroit awards ceremony for Kevyn Orr, Steven Rhodes.

Retirees protest outside Motor City Casino Feb. 25, 2015 at Crains Detroit gala awards ceremony for Kevyn Orr, Steven Rhodes.

Related articles:

















Related from other sources:




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Detroit March for Justice graphWHAT: March for Justice

WHERE: Roosevelt Park, Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48216

WHEN: October 3, 2015 12:00PM

Detroit didn’t just put the world on wheels.

The Motor City created a living wage and made social justice a reality for workers across America. And in a Wall Street economy where justice too often takes a back seat to profit, Detroit is still fighting for a living wage — and for clean air, access to drinking water, and freedom from pollution that is disrupting our climate and threatening our lives.

It’s a fight that touches all of us, every day, but it’s a fight some of our leaders want to ignore.

Here’s something our leaders can’t ignore: thousands of workers, families, doctors, children, teachers, faith leaders, and activists from all walks of life — all marching in the streets of Detroit.

Join the campaign for a state-mandated Detroit referendum vote on the seizure of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department.

Join the petition campaign for a state-mandated Detroit referendum vote on the seizure of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department by the GLWA, endorsed by Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), the People’s Water Board, Moratorium Now!, Stand Up Now, We the People of Detroit, and many  more.

Join the March for Justice and bring the fight for justice to the streets. Sign up now!

Join us on October 3 to march in Detroit and tell the world that we need real leadership to help move us forward. We need complete justice. That means housing justice, water justice, environmental justice, worker justice, food justice, social justice, and much more.

To become a partner, receive updates, or organize a group to attend the march, contact andrew.sarpolis@sierraclub.org or rhonda.anderson@sierraclub.org.

Detroiters Marching for Justice

Detroiters Marching for Justice


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Mt. Elliot neighborhood near US Ecology.

Mt. Elliot neighborhood near US Ecology.

US Ecology 6520 Georgia. US Ecology Plant at 6520 Georgia plans to increase radioactive waste here by 10 times.

US Ecology 6520 Georgia.

6520 Georgia

Ban fracking campaign will hold demonstration at US Ecology site in Detroit in protest of frack waste facility’s tenfold expansion plans 

Oct. 2, 2015

CHARLEVOIX, MICH. – The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a grassroots ballot initiative campaign gathering signatures for a ballot proposal to ban horizontal fracking and frack wastes,  will join a protest rally on October 3, at 10 a.m. outside the U.S. Ecology hazardous waste processing facility. The address of the site is: 6520 Georgia St, Detroit. Attached is a flyer for the event.

Hazardous waste worker

Hazardous waste worker

Fracking and the disposal of frack wastes continue in the state. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permitted 10 more horizontal wells in Grand Traverse, Manistee and Crawford counties in 2015.

The hazardous waste processing facility in Detroit, which takes 40% of its wastes from out-of-state, including some from oil and gas operations, is likely to be approved by DEQ to expand its operations ten-fold. Reporting on the expansion Friday, the Detroit Free Press cited US Ecology’s admission that liquid waste treated by the facility is going into the Detroit Water and Sewer Department system, which provides water to the entire metro Detroit area.[1] The ballot initiative would prevent such wells and frack waste processing and disposal.

Hamtramck Senior Plaza on Holbrook near US Ecology.

Hamtramck Senior Plaza on Holbrook near US Ecology.

The public is on the Committee’s side in knowing the dangers of fracking and frack wastes. In May, a poll by Public Policy Polling indicated a strong majority of fifty-five percent (55%) of Michigan voters would vote yes to support the Committee’s ballot proposal to ban fracking and frack wastes statewide, change the current law that requires the State to foster the gas and oil industry and put in its place a requirement that human health and the environment be protected during oil and gas development, and give Michigan residents the right to sue if the fracking industry violates the ban. Only 32% oppose the measure, and 12% are not sure.

An overwhelming majority, sixty-four percent (64%) of those polled, support a ban on frack wastes being disposed of in Michigan, including frack wastes produced in other states, after hearing that currently frack wastes, including radioactive drill cuttings, muds and sludges, and millions of gallons of fluids containing toxic chemicals, are disposed of in Michigan landfills, injection wells and at Michigan gas drilling sites.

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is a ballot question committee registered with the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections. The Committee’s website is: www.letsbanfracking.org. To learn more about the poll results, click here.

CONTACT: Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, www.LetsBanFracking.org      LuAnne Kozma, Campaign Director, 231-944-8750    luanne@letsbanfracking.org

Related from VOD:


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Fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, fictitious sheriff auctions and bidders, falsified legal documents, public corruption alleged against:

  • Ex-felon Charles Aliahmed of Eastern Market LLC; CRIMINAL RECORD OF INSURANCE FRAUD (CONSPIRACY), a felony with a 10-yr. max sentence
  • Ciena Capital, subsidiary of Ares Capital Corp., assets $9.1 billion
  • Emre Uralli of Luke Investments and Citi Investment Group, possible front for Dan Gilbert in purchase of Stott, Free Press Buildings
  • Fiaz ‘Victor’ Simon of 2727 Russell, LLC, Soaring Pine Real Estate, Atlas Oil, others 

Lawsuit forestalls seizure of Bert’s Marketplace under “lis pendens”

Telephone status conference set for Fri. Oct. 2 in USDC Judge David Lawson’s courtroom; defendants have filed motion to dismiss

#SaveBerts, #BlackBusinessesMatter, #BertsMarketPlace, #StopDetroitBlackOut, #SaveDetroit, #BeatBacktheBullies,  #StandUpNow, #StopWaronBlackAmerica,  #WhereJazzLives

September 30, 2015

Bert Dearing, Jr. (l) speaks at rally in Hart Plaza July 21, 2015, as Bert's Marketplace was being auctioned off.

Bert Dearing, Jr. (l) speaks at rally in Hart Plaza July 15, 2015. Bert’s Marketplace was being auctioned off for over $2M July 21. The Wayne Co. Register of Deeds currently shows a “lis pendens” (lawsuit pending) on the property’s status.

Detroit, MI —  Renowned Detroit Black business owner Bert Dearing, Jr. forestalled the seizure of Bert’s Market Place at auction by filing a federal lawsuit Aug. 19.  It alleges that prominent white-owned businesses and individuals committed  numerous counts of egregious fraud in their attempt to seize the venue.

One, Charles Aliahmed, is an ex-felon. He was convicted of Insurance-Fraudulent Acts (Conspiracy) in Wayne County Circuit Court in 2002 after pleading no contest.

He served a two-year adult criminal probation sentence, according to court records, although the offense, MCL 500.54111, carries up to 10 years in prison. (Click on Charles Aliahmed criminal cases Register of Actions and mcl-500-4511.) Several other cases were eventually dismissed.

Bert’s is  a well-known restaurant and entertainment venue  in Eastern Market that has operated since 2003. It features soul food, jazz musicians, and special events and is especially popular with the Black community.

Protester at July 15 rally.

Protester at July 15 rally.

“I’ve done business in Detroit for over 47 years,” Dearing, Jr. said during a downtown rally against the “Black-Out” of Detroit July 15. “My club was at 150 W. Jefferson beginning in 1957, but I was displaced from there and forced to move to Eastern Market. What programs is our government putting together for people of color to survive in Detroit?”

Joining him were other Black Detroit business-owners, cab drivers, homeowners, city retirees, and residents campaigning for streetlights in the city’s darkened neighborhoods.

Dearing’s lawsuit, B & D Property Mgt., Dearing Development, and Bert Dearing vs. Ciena Capital et al, (2:15-cv-12960), is being heard in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge David Lawson. A telephone status conference with Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford is set for Friday, Oct. 2 at 10 a.m. between the parties. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss.

STOP THE BLACK-OUT OF DETROIT rally winds up at Coleman A. Young Center July 15, 2015.
STOP THE BLACK-OUT OF DETROIT rally at Coleman A. Young Center July 15, 2015.


Meanwhile, the lawsuit has halted the foreclosure and sale of the Bert’s Eastern Market site on Russell St. The Wayne County Register of Deeds currently lists its standing as “lis pendens,” meaning the lawsuit’s outcome will determine whether a foreclosure sale can proceed.

“The scam has ultimately resulted in the perpetrators gaining over $70,000 in commissions and security deposits, rent payments ($50,500 to date), deeds to multiple properties and land and potential profits from the auction where the closing bid was $2,084,250.00,” Dearing said in a release Sept. 20. “Those involved used manipulation and undue influence to steal money . . .and to secure their bad faith contracts and bogus property deeds. The perpetrators intended to defraud [me] of the Market Place property as well as six . . .other Detroit properties through misrepresentation and concealment of intertwined personal and business relationships.”

DWSD worker Andrew Daniels-El holds city charter during rally Jan. 23, 2009 at Bert’s, sponsored by Agnes Hitchcock and Call ’em Out. The late John Riehl, Pres. of AFSCME Local 207, at Agnes’ left, and his members were fighting to stop the giveaway of Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Dept. without a vote of the people, as required by the Charter.  Political events such as this have no doubt played a role in the attack on Bert Dearing, Jr.

Defendants in the suit include Ciena Capital, which first serviced Dearing’s mortgage of his Eastern Market site from Business Loan Center, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ciena, in 2003. Ciena is now a subsidiary of $9.1 billion giant Ares Capital, according to disclosure statements it filed during lawsuit proceedings.

Dearing paid regular installments on the mortgage through 2013, until he became seriously ill and executed payment arrangements with Ciena. He then made six payments, only one of which was cashed by Ciena, says the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that Ciena, unbeknownst to Dearing, then executed assignments of the mortgage to several trusts it created, which in turn assigned the mortgage to banks including HSBC in Feb. 2014. HSBC then assigned its interest to the newly-created Eastern Market, LLC, run by one Charles Aliahmed of Grosse Pointe.

“Eastern Market 1, LLC, is a new company, formed on May 14, 2014, which was only two weeks prior to receiving the assignment of the mortgage from HSBC Bank, USA,” Dearing said in his release. “Typically, a well established bank would not/could not assign the mortgage note to a newly formed company that’s outside the securitization chain. To investigators it would appear that there is a connection between the parties.”

A “well-established bank” should also have checked the criminal background of Aliahmed.  According to court records, he was convicted in 2002 of “Insurance-Fraudulent Acts (Conspiracy),” MCL 500.4511, a felony which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. Somehow, by pleading no contest, he obtained a two-year adult criminal probation sentence. (See links in third paragraph of story.)

Aliahmed formerly owned Quest Financial Solutions, now defunct, the subject of a stinging expose on “Ripped-Off Online” which accused him of running Ponzi schemes and various other scurrilous activities.

Jazz band performs at Bert’s during benefit for musician facing eviction.

“He runs many scams from his office, ranging from investing in low income housing projects in Detroit, to False Credit repair and high risk refinancing scams, which cost his customers more in the long run than they imagine they save in the beginning,” says the poster. “Charles eludes his customers after taking substantial monies from them, and never following through on his claims. His investments are frauds and ponzi schemes. He has one employee left working for him.”

The document, including Aliahmed’s rebuttal and 47 negative comments from other Quest customers, is linked below story and can be read by clicking on Quest Financial Charles Aliahmed.

Aliahmed demanded immediate payment of $471,000 from Dearing, who disputed that amount since the principal left on the mortgage was far less. Aliahmed’s attorney posted a notice of foreclosure in the Detroit Legal News July 11. Dearing followed with a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court which was never resolved. The Wayne County Sheriff held an auction on the property in Aug. 2014, with a redemption date of Feb. 21, 2015, says Dearing’s suit.

A Saturday afternoon at Berts in Eastern Market.

A Saturday afternoon at Bert’s in Eastern Market.

Dearing was the only party to appear at that auction, but the Sheriff’s Office nonetheless assigned the property to Eastern Market 1, LLC which recorded a document saying they had received payment from the unknown “Simon Holdings Group–2727 Russell, LLC” of $496,994.18.

Emre Uralli of Luke Investments, address 712 Cass (currently a parking lot which Uralli claimed he would turn into Detroit’s tallest building), had earlier contacted Dearing to offer him a deal to pay off his debt, which Dearing declined. Without Dearing’s knowledge, Uralli created the “2727-2739 Russell Street Trust,” and registered it.

Later, in Dec. 2014, after dealing with other lenders including Victor Simon (a/k/a Faiz ‘Victor’ Simon) of Soaring Pine Real Estate Investments, the Simon Holdings Group, and Atlas Oil, Dearing accepted Uralli’s offer verbally. He then called him to decline in favor of Simon’s offer, but Uralli refused to accept his decision.

David Stott and Free Press buildings, purchased by Emre Uralli in 2013, then eventually by Dan Gilbert in 2014.

David Stott and Free Press buildings, purchased by Emre Uralli in 2013, then eventually by Dan Gilbert in 2014. Was Uralli a front for Gilbert?

Uralli, a realtor from Florida who moved to Detroit, purchased the David Stott and Detroit Free Press Buildings in 2013, then sold them to the shadowy DDI Group, based in Shanghai, China at a profit. Multi-billionaire Dan Gilbert, known for using front groups to snatch up downtown properties, purchased both buildings in 2014 at much inflated rates.

Unknown to Dearing, Uralli and Simon then joined forces in a joint venture called “Simon Group Holdings–2727 Russell,” later amended to delete the Simon name. Dearing signed a two-year lease with 2727 Russell, LLC, but finally revoked all deeds and leases he had signed under false pretenses in four notices in the Detroit Legal News, with copies sent to Uralli, Simon, and Aliahmed.

Uralli nonetheless got the Sheriff’s office to proceed with an auction of Dearing’s property July 21-2013. The final bid was over $2 million. Dearing received notice of the bid, but no notice of who the successful bidder was.

Berts Block Party“Bert was not aware of the complexity of the foreclosure fraud and the defective sheriff’s deed until after the expiration of the presumed 6 month redemption period,” says his release. “However, by that time the perpetrators had already recorded their bogus documents in the Wayne County Register of Deeds office; they were collecting monthly rent payments and despite the fact that Bert was only four months into an alleged 2-year lease, scheduled the property for the July 21-23, 2015 auction. This shows obvious bad faith because not only did they demand a $50k security deposit; a 2-year buy-back lease with exorbitant rent payments ($10,100/mo) and deeds to multiple properties, after only four months into the alleged lease agreement they scheduled the Market Place property for auction.”

Nicole Small, sister of Darnell Small, former owner of the Tangerine Club which was run of business by the white-owned Atwater Brewery, spoke during the July 15 rally.

“We’re the majority in the city,” Small said. “How dare you say we can be anywhere except downtown Detroit and ‘midtown’? We want prime real estate for $1 just like Gilbert and the rest. Gilbert just got a $1 million grant for Capitol Park through the City Council and the Mayor.”

Dearing and his allies say the battle for Bert’s Market Place is still going, and are calling on all Detroiters for their support.




Bert’s Market Place

2727 Russell Street – Eastern Market District, Detroit, Michigan 48207

(313) 567-2030

Web: www.bertsentertainmentcomplex.com

Email: bertsmarketplace@gmail.com

The Place Where Jazz Lives.”

Related document:

BERT’S MARKET PLACE Press Release_09.21.15

Related stories:


On Charles Aliahmed:


On Emre Uralli:






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Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin flanked by military leaders.

Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin flanked by military leaders/ Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government forces have been battling ISIS-led rebels for years, defending civilian population

 (Links to stories on U.S./CIA-led creation of ISIS at conclusion)

Associated Press


September 30, 2015

Russian air strike in Syria.

Russian air strike in Syria.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian military jets carried out airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State group in Syria for the first time — a move that came after President Vladimir Putin received parliamentary approval to send Russian troops to Syria.

The airstrikes targeted positions, vehicles and warehouses that Russia believes belong to IS militants, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.

Putin sought to portray the airstrikes as a pre-emptive attack against the Islamic militants who have taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq. Russia estimates at least 2,400 of its own citizens are already fighting with extremists in Syria and Iraq.

“If they (militants) succeed in Syria, they will return to their home country, and they will come to Russia, too,” Putin said in a televised speech at a government session.

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin met privately after UN General session in New York./EPA

U.S. Pres. Barack Obama and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin met privately after UN General session in New York./EPA

State Department spokesman John Kirby told The Associated Press that a Russian official in Baghdad informed U.S. Embassy personnel on Wednesday that Russian military aircraft would shortly begin flying anti-IS missions over Syria. The Russian official also asked that U.S. aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during those missions Wednesday. Kirby did not say whether the U.S. agreed to that request.

The US-led counter-ISIL coalition will continue to fly missions over Iraq and Syria, Kirby added.

Russian lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday to allow Putin to order airstrikes in Syria, where Russia has deployed fighter jets and other weapons in recent weeks. The Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, discussed Putin’s request for the authorization behind closed doors, cutting off its live web broadcast to hold a debate notable for its quickness.

Russia's lower house of Parliament meets during earlier event.

Russia’s lower house of Parliament meets during earlier event.

Putin had to request parliamentary approval for any use of Russian troops abroad, according to the constitution. The last time he did so was before Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

Putin on Wednesday insisted that Russia is not going to send troops to Syria and that its role in Syrian army operations will be limited.

“We certainly are not going to plunge head-on into this conflict,” he said. “First, we will be supporting the Syrian army purely in its legitimate fight with terrorist groups. Second, this will be air support without any participation in the ground operations.”

Putin also said he expects Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russia’s long-time ally, to sit down and talk with the Syrian opposition about a political settlement, but added he was referring to what he described as a “healthy” opposition group.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Russia’s first airstrike on Syria came after Putin’s meeting Monday with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, where the two discussed Russia’s military buildup in Syria.

Putin and other officials have said Russia was providing weapons and training to Assad’s army to help it combat IS. Russian navy transport vessels have been shuttling back and forth for weeks to ferry troops, weapons and supplies to an air base near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia. IHS Jane’s, a leading defense research group, said last week that satellite images of the base showed 28 jets, including Su-30 multirole fighters, Su-25 ground attack jets, Su-24 bombers and possibly Ka-52 helicopter gunships.

Putin administration says airstrikes comply with international law, unlike those conducted by U.S. and other countries

Sergei Ivanov, chief of Putin’s administration, said in televised remarks after the parliamentary vote that Moscow was responding to a request from Assad asking for help. He said the biggest difference between Russian airstrikes and those being conducted by the United States and other countries is that “they do not comply with international law, but we do.”

Syrian civilian refugees fleeing ISIS-led attacks.

Syrian civilian refugees fleeing ISIS-led attacks.

Moscow has always been a top ally of Assad. The war in Syria against his regime, which began in 2011, has left at least 250,000 dead and forced millions to flee the country. It is also the driving force behind the record-breaking number of asylum-seekers fleeing to Europe this year.

Worried by the threat of Russian and U.S. jets clashing inadvertently over Syrian skies, Washington agreed to talk to Moscow on how to “deconflict” their military actions. Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter had a 50-minute phone call with his Russian counterpart — the first such military-to-military discussion between the two countries in more than a year.

On Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Carter had instructed his staff to contact Russian officials about establishing talks on ways to keep each other’s air operations in Syria from colliding or otherwise getting in each other’s way. Cook said it was not yet clear when these talks would start.

Valentina Matvienko

Valentina Matvienko

Israel has taken similar precautions, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting Moscow last week to agree with Putin on a coordination mechanism to avoid any possible confrontation between Israeli and Russian forces in Syria.

Russian Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matvienko said in a live news conference on Russian television that parliament’s decision on Wednesday reflected Russia’s growing role in global affairs.

“We as a great power cannot but take part in fighting this great evil,” Matvienko said, adding that the Soviet Union and Syria signed a security cooperation agreement in 1980 that guarantees that Moscow would help Damascus if asked. “We couldn’t refuse Bashar Assad and keep on seeing how people, women and children are dying.”

In Baghdad, Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, said his government was in talks with Russia “in the hope that shared intelligence will further our abilities to defeat the terrorists within our borders.”

Julie Pace in New York, Albert Aji in Damascus and Viviam Salama in Baghdad contributed to this report.

Related stories:




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VOTE NO march at Detroit's Jefferson Assembly Plant

Second-tier workers from Detroit’s huge Jefferson North Assembly Plant led an impromptu vote-no rally September 23 outside the union’s international headquarters. Photo: Judy Wraight.


In these times 2BY Alexandra Bradbury

September 28, 2015

This job that built the middle class, now it’s going to build the poor working class,” said one Michigan autoworker.


In local after local, auto workers are voting down their union’s national deal with Chrysler, aiming to force their bargainers back to the table to do better.

The four-year pact announced September 15 would include raises and bonuses but maintain the two-tier system, trap people in Tier 2 who had expected to move up, and create even more tiers.

“I feel like the people who hire in at the lower wage deserve the chance to get to where I’m at, to be able to live in a comfortable manner,” said Nancy Collins, a team leader at Kokomo Transmission in Indiana.

Women workers at Chrysler's Kokomo, Indiana transmission plant.

Women workers at Chrysler’s Kokomo, Indiana transmission plant.

When she started at Chrysler 20 years ago, she was a single mom supporting three young kids. Today her daughter and son-in-law, with three kids of their own, work at the plant too.

But “how they make it on $19 an hour I’m not real sure, and that’s with both of them working,” she said.

“They live paycheck to paycheck. … They do the same jobs we do. There’s no reason they should be paid so much less.”

In her United Auto Workers Local 685—one of the biggest, representing four plants in Indiana—78 percent of production workers and 65 percent of skilled trades workers voted no.

“Bridge to nowhere”

Most locals to vote so far have decisively rejected the deal, including Locals 7 (Jefferson North Assembly, Detroit), 1264 (Sterling Stamping, Michigan), 1102 (Kokomo Casting, Indiana), 372 (Trenton Engine, Michigan), 1435 (Toledo Machining, Ohio), 1248 (Mopar in Center Line, Michigan), and others.

Warren Trick plant vote, as posted on Ford, GM, Chrysler Workers Unite! Facebook page.

Warren Truck plant vote, as posted on Ford, GM, Chrysler Workers Unite! Facebook page.

Just three locals have voted it up: 723 (Dundee Engine, Michigan), 1302 (salaried workers in Kokomo), and 1284 (Chelsea, Michigan). (VOD–Warren Truck Plant assembly workers voted it up Sept. 29, but skilled trades voted it down.)

An estimated one-third of Chrysler’s workforce still has votes ahead this week, including Sterling Heights Assembly (Michigan), Toledo Assembly Complex (Ohio), and Belvidere Assembly (Illinois), through September 30.

Workers are abuzz on Facebook, swapping contract information, local vote tallies, and photos of ballots marked “no” and protest T-shirts.

In this year’s Big 3 bargaining, UAW officers had pledged to “bridge the gap” between the tiers. But the union’s choice to settle with Chrysler first—when General Motors and Ford are richer targets, with fewer second-tier workers—seemed aimed at lowering members’ expectations.

“It’s a bridge to nowhere,” said Alex Wassell, a welder repair worker at Warren Stamping near Detroit. “It looks like they’re not planning on closing that gap, just raising the lowest-tier workers up to this level and then waiting for traditional workers to quit, retire, or die.”

Whos making cars and trucks


Non-union workers make up 81 percent of the U.S. auto workforce. Tiered contracts are worsening the union jobs that remain. “This job that built the middle class, now it’s going to build the poor working class,” said Asar Amen-Ra, a 20-year Mopar employee in Center Line, Michigan. Graphic: Sonia Singh.

Profits soar

The second tier, earning $15.78-$19.28 an hour, now comprises about 45 percent of the company’s workforce.

Sergio Marchionne makes $19 M a year.

Sergio Marchionne made $72 million last year.

Meanwhile Tier 1 workers—those hired before 2007—have been frozen at $28 for years. CEO Sergio Marchionne has made no secret of his desire to phase out the top tier altogether.

“This job that built the middle class, now it’s going to build the poor working class,” said Asar Amen-Ra, a 20-year Mopar employee in Center Line, Michigan.

The lower tier wasn’t supposed to balloon forever. “When we were hired, the company was just starting to turn around,” said Denny Crum, a forklift driver in Toledo who started two years ago.

“We were told by several people within the union, ‘These tiers are going away, we’re going to fight to get rid of them. These were just brought in to keep the company afloat when the economy crashed.’”

Fiat Chrysler's $4.1 billion operating profit in 2014 fueled by N.A.--Automotive News

Fiat Chrysler’s TOTAL $4.1 BILLION operating profit in 2014 fueled by North America earnings–Automotive News

Meanwhile, the automakers have certainly bounced back, even Chrysler. The company’s latest figures, for the second quarter of this year, showed $1.4 billion in profit in North America, a robust profit margin of 7.7 percent. In the same quarter Ford pocketed 11.1 percent and GM 10 percent.

Marchionne himself took home a handsome $72 million last year. Assuming a 40-hour week, that comes to $34,615 an hour.

“That’s why we’re all wondering,” Collins said. “They say they don’t have any more money to offer us. I don’t see how that can be.”

Broken promise

Many members are especially angry that the union and Chrysler abandoned a longstanding promise to move a segment of Tier 2 workers up into Tier 1. The 2009 settlement agreement and 2011 contract summary reiterated that the lower tier would be capped at no more than 25 percent of the workforce as soon as the contract expired in September 2015. Continue reading

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7641b161-906e-4d1e-8bd8-493a86f5e0dbDebt free college Black students


FTamara Drautrom Tamara Draut, DEMOS:

While a college degree is widely understood to be an essential tool to compete in today’s tough job market and rise up the economic ladder, diminishing state and federal support of public higher education has sent tuition skyrocketing. As a result, most students now must borrow to attend college—turning what was once a path toward upward mobility into a game of risk.

This risk is not shared equally. The “new normal” of borrowing is particularly acute for Black students—who are more likely to borrow and to borrow at higher amounts than white students due to greater financial need.

The financial risk is considerable: 4-in-10 Black borrowers drop out of college, leaving them with debt but without the benefit of a degree. Around 7-in-10 Black dropouts cite student debt as a primary reason for not completing school, compared to fewer than half of white students.

That’s why we’re calling on every presidential candidate to introduce a real plan to make college debt free. Show your support by adding your name now.


US_students-loans_matson_c_71Sadly, this was no accident. Racially-biased public policies have prohibited communities of color from accumulating wealth and diminished their ability to contribute as much to their children’s college degree as white parents. At the same time, predatory, for-profit colleges aggressively targeted Black communities, resulting in far too many African-American students taking on debt for a promise that proved elusive and deceptive.

Our debt-financed higher education system is yet another hurdle that today’s students, especially Black students, have to overcome. Further, indebted graduates report lower levels of financial worth, physical well-being, and show less job satisfaction than those who did not borrow for their undergraduate degree.

Attending college should not be a perilous pursuit. Public policies created this mess, and public policies can fix it. It’s time we rewrite the rules of the game.

Join us in urging every presidential candidate to introduce a plan to make college a public good again.


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DC service workers strike during Papal visit.

DC service workers march. Roll Call File Photo

Roll Call

© Bill Clark/CQ

September 21, 2015

A few hours before Pope Francis arrives in the District of Columbia for the first leg of his U.S. visit, Capitol food service and other government contract workers will walk off their jobs. The workers will strike Tuesday to renew their call for a $15-an-hour wage and the right to unionize. They plan to proceed to the Capitol and convene across from the East Front with religious leaders and presidential hopeful Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., to pray for lawmakers to heed the pope’s message about economic inequality.

Catholic Pope Francis

Catholic Pope Francis

On Sept. 10, more than 40 Capitol workers requested an audience with Pope Francis to discuss their struggle to make ends meet while serving wealthy lawmakers. Around 40 workers from the Senate and Capitol Visitor Center also went on strike in July, the third in less than a year. These workers represent about a third of the workers in the Senate and CVC. Labor organizers say there are roughly 90 Senate workers and 30 in the CVC. On the House side, there are around 125 cafeteria workers and 40 workers with the banquet agency, Capitol Host.

Many of these workers are returning to full-time work after the six-week August recess, a period indicative of the challenges facing the food service workers at the Capitol, who struggle with low wages and uneven work schedules.

In this photo take on Friday, May 1, 2015, Abraham Tesfahun, 21, who works in food service at the Senate and makes $10.70 an hour, poses for a portrait at the Capitol in Washington. Income inequality is more than a political sound bite to workers in the Capitol. It's their life. Many of the Capitol's food servers, who make the meals, bus the tables and run the cash registers in the restaurants and carryouts that serve lawmakers, earn less than $11 an hour. Some make nothing at all when Congress is in recess. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 Abraham Tesfahun, 21,  works in food service at the Senate and makes $10.70 an hour. Many of the Capitol’s food servers, who make the meals, bus the tables and run the cash registers in the restaurants and carryouts that serve lawmakers, earn less than $11 an hour. Some make nothing at all when Congress is in recess. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

James Powell, 27, who works as a chef in the Senate Dining Room said in a recent interview that during August, he used up all of his 80 vacation hours so he could get some money while his work hours were cut. “That still doesn’t cover [me] in the last week,” Powell said. “By me taking all of my vacation and all of my sick days that actually leaves me no days off for the year” Powell, who has a 3-year-old son, said he has worked in the Senate cafeterias for around five years and makes just more than $13 an hour. He is one of the workers pushing for a $15-an-hour wage. “It would make a huge difference,” Powell said of the wage increase. “I wouldn’t have to live from Friday to Friday, check to check. I would have more leeway. There wouldn’t be a struggle.”

Powell was working in the Senate in 2012 when workers opted not to unionize. He said he voted against a union, and he regrets it to this day. Powell said the food contractor, Restaurant Associates, informed workers that a union would only take workers’ money, not actually help them, and he believed it. “Why didn’t I just vote yes? Why was I brainwashed?” Powell asked. “I think about it every day I go to work.”

Unite HERE Local 23 workers newspaper.

Unite HERE Local 23 workers newspaper.

The cafeteria workers on the other side of the Capitol are represented by a Unite Here Local 23, and attempted to bring Senate workers into the fold at the beginning of 2014, but were stopped when the Service Employees International Union asserted legal jurisdiction over the Senate workers.

A spokesperson for the SEIU local chapter told CQ Roll Call on Sept. 11 there was no current effort to organize Senate workers. For the House workers, watching their Senate and CVC counterparts go on strike and detail their struggle in op-eds to no avail is frustrating.

“To me it’s kind of sad,” Jamia Vaden, a 31-year-old cook in the Longworth House Office Building, said in a recent interview. “Because people have family, you have kids, it’s like, you have bills. And to know that somebody is working on Capitol Hill and is homeless, with congressmen and senators, I just, it’s just mind boggling.”

“I feel they need to be represented by a union. To me, it doesn’t matter which union it is. I wish it was our union,” said House cook Rickie Toon. Toon, 60, works in the Rayburn House Office Building and has been working in House cafeterias for more than three decades. He helped organize the House union effort shortly after the House privatized food services in 1986.

Rayburn House cafeteria.

Rayburn House cafeteria.

Both Toon and Vaden make $17.25 an hour. The wage is is nearly three times Toon’s starting wage. He attributed the increase to unionization, and said working with the union also earned him respect among management. Toon and Vaden work as union stewards, serving as union representatives during grievance meetings. They described standing up for their fellow workers, and resolving issues in meetings that include managers involved and their supervisors.

On the Senate side of the Capitol, workers with recent grievances have turned to Good Jobs Nation, a coalition of labor groups that has been organizing the recent contract worker strikes. The group has filed a number of unfair labor practice complaints against Restaurant Associates, alleging retaliation against workers who have spoken out or gone on strike.

Powell, who works in the Senate, said having a union would allow him and his Senate workers to have an ally when voicing complaints against management. “[A union] would make a huge difference because I feel I would actually have a voice in what goes on,” Powell said. “They couldn’t just push us around anymore because we have somebody that’s going to stand up against them.”


Capitol Workers Ask to Meet With Pope Francis

Labor Group Sees ‘Pattern of Retaliation’ Against Capitol Workers

Senate Democrats Call for Higher Wages for Capitol Food Workers

NLRB Finds Retaliation After Capitol Food Worker Strike

CVC Workers Allege Retaliation After Strike (Video)

Capitol Food Workers Bring Income Inequality to Congress’ Front Step

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Water main break under Detroit Water Board Building had streets, parking lot for customers flooded for weeks this month.
Water main break under Detroit Water Board Building had streets, parking lot for customers flooded for weeks this month. Main breaks, sinkholes have plagued DWSD as workforce downsized by 41 percent; GLWA plans to cut even further.

DAREA retirees, other groups continue state-mandated campaign to put GLWA contract on Detroit ballot: #OurWaterOurVote

GLWA will increase debt, water shut-offs, rates,  workforce decimation (41 percent of DWSD workers gone now), pollution of Detroit River, Lake Erie

Coalition says stop the takeover,  fight DWSD for the people’s rights

By Diane Bukowski

September 16, 2015

The late renowned activist Mary Shumake and others march outside Detroit Water Board Building.

The late renowned activist Mary Shumake and others march outside Detroit Water Board Building.

DETROIT – Several major stumbling blocks remain before the contract handing over the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) to the regional Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), signed June 12, can take legal effect Jan. 1, 2016, according to GLWA officials.

The Coalition to Save the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department thus has time to finish collecting the 15,000 signatures necessary to place the issue on the Detroit ballot, under Public Act 233 of 1955. The petitions began circulating June 21.

“We fight because we are right,” said Bill Davis, President of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), which is spearheading the drive. “Each of us should be a warrior in this fight. If each retiree and active city worker turned in just ONE petition with 15 signatures of registered Detroit voters, we would have 480,000 signatures.”

Members of DAREA after Detroit General Retirement System meeting June 10, where they publicized DAREA appeal of bankruptcy.

DAREA activists after Detroit General Retirement System meeting June 10, where they publicized DAREA appeal of bankruptcy and recruited members.

There are 32,000 active and retired City of Detroit workers in its two pension systems. The Coalition said in its recent newsletter that it opposes the GLWA because of expected rate increases to service debt, lack of an income-based water affordability plan, job elimination, union-busting, down-sizing, and ongoing privatization.

The Detroit bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment (POA) set six major requirements for the GLWA takeover:

Approval of takeover by 51 percent of DWSD bondholders

“The goal of 51 percent bondholder approval has not been met at this juncture; we are still assembling that,” GLWA Chair Robert Daddow, of Oakland County, told VOD after a joint meeting of the GLWA and the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners Sept. 14. He said he could not discuss details further because U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox has placed a gag order on the proceedings.

GLWA board chair Robert Daddow, of Oakland County, is interviewed June 12, 2015 after GLWA contract signed.

GLWA board chair Robert Daddow, of Oakland County, is interviewed June 12, 2015 after GLWA contract signed.

Wall St. pledge that GLWA bond ratings will not drop below DWSD ratings

No major Wall Street ratings agency has yet pledged that GLWA bond ratings will not be lower than those of the DWSD.  GLWA Interim CEO Sue McCormick said in her Sept. 14 report that “no formal rating review for GLWA has been requested,” but touted recent bond upgrades given to DWSD by Moody’s and Fitch Ratings.

New master bond ordinance

Daddow told VOD Sept 14. that a GLWA master bond ordinance is not complete.

Agreement on pension obligations with Detroit General Retirement System

Michael Van Overbeke, attorney for the Detroit General Retirement System (DGRS), said negotiations with the GLWA on handling of pension obligations for DWSD employees are not complete, but are “proceeding,” also under a gag order from Judge Cox. He said he expects them to be wrapped up soon. If DGRS’ approval of the Bankruptcy Plan and its earlier withdrawal of its Sixth Circuit Court appeal of bankruptcy eligibility for Detroit are any indication, the outlook for retirees is not positive.

Consent from customer communities

GLWA Interim CEO Sue McCormick at June 12, 2015 meeting.

GLWA Interim CEO Sue McCormick at June 12, 2015 meeting. Detroit GLWA Director Isaiah McKinnon is at right.

“The favorable response from our customer communities continues in the assignment of their service contracts resulting in 99.83% of sewer contracts, by revenue assigned, with the remaining unassigned contract scheduled for consideration,” McCormick said in her report.”Water contracts are at 82% by revenue assigned, with 17 contracts remaining to be assigned.”

The DWSD water division has contracts with 127 communities; its sewer division has contracts with 76 communities. Under terms of the GLWA contract with the City of Detroit, Detroit would become another contracted community, relinquishing its ownership of the six-county system through personal property and revenue SALES, not leases, with real property sales of the system’s infrastructure open to board approval.

Legal opinions on tax-exempt status of new GLWA bonds

No such opinions are included in the minutes of the GLWA since it began meeting in December, 2014.

McCormick and GLWA co-chair Gary Brown gave extensive slide presentations at the meeting on complex structural measures underway to move DWSD into the GLWA by Jan. 1. They said if all measures are not complete by Jan. 1, a temporary partnership between the two entities lasting from six months to two years would be put in place.

Detroit "mayor" Mike Duggan says Detroit will give up all of DWSD except some pipeline infrastructure within the city limits, during GLWA Consent Agreement announcement Sept. 9, 2014.

Detroit “mayor” Mike Duggan says Detroit will give up all of DWSD except some pipeline infrastructure within the city limits, during GLWA Consent Agreement announcement Sept. 9, 2014.

Apparently the complexity of handing over the nation’s third largest public water and sewerage facility to the Great Lakes Water Authority was underestimated during the bankruptcy.

The original date set in the Plan of Adjustment was Jan. 1, 2015. An extension was granted to June 12, 2015, when the current GLWA contract with the City of Detroit was signed. A further extension to Jan. 1, 2016 for the six other requirements was included in the contract.

Brown’s presentation included pledges to more quickly deal with water main breaks, sinkholes, and other problems plaguing the DWSD infrastructure, as well as a promise to decrease water shut-offs through ongoing revamping of assistance plans.

Little discussion was held by board members on the contracts. During the Aug. 15 meeting of the GLWA, a contract with global PR firm Fleishman & Hilliard was approved despite the fact that the board did not have a copy. Board committees are still being set up, and none had vetted the contract.

Links to slide presentations are at Stand_Up_Work_Plan_Status_Report and DWSD_Retail_Vision_and_Standup_Work_Plan.

Moody’s, Fitch bond upgrades based on DWSD water shut-offs, lay-offs, privatization, downsizing; 41 percent of DWSD workers already gone

Gary Brown as VP of City Council, with Pres. Charles Pugh, who has just been sued for sexual harassment of a minor. Brown went from that position to aide to EM Kevyn Orr to COO under Duggan, and vice-chair of the GLWA.

Gary Brown as VP of Detroit City Council, with former Pres. Charles Pugh, who has just been sued for sexual harassment of a minor. Brown went from Council to aide to EM Kevyn Orr to COO under Duggan, and vice-chair of the GLWA.

A DWSD release said Moody’s cited “increased efficiency, improved billing collections and providing better services” in its report on recent two-level DWSD bond upgrades from Baa3 to Ba2, and from Ba3 to Ba1, with “positive” outlooks. Until recent years, the DWSD had bond ratings in the A ranges due to its separation from the City of Detroit as an enterprise agency, with bond repayment predicated on revenues.

Brown said at the meeting that customer service will be the top goal for the GLWA, because Mayor Mike Duggan has pledged to make the return of residents to Detroit the hallmark of his administration. The Detroit News today trumpeted that the city’s white population increased by 8,000 from 2013 to 2014. Its total population in 2014 was 680,250, however, compared to 713,777 in 2010.

But the GLWA contract says clearly and repeatedly that the agency’s first priority is revenue collection for debt pay-off. Under the contract, DWSD debts have increased to $5.7 billion due to re-financings under the bankruptcy, and are likely to increase more under the GLWA if it continues to hand out contracts to board cronies sight unseen. Wall Street also barred a proposed $2.3 billion impairment of DWSD debt during bankruptcy proceedings.

Larry Young of Highland Park tries to clean out sewer on his street in Aug. 2014 during massive floods actually caused by shutdown of sewage pumps at Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Larry Young of Highland Park tries to clean out sewer on his street in Aug. 2014 after storms resulted in massive floods actually caused by inoperable sewage pumps at Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant.

DWSD meanwhile is allegedly increasing revenues with new measures. A “stormwater run-off” fee of $19.66 a month has been charged to Detroit residents only, since July 1, 2015. The fee has  been ruled illegal under the Headlee Amendment, as a tax not approved by voters in two Lansing-related cases,  in 2011 by a State Appeals Court, and in 1998 by the Michigan Supreme Court, Bolt v. Lansing.

See Stormwater tax or fee Detroit Crains, and Bolt v City of Lansing.

However, the City of Detroit claims on its website that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its legality in 1986 in City of Detroit v. State of Michigan and County of Wayne.

Mike Shane of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, which is also a member of the Coalition to Save the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department, is disputing this fee.

“The charge has nothing to do with water consumption or the treatment of the sewage created by that water usage,” Shane says. DWSD says on its website that customers are being charged for the cost of transporting and treating stormwater flowing into sewers to the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Downspout on left is connected to sewer; downspout on right has been disconnected to allow stormwater to flow in home’s lawn.

“Many homeowners have disconnected their downspouts from the sewer system, allowing rainwater from the roof to drain into the yard, removing a huge storm water load from the DWSD system,” Shane counters.

Another measure ironically aimed at increasing revenue is water shut-offs, despite Brown’s claim at the meeting that the city is working to reduce shut-offs under the guidance of Duggan and a shadowy “Blue Ribbon Panel.” The GLWA and the BOWC have both said earlier that drops in DWSD revenue have been due in large part to reduced water usage.

In her written report, McCormick told the board that 13,409 residential accounts have been permanently shut-off for “illegal” usage, from January 1 through Sept. 5, 2015. See GLWA CEOReportSept15.

DWSD door hangerShe added, “Since May 11, 2015, the Department has posted 42,414 door hangers notifying customers of pending shut off of services. A total of 12,352 of those customers have either paid their bills, or entered into a payment plan agreement. Currently, there are a total of 38,867 active payment plan agreements with the total combined balance of $31,308,592.96. There are 2,267 customers receiving assistance from the Detroit Water Fund (DWF) for a total liability of $831,680.93 through September 4, 2015, and a remaining balance of $1,136,021.07 available for assistance.”

Nearly half of the city’s 300,861 residential accounts are past due. The average amount is $732.

Water rates in Detroit have increased over 120 percent in the last decade, particularly since the DWSD started billing on a monthly, not a quarterly, basis. DWSD has also been installing remote “SMART meters” in customers’ homes, forcing them to pay for the cost of adapting their plumbing to meet the meter requirements.

Demeeko Williams of the Detroit Water Brigade said that his group has received numerous complaints from customers whose water was shut-off after they refused to have the meters installed, or could not afford the cost of plumbing adaptations. He also questioned whether computer-generated charges can be manipulated to increase GLWA revenues. Channel 7 News reported recently on the case of Paulina Richardson at http://www.wxyz.com/news/mom-small-children-without-water-for-weeks-because-of-switch-to-smart-meter.


The Authority has already declared that, come hell or high water, its “Water Resident Assistance Program” (WRAP), whose final version was presented at its Aug. 17 meeting, is not and never will be the income-based water affordability, no-shut-offs plan that thousands have demanded over the last two years.

In a televised interview Aug. 20, 2015, McCormick said DWSD has slashed the number of its workers “from 2178 in early 2012 to 1322 on July 1, 2015,” approximately 41 percent, half-way to contractor EMA’s recommendation of 81 percent. During the Sept. 14 board meeting, she noted that numerous DWSD jobs are slated for outsourcing to private companies, including maintenance and security positions, with skilled trades jobs next on the list.


GLWA’s “WRAP” Plan is NOT an plan that assigns income-based water rates, and it does NOT bar water shut-offs.

See entire slide presentation at WRAP-Presentation-PowerPoint-081715. Note that its “advisory panel” includes neither Water Affordability Plan expert Roger Colton nor Demeeko Williams of the Detroit Water Brigade despite rumors to the contrary.

GLWA’s revised “Master Plan” includes massive downsizing

Sinkhole swallows kidsAt its July 9 Joint GLWA/BOWC meeting, officials reported frightening future plans to downsize the entire facility by:

  • Dropping spending for water main replacement to $25 million a year, enough to repair only one one percent of the lines , despite ongoing massive breaks and sinkholes in Detroit and the region;
  • Shutting down  treatment plants and booster stations;
  • Reducing capital improvement spending from $9 billion to $2.9 billion;
  • Rescission of planned upgrades for 14 sites;
  • Reducing GLWA’s daily pumping capacity from 1,760 million to 1,040 million gallons;
  • Reduction of water intake sites from five to three.

(See GLWA power point presentation of Revised Master Plan at Water-Master-Plan-2015-07-08-BOWC-GLWA-Board-Workshop-Final.compressed).

Video below covers one of dozens of sinkhole problems reported in the DWSD area for the past several years.


McCormick also discussed plans for “green and blue” infrastructure in the GLWA at the Sept. 15 meeting.

City of Detroit “mayor” Mike Duggan, with state and federal agencies, announced Aug. 9 that he had just snagged $8.9 million in federal “disaster recovery” funds to establish “flood prevention areas” in broad sections of Detroit’s predominantly Black neighborhoods.



The money, part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, would fund demolition of homes, “vacant lot greening,” and large “stormwater infrastructure projects” in designated areas including Brightmoor, Mt. Elliott, and McDougall-Hunt on the city’s lower northwest and lower east sides.

“We are deeply appreciative . . .” Duggan said in a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development release. “With this funding, we are going to be able to make an impact in our neighborhoods through additional blight removal, beautification of vacant land and new strategies to make us more resilient to the kind of flood damage we experienced a year ago.”

Detroit freeways flooded during crisis of Aug. 2014.

Detroit freeways flooded during crisis of Aug. 2014.

Those floods “resulted in over 10 billion gallons of combined sewer overflow, with 6 billion gallons of the flow coming from Detroit’s system, which serves more than 70 communities in southeast Michigan, according to a release from HUD. “Of that overflow, nearly 80% was not treated, which threatened the overall health of the Great Lakes water system and Metro Detroit’s water supply.”

Nearly 60,000 households in Detroit alone were affected by the flood, with overall damage levels estimated at $10 billion.

The plan takes advantage of large parcels of vacant land cleared by the flood of predatory lending and illegal foreclosures in Detroit over the past decade.


The grant is too little and too late said Bill Davis, who retired from the city after 34 years, a large number spent as shift supervisor at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

DAREA Pres. Bill Davis presents award to activist Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People of Detroit at DAREA prayer breakfast June 27, where petition campaign to save DWSD was kicked off.

DAREA Pres. Bill Davis presents award to activist Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People of Detroit at DAREA prayer breakfast June 27, where petition campaign to save DWSD was kicked off. We the People is an endorser.

Davis lives in the Brightmoor area, where the construction of underground tanks in Oakland Avenue’s median strips, topped with trees and lawns, to soak up excess stormwater, is proposed.

“The only way this would work is if a whole lot of these structures were built all over the city,” Davis said. “More foreclosures resulting in a lot of vacant land would be needed to have sufficient retention basins, if they are not planning to make improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

He said last year that the failure of three major sewage pumps at the WWTP pumping stations caused the discharge of the 4.8 billion gallons of untreated sewage flow, referenced in the HUD release, into Metro Detroit, the Detroit River and Lake Erie, also causing an Aug. 2014 crisis in Toledo, Ohio and Southeastern Michigan which made water unpotable.

Davis said the HUD project is far too small to make up for the cutbacks at the WWTP, which included elimination of 24/7 maintenance and hundreds of jobs by EMA, a contractor which recommended that 81 percent of the DWSD workforce be cut and is now running the WWTP.

Bio-solids plant at DWSD will cause further phosphorus pollution of Detroit River, Lake Erie

Saulius Simiolaunus/Facebook

Saulius Simoliunas/Facebook

DWSD Senior Chemist Saulius Simoliunas, a recognized expert internationally, and four others also weighed in on GLWA plans in a document included in the board’s Aug. 15 packet.

It blasted the GLWA as an entity made up of “two policemen from Detroit” (co-chair Gary Brown and member Isaiah McKinnon), an “airport manager from Wayne County” (Joseph Nardone), “two CPA’s from Oakland and Macomb Counties (Chair Robert Daddow and member Brian Baker), and “a retired lawyer from the Governor’s office” (Earl Hood of Dykema Gossett).

“The discussion at GLWA meetings concerns finances, but not the technical operation of the facility,” Simolianus et. al pointed out.

The ongoing construction of a $630 million biosolids sewage drying plant run by the notorious New England Fertilizer Company (NEFCO) was on the agenda at GLWA’s Aug. 15 meeting, but no discussion took place regarding technical aspects of NEFCO’s operation, its reputation, or likely negative effects of its operation.

Detroit’s former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr handed out the NEFCO contract in 2013. The plant will convert sewage sludge from the Wastewater Treatment Plant into dried pellets, or “cakes,” that can be used for land application in agriculture, as well as energy generation for utilities like DTE.

NEFCO's plan for $630 million bio-solids plant linked to DWSD Wastewater Treatment Plan.

NEFCO’s plan for $630 million bio-solids plant linked to DWSD Wastewater Treatment Plan.

NEFCO facilities have incurred the wrath of communities across the U.S. where they are placed, and where cakes of dried sludge, or “bio-solids,” are applied on farms, causing noxious odors and health threats.

An Aug. 2013 report called “Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority” (LEEP), referenced by Simiolianus in his document, says phosphorus from agriculture and industrial wastewater treatment plant threatens increasing contamination, or “eutrofication” of the Lake.

Lake Erie's algae bloom has grown to alarming portions since last year. Note origin at bottom from Detroit.

Lake Erie’s algae bloom has grown to alarming proportions since last year. Note origin at bottom left from Detroit.

The report was issued before the August 2014 crisis during which 400,000 residents of Toledo and southeastern Michigan could not drink or use water processed from Lake Erie, even after boiling it, for several weeks.

The report says farmland run-off is now the primary cause of Lake Erie pollution, whereas wastewater treatment plants were previously the main source. But Davis points out that Detroit’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, by teaming up with the NEFCO facility, will indirectly cause both types of pollution.

“Roughly 80 percent of the water entering Lake Erie comes through the Detroit River, bringing with it an estimated 40 to 50 percent of the phosphorus,” says an article in yesterday’s Detroit News, “U-M set to probe Detroit River role in algae ills,” at http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/09/16/um-detroit-river-algae/32499035/

The Erb Family Foundation has awarded the University of Michigan a $3 million grant to study the Detroit River watershed and its role in increasing algae growth in the Lake. In the 1970’s, Lake Erie was essentially considered a “dead” lake, largely due to sewage sludge outflow from Detroit’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. It was cleaned up after the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act, but in the last decade, problems have again increased.

DAREA pursues drive to stop GLWA while appealing bankruptcy


DAREA newsletter, front page

DAREA also is appealing the entire bankruptcy in U.S. District Court before Judge Bernard Friedman, and plans to take its appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary, Davis said. It recently mailed its first print newsletter to retirees, many of whom do not have computers to access sites like Facebook pages for DAREA and The Coalition to Save the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department. 

Stopping the takeover of DWSD, Detroit’s largest asset, can be done quickly through a people’s vote while court appeals of the bankruptcy itself proceed, DAREA says. A successful referendum against the takeover would also send a message to DWSD Wall Street bondholders to back off, Davis noted.

DAREA is pursuing this campaign despite some lack of interest from groups busy campaigning against water shut-offs with the Detroit City Council and DWSD. They do not seem to understand that their efforts will be null and void Jan. 1, when and if the GLWA will be in charge of determining water rates and making water shut-offs, according to its contract.



#WaterisLife, #StandUpNow, @WeThePeopleDet, #OurWaterOurVote@Detroit2700plus, @DETWaterBrigade, #DetroitWater, #Right2Water, #Detroit2Flint, @MCHumanRights, @PeoplesWaterDet, @ACLUofMichigan,  #‎noconsent, ‪#‎freetheirish5, ‪#‎neweradetroit, ‪#‎stopthewatershutoffs, ‪#‎nowaynopay






Click on BLOW THE GREAT LAKES WATER AUTHORITY OUT OF THE WATER 3 for PDF of front of flier; PDF of Instructions for Circulation is at INSTRUCTIONS FOR CIRCULATING (includes contact information to obtain petitions and turn them in.)

The Coalition needs to collect a total of 15,000 valid petition signatures meaning it must collect at least twice that to allow for invalid signatures. Signers must be Detroit residents who are registered voters. CIRCULATORS DO NOT HAVE TO BE DETROIT  RESIDENTS.

The Coalition’s Facebook Page is at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-to-Save-Detroits-Water-Sewerage-Department/1443509195955743?fref=ts


  • Meetings of DAREA, 3rd Monday  at 11 a.m. at Nandi’s Knowledge Café at 12511 Woodward, Highland Park; 1st Wednesday at 5:30 pm, St. Matthew and St. Joseph Church at Woodward and Holbrook.
  • Weekly meetings of Moratorium NOW! Mondays at 7 pm, 5920 Second at Antoinette, s. of W. Grand Blvd.

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