MARCH VS. DETROIT BANKRUPTCY SEPT. 2; RETIREES DEMAND COUNCIL PUT WATER DEPT. SALE ON BALLOT

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40% OF MICHIGAN HOUSEHOLDS OVER POVERTY LEVEL CAN’T COVER EXPENSES; DETROITERS BELOW POVERTY LEVEL WORSE OFF

POOR PEOPLE'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON, 1968, HELD AFTER DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WAS ASSASSINATED.

POOR PEOPLE’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON, 1968, HELD AFTER DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. WAS ASSASSINATED.

By Jeff Karoub, Associated Press

August 30, 2014

United Way logoA new study finds that 40 percent of Michigan households with at least one worker don’t make enough money to meet basic survival needs.

The report, commissioned by the Michigan Association of United Ways and released today focuses on people whose earnings are above the poverty line but still unable to cover expenses such as housing, transportation and health and child care.

Their households, according to the study, are 13 percent short of filling the gap between how much money wage earners take home and what they need to cover those expenses.

Can this child's family afford to feed and house him?
Can this child’s family afford to feed and house him?

The United Way in 2009 coined the acronym ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. The project, which focuses on people within that group, started in New Jersey and has spread to Michigan and several other states.

The report found that about 930,000 Michigan households fall within the ALICE criteria, and the number grows to 1.5 million when those below the poverty line are added.

“ALICE exists in populations all over the state,” said Scott Dzurka, president and chief executive of the Lansing-based association, which represents about 60 United Way chapters statewide that coordinate, promote and provide social and economic services.

Scott Dzurka“There are many perceptions out there about where poverty exists,” he added. “It’s not just an urban issue, it’s a rural issue.”

Michigan is among the first states beyond New Jersey to perform its own version of the study, so no regional or national comparisons can be made. But New Jersey’s statewide report in 2011 found that 30 percent of its households couldn’t cover basic expenses.

Dzurka said there’s “no silver bullet” for those working yet struggling to make ends meet but he views the report as “a starting point” for conversations with local governments, nonprofits and businesses. Efforts could include boosting the quantity and quality of affordable housing and medium- and high-skilled jobs.

“Here’s a group of people who are tinkering on the edge who could potentially fall back into more (poverty) and become more costly,” Dzurka said. “I think everybody has an interest here.”

Gilda Jacobs of Michigan League for Public Policy
Gilda Jacobs of Michigan League for Public Policy

Research on the studies is led by Rutgers University-Newark’s School of Public Affairs and Administration. Dzurka said the association also worked with the Michigan League for Public Policy, an advocacy group for the poor that also publishes reports examining families’ financial hardships and the economic gaps they face.

Michigan League officials say the United Way study breaks new ground by estimating the share of families who don’t make ends meet.

“This is further proof that Michigan needs to do much more to support working families,” Gilda Jacobs, the group’s president and CEO, said in an email. “That means working families would get better tax credits and more help with child care, and we need to raise the minimum wage even more than we have.”

(VOD tried to obtain a copy of the actual report, but ironically it is listed as “private” on the the United Ways’ website, meaning one has to pay to get it. VOD is among the 40 percent, so we couldn’t afford the expense. 

The report covers households ABOVE THE POVERTY LEVEL WITH AT LEAST ONE WORKER who can’t meet expenses. Since we were unable to obtain separate statistics for Detroit, VOD  investigated statistics for Detroiters BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL, from census sources for 2012. They are shocking compared with levels in Michigan as a whole, and with the United Ways report.

DETROIT: GROUND ZERO

DETROIT: GROUND ZERO

Thirty-eight percent of all Detroit residents live UNDER THE POVERTY LEVEL, with figures ranging up to 55.5% percent for families with children under 18. Individuals 15 and over had poverty levels of 43.2%. Since these figures don’t cover those who have dropped out of the workforce, the real poverty rates are much higher, particularly for Black families and youth, who comprise 82% of Detroit’s population.

The fact that 40% of Michigan households over the poverty level can’t cover expenses, while indicative of the rich vs. poor war, still pales in comparison to the situation in Detroit, GROUND ZERO in the war on poor and working people and on the Black population nationally. 

PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WHOSE INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS IS BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL MICHIGAN DETROIT
All families 11.7% 33.0%
With related children under 18 years 19.2% 45.2%
Married couple families 5.2% 16.6%
With related children under 18 years 8.1% 25.6%
Families with female householder, no husband present 33.7% 44.9%
With related children under 18 years 44.0% 55.5%
All people 16.3% 38.1%
Under 18 years 22.8% 52.7%
Related children under 18 years 22.4% 52.4%
18 years and over 14.3% 32.8%
18 to 64 years 15.7% 35.1%
65 years and over 8.2% 20.1%
People in families 13.4% 36.8%
Unrelated individuals 15 years and over 29.1% 43.2%
The authors of this report stated they didn't have solutions, but protesters at May Day march in downtown Detroit offered theirs.

The authors of this report stated they didn’t have solutions, but protesters at May Day march in downtown Detroit offered theirs.


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BLACK LAWYERS FOR JUSTICE SUES FERGUSON POLICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AFTER MURDER OF MICHAEL BROWN

Malik Z. Shabazz, president and founder of Black Lawyers for Justice based in Washington, D.C., holds a news conference in front of the federal courthouse in St. Louis on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 where he announced the details of a $40 million lawsuit his organization filed against police and the governments of Ferguson and St. Louis County. The lawsuit alleges that police in Ferguson and St. Louis County used excessive force and falsely arrested innocent bystanders amid attempts to quell widespread unrest after the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson)

Malik Z. Shabazz, president and founder of Black Lawyers for Justice based in Washington, D.C., holds a news conference in front of the federal courthouse in St. Louis on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 where he announced the details of a $40 million lawsuit his organization filed against police and the governments of Ferguson and St. Louis County. The lawsuit alleges that police in Ferguson and St. Louis County used excessive force and falsely arrested innocent bystanders amid attempts to quell widespread unrest after the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson)

Missouri citizens seek $40 million in federal court for harsh police tactics after shooting death of Michael Brown

August 29, 2014

Al Jazeera America

Police in riot gear threaten Ferguson teen with arms raised: DON'T SHOOT.
Police in riot gear threaten Ferguson teen with arms raised: DON’T SHOOT.

St. Louis, MO — A group of people caught up in the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer, sued local officials on Thursday, alleging civil rights violations stemming from arrests and police actions that used rubber bullets and tear gas.

 The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, says law enforcement met the broad public outcry over the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown with “militaristic displays of force and weaponry,” and engaged U.S. citizens “as if they were war combatants.”

Michael Brown, 18, murdered by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson
Michael Brown, 18, murdered by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson

The lawsuit, filed by D.C.-based Black Lawyers For Justice (BLFJ), seeks a total of $40 million on behalf of six plaintiffs, including a 17-year-old boy who was with his mother in a fast-food restaurant when they were arrested. Each of the plaintiffs was caught up in interactions with police over a period from Aug. 11 to 13, the suit alleges.

 “We filed this suit because there were serious constitutional and human rights violations carried out at the hands of Ferguson police during the demonstrations,” said Malik Shabazz, lead attorney for the group filing the suit. Shabazz said the suit alleges “4th, 5th and 1st Amendment violations.”

Neither the city, county nor police departments had any immediate comment on the lawsuit.

The filing of the lawsuit followed nearly two weeks of demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, where Brown’s killing prompted area residents to take to the streets. The initial show of force by city and county police, which included riot gear and military-style assault weapons and armored vehicles, elevated local tensions and drew national attention.

Ferguson youth express outrage Aug.15 at police murder of Michael Brown.
Ferguson youth express outrage Aug.15 at police murder of Michael Brown.

Supporters of the police response cite looting of a few Ferguson businesses that occurred during some of the nights of demonstrations.

But attorneys for the plaintiffs said that is not a direct justification for police actions. “The evidence will come out showing that very few people were arrested for actual looting,” said Shabazz. “Many allegations of protester misconduct have been found to be blown out of proportion,” Shabazz said, adding it still didn’t merit a “blanket approach.”

“Gassing and arresting everyone within a 3 mile radius is preposterous,” said Shabazz. “Those kinds of actions, in fact, only encourage some people.”

“You can’t just gas people off the streets, and arrest them simply because there’s protesting and unrest,” Shabazz said.

Atty. Malik Shabazz, head of Black Lawyers for Justice, on courthouse steps.
Atty. Malik Shabazz, head of Black Lawyers for Justice, on courthouse steps.

One of the plaintiffs alleges she and her son were in a McDonald’s restaurant when several police officers with rifles ordered them out. According to the suit, an officer threw her to the ground and handcuffed her, with she and her son both arrested.

 

Another plaintiff alleges he was trying to visit his mother in Ferguson when several police officers in military uniforms shot him with rubber bullets. When he fell over, he was beaten and sprayed with pepper spray, the lawsuit says.

Two other plaintiffs say they were peacefully protesting when officers in riot gear fired on them with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. A separate plaintiff says he was trying to record footage of the protests when police took his camera and arrested him.

“This is a blatant example of how police handle African-Americans … how it can go terribly, terribly wrong. You have a right to peaceful assembly,” said BLFJ attorney Reginald Greene.

Ferguson cop Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown to death, numerous times.
Ferguson cop Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown to death, numerous times. He is still at large and has not been charged.

Ferguson Police said officer Darren Wilson shot Brown on a residential street when a dispute erupted after Wilson asked Brown to move out of the road. Some witnesses have reported that Brown was holding his hands up in surrender when he was shot multiple times, including twice in the head.

 Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they expect more complaints will come, and if more victims sign on, they will look to upgrade the suit to class-action status.

Shabazz, who is president of the BLFJ, said he hopes suits like this one will encourage better training of police, so that when there is unrest, it is met with a more disciplined and professional response. “We hope this will send a message to every police department in America,” said Shabazz, “if you violate the constitutional and human rights of black people, you will be aggressively challenged in court on these issues.”

A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence in the case. The U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.

Reuters. Amel Ahmed contributed to this report

Click on http://www.blfjustice.org/ to see lawsuit.


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DETROITERS ASK JUDGE TO BAR WATER SHUT-OFFS UNTIL LAWSUIT RESOLVED; HEARING TUES. SEPT. 2

National protest against water shut-offs in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014.

National protest against water shut-offs in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014.

 

COALITION ASKS FOR TRO AGAINST SHUT-OFFS

August 25, 2014

DETROIT – In an effort to preserve a moratorium on water shut-offs, a group of Detroit residents and civil rights attorneys filed court documents over the weekend asking a judge to immediately block the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) from terminating water service to any occupied residence, and to require the restoration of service to occupied residences without water.

Alice Jennings speaks at federal courthouse to protest phony Detroit bankruptcy.
Alice Jennings speaks at federal courthouse to protest phony Detroit bankruptcy.

The moratorium was currently scheduled to end today. The ACLU of Michigan and NAACP Legal Defense fund are serving as expert consultants in the ongoing litigation.

 “Without a continued moratorium on water shutoffs, thousands more Detroiters, mostly low income children, seniors, and disabled, will immediately be at risk for shutoff,” says Alice Jennings of Edwards & Jennings, P.C., counsel in the lawsuit.

“A comprehensive water affordability plan, a viable bill dispute process, specific polices for landlord-tenant bills and a sustainable mechanism for evaluating the number of families in shutoff status or at risk for shutoff, is necessary prior to lifting the DWSD water shutoff moratorium.”

Jennings said that Judge Steven Rhodes scheduled the hearing at 8:30, on September 2, 2014.

“The legal team is requesting support for the Plaintiffs in the courtroom or outside of court. The bankruptcy trial is also schedules to begin that day. Please let me know what you are hearing about shutoffs this week.”

The motion for a temporary restraining order filed yesterday is part of a class action lawsuit, Lyda et.al v. City of Detroit, on behalf of Detroit residents affected by the mass shut-off campaign of DWSD, as well as organizations active in the fight for the restoration of and affordable access to water. They include the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, People’s Water Board, National Action Network-Michigan Chapter and Moratorium Now!.

This suit is currently in bankruptcy court before Judge Stephen Rhodes as part of the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. The lawsuit argues that that the DWSD began water shutoffs without adequate notice and against the most vulnerable residents, while commercial entities with delinquent accounts were left alone. The suit also argues that this violates the plaintiffs’ due process and equal protection rights.

RUN THESE HOMRICH TRUCKS OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD! Company being paid $5.8 M to shut Detroiters' water off.

RUN THESE HOMRICH TRUCKS OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD! Company being paid $5.8 M to shut Detroiters’ water off.

“More than 17,000 homes have had their water cut off and water bills in Detroit are among the highest in the country and unaffordable to many Detroit residents,” says Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “The rush to resume shut offs when there are serious questions about the affordability plan, accuracy of bills, and issues with the water department’s ability to process disputes, means that the City of Detroit should get its house in order before turning off anyone else’s water.”

In March, DWSD began dispatching private contractors to begin shutting off water service to residents who are more than 60 days delinquent, or owe more than $150. Despite the fact that 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, the shut-offs began without a plan to help those who cannot pay.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in San Francisco: "We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in San Francisco: “We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

After public outcry and this lawsuit, the city implemented a moratorium and announced a 10-point plan to address the dysfunctions raised by the lawsuit and civil rights groups.

“The mayor’s plan only consists of proposals and temporary fixes,” said Rev. Charles Williams of the National Action Network-Michigan Chapter. “Until actual policies are in place to ensure that residents have access to affordable water, the water shut-offs cannot be resumed. The current proposal for residents to enter into non-negotiable payment plans is only a short-term solution.”

Last month, the ACLU of Michigan and NAACP LDF wrote a letter to city officials arguing that that the poorly implemented and uneven DWSD shut-off policy violates the civil and human rights, as well as the due process rights of residents because it often fails to provide them with adequate notice and a hearing that takes into account whether they actually have the ability to pay.

“DWSD must immediately restore water to all its customers,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “In addition, they should create a reasonable timetable for a hearing and appeals process, pending resolution of these issues.”

Attorneys for residents are calling on Judge Rhodes to order DWSD to extend the moratorium to ensure that the most vulnerable Detroiters are not left without water. The moratorium on shut offs should be extended until DWSD has policies in place to ensure that collections are done in a way that doesn’t violate residents constitutional rights.

Tawana Petty, an activist with the People’s Water Board Coalition, echoed these sentiments. “We are asking the Governor, Mayor, Emergency Manager and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to stop their assault on the citizens of Detroit and restore all water to residents. Water is life and without it, we perish.”

► Read the motion for a temporary restraining order

► Read the lawsuit filed by civil rights groups

► Read the letter to Detroit officials urging an immediate moratorium on water shut-offs

CONTACT: Alice Jennings, Edwards & Jennings, P.C, at ajennings@edwardsjennings.com or 313.961.5000

Rana Elmir, ACLU of Michigan, at relmir@aclumich.org, 313.578.6816

Jennifer Parker, NAACP LDF at jparker@naacpldf.org, 212-965-2783

Linda Willis and nephew help protest outside Water Board Building Aug. 15, 2014.
Linda Willis and nephew help protest outside Water Board Building Aug. 15, 2014.

In addition to the lawsuit filed Aug. 25, Hassan Aleen and Carl Williams, along with members of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association, filed an objection to the upcoming water shut-offs Aug. 21, stating in part:

 “Governor Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr conspired by their action and were cruel in their action and in a sense using punishment for those being unfortunately unable to pay a water bill for something that is an essential necessity of life to exist, a “God” given element of life.

Their action was shocking to conscious people all over the world in the so-called richest country in the world depriving their residents and citizens of a God-given necessity. In the way it was executed it was a cruel and usual violation of IX Amendment of the United States Constitution. Gov. Snyder and his sidekick Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr contravened the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Art. 1 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Art. 5 No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Art. 7 All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Art. 8 Everyone has a right to any effective remedy by the competent National tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Art. 10 Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

We need Magistrate Judge Steven W. Rhodes to order an investigation against the State of Michigan and to hold a hearing on this matter in connection with the Bankruptcy.”

Full objection at DB DAREA objection re water shutoffs.

Protesters including Baxter Jones (in front) prepare for arrest July 18 as they blockade Homrich entrance.

Protesters including Baxter Jones (in front) prepare for arrest July 18 as they blockade Homrich entrance.

 


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OFFICER DARREN WILSON: PHOTO OF MIKE BROWN’S KILLER SURFACES; ST. LOUIS POLICE KILL ANOTHER BLACK MAN AUG. 20 IN ST. LOUIS

Darren Wilson

 

News OneAug 16, 2014
By NewsOne Staff

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, 28, received an award for “extraordinary effort in the line of duty” months before he gunned down unarmed teenager Mike Brown and left him in the street for 4 hours last Saturday, reports Yahoo News.

RELATED: Jesse Williams On Ferguson: ‘White People Have The Privilege Of Being Treated Like Human Beings’

Wilson’s father, John Wilson, posted how proud he was of his son on Facebook:

“Very proud of my son, Darren Wilson on his receiving a Commendation from his Police Department,” John Wilson wrote on February 11. “Congratulations Son.”

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson released Wilson’s name during a press conference on Friday after 5 days of refusing to do so.

Michael Brown, unarmed, shot dead numerous times by Darren Wilson as he held his hands in the air,

Michael Brown, unarmed, shot dead numerous times by Darren Wilson as he held his hands in the air,

When reporters tried to contact Wilson, it was revealed that he and his family had “left town days ago.”

Four days ago John Wilson turned to Facebook for support without mentioning his son by name.

“Dear FB friends, Our family is in need for prayers to be sent up for a family member,” John Wilson wrote. “Circumstances do not allow for us to say anything further. Please pray with our family in mind. Put a covering of protection over our family member please.”

Protester in Ferguson.

Protester in Ferguson.

A woman who replied in the comment thread told John that she could put him in touch with someone that “has been through many difficult times with his children. Prayers are what brought the family through the rough times. We are just a phone call away.”

John Wilson thanked his many friends who were quick to offer encouragement.

“Please continue to do so as we deal with a family situation that is very challenging,” he wrote.

In his last post this week, John Wilson shared a saying from a Texas evangelical pastor: “When something is ‘out of control’ it is merely out of your control — not God’s!”

The Ferguson police department has done it’s best to paint Brown as the aggressor, describing Wilson as a “gentle” man and an “excellent” police officer who is “devastated” about killing Brown.

But he wasn’t too devastated to stand over him and gun him down while the unarmed teen held his hands in the air.

The FBI is currently conducting an investigation, while the citizens of Ferguson continue to protest Brown’s brutal slaying.

CELLPHONE VIDEO APPEARS TO CONTRADICT OFFICER ACCOUNTS IN KAIJEME POWELL KILLING AUG. 20 IN ST. LOUIS, MO

Within 15 seconds of arriving at the scene officers fired on Powell

By Ian Blair

The St. Louis Police Department released cellphone video footage and the 9-1-1 dispatch recording on Wednesday showing the killing of a 25-year-old black man, Kajieme Powell, by two white police officers shortly after Powell allegedly shoplifted [donuts] from a local convenience store  The incident transpired only three miles south of Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, less than two weeks prior.

Kajieme Powell 2
Kajieme Powell moments before police shot him to death multiple times.

In a press conference on Tuesday, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson had said his officers fired upon Powell after Powell allegedly got within 3 or 4 feet of them while wielding a knife “in an overhand grip.”

But the cellphone video released Wednesday appears to contradict Chief Dotson’s story and his officer’s police reports. In the video, the two officers arrive on the scene in their signature police SUV responding to the 9-1-1 call from the store owner. Powell appears to be pacing as described by numerous witnesses though it is difficult to make out his words. When the officers got out of their vehicle, Powell clearly yells, still pacing about. Witnesses said the suspect yelled, “Shoot me now. Kill me now.” Powell then approaches the officers with both hands at his side and clearly further away than “3 or 4 feet,” when the two officers fire nearly a dozen shots.

Kajieme Powell after St. Louis cops killed him with multiple gun shots. They continued to point their guns at him and handcuffed him while he lay dead on the ground.

Kajieme Powell after St. Louis cops killed him with multiple gun shots. They continued to point their guns at him and handcuffed him while he lay dead on the ground.

The whole incident, from the time officers arrived to when they began shooting, lasts only 15 seconds.

In an interview following the release of the tapes, Chief Dotson defended his officers’ actions, acknowledging the discrepancies in his Tuesday briefing and what the video shows.

“The officers did what I think you or I would do, they protected their life in that situation,” Chief Dotson said.

When pressed by CNN’s Don Lemon about the need for officers to exercise lethal force, Dotson replied: “In a lethal situation, they used lethal force.”

Ian Blair is a Master’s Candidate in the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at NYU. Follow him on Twitter: @i2theb.


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NEAR “CATASTROPHIC FAILURE” OF DETROIT SEWAGE PUMPS CAUSED DETROIT FLOODS, TOLEDO WATER CRISIS, CITY RETIREES SAY

Drivers wade to safety on one of numerous metro Detroit freeways that were flooded August 11, 2014.

Drivers wade to safety on one of numerous metro Detroit freeways that were flooded August 11, 2014. Some said they had to swim. A 100-year-old woman was reported drowned in her suburban Detroit basement.

Under contractor EMA, which caused 2012 Toronto flood, Wastewater Treatment Plant runs with skeleton crew, grossly negligent maintenance 

WWTP retirees advocate cancellation of $5.2 B water/sewerage debt in Detroit bankruptcy:  “Re-financing” will profit banks, not people  

Call for end to pension cuts, water shut-offs

Protest at BOWC meeting 735 Randolph 1 p.m. Fri. Aug. 22; Freedom Friday 4 p.m. at same location; Stop pension cuts, water shutoffs 4:45 pm CAYMC; Water shut-offs resume Aug. 25; Bankruptcy trial, protest re-set for Sept. 2

City retirees host press conference Aug. 13, 2014, demanding cancellation of DWSD debt to make water affordable. WWTP retirees Mike Mulholland (center) and Bill Davis (r) spoke on the true causes of Detroit's historic floods Aug. 11 and the Toledo water emergency. Photo: Stephanie Davis/WWJ.
City retirees host press conference Aug. 13, 2014, demanding cancellation of DWSD debt to make water affordable. WWTP retirees Mike Mulholland (center) and Bill Davis (r) spoke on the true causes of Detroit’s historic floods Aug. 11 and the Toledo water emergency. Numerous other retirees also spoke on the illegallity of the Detroit bankruptcy and cuts to their pensions and annuities, including a 6.75 % interest charge on the annuity cuts. Photo: Stephanie Davis/WWJ.

By Diane Bukowski 

 August 20, 2014

DETROIT – City retirees from Detroit’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) said at a press conference Aug. 13 that workforce cuts resulting in grossly negligent sewage pump maintenance caused the massive flooding of metro Detroit freeways and homes Aug. 11 to Aug. 12, leading to three deaths and untold property damage.

They said Detroit pump failures also played a major role in the Toledo, Ohio water emergency that began Aug 3. During the weeks-long crisis, 430,000 residents of that city and parts of southeastern Michigan could not use municipal water to drink, bathe, cook, or wash dishes as it was contaminated with toxic algae and other substances. Authorities told them that even boiling water would not remove the toxins.

Water ban Toledo Monroe county

“Monies that should have been allocated to improvements in our infrastructure and helped employ people went to the banks in illegal deals instead,” said Bill Davis, who worked 34 years at the plant and retired as a shift supervisor. “That $5 billion going to the banks under the bankruptcy plan should instead be going to the people, to rebuild our system.”

DWSD Director Sue McCormick (l) .and BOWC chair James Fausone, Sept. 17, 2012
DWSD Director Sue McCormick (l) .and BOWC chair James Fausone, Sept. 17, 2012

The previous week, Detroit’s Board of Water Commissioners and the City Council approved a “re-financing” of DWSD debt ordered by EM Kevyn Orr. The Michigan Finance Authority approved the re-financing deal Aug. 12.

Their actions make over $2 billion of the $5.2 billion debt, originally “impaired” (reduced) under the plan, subject to full payment. The deal, while claiming to ensure lower interest rates for DWSD bonds, closely resembles the gamble on Wall Street interest rates involved in the $1.5 billion “Certificates of Participation” loan of 2005-06. Detroit defaulted on that loan after the Wall Street crash of 2008. (For complete release and presentation, cick on: pr2014-08-06-2014_Bond_Refinance_Release_final_2014  and bowc_pr_tender_refunding_moneyplan_2014-08-06.)

DWSD debt re-financing means billions more for the banks.

DWSD debt re-financing means billions more for the banks.

The lenders, instead of taking the city’s proposed 40 percent of the total $2.5 billion still outstanding on the loan due to interest rates and penalties, are demanding full payment. This is despite the fact that even Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr called the loan “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable” in a lawsuit filed in bankruptcy court Jan. 17.

Flooded basement in Detroit.
Flooded basement in Detroit.

“If you have a basement flooded right now, thank Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr,” Davis said. “That money should have been clawed back from the banks, not from the retirees. At one time we were under federal review because we were polluting and almost killed Lake Erie, now we’ve gone back to that. I’m surprised that people of Toledo are not calling Gov. Snyder every day.”

 Mike Mulholland, president of AFSCME Local 207, and also a WWTP retiree, said that the plant director and many staff members are now from EMA, Inc., an engineering consultant firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“They have reduced staffing to a skeleton crew,” Mulholland said. “Although there was a torrential rain Monday, the sewage pumps already were not working properly due to minimal maintenance. It is EMA’s intention to strip the plant down and run it remotely as much as it can. Instead of 24/7 maintenance, they only check equipment every few days. The pumping stations at the plant, the incinerators, and other equipment are close to catastrophic failure.”

WWTP Pump Station #1
WWTP Pump Station #1

Davis told VOD that one of the two largest pumps in WWTP Station #1 is out of service, while only five of seven pumps in WWTP Station #2 are working. He said DWSD director Sue McCormick is promoting unqualified white staff to positions previously held by well-trained Black workers who have retired or been laid off.

 “She doesn’t want to see Black faces around there,” Davis said. DWSD has had predominantly Black workers for years. Davis added that Black city retirees are the most affected by cuts to their annuity savings plan payments under the bankruptcy plan, since those cuts affect only those who retired beginning in 2003.

EMA exec. Brian Hurding at Board of Water Commissioners meeting Sept. 7, 2012.
EMA exec. Brian Hurding at Board of Water Commissioners meeting Sept. 7, 2012.

 

The dismantling of the WWTP is especially dangerous because it is the only plant out of five run by DWSD that treats wastewater for runoff and sewage before it is released into the environment. It serves the needs of a 946 square mile six-county area including Detroit and 76 other communities.

 Under previous federal oversight by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, who is now taking part in bankruptcy mediation related to DWSD, EMA, Inc. recommended that 81 percent of the department’s workforce be eliminated. While supervising sewage plants in Toronto, EMA caused similar floods of subways and basements during a downpour in 2011.

Flooding of Union Station in Toronto subway system in 2011. Raw sewage backed up into the subways and residential basements as EMA supervised sewage plants.

Flooding of Union Station in Toronto subway system in 2011. Raw sewage backed up into the subways and residential basements as EMA supervised sewage plants.

“Along with the water shut-offs, they want to run our water system on the cheap and make it ripe for privatization,” Mulholland said. He agreed with Davis that sewage overflow from the WWTP, running downriver into Lake Erie, contributed to the build-up of poisonous “algae blooms” that caused the crisis in Toledo.

 “We are killing the lakes that make this place liveable,” Mullholland said.

“The whole purpose of the takeover of the WWTP in 1977 was to bring Lake Erie back. We did bring it back, with hard work, adequate staffing, and training, but now we’re going backward to 1977.”

A report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency detailed the transformation of Lake Erie over that time, due to efforts to control phosphorus concentration and sewage over flow from wastewater treatment plants feeding into the Lake.

“The result was greater than a 90% reduction in phosphorus concentration and loading from the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant,” the EPA report said. “Similar reductions occurred in other wastewater treatment plants, however, because of the Detroit plant’s 700 million gallon per day flow, the impact on Lake Erie was substantial. The Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant would become the single largest reason for the reversal of cultural eutrophication [algae and other plant takeover] of Lake Erie during the 1970s and 1980s. Lake Erie responded with dramatic improvements in water quality.”

Legal analyst Carl Williams
Legal analyst Carl Williams

In addition to EMA’s dismantling of the WWTP, legal analyst Carl Williams noted that “change orders,” barred by Art. 11 Sec. 3 of the Michigan Constitution, have jacked up DWSD contractors’ profits by billions over the years, to the detriment of ratepayers, workers, and services.

 “It cannot be ‘extra compensation’ under the constitution,” Williams said. “These contractors low bid to get the contract, then come back and jack the price up. Detroit is a cash cow. Now that more people are aware, maybe we can stop the looting of Detroit under this illegal bankruptcy.”

Art. 11 Sec. 3 of the state constitution says, “Neither the legislature nor any political subdivision of this state shall grant or authorize extra compensation to any public officer, agent or contractor after the service has been rendered or the contract entered into.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan denied any malfunctions at DWSD caused the floods, in a release.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Gov RIck Snyder at press conference holding proposed bankruptcy "Grand Bargain."

Mayor Mike Duggan and Gov RIck Snyder at press conference holding proposed bankruptcy “Grand Bargain,” known to city retirees and residents as the “Grand Theft.”

“Despite the extraordinarily heavy downpour, DWSD’s operational systems suffered no failures and by design excess water was discharged into the Detroit River as rapidly as possible in an effort to prevent flooding,” Duggan said. “Unfortunately, the volume of rain—over five inches in some areas—overwhelmed sewer systems, causing widespread flooding.” Duggan said.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford superimposed over photo of Union Station flooding in Toronto.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford superimposed over photo of Union Station flooding in Toronto.

Similar denials were issued by Toronto Mayor and alleged crackhead Rob Ford in 2012.

 City officials noted that flooding of this type [raw sewage] also presents health concerns and risks,” the Detroit release continued. “City residents who experienced basement flooding are advised to contact local restoration services to dry and disinfect their belongings. If your skin has come into contact with sewer water, be sure to wash thoroughly with anti‐bacterial soap immediately afterward.”

The release also advised residents to clear the storm drains in front of their houses, as if that were the cause for the flooding.

“I remember when the City of Detroit not only cleaned our neighborhood streets several times a year, but also brought trucks with vacuum hoses to suction the sewage out of blocked drains,” Cornell Squires said. “That what we pay taxes for and that’s why we should cancel DWSD’s debt.”

Larry Young of Highland Park tries to clean out his storm drain during Detroit flood, coming up with handful of contaminated sewage. Photo:DFP

Larry Young of Highland Park tries to clean out his storm drain during Detroit flood, coming up with handful of contaminated sewage. Photo:DFP

In Toledo and parts of lower southeastern Michigan Aug. 3, authorities told 430,000 residents not to use to the area’s water to drink, bathe, brush their teeth, wash dishes or cook, because a toxic algae bloom had caused a large dead spot in the lake, taking it back to conditions from the 1970’s. Even boiling the water would not remove the toxins, authorities said.

Truckloads of bottled water were delivered from across the state, in scenes eerily similar to the creation of “water hubs” supplying bottled water in Detroit neighborhoods where residents had their water shut off in droves for minor delinquencies in payments.

NASA map showing toxic algae still present in Lake Erie at Toledo Aug. 20, 2014. Map shows how Detroit River, contaminated by WWTP sewage, flows into Lake Erie.The Ohio National Guard used water purification systems to produce drinkable water. In southeastern Michigan, authorities operated water stations for 30,000 customers affected by the toxic contamination.

The AP reported, “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a satellite image showing a small but concentrated algae bloom centered right where Toledo draws its water supply, said Jeff Reutter, head of the Ohio Sea Grant research lab. ‘The amount of phosphorus going into the lake has risen every year since the mid-1990s. We’re right back to where we were in the ’70s,’ Reutter said.”

Oakland County confirmed the allegations of WWTP retirees in a bankruptcy court objection to the Plan of Adjustment, concurred in by Macomb and Wayne Counties.

Bail out the people not the banks“The City’s Plan, which includes $2.9 billion in funding for its proposed Capital Improvement Program (“CIP”) over the next 10 years, fails to appropriately budget for the very significant capital improvements that are necessary to maintain the water and wastewater systems in good repair and provide reliable service.

“The DWSD continues to maintain its systems, at best, on an ‘as needed basis’ only, failing to adequately inspect, service, and maintain systems in accordance with normal industry standards. Capital improvements which are deferred pursuant to the City’s projections will likely cause catastrophic failures that will compromise public health, safety, and welfare.”

Instead of calling for cuts to the banks and contractors, however, the Oakland County objection blames delinquent water bills in Detroit. Detroiters are already penalized for these by higher sewerage rates, and the addition of outstanding bills to their property tax accounts.

Such suburban allegations sparked EM Orr’s order to shut off water to 170,000 Detroit homes last month. After local protests and global attention, Orr agreed to a pause in shut-offs, which is due to end Aug. 25.

During a meeting prior to the retirees’ press conference, U.S. Rep. John Conyers spoke on various issues including the water shut-offs. He said he would investigate the possibility of introducing a bill in the U.S. Congress to completely ban water shut-offs as a threat to the public health and safety, like the laws that exist in the United Kingdom and other countries.

Freedom Fridays protesters outside the Water Board building in downtown Detroit Aug. 15, 2014.

Freedom Fridays protesters outside the Water Board building in downtown Detroit Aug. 15, 2014.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

  • The Sierra Club has called on those who oppose the dismantling of DWSD and the City of Detroit, as well as water shut-offs, to attend a Special Meeting of the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners tomorrow, Aug. 22, at 1 p.m. at 735 Randolph, the Water Board building.
  • Detroit Freedom Friday 15:  August 22, 2014 4:00 pm at the DWSD downtown office, 735 Randolph Detroit 4:30 pm – March through the financial district to Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to join religious leaders in a protest against the water shutoffs and the attacks on City of Detroit workers’ pensions at 4:45 pm.
  • The start of the bankruptcy trial has been changed again! The new date is Tuesday, September 2. Consequently, the demonstration will be on Tuesday, September 2, beginning at 8:30am. To endorse the demonstration please call 248-470-0296 or email endorsement to moratorium@moratorium-mi.org For more details, please visit Demonstrate Outside Bankruptcy Court – Aug. 29 – Start of Detroit Bankruptcy Trial.

Some related articles:

Finger Pointing Begins As Cause For Flooding Is Examined WWJ report

Detroit retirees workers blast water department bond restructuring DN

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/13/detroit-retirees-water-affordability-plan-make-the-banks-pay-press-conference-wed-aug-13-3-pm/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/03/detroit-water-shut-offs-city-takeover-still-on-full-blast/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/31/retirees-picket-afscme-for-withdrawing-detroit-bankruptcy-appeal/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/07/retiree-groups-unions-to-nix-detroit-bankruptcy-eligibility-appeals-at-6th-circuit-after-trial/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/27/detroit-bankruptcy-vote-8-3b-gain-for-banks-4-5b-loss-for-workers-retirees-dismantling-of-city/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/10/pastors-community-leaders-arrested-blocking-homrich-gates-to-stop-detroit-water-shut-offs/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/05/dgrs-sells-out-retirees-barrow-call-for-no-vote-on-bankruptcy-plan/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/03/12/grand-theft-of-detroits-water-dept-imminent-water-board-mtg-wed-march-13-2pm/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/22/contractor-ema-proposes-to-cut-81-percent-of-dwsd-jobs-workers-mobilize-for-strike/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/22/toronto-under-water-sewage-in-wake-of-ema-plan/


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BANK OF AMERICA AGREES TO NEARLY $17B MORTGAGE FRAUD SETTLEMENT; HELPED DESTROY DETROIT

Protesters outside Detroit bankruptcy court.

Protesters outside Detroit bankruptcy court.

LARGEST USDOJ BANK SETTLEMENT SINCE 2008 CRASH

NO CRIMINAL PROSECUTION OF EXECS

BOA PART OF FRAUDULENT POC DEAL CITED BY EM KEVYN ORR IN DETROIT BANKRUPTCY FILING

Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow (l) at council hearing on $1.5 B COPs loan Jan. 31, 2005. Speaking in support of deal in Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings. Bill Doherty of SBS is in center, Photo: Diane Bukowski
Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow (l) at City Council  hearing on $1.5 B COPs loan Jan. 31, 2005. Speaking in support of deal in Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings. Bill Doherty of SBS is in center. After demurring for a while, the Council okayed the loan unanimously. Photo: Diane Bukowski

(VOD: Bank of America is the principal backer of one lender involved in Detroit’s fraudulent $1.5B “Certificates of Participation” loan in 2005-06, which Detroit EM Kevyn Orr cited as a prime factor in his bankruptcy filing. BOA backed SBS Financial, whose current COO Sean Werdlow took his job with them shortly after he negotiated the deal as Detroit CFO under Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

 The city defaulted on the  loan three times after the 2008 global market crash, largely caused by predatory mortgage lending. The lenders are still demanding the city pay them $2.5 billion, including interest and penalties, as part of a bankrupty settlement. Even Detroit EM Kevyn Orr called that loan “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable” in a lawsuit filed Jan. 17 in the city’s bankruptcy case. Judge Steven Rhodes has yet to hear that suit and likely never will.)

AP logoAugust 21, 2014 11:32 AM ET

By PETE YOST and MARCY GORDON

WASHINGTON (AP) – The government has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

The deal calls for the bank, the second-largest in the U.S., to pay a $5 billion cash penalty, another $4.6 billion in remediation payments and provide about $7 billion in relief to struggling homeowners.

JPMorgan Chase settled with USDOJ for $13 billion.
JPMorgan Chase settled with USDOJ for $13 billion.

The settlement is by far the largest deal the Justice Department has reached with a bank over the 2008 mortgage meltdown. In the last year, JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to a $13 billion settlement while Citigroup reached a separate $7 billion deal.

 At a news conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said the bank and its Countrywide and Merrill Lynch subsidiaries had “engaged in pervasive schemes to defraud financial institutions and other investors” by misrepresenting the soundness of mortgage-backed securities. The penalties, Holder said, go “far beyond the cost of doing business.”

According to one example laid out by the government, Bank of America knew that a significant number of loans packaged into $850 million in securities were experiencing a marked increase in underwriting defects. Notwithstanding the red flags, the bank sold these residential mortgage-backed securities to federally backed financial institutions, the government said in a 30-page statement of facts that is part of the settlement.

Countrywide founder Angelo Mozillo.
Countrywide founder Angelo Mozillo.

 

In California, Countrywide concealed from investors the company’s use of “shadow guidelines” that permitted loans to riskier borrowers than Countrywide’s underwriting guidelines would otherwise allow, according to the statement of facts.

In addition, over a period of years, “Countrywide and Bank of America unloaded toxic mortgage loans on the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with false representations that the loans were quality investments,” said Preet Bhara, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York.

The government said the civil settlement, the largest reached with a single entity, does not release individuals from civil charges, nor does it absolve Bank of America, its current or former subsidiaries and affiliates or any individuals from potential criminal prosecution.

BOA CEO Brian Moynihan.
BOA CEO Brian Moynihan.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement that the company believes the settlement “is in the best interests of our shareholders and allows us to continue to focus on the future.”

 

Of the $16.65 billion, almost $10 billion will be paid to settle federal and state civil claims by entities related to residential mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and other types of fraud.

An independent monitor will determine whether Bank of America is satisfying its obligations under the settlement.

“In the run-up to the financial crisis, Merrill Lynch bought more and more mortgage loans, packaged them together and sold them off in securities — even when the bank knew a substantial number of those loans were defective,” said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, whose jurisdiction covers New Jersey.

“The failure to disclose known risks undermines investor confidence in our financial institutions,” Fishman added.

Jail banksters

Bankster CEO’s at U.S. Senate hearing on 2008 economic meltdown.

The Bank of America settlement will resolve allegations that the bank and companies it later bought misrepresented the quality of loans they sold to investors. Most of the problem loans were sold by Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch before Bank of America bought them during the 2008 financial crisis.

Consumer advocates say previous settlements show that the amounts announced in enforcement actions can overstate their actual costs to the companies being penalized.

Eric Holder promised independent monitor in Chase settlement, but money not handed out to homeowners.
Eric Holder promised independent monitor in Chase settlement, but money not handed out to homeowners.

In the deal with JPMorgan in November, the Justice Department had a clear message for homeowners: Billions of dollars’ worth of help was coming. Holder at the time described the appointment of an independent monitor who would distribute $4 billion set aside for homeowner relief.

 The actual relief is more complicated than cash handouts, however.

Both Citigroup and JPMorgan earn credits under the settlement from a “menu” of different consumer-friendly activities, according to settlement documents. The options are effectively an update of the consumer relief previously provided through the national mortgage servicing settlement, a 2012 deal between state attorneys general and the major banks.

JPMorgan probably will earn its $4 billion in credits under the settlement through a total of $4.65 billion of activities that qualified as relief, according to a report by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit run by executives from low-income housing groups and major banks.

More than half will come from principal reductions, with the rest earned through actions such as writing new loans in distressed areas, donating foreclosed properties to community groups and temporarily suspending payments on some loans.

Associated Press writer Jeff Horwitz contributed to this report.

Criminal bankster is sentenced to death in Vietnam.

Criminal bankster is sentenced to death in Vietnam.

 


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IS DETROIT’S FINANCIAL CRISIS CAUSED BY BANK FRAUD AND COURT COVER-UPS? GWEN MINGO COURT HEARING FRI. AUG. 22 9 AM

Gwen Mingo (center) speaks during large protest against Detroit bankruptcy May 1, 2014.
Gwen Mingo (center) speaks during large protest against Detroit bankruptcy May 1, 2014.

 

Judge refuses to honor letter from bank saying homeowner owes nothing

Hearing in Judge Robert Colombo’s court at CAYMC Fri. Aug. 22 9 a.m.

By Ron Seigel

 August 19, 2014

One of the major reasons for Detroit’s economic crisis, which has led to domination by a state appointed emergency manager and the prospect of bankruptcy, is the mass of foreclosures by banks.

So far most critics of the banks have been content to accuse them of making predatory loans. However, one case may lead us to question how many of the debts they are calling in are fraudulent.

Protesters at May Day march against bankruptcy  took over Chase Bank lobby.

Protesters at May Day march against bankruptcy took over Chase Bank lobby.

The giant banking firm, J. P. Morgan Chase, has issued foreclosure proceedings on the home of Gwendolyn Mingo, the former head of the Brush Park Citizens District Council and also the Coordinating Council of all Detroit district councils.

Mingo, however, has shown this reporter a past letter from the exact same bank saying she does not owe them a cent.

When asked about this, the bank refused to comment.

Protesters carry large sign with Chase CEO Jamie Dimon depicted as robber banker.

Protesters carry large sign with Chase CEO Jamie Dimon depicted as robber banker.

Unless the bank is able to give a satisfactory answer, we may well wonder if JP Morgan Chase may have a huge case of financial fraud and violations of the law.

If so, one must wonder if Mrs. Mingo was the only victim or whether there were other false foreclosure suits. If there were others, J. P. Morgan Chase may face today a financial scandal comparable to the ones that faced Charles Ponzi and Bernard Madoff.,

Judge Patricia Fresard.
Judge Patricia Fresard.

Right now though the bank does not have to explain a single thing, thanks to Wayne County Circuit Judge Patricia Fresard.

 

In her foreclosure case, Mrs. Mingo was not allowed to submit the bank’s letter stating she did not owe them any money because the letter was on paper. Recent court rules declare judges in Wayne County foreclosure cases will not look at any documents no matter how relevant unless they are e-filed. Higher court officials admit that often grassroots people like Mrs. Mingo may not be able to afford to e-file or understand how to use such machines. These oficials claim they have solved this problem by allowing those in such situations to use court clerks to e-file under certain conditions.

Mingo says in her case the court clerks refused to e-file her document unless they got an order from the chief judge. When she got this court order somebody in the clerk’s office rejected it. As a result the e-filed document was never seen in court. Judge Fresard refused to consider Mingo’s paper document, even though she was given the copy and awarded Mingo’s home to the bank.

If there was wrongdoing by the bank, Judge Fresard’s rulings may be intentionally or unwittingly aiding a cover up.

Judge Robert Colombo.
Judge Robert Colombo.

It is interesting that the original rules forbidding paper documents were not officially applied in all counties in all cases. One of the areas where it was first applied, in what the court officials called an experimental basis, was inWayne County civil cases, which just happened to be the one place most convenient for banks issuing foreclosures and taking people’s homes. Was this a complete coincidence?

 

Mrs. Mingo has conducted a long appeal, which Friday will be taken up by Chief Judge Robert Colombo. One hopes this will be a real moment of truth, where the chief judge will rule getting the facts is more important than court technicalities on how they are presented.

More than one woman’s fate may be decided that day. If it it is a common practice to issue fraudulent debts and to deny people the chance to present proof of this in court, how many people, who do not have Mingo’s knowledge and experience as a community leader, can wage an effective resistance?

In the chief judge’s courtroom, our own homes, our cities, our very right to due process may be on trial. If you can, come to Judge Colombo’s court, 7th floor of the the Coleman A. Young Building or the City County Building, 9 a.m. Friday August 22 and hear what is going on. The home you save may be your own. The rights you save may be your own.


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POLICE AND PROTESTERS CLASH AGAIN IN FERGUSON; EAST SIDE DETROIT REBELLION AUG. 13

EASTSIDE DETROIT RESIDENTS REBELLED, CITING THE EVENTS IN FERGUSON,  AFTER DETROIT POLICE WOUNDED A MAN NEAR BERKSHIRE AND NOTTINGHAM AUG. 13, 2014.

EASTSIDE DETROIT RESIDENTS REBELLED, CITING THE EVENTS IN FERGUSON, AFTER DETROIT POLICE WOUNDED A MAN NEAR BERKSHIRE AND NOTTINGHAM AUG. 13, 2014.

A near-rebellion took place on Detroit’s east side Aug. 13 after officers shot and wounded one man at Berkshire and Nottingham, according to various news outlets. Police claimed first that two men opened fire on police with an AK-47, then retracted the statement to say the men tried to run them down after police allegedly interrupted an “illegal” gun purchase.  

Arnetta Grable of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.
Arnetta Grable of the Original Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality: “YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU.”

A third man was arrested after allegedly crossing a yellow police line and attacking an officer. An “unruly crowd” gathered, invoking actions in Ferguson, and more police units came to the scene.

 The next night, Detroiters were called to Hart Plaza to hold a “silent” vigil in memory of Michael Brown, but were warned by organizers not to antagonize police by spilling into the streets. Arnetta Grable, the mother of Lamar Grable, one of three separate victims of Detroit killer cop Eugene Brown, who conducted a 10-year struggle for justice for Brown’s victims, has always said, “Your silence will not protect you.”)

By JIM SALTER of Associated Press

(Photos below from St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

August 16, 2014

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Police and about 200 protesters clashed again in Ferguson, Missouri late Friday after another tense day in the St. Louis suburb that included authorities identifying the officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager and releasing documents alleging the young man had been suspected of stealing a $48.99 box of cigars from a convenience store in a “strong-arm” robbery shortly before he was killed.

Police, protesters clash for a sixth night in Ferguson, MO Aug. 15, 2014, angry at attempts to criminalize Michael Brown.

Police, protesters clash for a sixth night in Ferguson, MO Aug. 15, 2014, angry at attempts to criminalize Michael Brown.

Several hundred people congregated on a busy Ferguson street Friday night as protests continued nearly a week after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. It was peaceful until about midnight, when a large crowd broke into the convenience mart that Brown allegedly robbed the day he was killed.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said some in the crowd began throwing rocks and other objects at police. Police used tear gas to disburse the crowd but no arrests were made. One officer was hurt, but information on his injuries was not immediately available. No protesters were hurt.

Related: Police identify officer, allege teen robbed store

Related: Missouri troopers to take over Ferguson security

Photos: Protests over Missouri teen’s death

Related: Police defend use of tear gas, smoke at protests

Ferguson protesters on the march August 15.

Ferguson protesters on the march August 15.

Police Chief Thomas Jackson earlier Friday said the officer who shot Brown did not know the teen was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting and stopped Brown and a companion “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”

Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white officer, has patrolled suburban St. Louis for six years and had no previous complaints filed against him, Jackson said.

Brown’s relatives said no robbery would justify shooting the teen after he put his hands up. Family attorneys said Brown’s parents were blindsided by the allegations and the release of a surveillance video from the store.

Youth continue protests in Ferguson August 15

Youth continue protests in Ferguson August 15

“It appears to be him,” attorney Daryl Parks said, referring to the footage, which he said was released without any advance notice from police.

The police chief described Wilson as “a gentle, quiet man” who had been “an excellent officer.” He has been on the Ferguson force for four years and served prior to that in the neighboring community of Jennings.

Wilson, who was placed on administrative leave after the Aug. 9 shooting, “never intended for any of this to happen,” Jackson said.

Protesters storm Ferguson store where Michael Brown accused of stealing cigars.

Protesters storm Ferguson store where Michael Brown accused of stealing cigars.

According to police reports released Friday, authorities received a 911 call at 11:51 a.m. on the day of the shooting reporting a robbery at the Ferguson Market. An unidentified officer was dispatched to the store, arriving within three minutes. The officer interviewed an employee and customer, who gave a description of a man who stole the cigars and walked off with another man toward a QuikTrip store.

Descriptions of the suspect were broadcast over the police radio. The officer did not find the suspects either on the street or at the QuikTrip, the reports said.

The robber took a box of Swisher Sweets, a brand of small, inexpensive cigars. The suspects were identified as 18-year-old Michael Brown and 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, according to the reports.

Ferguson protesters take the streets Aug. 15.

Ferguson protesters take the streets Aug. 15.

Separately, Wilson had been responding to a nearby call involving a sick 2-month child from 11:48 am until noon, when he left that place. A minute later, he encountered Brown walking down Canfield Drive. The documents contained no description of what happened between Brown and Wilson.

Johnson has told reporters that the officer ordered the pair to move onto the sidewalk, then grabbed his friend’s neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.

Protesters in Ferguson appear to be largely youth, mobilized into action by cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown.

Protesters in Ferguson appear to be largely youth, mobilized into action by cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown.

Another family attorney, Benjamin Crump, noted that police did not release a photo of the officer but released images from the security video that they say show Brown grabbing a man inside the store. Crump said he had not seen the photos.

Police “are choosing to disseminate information that is very strategic to try to help them justify the execution-style” killing, said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager fatally shot by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was later acquitted of murder.

The Aug. 9 video appears to show a man wearing a ball cap, shorts and white T-shirt grabbing a much shorter man by his shirt near the store’s door. A police report alleges that Brown grabbed the man who had come from behind the store counter and “forcefully pushed him back” into a display rack.

Cops, under control of State Police, attack protesters.

Cops, under control of State Police, attack protesters August 15 using same military equipment as before despite national exposes.

Police said they found evidence of the stolen merchandise on Brown’s body. Authorities determined that Johnson was not involved in the robbery and will not seek charges against him, Jackson said.

Brown’s uncle, Bernard Ewing, said the shooting was unnecessary, even if his nephew was a robbery suspect.

A robbery “still doesn’t justify shooting him when he puts his hands up,” he added. “You still don’t shoot him in the face.”

Protesters under hail of projectiles from police.

Protesters under hail of projectiles from police.

Brown’s death ignited four days of clashes with furious protesters. The tension eased Thursday after the governor turned oversight of the protests over to the Missouri Highway Patrol. Gone were the police in riot gear and armored vehicles, replaced by the new patrol commander who personally walked through the streets with demonstrators.

On Friday night, the Rev. Jesse Jackson linked arms with protesters as they marched to the site where Brown was killed. Jackson bent over in front of a memorial cross and candle and sighed deeply. He urged people to “turn pain into power” and to “fight back, but not self-destruct” through violence.

Angry youth among Ferguson protesters August 15.

Angry youth among Ferguson protesters August 15.

The scene was eclectic Friday night as hundreds gathered for a sixth straight evening. A man on a bullhorn called for a revolution. A young man waved a Bible while citing scripture. Some took selfies in front of a convenience store that had been burned by looters Sunday. Boys tossed a football, and horns and loud music blared. At a nearby shopping center, about 100 police cars were on hand.

To Vida Weekly, 51, it was still a somber occasion. She walked through the crowd holding high a sign that read: “The police killed Michael Brown and now they are trying to kill his character.”

Ferguson Police line up to confront protesters in the street Aug. 15.

Ferguson Police line up to confront protesters in the street Aug. 15.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat from St. Louis, took a bullhorn and spoke to people gathered at the QuickTrip.

“They have attempted to taint the entire investigation,” Clay said to a cheering crowd. “They are trying to influence a jury pool by the stunt they pulled today.

Also Friday, the Justice Department confirmed in a statement that FBI agents had conducted several interviews with witnesses as part of a civil-rights investigation into Brown’s death. In the days ahead, the agents planned to canvass the neighborhood where the shooting happened, seeking more information, the statement said.

Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street during a routine patrol. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car before the struggle spilled onto the street.

Associated Press writers Jim Salter and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.

Below is video from NYC march for justice for Michael Brown Aug. 14, 2014. Here, unlike in Detroit, protesters took the streets.

Previously on VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/14/armed-with-military-grade-weapons-missouri-police-crack-down-on-protests-over-michael-brown/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/10/missouri-crowd-after-fatal-shooting-of-unarmed-black-teen-kill-the-police/ 


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JUDGE RULES FOR THE PEOPLE! BENTON HARBOR MAYOR RECALL ELECTION TO BE HELD NOV. 4

Support PinkneyClerk files lawsuit against herself

Spread the word and sign petition 

By Rev. Edward Pinkney

banco9342@sbcglobal.net

August 14, 2014

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at reception in Whirlpool HQ.
Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at reception in Whirlpool HQ.

ST. JOSEPH/BENTON HARBOR, MI — Berrien County Judge John Dewane ruled the Benton Harbor recall election against Mayor James Hightower can be held. This is a major victory for the people against fascist county and city governments, directed by the Whirlpool Corporation.

 

The Benton Harbor mayoral recall election will now be held on Nov. 4, 2014. The order was issued Tuesday, August 12 by Judge John Dewane after the Aug. 7 civil trial.

Judge Dewayne ruled that County elections administrator Carolyn Toliver removed more than 100 good petition signatures to attempt to prevent the mayoral recall election organized by Benton Harbor and Benton Township residents.

The decision to schedule the election hinged on Judge DeWane’s decision that the practice of the Berrien County Clerk’s office to disqualify both signatures, (instead of just one) if a person signed a recall petition twice, violates First Amendment free speech rights.

Rev. Edward Pinkney speaks at rally against Emergency Manager law May 26, 2012 in Benton Harbor.

Rev. Edward Pinkney speaks at rally against Emergency Manager law May 26, 2012 in Benton Harbor.

[VOD: According to a report from ABC57 News, “The judge allowed some signatures that were previously disqualified to be reinstated. The judge did not discount all signatures that were [allegedly] altered, just those that appeared to have been collected prior to November 9, 60-days from the date the petitions were submitted to the clerk’s office.  

The judge also found the clerk’s office disqualified both signatures if a person signed twice. After adding 21 of those back into the count, the judge counted 407 signatures by qualified, registered voters. The petitoners needed 393 signatures for a recall election to happen. 

The judge wrote the clerk should hold the recall election on the next election date, November 4, 2014.” 

However, Rev. Pinkney informed VOD that despite Dewane’s findings that there were sufficient valid signatures, the Benton Harbor Sheriff’s office is still pursuing felony charges against him, claiming without direct proof that he altered dates on the petitions. His trial is proceeding.] 

Whirlpool hq in Benton Harbor 85 million

$85 Million Whirlpool HQ in Benton Harbor, recently bullt despite the fact that they have moved all their plants and jobs for residents out of the city. They have also taken over large swaths of land adjacent to Benton Harbor’s beautiful lakefront Jean Klock Park, to build condos for the wealthy and a golf course for PGA tournaments.

What you’re about to read is absolutely true.

County clerk Sharon Tyler filed a lawsuit against herself in order to prevent the recall election. (She had originally verified the petition signatures.) 

Whirlpool most likely directed her to take this action, probably a first in US election history. Whirlpool was desperate because their man Hightower was losing by a large margin in the absentee ballots. (Those were sent out before the powers-that-be called off the election.

This is a tremendous victory for people all around the country, with all the corruption not just in Benton Harbor.

Sign my petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/berrien-county-michael-sepic-stop-the-corruption-we-demand-justice-in-benton-harbor-michigan-and-the-resignation-of-berrien-county-michigan-prosecutor-michael-sepic-free-rev-pinkney-stop-the-corruption

www.bhbanco.org

blogtalkradio.com/Rev Pinkney

Pinkney to Pinkney show

Every Sunday at 5 pm eastrn time

Burn Baby Burn

Burn all NAACP MEMBERSHIP CARDS

Sharon Tyler
Sharon Tyler

(VOD note: Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler has indicated her desire to appeal Judge Dewane’s decision, based on verbal encouragement given from unspecified personnel in the Bureau of Elections and the Attorney General’s office. She is disputing the inclusion of names of those who signed the petitions twice; Judge Dewane held that one signature of each voter could still be counted.) 

 

 

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/13/drop-the-charges-against-rev-edward-pinkney-of-benton-harbor-trial-set-for-july-21/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/07/benton-harbor-rev-pinkney-to-face-trial-on-felony-charges-july-21-despite-no-evidence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/03/rev-pinkney-in-the-mouth-of-the-beast-in-benton-harbor/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/27/dismiss-all-charges-against-rev-pinkney-court-fri-may-30-save-benton-harbor-boycott-whirlpool/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/10/rev-edward-pinkney-marcus-muhammad-battle-whirlpool-for-benton-harbor-pinkney-court-hearing-may-30/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/26/free-rev-edward-pinkney-recall-whirlpool-stooge-benton-harbor-mayor-james-hightower/


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