STUNNING REVELATION IN COP KILLING OF AIYANA JONES, 7: DIRECT CONTACT GUNSHOT COULD HAVE KILLED HER

Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT. He is actually dimunitive in height, appearing to be under five feet tall.

Joseph Weekley shown as star on previous series, Detroit SWAT. He is actually dimunitive in height, appearing to be under five feet tall.

Did Weekley deliberately kill child as grandmother testified earlier?

Weekley defense calls grandmother “liar” because lack of stippling indicated Weekley did not shoot at close range

Medical examiner says direct contact gunshot wounds result in no stippling

Post conviction hearing on Aiyana’s father Charles Jones Sept. 19

By Diane Bukowski

September 18, 2014

Aiyana Stanley-Jones and mother Dominika Stanley-Jones. Her mother is shown collapsing after a mistrial was declared in Joseph Weekley's first trial.
Aiyana Stanley-Jones and mother Dominika Stanley-Jones. Her mother is shown collapsing after a mistrial was declared in Joseph Weekley’s first trial.

DETROIT—Opening statements in the re-trial of Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley for killing Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7 in May, 2010 were eclipsed by a revelation from Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt regarding the gunshot wound to the top of the little girl’s head.

 Weekley fired his MP5 submachine gun a few seconds after entering the home, during a military-style raid, according to both the prosecution and defense. Aiyana died at St. John’s hospital after police took her to the hospital. They prevented her mother, father, and grandmother from seeing or holding the child in her dying moments.

“This was not the typical appearance of an entrance wound,” Schmidt testified on direct exam by Wayne County Assistance Prosecutor Robert Moran. “It was irregularly shaped. When the bullet strikes an intermediate target, it can deform the bullet . . . True stippling is when a gun is fired close enough to the surface and gunshot residue is deposited on the skin.”

Wayne Co Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt
Wayne Co Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt

He said “pseudo-stippling” results from a gun being fired through a hard object, but firing through a soft object such as a blanket or other fabric leaves no stippling.

“There was no evidence of close-range firing,” he told Weekley’s defense attorney Steve Fishman on cross-exam.

“Mertilla Jones [Aiyana’s paternal grandmother, who was sleeping with her on a front room couch], lied in court statements, depositions and newspaper stories,” Fishman had said in his opening statement. “She’s going to testify that Joseph Weekley came in the house, walked up to Aiyana Jones, put his gun to her head and assassinated her. That’s a complete and total lie.”

He based his statement for the most part on the absence of stippling.

But this time, Schmidt countered, “If the muzzle of a gun was in contact with the skin, there wouldn’t be stippling.”

Asst. PA Robert Moran
Asst. PA Robert Moran

Moran, whose office charged Weekley only with “involuntary manslaughter” involving gross negligence, said in his opening statement that Weekley was not charged with deliberately killing Aiyana, as if the idea of a police officer deliberately killing someone, especially a child, was absurd.

Weekley previously was sued for an incident where he deliberately shot two pet dogs in front of young children during an earlier SRT raid. After Schmidt’s final statement, Moran rushed the M.E. off the stand

A 2012 report from Lindsey Harle, M.D. in Pathology Outlines on the effects of gunshot wounds says,

“Contact: muzzle is pressed against the skin when fired: ● On head, where the scalp is tightly covering the skull, entry wounds can have several different appearances: ● Round wound with blackened, seared skin margins ● Stellate shaped wound, due to tearing of skin from expanding gas dissecting between the scalp and skull ● Round wound with muzzle imprint, also due to gas expanding under the skin causing it to press back against the gun.”

Dr. Harle goes on to say that stippling only occurs with intermediate range gunshot wounds, not contact or near-contact wounds.During a break, VOD asked Moran why he cut off Schmidt’s testimony about the lack of stippling in a contact gunshot wound, but he refused to discuss the issue.

Aiyana's father Charles Jones and Chauncey Owens during their trials.
Aiyana’s father Charles Jones and Chauncey Owens during their trials.

In what some have termed a blatant conflict of interest, Moran also prosecuted Aiyana’s common-law uncle Chauncey Owens and her father Charles Jones for killing Je’Rean Blake, 17, on May 14, 2010. That event led to the raid on the Jones home, as police hurriedly tried to solve the crime “within 48 hours.”

A camera crew from the A&E TV show “The First 48,” was embedded with police, filming their every move prior to and during the raid. Their videotape has been used as evidence by the prosecution, but a second videotape, allegedly taken by police, has somehow disappeared from the field, with no objection from Moran.

The second witness, Aiyana’s young mother Dominika Stanley, broke down weeping on the stand at several points. She testified that she and her four young children were staying for a couple of weeks at Mertilla Jones’ home so they could be with their father.

She said Aiyana’s cousins Markwell Robinson and Vincent Ellis, and great-aunt JoAnn Robinson (who has since passed) were also staying in the home.

Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana, weeps as she shows the child's photo before hearing on the cop who killed her October 29, 2012.
Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana, weeps as she shows the child’s photo before hearing on the cop who killed her October 29, 2012.

“I was in the back bedroom with all four of my kids and Charles,” Stanley testified. “Aiyana walked out of the room and went to sleep with her grandmother, which was not unusual.” She said Charles went to check on his daughter afterwards, and then returned to their bedroom without event.

 She testified she suddenly heard Mertilla screaming and weeping, “They killed Aiyana.”

“I just knew I couldn’t be hearing that,” Stanley, who is slightly built and fragile-looking, said. At that point, she curled up, put her head in her hands on her lap and began weeping for some time.

“Charles went out, and then I heard him just screaming,” she finally continued. “I went to the front room, and I saw police guns and flashlights. Charles was on the floor, Mertilla was on the floor, and I just dropped to the floor by the couch. Charles and Mertilla were hugging each other on their knees and still screaming. Markwell and JoAnn Robinson were on the other couch.”

She continued, “The police were wearing all black. A police officer approached me and I jumped to my knees crying. I didn’t know where my daughter was. I asked where she was, and asked to go to her, and they told me ‘not right now.’ I was there four hours, and when I got ready to leave, they told me she was in surgery. Two police officers took me and Charles to the hospital. They sat me and Charles in this room, and police, doctors and nurses came in. The first one said my baby was alive, but at some point they told my my daughter had died.”

From Dominika Stanley-Jones Facebook page.
From Dominika Stanley-Jones Facebook page. There has been more outrage expressed at the child’s killing across the U.S. and the world than is evident in Detroit, largely due to local media criminalization of her family. But her case is becoming widely known again in the wake of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the subsequent community rebellion.

Moran showed a photo of Aiyana, clearly destined to be a beauty when she grew up, with big luminous eyes and dimples. Then he brought out the Hannah Montana blanket under which Aiyana had been sleeping for Stanley to identify, which she did.

 At that point, Stanley asked for a break. She could be heard in the witness room sobbing, “I can’t do this” and “It hurts so bad” repeatedly. Weekley remained in his seat at the defense table, stone-faced and immobile, staring straight ahead.

After a half-hour, Stanley returned for cross-examination.

Fishman asked her if she was staying on Lillibridge on May 14 when Blake was killed, and whether she was on the front porch with other members of the Jones family when Owens’s brother Shrrod Hurt, known as “Chinaman” rode by.

Fishman said in Weekley’s first trial in 2012, which ended in a hung jury, that the group heard Hurt talk about the Blake shooting at a nearby liquor store. He cited testimony given in front of a grand jury by Aiyana’s aunt LaKrystal Sanders, in which Sanders referred to Dominique Simpson, the mother of Charles’ other children, not Dominika Stanley, being present.

Aiyana Jones' father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child's aunt watches. Family members say both mothers helped each other looking out for all of Charles' children. Photo by Diane Bukowski
Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones and Dominique Simpson grieve in front of shattered window as child’s aunt watches. Family members say both mothers helped each other looking out for all of Charles’ children. Photo by Diane Bukowski

 

Simpson is seen in a photo taken by VOD at right consoling Charles the morning of Aiyana’s death.

Fishman implied in that trial that Stanley was negligent for having her children stay in a home where a murder suspect lived upstairs. Stanley, however, testified today that she knew nothing about the killing at the liquor store. She said she did not talk to Chauncey Owens, who was convicted of first-degree murder for the killing.

Fishman asked her whether Mertilla Jones had told her a couple of days after the child’s death that she hadn’t seen anything, and that she was on the floor during the shooting, evidently aiming to impeach Jones’ expected upcoming testimony.

Stanley said yes.

Lyvonne Cargill, mother of Je’Rean Blake, has been publicizing videos she posted on Facebook claiming Jones told differing stories of the events. She is apparently not satisfied that Aiyana’s father and common-law uncle have been convicted and locked up, but has openly stated in her posts that she wants Jones charged with perjury.

An anonymous informant who said he knows people in the Prosecutor’s office told VOD several months ago that prosecutors did plan to charge family members with perjury. He said his friends in the office are upset about the continuing campaign to vilify a family who has already suffered so much.

These same toys were in front yard of Jones home when police surveilled the place the day of May 15, 2014, according to testimony in Weekley's first trial. Aiyana's cousin Mark Robinson, who was restrained by Sgt. LaTanya Brooks, told her there were children in the house.
These same toys were in front yard of Jones home when police surveilled the place the day of May 15, 2014, according to testimony in Weekley’s first trial. Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, who was restrained by Sgt. LaTanya Brooks, told her there were children in the house.

LaTanya Brooks, a retired Detroit police sergeant from the Homicide squad, testified after Stanley regarding the homicide unit’s investigation into the Blake killing and anonymous calls they had received identifying Chauncey Owens as the killer. She said one caller, identifying herself as an “aunt” in the Jones family, gave his address at 4056 Lillibridge, and others claimed he had an AK 47 and a 45 caliber pistol.

Brooks said no AK47 was found in either flat after the raid, which she helped coordinate. Police during Weekley’s earlier trial all testified that they found no weapons at either address.

In “The First 48” video of Brooks’ preparation for the raid, she repeatedly refers to the 4056 address, not to 4054 Lillibridge, where Mertilla Jones lived. Jones family members have said they never saw a search warrant for their own home.

Aiyana Jones' family at rally on courthouse steps March 8, 2013. (L to r - mother Dominika, grandmother Mertilla, aunt, maternal grandfather, aunt LaKrystal.
Aiyana Jones’ family at rally on courthouse steps March 8, 2013. (L to r) – mother Dominika Stanley, grandmother Mertilla Jones, aunt, maternal grandfather Jimmie Stanley, aunt LaKrystal Sanders.

There is also police conversation on the videotapes, which were shown to the jury by the prosecution, that the Jones home was likely a drug house. However, testimony at Owens’ trial indicated that Owens’ half-brother Sh’rrod Hurt lived across the street, and was likely running drugs out of that house. Defense attorney David Cripps’ alternate theory of the Blake killing was that Sh’rrod Hurt, who admitted to being at the scene, confronted and killed Blake.

The trial will resume Monday, Sept. 22, at 9 a.m. in Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s courtroom, #801.

On Friday, Sept. 19, a post-conviction hearing regarding Charles Jones is to be held in the courtroom of Wayne County Circuit Judge Richard Skutt. Jones’ appeals attorney contends that there is no cause to have convicted Jones of second-degree murder, since the jury in his trial found him “not guilty” of all gun charges. Prosecutor Moran alleged that Jones gave Owens the gun to kill Blake. Jones’ attorney has also filed for a writ of habeas corpus.

Aiyana box
RELATED STORIES:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/16/police-and-protesters-clash-again-in-ferguson-east-side-detroit-rebellion-aug-13/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/22/families-demand-no-police-state-under-detroit-chief-craig-top-cops/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/11/09/every-36-hrs-police-in-u-s-kill-a-black-person-demand-pres-obama-take-action/ Continue reading


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PROTEST TARGETS GM CEO BARRA FOR FIRING DISABLED COLOMBIAN, INDIAN, AND US WORKERS, KILLING AND INJURING DRIVERS

Protesters line up across from Cobo Hall as GM CEO Mary Barra speaks inside Sept. 7, 2014.

Protesters line up across from Cobo Hall as GM CEO Mary Barra speaks inside Sept. 7, 2014.

By Diane Bukowski

 Sept. 15, 2014

 DETROIT – Workers brandishing crutches marched outside Cobo Hall as General Motors (GM) Executive Mary Barra spoke to the “World Congress on Intelligent Transportation” here Sept. 7.

Jorge Parra speaks to protesters outside 2013 International Auto Show in Cobo Hall.

Jorge Parra speaks to protesters outside 2013 International Auto Show in Cobo Hall.

“Hey, Mary Barra, we stand with Jorge Parra,” they chanted, referring to a disabled GM worker in Colombia who was fired after being injured on the job and is now conducting a hunger strike that may end in his death.

It is GM’s policy not only in Colombia, but in plants in the U.S. as well to “dump workers like trash,” speakers said.

As workers at GM’s Colmotores Plant conducted a hunger strike outside the U.S. embassy with their mouths sewn shut in 2012, Parra told Alternet, “This is for all the workers. “We are now prepared to die because this situation is critical. General Motors has given us no choice.”

GM Colombia workers on hunger strike in 2012, with mouths sewed shut.
GM Colombia workers, Jorge Parra center, on 2012 hunger strike, with mouths sewed shut.

Alternet reported at the time, “More than 200 Colmotores employees have been injured while working at the automotive plant outside Colombia’s capital city of Bogota. Herniated discs, severe carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar scoliosis and chronic tendonitis are among the list of complaints they claim many have suffered after years spent doing repetitive, physical work making GM’s car parts.Instead of providing medical care and changing the work patterns of injured employees, GM fires them, according to the protesters, who last year set up the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of Colmotores (Asotrecol) in an attempt to defend their rights.”

 Now, according to protest organizer Frank Hammer, GM has carried the same policies over to its plant in Gujurat, India, which Barra recently visited. Hammer said 269 cases of spinal injuries have been documented there, with GM firing those unable to work. GM laid off 800 of 1600 workers and replaced with temporaries, paying the permanent workers 90 cents an hour while the temporaries make 47 cents an hour “for exactly the same work,” Hammer added.

GM workers at Gujurat Plant in India. Photo: Hindu Business Line.
GM workers at Gujurat Plant in India. Photo: Hindu Business Line.

He noted that newspapers in India are now reporting on the Colombian workers’ hunger strike as well.

The Hindu Business Line reported in January, 2014, “Two days after Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s claim about ‘no labour problem in Gujarat’, a workers’ unrest has surfaced at General Motor’s Halol plant near Vadodara where around 450 contractual workers began staging dharna (sit-in) outside the factory premises since Friday, opposing auto maker’s move of giving fresh appointment letters to only a few selected workers.

Out of the nearly 700 contractual workers at GM’s Halol unit, around 450 workers have stopped work since Friday and are sitting outside the factory premises staging protest, a worker union leader said. GM makes Tavera SUV at its Halol plant.”

UAW member Melvin Thompson speaks about conditions in GM plants here and abroad.
UAW member Melvin Thompson speaks about conditions in GM plants here and abroad.

The newspaper reported other ongoing labor unrest at GM plants in India. GM workers also conducted a mass strike in India in 2011.

“One company, one workforce,” shouted Melvin Thompson, a GM worker from UAW Local 140, as he strode back and forth with a bullhorn. He has visited Parra and the Colombian workers multiple times.

“We’re all related, Colombia and India halfway around the world,” Thompson said. “We love each other. Jorge and his comrades are on a hunger strike again, and this time he says he’s not going to stop. I’m not comfortable with that because I know his commitment, but GM around the world is readily able to pay workers a wage that spends the same in their country as it does here.”

The Colombian workers make only $350 a month.

Injured GM worker speaks.
Injured GM worker speaks.

Thompson noted that in 1994, GM had twice as many workers and their cars cost half as much as they do now.

“But after bankruptcy, these companies are ruthless,” Thompson explained. “They are building a plan for all working people to be subservient, a plan that has room only for the elite and the servant class.”

Notably, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who is new engineering a phony bankruptcy for the City of Detroit, was on the team of Jones Day lawyers who engineered GM’s Chrysler bankruptcy.

Simone, a Detroit-area Chrysler worker who sustained injuries to her neck and back on the job, recounted her experience with GM’s policies toward its workforce.

“The company only accepted partial responsibility and forced me back to work,” she said. “When you have to walk in pain, it’s very difficult, nobody really understands. We need GM to take responsibility for serious injuries and serious health and safety issues in its plants everywhere.”

The protesters picked up a chant of, “Unsafe plants, unsafe switches, GM bosses count the riches.”

Protesters carried this sign denouncing GM CEO Mary Barra.
Protesters carried this sign denouncing GM CEO Mary Barra.

Despite $1.3 billion in costs from an ongoing recall of seven million GM vehicles with faulty ignition switches, GM reported net revenue of $37.4 billion in the first quarter of 2014, compared to $36.9 billion in the first quarter of 2013.

“The performance of our core operations was very strong this quarter, reflecting the positive response of customers to the new vehicles we are bringing to market,” Barra told MLive in April. “Our focus remains on creating the world’s best vehicles with the highest levels of safety, quality and customer service, while aggressively addressing our business opportunities and challenges globally.”

Protester Linda Street disagreed. She reported that she suffered permanent injuries from a car crash due to a faulty ignition switch in her GM car. She said that she once worked three jobs at a time, taking nice trips during her vacations, but now is permanently disabled.

Injured driver Linda Street speaks as Frank Hammer (l) and friend (r) hold signs displaying results of her accident.
Injured driver Linda Street speaks as Frank Hammer (l) and friend (r) hold signs displaying results of her accident.

“In 2007, I was driving my car onto the freeway and had to slam on the brakes to avoid another car,” Street told VOD. “The ignition cut off completely, I could not restart the car, and the airbags did not deploy.”

She said vertebrae in her spine, her rotator cuff and her knees were severely injured when the airbags did not work. She has to walk briefly with crutches, or utilize a wheelchair.

So far, 19 people killed in such accidents have been awarded $1 million each by GM, and 125 more have submitted applications for compensation for fatal accidents, the Wall Street Journal and other news sources just reported. Over 300 more individuals have applied for compensation for serious injuries, according to reports from GM.

The switches were installed in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, Pontiac G5s, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys, from model years 2003-07, and some others. GM has recalled up to 2.6 million cars with the switches. When a car is jostled, the ignition switches can turn off the engine, cutting power to its brakes, steering and airbags.

Protesters demand Zero Tolerance for GM anti-labor practices.
Protesters demand Zero Tolerance for GM anti-labor practices.

Barra was the headline speaker for  the 2014 World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems, which ran from Sept. 7-11 in Cobo Hall, sponsored by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) in partnership with ERTICO (Europe’s ITS) and ITS Asia-Pacific. The World Congress comes to North America every third year.

Other speakers included Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk T. Steudle.

ITS America reported that “more than 10,000 of the world’s leading transportation policymakers, researchers, high-tech innovators, and business professionals from the United States, Europe and Asia will gather to share the latest intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications from around the globe.”

Protesters brandished walkers and crutches in solidarity  with injured workers.
Protesters brandished walkers and crutches in solidarity with injured workers.

Jim Barbaresso, 2014 ITS World Congress chairman, told attendees in a letter, “We are on the cusp of a transformation, where technology offers realistic solutions to our global mobility, safety, and environmental challenges. Detroit is at the heart of this transformation. The Motor City is made of both grit and silicon, where industry and technology are coming together to forge the next generation of transportation systems.”

But the Congress caused a great deal of mobility problems for metro Detroit drivers.

Not only did it take over Cobo Hall, it also took over at least three quarters of Belle Isle, including all of its interior, for exhibits including vehicle road demonstrations, during all four days of the Congress.

Protesters outside EM Kevyn Orr's June 10, 2013 talk at Wayne State. Most Black folks have been driven from the island by the State Police. On Sept. 14, the island was taken over by hundreds of whites in bicycle, car, boat and foot races. Regular auto traffic was consigned to one lane.
Protesters outside EM Kevyn Orr’s June 10, 2013 talk at Wayne State. Most Black folks have been driven from the island by the State Police. On Sept. 14, the island was taken over by hundreds of whites in bicycle, car, boat and foot races. Regular auto traffic was consigned to one lane.

Public traffic was relegated to one exterior roadway from the bridge eastbound to the Nature Center on the north end of the island, and back the same way.

Belle Isle is now operated by the State of Michigan, under a $0 “lease” imposed by EM Orr. Apparently the state takeover includes a corporate takeover of the island as well.

This reporter, attempting to ride her bike on the island, heard many people telling guards they wanted to take their children to the Aquarium, the Conservatory, and other attractions which were not accessible. No public notice of the shutdown was given.

ITS America hired a private security agency whose employees, mostly young Black men, had to fend off hostile reactions to the shutdown, without signs or literature to explain what was going on. One worker, who said he was on the verge of leaving due to abuse from motorists, reported that they were not even making minimum wage. Apparently ITS has adopted GM’s policies as well.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/22/workers-youths-including-gm-colombian-hunger-striker-besiege-2013-detroit-auto-show/

http://www.alternet.org/world/we-are-prepared-die-workers-colombia-general-motors-plant-sew-their-mouths-shut-protest

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/09/15/gm-ignition-swtiches-death-count/15667463/

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/strike-by-contract-workers-at-gms-halol-plant/article5590509.ece

Melvin Thompson shouts at conference attendees, "One world, one workforce." His T-shirt refers to the School of the Americas, where the U.S. trains torturers and assassins to terrorize workers globally.

Melvin Thompson shouts at conference attendees, “One world, one workforce.” His T-shirt refers to the School of the Americas, where the U.S. trains torturers and assassins to terrorize workers globally.

 


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BLACK IS BACK: REVOLUTION IS THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR MIKE BROWN AND MILLIONS OF VICTIMS OF RACIST SYSTEM

Black is Back Peace Through Revolution March on White House November 1


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SYNCORA GETS 13.7 PERCENT ($44.8 M +) IN DETROIT BANKRUPTCY DEAL; FGIC FIGHTS

Banksters

SYNCORA MAKES UNTOLD MILLIONS OFF COPS DEAL, WHICH DETROIT EM KEVYN ORR CALLED ‘VOID AB INITIO, ILLEGAL AND UNENFORCEABLE” IN LAWSUIT STILL PENDING BEFORE BANKRUPTCY JUDGE RHODES.”

$44.8 Million in new debt (e.g. principal PLUS interest)

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, Grand Circus Garage PLUS REVENUES

Syncora clarifies reports: it’s the whole damn POC deal, not just swaps

(VOD: See interview with former Detroit mayoral candidate Tom Barrow in post below this regarding the role of Syncora, racism and the banks in stealing Black Detroit. After we obtain today’s court filing, VOD will follow up.)

Bloomberg NewsBy Steven Church – Sep 15, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy holdout Syncora Guarantee Inc. (SYCRF) will recover about 14 percent on what it’s owed in a deal that includes $44.8 million in new debt, as creditor Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. seeks more time to fight the city’s debt-cutting plan.

Syncora has claimed it’s owed more than $333 million. Under its agreement with Detroit, the bond insurer will get two sets of notes, a lease to operate a tunnel to Canada, land near the tunnel and the option for a long-term lease to operate a parking structure.

The deal is a “very favorable one to the city,” David Heiman of Jones Day, a lawyer for Detroit, told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes at a hearing today after he disclosed the accord and Syncora’s estimated recovery. The parties have “laid down their swords,” he said.

FGIC logoWhile the settlement with Syncora may help speed Detroit’s record municipal bankruptcy to completion, FGIC remains a significant obstacle, as it faces claims on about $1.1 billion in pension debt it insured. The city planned to almost wipe out that debt, offering holders only about 10 cents on the dollar.

Should investors in the pension debt take losses, FGIC may be forced to pay them. Cutting the pension debt is part of the city’s plan to eliminate more than $7 billion in liabilities while shoring up its retirement system with money from the state and private donors.

Pension Debt

Syncora Guarantee insures more than $300 million of the pension debt and also holds some of the debt directly. The company also insured some tax-backed bonds. Shares of parent Syncora Holdings Ltd. fell as much as 1.8 percent to $2.16 today.

Jan. 31, 2005: Wall Street ratings agencies Fitch (Joe O'Keefe speaking) next to Standard and Poor's (Steven Murphy to his left) with former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow (l) and Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams (r), push "void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable" $1.5 BILLION Certificates of Participation deal at Detroit City Council table.

Jan. 31, 2005: Wall Street ratings agencies Fitch (Joe O’Keefe speaking) next to Standard and Poor’s (Steven Murphy to his left) with former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow (l) and Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams (r), push “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable” $1.5 BILLION Certificates of Participation deal at Detroit City Council table.

FGIC today asked Rhodes to halt the trial over the city’s plan later this week so the company can adjust its strategy to fight it in light of the Syncora settlement. The judge last week put the proceeding on hold to give Syncora and Detroit time to iron out the details of their agreement.

Rhodes asked FGIC and the city to talk later today to come up with a schedule that would give the New York-based company time to collect information about the Syncora deal and hire an expert to testify against it. The trial, in which the judge is considering the feasibility and fairness of Detroit’s plan, then continued with the testimony of a pension expert.

Many city retirees will fall below poverty level through pension cuts; Syncora claimed it was being treated worse than pensioners.

Many city retirees will fall below poverty level through pension cuts; Syncora claimed it was being treated worse than pensioners.

Detroit, a city of about 700,000, filed an $18 billion municipal bankruptcy last year, saying decades of decline left it unable to provide basic services and still meet financial obligations. Since then, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has cut deals with city unions, retired workers and some bondholders to pay them less than they are owed.

Two Series

Under its pact, New York-based Syncora will get two series of notes from the city. The B notes will be worth about $23.5 million, while a series of C notes will be worth $21.3 million and bear a 5 percent interest rate.

The C notes will be tied to parking revenue. The company will also have the option to take over and develop additional parcels for development that will be disclosed in the next few days, lawyers for the city said today at the hearing.

Ryan Bennett of Kirkland & Ellis, an attorney for Syncora, told the judge his client planned to withdraw its objections to the city’s debt-reduction plan.

“This is a big day for Syncora and a big day for the city of Detroit,” Bennett told Rhodes.

DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS: Banks already stole Detroit's art under bankruptcy plan. City Council voted to turn it over into a so-called "trust."
DETROIT INSTITUTE OF ARTS: Banks already stole Detroit’s art under bankruptcy plan. City Council voted to turn it over into a so-called “trust.”

Detroit’s bankruptcy plan hinges on a bargain with philanthropic foundations and the state government, who agreed to contribute more than $800 million to the city’s public pension system (VOD: while the city said it would not contribute to the system for at least 10 more years.) In exchange, Detroit pledged not to use its art collection to pay debts.

 

FGIC has said the city could use the collection to boost payments to creditors whose claims the insurer may otherwise be forced to cover.

The case is In re City of Detroit, 13-bk-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).

Syncora Holdings Issues Statement Correcting Reports of Detroit Settlement

NEW YORK, Sept. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Syncora Holdings Ltd. (“Syncora”) today issued a statement correcting certain reports in the media concerning the City of Detroit (the “City”) bankruptcy and the status of settlement discussions with, and recoveries to be received by, its wholly owned New York financial guarantee insurance subsidiaries, Syncora Guarantee Inc. and Syncora Capital Assurance Inc. (the “Companies”).

The Companies and the City have reached tentative settlements of the Companies’ claims in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings, subject to certain contingencies. Resolution involves settlement of the Companies’ Class 9 claims in connection with the Pension Obligation Certificates of Participation (valued at approximately 13 cents on the dollar) and a settlement of swaps-related and other litigation.

City retirees certainly won't be staying here at the Reefs in Bermuda, where Syncora is headquartered.

City retirees certainly won’t be staying here at the Reefs in Bermuda, where Syncora is headquartered.

Separately, Pike Pointe Holdings LLC (“Pike Pointe”), a subsidiary of Syncora Guarantee Inc., is advancing development agreements with the City of Detroit and the City of Windsor with respect to the Detroit Windsor Tunnel and related or adjacent properties. Pike Pointe is a holding company for investment in and operation of infrastructure assets (including toll assets and parking, among others) through its American Roads and Detroit Windsor Tunnel LLC subsidiaries (both based in Detroit), which include a lease to operate the U.S. portion of the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. Under the development agreements, Pike Pointe will solidify its long-term business in Detroit by agreeing to invest in and develop assets in the City of Detroit, pending related due diligence.

About Syncora Holdings Ltd.

Syncora Holdings Ltd. (OTC: SYCRF) is a Bermuda-domiciled holding company. Each of Syncora Guarantee Inc., Syncora Capital Assurance Inc. and Pike Pointe Holdings LLC are wholly owned subsidiaries of Syncora Holdings Ltd. For more information, please visit www.syncora.com.

Investor and Media Contact: Michael Corbally +1 212-478-3400 michael.corbally@scafg.com


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BARROW SAYS RACISM, BANKS BEHIND DETROIT BANKRUPTCY, CITING SYNCORA DEAL; HEARING MON. SEPT. 15 8:30 AM

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel portal

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel portal; EM Orr is proposing to hand the tunnel and its revenues over to bond insurer Syncora to compensate them for a deal he called “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.”

(VOD: Syncora insured part of the 2005 predatory $1.5 billion Certificates of Participation loan from UBS AG and SBS Financial, pushed by ratings agencies Fitch and Standard and Poor’s. The economy tanked in 2008 due to Wall Street’s predatory lending practices, and the deal cost Detroit dearly.  In a detailed lawsuit filed Jan. 17, 2014, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr called the deal “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” Bankrutpcy Judge Steven Rhodes has not held a hearing on the lawsuit; instead Orr is proposing to hand over the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, and the Grand Circus Park parking garage, and their revenues for years to come, to Syncora in a bid to end the bankruptcy. Judge Rhodes will hear details of the Syncora giveaway Monday, Sept. 15, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.in bankruptcy court.)

Leid Stories – 09/11/14

Sep 11th, 2014 by progressiveradionetwork

___________________

Utrice-Leid-Album-ArtDetroit Bankruptcy Trial: Judge Grants Delay So Bond Insurer Could Ink Sweet Deal with the City

The nation today marks the 13th anniversary of a national tragedy. For Detroiters, it’s the day after yet another tragedy hit home. The federal judge they were hoping would agree that the city’s declared bankruptcy was contrived and that its $18-billion debt claim is superinflated instead appears to be going along with the plan to “re-imagine” Detroit.

Judge Steven Rhodes yesterday announced a delay in the trial until Monday so that bond insurer Syncora Guarantee, one of the city’s largest creditors, could work out a sweet deal with the state-imposed city manager, Kevyn Orr. The deal would significantly reduce opposition to Orr’s draconian bankruptcy-exit plan and encourage approval by the court.

Tom Barrow, mayoral candidate Feb. 25, 2010 Photo: Diane Bukowski
Tom Barrow, mayoral candidate Feb. 25, 2010 Photo: Diane Bukowski

Tom Barrow, former chairman of Michigan’s State Board of Accountancy and CEO of the largest minority-owned firm in the Midwest, was among the first to publicly raise questions about Orr’s debt calculations and his insistence, endorsed by the state, that bankruptcy was Detroit’s only way out.

 He joins Leid Stories today with “a heavy heart,” he says, about what’s happening to Detroit. Judge Rhodes’ action is a harbinger of more unwarranted miseries to come, he says.

VOD: Listen to excellent, profound interview with Tom Barrow below (click on Leid Stories 9 11 14 and it will take you to their page where it will play.)

Statue of former Detroit Mayor Hazen Pingree in Grand Circus Park. Plaque below quotes Pingree: "Beware the power of the private corporations."

Statue of former Detroit Mayor Hazen Pingree in Grand Circus Park. Plaque below quotes Pingree: “Beware the power of the private corporations.”

Grand Circus Park Historic District; entrance to parking garage is below right.

Grand Circus Park Historic District; entrance to parking garage is below right. Barrow points out in his interview that this area will become a lucrative entertainment hub according to plans of prominent profiteers who are buying up the properties surrounding it. He says revenues from the garage will skyrocket as a result.

Related:

The ANDY DILLION meeting with JOANN WATSON and TOM BARROW

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/11/em-lawsuit-v-cops-loan-demands-1-45-billion-back-to-city-make-the-banks-pay-no-detroit-pension-or-health-care-cuts/


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DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA, OWNER OF DETROIT NEWS, TO CONSIDER SALE OF PROPERTIES

Banksters monopoly press
By Digital First Media

September 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm

(VOD: Detroit city retirees have been warning for a long time during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings that a takeover is coming to YOU next. Well, it looks like Detroit News editors, columnists and reporters who have been busy crowing about the “success” of the bankruptcy may be on the unemployment and social service lines next. Interesting that global bank UBS, which sold a predatory $1.5 billion Certificates of Participation loan to Detroit, is also involved in these proceedings. WATCH OUT FOR THE BANKSTERS! Note links to articles on lay-offs under Digital Media auspices below their article. To News reporters who have NOT been celebrating the demise of Detroit, VOD’s sympathies go out to you. )

digital firstNew York – Digital First Media, owner of dozens of media properties including The Detroit News and detroitnews.com, announced Friday that it will “evaluate and consider strategic alternatives” that could lead to the sale of some or all of the company.

Digital First CEO John Paton said the company has retained UBS Securities to review a full range of alternatives — including selling the entire company, selling regional clusters or doing nothing.

“We believe we have many options available to us to maximize the value of our businesses for our stockholders and the board of directors has therefore decided to assess the full range of these opportunities,” Paton said.

Digital First CEO John Paton--bye, bye to YOU!
Digital First CEO John Paton–bye, bye to YOU!

In a statement the company said there are no assurances that the process will result in a transaction or transactions or on the timing of any decisions. The company also said that it will not disclose developments in the process until the board decides how it will proceed.

Digital First, based in New York, was formed in December 2013 with the merger of MediaNews Group and the former Journal Register Company. It is the nation’s second-largest newspaper company, based on circulation, operating in 15 states, with 800 multi-platform news and information products, including 76 daily and Sunday newspapers and 160 weeklies. The company said it serves 75 million customers monthly.

The company is controlled by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund based in New York with offices in Dallas, Houston, Dubai, Jersey, Mumbai.Founded in 2007 by Randall Smith. They hold $2.8 billion in assets under management as of 2010/01. Alden Global Distressed Opportunities Fund - launched in October 2008 with $225mm. It has since grown to $2.8bn in AUM.
Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund based in New York with offices in Dallas, Houston, Dubai, Jersey, Mumbai.Founded in 2007 by Randall Smith. They hold $2.8 billion in assets under management as of 2010/01. Alden Global Distressed Opportunities Fund – launched in October 2008 with $225mm. It has since grown to $2.8bn in AUM.

The Detroit News is published by the Detroit Media Partnership under a joint operating agreement with Gannett Co., which exercises majority control of DMP.

 

The Digital First announcement follows actions by several media companies to separate their newspaper assets from their broadcasting and other businesses.

Media analysts have speculated since last spring about Digital First’s future after the company shut down its experimental, centralized digital newsroom, called Project Thunderdome. Paton said Friday’s action is unrelated to Thunderdome, which was one of many digital experiments the company has undertaken under his leadership.

“The news information industry in America is undergoing a period of seismic change, defined by the need to consolidate to rapidly compete in a digital world,” Paton said.

Gary Webb (in inset) exposed the CIA crack cocaine controversy in articles for the San Jose Mercury News, now owned by DFM. Webb's book "Dark Alliance" was published before his ALLEGED suicide by shooting himself TWICE in the head.
Gary Webb (in inset) exposed the CIA crack cocaine controversy in articles for the San Jose Mercury News, now owned by DFM. Webb’s book “Dark Alliance” was published before his ALLEGED suicide by shooting himself TWICE in the head.

 

“The companies that will succeed are those which have meaningful scale and digital expertise. By anticipating the rapid revolution in our industry and responding to stay ahead of the curve, DFM has clearly emerged as a leading player, based on the high quality of our assets and the extensive work we have done to transform them into multi-platform products….”

 Digital First’s largest properties include the San Jose Mercury News, the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Daily News, the New Haven Register, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Related articles on DFM layoffs:

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/04/denver_post_layoffs_sale_rumors.php

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/07/digital_first_media_denver_post_layoffs_firings.php

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/digital_first_plans_some_layof.php

http://jimromenesko.com/2014/03/20/digital-first-media-newspapers-give-layoff-notices-to-24-journalists/

http://www.niemanlab.org/tag/digital-first-media/

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/04/digital-first-media-axes-thunderdome-lays-off-186179.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kennedy/the-view-from-new-haven-w_b_5078855.html

http://article.wn.com/view/2014/04/02/Salt_Lake_Tribune_braces_for_more_cuts_as_owner_pulls_plug_o/

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2014/04/06/trethan-newspaper-layoffs-hurt-democracy/7364683/


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DETROIT BANKRUPTCY: “GREAT LAKES WATER AUTHORITY” TO STEAL LARGEST ASSET OF LARGEST U.S. BLACK CITY

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveils plans for Great Lakes Water Authority as (l to r) Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano listen Sept. 9, 2014.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveils plans for Great Lakes Water Authority as (l to r) Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano listen Sept. 9, 2014.

City retirees demand plan go on ballot for vote of the people

DWSD gets annual $50 million lease payments for 40 years, in exchange for GLWA control of multi-billion dollar six-county system

Detroit Water & Sewerage Dept. consigned to city limits

Banks, suburban pols profit from bonds, contracts; Wall Street celebrates

New regional water “affordability” plan will not bar shut-offs or lower rates for low-income households

By Diane Bukowski

September 9, 2014

Duggan targets Detroit on map of DWSD, saying it will now operate only within city boundaries Sept. 9, 2014.

Duggan targets Detroit on map of DWSD, saying it will now operate only within city boundaries Sept. 9, 2014.

DETROIT – The all-white quartet of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and County Executives L. Brooks Patterson, Robert Ficano, and Mark Hackel today proposed the creation of a regional “Great Lakes Water Authority” (GLWA), to be up and running within “200 days.” They announced they had just signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Also signing were Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

The GLWA would divest the City of Detroit, the largest major Black-majority city in the U.S., of its largest and most lucrative asset, the 150 year old, six-county Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), the third largest in the U.S. In exchange, DWSD would receive $50 million a year “lease” payments for an initial period of the next 40 years, “extendable to at least match the terms of any outstanding bonds of the Authority.”

(Click on GLWA plan for packet given to media, and on http://www.dwsd.org/downloads_n/announcements/general_announcements/ga2014-09-09_regional_authority_MOU_executed.pdf to read full MOU.)

DWSD's Lake Huron water treatment plant. DWSD is the third largest water utllity in the country. It provides water service to almost one million people in Detroit and three million people in 126 neighboring Southeastern Michigan communities throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee, Washtenaw and Monroe counties.

DWSD’s Lake Huron water treatment plant. DWSD is the third largest water utllity in the country. It provides water service to almost one million people in Detroit and three million people in 126 neighboring Southeastern Michigan communities throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee, Washtenaw and Monroe counties.

The lease payments would be used for “Detroit local system infrastructure improvements, debt service associated with such improvements, or the City’s share of the cost of common-to-all improvements.”

Under terms of the MOU, only DWSD, not the GLWA, would have “liability . . . for funding the City’s frozen General Retirement System (GRS) pension plan . . . and the City’s settlement of claims associated with the swaps for its Pension Obligation Certifications, and for payments relating to debt service on DWSD’s allocated share of liability on the new B Notes attributable to the GRS VEBA [employee health plan] and Pension Obligation Certificates.”

Couple demands no privatization of water systems.
Couple demands no privatization of water systems.

The officials at the press conference had claimed that the lease payments would go to the DWSD, not the city’s general fund as had been originally proposed, but it is clear from the above clause in the MOU that they would go largely to Wall Street.

Duggan said Detroit’s infrastructure will see immediate improvements under the GLWA, but neglected to mention the following proviso in the MOU:

“The Authority will finance Detroit local system improvements through the issuance of Authority bonds under the Revenue Bond Act, with the debt service to be allocated solely to Detroit local system ratepayers.”

Although all four of the officials denied there is any plan to privatize the GLWA or the DWSD, the actual MOU says the GLWA board could adopt a procurement policy “which will include the terms on which any aspect of the operations of either system may be privatized.” The world’s second largest water privatizer, Veolia, Inc., has already been hired by DWSD, allegedly as a consultant.

Protesters at opening of bankruptcy plan trial Sept. 2, 2014.

Protesters at opening of bankruptcy plan trial Sept. 2, 2014.

Wall Street celebrated the plan, according to Bloomberg.

“After the announcement, Detroit’s 5.75 percent sewer bonds due in 2031 climbed more than 5 percent to 111.7 cents on the dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg,” the newspaper wrote.

Wall Street ratings agencies had been steadily downgrading DWSD bond ratings, citing the enterprise agency’s association with the City of Detroit and the bankruptcy filing. Such downgrades increased interest rates on DWSD bonds. However, DWSD for years had AAA ratings.

U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox
U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox

Despite DWSD’s technical dissociation from Detroit’s general fund, the GLWA proposal resulted from months of mediation ordered by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who assigned U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gerald Rosen as mediator.

Rosen later brought in U.S. District Judge Sean Cox. Cox earlier handed over “supermajority” control of the Board of Water Commissioners, including awarding of contracts and setting rates, to the Counties in 2011. Both Rosen and Cox are members of the ultraconservative Federalist Society.

Duggan said the yearly lease payments would allow Detroit to repair water main breaks, which numbered 2,000 last year. According to a proposal summary, however, the money could also be used to buy up to $800 million in bonds for system-wide repairs.

“Somebody needs to go to jail, and somebody needs to go to hell,” reacted outraged city retirees, barred from attending the press conference at the Federal courthouse in downtown Detroit.

Detroit retirees (l to r) Belinda Myers Florence, Laverne Holloway, Cecily McClellan and Bill Smith discuss ramifications of GLWA plan after being barred from press conference.

Detroit retirees (l to r) Belinda Myers Florence, Laverne Holloway, Cecily McClellan and Bill Smith discuss ramifications of GLWA plan after being barred from press conference.

“The people of Detroit should demand their right to vote on this, guaranteed in the City Charter,” said Bill Davis, who retired as Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) shift supervisor after 34 years.

“The counties are buying into something they know nothing about, a system that because of Kevyn Orr’s mismanagement is operating with non-functional main sewage pumps, causing last month’s massive flooding. They claim they don’t have the money for repairs, well get it from the banks who are robbing us.”

Orr’s recently announced DWSD debt “restructuring” includes full payment to the banks of $2.2 billion that had originally been considered “impaired,” with the city asking the banks to settle for less. Much DWSD debt is the result of predatory lending, including $537 million in illegal swaps.

Protesters in Birmingham, Ala. protest higher rates imposed in Jefferson County bankruptcy, even though Chase was forced to take 75% debt cut.
Protesters in Birmingham, Ala. protest higher rates imposed in Jefferson County bankruptcy, even though Chase was forced to take 75% debt cut.

“The money used to unwind the swaps would almost cover the utility’s $571.7 million in planned capital spending for the five years through June 2016, according to bond documents.” said a 2012 Bloomberg News article titled, “Detroit Debt Shows Wall Street Never Loses on Bad Swaps.”

 “Or it would be enough for the sewer system’s $519.8 million fiscal 2013 budget, with millions to spare.”

The swaps involved JPMorgan Chase, which Jefferson County, Alabama forced to take a 75 percent cut in its debt payments as part of their bankruptcy case. The County had filed suit previously due to evidence of bribery in sewerage contract awards. Sewerage rates, however, still increased dramatically.

Gov. Rick Snyder announces appointment of Kevyn Orr as EM March 14, 2013.

Gov. Rick Snyder announces appointment of Kevyn Orr as EM March 14, 2013.

Gov. Rick Snyder announces appointment of Kevyn Orr as EM March 14, 2013.

“This ends 40 years of conflict between the city and the suburbs,” Duggan said.

“It was a pretty remarkable accomplishment that we all came together in support of Governor Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan. The department has been under federal oversight since 1977, but it did not work. We have 2,000 water main breaks a year and constant rate hikes.”

Duggan lived in suburban Livonia until he moved to Detroit, a couple weeks short of the deadline for filing. He was barred from running by the Court of Appeals, but conducted a write-in campaign which the Court did not overturn.

He said Snyder’s top aide, Richard Baird, and U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, who succeeded Judge John Feikens as DWSD overseer, initiating suburban control of the Board of Water Commissioners, played major roles in brokering the deal.

The twelve-point proposal would be incorporated into yet another amended Plan of Adjustment for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes’ final okay, after the Detroit City Council and the County Commissions approve it, Duggan said.

Red lines and boxes (water and sewer plants) depict proposed GLWA territory; blue lines within Detroit boundaries depict secondary mains to be under DWSD control.

Red lines and boxes (water and sewer plants) depict proposed GLWA territory; blue lines within Detroit boundaries depict secondary mains to be under DWSD control.

“Detroit keeps exclusive control of the local water and sewer system in DWSD, under the authority of the Mayor and City Council,” the plan says. “The Detroit local system is made up of 3,400 miles of local water mains serving the neighborhoods of Detroit.”

DWSD would thus be carved down into a system that exists only within city boundaries. But even the department’s assets within those boundaries, including its wastewater and freshwater treatment plants, and its major water mains, would operate under the Authority’s control, as shown in the diagram above. The red lines indicate GLWA operated plants and mains.

WWTP workers struck Sept. 30, 2012, declaring on sign, "The battle for Detroit begins here and now." The strike was sabotaged by top leaders of AFSCME Council 25; now they are left with the theft of DWSD. Most DWSD workers are Black.

WWTP workers struck Sept. 30, 2012, declaring on sign, “The battle for Detroit begins here and now.” The strike was sabotaged by top leaders of AFSCME Council 25; now they are left with the theft of DWSD. Most DWSD workers are Black.

Nine hundred of 1400 DWSD workers would become GLWA workers, including those at the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant, with their union contracts transferred under successor clauses. Duggan said he met with union leaders at 7:30 a.m. about the proposal, and planned to meet with Wastewater Treatment Plant workers themselves later today.

Lakita Thomas, Secretary-Treasurer AFSCME Local 207.
Lakita Thomas, Secretary-Treasurer AFSCME Local 207.

Lakita Thomas, secretary-treasurer of AFSCME Local 207, which originally represented most WWTP workers, said Duggan refused to negotiate with them at the 7:30 a.m. meeting.

“They’re giving the Department away, and the GLWA will maintain control of the money,” Thomas said. “DWSD takes in billions a month. [DWSD director] Sue McCormick has been designing it to fail. They’ve been having contractors repair water main breaks and piping, but they don’t know what they’re doing and our people have to come after them to fix things. The contractors are the ones causing the sinkholes. We get no raises, but the contractors get six and seven-figure amounts. They’ve been suspending our people and writing them up on dumb charges, and they threaten them if they expose the real problems.”

Under McCormick, the Board of Water Commissioners hired EMA, Inc., a consultant which recommended the elimination of 81 percent of the DWSD workforce. According to Local 207 Vice-President Mike Mulholland, EMA now runs the WWTP and is largely responsible for the lack of maintenance of the crucial sewage pumps. He earlier said that not only has WWTP deterioration caused the recent floods in Detroit, the outflow of raw sewage into the Detroit River also contributed to the contamination of Lake Erie, which resulted in last month’s water emergency in Toledo.

Union members demand jobs for Detroit youth, not contractors, during May 27, 2010 protest.
Union members demand jobs for Detroit youth, not contractors, during May 27, 2010 protest.

“As a Detroiter, I’m against giving anything more to the suburbs flat out,” Mulholland told VOD.

“They’re calling it a lease, but we’ve lost control. From my standpoint as a long-time DWSD worker and senior union officer, this further breaks up DWSD, disempowers the workers, and sets it up for privatization. Veolia is already here, ready to take over. They’re doing this under the political cover of bankruptcy; they don’t legally have to do it. But what is currently legal is wrong. Anything we do now to fight for the workers, especially Black workers and residents, will be illegal, but we must stand up and fight back.”

Duggan claimed that new repairs to Detroit’s DWSD infrastructure will provide “thousands of jobs” for Detroiters, but Davis estimated that 90 percent of the contractors working on street mains and other repairs are suburban whites. The MOU says only, “The Authority shall make every effort to employ individuals and contract with vendors from throughout the service areas,” in other words the entire six-county region.

Water Department unions announce lawsuit challenging Cox's order handing control of BOWC to suburbs, attacking workers' rights, in 2011.

Water Department unions announce lawsuit challenging Cox’s order handing control of BOWC to suburbs, attacking workers’ rights, in 2011.

Thomas said that during the session, the union refused to drop a Michigan Council 25 lawsuit against Cox’s Nov. 2011 order, which essentially wrested control of the Board of Water Commissioners and the Department away from Detroit, and outlined blanket attacks against union contracts and protections. That lawsuit is still pending before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, having been filed two years before Orr petitioned for bankruptcy. (Click on Cox-Co-25-motion-to-intervene-11-14-11 to read lawsuit.)

It therefore holds out some hope for counteracting the GLWA takeover. AFSCME and the UAW earlier pledged to give up other appeals of Judge Rhodes’ bankruptcy eligibility decision pending at the Sixth Circuit if the city’s Plan of Adjustment is confirmed with the “Grand Bargain” in place.

City retiree Ezza Brandon was one of dozens of retirees who picketed AFSCME Co. 25 headquarters last month for the union leadership's agreement to the Plan of Adjustment.
City retiree Ezza Brandon was one of dozens of retirees who picketed AFSCME Co. 25 headquarters last month for the union leadership’s agreement to the Plan of Adjustment.

City retirees picketed outside AFSCME Council 25’s headquarters in Detroit when they discovered the monumental sell-out.

“It’s happening to thousands and thousands of workers everywhere,” one protester said. “Where is our union leadership’s compassion, why aren’t they fighting? How are the unions even going to survive if they don’t stand up? Do they suddenly have a ‘new purpose’ for existing?”

The GLWA would essentially be controlled by the Governor’s office. It would be run by a six-member board, with a five member super-majority required to approve contracts, rates, budgets, and other financial matters. Two members would be appointed by Detroit’s mayor, one by the governor, and one each by the three county executives.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

However, if a county commission does not buy into the authority, the Governor would appoint someone to occupy that position.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said there is some reluctance on the part of his officials to agree to the plan, and that he does not like the provision regarding Snyder’s appointment powers. All three counties had filed objections to the Plan of Adjustment, but Ficano and Patterson said they would withdraw their counties’ objections if their commissions approve the GLWA.

“It took 15 months of intense bargaining and negotiations resulting in the Memorandum of Understanding which we signed this morning,” Patterson said. “It goes against my DNA, but many Oakland County residents looked at DWSD as a cash cow for the City of Detroit because revenues from the department’s rates were being used for the city’s general fund.”

Patterson’s statement on that was a blatant falsehood. As an enterprise agency, DWSD revenues by law are mandated to benefit only DWSD, not Detroit’s general fund. An original proposal for the $50 million a year to go to Detroit’s general fund to aid in the bankruptcy case was apparently a sticking point at least for Patterson. Under the GLWA, however, all revenues go for water and sewerage purposes, leaving open the question of why it should even be involved in bankruptcy discussions.

Oakland Co. Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
Oakland Co. Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Patterson also said he feared that Judge Rhodes would “cram down” terms of the deal if it was not agreed to by the parties, and would not be as “conscious” as they are.

The reference to his “DNA” was ironic. Several years ago, he likened Black women members of the Detroit City Council to “monkeys in a zoo.” He also represented anti-school busing Ku Klux Klan members, arrested in the early 1970’s after they attacked protesters against Irene McCabe, another anti-busing agitator, in Oakland County.

The proposal sets a 10-year limit on rate increases of four percent, but Patterson made clear that customers’ bills could increase far beyond that if the local communities involved attach additional charges, a situation which has always existed.

Generally, suburban officials have ignored that reality when criticizing Detroit’s control of DWSD, using rate increases to whip up their constituents’ hostility toward the city.

Lame duck Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
Lame duck Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

As for Ficano, tied to numerous corruption cases involving his officials, he expressed support for the plan, not surprisingly, since many aspects derive from EMA, Inc. proposals to cut 81 percent of DWSD staff and cross-train the others.

Wayne County under the Ficano machine first hired EMA, Inc. in 2008, in a contract involving Downriver Wastewater Treatment Facilities Operation and Management, despite EMA’s known history of sabotaging sewerage operations in Toronto, where understaffing caused massive flooding in 2012, and in New York City, according to county worker Jackson Anderson.

“Ficano’s people are running the City’s Water Department (James Fausone, water board chair, Matthew Schenk, DWSD COO, Woolfson, etc.),” Anderson said in an earlier VOD commentary. “How can you justify a $48 million NO-BID CONTRACT to EMA based on a 90-day self-serving review?”

The GLWA proposal creates a $4.5 million Water Residential Affordability Program (WRAP), not only for Detroit residents but for the entire region covered by the GLWA. It does not include a moratorium on water shut-offs, or a true “water affordability” program that would set rates according to a household’s income.

Protesters block entrance to contractor Homrich facility to stop water shutoffs last month. They sustained nine arrests.

Protesters block entrance to contractor Homrich facility to stop water shutoffs last month. They sustained nine arrests.

Duggan compared the WRAP to the $200,000 which the City of Detroit has collected in donations so far for its “Water Affordability Plan,” but neglected to mention that WRAP covers a much larger area.

Judge Rhodes is still to rule on a lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order on water shut-offs in Detroit, after a hearing set for Sept. 17. He ordered mediation on that matter in addition to the DWSD mediation.

If the results of the DWSD mediation are any indication, the shut-offs mediation cannot be expected to yield any more than the plan the City of Detroit has already put in place. It does not bar shut-offs, although in the United Kingdom and other countries, water shut-offs are outlawed as a threat to public health and safety.

(The statement below from the People’s Water Board is being republished here; it does not mean their organization necessarily supports all the contents of the story above.)

PEOPLE’S WATER BOARD STATEMENT ON CREATION OF REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY 

People’s Water Board Coalition Calls Regional Water Authority an Assault Against Democracy and the Human Right to Water

Community calls for protection and representation for all region’s residents

People's Water BoardDetroit, Mich. – The People’s Water Board decried Mayor Mike Duggan’s plan to create a regional water authority as undemocratic and a threat to the human right to water for many in the region. We have access to the largest body of surface freshwater in the world, so it would seem abundance and access should not be an issue. However the manner of governing this valuable resource as responsible environmental stewards for the world has left many communities without trust.

The deal was negotiated behind closed doors without any input from the public and is the next step on the pathway to privatization. It takes away the rights of both the Detroit City Council and the citizens of Detroit to have input on big decisions impacting the system.

“Suburban customers should not be fooled into thinking that this deal gives them more control or influence over the water system,” said Lynna Kaucheck of the People’s Water Board. “The new authority will be made up of unelected officials who are accountable to no one. People need to know that this deal doesn’t take privatization off the table.”

There is a global campaign to dump Veolia contracts because of the company's connection with Israeli apartheid actions against the Palestinians. See link below,
There is a global campaign to dump Veolia contracts because of the company’s connection with Israeli apartheid actions against the Palestinians. See link below,

Veolia Water North America, the largest private water company operating in the United States, has been hired to evaluate the management of the system and clearly has a vested interest in privatization. Privatization typically results in skyrocketing rates, decreased service quality and the loss of jobs. In fact, corporate profits, dividends and income taxes can add 20 to 30 percent to operation and maintenance costs, and a lack of competition and poor negotiation skills can leave local governments with expensive contracts.

In the Great Lakes region, large private water companies charge more than twice as much as cities charge for household water service. This is not the solution for Detroit or the region.

“The regionalization plan is unacceptable. We need a system that is accountable and transparent and that works for all its customers,” said Tawana Petty of the People’s Water Board. “We want an elected board of water commissioners. We want to reduce costs for the region through bulk purchasing and resource sharing. And we want to implement the Affordability Plan as passed by Detroit City Council in 2005. Detroit and suburban leaders need to protect residents and democratize the system.”

The People’s Water Board advocates for access, protection, and conservation of water, and promotes awareness of the interconnectedness of all people and resources.

People's Water Board Coalition protest outside Water Board Building,

People’s Water Board Coalition protest outside Water Board Building,

The People’s Water Board includes: AFSCME Local 207, Baxter’s Beat Back the Bullies Brigade, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Green Party, Detroit People’s Platform, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Food & Water Watch, FLOW, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Matrix Theater, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, Sierra Club, Sisters of Mercy, Voices for Earth Justice and We the People of Detroit. September 10, 2014 Contact: Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch, (586) 556-8805 Tawana Petty, People’s Water Board, (313) 433-9882

Some recent and previous articles related to this story:

http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora/los-angeles-activists-put-veolias-complicity-israels-human-rights-violations-spotlight

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/06/racist-bankruptcy-plan-hearing-sanctions-theft-of-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/31/march-vs-detroit-bankruptcy-sept-2-retirees-demand-council-put-water-dept-sale-on-ballot/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/26/detroiters-ask-judge-to-bar-water-shut-offs-until-lawsuit-resolved-hearing-tues-sept-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/21/near-catastrophic-failure-of-detroit-sewage-pumps-caused-detroit-floods-toledo-water-crisis-city-retirees-say/

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

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/01/ema-which-proposed-dwsd-cuts-tied-to-ficano-heise/

http://www.freep.com/article/20120710/NEWS02/207100354/Ficano-s-ex-appointees-get-six-figure-jobs-at-Detroit-water-department

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/09/board-passes-48-m-5-yr-ema-contract-to-cut-81-of-detroit-water-workforce/

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/16/union-challenges-cox%e2%80%99s-water-dept-takeover-order/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/10/cox-axes-detroiters-control-over-water-department/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/02/13/judge-cox-mayor-bing-suburban-leaders-conspire-in-water-takeover-violate-city-charter/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/02/13/judge-cox-mayor-bing-suburban-leaders-conspire-in-water-takeover-violate-city-charter/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/01/26/stop-takeover-of-detroits-water/


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RACIST BANKRUPTCY PLAN HEARING SANCTIONS THEFT OF DETROIT

Case like no other in country; strips assets of largest Black city in U.S.

 Hearing a battle between Orr/Jones Day and Syncora as union, retiree leaders vacate field, endorse Plan of Adjustment

 Under plan, banks get at least $8.5 billion, private corporations get assets, while retirees lose $4.5 billion

 By Diane Bukowski

 Sept. 5, 2014

Stop killing seniors! Photo Kenny Snodgrass.

Stop killing seniors! Photo Kenny Snodgrass.

 DETROIT – Not with a bang but a whimper, the plan confirmation phase of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial kicked off Sept. 2, 2014, a little more than a year after Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed the petition on July 17, 2013.

It is no mistake that San Bernadino and Stockton, California declared bankruptcy a year before Detroit, but hearings there have not yet reached the confirmation stage.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr announce filing of Detroit bankruptcy July 17, 2014.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr announce filing of Detroit bankruptcy July 17, 2014.

Just as Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson assassinated Michael Brown, Jr. on Aug. 9, Detroit as the largest Black majority city in the U.S. is about to face assassination as well, at the hands of an unelected dictator and his Wall Street cronies.

 

 The assassination has been coldly calculated for over two years, in a fashion as cruel as the way Ferguson police let Michael Brown’s body lie in the street for four hours as his agonized family and neighbors watched the long stream of blood from his wounds congeal and turn black. Now banksters and government officials are watching gleefully as the City of Detroit slowly dies under their onslaught.

DWSD retiree Bill Davis.
DWSD retiree Bill Davis, who spent 34 years at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and stands to lose a large portion of his annuity savings fund.

“Judge Steven Rhodes should be removed from office, he’s a crook,” Bill Davis, a city Water and Sewerage Dept. retiree, said as protesters marched outside the courthouse Sept. 2. “Kevyn Orr is doing worse than anything Kilpatrick ever did. If the City of Detroit has a cash flow problem, we shouldn’t be spending hundreds of millions on crooked financial institutions.”

 

Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison for 24 counts of bid-rigging, extortion, bribery, and tax evasion, in violation of the federal RICO act. The total monetary amount involved that allegedly went directly into his pocket? About $112,500.

What prison sentence is therefore appropriate for those who are stealing the entire city of Detroit, also in violation of RICO?

How much time should by served by Rhodes, who chaired a forum advocating Chapter 9 bankruptcy and Emergency Management in 2012, Orr who is only a mouthpiece for his former employer, the law firm Jones Day which authored the game plan for the Detroit takeover in a white paper in 2010, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, creator of Public Act 436, which has disenfranchised the majority of the state’s Black citizens? What about the crooked banks and corporations who stand to gain at least $8.5 billion under the plan, plus profits from Water Department contracts and other privatization?

DETROIT BANKRUPTCY CROOKS:

DETROIT BANKRUPTCY CROOKS: (L to r top: UBS CEO Sergio Ermatti; Chase CEO Jamie Dimon; Jones Day CEO Stephen Brogan with Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, BOA CEO Brian Moynihan; Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder; (l to r bottom: 2012 Pro-CH9/EM Forum: Douglas Headen, State Treasury, Edward Plawecki, Judge Steven Rhodes, PA 4 trainer Douglas Bernstein, PA 4 co-author and trainer Judy O’Neill; accountant Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Jones Day at both the eligibility and plan confirmation trials; DPS CEO Jack Martin (top); charter school advocates Doug Ross and Carol Goss, CEO of Skillman Foundation,

How much time should they serve for stealing at least $4.5 billion from retirees, plus water, land, public utilities, homes and jobs from over 700,000 residents, at least 82 percent of whom are African-American?

Protester describes future plight of Detroit city retirees.
Protester describes future plight of Detroit city retirees.

UBS AG, Bank of America, Chase, and numerous mortgage companies have been sanctioned by the U.S. Justice Department with multi-billion settlements related to their criminal activities, but no criminal charges have been brought. Too bad this is not Vietnam or China, where criminal bankers who took advantage of the decay of communism in those countries are being sentenced to death.

Who should really be on trial in Detroit?

“It’s not the City of Detroit, Rhodes is hearing from Jones Day, the third largest law firm in the world representing the banks that have the city in a death grip, who triggered the financial crisis,” Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman told protesters.

Wylie-Kellerman stood up at an earlier bankruptcy hearing and loudly declared that Jones Day is not the city of Detroit, whereupon Judge Rhodes fled the bench, evidently expecting a larger display of the people’s wrath akin to that in Ferguson. Wylie-Kellerman has also led two blockades of the Homrich facility on East Grand Blvd. to stop water shut-offs, with participants sustaining about 20 arrests.

Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman
Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman

“The court hearing gives an appearance of legitimacy to privatizing public assets, dismantling resources, extracting money,” Wylie-Kellerman pointed out. “Put Kevyn Orr and Homrich [the private contractor being paid $6.8 million to shut water off] on trial, put the process on trial, challenge the false legitimacy.”

At the Sept. 2 hearing, attorney Alice Jennings revealed that of 19,000 city households who had their water shut off beginning in March, 5,500 still do not have water. She told protesters that another 1,000 households have been shut-off since a temporary pause in shut-offs ended August 25, with more on the way.

“We have made our argument for the people,” Jennings told the protesters after the hearing. “We must have a temporary restraining order on all shut-offs. They create sanitation problems and pandemic disease processes. What about people with feeding tubes, and those who use nebulizers for asthma [as well as households with children, who stand to be kidnapped by the state’s Child Protective Services]. Through a Freedom of Act request, we found out that the city failed to bill Detroiters the higher sewerage rates for six years, so dumped them on the last billing.”

Attorney Alice Jennings speaks, with team of lawyers who argued lawsuit for TRO against water shut-offs.

Attorney Alice Jennings speaks, with team of lawyers who argued lawsuit for TRO against water shut-offs.

Many countries including the United Kingdom outlaw water shut-offs altogether.

At the insistence of suburban forces, Detroiters are penalized with the higher rates because of delinquency rates on bill payments, in a city where 38 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level, and 27 percent above the poverty level cannot afford the daily necessities of living, according to a recent report by the United Way Foundations of Michigan.

Retiree calls POA nothing but theft of her golden years.
Retiree calls POA nothing but theft of her golden years.

Rhodes has ordered “mediation” of the matter, with a subsequent hearing Sept. 17. If the mediation is anything like that going on about the ownership and management of DWSD, his order does not carry much hope.

What about the leaders of the unions and retirement systems, who have ceded the floor for any opposition to the POA to Syncora and FGIC? They have filed briefs agreeing to a plan that will impoverish retirees, eventually dismantle the $6 billion pension fund as more and more workers are forced out of city employment, and lay waste to the future of Detroit’s youth.

Their briefs contradict hundreds of objections filed by retirees and city residents themselves. Jones Day has cited their briefs as evidence the objections should be denied, in an omnibus motion filed Sept. 5.

Shouldn’t these mis-leaders join their co-conspirators in prison for using their own members’ union dues and retiree contributions against them?

Retirees and supporters march outside bankruptcy court as plan confirmation trial begins Sept. 2, 2014.

Retirees and supporters march outside bankruptcy court as plan confirmation trial begins Sept. 2, 2014.

Michigan AFSCME Council 25, the International UAW, and others told the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that they will withdraw their appeals of the city’s bankruptcy eligibility if the plan is confirmed including the so-called “Grand Bargain.” The “Grand Theft,” as it is popularly known, provides a measly $816 million, allegedly for retirees, in exchange for the city relinquishing it’s ownership of the multi-billion DIA art collections.

Helen Moore (left) demands No Pensions, No Peace.
Helen Moore (left) demands No Pensions, No Peace.

It allegedly makes up for the loss of at least $4.5 BILLION in city pension contributions and payouts, an AVERAGE loss of $27,000 per retiree in annuity savings plus 6.75 percent interest, a loss of COLA amounting to $33,500 per retiree, and phony VEBA health care plans that do not guarantee the provision of health care to retirees.

In a monumental sell-out, the unions also said they will give up all other rights to appeal the POA, agree to negate Art. 9, Sec. 24 of the Michigan Constitution which protects public pensions, and cease their opposition to PA 436, the Emergency Manager Act. Ironically, that Act declares that any EM must live up to Art. 9, Section 24!

AFSCME Local 207 Pres. Mike Mulholland speaks as retirees Dave Sole and Belinda Myers-Florence listen.
AFSCME Local 207 Pres. Mike Mulholland speaks as retirees Dave Sole and Belinda Myers-Florence listen.

AFSCME Local 207, representing Detroit Water and Sewerage workers, was one of only two city locals that urged members to vote down the Plan of Adjustment.

“Privatization at DWSD is happening at a rapid pace,” Local 207 President Mike Mulholland said at the rally. “They are poised in this bankruptcy to give it away entirely—either to the suburbs or by handing the actual management to Veolia, the second largest water privatizer in the world. They had to bring in EMA, Inc. to dismantle the Wastewater Treatment Plant, causing the recent floods and the Toledo water emergency. Now we have to get another overseer to oversee the overseer, thanks to Orr. AFSCME Council 25 has left us hanging. They are punishing our local for striking against the DWSD takeover by stripping our membership to 150 workers.”

Mulholland said earlier that the Teamsters and Operating Engineers are in line to take over representation of the other DWSD workers, who now total 700 instead of the 1100 in unionized ranks before EMA took over. Current DWSD workers must also reapply for their jobs.

Detroit is the only city facing such massive losses under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, which bars creditors from demanding liquidation of assets, “unless the debtor agrees.”

Baxter Jones, Jr. tells the crowd to fight with every beat of their hearts.

Baxter Jones, Jr. tells the crowd to fight with every beat of their hearts.

Orr, having been crowned as the debtor by Judge Rhodes early on, is not only agreeing but playing a proactive role in destroying Detroit.

He ordered “restructuring” of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s bond debt, a restructuring that provides for $2.2 billion of that debt which was considered impaired under the Plan of Adjustment, to be paid in full.

Elena Herrada and another protester hold banner that says it all. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass.
Elena Herrada and another protester hold banner that says it all. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass.

He approved the establishment of a regional Public Lighting Authority to replace Detroit’s Public Lighting Department. Plans for the PLA include REMOVAL of 40 percent of street lighting in the city, to coincide with the removal of other city services from large swaths of neighborhoods.

He ordered the privatization of the Detroit Public Works Department, which handles garbage pick-up, beginning March 1. Current workers must re-apply for their jobs.

Rizzo Environmental Services, headquartered in Sterling Heights, and Advance Disposal Services, will take over. They plan to dispose of Detroit’s trash at Detroit Renewable Energy, LLC, the notorious Detroit incinerator which has been subject to constant protests over the years about its pollution of the surrounding poor and Black neighborhoods.

Rizzo Environmental Services
DPW city workers, who must reapply for their jobs, are a majority Black.

Crain’s Detroit Business said of Rizzo, “Its parent company, Rizzo Group, is co-owned by father and son along with CEO Michael Ferrantino Jr. of EQ – The Environmental Quality Co. in Wayne; New York City-based private equity firm Kinderhook Industries; and Habib Mamou, president of V&M Corp., doing business as Royal Oak Recycling.”

Orr has also ordered changes to demolition requirements for “blight removal” (read “Black removal”) projects, allowing contractors to partially fill excavation sites with chopped up parts of the existing structure, despite hazardous materials like lead and asbestos that may be present, then top it off with “clean fill.”

March continues. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass

March continues. Photo: Kenny Snodgrass

Baxter Jones, Jr. encouraged protesters to continue fighting back with every beat of their hearts.

“The reason we don’t see a lot more people out here is that they’ve been beat down so long they got used to it,” Jones, who was arrested in his wheelchair at both Homrich blockades, said.

“Beat the bullies back with your heartbeat,” Jones cried out. “Even the bankers and wealthy people have to die, they can’t take their things with them. Think about the young people at the Oakman School. The DPS EM Jack Martin closed it down because he didn’t care about their challenges and limitations, and sent kids to other schools with no sensibility.”

Murderer Gov. Rick Snyder.
Murderer Gov. Rick Snyder.

Speakers Elena Herrada and Helen Moore also pointed out the devastation emergency management and the breakway Educational Achievement Authority have meant for Detroit schools, most of which are now closed down.

In a recent interview with Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press, Orr endorsed a plan for Detroit schools like those in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. He and illegally-elected Mayor Mike Duggan, the first white mayor of 82 percent Black Detroit since 1974, are proposing mayoral control of the schools to facilitate this.

There is no more public school system in New Orleans subsequent to Hurricane Katrina; privately-run charter schools, most for-profit have taken over completely. Washington, D.C. is well on its way. Charter profiteers and organizations like the Broad Foundation have targeted primarily majority-Black cities like Detroit, New Orleans and Washington D.C. for their ill-gotten gains.

Herrada announced that on Oct. 2 at the Fisher Building, a protest will take place subsequent to the hearing of a lawsuit filed by the elected, in-exile Detroit Board of Education against the EAA.

BC banner KS photo 9 2 14

Abiyomi Azikiwe of Moratorium NOW! summed up the effects the bankruptcy will have on Detroit during the Sept. 2 protest.

“Make the banks pay, they owe us for the destruction of our city through massive illegal oreclosures,” he said. “We are opposed to the sixth, or is it the seventh, Plan of Adjustment put together by the agents of Wall Street. Even if they rubber stamp this, the City of Detroit will still experience massive poverty, unemployment, and dislocation. Since Kevyn Orr took over, the streets, lighting, EMS, bus transportation all have worsened. He has driven the city further into the ground.”

He added, “A few months from now, the plan can be readjusted again. They have blamed the city’s situation on working people, residents, and retirees. But the bankruptcy has been engineered for the past two years [by Wall Street banks and corporations in league with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Jones Day and Kevyn Orr].”

Recent related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/31/march-vs-detroit-bankruptcy-sept-2-retirees-demand-council-put-water-dept-sale-on-ballot/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/26/detroiters-ask-judge-to-bar-water-shut-offs-until-lawsuit-resolved-hearing-tues-sept-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/21/near-catastrophic-failure-of-detroit-sewage-pumps-caused-detroit-floods-toledo-water-crisis-city-retirees-say/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/21/bank-of-america-agrees-to-nearly-17b-mortgage-fraud-settlement-helped-destroy-detroit/ 

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

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/2014/07/30/unions-and-retirement-systems-must-continue-6th-circuit-appeals-of-detroit-bankruptcy-eligibility-call-your-reps/ 

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


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DETROIT FAST FOOD WORKERS BLOCK STREETS AS PART OF NATIONAL DAY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Posted on by Diane Bukowski

Protesters block Mack Avenue near McDonald's restaurant Sept. 4, 2014.

By Diane Bukowski

Sept. 4, 2014

DETROIT – Dozens of fast food workers, nearly all Black youth, were arrested today, after blocking the east-side intersection of Mack and Moran next to a McDonald’s restaurant to demand a $15/hr. wage with benefits, and a union. They were supported by large rallies on both sides of the streets, including home care workers, as part of a national day of civil disobedience against poverty-level wages.

Police advance on protesters to arrest them.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, $8.15 has got to go,” they chanted. As a result of national actions since 2012, some fast food wages have increased a dollar an hour, but the workers said that was not enough. In a recent victory, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) won a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board that McDonald’s workers are employees of the $200 billion global giant, not of individual franchises, strengthening their position.

Arrests begin.

Coming on the heels of the two-week youth uprising against Michael Brown’s murder by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO, actions in Detroit and across the U.S. infused more power into a growing youth movement that has not been seen since the 1960’s.

In Detroit particularly, arrests and harassment of Black youth are epidemic. Fully aware of this, the young protesters nonetheless sat down in proud defiance as dozens of police cars roared up. Then they stood up to be handcuffed, joy in the struggle and wariness of police treatment reflected in their faces at the same time.

Police threaten sidewalk protest as well.

“I want to take care of my 6 month old baby and be able to pay my bills,” Nakisha Mosley, 20, a McDonald’s worker, told VOD. She was part of a small group of protesters that retook part of the street after the main arrests.

Police threaten group that re-took part of the street.

“Fifteen dollars is just a start,” said Nathaniel Johnson, 26, who has worked at a fast food restaurant for the last nine years.

Home care worker Terance Carter.
Home care worker Terance Carter.

“I want better wages and dignity, to be able to buy shoes for my kids and have a future for them,” home care worker Tarence Carter said. “I don’t want them to still be making the same wage when they grow up. That’s why we’re teaming up with the fast food workers.”

Rev. Charles Williams II, head of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, told the protesters, “You have decided to sit down in the spirit of Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer. We will continue to fight until we get $15. We’re willing to go to jail to fight these slave wages.”

Police estimated arrests at around 30, but Pastor Willie Rideout of All God’s People Ministries in Detroit, an organizer of the protest, said he thought one hundred were arrested.

Arrested protester is defiant.
Arrested protester is defiant.

Police at the scene said the arrestees were being taken to the Mound Road Detroit Detention Facility (DDF). An officer in charge at the DDF told this reporter that only four protesters had been brought in there. He said most were being checked for warrants and other outstanding matters by the arresting officers, and then ticketed and released instead of being brought to the DDF.

Detroit police at the scene had varying attitudes as they arrested the protesters. One Black officer told a young woman, as numerous media took photos of her, that she would be all over the newspapers. But as the arrests wound down,VOD heard a white officer telling other white officers resentfully, “Every shitbag on the east side knows that we’re out here, and I wonder what they’re doing right now.”

After the arrests, officers pushed sidewalk protesters from the Home Care Workers and other groups holding banners back across Mack and told everyone to get on the sidewalk near McDonald’s and begin dispersing. This reporter was threatened with arrest despite showing her media badge.

Brave youths under arrest knew what they were dealing with.

Over 1300 low-wage workers met at a national convention in Chicago in July to plan for today’s actions.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT FAST FOOD AND LOW-WAGE WORKERS

Low Pay is not OK is also circulating a national petition. Jeanina Jenkins of Low Pay is not OK said in an email,

Today, fast-food workers and allies in more than 100 U.S. cities will take to the streets to demand underpaid fast-food workers get the fair wages they deserve. Workers are calling it #StrikeFastFood, and they plan to make good on their resolution to do “whatever it takes” to win, including engaging in non-violent civil disobedience in select cities.

Arrested women continued chanting.

Fast-food workers across the country are on strike. We’re striking because no one who works for a living should be forced to live in poverty, not when we work for hugely profitable corporations. We’re striking because McDonald’s and the other fast-food giants continue to dismiss us, and refuse to give us the respect that any human being deserves. We aren’t just striking for better pay and respect, though, we’re striking to survive and we have no other choice. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to win $15 an hour and the right to form a union without intimidation. Stand with us by adding your name to our petition, and share it far and wide after you have.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Protester won't give up sign even under arrest.

“I support the striking fast-food workers. It’s time to stop hiding behind your franchises and stop making excuses. It’s time to pay your workers $15 an hour so they can support their families without relying on public assistance.”

Protesters march back from sidewalk after arrests end. Police shoved them along.

Click on http://strikefastfood.org/ for coverage of strikes across the U.S., and local contact information.


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U.N.’S RACISM WATCHDOG COMMITTEE SLAMS DISCRIMINATORY POLICE BRUTALITY IN THE U.S.

 

Aftermath of Michael Brown's killing by Ferguson police.
Aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing by Ferguson police.

 

UN Committee cites recent killings of Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, other excessive force incidents

By Sonya Eskridge

Sep 2, 2014

Police killed Eric Garner in NYC.
Police killed Eric Garner in NYC.

The United Nations is calling on the United States to stop the inequitable use of excessive force on African-American people.

It’s been an eye-opening summer as the U.S. law enforcement system has come under fire for the deaths of several innocent black men across the country. Eric Garner’s passing earlier this summer got people upset, but Michael Brown’s shooting death made people riot in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

Tensions were further strained by instances of police using excessive force in situations that didn’t apparently call for it, like an incident where one NYPD put a pregnant black woman in a chokehold for using a barbecue in front of her home.

Reuters reports that the U.N.’s anti-racism board, U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), has said that disproportionate police brutality against black people is a problem the world can no longer afford to ignore. It’s just one thing among other forms of discrimination that black people face in America.

Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO, killed by P.O. Darren WIlson. No charges filed.
Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO, killed by P.O. Darren WIlson. No charges filed.

CERD committee vice chairman Noureddine Amir said in a statement, “Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing.” The committee is made up of 18 independent experts, and on August 13, they questioned several U.S. ambassadors about the prevalent discrimination against minorities.

 

Keith Harper, a senior U.S. delegate, admits that the country has a lot further to go in its mission to eliminate racial discrimination. However, he defended the U.S. in arguing that the nation has made progress in its treatment of minorities.

In CERD’s opinion, the U.S. hasn’t done enough yet to combat the issue.

Nourredine Amir is from Algeria.
Nourredine Amir is from Algeria.

“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” Noureddin said in a news release.

 

“This is not an isolated event,” he added, “and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”

(VOD: a major story on State Police brutality in Detroit –not Belle Isle) that took place yesterday will be out shortly.)


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