Are Snyder, Bing, Council and EY conspiring to get concessions or EM?
PA 4 (EM law) may be frozen by mid-December, as referendum petition nears signature goal
Council handing out tax abatements as it demands 2300 lay-offs
By Diane Bukowski
November 26, 2011
DETROIT – Are Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council manufacturing an economic crisis in collusion with Ernst & Young as well as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder? Are they trying to force “sacrifice” out of the city’s workers and poor while allowing the city’s corporations and banks to make hay while the sun shines?
VOD reader S. Mack said it all in a recent on-line comment.
“A Forensic Audit is needed to catch these crooks from the past to the present administrations,” Mack noted. “We need an honest outsider to do the Audit. It’s not hard to see things are purposely in place to continue to give away assets and to privatize, regionalize and corporatize the city.
“[It is] also population control to remove one group for another, [and] an attack on the poor, a cause and effect to raise the poverty numbers in this City, while they give the banks, corporations, casinos and big businesses a pass. Tax abatements should be a thing of the past. There are businesses who haven’t paid taxes in thirty years or more, rich taxpayers who don’t live in the city. Millions of federal dollars are sent back instead of being utilized to build economic wealth for the city. You gotta believe things are being done deliberately.”
PA 4 could be frozen by mid-December
The recent sequence of events raises the possibility that there is a deliberate effort to put an EM over Detroit, or at least to bleed concessions out of the unions, before Public Act 4 is frozen. That could happen as early as mid-December.
In a recent release, Michigan Forward said regarding its campaign for a referendum to repeal PA4, “Stand Up for Democracy is announcing it has verified more than half of the 250,000 signatures the group wants to collect. Only 161,304 valid signatures are needed to freeze the emergency manager law and put it on the November 2012 general election ballot.”
Michigan Forward is a state-wide coalition of labor, community and religious leaders. Its founder Brandon Jessup said they expect to have enough signatures by mid-December.
Michigan’s Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 9 says, “No law as to which the power of referendum properly has been invoked shall be effective thereafter unless approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon at the next general election.”
(Click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/07/labor-community-gear-up-to-deliver-fatal-blow-to-pa-4/ to read previous VOD article on campaign to defeat PA 4.)
Snyder becomes bad cop
Snyder appears rather concerned. After Bing timorously raised Councilwoman JoAnn Watson’s demand that the state repay $220 million it owes to Detroit, the governor suddenly turned from good cop, claiming he did not want an EM for Detroit, into bad cop.
“Based on the mayor’s remarks … and the severity of the situation he described, we anticipate he will be submitting a request for preliminary financial review in the near future,” Snyder said.
Bing said that he has been in constant consultation with Snyder on the city’s finances since April and that therefore a preliminary review, the first step in naming an EM, is not needed. So does he plan to skip straight to the second step and ask for one? The daily media is saying that folks like the current EM’s of Benton Harbor, Pontiac, and Ecorse are under consideration. A city hall insider told VOD there are also local names in the pot.
A union official who asked not to be named told VOD that his department is paying bills from private corporations within two to three days in an apparent effort to spend down as much money as possible, to verify the claims of a pending cash shortfall made by Bing, the Council, and Ernst & Young.
(Go to http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/15/ernst-young-helped-lehman-bros-cook-books-say-n-y-n-j-lawsuits/ and http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/21/city%e2%80%99s-top-criminals-ernst-young-cook-the-books/ to read VOD’s previous articles exposing this criminal firm.)
Frantic meetings Thanksgiving week, turkey and shopping 24th and 25th
Bing, the Council, and the city’s unions met frantically during Thanksgiving week, claiming that an EM would be named any moment.
The situation could not have been so dire, however. Mayor and Council went home Thursday and Friday to consume their turkey, and take advantage of “Black Friday.” Council President Charles Pugh was spotted by a local TV station shopping his well-heeled self off at an upscale store Friday.
Perhaps Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, who has proposed that city retirees give up their 13th check, was busy snuggling with her presumed squeeze Carl Bentley while filling up on Thanksgiving goodies to add to her steadily increasing girth. The two have been photographed together at numerous society functions.
Bentley works for Strategic Staffing Solutions, a city and county contractor now under investigation by the feds for its role in the Wayne County Business Development Corporation scandal.
Council demands 2300 lay-offs, based on secret Ernst & Young meeting
The City Council sank to new depths of depravity in the sessions it conducted during the first three days of the week. On Nov. 22, they spent the afternoon debating whether a demand for 2300 city worker lay-offs should be number one on a list to present to Mayor Bing, or whether the state’s $220 million debt to the city should go first.
In the end, NO ONE would give a definitive “NO” vote against presenting the 2300 lay-offs as one option, and only JoAnn Watson appeared to believe that the demand for the state debt repayment was serious.
They also disclosed that actual representatives of Ernst & Young were present during their secret meeting they held with Bing about the city’s finances Oct. 26, in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
VOD is consulting with the On-Line Media Network to obtain legal assistance in filing suit against the Council for holding that meeting. Two other suits are contemplated regarding a closed Council session on the $750,000 DTE Energy contract to repair 500 streetlights, and another on revamping the city’s Privatization Ordinance.
Violation of the Open Meetings Act under state law is a criminal misdemeanor. (Where’s Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy when we need her?)
Happy Thanksgiving! Council hands out tax abatements, not turkeys
Prior to discussing how to bleed city workers, the Council took care of other business, happily handing out holiday gifts in the form of tax abatements. After all, companies like Covanta, witn about $1.7 billion expected in 2011 revenues, can certainly afford to buy their own turkeys.
The Council voted 5-4 in favor of a $4.1 million brownfield development tax abatement for Covanta subsidiary Detroit Renewable Power, which operates the Detroit and Hamtramck incinerators. The incinerators are reviled by environmentalists and hundreds of people who live in the path of their fumes. Detroit Renewable Power was recently cited by the state for several environmental infractions, as several of the many speakers against the abatement pointed out.
“Covanta Energy is one of the world’s largest owners and operators of infrastructure for the conversion of waste-to energy, as well as other waste disposal and renewable energy production businesses,” the company says on its website. “Covanta operates and/or has ownership positions in 44 energy-from-waste facilities, primarily located in North America, and 20 additional energy generation facilities, including other renewable energy production facilities in North America. “
The company has also been cited for numerous environmental infractions and labor violations.
The five Council members voting for Covanta were Black Friday shopper Charles Pugh, Bentley squeeze Saunteel Jenkins (who got $1,000 from Covanta during her campaign), Gary Brown, Andre Spivey and James Tate. Voting against the tax abatement were Council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones, Kwame Kenyatta, and Ken Cockrel, Jr.
The Council additionally voted 8-1 to give Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano a zoning change so he could build his new county jail.
Councilwoman Watson thought to ask, “Who’s the contractor?” knowing it is Walbridge Aldinger. The FBI has also subpoenaed records from that company, whose CEO John Rakolta sits on the Wayne County Business Development Corporation board and on the EDGE non-profit board. He is an ardent Snyder supporter, and was a major fundraiser for the 2004 Bush campaign.
Over the past few weeks, the Council has also voted to give 10 and 15 year Renaissance Zone tax credit extensions to the James Group International/OJ Land Development and 1208 Woodward, LLC, in exchange for a guarantee of —ELEVEN JOBS.
Meanwhile, the council approved city revenue INCREASES of over $2.7 million from the state, casinos and elsewhere, but said they would be used in large part to pay for the Ernst & Young contract. (Click on Detroit revenue increase slated for Ernst Young.)
So, the question becomes—is there a crisis or not? Previously Wall Street screamed crisis at Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick over an alleged $300 million deficit in 2005. It sent its minions from Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings directly to the Council table to demand that the city borrow $1.2 BILLION in pension obligation certificates. The Mayor and council caved.
When the city was in danger of defaulting on same, in 2009, Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. agreed to turn ALL of the city’s revenue-sharing and casino tax income over to a bank trustee so he could chop off what UBS Financial Services considered sufficient to stave off default on the debt Wall Street demanded.
What other ingenious and eventually catastrophic solution does Wall Street have in mind for Detroit now?
Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shut-offs — Organizing Meeting
Monday, November 28, 2011, 7:00 pm
5920 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 (at Antoinette, just north of Wayne State University)
We will be discussing actions in coordination with Occupy Detroit in support of the December 6 National Day of Action Against Foreclosures.
We will also take up the fight against the imposition of an Emergency Financial Manager on the City of Detroit.