(This is a sampling of remarks made during public comment April 3 and 4, 2012. In some cases, remarks by individuals who spoke on both days have been combined. These remarks expose in part the complete depravity of the Council’s eventual 5-4 vote for the consent agreement.)
Valerie Burris, community activist: On this day of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Council’s vote will assassinate Detroit. Seven hundred thousand Detroiters do not support our own demise. We will not pay any more property or income taxes to support this nonsense. This is an end run around the petition drive. We might as well go back to England and labor for the king.
Cecily McClellan, Vice-President APTE: Council members need to atone on this anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. You must demand the $220 million the state owes us, and denounce union-busting and right-to-work forces. Michael McGee is one of the authors of Public Act 4. It’s like having the Grand Wizard of the KKK advise the NAACP. VOTE NO.
Rev. David Means: Most of the Black people we have elected have gotten into bed with the KKK.
Frank Hammer, life-long union activist: Today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated for going to fight for city workers and for opposing the war in Vietnam. You are determining whether we have democratic voice in this city. This consent agreement comes from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Koch Brothers.
Jerry Goldberg, Moratorium NOW! Coalition: The consent agreement is only to service the debt to the banks, including $16.9 billion in debt service, $4.9 billion in profit, and $50 M imposed during the recent downgrades. An emergency manager will automatically trigger a demand for $350 million. No money is left for services to the people. If you vote for this, you are going along with the bankers who are robbing our city.
Greg Murray, President SAAA: This is shameful and disrespectful on the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. He died fighting for union members. Your own staff has advised you the consent agreement violates the City Charter.
Brandon Jessup, CEO of Michigan Forward—I stand opposed, and cede my time to former Finance Department official and CPA: “The City is a $3 Billion business. You are just assuming there is $46 million shortfall, you don’t have a CFO or CPA or any financial expert advising you. Take some time. Do not cede power without a fight. Demand a current cash flow analysis.”
Walter Knall, City of Detroit retiree: Time is on your side. Take your time. The banks, the state of Michigan, the auto companies received bail-outs and loans. Is there any reason why the city government cannot go to the federal government for the same thing? A consent agreement or an emergency manager are first and foremost unconstitutional. They not only take away our vote but our voice. Follow the leadership of JoAnn Watson.
Sandra Hines, school and community activist: Charles Pugh, you are smiling like a Cheshire Cat while we are crying our hearts out to you Ken Cockrel, I used to have a lot of respect for you, but you turned on us against your father’s legacy. How can you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning? It’s about what WE want. You work for US. You are giving up our children’s future, our history and our cultural background as African-Americans. You have put Black people in harm’s way. We are going to fight you tooth and nail.
Rev. David Bullock, Rainbow PUSH: Where is our elected leadership to say you want the $220 million the state owes Detroit? If a lawsuit is possible, where are the legal gymnastics to be used not on the behalf of the bondholders and corporate Michigan but on behalf of the people? Not too many whites will apologize for slavery based on what happened in the past, but they want you take responsibility for what’s happened in the past in Detroit. They are saying you are incompetent. Address the reason why we don’t have resources—renew our tax base. Bankruptcy is a better option—at least it must be articulated very publicly.
Ernest Thompson: You must reconsider. The city needs its workforce. You are colluding with the state to circumvent the right of 224,000 petitioners who don’t want Public Act 4. Many workers of the city of Detroit qualify for federal assistance and food stamps. There are other revenue-based options. You don’t have to give Detroit away today.
Anna Holden, City of Detroit retiree: You are giving control of over $6 billion in pension funds to the state. Mayor Bing tried to hand them over to the less well-funded Michigan Employees Retirement System (MERS) before. Courts have ruled that pension funds are the property of retirees.
Dorothy Harrison, City of Detroit retiree: I’m sitting here having a stroke. What are retirees going to do? Beware, because seniors will be your worst nightmare.
Bill Dickens, parent of student at MLK High School: Robert Bobb came in to solve a $200 M deficit for the Detroit Public Schools, now it’s $1 billion. What Barton Malow did on that first school bond issue is outrageous. EM’s are devious, underhanded and out to hurt you.
Rev. Charles Williams II, National Action Network: The governor, Andy Dillon and state legislators are insulting the intelligence of Detroiters, saying we don’t have the ability to govern ourselves. The $220 million is the elephant in the room. You are hog-tieing the citizens if you pass this.
Below: State Sen. Bert Johnson explains clearly why the Council does not have to vote for the consent agreement.
Dr. Tellis Chapman: You must protect the democracy of the City of Detroit and the people of Detroit. As Esther Chapter 14 Verse 4 says, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise . . . . from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?” The ghosts of Erma Henderson, Maryann Mahaffey and Coleman Young are here—you must protect your father’s house. Make sure the people’s voice is not forfeited under the guise of a financial emergency. File suit, don’t allow the state to tell you what to do.
Valerie Glenn: The Legislative Black Caucus is behind you. Gary Brown, you announced very proudly you had six votes and there would be a decision today (April 3). But I would rather not be saved if I am to be enslaved. I grew up in Detroit in 50’s. We couldn’t work in Hudson’s or go in Woolworth’s and many other places, but then we gained a sense of hope. I knew when I received my college education I would get respect. Council and Mayor, anyone voting for this document—your time is up.
Tyrone Travis: The State Constitution does not permit City Council to relinquish functions and power to any Financial Advisory Board, or to approve this consent agreement. I second Valerie Burris and call on Detroiters not to pay your taxes, when your elected officials are corrupted by corporations, and lawmakers break their own laws.
Min. Malik Shabazz, New Marcus Garvey Movement: Today, April 4, is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. But the Mayor and City council are signing away our powers. They are too ignorant, retarded and traitorous to remain in office. You are a disgrace—you are forever changing the city of Detroit.
Ron Seigel: This is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people, which shall not perish from this earth. City Council needs to stand up to Snyder’s bullying.
Morris Mays: You are lily-livered and chicken-hearted, the makings of cat food. You need to call a press conference and call on the people to rise up.