Council meets Thurs. Jan. 24 @ 1 p.m. and Mon. Jan. 28, votes Jan. 29 Proposed “lease” changes are insignificant, no help to Detroit State gets all revenue, grants, pays no rent, no improvement $$ guarantee City pays expenses, bonds, debt; no jobs or contracts guaranteed
By Diane Bukowski
January 23, 2013
DETROIT – The Detroit City Council “Rogue Six” are conspiring to give the city’s most gorgeous jewel, Belle Isle, to the state by Jan. 29, fast-tracking a proposed “lease” with no cost to the state at hearings Jan. 24 and 28. Their tactics are identical to those used in the Hantz Farms land grab.
VOD has obtained a copy of the proposed agreement, already signed by Recreation Department Director Patricia Minter, and Acting Corporation Counsel Edward Keelean., who has replaced Krystal Crittedon, fired by the Rogue Six. Click on Belle Isle proposal 1 17 13 to read entire proposal.
“The cover sheet from the Purchasing Department labels this as revenue, with 100 percent state-funding,” Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said at a Council meeting Jan. 22.
“The value of Belle Isle has been appraised at least at $280 million, which is being totally ignored,” Watson continued. “This is the same kind of faulty logic that led to the giveaway of Cobo Hall. Belle Isle is a jewel, but here comes an alleged contract, basically saying the value of Belle Isle is nothing, just give it to the state to operate with the city still paying all the bills and getting no revenue. What kind of shadow government is running the city today?
“The state says it already has the majority of the City Council. The Council is not operating with all nine members,” Watson contended. “There is still a law on the books that says the city can’t enter into a contract if the contractor owes the City money. The state still owes us over $240 million. You can get rid of Krystal Crittendon, but you can’t get rid of the law. Somebody has decided they want to turn Belle Isle into a playground for the rich.”
Councilman James Tate is chair of the Neighborhood and Community Services Committee, set to meet with the entire Council, the state, George Jackson of the Economic Growth Corporation, and the Detroit Police Department Thursday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. (Click on Neighborhood, Community Services Committe 1-24-13 agenda.) He contended a “working group” of three along with the outside representatives spent long hours to revise last year’s proposal.
“Our goal was to put together a proposal that would have the City of Detroit’s best interest at heart,” he said. “I want to give each member of this body a chance for input on Thurday, then have a public hearing on Monday. I suggested we vote Jan. 29 and put this thing to bed, vote it up or down. There were some items we and State each wanted, but weren’t able to get, but the group did the best we could.”
In fact, the proposed lease, compared to the lease presented last year, has very insignificant and condescending changes which still don’t provide the city with any revenue, guaranteed jobs or Detroit-based business participation, and nothing in lease payments. The state still claims the cost of its maintenance of Belle Isle is sufficient to compensate for lease payments, but still promises no set figure that it will spend on Belle Isle improvements. The “lease” remains at 30 years, with two possible 30 year extensions.
The entrance fee, which many previously believed would be set aside for park improvements, is still the $10 a year state pass for all parks, with no guarantees that any of it will be set aside for Belle Isle. There appears to be some conflict between Tate and the State regarding whether the state police will patrol the island, which the Council at first said it would discuss in closed session.
However, after additional discussion, the Council, afraid of public reaction and challenges under the Open Meetings Act, said all sessions on Belle Isle would be open to the public.
The chart below describe provisions of the original “lease,” which still remain in the current lease. Click on Belle-isle-lease-VOD3 to read VOD’s story on the original proposal, which contains a link to the previous version of the “lease.”
The Council did vote for interim city designation of Belle Isle as a “historic site.” It is already on the register of National Historic Places. (Click on BI historic designation for text of resolution, submitted by Councilwoman Watson.)
Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, however, at first opposed the vote.
“I support the study, but have concerns with an interim designation. There are federally-funded repairs to the MacArthur bridge on the agenda today, plus I have concers\ns concerns because whatever happens [with a historic designation] it would limit our ability to carry out the plan.”
She appeared to be concerned that the proposed lease might be blocked by the designation.
Jenkins later introduced a discussion of the number of lawsuit settlements on the agenda for the day, most of them for police brutality. She claimed cases such as one involving a house break-in by a youth benefit the “criminals” in the city.
An enthusiastic discussion ensued, during which every Council member chimed in regarding the problem of “youth violence” and “crime” in Detroit as if they are the city’s primary concerns. No one put any blame on the police department and rampant ongoing brutality.
No one discussed what many Detroiters have termed the “lawlessness” of city and state officials, particularly violations of the Open Meetings Act by City Council over the last year, as hundreds of Detroiters have been forced to stand in the hallway unable to see or hear vital Council meetings on the Consent and Milestone Agreements and other issues.
Most mayoral candidates so far have made “crime” the focus of their campaigns, instead of the steady de-construction of Detroit by criminal politicans, banks, and mortgage companies.
One Detroiter told VOD, “Why isn’t it up to the people to vote on what happens to Belle Isle?” Detroit Tyrone Travis has cited state law which states a popular vote is required on most matters the state legislature deals with.
“Pastors, community leaders and citizens, has the time come to take to the streets and shut Detroit down–no cars in, no cars out?,” asked former mayoral candidate and community activist Jerroll Sanders in a column on her Facebook page furing last year’s discussion of the Belle Isle “lease.”
“The taking of assets in Detroit is racism prima facie,” Sanders said. “In less than seven years, Michigan State officials, colluding with selected members of Detroit’s City Council, the City’s current and former mayors, and powerful backers, seized Detroit’s billion dollar art institute, billion dollar waterfront convention facility, prime golf courses, thousands of acreage of camp and park land, billion dollar water assets, billion dollar historical museum assets, as well as countless other properties and conferred them to suburban and personal corporate interests, often without providing one dime in return.”
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