TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF MY VOTE! FROM SELMA TO MONTGOMERY

Selma to Montgomery! National Action Network Rally & March
A No Struggle, No Development! Production By KennySnod

March 6, 2012

The Struggle Continues, Black & Brown Together.

In 1965, the American South was a battlefield. The wealthy elite sought to block rights and a voice in society for a segment of the population. Nowhere was this battle uglier than in Alabama over the basic right to vote. Today, 47 years later, many states have launched an all-out coordinated assault on our democracy by attacking workers’ rights, voting rights, public education and comprehensive immigration reform.

In 1965, the Selma to Montgomery March made history and changed America. Now in 2012, we march again…for the 99%. History will be on our side. (March — Starts, Selma to Montgomery March 4–9, 2012 March 4: Selma—1:30 p.m. March 5–8: Selma to Montgomery march at 9 a.m. March 9: Montgomery, march at 9 a.m., rally at State Capitol at 11:30 a.m. – The distance between Selma to Montgomery is 47 miles.)

A No Struggle, No Development! Production By Kenny Snodgrass, Activist, Photographer, Videographer, Author of From Victimization To Empowerment… www.trafford.com/07-0913

eBook available at www.ebookstore.sony.com

YouTube – I have over 245 community videos on my YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/KennySnod


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DON’T KILL ME BECAUSE I’M BLACK! JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL HAYNES

A No Struggle, No Development! Production By KennySnod *

March 13, 2012

We peacefully protest in the name of justice for the family of Michael “Fat Mike” Haynes III and the Detroit Black Community. We are protesting against both institutional and community violence. We are protesting against the conditions that breed crime and violence in Detroit and across our country, which are rooted in the economic powerlessness of our communities.

We protest the disrespect of racist whites and foreign merchants of us and our communities. We feel violence and crime in our communities is rooted in our dependency on a broken economy, our mis-education, poor leadership, our economically depressed communities and families.

Our peaceful protest is aimed at closing the BP gas station on Fenkell & Meyers, and to demonstrate a Black Man’s life is worth more than some petty merchandise. We are venting our emotions while coming together as Detroiters to fight against the violence and problems that has created so much senseless violence in our cities.

We declare “WE” will be answer to the problems confronting our community’s throughcollective unity, from collective unity we can accomplish any goals we set to achieve.

Turn Tragedies Into A Triumphs – Join Us!
A No Struggle, No Development! Production By Kenny Snodgrass,
Activist, Photographer, Videographer, Author of From Victimization To Empowerment… www.trafford.com/07-0913  eBook available at www.ebookstore.sony.com.
YouTube – I have over 255 community videos on my YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/KennySnod

Kenny Snodgrass (in brown outfit, center left) participates in MLK Day march on Gov. Rick Snyder's home to demand an end to disenfranchisement of Michigan's majority-Black cities

 


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AUSTERITY AND BANKERS’ COUPS: THE NYC PRECEDENT

Doug Henwood

By Doug Henwood

Feb. 24, 2012

With the displacement of Greece’s elected government by Eurocrats acting in the interest of the country’s creditors, I thought this would be a good time to reprise the section of my 1997 book Wall Street that covers the New York City fiscal crisis of 1975, which was something of a dress rehearsal for the neoliberal austerity agenda that would go global in the 1980s. Certain celebrity academics are constantly cited for making this argument, but I was there first. You can download Wall Street for free by clicking here: Wall Street.

This chapter, and this book, has mainly been about the private sector, but it would be incomplete to finish a chapter on “governance” without looking at the relations between Wall Street and government, not only in the U.S., but on a world scale.

One advantage that Wall Street has in public economic debate, aside of course from its immense wealth and power, is that it’s one of the few institutions that look at the economy as a whole. American economic policymaking is, like all the other kinds, largely the result of a clash of interest groups, with every trade association pleading its own special case. Wall Streeters care, or presume to care, about how all the pieces come together into a macroeconomy. The broadest policy techniques—fiscal and monetary policy—are what Wall Street is all about. For some reason, intellectuals like the editors of the New York Review of Books and the Atlantic have decided that investment bankers like Felix Rohatyn and Peter Peterson have thoughts worth reading in essay form. Not surprisingly, both utter a message of austerity—the first with a liberal, and the second with a conservative, spin—hidden behind a rhetoric of economic necessity. These banker–philosophes, creatures of the most overpaid branch of business enterprise, are miraculously presented as disinterested policy analysts.

Wall Street’s power becomes especially visible during fiscal crises, domestic and international. On a world scale, the international debt crisis of the 1980s seemed for a while like it might bring down the global financial system, but as it often does, finance was able to turn a crisis to its own advantage.

While easy access to commercial bank loans in the 1970s and early 1980s allowed countries some freedom in designing their economic policies (much of it misused, some of it not), the outbreak of the debt crisis in 1982 changed everything. In the words of Jerome I. Levinson (1992), a former official of the Inter-American Development Bank:

“[To] the U.S. Treasury staff…the debt crisis afforded an unparalleled opportunity to achieve, in the debtor countries, the structural reforms favored by the Reagan administration. The core of these reforms was a commitment on the part of the debtor countries to reduce the role of the public sector as a vehicle for economic and social development and rely more on market forces and private enterprise, domestic and foreign.”

Levinson’s analysis is seconded by Sir William Ryrie (1992), executive vice president of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm. “The debt crisis could be seen as a blessing in disguise,” he said, though admittedly the disguise “was a heavy one.” It forced the end to “bankrupt” strategies like import substitution and protectionism, which hoped, by restricting imports, to nurture the development of domestic industries.

“Much of the private capital that is once again flowing to Latin America is capital invested abroad during the run-up to the debt crisis. As much as 40–50 cents of ever dollar borrowed during the 1970s and early 1980s…may have been invested abroad. This money is now coming back on a significant scale, especially in Mexico and Argentina.”

In other words, much of the borrowed money was skimmed by ruling elites, parked profitably in the Cayman Islands and Zürich, and Third World governments were left with the bill. When the policy environment changed, some of the money came back home — often to buy newly privatized state assets for a song.

Billionaire banker Felix Rohatyn, chair of NYC "Municipal Assistance Coporation" (Big MAC) in 1975

That millions suffered to service these debts seems to matter little to Ryrie. Desperate Southern governments had little choice but to yield to Northern bankers and bureaucrats. Import substitution was dropped, state enterprises were privatized, and borders made porous to foreign investment. After Ryrie’s celebrated capital inflow, Mexico suffered another debt crisis in 1994 and 1995, which was “solved” using U.S. government and IMF guarantees to bail out Wall Street banks and their clients, and creating a deep depression; to make the debts good, Mexicans would have to suffer. Once again, a dire financial/fiscal crisis—the insolvency of an overindebted Mexican government—was used to further a capital-friendly economic agenda.

Photo credit: AP | New York Gov. Hugh L. Carey, center, flanked by Felix Rohatyn, left, chairman of the New York State Municipal Assistance Corp., and State Comptroller Arthur Levitt, meet with White House officials in Washington, as they seek financial help for New York City. (Nov. 14, 1975)

These fortunate uses of crisis first appeared in their modern form during New York City’s bankruptcy workout of 1975. This is no place to review the whole crisis; let it just be said that suddenly the city found its bankers no longer willing to roll over old debt and extend fresh credits. The city, broke, could not pay. In the name of fiscal rectitude, public services were cut and real fiscal power was turned over to two state agencies, the Municipal Assistance Corp. (MAC, chaired by Rohatyn), and the Emergency Financial Control Board, since made permanent with the Emergency dropped from its name.

DC 37 members joined other city employees in a march on Wall Street. “Jobs and services are a hell of a lot more important than profits,” Victor Gotbaum said at the rally.

Aside from the most routine municipal functions, the city no longer governed itself; a committee of bankers and their delegates did, Rohatyn first among them. Rohatyn, who would later criticize Reaganism for being too harsh, was the director of its dress rehearsal in New York City. Public services were cut, workers laid off, and the physical and social infrastructure left to rot. But the bonds, thank god, were paid, though not without a little melodrama, gimmickry, and delay (Lichten 1986, chap. 6). Continue reading


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SO MUCH FOR THE URBAN RENAISSANCE [IN WASHINGTON, D.C.]

Then DC Mayor Anthony Williams dressed as "BungleBug" at society theatrical opening

From “Progressive Review” archives

VOD editor: Anthony Williams, who spoke at state Detroit review team meeting March 13, 2012, was Mayor of Washington, D.C. from 1999-2007. The state he left the city in is described below.

2008 

DC FISCAL POLICY INSTITUTE – A detailed review of the District’s economy reveals a number of disturbing trends and shows that the city’s wide economic disparities are getting wider:

– Despite city-wide job growth, employment among African-American residents and those with no more than a high school diploma has been falling. The employment rate for these groups is at nearly the lowest level in 30 years.

Poor Peoples' 1968 March on Washington; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s goals have yet to be achieved in that city.

– The gap between high-wage and low-wage workers in the District is at an all-time high. Wages have barely changed in 30 years for DC’s lowest-wage workers, after adjusting for inflation, while DC’s top earners have seen large earnings gains.

– Income inequality in the District is greater than in nearly every large U.S. city. DC’s rich-poor gap has widened over the past two decades. An analysis of 59 large U.S. cities by the Brookings Institution found that income inequality in DC was greater in 2006 than in every city except Atlanta and Tampa.

– Poverty in the District is at the highest level in nearly a decade. Since with the late 1990s, some 27,000 more DC residents have fallen into poverty.

These findings show that the District has two different economies: one represented by construction cranes, new jobs, and growing incomes – and another represented by people who work but earn very little, who are not moving into better jobs or higher wages, and who may not be working at all. The gleaming side of DC’s economy could continue to grow and prosper, but there is little evidence to suggest it would lead to any improvements for the thousands of residents who live on the other side.

Other stats:

– African-American residents are five times more likely than white residents to be unemployed. This gap was greater in 2006 than in any year since 1985.

– Employment among African-American adults has been falling since the late 1980s. The employment rate among black adults has even fallen during the city’s recent economic boom. Some 51 percent African-American adults worked in 2006, compared with 62 percent in 1988.

– Employment among residents with a high school diploma is at the lowest level in nearly 30 years. Just 51 percent of DC residents at this education level are working. In the late 1980s, by contrast, nearly two-thirds of residents with a high school diploma were employed.

– Real wages have barely changed for low-wage workers over 30 years. Hourly earnings for low-wage working DC residents rose just six percent between 1979 and 2006, after adjusting for inflation, compared with a 40 percent increase for high-wage workers.

– African-American median income is no higher than in 1980. . .

http://www.dcfpi.org/

Continue reading


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SNYDER/DILLON PROPOSAL FOR “FINANCIAL ADVISORY BOARD” A DICTATORIAL SEIZURE OF POWER, SAY DETROITERS

Attorney Andrew Paterson serves subpoenas to the Detroit review team, including Conrad Mallett (facing him) and State Treasurer Andy Dillon at center

Snyder, Dillon, review team to face judge Thurs. March 22  to “show cause” why they should not be found in contempt for violating OMA with proposal   

By Diane Bukowski 

March 14, 2012 

State Treasurer Andy Dillon at review team meeting 3/13/12

DETROIT – A proposed consent agreement (CA),  presented by State Treasurer Andy Dillon March 12 and 13 to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, the City Council, and the state-appointed review team, under terms of Public Act 4, has outraged residents, the Mayor, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Detroit), and many others. 

Wall Street banks clearly dictated the terms of the proposed “Fiscal Stability Agreement,” just as they dictated the city’s disastrous borrowing of  $1.5 billion in pension obligation certificates in 2005.  That action led to a 2009 default which the city forestalled by turning over its revenues from casinos and the state to a bank trustee.

 For the agreement to expire, bond agencies must raise Detroit’s debt rating from its current junk status to at least one of the two highest levels, something not likely in the foreseeable future.

Atty. Jerome Goldberg says banks responsible; he also blasted proposed elimination of city DHS

“This is outrageous extortion by the banks,” Attorney Jerome Goldberg, who represents the city’s Association of Professional and Technical Employees, told the Council. “In Greece, the banks recently had to agree to a 75 percent reduction in debt payments from that government. Here, these are the same banks who have devastated Detroit neighborhoods with thousands of illegal and racist foreclosures.” 

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson elaborated. 

“Let’s have Detroit pay $6 million to the banks instead of the $600 million they have taken this year,” Watson said. “Public Act 4 is unconstitutional and illegal. The state owes us $220 million, how can they declare us in deficit when they owe US money?” 

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson blasts proposal March 13, 2012

Marcus Cummings, the 23-year-old President of the East Schaefer I-75 association, told the Council, “It saddens my heart to see what has happened to Detroit over the years, from the destruction of our schools, to the theft of Cobo Hall and now this. I did not vote for a dictator. The state should be paying the money they owe us instead. I demand City Council tell the state to take their consent agreement and shove it.” 

Marcus Cummings: take consent agreement and shove it!

Under the CA’s terms, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Dillon want city officials to agree to install an unelected “Financial Advisory Board” (FAB). It would dictate the terms of a massive city “restructuring,” including the elimination of departments and many jobs and services, as well as possible sale of assets. The proposed agreement requires FAB approval of every city function, including budget, contracting, debt determinations, revenue sources, union contract negotiations, and pension and retiree benefit obligations. 

The agreement purports to be a result of the review team’s findings, but there are in it no details of any financial assessment stating that the city is in an emergency situation. Dillon claims in the draft that the agreement would forestall the appointment of an emergency manager.

Dr. Delores Leonard

“I find it interesting that only last week signatures were submitted in Lansing to repeal Public Act 4,” Dr. Dolores Leonard said. She and many others also spoke against the turnover of the city’s Human Services Department functions to the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (WMCAA). (See VOD story at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/06/corrigan-demands-council-hand-over-control-of-city-dhs/).

They also objected to Mayor Bing’s recent decision to give the city’s $14 million in Head Start funding to WMCAA, despite the federal government’s recommendation that the city wait at least a year. 

 “I’m tremendously disappointed that this consent agreement proposed by Governor Snyder does not represent the spirit of partnership needed between the City and the State to resolve the City’s financial challenges,” Bing said in a statement. “It forfeits the electoral rights of the citizens of Detroit guaranteed by the democratic process.” 

Mayor Dave Bing announces pension boards' agreement to forestall payments last year

He added, “[Snyder] is being disingenuous when he says this agreement leaves elected officials in charge of the City. In fact, the proposed, nine-member advisory board selects and “oversees” the functions of the City’s COO, CFO and Human Resources director – not the elected Mayor.” 

Watson said Dillon personally delivered the March 13 version of the document to Council members’ offices five minutes before their scheduled general meeting at 10 a.m. She said only the Mayor’s office can present contracts to the City Council. 

“Mayor Bing rejected this agreement,” Watson said. “But he said Gov. Rick Snyder told him that he has five members of the city council in his pocket. I want to know who those members are!”  

Only Watson and Councilman Kwame Kenyatta later voted against a motion to have the Council’s Research and Advisory division review the proposal, saying the document itself is illegitimate. Other Council members including Saunteel Jenkins, Kenneth Cockrel, Jr, and Gary Brown said they were willing to re-negotiate terms of the agreement, despite the likelihood that PA 4 may soon be frozen. 

WHO ARE THE FIVE? Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins argues for official review of consent agreement

Ed McNeil, chief negotiator for the city’s Coalition of Unions, said there was no necessity for the agreement because unions have already tentatively agreed to provisions in it including a reduction in the “head count” for City employees, reduction in private contractors, and changes in health care practices which could save the city $60 million a year. The tentative agreement, which has not yet been voted on by city workers, includes wage and health care concessions. 

Brandon Jessup speaks at review team meeting 3/13/12

Brandon Jessup, CEO of Michigan Forward, which delivered over 226,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State Feb. 29 to repeal PA 4 by referendum, questioned the timing of Dillon’s action. Once the state board of canvassers approves the signatures, Public Act 4 by law must be frozen until a November vote by Michigan residents. He said the Board has already counted the petitions, and now must select a sample to review for validity, which it is expected to begin doing by March 21. 

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has declared a March 27 deadline for the review team to present its findings to him. 

Click on Detroit RT CAto read entire proposed agreement, and see summary below.

 That afternoon, during an open review team meeting, Attorney Andrew Paterson, representing Robert Davis, presented subpoenas to Dillon and the team’s members, requiring them to appear before Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette Thurs. March 22 at 9 a.m. Governor Rick Snyder is also being subpoenaed. (Click on RT subpoena to view document.)

Robert Davis, whose attorney Andrew Paterson subpoenaed the review team 3/13/12

They are to “show cause” why they should not be held in contempt of Collette’s earlier order declaring all proceedings of the Detroit review team null and void due to its violations of the Open Meetings Act. 

“I don’t understand how they can be so lawless in this area,” Paterson told VOD. “Dillon has clearly been secretly preparing drafts of this agreement in violation of the Open Meetings Act.” 

Judge Collette ordered that all review team meetings must be public. However, the minutes for the last public review team meeting of Feb. 28, 2012 state that Dillon created a subcommittee to discuss options for the team’s recommendations to the Governor. At the March 13 meeting, he told Davis that the subcommittee had not met. (Click on RT minutes 2 28 12 to read complete minutes, which do not include any discussion of the proposal Dillon submitted March 13.)

Dillon passed out copies of the document for the first time to the review team at their March 13 meeting, and said they would meet again Friday, March 15 after they have had a chance to digest it. However, his office said March 14 that no new meeting has yet been scheduled.

 Mayor Bing and Detroit’s City Council were not present at the review team meeting. Instead, Dillon called on former Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams to make a presentation to the team endorsing the agreement. 

Former DC Mayor Anthony Williams endorses proposal despite Detroit Mayor Bing's opposition

Williams was mayor from 1999-2007, during which he executed a similar arrangement for his city, which still does not have home rule. He claimed the agreement is based on “Big MAC,” the agreement effectuated by New York Mayor Ed Koch  and Wall Street banker Felix Rohaytn in 1978.

“Washington, D.C. was determined to be financially insolvent and unable to pay its bills,” Williams said. “If banks are going to loan money to a company, they want to see some changes in management.” 

(Click on SO MUCH FOR THE URBAN RENAISSANCE WASHINGTON DC to read articlefrom The Progressive Review citing the deplorable conditions Black residents of Washington, D.C. have faced as a consequence of the re-structuring there. Click on Austerity and bankers coups, the NYC precedent to read analysis by author Doug Henwood of the New York City Wall Street takeover in 1978 and subsequent similar thefts of public municipal control. Articles will also be posted on VOD below.)

Michiganders Betsy and Dick Devos own the Amway Corporation; DeVos earlier ran for governor

Wikipedia says that after Williams’ term as mayor, “[he] entered into a partnership with the Washington-area investment bank Friedman Billings Ramsey Group, Inc. to form Primum Public Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on buying and leasing back government and not-for-profit real estate. In 2009 Williams announced he was stepping down as CEO and that Primum would be dissolved. He joined DC law firm Arent Fox on May 14, 2009 as Director of State and Local Practice, assisting governments and municipalities with securing stimulus money and managing their budgets.

“He has also been actively involved in local education initiatives, including serving on the boards of the nonprofit organizations D.C. Children First and the national nonprofit Alliance for School Choice.”

Debra Taylor tells the state review team PA4 is unconstitutional, at their meeting 3/13/12.

The Alliance for School Choice is the largest such organization in the United States. It supports the creation and expansion of school vouchers (for use by private as well as charter schools),  corporate tax credits, and other school “choice” programs.

 According to Think Progress, “The Alliance for School Choice is another [Dick and Betsy] DeVos front group founded to promote vouchers and serves as the education arm of AFC  In 2008, the last date available for its financial disclosures, its total assets amounted to $5,467,064. DeVos used the organization not only for direct spending into propaganda campaigns, but to give grants to organizations with benign-sounding names so that they could push the radical school choice agenda. For example, in 2008 the organization gave $530,000 grant to the “Black Alliance for Educational Options” in Washington, D.C. and a $433,736 grant to the “Florida School Choice Fund.” This allowed DeVos to promote her causes without necessarily revealing her role. But it isn’t just the DeVos family that’s siphoning money into the Alliance for School Choice and its many front group patrons. Among its other wealthy funders include the Jaquelin Hume Foundation (which gave $75,000 in 2008 and $100,000 in 2006), the brainchild of one of an ultra-wealthy California businessman who brought Ronald Reagan to power, the powerful Wal Mart Foundation (which gave $100,000 in 2005, the Chase Foundation of Virginia (which gave $9,000 in 2007, 2008, and the same amount in 2009), which funds over “supports fifty nonprofit libertarian/conservative public policy research organizations,” and hosts investment banker Derwood Chase, Jr. as a trustee, the infamous oil billionaire-driven Charles Koch Foundation ($10,000 in 2005), and the powerful Wal Mart family’s Walton Family Foundation (more than $3 million over 20042005).” For whole article, click on http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/05/21/168363/billionaires-privatize-education/?mobile=nc.


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DETROIT CONSENT AGREEMENT FISCALLY AND LEGALLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND UNACCEPTABLE, SAYS U.S. REP. JOHN CONYERS

U.S. Rep. John Conyers speaks at rally against Public Act 4 Jan. 2, 2011

By MICHIGAN FORWARD

March 12, 2012

Ranking Member U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the following statement in response to the announcement that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will present a proposed consent agreement to the Detroit City Council and the financial review team tasked with examining the city’s finances.   

As an elected representative of the City of Detroit and the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I strenuously object to the “consent agreement” being proposed by Governor Synder.  The agreement essentially asks the City to forfeit its citizens’ rights in exchange for no tangible benefit.  Moreover it fails to address the concerns raised under Public Act 4 concerning the violation of voting rights and collective bargaining rights, nor does the agreement provide any sort of mechanism to guard against abuse and mismanagement by appointed overseers.

 My concerns include the following: 

Waiver of Legal Recourse – The agreement requires the City to abandon its ability to contest any aspect of this appointment, even those inconsistent with the suspension of the EM law; It does not authorize the City to obtain independent legal representation; and could force citizens to lose their legal rights to challenge any unconstitutional provisions.

No Financial Assistance from State – It provides the City with no bridge loan or financing whatsoever, in contrast with the precedent set in all jurisdictions outside of Michigan.  The agreement specifically acknowledges that it would impose significant new costs on the City, with no assistance from the State, even though the State owes more than $200 million in foregone revenue sharing proceeds. 

No Compliance with the Open Meetings Act – The agreement specifies that the Open Meetings Act applies to meetings of the new Financial Advisory Board, but does not eliminate the legal loophole being used by the State to avoid the law. 

Unfettered Authority Granted to State – It grants the Mayor the powers available under the EM Law, but only for such period and such terms as the Snyder Administration determines, and even those powers are subject to the new Financial Review Board.  The agreement also seeks to grant these very broad powers to other officials. 

Weakens Collective Bargaining – While one provision states the agreement does not grant the Mayor power to negate collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), other provisions give the Mayor legal authority to modify or terminate CBA’s. The proposed agreement also unilaterally terminates the City’s duty to bargain under the Public Employees Retirement Act.  Includes “least favored nations” clause effectively forcing unions to negotiate against each others’ interests. 

Does Not Protect Against EM Appointment – If at any time the Board is not happy with the manner the elected officials are operating under the consent agreement they can still recommend appointment of an EM or filing for bankruptcy. 

Indefinite Operation by Unelected Officials  – The agreement’s provisions can continue at the whim of the Board, even if there is no valid financial reason for its continuation.  It also requires the City to pay $1 million to Board Members if a court determines their termination is for any reason other than fraud, gross negligence, or willful misconduct.  This is unnecessary and gratuitous.

To read U.S. House Democratic Judiciary Report on the unconstitutionality of Public Act 4, click on Judiciary PA4.


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TERRORISM IN DETROIT—BING, LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE DETROIT 300

Two Women Claim Harrassment By Detroit 300: MyFoxDETROIT.com

By Diane Bukowski 

Commentary, March 12, 2012 

DETROIT – There is a war being waged by terrorists on the people of Detroit, particularly on our youth. It is NOT a war being waged BY the youth, nor a war being waged by those living in Detroit’s poor, majority-Black neighborhoods, without jobs, and frequently without homes, lights, gas, water and food.  

Then acting police chief Ralph Godbee speaks to media in May, 2010 after the police murder of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

The terrorists in question are those creating a virtual police state in Detroit, t0 increase the growing population of our prison nation, currently 2.5 million, the highest per capita rate in the world. 

Pulling the puppet strings on the terrorists are the big-time criminals: the banks, corporations and politicians who have REFUSED to provide hope for the future of Detroit’s people.

In his state of the city address March 7, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing mentioned jobs only once, referring briefly to the Summer Youth Employment program. He had no jobs program for the rest of the year or the rest of Detroiters. In fact, he discussed further downsizing city government and departments which already provide thousands of jobs. 

Bing at press conference Nov. 4, 2011 after bus drivers' strike; he talked about protecting the drivers from "hooligans" and now has laid off dozens of drivers, mechanics and D-DOT workers, along with drastially cutting bus service in preparation for a handover to an authority with one board member out of ten from Detroit.

He did not call for an end to foreclosures and utility shut-offs. He did not call on the state to pay back the $220 million it owes Detroit, or use its $1 billion budget surplus to aid the poorest city in the country. 

Instead, he focused much of his talk on so-called “public safety.” (Click on Bing State of the City 2012

“Public safety is a top priority of my administration,” he said. “. . . . this past week the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DEA, ATF and the Detroit Police Department announced that they have expanded their efforts on our city’s east side to crack down on violent crime. This will mean that those terrorizing our neighborhoods will be prosecuted federally and face stiffer penalties. . . .We can no longer tolerate this terrorism in our city, and, tonight I want to thank our dedicated community partners and the various community radio patrol groups. I encourage all Detroiters to join them in protecting our neighborhoods and demanding a better quality of life.” 

Which brings us to the Detroit 300.

Non-laudatory  news about these “dedicated community partners” finally hit the airwaves March 9. (See video at top of article.) Two women, Jessica and Stephanie Brown, claimed members of the Detroit 300  terrorized THEM in their vigilante search for the killer(s) of infant Delrik Waymon Miller IV (search announced in video below; video of baby Delrik’s mother at bottom of article). 

They said Northwest Precinct Detroit police officers called downtown first to get the authority to allow Detroit 300 members to meet with the mother and daughter in an interrogation room. There, the women said, the Detroit 300 members repeatedly threatened and verbally abused them, insisting that they knew who the killer(s) were (common police interrogation tactics) before finally releasing them.   

The women said they knew nothing about the shooting, but claimed the Detroit 300 had circulated their photos in the neighborhoods, endangering their own families. 

How did the “Detroit 300” have the authority to interrogate ANYBODY, or to HOLD AND RELEASE anybody, whether in a police station or ANYWHERE?  

They have repeatedly been lauded in the daily media. They announced their campaign to find the killers of baby Delrik in the video above. Note that some are wearing hoods to conceal their faces. WHY? Are they undercover cops, perhaps? After this publicity, prisoners in the Wayne County Jail assaulted an individual police described only as a “person of interest” in the killing. 

WHO ARE THE DETROIT 300? 

Raphael Johnson and Angelo Henderson with Detroit 300 recruits

“The Detroit 300 is a conglomerate of citizens, civic groups, organizations and businesses that are banned together fight & deter crime in our residential areas, also known as neighborhoods,” declares their website. “Its sole focus is to help communities organize to eradicate crime by policing targeted areas and collectively pursuing individuals who wreak havoc, mayhem, and terror therein (eg., murder, shootings, rape, burglary, robbery, assault & battery, burning of dwellings and stripping of homes.) 

“The Detroit 300 was founded by Raphael B. Johnson (National TV Personality for the Maury Show/Community Activist) and Co-founded by Angelo B. Henderson (Pulitzer Prize winner/Radio Personality and Minister Malik Shabazz (25 year Community Activist). The group was born out of the Detroit community’s frustration with perpetual neighborhood crimes.”

Malik Shabazz, telling the public, "Don't snitch, just tell"

Of course, Minister Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Nation is the same individual who has picketed alleged “drug houses” in poor areas of Detroit for years, always backed up by the police, themselves alleged to be frequent perpetrators of drug-trafficking. 

The Detroit 300 incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2010, according the state’s business entity website. They have not yet filed their annual report with the state for 2011. Although they claim to be a non-profit, they are not listed with all other non-profits across the country on Guidestar.org, to which the federal government sends what are known as “990” tax filings for non-profits. Their incorporation documents are signed only by Raphael B. Johnson. 

Their by-laws, posted on their website, (click on FINAL BY LAWS OF THE DETROIT 300[1])  indicate they have no actual members, but only a Board of Directors which is vested with all powers. The board may have from three to 11 directors, who maintain office until “death, resignation, or removal.” Removal is authorized only by other members of the board. There is no listing available of board members or officers.

Detroit 300 Looking for Clown Posse in Murder of Delric Miller: MyFoxDETROIT.com

VOD contacted Raphael B. Johnson by email to ask him the following questions: 

Teens learning to be cops at DPD Goodfellows summer program

1) Where is funding for your organization coming from? According to the by-laws, you have provisions indemnifying officers, etc. against lawsuits and even criminal charges, meaning you have some method of paying for legal representation at the very least. Is any funding coming from the Police Department or other law enforcement agencies?
 
2) Who ARE the people who sit on your board of directors, as well as officers like CEO, Vice-President(s), Secretary. Treasurer, etc.? They are not disclosed in your articles of incorporation, filed in 2010. Additionally, you have not filed an annual report for 2011 according to state records. Normally you would list officers on an annual report.
 
3) You are incorporated as a non-profit. However, there is no report on Guidestar.org, to which the IRS forwards all 990 filings of non-profit organizations, on the Detroit 300. You should have at least filed a form 990 for the year 2010. Are you reporting to the IRS? Please provide me with a copy of your certification as a non-profit from the IRS at the very least; I am requesting all copies of any 990’s filed as well. According to federal law, if I come to your office to request these materials, they must be provided within 24 hours, which I do plan to do if you don’t supply them otherwise.
 
4) What is your statement regarding the actions of your members on Friday, March 9, in interrogating two women at the Northwest Detroit Police Precinct? Not only regarding interrogating them at that site, but also about interrogating them at all? What right do your “volunteers” have to carry out interrogations?
 
5) Why did “volunteers” for your organization wear black hooded masks in the video announcing your campaign to find the killers of the baby? Are they undercover cops? How do you screen your members, psychologically and otherwise, i.e. how do you know they are not psychopaths?
 
6) What is your comment on the fact that prisoners in the Wayne County Jail beat up a “person of interest,” NOT CHARGED, in the killing of the baby after publicity on your campaign to find the killer?
 
7) How do you reconcile your activities with The Detroit 300 with your own prison past? Did you take part in snitching while you were in prison, since you advocate it now?
 
8) Why do you target exclusively Black, poor neighborhoods in Detroit for your patrols rather than the criminals who are running our society, including Gov. Rick Snyder, Wall Street, big corporations who are illegally foreclosing on poor and working people and destroying our cities, and on down that list? 

VOD WILL PUBLISH MR. JOHNSON’S RESPONSE WHEN IT COMES. 

Meanwhile, our sympathies go out to ALL mothers, fathers and families of youth, children, babies and others who have been killed in the current onslaught of violence in Detroit. These are agonizing consequences of the level of despair and poverty in our city, when poor and oppressed people start turning on each other instead of the real criminals at the top.  

Black Panthers' free breakfast for children, Chicago 1970

In the 1960’s, the Black Panther Party and others ORGANIZED so-called “youth gangs” and educated them politically, totally contrary to the approach Raphael Johnson describes in the third video in this article.  The youth assisted the Panthers in their provision of food and education to members of the community, and in their organized political campaign against the powers-that-be. 

THIS is the solution to violence in our city, not more poor people, especially youth, targeted, arrested, brutalized, killed and/or imprisoned by the terrorists who are fronting for the wealthy military-industrial-prison complex and Wall Street.

BELOW: SHOOTING VICTIM-Mother of 9-month-old boy speaks to media: Diamond Salter, mother of 9-month-old Delric Waymon Miller IV, who was shot and killed this morning when bullets were fired into their home on Detroit’s west side, speaks to the media. MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press.


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REPEAL PA 4! SIGNATURES DELIVERED TO LANSING

 

Brandon Jessup, CEO of Michigan Forward, announces victory in the campaign to collect signatures to put Public Act 4, the “Dictator Act” on the November ballot. The 50 boxes next to him contain petitions with over 220,000 signatures.

By Diane Bukowski

March 1, 2012 

DETROIT – Hundreds of people who helped gather 228,000 signatures on petitions for a referendum to repeal Public Act 4, the “Dictator Act,” rallied Feb. 28 to celebrate their victory, then rode buses to Lansing the next day to hand boxloads of petitions over to the Secretary of State. 

Michigan Welfare Rights Organization bus takes off for Lansing Feb. 29; Maurren Taylor and Marian Kramer lead the way from front.

The State Board of Canvassers has 60 days to validate the signatures. Only 161,000 signatures are needed to put the referendum on the November ballot.  If they are certified, according to state law, PA 4 will be frozen until the people of Michigan have their say. 

 Brandon Jessup, the young founder of Michigan Forward who initiated the referendum drive and tirelessly coordinated the campaign, with the help of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, was jubilant as he announced the final total at Council 25’s Detroit headquarters Feb. 28. At the time it was 218,297, but it had surged upwards by the next day.  

Crowd cheers Brandon Jessup, Al Garrett, and other speakers at rally Feb. 28, 2012

“It was all of you and the thousands of volunteers across the state, 2500 of them, who talked to their families, their friends and their neighbors, who made this possible,” Jessup said. “It was you who told Detroit and Michigan to hold the line, help is on the way.” 

AFSCME International Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders addressed crowd

Jessup appeared to have lost a few pounds during the months since the grueling campaign began in June, 2011, but he did not let that get in the way of his stirring speech. 

“It was the spirit of the fight for self-determination that motivated us,” he told a cheering crowd. “We spoke to [Gov. Rick] Snyder and told him he can create the conditions for rebellion if he wants to, but he can only hold back the headwinds for so long.  He will pay in November for taxing pensions, cutting children and families off welfare, closing schools, and appointing emergency managers like Pharaohs, because 1.5 million people will be going to the polls to vote for ourselves!” 

Language in PA4 indicates that emergency financial managers established under PA 72 are folded in under PA 4. If it is indeed frozen, that should mean numerous frozen EM’s across Michigan. 

Signature approval should freeze PA4 and EM's (l to r) Louis Schimmel of Pontiac,Jack Martin of Highland Park PS, Joe Harris of Benton Harbor, Mike Brown of Flint, and Roy Roberts of Detroit PS

The apparent referendum victory appeared to have thrown the camp of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder into some confusion. State Attorney General Bill Schuette has said that if the signatures are certified, PA 4’s predecessor, Public Act 72, would be back on the books. He has yet to establish a legal rationale for that. Meanwhile, legislators are scrambling to come up with bills to prevent the freezing of PA4 and its emergency managers.

Attorney Herb Sanders, who co-coordinated the start of the campaign against PA4 with Detroit Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, speaks at rally; Councilwoman Watson was also present.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon extended the deadline for Detroit’s emergency review team to report back to March 28, and meanwhile Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has announced he is working on a package with Snyder to “restructure” Detroit and its finances.  Their negotiations sound suspiciously like what has happened in Inkster. 

Inkster’s review team has recommended a “consent agreement” to Dillon, meaning the city council and mayor have agreed to its terms. It appears that Mayor Hilliard Hampton may be endowed with the powers of an emergency manager if it clears. 

Even the children went to Lansing: former Detroit school board member Marie Thornton with granddaughter Tylynn on MWRO bus

Jessup said he came up with the idea for the referendum after Pontiac City Councilman Kermit Williams, who gave the invocation at the rally, approached him. Pontiac was the second city to fall victim to the dictates of PA 4 after Benton Harbor, and after three emergency managers now has the city’s entire assets on the auction block. 

“Poverbs 31 tells us to open our mouths and speak for the cause of the poor and the needy,” Williams said during his prayer. 

Michigan AFSCME Council 25 President Al Garrett

“Today is a great day for Detroit, the citizens of Michigan and of the nation,” Attorney Herb Sanders told the crowd. Sanders entered the fray with his sleeves rolled up on behalf of AFSCME Council 25. He is one of the attorneys who at the instigation of Detroit Councilwoman JoAnn Watson filed suit to stop PA4. 

“We faced a mountain of despair, but now we can talk about the hope we have for the people of Michigan,” Sanders said. “There have been over 60 pieces of anti-labor, anti-poor legislation passed in Lansing since January of last year. But every signature gathered represents a stone of hope as it relates to the mountain of despair, and we plan to take those stones to Lansing tomorrow to build a mountain of hope.” 

State Reps. Harvey Santana and John Olumba, with Pontiac City Councilman Kermit Williams at right, were among those who led the battle.

AFSCME Council 25 Secretary Larry Roehrig is from Flint, another victim of PA 4. He segued from Sanders talk, saying, “If we have enough stones, they will become an onslaught of projectiles, from people of all faiths, all colors, from Detroit, Marysville, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, Monroe and everywhere. This is the toughness of my union brothers and sisters.”

 Council 25 President Al Garrett reminded the crowd, “This is just a first step. Next we need a constitutional amendment to make sure that every worker in the state of Michigan has a right to belong to a union. The pension tax has to be on our agenda to be repealed. We have to stop the cutbacks in public workers’ wages and benefits.” 

AFSCME Co. 25 Secretary-Treasurer Larry Roehrig of Flint coordinated campaign there

Garrett said the AFSCME International Union had provided funds to pay clerical workers to enter the petition signatures into databases for use in the upcoming campaigns, recognizing that PA4 and other Michigan legislation is part of a “coordinated attack by ultraconservatives across the county.”

 He introduced AFSCME International Secretary Lee Saunders, who ticked off  peoples’ victories so far in other parts of the country.

Wisconsin residents submitted over 1 million signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker

 “Gov. Scott Walker took collective bargaining away in Wisconsin, but the people there have since recalled two state senators and in a couple of weeks will have more than a million signatures to recall Walker,” Saunders said. “We needed 251,000 signatures in Ohio to put collective bargaining on the ballot, and collected 1.3 million! We won that vote by a 2 to 1 margin!”

 Maureen Taylor, president of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, said they had appealed to the U.S. Justice Department to monitor the PA4 referendum process in Michigan, but were told that they could not intervene because it was a “local issue.” 

Pres. Barack Obama greets Gen. David Patraeus, then commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, now coordinator of U.S. wars across the region' at leat 50 percent of U.S. bvdget goes to military, not to suffering cities

The Justice Department is headed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s appointee. So far, that Department has failed to initiate an investigation of the use of PA 4 to disenfranchise predominantly Black cities across Michigan, as requested by U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit). The Democratic Caucus of the Judiciary Committee on which he sits has however issuing a scathing report condemnding PA 4 for violations of the Voting Rights Act. (See separate story.)

Several speakers at the rally, however, took the opportunity to connect the PA4 campaign with the campaign to re-elect President Obama in November. 

There was no discussion of alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans, both of them funded during the class war that is happening across the U.S. by the infamous 1%.  The 99% have weighed in so far in Michigan to defeat Public Act 4, but it remains to be seen if they will take on the battle that Occupy Wall Street has called for, on a mass level, instead of focusing solely on the voting booth.

Heroes of the Paris Commune, who established a people's government there in 1871 before it was drowned in blood. History has proven them right..

 


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CORRIGAN DEMANDS COUNCIL CEDE CONTROL OF CITY DHS

Maura Corrigan demands City Council hand over Detroit Department of Human Services/ March 2, 2012

 State illegally withholds $8 million meanwhile, causing thousands to go without services; no documentation for charges of mismanagement 

State wants Wayne Metro CAA to take over; WMCAA board meeting Thursday, March 15 at 2 p.m. at 2121 Biddle, #102 Wyandotte, MI

By Diane Bukowski 

March 3, 2012 

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 20: A pedestrian walks by graffiti on a downtown street November 20, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. An estimated one in three Detroiters lives in poverty, making the city the poorest large city in America. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

DETROIT – Maura Corrigan, who cut 15,000 Michigan families off public assistance and then recently called most of them part of “the underground economy” and “gamers” in published remarks, came to Detroit March 2 to demand that the City Council voluntarily cede control of the Detroit Human Services Department. 

Corrigan said she wants the Wyandotte-based Wayne-Metropolitan Community Action Agency (WMCAA), run by an 18-member board dominated by wealthy suburban and corporate representatives from areas like Grosse Ile, to take over after DHS is de-designated as Detroit’s “community action agency.” 

Her reason? 

“Our goal is that Detroit residents receive every single cent of government assistance that is due to them,” Corrigan said. Corrigan is head of the state Department of Human Services, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. She was previously a right-wing State Supreme Court justice. 

Corrigan said the state is withholding nearly $8 million in federal community services block grants from the city’s DHS, and will not renew the contract for the city’s $17 million home weatherization program March 31. After not being paid for several weeks, contractual weatherization workers were laid off Dec. 14, leaving hundreds of Detroiters, mostly seniors, with half-completed work on their homes. 

The rest of the department is essentially shut down, according to Cecily McClellan, Vice-President of the Association of Professional and Technical Employees. No funds have come in from the state since Oct. 1, 2011. She said there are no funds and personnel left for the department to distribute emergency food resources, pay back due energy bills, prevent evictions, and repair houses using mainly small Black contractors, who are also not being paid. 

“The funds are already suspended,” Councilwoman JoAnn Watson told Corrigan. “Our people are not able to get service, and because they were cut off welfare by the State, the only place they can go is the city, and now they cannot get service there either because the state is illegally withholding the funds. These grants (WCMAA board meets Thurs. March 15 at       were intended for the people of          2 p.m. at 2121 Biddle, #102 Wyandotte, MI.)  Detroit to have services and employment.” 

Chris Griffiths demands the City Council stand up to Corrigan, while Bertram Marks and APTE V-P Cecilyn McClellan listen

Corrigan said a joint investigation by state and federal inspectors along with the FBI is going on to turn up “potentially illegal misuse of funds.” She threatened that if the Council did not agree to voluntarily give up control of DHS, “we will move forward with adversarial proceedings to de-certify DHS as a community action agency.” 

During her exchange with City Council members, Corrigan refused to address them by their titles, for example calling Councilwoman JoAnn Watson “Ms. Watson.” She snubbed city residents who packed the chamber in support of the city’s DHS by walking out before public comment. 

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson tells Corrigan the state cut-off of funds to DHS is illegal.

“Those folks who just left think we are stupid,” said one speaker afterwards. “I’m not stupid, I have two college degrees and studied law. Nobody in this room is stupid. But she said the people of Detroit don’t understand. She threatened you [the Council] with no basis. She even said she lost the paperwork involved. Do not give away DHS simply because they walked in here and asked you to.” 

During public comment, Chris Griffiths stood to declare, “I speak for the people of Detroit in asking you to disapprove the transfer of funds belonging to us. The people of Detroit need jobs and we will lose those jobs if this happens. Corrupt individuals from the state have come in under the pretense of helping us but they are robbing us.” 

Angeles Hunt of DHS advisory board tells Council to stand up for DHS

Angeles Hunt, who is a City of Detroit retiree and now serves as an elected member of the Human Services Commission, said, “I want to know how this can be done without even any notification to us. The City Council must fight for DHS.” 

Several building contractors testified that they are owed millions in funds for work they have already done in the weatherization program. 

In an aside, Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said regarding Mayor Dave Bing, “We have one administration locked up, maybe we need the current one locked up too.”

Bing has already agreed to a voluntary de-designation of DHS in an exchange of letters with the governor’s office, although he is not authorized to do so without City Council consent according to law.  He did not bother to come himself or send representatives to the Council hearing, enraging many Council members as well as the public. 

Only Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown openly supported voluntary de-designation. 

“I wholeheartedly believe that the city ought to get out of the business of things it doesn’t do well,” Brown said. “I support a Detroit-based Detroit-headquartered entity [like the Detroit Urban League] being designated.” 

Corrigan however countered that  a “community action agency” has to comply with specific requirements, and that  since Wayne Metro is already a CAA, it can continue services without fund cut-offs while Requests for Proposals for private contracts are submitted. She said the City of Detroit would not be eligible to submit such a proposal.

“Last spring, we became aware of severe problems with DHS,” Corrigan said. “They have fallen far short of what is required by federal law even though the state provided technical assistance. . . there is strong evidence of years of mismanagement, misuse of funds, and criminal activity.” 

Standing room only crowd packed Council chambers 3 2 12

Corrigan claimed “50 to 74 percent of the money” allocated to DHS went to residents who were ineligible.  She claimed the department was double-billing the state DHS and Department of Education for various services. She did not produce evidence of this, claiming it was currently under wraps due to the criminal investigation. 

Corrigan claimed she had provided the City Council with numerous notices of illegal DHS practices, but Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, who heads the Community Services Committee, said his committee has not received any such notices. 

Councilman Gary Brown speaks in favor of de-designation of DHS

VOD obtained a package of reports on the city’s DHS by the Bureau of Community Action and Opportunity, the subdivision of the state’s DHS which has the ONLY authority to recommend de-designation. The reports are dated in August, 2010, June, 2011, and December, 2011. They completely contradict Corrigan’s allegations. (To view entire package including state audits of DHS, federal and state regulations for de-designation of a CAA, and exchange of letters between Mayor Bing and the Snyder administration, click on https://sendnow.acrobat.com/?i=WCiYm2hHKOFvMQAhdE0EYg . This download is only available for 7 days from date of this post, so it would be helpful to print it out. Document was too large for attachment to this post. If you miss the deadline, email VODeditor@hotmail.com and we will send you a copy.)

They are essentially routine reports on audits conducted of various divisions of the city’s DHS, which cite minor problems such as workers forgetting to include the quarterly DHS supplement for SSI payments in household income. That supplement is $41.00. The reports say clearly that the households would be eligible for service even with the funds included.  In some cases, the Bureau noted that DHS workers had incorrectly cited sources of income that should not have been included, but still allowed services. 

More Detroiters demand Council stand firm against state attack on Detroit DHS

In general, the Bureau says that all discrepancies they pointed out have been resolved, except for three findings, one of which was not the fault of DHS. 

 That was that the city’s budget and finance departments used DHS funds to pay $384,175 in interest on debt repayments for the $1.5 billion pension obligation certificate (POC) borrowing during the Kilpatrick administration in 2005. The state asked for reimbursement from the department. 

The Bureau also found that ONE two-member household was not eligible for weatherization assistance because its yearly income of $8,074.00 exceeded the poverty limit of $7,404. 

Councilwoman Brenda Jones opposed the voluntary de-designation.

The state also found that the department did not do criminal checks on a handful of contractual workers and asked that they do so. Nowhere in the reports does the Bureau recommend that the city’s DHS be de-designated as a community action agency.

(See box with requirements for de-designation, none of which Corrigan has followed. Also note box describing WMCAA board of directors, in particular its CEO Louis Piszker, who runs a for-profit agency out of WMCAA’s Ecorse office, mostly likely a complete conflict of interest. Perhaps Corrigan needs to be investigating WMCAA instead.)

Members of Young Detroit Builders who came to 2010 City Council hearing; three of them are now in college.

Since this story was published, VOD has found that funds the Detroit DHS provides to Young Detroit Builders (YDB) have also been cut. YDB is an educational and training program that helps young adults ages 18-24 earn their GED’s while getting hands-on construction training, doing community service and earning a living allowance. They receive counseling and mentoring as well. Many graduates of the program have gone on to college, including several of those in the picture at the right, who testified at a City Council hearing in 2010.

Officials said YDB funds administered by the city DHS are still owed for the months of August and September, 2011, and that no funds have been received from that grant since then. As a result, many of the workers who run the program have not been paid for weeks, and some have been forced to leave. YDB representatives who were present at the March 2 hearing were on the list to speak, but the hearing ended before they were allowed to do so. Their website is at www.youngdetroitbuilders.org .

Shenetta Coleman, former director of Detroit DHS (Photo from Facebook)

For background information on how Mayor Bing and the daily media conspired to dismantle Detroit DHS over the last several years, read the whistleblower lawsuit filed by Shenetta Coleman, former director of DHS, at Shenetta Coleman lawsuit best, Coleman alleges she was fired by Bing because she objected to the usage of DHS federal grant funds for renovation of the Herman Kiefer Health Complex in order to combine DHS with the Detroit Department of Health, for payment on the city’s POC debt, and to pay staff who did not work for DHS.

VOD: The City Council later sent a letter to Corrigan expressing the majority’s opposition to voluntary de-certification of DHS.


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DISPATCH FROM WASHINGTON, D.C.: UNOCCUPIED VOTERS

Greg Thrasher

By Greg Thrasher, VOD Washington Bureau

March 5, 2012 

One of the political realities of America today even during the Presidency of our nation’s first non-white President is the emergence of special interest political movements which have altered the legislative agendas of both state and federal political bodies. Here in Washington DC the influence of the Tea Party unlike any other special interest political movement has paid dividends.
 
The Tea Party has created an atmosphere that has influenced Congress and to a lesser extent the White House. The push for a smaller government with drastic cuts in government programs and expenditures is real in the beltway.  Even the Department of Defense has produced an austerity budget.

President Barack Obama has tendered a budget which proposed cuts in federal spending in excess of $4 trillion as well as reductions in existing entitlement programs This theme of smaller and compressed public spending and budgets now is a national trend in every state across the nation. What is insane about this national plea is that even seniors and others who are recipients of federal aid and support have surrendered      Washington, D.C.: Tea Party rally       to this madness and even promoted cutting their own federal benefits from Medicare to social security. 

Postal workers in Detroit protest drastic cutbacks

The national government spending cuts forecast a future of less government workers from postal clerks to reduced military troops and national military bases . The results of such large scale reductions in our federal budget simply mean more unemployment, and reduced healthcare and pension benefits. The dependents of federal employees, from spouses ,children and care givers,  will have to find a way to stay afloat when the breadwinners of these families are laid off and civil service jobs are eliminated. 

President Barack Obama

Instead of fighting back and becoming more vocal against the Tea Party movement and others who seek to shrink the federal budget, public workers’ unions are capitulating to the objectives of those who seek to reduce federal spending. The reality is that even traditional non-profit organizations, which have as part of their charters that they must care for the general welfare of their members, are also retreating and offering token pushback to the cries of reducing and cutting spending in Washington. 

Of course a progressive nation with an agenda that promotes the well being of its citizens must challenge the trends of downsizing government spending by all means necessary. It is incumbent on all of us to influence and demand that these groups challenge our President. We must articulate to President Barack Obama that his proposed budget cuts are not acceptable and more importantly he must change his course . Progressive leaders and activists must engage the president during his reelection campaign to realize that unless he steps up and protects the jobs of public employees and programs which help the poor, seniors and our children,  President Obama will not get our support in November.
 
We cannot allow special interest groups like the Tea Party and backward factions of the Democratic Party to shape and influence and create national policies that are against our interests and put all of us in peril. We must aggressively mount our own political  movement that goes beyond protesting in the streets to becoming unoccupied in the voting booth. Unless political power works for us in 2012, our political allies become our adversaries not our advocates.

greg_thrasher@msn.com


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