REPEAL PA4 PETITION RALLY IN LANSING THURS. APRIL 26; CANVASSER TIMMER TIED TO GROUP CHALLENGING PETITIONS

By Diane Bukowski

April 19, 2012

Lansing—Supporters of the campaign to Repeal Public Act 4 are calling for a state-wide rally at the Capitol Building here Thurs. April 26, 2012, as the State Board of Canvassers meets on final certification of their petitions at 10 a.m.

They say pressure must be applied particularly because one of the two Republican members of the Board, Jeffrey Timmer, is directly tied to a group challenging the petitions. 

Canvasser Jeffrey Timmer's company sponsored challenge to Repeal PA4 petitions

“Plan now to be there,” said a Detroit Repeal PA4 organizer. “Organize others.” 

Public Act 4, enacted into law last year, allows the appointment of emergency managers with virtually unlimited powers to replace municipal elected officials. It also lays the basis for the enactment of “consent agreements” with similar powers, like that signed by Detroit and state officials April 4. 

Michigan Forward and Stand Up for Democracy, sponsors of the petition drive, issued the following statement regarding the challenge filed by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility (CFR): 

Wanda Hill of Detroit and George Moon of Benton Harbor at rally in Benton Harbor

“If this challenge reveals itself to be true we are prepared to fight this attack. We stand by the 226,637 signatures we submitted on February 29. We are bolstered by the fact that the Bureau of Elections removed a mere 752 signatures in the certification process. Our campaign believes that a successful certification of these signatures will happen soon.” 

The challenge claims font size on the petitions should be 12 points instead of 10 points and also claims the petitions have unclear summaries and lack other information. 

Michigan Forward cited a 1976 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that minor technical issues, such as font size, shall not be used to disqualify a citizen’s initiative. The group was required to publish the ENTIRE language of Public Act 4 on each petition. 

Robert LaBrant of Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility

Robert LaBrant is the resident agent for CFR. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization in Michigan on March 6, 2012, according to state records, which also cite the address of its registered office as 112 E. Allegan, Suite 700, Lansing, Michigan. That is also the address for The Sterling Corporation.

Timmer is a partner in the Sterling Corporation, and LaBrant is its general counsel, according to the company’s website at  http://www.sterlingcorporation.com/. LaBrant previously spent 34 years as Senior Vice President of Political Affairs and General Counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. 

According to its website, “The Sterling Corporation is a premier Republican communications company specializing in public affairs, political campaigns, ballot initiatives, and fundraising for corporations, trade associations, issue advocacy groups and political candidates who cannot afford to lose and must persuade and mobilize voters, donors, consumers, members, or public officials.” 

Regarding Timmer, it says, “Jeff provides the big-picture strategy for our clients. He is a veteran political and public affairs strategist specializing in public policy issue management, ballot proposal campaigns, and partisan political campaigns. Jeff also serves as Sterling’s Creative Director, overseeing development and production of Sterling’s, well, sterling printed materials and broadcast advertising for our clients.” 

Timmer was previously Executive Director of the Michigan Republican Party from 2005-09. 

VOD contacted media relations at the Secretary of State’s office regarding what appears to be Timmer’s shocking conflict of interest and is expecting a call back. 

Other members of the Board of Canvassers are Chairperson Julie Matuzak, a Democrat, Vice-Chair Norman Shinkle, a Republican, and James L. Waters, a Democrat. Board members are appointed by the Governor and are considered public officials subject to the state’s Ethics Code. All measures must be passed by at least a 3-1 majority.


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DETROIT RALLIES FOR FIRED PONTIAC TEACHER AND TRAYVON MARTIN

Pontac teacher Brooke Harris (l) and Mertilla Jones (r) listen as Rev. Charles Williams II speaks at rally for Harris and Trayvon Martin April 10, 2012

 Students flock to Pontiac rally April 16 

Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ grandmother Mertilla Jones speaks at church rally 

By Diane Bukowski 

April 17, 2012 

Pontiac journalism teacher Brooke Harris

DETROIT – Brooke Harris, the Pontiac Academy journalism teacher who was fired in late March  for proposing to have her students wear hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, appeared in Detroit at the Historic King Solomon Baptist Church April 10. A packed rally demanded her reinstatement and justice for Trayvon. 

Trayvon Martin, 17, was executed by self-appointed cop wannabe George Zimmerman on   Feb. 26, 2012 as he walked to his father’s house in a gated Fcommunity in   Florida. (Click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/23/killing-of-black-teen-trayvon-martin-sparks-outcry-national-mobilizations/) After two months, his killer has finally been charged with second-degree murder. 

Harris was acknowledged at a press conference held by Martin’s parents and his supporters after the charges were brought. 

Trayvon Martin, executed

The Rev. Jamal Bryant, a Baltimore pastor who has joined Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network in the campaign for Trayvon, said, “We stand with Brooke Harris, the middle school teacher in Michigan who was fired.” 

As promised during the Detroit rally, when Harris was not re-hired immediately, protesters from the group traveled to Pontiac to picket at her school April 16. 

“Over 30 students, their parents and their grandparents came out to join in the rally,” said Mike Shane of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI). “It was obvious how much they loved their teacher and looked up to her.” 

Since then, a petition to re-hire Harris with more than 200,000 signatures was presented to the board of the Pontiac School for Excellence on April 17. To sign the petition, click on http://www.change.org/petitions/fired-for-teaching-about-trayvon-re-hire-brooke-harris-at-pontiac-academy-for-excellence.

Harris was soft-spoken, with only a few words to say April 10. She appeared overwhelmed by her support at the April 10 rally, sponsored by Rev. Charles Williams II of the National Action Network and his father Rev. Charles Williams Sr., among others. 

Mertilla Jones shows Aiyana's new-born baby photo

“I love the school,” Harris told an MLive reporter after the rally. “I love the staff. The children are amazing. It’s where I’ve spent the last three years of my life. I want to be there. I want to see these kids graduate from high school.” 

She had traveled all the way down south to the Southern Poverty Law Center to seek legal help in getting her job back, but those leading the rally promised that they would see to it that she got a lawyer. 

“Student action is the most important action in any movement,” Rev. Williams Sr. said. “When members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the south decided not to go to school in the 1960’s, they ended up among the leaders of the massive civil rights movement.”  

Mertilla Jones, wearing hoodie in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, hugs Pontiac teacher Brooke Harris April 10, 2012

Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, killed by Detroit police at the age of 7 on May 16, 2010, hugged Harris warmly, after Jones pulled up her own hoodie. Jones was sleeping with Aiyana in the family’s living room when Detroit cop Joseph Weekley and his storm-trooper team fire-bombed their house and shot the child in the head. 

Tears in her eyes, Jones displayed a photo of Aiyana as a new-born. 

“Aiyana’s mother came and put her in my arms the day she was born, and I was with her when she took her last breath,” Jones said. “But because we haven’t been speaking up til now, people think we’re guilty because of the media. My son Charles, Aiyana’s father, is locked up now, although he didn’t kill anybody and didn’t assist in killing anybody, but Joseph Weekley and George Zimmerman are still free. But I have faith because people all over the country and the world are praying for our family and Trayvon’s family.” 

Abayomi Azikiwe of MECAWI

Jones and Chauncey Owens face first-degree murder charges in the death of Je’Rean Blake, 17, two days before police killed Aiyana on the pretext that they were seeking to arrest Owens, who lived upstairs. 

“There are too many Trayvon Martins and too many Aiyana Stanley-Jones,” Abiyomi Azikiwe of MECAWI said. “Everywhere the police and armed forces of our country go, from Detroit to Florida to Iraq to Iran to Libya and Colombia, they leave a swath of death and destruction. We must avenge the blood of Trayvon, Aiyana and the many other martyrs whose lives this system has taken. Over 20 African-Americans have been slaughtered by police and racists across the U.S. over the last three months. It is open season on Black people. What happened here in Detroit with the so-called “consent agreement” takeover was another symbolic assassination as well.” 

Also speaking at the rally were Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan chapter of the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Tamika Ganes of the American Federation of Teachers, and Ron Scott, among others. 

Students at Miami Central High School walk out March 23, 2012 to demand justice for Trayvon

Just as Pontiac Academy students walked out to in support of their teacher Brooke Harris and to demand justice for Trayvon, students in the Miami area conducted mass walk-outs last month as well.

Students from Miami area schools walk out in protest of Trayvon Martin shooting 

By Laura Isensee and Alexandra Leon, The Miami Herald

11:00 a.m. EDT, March 23, 2012

Walkouts continued Friday morning at several South Florida high schools Friday in protest of the recent killing of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin.

Students joined national appeals for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood crime captain who is accused of shooting Martin in Sanford.

Schools participating in the walkouts included Miami Northwestern, Central, Dr. Michael Krop, Norland, Carol City, William H. Turner Technical Arts and Edison high schools.

At Norland Senior High, hundreds of students left the school about 9 a.m. They coordinated the walkout through text messages and received support from their principal, Luis Solano.

“He said that if the students want to walk out, they could walk out and teachers don’t stop the kids,” said Desrick Hudson, a junior at Norland.

The students walked down 12th Avenue and onto 183rd Street to the Carol Mart Flea Market near 27th Avenue.

They stopped at convenience stores along the way to buy Arizona ice tea and Skittles.

They carried signs with messages that read: “Justice for Trayvon” and “Lock up Zimmerman.”

“We’re doing this to support Trayvon and show our respects,” said Hudson, who went to elementary school with the slain teen. “We’re proud to support.”

Chantale Glover contributed to this report 

Young and old came out for justice for Trayvon at Hart Plaza March 26, 2012

 DETROIT YOUTH WEAR HOODIES TO SUPPORT TRAYVON AT HART PLAZA; BUT SPEAKERS BETRAY THEM 

Analysis 

It was an awe-inspiring and soul-lifting sight, hundreds of young Detroiters walking to downtown Detoit’s Hart Plaza in hoodies, carrying Skittles and cans of iced tea to call for justice for Trayvon Martin. 

Young man carries Skittles to honor Trayvon Martin

It appeared that finally a political movement among the youth had awakened to counter the despair and poverty they face everyday in the schools, on the streets, in their homes, and if they are lucky enough to have one, at their minimum-wage jobs.

But who appeared on stage to provide guidance in this brave new movement? 

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, who has never apologized for or charged police under his command in numerous deaths of innocent youths on the streets of Detroit including seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Stop the new Jim Crow!

His police continue to harass young people this summer as they go to Belle Isle, one of the only havens left for them in the city. Whirling red and blue police car lights can be seen every other block down East Jefferson on warm spring and summer week-ends as police pull people over and search their cars under Godbee’s directives to stop crime by stopping people with busted tail-lights. 

Raphael B. Johnson, leader of the Detroit 300, whose members dressed in their paramilitary outfits stood in front of him as if guarding him against the youth. Were they worried that their members had broken down the doors of the homes of some of those in the audience without warrants, and held them and interrogated them illegally as wannabe cops? Did they think righteous retaliation might be coming forward from the audience? 

Paramilitary police wannabes were all over the rally

 Rev. Wendell Anthony, whose NAACP has done little to fight the consent agreement which has put Detroit under state control, and promises to further impoverish the city and its youth.  

Sign reminds crowd who the enemy is

And, heaven forbid, Rev. Horace Sheffield III, who was allegedly thrown out of his own church by his wife, and now conducts services out of a building that used to be a Detroit Public School, as well as getting money for running a charter school there.

VOD could not stand to stay any longer after his presence was announced, but the memory of all those hopeful, bright-eyed youth still lingers. Hopefully, they will soon be educated by leaders such as those who supported teacher Brooke Harris, instead of those who kill them, frame them up, expel them from school, and put them in the school-to-prison pipeline. 

The fight for justice for Trayvon Martin is a battle FOR the youth, to stem the war on THEM, It must not be confused with violence in the community AMONG them, which results from despair, poverty and drug trafficking using cocaine and heroin brought in across U.S. borders with the blessings of the CIA and the banks who profit from money-laundering.

Mertilla Jones (center) and crowd give standing ovation to Brooke Harris at April 10 rally


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MICHIGAN CITIZEN ENDORSED JENKINS, TATE FOR COUNCIL IN 2009

Diane Bukowski, arrested for covering a fatal state trooper chase that killed two Black men on Detroit's east side Nov. 4, 2008, then convicted of two major felonies although Fox2 News video showed she had done nothing wrong.

A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

Editorial by Diane Bukowski

April 18, 2012

While purporting to oppose the traitorous consent agreement enacted April 4, with the support of the Fatal Five on City Council, Charles Pugh, Gary Brown, Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate and Ken Cockrel Jr., the Michigan Citizen has failed to apologize for its endorsement of Jenkins and Tate in 2009.

This was the first time in its history that the paper endorsed political candidates. Previously, it refused to do so, knowing that such endorsements can come back and bite you. I was a regular investigative reporter for the paper at the time, and expressed my strenuous objection, particularly to the endorsement of cop James Tate. Along with Charles Pugh and Ken Cockrel, Jr., Tate accompanied “Deputy Mayor” Kirk Lewis, COO Chris Brown, and their hired attorney Michael McGee, a co-author of Public Act 4, to Lansing to negotiate this agreement.

This was only one of many political disagreements we had during the last years I reported for “America’s Most Progressive Newspaper.”  The following year, in August, 2010, Michigan Citizen editor Teresa Kelly emailed me, telling me they would not accept any more of my articles.

Well, MC, your policies have come back to bite you and the citizens of Detroit. Many of them likely paid attention to your endorsements and voted for people who have just done what you declared in your headline: COUNCIL GIVES CITY TO SNYDER.

WE ALL DESERVE AN APOLOGY.


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OK, WHO’S THE MAYOR–BING, LEWIS OR BARROW?

 

The Mayor’s office released this photo purporting to show Dave Bing (center with glassy-eyed stare) wotking with his press secretary (l) and Chief of Staff Kirk J. Lewis, Jr. (r)

 BARROW APPEALS ELECTION TO UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

By Diane Bukowski

April 17, 2012 

DETROIT — The following reminds me of one of those kiddie games published in newspapers, where you compare two drawings to find the miniscule differences between them. 

First, read the following letter, passed out by the City Clerk’s office to media and all interested parties beginning March 25, 2012. It names Kirk J. Lewis, Chief of Staff, as “acting mayor” for the period from MARCH 26 through APRIL 15, 2012. Note it references City Charter provisions related to the Deputy Mayor assuming the Mayor’s responsibilities. Note also that is has two time stamps on it: March 12, 2012 (upside down) and March 25, 2012 (also upside down.)

 Since the letter indicated Lewis was serving until April 15, VOD went to the City Clerk’s office, the official repository of such correspondences, today to ask: WHO’S THE MAYOR? 

An official in the back scurried out and brought the following letter. Note that it says Kirk J. Lewis was appointed Deputy Mayor APRIL 2, 2012. There is no expiration date relating to when the elected Mayor will return. 

So. was Kirk J. Lewis acting as Mayor beginning March 26 or beginning April 2?

If he did not have the powers of the Mayor prior to March 26, what was he running to Lansing for during that time to negotiate terms of the Consent Agreement with the state treasurer, the governor, his attorney Michael McGee, a co-author of Public Act 4, and Ernst & Young? 

Lewis admitted he did so during a Council session April 2, and said he was accompanied by COO Chris Brown, and Council members Charles Pugh, Kenneth Cockrel, Jr  and James Tate (not designated to do so by the council). 

HOW LEGITIMATE IS THE DOCUMENT THAT RESULTED FROM THEIR TRAITOROUS WORK? 

Tom Barrow (l) at recount hearing Dec. 23, 2009. backed by dozens of supporters

Then, VOD thought, well, does it matter anyway?  Was Dave Bing truly elected by the people of Detroit? So we thought to contact his opponent in the last race, Tom Barrow. 

Barrow challenged that election, winning a first-time ever vote by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers that over HALF THE VOTES CAST, including ALL THE ABSENTEE VOTES, were unrecountable due to massive irregularities.  Talking to Barrow, we discovered that he has just appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court – so THAT IS ONE LIGHT OF HOPE AT THE END OF THIS DARK TUNNEL. 

“Dave Bing has never been legitimate from day one,” Barrow said.  “First he ran his own business into the ground, and now he has run the city of Detroit into the ground. If truly elected officials had done their jobs in the first place, we would not be facing the situation we are in now. It hurts my heart every day to see what has happened.” 

Barrow is a long-time, noted CPA. 

“I have read the financial statements the city published,” he said. “They do not support the contention that we were going to run out of money April 1. Look, we haven’t run out of money yet, and all municipalities run out of money by the end of the fiscal year, or the state steps in to bridge the gap. And the state hasn’t given us any money yet. But they want Belle Isle, they want our jewels, just like they took Cobo Hall.” 

So why are city officials trying so hard to keep Mayor Bing, who is clearly SERIOUSLY ill. So that he can keep signing letters re-appointing his second-in-command at Bing Steel, who helped him run it into the ground, to help Lewis completely disband Detroit? 

Barrow raised a reason VOD had not considered. 

“If the Mayor steps down, and the City Council President takes over under the City Charter, which is still in effect, then there has to be an ELECTION held, during which the people will finally have THEIR chance to weigh in,” Barrow said. 

After Bing, Lewis and Pugh all conspired to give Detroit away to the banks and the state, their chances of being elected are hopefully NIL, 

VOD reviewed the revised City Charter, which does not set a time limit for holding the election any longer. However, VOD notes that City Clerk Janice Winfrey is currently complaining that her budget as proposed by Chief of Staff (“acting mayor”/”deputy mayor”) Kirk Lewis will not allow her to conduct elections. 

WELL, KIRK, SINCE YOU’VE JUST SIGNED OVER THE POWER OF THE CITY’S ELECTED OFFICIALS TO THE STATE, YOU DON’T WANT AN ELECTION ANYWAY, DO YOU?


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OCCUPY THE PGA! BENTON HARBOR MAY 23-27, 2012

 

Occupy The PGA
Benton Harbor, Michigan
Senior PGA Golf Tournament
 

It is our distinct honor and privilege to invite you on behalf of BANCO to an event scheduled for May 23-27, 2012. 

We are committed to escalating the Occupy Movement to support human rights in housing in addition to the push back against bailouts for fraudulent banks. They are stealing our homes and our lives. 

Democracy is non-existent here in Benton Harbor. Joseph Harris, the Emergency Manager, must go. We have a dictator in Benton Harbor, Michigan! 

The PGA will be played on a $750 million, 530 acre resort near Lakeshore with a Jack Nicklaus Signature designer golf course and with $500,000 condominiums. We cannot forget the three golf holes in the stolen land inside Jean Klock Park. 

If your schedule permits your attendance is needed on May 26, 2012. Alternative action dates are May 23-25. Please let know if you can accept the invitation to Occupy The PGA in Benton Harbor. 

We will meet at Benton Harbor City Hall, 200 Wall St. at 10:00am every day. Then we will March to the golf course! We will have speakers and food. 

 Allow me to thank you in advance. We the residents of Benton Harbor love you! 

For more information contact:
Rev. Edward Pinkney
269-925-0001
 

President/NAACP/BANCO & Stop The Take Over Benton Harbor
Rev. Edward Pinkney
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
Tel: 269-925-0001
 

Decolonize Benton Harbor! 

Download and distribute the flyer!

Rev. Edward Pinkney leads march against PA4, EM Joe Harris in Benton Harbor

 


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PASTOR FIGHTS STATE NAACP TAKEOVER OF BENTON HARBOR CHAPTER; SAYS WHIRLPOOL ENGINEERED GRAB

Rev. Edward Pinkney (top center with cap) and some of his supporters, before April 11 court hearing; BH NAACP Secretary Joyce Smith is second from left; Marian Kramer of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization is second from right

 “OCCUPY THE PGA” SET FOR MAY 27-31 IN BENTON HARBOR, MI

By Diane Bukowski

April 13, 2012 

DETROIT – Rev. Edward Pinkney, president of the Benton Harbor, Michigan chapter of the NAACP, declared victory in Wayne County Circuit Court April 11 as he staved off  the state NAACP’s plan to hold a midterm election April 14 to oust him and local chapter officers. 

The courtroom was packed with Pinkney’s supporters, from Benton Harbor to Detroit to Pontiac. After a conference in chambers with Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan, the parties in the $100,000 civil suit against the NAACP agreed to postpone the election at least until after a hearing May 10 at 10:30 a.m., when attorneys will have filed their briefs. 

Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White leaves court with her attorney John Johnson

Attorneys Elliott Hall and Buck Davis represent Pinkney. State NAACP Conference President Yvonne White appeared in court with her attorney John Johnson, formerly City of Detroit Corporation Counsel under Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. White works for General Motors at the UAW-GM building on Joseph Campau in downtown Detroit. 

Pinkney said the Whirlpool Corporation, headquartered in Benton Harbor, is the elephant in the room. 

“Whirlpool cut a deal with the state and national NAACP, through Marcus Robinson,” Pinkney said. “They said they would not support the NAACP as long as I am head of the Benton Harbor branch.” 

Harbor Shores Golf Club, site of the Senior PGA Tournament May 27-31, 2012

Benton Harbor NAACP Secretary Joyce Smith said the company is angry because of plans by Pinkney and others to “OCCUPY THE PGA” in Benton Harbor May 23-27, 2012. The golf tournament is sponsored by KitchenAid, a subsidiary of Whirlpool. Robinson is a board member of Harbor Shores Community Development Corporation, among other titles.

“The State NAACP is violating its own by-laws and constitution,” Smith said. “They want to replace us with Whirlpool’s minions. The PGA is coming in May, and they hope we won’t be able to picket. They’re interviewing Benton Harbor citizens now for temporary jobs at the tournament.” 

Public beach on Lake Michigan at Jean Klock Park

BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), and the Occupy Movement are sponsoring Occupy the PGA. The Senior PGA tournament is to be held at the Harbor Shores Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, developed with Whirlpool’s support. It is part of a $750 million, 530 acre resort development with $500,000 condominiums. 

The elected (but currently powerless) Benton Harbor City Commission has voted 4-2 to oppose the presence of the PGA in Benton Harbor. City commissioner Dennis Knowles said, “The reason I voted against the PGA is because of the non-inclusiveness of the residents that live in the city, the inner city….I’m saying that these people need a chance, in my neighborhood…they need a chance.”

BH Commissioners Marcus Muhammad and Duane Seals II /Photo Andrea Muhammad

Click on Newly elected commissioners resist state takeover FC to read article from the Final Call on the Benton Harbor Commissioners’ struggles.

According to community activists, corporate officials took part of the development’s land from the publicly-owned Jean Klock Park, which includes a gorgeous stretch of lakefront beach.

Pinkney and others from Benton Harbor have fought Whirlpool’s corporate grab of publicly owned land and displacement of the city’s poor Black majority residents for years. Meanwhile, Whirlpool has shut down its plants in Benton Harbor, Evanston, Indiana and other cities and moved them to Mexico, putting tens of thousands out of work.

In Evanston, the Vice-President of the Indiana state conference of the NAACP, Barbara Bolling, supported Whirlpool workers, not Whirlpool, at a 2009 rally.

Indiana NAACP Vice-President Barbara Bolling (l) at rally in Evanston against Whirlpool plant shutdown

Pinkney said Robinson, president of the Consortium for Community Development, a component of the Whirlpool Foundation-supported Cornerstone Alliance, sent out an email, quoted in a People’s Tribune article. 

“The State Commission of the NAACP and their National Office has decided to undertake the reorganization of this chapter with the specific intention of revitalizing the leadership and membership body. Contact Marcus Robinson by cell at 269-277-7711 or by inbox at www.facebook.com/4marcusrobinson.”

Marcus Robinson

The non-profit Cornerstone Alliance has assets of $32.3 million, according to its 2010 tax filing. The Alliance told the IRS the reason for its non-profit status is that it is “an organization that normally receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or from the general public.” (Click on Cornerstone Alliance 2010 990 to read entire tax filing.)

But the Alliance’s website says, “Traditionally, funding from the private sector constitutes approximately 92% of our overall funding base, with Whirlpool Foundation matching-within reason-whatever is raised by these community donations.” 

State Senator Al Pscholka, a chief sponsor of the infamous Public Act 4, also known as “the Dictator Act,” is a director of the Alliance according to state records.

Rev. Edward Pinkney (l) helps lead march against PA4 takeover of Benton Harbor, 2009

NAACP State Conference President White told VOD, “Our job as the NAACP is to protect voting rights. All we’re attempting to do is stay on the job and follow our constitution.” 

White’s attorney Johnson contended in court that the last election held by the Benton Harbor chapter was improper. 

But Pinkney challenged the state NAACP’s purported concern about voting rights. 

“The NAACP is doing nothing to fight the emergency manager law,” Pinkney told VOD. “I emailed  Yvonne White two years ago, and informed her this law is a major issue, and that we need to stop it before it gets to cities like Detroit. She did not respond. We feel Yvonne White needs to be replaced as state president.” 

Rev. Edward Pinkney (top center right) joined march of 3,000 on Gov. Rick Snyder's house on Jan. 15, 2012, MLK Day.

Over 50 percent of Michigan’s African-American residents now live in cities taken over by emergency managers or equivalent consent agreements. Benton Harbor was the first victim in 2009, with Flint, Pontiac, Inkster, the Detroit and Highland Park Public Schools, and now Detroit itself among the others.

Unelected emergency managers exercise total power over the cities’ assets, land, finances, workforce, and union contracts, with privatization and regionalization major goals.  In Pontiac, the EM has put the city’s entire assets including 11 water plants on the auction block. 

The law faces challenges including lawsuits, a referendum campaign, and a determination by the Democratic caucus of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that it is unconstitutional and violates the National Voting Rights Act.

Pinkney has also fought long and hard against police brutality and frame-ups in Benton Harbor. A judge sentenced him to a stretch in prison for quoting a Bible passage to him.

To contact Rev. Pinkney, call  269-925-0001 or go to bhbanco.org.


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DETROITERS TELL COUNCIL TO STAND UP, VOTE NO!

 (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 at earlier meeting

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 (r) and other speakers April 4, 2012

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. 

Former Detroit finance official, CPA

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. 

Tyrone Travis, Sandra Hines, Morris Mays

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. 

Anna Holden, City of Detroit retiree

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. 

Rev. Charles Williams II (r), Bill Dickens, parent of MLK High School student (center)

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. 

Minister Malik Shabazz

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.


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2,000 PROTESTERS HIT FUNDRAISER FEATURING WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER

Angry protesters force fund-raiser guests through gauntlet to get in to see Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in Troy April 17

  “WALKER GO HOME! TAKE SNYDER WITH YOU!”   

By Diane Bukowski  

April 18, 2012 

TROY, MI—More than two thousand protesters chanting, “We are the 99%!” forced 500 guests at a Republican fundraiser featuring Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to run a two-hour gauntlet of angry taunts and shouts on their way in to the San Marino Club in Troy. 

Protesters condemned Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for cutting hundreds of thousands off public assistance

 Walker ignited a state-wide uprising in Wisconsin two years ago when he tried to outlaw collective bargaining. Hundreds of thousands occupied the state capitol in Madison for months, teachers and students walked out of school, and workers left their jobs in what they said was a repeat of the Egyptian revolt. 

The Grim Reaper attended the protest as well (at left)

  “Arrest the 1%!” protesters on April 17 called to the Troy police who directed cars into the compound. “What’s disgusting—union-busting!” and “Workers’ rights are under attack—what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” were other frequent chants. 

Protesters lined the perimeter of the Club, chanting loudly throughout the two hours.

 The protesters came by car and busload from across the state, wearing union jackets and signs from the UAW, Service Employees International Union, the Michigan Association of Letter Carriers. the Michigan Education Association, the United Steelworkers, the American Federation of Government Employees, and many others. 

Police and fund-raiser organizers stopped pastors from subpoenaing Walker et al.

 Religious and community leaders joined in. The Rev. Charles Williams II and other pastors tried to enter the fund-raiser at one point to deliver the following subpoena to Walker and minions, but were turned back. Protesters in attendance, however, vowed that the union and community spring in the U.S. would continue until the one percent is vanquished.  

 


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BING, LEWIS ADVISOR MCGEE HELPED DRAFT PA4

Michael McGee (r) with Detroit's "Deputy Mayor" Kirk Lewis at Council table April 2, 2012

KIRK LEWIS, ATTY. MICHAEL MCGEE TOUTED  CONSENT AGREEMENT, ABROGATION OF UNION CONTRACTS AT COUNCIL.

Ezcerpt from “Mac Quarterly” article, Spring 2011 (Municipal Advisory Council of Michigan)

(click on  PA4 and McGee Mac Quarterly  for full issue) 

“Some of the changes evaluated during proceedings included a consent agreement, whereby the governor could argue against bringing in an EFM and instead sign a contract with local officials — a contract with parties agreeing to comply with a list of steps aimed at turning around a distressed local government. It’s considered an intermediate step, prior to bringing in an EFM, an opportunity for “locals to take control and work on the problem themselves,” said Michael McGee, principal at Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone PLC.  

“Nobody wants circumstances to become so dire that a manager is necessary. A community can enter into an agreement with the Department of Treasury and exercise some of the powers within the Act,” explained McGee. Perhaps “communities will get involved sooner,” said McGee, “because the later you try the harder it will be.” The emergency manager is considered a “final step” in a downward spiral of fiscal unsoundness — one everyone hopes to avoid. 

McGee said the bill addresses some known weaknesses in the prior bill that many EFMs had complained about. EFMs have always had “some power but it was not so clear that existing officers did not have powers,” he explained. “Most lawsuits filed against Public Act 72 were brought against managers. Someone on a council or a board of trustees, or perhaps even a mayor would argue that they had authority under the law and would compete with the EFM on who had the final decision-making authority.” Under the new Act, the EFM role is clearly defined — with the title emergency manager replacing financial manager and the scope of authority painted with a broader brush. The emergency manager is in charge when appointed and authority supersedes that of a mayor or other official — elected or otherwise. 

Robert Daddow

Many specialists were involved in drafting PA 4 verbiage, including McGee, Scorsone, labor attorneys, finance directors and members of the Michigan Government Finance Officers Association. Robert Daddow, Deputy Oakland County Executive, is credited with providing a “blueprint” for the bill’s draft — “he wrote a white paper for a transition team” explained McGee.

From Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank which advocates massive privatization of public services:

Robert Daddow is a Certified Public Accountant. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration and M.B.A. from Central Michigan University. He joined Ernst & Young in December 1974 as a staff auditor, eventually making partner, specializing in governmental auditing and consulting. Clients included — Wayne County, City of Ecorse, numerous school districts and dozens of cities, villages and townships. 

Since 1993, he has worked for Oakland County. First, as the Director of the Department of Management and Budget and concurrently as the Director of the Department of Information Technology. In 2000, Daddow assumed a newly created position — Assistant Deputy County Executive for Special Projects. He is the group leader for Information Technology/Management & Budget. He is largely involved in major financial initiatives, funding, and technology implementation.

While at Oakland County, Daddow lead (sic) and/or initiated most of the privatization efforts previously cited in publications for Oakland County over the past 8 years. He has lead (sic) many special projects including but not limited to a half dozen privatizations, launch of the Community Corrections program, transition of the Community Mental Health program from a shared-service model to full-service, movement from an attended emergency management radio system, and many computer initiatives.”

VOD ed: Kirk Lewis was a candidate for Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.” The global accounting firm is being sued by the states of New York and New Jersey for cooking Lehmann Brothers’ books before its downfall. It initiated the current crisis in Detroit by meeting in closed session, in violation of the Open Meetings Act,  with the Detroit City Council in November, 2011, and declaring the city would run out of cash by April, 2012. The City of Detroit, however, has its own independent financial auditors, KPMG.


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WILL DETROIT BOW TO “CORPORATE COLONIALISM?”

Keith Hines speaks to Council, flanked by Detroit School Board member Elena Herrada (l) and Hi Dooha, husband of the late Council President Maryann Mahaffey.

The testimony below was given to City Council on April 3  2012 by Keith Hines, an electrical inspector who has worked for the City of Detroit and a long-time advocate of self-determination for its people. He spoke at several of the hearings on the consent agreement approved 5-4 by City Council on April 4, 2012.


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