AMERICANS FACE POST FORECLOSURE HELL AS WAGES GARNISHED, ASSETS SEIZED

beware-bankstersBanks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac chase the already dispossessed for more

By Michelle Conlin

Reuters

 October 10, 2014

NEW YORK – Many thousands of Americans who lost their homes in the housing bust, but have since begun to rebuild their finances, are suddenly facing a new foreclosure nightmare: debt collectors are chasing them down for the money they still owe by freezing their bank accounts, garnishing their wages and seizing their assets.

ZOMBIE DEBTS

ZOMBIE DEBTS

By now, banks have usually sold the houses. But the proceeds of those sales were often not enough to cover the amount of the loan, plus penalties, legal bills and fees. The two big government-controlled housing finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as other mortgage players, are increasingly pressing borrowers to pay whatever they still owe on mortgages they defaulted on years ago.

Using a legal tool known as a “deficiency judgment,” lenders can ensure that borrowers are haunted by these zombie-like debts for years, and sometimes decades, to come. Before the housing bubble, banks often refrained from seeking deficiency judgments, which were seen as costly and an invitation for bad publicity. Some of the biggest banks still feel that way.

But the housing crisis saddled lenders with more than $1 trillion of foreclosed loans, leading to unprecedented losses. Now, at least some large lenders want their money back, and they figure it’s the perfect time to pursue borrowers: many of those who went through foreclosure have gotten new jobs, paid off old debts and even, in some cases, bought new homes.

Detroiters commemorate anniversary of MLK March on Washington Aug. 28, 2011

Detroiters commemorate anniversary of MLK March on Washington Aug. 28, 2011, demand moratorium on evictions and foreclosures

“Just because they don’t have the money to pay the entire mortgage, doesn’t mean they don’t have enough for a deficiency judgment,” said Florida foreclosure defense attorney Michael Wayslik.

Advocates for the banks say that the former homeowners ought to pay what they owe. Consumer advocates counter that deficiency judgments blast those who have just recovered from financial collapse back into debt — and that the banks bear culpability because they made the unsustainable loans in the first place.

“SLAPPED TO THE FLOOR”

Borrowers are usually astonished to find out they still owe thousands of dollars on homes they haven’t thought about for years.

In 2008, bank teller Danell Huthsing broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of the concrete bungalow they shared in Jacksonville, Florida. Her name was on the mortgage even after she moved out, and when her boyfriend defaulted on the loan, her name was on the foreclosure papers, too.

Danell Huthsing/Facebook photo

Danell Huthsing/Facebook photo

She moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she managed to amass $20,000 of savings and restore her previously stellar credit score in her job as a service worker at an Amtrak station.

But on July 5, a process server showed up on her doorstep with a lawsuit demanding $91,000 for the portion of her mortgage that was still unpaid after the home was foreclosed and sold. If she loses, the debt collector that filed the suit can freeze her bank account, garnish up to 25 percent of her wages, and seize her paid-off 2005 Honda Accord.

“For seven years you think you’re good to go, that you’ve put this behind you,” said Huthsing, who cleared her savings out of the bank and stowed the money in a safe to protect it from getting seized. “Then wham, you get slapped to the floor again.”

Bankruptcy is one way out for consumers in this rub. But it has serious drawbacks: it can trash a consumer’s credit report for up to ten years, making it difficult to get credit cards, car loans or home financing. Oftentimes, borrowers will instead go on a repayment plan or simply settle the suits — without questioning the filings or hiring a lawyer — in exchange for paying a lower amount.

The clawbackThough court officials and attorneys in foreclosure-ravaged regions like Florida, Ohio and Illinois all say the cases are surging, no one keeps official tabs on the number nationally. “Statistically, this is a real difficult task to get a handle on,” said Geoff Walsh, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

Officials in individual counties say that the cases, while virtually zero a year or two ago, now number in the hundreds in each county. Thirty-eight states, along with the District of Columbia, allow financial institutions recourse to claw back these funds.

“I’ve definitely noticed a huge uptick,” said Cook County, Illinois homeowner attorney Sandra Emerson. “They didn’t include language in court motions to pursue these. Now, they do.”

“A CURSE”

Three of the biggest mortgage lenders, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co., all say that they typically don’t pursue deficiency judgments, though they reserve the right to do so. “We may pursue them on a case-by-case basis looking at a variety of factors, including investor and mortgage insurer requirements, the financial status of the borrower and the type of hardship,” said Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda. The banks would not comment on why they avoid deficiency judgments.

BIGGEST ZOMBIE DEBT PURSUERS.

BIGGEST ZOMBIE DEBT PURSUERS, NOW RUN BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Perhaps the most aggressive among the debt pursuers is Fannie Mae. Of the 595,128 foreclosures Fannie Mae was involved in – either through owning or guaranteeing the loans – from January 2010 through June 2012, it referred 293,134 to debt collectors for possible pursuit of deficiency judgments, according to a 2013 report by the Inspector General for the agency’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

It is unclear how many of the loans that get sent to debt collectors actually get deficiency judgments, but the IG urged the FHFA to direct Fannie Mae, along with Freddie Mac, to pursue more of them from the people who could repay them.

It appears as if Fannie Mae is doing just that. In Florida alone in the past year, for example, at least 10,000 lawsuits have been filed — representing hundreds of millions of dollars of payments, according to Jacksonville, Florida-based attorney Chip Parker.

Parker is about to file a class action lawsuit against the Dallas-based debt collection company, Dyck O’Neal, which is working to recoup the money on behalf of Fannie Mae. The class action will allege that Dyck O’Neal violated fair debt collection practices by suing people in the state of Florida who actually lived out of state. Dyck O’Neal declined to comment.

Atty. Chip Parker is fighting zombie foreclosure debts in Florida class action lawsuit.

Atty. Chip Parker is fighting zombie foreclosure debts in Florida class action lawsuit.

In Lee County, Florida, for example, Dyck O’Neal only filed four foreclosure-related deficiency judgment cases last year. So far this year, it has filed 360 in the county, which has more than 650,000 residents and includes Ft. Myers. The insurer the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Company has also filed about 1,000 cases this past year in Florida alone.

Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Fannie Mae, said the finance giant is focusing on “strategic defaulters:” those who could have paid their mortgages but did not. Fannie Mae analyzes borrowers’ ability to repay based on their open credit lines, assets, income, expenses, credit history, mortgages and properties, according to the 2013 IG report. “Fannie Mae and the taxpayers suffered a loss. We’re focusing on people who had the ability to make a payment but decided not to do so,” said Wilson.

Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German said the decision to pursue deficiency judgments for any particular loan is made on a “case-by-case basis.”

The FHFA declined to comment.

But homeowner-defense lawyers point out that separating strategic defaulters from those who were in real distress can be tricky. If a distressed borrower suddenly manages to improve their financial position – by, for example, getting a better-paying job – they can be classified as a strategic defaulter.

Dyck O’Neal works with most national lenders and servicing companies to collect on charged-off residential real estate. It purchases foreclosure debts outright, often for pennies on the dollar, and also performs collections on a contingency basis on behalf of entities like Fannie Mae. “The debt collectors tend to be much more aggressive than the lenders had been,” the National Consumer Law Center’s Walsh said. Continue reading


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WHY THE POOR ARE PAYING FOR DETROIT’S BANKRUPTCY

Former Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. worker Derek Grigsby and family participate in protest against bankruptcy,

Former Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept. worker Derek Grigsby and family participate in protest against bankruptcy,

Detroit’s bankruptcy is a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they’d otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans. Are Detroit, its public employees, poor residents, and bondholders the only ones who should sacrifice when ‘Detroit’ can’t pay its bills? Or does the relevant sphere of responsibility include Detroit’s affluent suburbs?

 By Robert Reich, Robertreich.org 

September 8, 2014

Rich suburban families prosper while Black Detroit families suffer.

Rich suburban families prosper while Black Detroit families suffer.

Detroit is the largest city ever to seek bankruptcy protection, so its bankruptcy is seen as a potential model for other American cities now teetering on the edge.

But Detroit is really a model for how wealthier and whiter Americans escape the costs of public goods they’d otherwise share with poorer and darker Americans.

Judge Steven W. Rhodes of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan is now weighing Detroit’s plan to shed $7 billion of its debts and restore some $1.5 billion of city services by requiring various groups of creditors to make sacrifices.

Recommended: How skewed is America’s income inequality? Take our quiz.

Among those being asked to sacrifice are Detroit’s former city employees, now dependent on pensions and healthcare benefits the city years before agreed to pay. Also investors who bought $1.4 billion worth of bonds the city issued in 2005.

Both groups claim the plan unfairly burdens them. Under it, the 2005 investors emerge with little or nothing, and Detroit’s retirees have their pensions cut 4.5 percent, lose some health benefits, and do without cost-of-living increases.

Home on Carroll Lake, Oakland County, MI

Home on Carroll Lake, Oakland County, MI

No one knows whether Judge Rhodes will accept or reject the plan. But one thing is for certain. A very large and prosperous group close by won’t sacrifice a cent: They’re the mostly-white citizens of neighboring Oakland County.

Oakland County is the fourth wealthiest county in the United States, of counties with a million or more residents.

In fact, Greater Detroit, including its suburbs, ranks among the top financial centers, top four centers of high technology employment, and second largest source of engineering and architectural talent in America.

The median household in the County earned over $65,000 last year. The median household in Birmingham, Michigan, just across Detroit’s border, earned more than $94,000. In nearby Bloomfield Hills, still within the Detroit metropolitan area, the median was close to $105,000.

Lahser HIgh School, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Lahser HIgh School, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Detroit’s upscale suburbs also have excellent schools, rapid-response security, and resplendent parks.

Forty years ago, Detroit had a mixture of wealthy, middle class, and poor. But then its middle class and white residents began fleeing to the suburbs. Between 2000 and 2010, the city lost a quarter of its population.

By the time it declared bankruptcy, Detroit was almost entirely poor. Its median household income was $26,000. More than half of its children were impoverished.

That left it with depressed property values, abandoned neighborhoods, empty buildings, and dilapidated schools. Forty percent of its streetlights don’t work. More than half its parks closed within the last five years.

Foreclosed home in Detroit.

Foreclosed home in Detroit.

Earlier this year, monthly water bills in Detroit were running 50 percent higher than the national average, and officials began shutting off the water to 150,000 households who couldn’t pay the bills.

Official boundaries are often hard to see. If you head north on Woodward Avenue, away from downtown Detroit, you wouldn’t know exactly when you left the city and crossed over into Oakland County — except for a small sign that tells you.

But boundaries can make all the difference. Had the official boundary been drawn differently to encompass both Oakland County and Detroit – creating, say, a “Greater Detroit” – Oakland’s more affluent citizens would have some responsibility to address Detroit’s problems, and Detroit would likely have enough money to pay all its bills and provide its residents with adequate public services.

Oakland Co. Exec. L. Brooks Patterson at press conference announcing selloff of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to regional authority, under current bankruptcy plans.

Oakland Co. Exec. L. Brooks Patterson at press conference announcing selloff of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to regional authority, under current bankruptcy plans.

But because Detroit’s boundary surrounds only the poor inner city, those inside it have to deal with their compounded problems themselves. The whiter and more affluent suburbs (and the banks that serve them) are off the hook.

Any hint they should take some responsibility has invited righteous indignation. “Now, all of a sudden, they’re having problems and they want to give part of the responsibility to the suburbs?” scoffs L. Brooks Paterson, the Oakland County executive. “They’re not gonna’ talk me into being the good guy. ‘Pick up your share?’ Ha ha.”

Buried within the bankruptcy of Detroit is a fundamental political and moral question: Who are “we,” and what are our obligations to one another?

Are Detroit, its public employees, poor residents, and bondholders the only ones who should sacrifice when “Detroit” can’t pay its bills? Or does the relevant sphere of responsibility include Detroit’s affluent suburbs — to which many of the city’s wealthier resident fled as the city declined, along with the banks that serve them?

Judge Rhodes won’t address these questions. But as Americans continue to segregate by income into places becoming either wealthier or poorer, the rest of us will have to answer questions like these, eventually.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes (center) at one-sided forum Oct. 10, 2012, one year before bankruptcy trial. Forum featured (l to r) Frederick Headen of state treasurer's office, who boasted he had put dozens of cities under state control; Edward Plawecki; Douglas Bernstein and Judy O'Neill, both trainers of EM's, O'Neill also a co-author of EM law PA 4; Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chief witness for Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at bankruptcy trial.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes (center) at one-sided forum on Emergency Managers and Chapter 9 bankruptcy, on Oct. 10, 2012, one year before bankruptcy trial. Forum featured (l to r) Frederick Headen of state treasurer’s office, who boasted he had put dozens of cities under state control; Edward Plawecki; Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill, both trainers of EM’s, O’Neill also a co-author of EM law PA 4; Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, chief witness for Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at bankruptcy trial.


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INJUSTICE IN DETROIT: SUPPORT CHICAGO PALESTINIAN LEADER IN DETROIT FEDERAL COURT OCT. 21, TRIAL NOV. 4

Rasmea_0001

Click on Rasmea-Flyeract to download the complete flyer, with support activities.

Injustice in Detroit: Ruling paves way for repressive climate at Rasmea Odeh trial; pack Judge Drain’s court, October 21, 231 W. Lafayette, Rm. 110, support esteemed Palestinian leader Oct. 21

By Rasmea Defense Committee

October 18, 2014

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain
U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

On October 16, Judge Gershwin Drain made an important ruling in the case of Palestinian American leader Rasmea Odeh. At issue was a bizarre motion by the prosecution that characterized the efforts of the Rasmea Defense Committee as “jury tampering” and “almost certainly criminal.”

While we are pleased that Judge Drain rejected the “Anonymous Jury” motion from the prosecution, we are still very concerned about the ruling to allow partial sequestration. The decision to have the jury meet at a secret location, and drive to the courthouse in a sealed van, creates a militarized and security state atmosphere that will cause apprehension amongst the jury members, and prompt them to believe that Rasmea is somehow dangerous. She is innocent, and this ruling does not guarantee her a fair trial.

Rasmea has done nothing wrong and the trumped up immigration charges against her should be dropped. She is an iconic leader in the Palestinian community of Chicagoland, the U.S., and the world. Forty-five years ago, she was jailed and tortured by the Israeli authorities. That she is facing jail again, this time at the hands of Detroit’s U.S. Attorney, Barbara McQuade, is nothing short of shameful.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at Detroit police press conference June 30, 2013. The FBI, under the Justice Dept., had just assassinated Black Muslim leader Imam Luqman Abdullah in Dearborn in 2009.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at Detroit police press conference June 30, 2013. The FBI, under the Justice Dept., had just assassinated Black Muslim leader Imam Luqman Abdullah in Dearborn in 2009.

The prosecution’s talk about “jury tampering” is an attempt at intimidation and an act of desperation. McQuade’s office is trying to criminalize activities protected by the first amendment, like protesting outside the courthouse and calling the Department of Justice to demand the charges against Rasmea be dropped.

We urge all supporters of civil liberties and Rasmea Odeh to join us in Detroit for her next hearing October 21 at 11 a.m. before Judge Drain in the U.S. District Court at 231 W. Lafayette, Room 110. Rasmea’s trial starts November 4. Let’s pack the courtroom!

Drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh!

www.uspcn.organd www.stopfbi.net for more information

Media Contact: Hatem Abudayyeh, 773.301.4108, hatem85@yahoo.com

Rasmea_0002


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UNITED NATIONS TOWN HALL MEETING ON WATER SHUT-OFFS SUN. OCT. 19 WCCC

UN water meeting Detroit
MWRO STATEMENT ON BANKRUPTCY COURT DENIAL OF DETROIT HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER

 Monday, September 29, 2014

MWRO’s statement on today’s decision by the federal bankruptcy court NOT to stop residential water shut-offs, restore water to residential customers without water, NOR implement a water affordability based on fixed incomes for low-income seniors, families with children and persons with disabilities:

Of course, we are not surprised that our capacity to seek relief from the Federal Courts no longer exists! The fact that low income customers were ushered into court and testified how miserable their lives were because water was cut-off without an option for them to make arrangements with the DWSD could not have impacted the Court because the Court concentrated on what the 1% needed to continue their reign of terror tied to the Emergency Manager and this bankruptcy ploy.

International protest against Detroit water shut-offs in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014.

International protest against Detroit water shut-offs in downtown Detroit July 18, 2014.

This is the humanitarian crisis of our times here in America, where every step we take is being analyzed to see which fights we launch as the corporate class encroaches on our standard of living. Denying specific populations access to clean drinking water was today deemed legal even though rich and wealthy water customers receive a different standard of treatment. Millions are owed by these corporate pirates while $150 and two months behind is the rule applied to our constituency — a position clearly supported by the Federal Court. 

Poor people, their children, seniors, the disabled, veterans — it doesn’t matter — if you can’t pay for water, you can’t have it. Go to the river with a bucket and get what you need still remains the sentiment by this draconian class and they have no shame in taking this position. This sham court-case was just that…a plot to look like justice would prevail if we just had a chance to plead our case. The answer was always going to be NO!!!

So what are we going to do…give up the fight for social justice? We think not!

Protesters block water shut-off trucks from leaving Homrich facility July 18, 2014.

Protesters block water shut-off trucks from leaving Homrich facility July 18, 2014.

In the movie, The Untouchables, the question was asked, “What are you prepared to do about this??” When brilliant lawyers went to court to file suit against slavery, and against lynching, at first the Court said “NO”…there is no enforceable right to not be lynched if that is the custom in that area of the country! The Court’s explained that with the laws on the books at that time, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, children, and other oppressed folks should be able to manage their lives and avoid pain and suffering, and if not, they had every right to return to Court! Madness and Madness today!

Our case demonstrated great attorneys, courageous plaintiffs, determined advocates versus conservative, corporate courts who prefer the company of the rich & famous and will not rock the “status quo.” We march on…

Maureen D. Taylor

State Chairperson – MI Welfare Rights Org 

RELATED:

DB adversary complaint water shutoffs 7 21 14

DB DAREA objection re water shutoffs

BANKRUPCY JUDGE SAYS NO ENFORCEABLE RIGHT TO FREE AND AFFORDABLE WATER–By Curt Guyette

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/26/detroiters-ask-judge-to-bar-water-shut-offs-until-lawsuit-resolved-hearing-tues-sept-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/03/detroit-water-shut-offs-city-takeover-still-on-full-blast/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/16/detroit-bankruptcy-bombshells-water-shut-offs-false-retiree-ballots-natl-rally-july-18-court-july-21/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/10/pastors-community-leaders-arrested-blocking-homrich-gates-to-stop-detroit-water-shut-offs/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/25/stop-water-shut-offs-detroiters-take-demand-to-united-nations/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/28/mass-water-shut-offs-mass-incarceration-at-mound-road-prison-for-protesters/

People's Water Board Coalition protests outside Water Board building in downtown Detroit in 2012.

People’s Water Board Coalition protests outside Water Board building in downtown Detroit in 2012.

PEOPLE’S WATER BOARD COALITION CALLS REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY AN ASSAULT AGAINST DEMOCRACY AND THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER

 Community calls for protection and representation for all region’s residents

Lynna Kaucheck, Food & Water Watch, (586) 556-8805

Tawana Petty, People’s Water Board, (313) 433-9882

Sept. 10, 2014 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, flanked by officials from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, announces plan to take DWSD from people and workers of Detroit.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, flanked by officials from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, announces plan to take DWSD from people and workers of Detroit. Photo: Diane Bukowski

Detroit, Mich. – The People’s Water Board decried Mayor Mike Duggan’s plan to create a regional water authority as undemocratic and a threat to the human right to water for many in the region. We have access to the largest body of surface freshwater in the world, so it would seem abundance and access should not be an issue. However the manner of governing this valuable resource as responsible environmental stewards for the world has left many communities without trust.

The deal was negotiated behind closed doors without any input from the public and is the next step on the pathway to privatization. It takes away the rights of both the Detroit City Council and the citizens of Detroit to have input on big decisions impacting the system.

“Suburban customers should not be fooled into thinking that this deal gives them more control or influence over the water system,” said Lynna Kaucheck of the People’s Water Board. “The new authority will be made up of unelected officials who are accountable to no one. People need to know that this deal doesn’t take privatization off the table.”

Protesters demand a stop to water privatization.
Protesters demand a stop to water privatization.

Veolia Water North America, the largest private water company operating in the United States, has been hired to evaluate the management of the system and clearly has a vested interest in privatization. Privatization typically results in skyrocketing rates, decreased service quality and the loss of jobs. In fact, corporate profits, dividends and income taxes can add 20 to 30 percent to operation and maintenance costs, and a lack of competition and poor negotiation skills can leave local governments with expensive contracts. In the Great Lakes region, large private water companies charge more than twice as much as cities charge for household water service. This is not the solution for Detroit or the region.

 “The regionalization plan is unacceptable. We need a system that is accountable and transparent and that works for all its customers,” said Tawana Petty of the People’s Water Board. “We want an elected board of water commissioners. We want to reduce costs for the region through bulk purchasing and resource sharing. And we want to implement the Affordability Plan as passed by Detroit City Council in 2005. Detroit and suburban leaders need to protect residents and democratize the system.”

The People’s Water Board advocates for access, protection, and conservation of water, and promotes awareness of the interconnectedness of all people and resources.

The People’s Water Board includes: AFSCME Local 207, Baxter’s Beat Back the Bullies Brigade, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Detroit Green Party, Detroit People’s Platform, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Food & Water Watch, FLOW, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Matrix Theater, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War& Injustice, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, Sierra Club, Sisters of Mercy, Voices for Earth Justice and We the People of Detroit.

Related:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/10/detroit-bankruptcy-great-lakes-water-authority-to-steal-largest-asset-of-largest-u-s-black-city-4/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/08/21/near-catastrophic-failure-of-detroit-sewage-pumps-caused-detroit-floods-toledo-water-crisis-city-retirees-say/


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DETROIT BANKRUPTCY: CREDITOR FGIC TO GET JOE LOUIS ARENA, BILLIONS BASED ON FRAUDULENT POC DEAL

Lawyers and financial advisors for the City of Detroit (meaning EM Kevyn Orr, seated center) and creditor FGIC, gather with mediator Judge Gerald Rosen (to left of Orr) after reaching proposed deal, at 2 a.m. Oct. 16, 2014.

Lawyers and financial advisors for the City of Detroit (meaning EM Kevyn Orr, seated center) and creditor FGIC, gather with mediator Judge Gerald Rosen (to left of Orr) after reaching proposed deal, at 2 a.m. Oct. 16, 2014. Bloomberg did not even identify Orr in this courtesy photo.

DETROIT CREDITORS SEEKING CASH WILL SETTLE FOR “THE JOE”

By Steven Church and Chris Christoff

Oct 16, 2014 5:47 PM ET Bloomberg

 (Headline at  very top is by Voice of Detroit. VOD analysis in the works. These creditors should instead be going to jail under the RICO act for conspiracy to commit fraud, along with lenders UBS, BOA, SBS Financial, and various others. Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow among other city officials should also be indicted. The creditors’ claim is based on the  disastrous $1.5 billion COPS loans of 2005-06. As part of this deal, the “City” –meaning Kevyn Orr/Jones Day–will withdraw its lawsuit against the loan, in which it called the deal “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” In an independent analysis, Wallace Turbeville of DEMOS concurred, and went further to declare the Detroit bankruptcy a hoax.)

Joe Louis Arena (bottom) on valuable Detroit riverfront property.
Joe Louis Arena (bottom) on valuable Detroit riverfront property.

DETROIT — A milestone agreement in Detroit’s record bankruptcy requires its last major creditors to help revitalize the city’s downtown in return for cutting their losses from a $1.4 billion pension deal that went sour.

Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. would indirectly own and pay to redevelop the riverfront site of Joe Louis Arena — home of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings — which will be demolished in 2017 when a new arena opens a mile away. FGIC would also get a share of $141.4 million in new notes in a deal announced today in federal court in Detroit.

The agreement brings the city closer to resolving its $18 billion bankruptcy, and would put a group of creditors that includes Aurelius Capital Management LP and and BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, owed about $1.1 billion, in charge of building a hotel and retail space in a downtown that city leaders view as a linchpin of economic recovery.

“There wasn’t any more cash,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in an interview. “They made an assessment that their best chance for a return was to participate in Detroit’s redevelopment.

Mike Duggan gives away DWSD, announcing regional authority Sept. 9, 2014. Photo: Diane Bukowski
Mike Duggan gives away DWSD, announcing regional authority Sept. 9, 2014. Photo: Diane Bukowski

‘‘The more successful their development is, the more of their claim they get back. It’s great for both of us.”

The deal is modeled on one the city struck with another bond insurer, Syncora Guarantee Inc. Both companies insured $1.4 billion of pension debt that won’t be repaid under the city’s debt-cutting proposal.

Instead, the bond insurers would collect cash, notes and land that they would use to help pay the pension debt holders. Depending on the structure of the final deal, Aurelius and the other investors would indirectly own from 83 percent to more than 90 percent of the land under the FGIC deal.

No Deal

The debt holders have not yet agreed to a deal, but may do so in the next few days, said their attorney, Thomas Moers Mayer.

Requiring creditors to invest more in the city is at least rare, and may be unprecedented in a municipal bankruptcy, attorney James E. Spiotto said in an interview. The deal resembles a corporate restructuring, he said.

“To some degree it’s a lot like Chapter 11, where they are giving them a chance to buy equity in the debtor,” Spiotto said. “They have to put something into it to get something out.”

Mayer said the arena and its parking garage would be owned by a trust for the benefit of the debt holders and managed by FGIC.

‘The Joe’

Statue of Joe Louis at Cobo Hall, also given away to regional authority, with back turned to wealthy elite celebrating Auto Show Jan. 18, 2013.
Statue of Joe Louis at Cobo Hall, also given away to regional authority, with back turned to wealthy elite celebrating Auto Show Jan. 18, 2013.

Nicknamed “The Joe,” the hulking, windowless edifice was built by the city in the late 1970s to keep the Red Wings from moving to a suburb. It was host for the 1980 Republican National Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated candidate for president.

Built as part of a downtown revitalization plan, it now will give way to another one 35 years later.

The redeveloped site would book-end a commercial-entertainment district with a $650 million development anchored by the new hockey arena to the north. That project, led by billionaire Mike Illitch, owner of the Red Wings, also would include a hotel, residential housing and retail establishments.

While Detroit continues to lose population, 10,800 jobs have been added in the central business district since 2010, when 52,100 employees worked in the area, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Clearing Blight

Sculpture in black of Joe Louis' fist in downtown Detroit. To many Black Americans, Joe Louis represented the defeat of white supremacy.
Sculpture in black of Joe Louis’ fist in downtown Detroit. To many Black Americans, Joe Louis represented the defeat of white supremacy, now embodied in “blight (Black) removal” plans.

The settlement would enable Detroit to carry out a rebuilding program that calls for spending of at least $440 million clearing blight from troubled neighborhoods.

During the hearing, Mayer told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that the hedge funds pulled out last night when they learned of a last-minute change in the proposal.

Mayer said in an interview that his clients were ready to join the deal last night when they learned that an upfront cash payment of about $171 million would instead be spread out over several years.

Whether the hedge funds get the payment up front or over time, they are still getting more than what Detroit had initially proposed, Mayer said. The city had estimated pension bondholders would get back no more than about 10 percent of the $1.4 billion they are owed.

FGIC and the bondholders would have three years to build a hotel and the retail center on the site. The development may be completed by 2022, said Corinne Ball, a lawyer for the city.

Three Approvals

FGIC was taken over by the State of New York in 2011, after earlier declaring bankruptcy.

FGIC was taken over by the State of New York in 2011, after earlier declaring bankruptcy.

The deal needs at least three approvals before it’s final. New York state regulators that oversee FGIC must sign off, as must the Detroit city council or, if the council rejects it, a Michigan loan board that helps oversee Detroit’s finances. Rhodes has the final say on the settlement and the overall plan, which would shed about $7 billion of debt.

Detroit already reached settlements with other creditors, including public pension systems, under court-supervised mediation in the past year.

Rhodes scheduled a hearing for next week, saying he still plans to hear testimony from a court-appointed expert hired to examine the city’s proposal.

Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, following decades of decline. The city listed $18 billion in liabilities and said it couldn’t meet its financial obligations while still providing necessary services to the public.

At the center of the plan is an agreement with the state of Michigan and large philanthropies to protect Detroit’s art collection in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up public pension funds. Some opponents said the art should be sold or used to secure loans to repay creditors.

FGIC agreed to drop all its objections to the plan under the deal.

“We are happy to report what has seemed like Detroit’s own version of the Gordian knot has been cut,” Ball said today in court. “We now have it done.”

The case is In re City of Detroit, 13-bk-53846, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).


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DETROIT RETIREES, OFFICIALS BLAST BANKRUPTCY PLAN, EM AT LAST-MINUTE HEARING

MayDay protest against Detroit bankruptcy, emergency management blocks Woodward Ave. May 1, 2014.

MayDay protest against Detroit bankruptcy, emergency management blocks Woodward Ave. May 1, 2014.

Say plan is racist attack mounted by state that owes Detroit $1.5 B, vow appeal

Call city’s failure to disclose interest rate on ASF clawbacks fraudulent

Bankruptcy Judge Rhodes more interested in FGIC settlement, trial end

Daily media insults pro se testifiers

By Diane Bukowski

October 16, 2014

Stephen Brogan, head partner at pro- corporate law firm of Jones Day, with Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, its "former employee."
Stephen Brogan, head partner at pro- corporate law firm of Jones Day, with Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, its “former employee.”

Detroit—City retirees and citizens, all without lawyers, faced off against Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and other corporate profiteers in court Oct. 15, as the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy case in U.S. history proceeded to a close at breakneck speed.

Those who testified had filed objections to the Plan of Adjustment (POA), then compiled motions and briefs, identified witnesses, and stood proudly in court to present their cases. They had been given only one day’s notice, a phone call from the bankruptcy clerk, to appear at the hearing, which lasted about three hours. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes had previously killed many other motions by pro se objectors.

“We have stayed the course, and are taking it to the end,” objector Cecily McClellan of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), told VOD after the hearing. “We won’t just go away. We have resources and we are planning an appeal, not only for what’s fair and just, but also for leverage. Most judges don’t like being appealed.”

Fredia Butler, a dignified well-dressed senior citizen, who attended the hearing with Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee leader Ezza Brandon,  hit the nail on the head during her testimony.

Orr the overseer, Snyder the master

Slavesmaster Gov. Rick Snyder takes over Michigan's Black-majority cities.
Slavemaster Gov. Rick Snyder takes over Michigan’s Black-majority cities, including Detroit, under Emergency Manager laws.

“This Plan of Adjustment will send many retirees into poverty, people who worked many years with the promise and hope they could live a decent life at the end,” Ms. Butler said. “I am an African-American, and I know from our history that they always put someone who looks like us in charge. Kevyn Orr is the overseer. [Gov. Rick] Synder is the master. Detroit did not have to be placed in bankruptcy. It is a power grab, taking our tax dollars to give to corporations for profit, a planned racist act, involving reductions in pensions, benefits, and unjust clawbacks. . . .[by] Wall Street.”

She also noted the seizures of the city’s assets including the Water Department, Belle Isle, and art owned by the city in the Detroit Institute of Art.

Detroit is the only city in the U.S. undergoing bankruptcy proceedings filed by an unelected official, Orr. Stockton and San Bernadino, CA filed over a year before Detroit did, but have not yet reached the POA stage.

They have so far held off on pension cuts and their bankruptcy plans do not include asset seizures, which are forbidden under Chapter 9 “unless the debtor consents.”

UNBIASED? Judge Rhodes chairs Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and EM's with one-sided panel including (l to r) Frederick Headen, state treasury official who has led many takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Emergency Manager trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O'Neill (who co-authored Michigan's original EM law, PA 4), and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Jones Day at the bankruptcy trial.
UNBIASED? Judge Rhodes chairs Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and EM’s with one-sided panel including (l to r) Frederick Headen, state treasury official who has led many takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Emergency Manager trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill (who co-authored Michigan’s original EM law, PA 4), and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Jones Day at the bankruptcy trial.

In this case, U. S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes early on recognized Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr as the debtor, in response to a motion by his “former” employee, Jones Day, which Rhodes recognized as representing the City of Detroit.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes heard the mostly Black objectors as he awaited a settlement with the city’s largest hold-out creditor, Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation (FGIC), on a claim of $1.1 billion, the following day. He said during the hearing he expected to hold closing arguments by Oct. 21 or 22 next week.

Former two-term City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said the state has a conflict of interest in “shepherding” Detroit into bankruptcy.

Michigan owes Detroit about $1.5 B, says Councilwoman Watson

“The state is a debtor to the city,” she explained, saying it owes Detroit at least a billion and a half dollars.

JoAnn Watson pleads her case at an earlier Detroit City Council meeting. She and three others voted NO on the consent agreement which led to the appointment of an Emergency Manager.
JoAnn Watson pleads her case at an earlier Detroit City Council meeting. She and three others voted NO on the consent agreement which led to the appointment of an Emergency Manager.

She cited a recent report from the Michigan Municipal League which showed that the state has deliberately withheld $732 million in revenue-sharing to Detroit over the last 10 years. She also said the state reneged on an agreement between former Governor John Engler and former Mayor Dennis Archer to increase revenue-sharing in exchange for decreasing taxes on non-residents. As a result, she said, the city lost an additional $224 million in revenue sharing and $600 million in non-resident income taxes.

“The City of Detroit’s executive and legislative branches never saw the bankruptcy filing, the most historic in the U.S.,” Watson continued. “Over 2.3 million citizens repealed the Emergency Manager law in 2012, but the state re-enacted basically the same law. If the executive and legislative branches had an opportunity to deliberate on the bankruptcy, there might have been a decision to litigate the swaps and recoup some of that money.”

Watson referred to the interest-rate swaps associated with the $1.5 billion Pension Obligation Certificates loan of 2005-06, but Judge Rhodes responded that Orr filed litigation which is before him now. He referred to the entire loan, which Orr filed suit against on Jan. 17, calling it “void ab initio, illegal, and unenforceable.”

Orr/Jones Day have reportedly offered to withdraw that lawsuit in exchange for a settlement with FGIC.

Jan. 31, 2005: Fitch Ratings Joe O'Keefe (at mike) with Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor's press City Council to approve disastrous $1.5 Billion POC loan. They are assisted by then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, who shortly afterwards took a high level job with one of the lenders, and (r) Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.

Jan. 31, 2005: Fitch Ratings Joe O’Keefe (at mike) with Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s press City Council to approve disastrous $1.5 Billion POC loan. They are assisted by then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, who shortly afterwards took a high level job with one of the lenders, and (r) Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.

Many object to non-disclosure of 6.75% interest rate on annuity clawbacks; Orr: “I don’t know”

Much of the testimony centered on a 6.75 percent interest rate attached to the so-called “claw-backs” from retirees’ annuity savings funds (ASF), large cuts which would last the lifetime of retirees and beyond, affecting their beneficiaries. While retirees themselves contributed the money, Orr/Jones Day contended the payments they received included interest rates that surpassed the going rates of return.

Retirees did not discover the facts about the rate until a July 17 and July 21 bankruptcy hearing after they had already voted on the plan. Retiree Stephen Wojtowicz brought it to light then. During the Oct. 15 hearing, many demanded that both the interest and the entire ASF clawbacks be eliminated from the plan.

Wanda Hill during earlier run for City Council.
Wanda Hill during earlier run for City Council.

City retiree and former City Council candidate Wanda Jan Hill calmly and professionally queried Orr himself as part of an apparently thoroughly researched presentation on that issue. She went back through the various Plans of Adjustments (there are now seven) as well as numerous other documents that failed to include any mention of the 6.75 percent interest rate.

“It was never presented or listed as part of the official record until April 10, when it was included under ‘other factors,’” she told Orr. “It was not mentioned when dealing with the ballots April 17, but you had already decided on the claw-backs. Did you know about the interest rate at that time?”

“I don’t know, I would have to look at my notes,” Orr replied. “It was not included in the disclosure statement. There was some information on the city website. I don’t know if the documents sent to the retirees were put on record with the court.”

Jones Day attorney Heather Lennox rushed to the witness stand to make up for Orr’s lack of expertise. Coughing nervously, she argued that ballots listed the actual amounts resulting from the additional interest, and that the actual percentage was in the disclosure statement, and was discussed at two informational meetings for retirees in metro Detroit.

She said she assumed pensioners understood the complicated ASF process at the time of their retirement.

“We have to stop dealing with assumptions,” Hill retorted. “For 30 years and more, people set aside spendable cash so they would be in a position to live in comfort during their retirement. It should have been plainly explained in the ‘plain language statement.’ We needed the calculation and the reason for it. The [lack of disclosure] was nothing but a ruse.”

Retirees would likely have voted against plan if ASF interest rate disclosed

Walter Knall is earlier protest against EM takeover, bankruptcy.
Walter Knall is earlier protest against EM takeover, bankruptcy.

She argued that if retirees had known about the interest rate, they may have voted against the plan.

Elaine Thayer, representing her city retiree mother as well as her “significant other,” called the lack of disclosure of the interest rate “fraud” under the legal definition of the term.

Retiree Walter Knall blasted the ASF cuts and the undisclosed interest rate.

“I have engaged in no fraud or deceit with regards to my own annuity, which I subscribed to according to pension fund standards, and therefore I am not liable [for repayment],” he testified. “The idea that me and my fellow retirees should be asked to pay back tens of thousands of dollars from our savings funds is outrageous and illegal.”

He concurred with objections including citations of state and federal laws violated, wich were filed by Law Department retirees James Karwoski and John P. Quinn. Karwoski is himself an attorney who did not testify, but said he has participated in the bankruptcy hearings by cross-examining witnesses and plans to participate in closing arguments as well. He said he felt the retirees who did testify did very well in presenting their cases.

Cecily McClellan
Cecily McClellan

Retirees McClellan and Yvonne Williams-Jones called David Kausch, chief actuary for the global firm Gabriel, Roeder and Smith (GRS) to the stand. GRS has done actuarial reports for Detroit’s retirement systems for 75 years. Earlier, it contested the Orr/Jones Day estimate that the systems are underfunded by up to $3.5 billion, based on a report by Milliman, Inc. that was never completed. They issued a statement in June criticizing the Milliman estimate, available at link below story.

Kausch testified that the General Retirement System is 70 percent funded as of June 30, 2013. In 2012, it was 77 percent funded, and in 2011, 83 percent funded. Those percentages actually exceed those of the State of Michigan and other large cities in the U.S.

Kausch said long-term solvency is based on cash contributions to the system from both employees and employer over time. The City of Detroit stopped its federally-mandated contributions to the System when it declared bankruptcy, so they are not included in the 2013 report.

Yvonne Williams Jones
Yvonne Williams Jones

It does not intend to reinstitute them until 2023 under the proposed Plan of Adjustment. It wants to replace them with a one-time “Grand Bargain” payment of $816 million that is not yet fully in place and nowhere near commensurate with what payments would have been.

Kausch said the Great Recession of 2008, caused by Wall Street itself, was responsible for losses to pension systems across the U.S. He said the retirement system is gradually recovering along with the economy.

For solvency, he said, “the city must make contributions on a continued basis.” Under the Plan of Adjustment, he said, the city has proposed adjusting interest rates down to 6.75 percent.

“That means they are assuming the system’s assets are not going to grow as fast,” Kausch said. He explained that means the city’s required contributions will increase in order to maintain required payments to retirees.

Stephen Wojtowicz, who first exposed the 6.75 percent interest rate on the ASF recoupment, pointed out that while the system lost money during the Great Recession, in other years it earned rates as high as 22 percent while paying out only the standard 7.9 percent to retirees and returning the remainder to the system as a whole.

Michael Karwoski, retiree and attorney
Michael Karwoski, retiree and attorney

Many local mainstream media reports mocked the retirees’ testimony and questioning of witnesses as unprofessional, although Attorney Karwoski said it was handled very well. In a covertly racist and insensitive comment, Christine Ferretti of the Detroit Free Press, a young white reporter, said Ms. Butler “was allowed to wear a floppy hat,” and left out the essence of her testimony that the bankruptcy is a profound racist assault on the people of the nation’s largest Black-majority city.

In contrast, Reuters reported largely on Ms. Butler’s testimony (see link below) and a local TV anchor was seeking her out for an interview during the break. However, Ms. Butler had already left.

Related stories cited above:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/01/orr-milliman-attack-on-detroit-pensions-a-very-rough-preliminary-guesstimate/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/usa-detroit-bankruptcy-idUSL2N0SA23T20141015  


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DETROIT RETIREES CALL FOR SUPPORT AS THEY TESTIFY AT BANKUPTCY HEARING WED. OCT. 14 8:30 AM

City retirees protest draconian cuts during Detroit bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013

City retirees protest draconian cuts during Detroit bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013

DAREA says they have resources to appeal trial outcome if it benefits only banks, not retirees

FGIC, party to infamous $1.5 billion COPS loan, reported ready to settle in exchange for unknown amount, city real estate

Kevyn Orr on COPS loan: “Void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable”

By Diane Bukowski

October 14, 2014

DAREA meets July 17, 2014
DAREA meets July 17, 2014

DETROIT – The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) say they and others will appeal U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes’ final ruling on the Plan of Adjustment if it continues to devastate retirees. As the case stands now, it appears likely only global banks will profit from the POA.

Major creditor and final hold-out Financial Guarantee Insurance Corporation (FGIC), which along with Syncora, Inc. insured the notorious $1.5 billion “Certificates of Participation” loan to Detroit in 2005-06, is reported to be ready to settle by Oct. 16. In exchange, they will get cash from bond issues and large chunks of revenue-producing downtown city real estate.

DAREA leader and city retiree Cecily McClellan
DAREA leader and city retiree Cecily McClellan

“We have the resources for an appeal now,” retiree Cecily McClellan told VOD.

“The Objectors to the bankruptcy are being called today to appear in court tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. The lack of notification is to prevent participation, preparation and public awareness. These are citizens without attorneys. We need your support and presence in court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Room 242 of the Federal Building, 321 W. Lafayette.”

Individual objectors, including former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, along with many DAREA members, prepared motions with witnesses and briefs at Rhodes’ command weeks ago, but were not informed exactly when the hearing would be. Rhodes said at the time that he planned to schedule it on the last day of the POA trial.

Jones Day, on behalf of the city, has already filed an omnibus response to the objectors, likely to speed Rhodes’ final decision along.

McClellan noted that drastic cuts to retirees’ pensions and annuities proposed in Detroit’s bankruptcy are now being considered in the California bankruptcy proceedings of Stockton and San Bernadino. Previously, those cities had refused to touch pensions themselves, while at the same time enacting cuts in retiree health care. CalPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System), the largest in the U.S., wielded its clout in hearings to protect pensions.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) public workers on strike in California last year.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) public workers on strike in California last year.

CalPERS also came to the aid of Detroit, filing an amicus brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to support appeals of Judge Rhodes’ bankruptcy eligibility decision by seven Detroit retiree and union entities. All seven have now indicated they will withdraw their appeals if the so-called “Grand Bargain,” $816 million to the retirement systems while the city withdraws its legally obligated payments for at least the next 10 years. Detroit’s retirement systems are worth about $6 billion.

 But Stockton bankruptcy judge Christopher Klein, taking a page from Rhodes’ eligibility decision last December, ruled Oct. 1 that California’s public employee retirement law “is simply invalid in face of the U.S. Constitution.” Terming state public pension protections nothing but contracts, as did Rhodes, he said they can be cancelled or modified under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in order to pay off bankers.

Oakland CA public workers demand "Make the banks pay"
Oakland CA public workers demand “Make the banks pay”

Klein has not actually sanctioned pension cuts yet, because the Stockton bankruptcy has not even reached the Plan of Adjustment stage, although it was filed a year before Detroit’s. Detroit is the only city that filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy under at the command of an unelected Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr.

Bloomberg News reported that Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of school teachers, police officers and other public employees, blasted Klein’s ruling. .

“We are disappointed that the judge has sided with Wall Street in a decision that has the potential of devastating citizens, employees, and making bad situations worse,” said Dave Low, the group’s chairman.

The Detroit Free Press reported today that FGIC, after months of closed-door mediation supervised by U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, is ready to reach a deal by Oct. 16, 2014.

O
Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings smirks as Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s presses disastrous $1.5 BILLION COPS loan on Detroit City Council Jan. 31, 2005. Rhodes has not yet ruled on Kevyn Orr’s lawsuit challenging this loan as “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” Photo by Diane Bukowski

“City lawyer Tom Cullen told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that the sides are close to a deal and hope to announce it in court Thursday morning,” reported Matt Helms. “Cullen said only that the deal would involve a share of bonds the city will issue to pay off creditors and ‘development aspects’ he didn’t detail.

 “People familiar with the negotiations have told the Free Press that the deal with Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. would involve cash from bonds and access to downtown real estate, including possible long-term leases of city parking garages. FGIC has a $1.1 billion claim against the city.”

Syncora, the other POC insurer, reached a similar deal with the City (i.e. Kevyn Orr-Jones day) Sept. 15. Syncora was a minor insurer compared to FGIC. Their deal involves a $44.8 million pay-out from new debt, plus control of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and the Grand Circus Park Garage, including all their revenues.

FGIC CEO Timothy Travers. FGIC itself has just emerged from a financial crisis.
FGIC CEO Timothy Travers. FGIC itself has just emerged from a financial crisis.

FGIC’s deal can be expected to be much larger.

 In January, EM Orr filed a lawsuit against the POC holders, stating the entire debt, which has skyrocketed to $2.8 billion with interest and default fees, is “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” But instead of canceling the debt in toto, Orr and Jones Day have played footsie with the creditors under the table during Rosen’s secret mediation sessions. Rhodes has never heard the lawsuit.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/15/syncora-gets-13-7-percent-44-8-m-in-detroit-bankruptcy-deal-fgic-fights/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/11/em-lawsuit-v-cops-loan-demands-1-45-billion-back-to-city-make-the-banks-pay-no-detroit-pension-or-health-care-cuts/


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RACISM, REPRESSION AND RESISTANCE DURING #FERGUSON OCTOBER

Final call logoBy Richard B. Muhammad | Last updated: Oct 14, 2014 – 9:16:06 AM 

ferguson_week_of_resistance_2014.jpg

 

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014.jpg

Protesters stand in front of police outside the Ferguson police station, Oct. 11 in Ferguson, Mo. Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October summit are protesting the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Photos: AP/Wide World photos


The passion, emerging power of Black youth fuel demands for justice

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (FinalCall.com) – A moment borne out of angry Black youth facing heavily armed police officers, snarling police dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and armored military personnel carriers in the streets continues to grow into a movement.

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Philosopher Dr. Cornel West, left, and another man are taken into custody after performing an act of civil disobedience at the Ferguson, Mo., police station Oct. 13, as hundreds continue to protest the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in August. In fact, tensions escalated last week when a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr., who authorities say shot at police before he was killed.

That moment has captured some of America’s attention and exposed the country’s oppressive policing, racial failures and national shame to the world.

“Missouri is the new Mississippi,” said Tef Poe, a young activist and hip hop artist from St. Louis.

Conditions and protests over two months in the streets of “New Mississippi” mushroomed into a weekend of civil disobedience, protests, marches rallies, prayers, hip hop performances and rebellion. The Weekend of Resistance, Oct 10-13, “#FergusonOctober,” drew young people, activists, organizers and elders from across the country.

Their presence flowed from Ferguson, Mo., a predominantly Black suburb, where Michael Brown was shot down by a White police officer in early August to St. Louis, which had a police shooting just before the gathering.

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014b.jpg

Youth protestors have taken to the streets to protest and demonstrate their anger and frustration with the shooting deaths of two young, Black men in Ferguson and St. Louis, Mo.

The Ferguson teenager’s body lay in the street for over four and a half hours and a swift, militarized police response stoked outrage and a backlash from Black youth fed up with racial profiling, humiliation, targeting and abuses by police. White officer Darren Wilson, who remains out of public view, shot the unarmed 18-year-old to death. Local police say the young man charged the officer after an encounter and struggle initiated because of jaywalking. Instead of ending up with a traffic citation, the teenager had at least six bullets pumped into his body. Witnesses screamed that the police were lying and an autopsy paid for by the family seemed to verify what witnesses said happened that Saturday afternoon. Mike Mike was shot with his hands up, said witnesses.

When social media beamed videotaped images around the country and the world—Black resistance had begun.

‘No justice, no peace; no racist police’

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014c.jpg

Protestors question why no arrest has been made of the police officers who shot Mike Brown in Ferguson and Vonderrit Myers Jr. in St. Louis.

“Black lives matter! Black lives matter!” chanted demonstrators regularly throughout a weekend that drew Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, labor, socialists, Muslim and Palestinian and other groups to St. Louis and Ferguson. The weekend was organized by the Organization for Black Struggle, a longtime activist group in St. Louis and new youth groups born out of two months of protests, arrests, pain and struggle. These groups include Hands Up United, Millennial Activists United and Lost Voices, which was composed of young people who literally slept on streets in early nightly standoffs against rubber bullets and tear gas in Ferguson, less than 15 miles from St. Louis.

While “Turn Up Don’t Turn Down, We Do This For Mike Brown!” was an initial battle cry, by Monday, Oct. 13, “Justice for Vonderrit!” was added to the cry. The 18-year-old Black male was killed by an off-duty officer in St. Louis who was moonlighting as a security officer in the city’s Shaw neighborhood. Police chief Sam Dotson told the media the youth was killed after firing a weapon at the still unnamed officer. The shooting victim’s family denies the young man was armed. All he had was a sandwich after exiting a shop in the multi-racial neighborhood when the officer aggressively approached him and friends, they said.

Protestors gathered in the Shaw neighborhood to call for justice for Vonderrit Myers, Jr., and Michael Brown, Jr. They stopped traffic and sat-in at a convenience store. Police responded in a militarized fashion to peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience, activists said.

st_louis_protest_10-21-2014.jpg

A candlelight vigil was held for Vonderrit Myers Jr. who was shot to death by a White police officer in St. Louis who was moonlighting as a private security officer. Photo: D.L. Phillips

Protestors took to streets for Moral Monday and engaged in civil disobedience outside Wal-Mart and other targets in St. Louis and massed Oct. 13 outside the Ferguson Police Dept. Dr. Cornel West, who spoke at a program the previous night and participated in a 2 a.m. sit-in at St. Louis University, was among those arrested.

“I didn’t come here to speak, I came to get arrested,” he had said at the Chaifetz Arena on the campus of St. Louis University. His word was made bond the next day as police took him away in handcuffs.

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Black youth expressed their outrage over police killings during recent weekend of resistance.

Sunday evening at the arena Dr. West was to be keynote speaker. But the interfaith program was interrupted by young people who demanded to be heard instead of simply listening while religious leaders and national figures like NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and the Rev. Jamal Bryant spoke.

The crowd chanted its agreement and young people took to the stage. On stage, Tef Poe offered his street level assessment of issues and problems.

So-called gang members like the GD’s and the Vice Lords are not on this stage, he noted. But it wasn’t the professional people or academics out on the streets protecting us, it was the brothers with tattoos and their shirts off, he declared.

We are not professional activists or organizers but we are real people dealing with real problems, he said.

“I don’t need Don Lemon to tell me what happened. I was there,” said Tef Poe, referring to the CNN newsman.

Elders were challenged to listen to, respect and support this emerging crop of fearless young leaders, who have not stopped their demands for justice.

When a White man shouted from the audience about contributions Whites had made to Blacks, the mixed race crowd started to boo. “Get your people! White folk get your people, collect him,” shouted a Black woman standing near steps inside the arena.

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Activists Tef Poe and Ashley Yates emcee national rally against police violence.

The evening ended, however, with solidarity and audience members holding hands and invited to join a protest that started at the place near where Vonderrit Myers, Jr. lived the last moments of his life. It ended on the campus of the prestigious St. Louis University, one of the city’s major educational institutions.

A midnight march for justice

“I thank everybody for coming out. My son was loved and he still is loved,” said Vonderrit Myers, Sr., in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, with his wife Syreeta by his side and surrounded by family members and a huge crowd that marched about 40 minutes to the university campus. The trek included a standoff with police armed in riot gear, holding and beating shields with batons. After some negotiations and insistence that protestors had the right to march on sidewalks and talks with legal observers, police pulled back and the group was allowed to proceed.

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Thousands came to St. Louis and Ferguson, Mo. to participate in a demonstration against police violence, racism and oppression.

“We are here to destroy systemic racism and White supremacy,” said one of the protest organizers as the crowd applauded and cheered. That isn’t anti-White, it is anti the 99 percent who exploit the masses of the people, he added.

“I refuse to have my children grow up in this world,” he said.

Hardship forging new leadership

The boldness of Black youth was on display throughout the weekend as was the political and organizational growth of young people who two months earlier were living normal lives.

Joshua Williams, 18, is one of the emerging young leaders and lives in Ferguson. According to the young activist, Michael Brown was a first cousin.

Keep in mind that Mike  Brown died for an unjustified reason, he said. “That could have been your son laying in the street,” said Joshua. “Hands up means I surrender, don’t shoot me down in the streets.”

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A. Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam speaks during major protest rally in St. Louis. Photos: Cartan X. Moseley

Calvin Green stood outside the Ferguson Police Station as hip hop music played and police lined up in riot gear. A thin yellow tape separated Mr. Green from the armed officers. He came in with a group of students from Kalamazoo, Mich., that included students from Western Michigan University and activists.

“God allowed me to be here for a reason,” he said. “God allows us to be here for a reason. In our path we are supposed to serve our people, confronting his evil,” he said.

“Our main weapon is love which is what I am showing to people in Ferguson,” Mr. Green added.

Expressions of love and support came from stages, through megaphones and through  one on one conversations and group discussions.

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Some 800 people turned out Oct. 10 for a Capital Justice Now March and Rally at the Buz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo. Rain did not deter demonstrators who want County Prosecutor Bob McCullouch to resign the case involving the death of Michael Brown. Black leaders, youth and politicians have called for a special prosecutor in the case. Photos: Cartan X. Moseley

The system tells Black children to be quiet but these are our children and they are crying out in pain, said Rev. Renita Lamkin. Instead of telling them to be quiet, we should be attending to their needs, she said.

Parents are too busy, schools punish them and police and adults want them to go away, she said. But, added the Caucasian pastor, it’s time to stand with them. “The whole damn system is no damn good,” said Rev. Lamkin, echoing a chant youth have shouted day and night.

Tory Russell of Hands Up United marveled at how far things had come in a little over 60 days. Speaking after the major Saturday rally that drew thousands to downtown St. Louis, he described himself Oct. 11 as a conscious person before Mike Brown’s death. But he and the young people are maturing in activism. They remain strong but more disciplined, more focused, and perhaps more committed.

Mr. Russell, in his twenties, is an organizer and part of a movement that has international reach. People have to go home and work, organize against police violence and injustice where they live, he said. This young movement has veteran activists talking about poverty, racism, voracious capitalism and universal rights—but it started with young people making a single declaration: “Black lives matter!”

Their work remains undone, justice has not come. There has been no indictment for the shooting of Mike Brown and the shooting of Vonderrit Myers, Jr. has been written off as justified by some.

But this movement didn’t start with approval from the police and the powerful and youth leaders say disruptions will continue. We won’t go back to business as usual, things will never be as they once were, they vow.

They have not left the streets—and there is no sign that they will.

But this movement didn’t start with approval from the police and the powerful and youth leaders say disruptions will continue. We won’t go back to business as usual, things will never be as they once were, they vow. They have not left the streets—and there is no sign that they will. They want justice.

hiphop_ferguson_protest_10-21-2014.jpg

Hip hop artists Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Jasiri X, Rebel Diaz and others joined activist Rosa Clemente, intellectual Cornel West and others for a five hour hip hop and resistance event on Oct. 12 in St. Louis. The concert was part of the Weekend of Resistance organized to bring attention to the problem of police brutality, police murder, police oppression and to support the efforts of young leaders seeking justice for Michael Brown, an unarmed Black youth shot to death by a White Ferguson, Mo. police officer in August. Photos: Cartan X. Moseley

And while youth are organizing and pursuing peaceful protest they are neither in a compliant mood nor in a mood to capitulate. Their peaceful protests are nose-to-nose with police officers and youthful rage over injustice is nearly boiling over.

They are unafraid of police and have little patience with those seen as apologists for injustices they face and the murder of their brothers and sisters. When mocked outside a Cardinals baseball game, young demonstrators chanted: “Who do you want Darren Wilson? How do you want him? Dead!”

Youth who are not necessarily part of the organizations want justice too. When police shootings have happened in St. Louis, their cry has been, “Hands Up! Shoot back!”

If justice is not done, nothing may be able to contain the explosion, and law enforcement agencies are already planning for potential riots.

“Missouri authorities are drawing up contingency plans and seeking intelligence from U.S. police departments on out-of-state agitators, fearing that fresh riots could erupt if a grand jury does not indict a white officer for killing a black teen,” Reuters reported before the Weekend of Resistance. Continue reading


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DTE EXTORTION AND INTIMIDATING TERRORIST TACTICS

Rally against DTE at its headquarters March 10, 2011. Participants also stormed inside and took over the lobby.

Rally against DTE at its headquarters March 10, 2011. Participants also stormed inside and took over the lobby.

State Senator Tupac Hunter adds hardship to poor families

Hunter also supported legislation to allow 20-year state takeover of Detroit

By Agnes Hitchcock 313-873-1513 

Sept. 29, 2014

I am personally experiencing the negative repercussion of legislation introduced by Tupac Hunter (Primary Sponsor) and other regional legislators. This legislation holds a property owner liable for utilities used by any occupants (tenants, squatters, freeloaders) when DTE loosely uses the term “utility theft.” This practice destroys lives without an explosion. Not only does it destroy lives, it also further destroys the housing stock in the city of Detroit. DTE is at the point of calling unpaid bills utility theft.

Gov. Rick Snyder(r), with State Sen. Tupac Hunter and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at left, laud the passage of 11 bills that will keep Detroit under state control for the next 20 years.
Gov. Rick Snyder(r), with State Sen. Tupac Hunter and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at left, laud the passage of 11 bills that will keep Detroit under state control for the next 20 years.

Attached is my complaint to the Michigan Public Service Commission. I further intend to forward a complaint to Attorney General for the State of Michigan, the United States Department of Justice, the ACLU and any other individual or entity I find associated with the legislation I believe it is fundamentally wrong to deny an individual a basic necessity to life: particularly to make a profit for DTE.

 DTE, Public Act 128 and Senate Bill 1310 are telling me:

Once DTE alleges Utility Theft

As a property owner I am liable for the unpaid bill USED BY ANYONE AT THE ADDRESS once DTE used the term “utility theft.”

DTE has a right to deny future service at the address for anyone.

DTE can transfer a bill to another account and threaten or carryout shut off because of an unpaid bill at a different property.

Youth participate in demo against DTE March, 2011.
Youth participate in demo against DTE March, 2011.

DTE can charge additional fees and tariffs.

 DTE can charge a property for installation of additional utility facilities (Whatever that means.)

DTE loosely defines unpaid bills as utility theft.

Further details will be provided to anyone interested. You or someone you know may be the next one impacted by this legislation. If you know of anyone else caught in this situation, please forward the information to me.

A fund raiser/awareness event is being planned for the payment of this ransom. Further details will follow.

Attached: Public Act 128/Senate Bill 1310 July 2010

Click on DTE SB 1310_001 and DTE SB 1310_0002

Prayer was offered by Tupac Hunter when this bill passed into law.

Call 'em Out strategy meeting on water shut-offs May 31, 2014.

Blackinaw strategy meeting on water shut-offs May 31, 2014. Agnes Hitchcock is at center in Call ‘em Out tshirt.

Related:
http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/01/call-em-out-goes-back-to-war-direct-action-to-stop-water-shut-offs/


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‘WARRIOR COP’ WEEKLEY WALKS AGAIN IN AIYANA JONES’ DEATH

Dominika Charles Aiyana FB

Judge, prosecution, defense conspired to protect Detroit police state

 Family left in agony, as St. Louis rises up

 COMMENTARY

By Diane Bukowski

 October 11, 2014

Warrior cops on streets of St. Louis this week.
Warrior cops on streets of St. Louis this week.

DETROIT – As “warrior cops” armed with assault weapons and tanks rode through the streets of St. Louis this week to stem protests against police killings of three young Black men, here in Detroit, a mistrial was declared Oct. 10 in the case of another “warrior cop,” Joseph Weekley, Jr., for the second time.

Weekley shot seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones to death May 16, 2010, shortly after midnight, during a military assault on a home on the city’s impoverished east side, as cameras from A&E’s “First 48” TV program rolled. Four young children, with their parents, grandmother, great-aunt, uncles and cousins, were asleep there when an incendiary grenade shattered the flat’s front window. Within seconds, Weekley stormed in and shot Aiyana through the top of her head with his MP5 submachine gun.

From that moment in occupied Detroit, the fix was in.

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“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones said after police released her several days later. They had arrested her immediately after shooting Aiyana to death. At the time, police admitted that Weekley’s story that she interfered with him, causing his gun to fire, was not supported by the evidence. (See her testimony at this trial, above.)

“I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth,” Ms. Jones, the mother of eight children, said. “I had never seen anything like that before: my beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”

Joseph Weekley shown as star on A&E's Detroit SWAT website.
Joseph Weekley shown as star on A&E’s Detroit SWAT website.

She spoke at a press conference held by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger May 19, 2010, after this reporter questioned her to counter the first question asked by a mainstream reporter, “Didn’t Charles give Chauncey the gun?” in the killing of JeRean Blake, 17, on May 14, 2010.

 Shocked, Fieger asked, “What has that go to do with it?”

Aiyana’s father Charles Jones was not charged in the Blake case until 17 months later. An inside source has said that a Michigan State Trooper investigation of Aiyana’s death was primarily aimed at setting her father up to justify the invasion of her home. The source said shell casings found in the backyard, produced as evidence in the trial of weaponry in the home, were dug up and looked as though they had been there for years. No weapons or ammunition were found during the raid. The only person named in a warrant for the raid was Chauncey Owens, who lived in the upper flat with Aiyana’s aunt.

From that point on, most of the mainstream media has acted as virtual press spokespersons for the Detroit Police Department, taking advantage of deliberate police leaks. In recent months after the Jones-Owens’ convictions, many reported that police had a warrant for Jones before the raid, an utter falsehood never testified to in any trial. They have also repeatedly reported that Owens was “hiding” in the upper flat, when in fact that was where he had lived for a lengthy time.

Warren Evans in trailer for A&E series "The Chief." He was fired shortly after his plans for this series became known.
Warren Evans in trailer for A&E series “The Chief.” He was fired shortly after his plans for this series became known. He is now running for Wayne County Executive.

Then Detroit police chief Warren Evans sanctioned the embedding of “The First 48” crew with raid teams and authorized “no-knock” raids without first asking the person sought to step outside, which Owens did on his own the night of April 16.

Police reported in Weekley’s first trial that they had surveilled the home all day before the raid, and saw Owens emerge several times. Despite their denials, four minutes (the time it took VOD to walk the distance reported at the trial) was clearly long enough for them to speed around the corner and arrest him without incident.

They also took take daytime photos of numerous brightly-colored children’s toys in the two-family flat’s front yard, shown in evidence at both trials. Nearly every “Special Response Team” member questioned during Weekley’s trial denied seeing the toys, a virtual impossibility. They are even partially seen in the A&E video of the raid. Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, held outside while the “warrior cops” invaded the home, testified that he repeatedly cried out, “there’s children in the home.”

This photo was taken hours after Weekley shot Aiyana to death, by VOD. Toys seen here are the same toys portrayed on slides during Weekley's trials.

This photo was taken hours after Weekley shot Aiyana to death, by VOD. Toys seen here are the same toys portrayed on slides during Weekley’s trials.

Weekley’s testimony that Mertilla Jones grabbed his gun, contradicted by forensic and eyewitness testimony, as well as the testimony of officers who said they saw no toys, should constitute perjury.

Team leader Sgt. Tim Dollinger said they would have carried out the raid regardless but might not have used the stun grenade if children under “18 months” were in the home, towards the end of the prosecution’s case, an utterly arbitrary selection of age.  In addition to Aiyana, her three baby brothers were also in the home, including Dominika and Charles Jones’ two-month-old newborn baby. In Georgia this year, a 19-month old baby was severely burned when a stun grenade landed in his crib.

Aiyana and one of her three little brothers, all present in the home when she was killed, celebrate Christmas during happier days.
Aiyana and one of her three little brothers, all present in the home when she was killed, celebrate Christmas during happier days. FAMILY PHOTO

Aiyana’s family and supporters had called for the entire police command involved in the raid, from Evans on down, to be indicted for Aiyana’s murder, but a Wayne County Grand Jury, composed of Chief Criminal Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, a member of the ultraconservative Federalist Society, only authorized “involuntary manslaughter” and “reckless use of a fiream resulting in death charges.”

 

Weekley was released on personal bond and has been free since, while Jones and Owens were remanded without bond, and have not seen the light of day for years.

After Owens was brought to trial and accepted a plea bargain for second degree murder, the media reported for months afterwards that he named Charles Jones as the gun provider in the Blake case. This reporter combed through his court file for hours. It said only that Owens pled guilty on condition that he “tell the truth.”

Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones' attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.
Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.

In police videotapes of Owens’ interrogation after the raid, shown during the Owens-Jones trial in April of this year, Owens only confessed to the killing after police allowed him to talk to his fiancée, who told him, “’Yana’s dead.” Owens repeatedly insisted that Jones did NOT give him the gun, naming another man.

 In April, 2014, two separate juries found Owens guilty of first-degree murder despite lingering questions about the involvement of his brother Sh’rron Hurt. The second found Jones guilty of second-degree murder for “aiding and abetting,” although they exonerated him of the gun charges which were the only reason for his murder charges.

Owens was sentenced to life without parole. Jones, who had crawled through his daughter’s blood and brains on police orders the night of her killing, was sentenced to 40-60 years plus 10-20 years for perjury. He tried to put a brave face on at his sentencing, but broke down in tears, overwhelmed by grief for his daughter and his separation from his family, including six sons.

Both sentences are on appeal.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with Asst. Pros. Robert Moran at her left, testifying at state legislative hearing.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with Asst. Pros. Robert Moran at her left, testifying at state legislative hearing.

Mostly appallingly, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy allowed Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran to try both Aiyana’s father Charles and Chauncey Owens, while at the same time pursuing the case against Weekley.

Moran’s demeanor during Weekley’s trials was not protective of Aiyana’s relatives, for whom he should have been advocating. He never once jumped up to object to defense attorney Steve Fishman’s continued characterization of Mertilla Jones’ emotional, weeping testimony as a “diatribe,” and his continual demeaning of Ms. Jones on the witness stand, during the second trial.

Fishman repeatedly mocked her statement that “the police came to kill,” that Weekley put his gun to Aiyana’s head. None of the rest of the media aside from VOD reported Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt’s testimony that a contact gunshot wound to the head would NOT cause stippling, a condition Fishman cited as evidence that there was no close-range firing.

Fishman continually testified FOR Weekley, who never took the stand in his second trial, that Mertilla Jones had tried to grab his gun. Forensics experts testified neither the DNA nor the fingerprints of Ms. Jones were found on the gun, which was falsely reported at first by George Hunter of the Detroit News, who also called Ms. Jones testimony a “diatribe.”

SRT police officer Shawn Stallard said he saw no struggle with Weekley.
SRT police officer Shawn Stallard said he saw no struggle with Weekley.

His statements were discounted by the second officer on the scene, Shawn Stallard, who testified he never saw any struggle between Jones and Weekley, and by Sgt. John Robert Collins, who described Weekley’s frantic behavior after the shooting, coming up to him and grabbing and shaking HIS gun, after which Collins told him, “Just tell the truth.”

 Moran never objected to Fishman’s irrelevant statements about Ms. Jones’ sons being in prison. During the first trial, he objected to the use of Facebook photos, taken at unknown times and places by unknown individuals, allegedly showing male family members with guns, but not in the presence of the jury, who freely saw and handled the bogus evidence.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s stance in both of Weekley’s trials has clearly been biased toward him. She instituted a thorough screening of the jury venire of hundreds, having them fill out questionnaires asking whether they would be influenced by events in Ferguson, MO or by books and articles such as “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” on the militarization of the police. Only those who were not tossed out based on their questionnaires were verbally examined in court.

She also demeaned Mertilla Jones, calling her testimony “acting out.”

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.

Astounding even mainstream media, Hathaway granted a “directed verdict” dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Weekley, leaving the jury to ponder only the high misdeameanor of “reckless use of a firearm resulting in death.” The prosecution’s appeal of that verdict was denied by an appeals court headed by Judge Michael Talbot, known for his racist treatment of those who come before him.

In 1986, as a Detroit Recorders’ Court Judge, he caused gasps when he sentenced Damion Todd, 17, to mandatory life in prison without parole at hard labor and in solitary confinement, for murder, a sentence that does not even exist in Michigan jurisprudence. He added another term of 100 to 200 years for assault with intent to commit murder. He likewise has ruled that the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing juvenile life without parole is not retroactive, a ruling being appealed by a consortium of attorneys on behalf of Michigan’s juvenile lifers.

He was on the appeals panel that summarily overturned Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt’s ruling barring “jail-house snitch” Jay Schlenkerman from testifying against Charles Jones, the father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman testified against Aiyana's dad. He is shown here in his current MDOC residence.
Jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman testified against Aiyana’s dad. He is shown here in his current MDOC residence.

Months ago, VOD was contacted by an inside source with friends in the Prosecutor’s office who foretold the dismissal of the manslaughter charge, and that Weekley would walk with no jail time. He said many were upset about Moran’s handling of the case, which was confirmed later by Moran’s statement to family members that many in the office were no longer speaking to him.

Where does the blame lie in this debacle? Clearly, the police state and prison nation that this country has become, the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney conspired to get Weekley off. Prosecutor Kym Worthy conspired to blame Charles Jones for the death of his daughter.

But what has happened to the people of Detroit?

Many conducted an angry candlelight vigil outside Aiyana’s home after her death.

But then media personalities like the late Angelo Henderson and Mildred Gaddis of 1200 AM began muddying the waters, using repeated interviews with Lyvonne Cargill, the mother of JeRean Blake, to criminalize the entire Jones family. Despite Henderson’s pro-police stance, including his daily reporting of crimes among poor people while ignoring the crime of the rich, he was hailed by many prominent Detroiters as a hero at his funeral.

Youth protest St. Louis police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.
Youth protest St. Louis police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.

In the wake of their commentary, and other biased mainstream media reporting, the people of Detroit went to sleep, unlike the people of St. Louis and Ferguson, MO, in particular the youth, who have risen up after the virtual executions of three young Black men by white police officers there.

Meanwhile, during our sleep, not only Aiyana Jones’ life, but the entire City of Detroit, including our Water Department and Belle Isle, has been stolen from under our feet with virtually no effective resistance or outcry. “Warrior cops” and the police state are meant to suppress any resistance to the blatant robbery of everything owned by Black and poor people in the U.S., beginning first with the largest Black-majority city in the country, Detroit.

WHEN WILL DETROIT RISE UP?

Related articles on this trial (put “Aiyana” in VOD search engine to review dozens of stories published since the day Aiyana was killed; VOD has covered virtually every trial and hearing in this case.)

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/06/appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-killer-cop-charge-in-aiyana-jones-case-despite-wilful-disregard-of-ordinary-care/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/05/national-outrage-over-possible-dismissal-of-charge-vs-detroit-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

BELOW: A&E VIDEO OF POLICE RAID MAY 16, 2010; SECOND VIDEO TAKEN BY POLICE HAS NEVER BEEN SHOWN TO ANY JURY


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