DETROIT RETIREES DEMAND CITY COUNCIL OPPOSE EM LAW, DPS RE-STRUCTURING; SUPPORT REBUILDING FLINT

DAREA members settle in to confront Detroit City Council March 22, 2016.

DAREA members settle in to confront Detroit City Council March 22, 2016.

DAREA members present position paper to City Council during Committee of the Whole

DAREA has appealed bankruptcy to the Sixth Circuit Court

Civil rights lawsuit vs. PA 436 appealed to Sixth Circuit Court

CONNECT THE DOTS: CRIMES COMMITTED THROUGH THE EMERGENCY MANAGER LAWS 

DAREA (Detroit Active and Retired Employee Association) Statement to Detroit City Council

March 22, 2016

Detroit City Council members hear DAREA demands.

Detroit City Council members hear DAREA demands at Committee of the Whole March 22, 2016.

The crimes that have been committed against Flint’s residents were made possible by the right wing Republican Legislature and Governor Snyder through Public Act 436 of 2012, the Emergency Management Law that replaced PA 4 voted down 37 days earlier by Michigan voters. This is the same act used to take Detroit into bankruptcy and steal the City of Detroit retirees and active employee’s pensions, health insurance, cost of living and annuity savings fund, without any representation by Detroit’s democratically elected officials.

This same act enables Governor Snyder through his emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to privatize Detroit’s Water Department, Public Lighting, Health Department, Human Services, Planning and Development, Workforce Development and most other departments.

DAREA Pres. William Davis begins presentation to City Council; dozens of members took turns reading it to the end.

DAREA Pres. William Davis, a DWSD retiree, begins presentation to City Council; dozens of members took turns reading it to the end.

The City of Detroit has been privatized under PA 436! City government has been contracted out to private entities and/or authorities. The City of Detroit’s civil service system and unions have been diminished and/or destroyed under PA 436.  Employees live under the constant threat of dismissal for no reason other than policies imposed by, first the State’s Consent Agreement of 2012, and later Emergency Manager directives and orders.

Democracy has not been restored and current elected officials are carrying out the bankruptcy plan of adjustment and executive orders of the EM and a Financial Review Committee appointed or approved by the governor that will continue to provide oversight for the next ten years. The current mayor continues to follow the plan imposed by the Emergency Manager, which allows him to issue no bid contracts, hire his own people and eliminate city employees. Job descriptions are being rewritten with the sole purpose of disqualifying current employees.   Fair labor practices are not being practiced in the City of Detroit.

Slavemaster Snyder attacks Michigan's majority-Black, poor cities through EM law.

Slavemaster Snyder attacks Michigan’s majority-Black, poor cities, school districts through EM law.

Under Governor Snyder’s reign, emergency managers have been imposed on Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Saginaw, Highland Park, Flint, Detroit and Detroit Public School System.

What do these cities and school system have in common? They are all former manufacturing cities and a system that were abandoned by the industries.  These industries created the middle class, which sustained the municipalities and institutions.  The state government also abandoned these cities and school districts long before the financial crisis was exacerbated by the state.

The State of Michigan government refused to pay revenue sharing to its cities which is one major factor contributing to revenue shortfalls. Over $732 million dollars in revenue sharing funds were cut from Detroit since 2003.  One major responsibility of State government is to ensure that municipalities are financially solvent, not to cause financial insolvency.

DAREA members line up to speak during Council public comment session March 22, 2016.

DAREA members line up to speak during Council public comment session March 22, 2016.

All of the cities and school systems placed under PA 436 Emergency Management Act are majority African-American and a large percentage of the residents live below the poverty line.

Flint Water Crisis

Flint’s water was allegedly switched from Detroit to the Flint river to save about $5 million by a state appointed emergency manager. This switch will now cost the city of Flint, State of Michigan and the Federal Government several hundred million dollars to repair.  The state was slow to accept responsibility, and declare a state of emergency to get needed assistance.  Even today state legislators are still debating what to pay for the infrastructure repairs.  Lives have been changed and many damaged forever; people have died.  This is one of the worst crimes that a government can commit against its unsuspecting citizens.

The entire population of Flint was poisoned by lead in the water, killed by Legionnaire's Disease, under Gov. Snyder and EM Darnell Earley.

The entire population of Flint was poisoned by lead in the water, killed by Legionnaire’s Disease, under Gov. Snyder and EM Darnell Earley.

The poisoning of Flint water is the worst crime committed against Michigan residents under PA436; let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse. Flint’s water crisis was committed by Governor Snyder against the people of Michigan under the authority of PA 436 EM dictator law. However, it is not the only crime that has been committed against Michigan residents under PA 436 Emergency Management Law and it won’t be the last if this law is not legislatively eliminated.

If we fail to connect the dots, the crimes committed through the use of PA 436 EM Law, Governor Snyder, the State of Michigan and its officials will not truly be held accountable. This law was imposed on selective de-industrialized cities with high concentrations of African Americans and workers who primarily vote democratic.  The intent of PA 436 was to transfer all wealth from the working class through privatization of public assets, union busting, and gentrification of urban areas.  Government officials and local control is eliminated through PA 436 and a state appointed Emergency Manager has total control over all finances and decisions made for the cities or school districts.

Detroit Public School System (DPS)

DAREA’s Yvonne Jones speaks to City Council.

From 1999 to present, the State of Michigan has controlled DPS with the exception of three years. DPS went from almost a $100 million surplus in fiscal year 1999-2000, to a $763.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2013-2014 fiscal year. Student enrollment in 1999 was 173,848; today it is approximately 47,800.

Emergency Managers have not made anything better at Detroit Public Schools.  Under Emergency Management most neighborhood public schools have closed, enrollment is at all-time low, classroom sizes are at all-time high, and physical conditions of the schools are in disrepair, putting children’s lives at risk.

On the other hand, under Emergency Management, administration salaries have sky rocketed, no bid contracts have flourished, unions are being busted, certified teachers laid off and non-certified non-union teachers have been hired.

Charter schools are replacing Detroit’s Public Schools and are allowed to hire non-certified teachers from Teach for America.  In Detroit under PA 436, the EM created an alternative district, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) for allegedly under achieving public schools. The facts show under this alternative district the neediest students have received a substandard education. The EAA has only served to increase the DPS deficit.  The EAA has proven to be an abysmal failure and further produced lower achievement scores for its students.

Parents, students and supporters rally in front of Detroit Public School HQ in protest of closing Oakman Elementary/Orthopedic School in Detroit — which serves disabled students. Photo: James Fassinger, STILLSCENES

Parents, students and supporters rally in front of DPS HQ to protest closing Oakman Elementary/Orthopedic School in Detroit — which served disabled students. Oakman was closed anyway, one of 210 DPS schools closed under state emergency managers. Photo: James Fassinger, STILLSCENES

Steven Rhodes was the federal judge who presided over the Detroit bankruptcy, ruling that Emergency Managers are allowed to take the same action as elected officials, which included taking a city into bankruptcy. He also ruled that pensions could be diminished and impaired, which is in conflict with the State constitution and the language in PA 436 related to protecting pensions.  Former Judge Rhodes has now been appointed the Emergency Manager of DPS.  His appointment, if not a conflict of interest, is morally and ethically corrupt.  We must connect the dots.

Detroit’s Bankruptcy

Detroit was taken into bankruptcy by Emergency Manager, Kevin Orr / Gov. Snyder with deception and misinformation:

DAREA Walter Knall takes his turn at CC podium March 22, 2016.

DAREA’s Walter Knall takes his turn at CC podium March 22, 2016.

The level of Detroit’s debt was first alleged to be $4.5 Billion, the amount of debt continued to increase until it reached the figure of $18 Billion. The actual debt reduction for Detroit was approximately $7 billion at the bankruptcy confirmation, of which $ 3.85 Billion came from retirees and active employee’s health insurance, another $1.7 Billion came from retiree’s pension checks and employee wage reductions, cost of living allowances were eliminated for general fund retirees, and to add insult to injury the General Fund retirees and employee’s annuity funds were looted by another 15.5%, between the years of 2004-2013.

A total of $5.5 billion, or 78% of the total bankruptcy relief was on the backs of retirees and employees.  However, the Banks and lending institutions were given something in exchange for the small amount of debt that was reduced from them.  They were given river front property, revenue for 30 years from the tunnel to Windsor Ontario, parking lots and other city owned properties.

Detroit retirees and their supporters protest outside bankruptcy hearing April 1, 2014. Dozens of such protests were held.

Detroit retirees and their supporters protest outside bankruptcy hearing April 1, 2014. Dozens of such protests were held.

Retirees and employees got nothing and live with the threat that if the city can’t pay its debt they can come back on the retirees and employees for a greater reduction. The level of funding of the general fund retirement system was never proven. During the three years that the City was under the Consent Agreement and Emergency Management, no payments were made to the General Retirement Fund however, the Funds never went below a 70% funding level.  This level of funding is higher than the State of Michigan, Wayne County and many public service pension funds.

During the Mayor’s State of the City Address, he stated that the Emergency Manager underestimated the city’s pension obligation by over $450 million. This mayor was consulted prior to selection of and throughout the appointment of the EM Kevyn Orr. The ink is barely dry on the bankruptcy plan of adjustment and underfunding of pension obligations is being discussed. Remember the “grand bargain” does not hold the city responsible for pension shortfalls and pension obligations are not due until 2024. The mayor felt it necessary to address possible future underfunding of the pension fund with no proof, suggesting to the listeners that legacy cost will continue to be Detroit’s’ problem.

DAREA members pack CC audience March 22, 2016.

DAREA members, in distinctive “Hands off my pension!” T-shirts, pack CC audience March 22, 2016.

Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) believes crimes were committed against retirees, active workers and Detroit ‘s citizens in general.

DAREA believes the bankruptcy was orchestrated by Governor Snyder using disaster capitalism and implemented by the Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr to eliminate health care for retirees and workers, to privatize the city of Detroit’s assets and services and to transfer the remainder of Detroit’s wealth.

Did Detroit have financial problems? Yes, like many deindustrialized cities in the rust belt. Possible solutions offered by unions and local officials were rejected by the state.

Was it necessary to bankrupt Detroit to solve its financial problems? No, it was not necessary!

EM protesters demand return of Detroitrevenue sharing March 14, 2013 outside state building in Detroit

EM protesters demand return of state revenue sharing March 14, 2013 outside state building in Detroit

Does the Plan of Adjustment address the leading causes for falling revenue (cash flow) in Detroit? Which are:

  1. Falling State Revenue sharing, not addressed.
  2. Falling property taxes (foreclosure crisis), not addressed
  3. Increasing legacy cost, addressed.
  4. Of the three leading causes of Detroit’s falling revenue only one was addressed in the Plan of Adjustment, retirees’ cost. Legacy cost was blamed for the majority of Detroit’s debt.

Were Wall Street’s COPS and illegal SWAPS and City financing of bonds to unnecessarily refinance of DWSD debt held accountable for Detroit’s cash flow crisis?

Were predatory lending and the mortgage financial crisis held accountable? Were the banks made to pay?

DAREA members participate in tax foreclosure protest outside Register of Deeds office.

DAREA members participate in tax foreclosure protest outside Register of Deeds office.

Under a Blight Task force that only addresses demolition, no plans are being made to help Detroiters keep or regain houses lost during the mortgage crisis; the majority of federal hardest hit funds are being used for demolition and not to help people stay in their homes.

No solutions to address houses being incorrectly assessed causing thousands of people to lose homes to tax foreclosures causing more loss revenue to the city.

Massive water shut offs enforced to increase revenue to the City on citizens who do not have it to pay. No real affordable plan made available to keep people in their homes.

On March 22, 2016 we are calling for a full investigation of Detroit’s bankruptcy and Public Act 436. We demand that State of Michigan legislators and Governor Snyder be fully investigated for their actions against citizens of Michigan, for imposing Public Act 436 on the people after a very similar Act (PA4) had been recently voted down in a state wide election. 

We demand that the State of Michigan beheld liable for Detroit’s financial problems due to its refusal to pay revenue sharing.

DAREA member brings rousing close to presentation. City Council meetings are seen on TV across Detroit, making them a perfect forum to reach out to the people.

DAREA member brings rousing close to presentation. City Council meetings are seen on TV across Detroit, making them a perfect forum to reach out to the people.

The State of Michigan’s constitution didn’t matter, nor did our no votes. More than 50% of retirees and active employees in Class 11 did not vote. Many believed that if they voted for this illegal action that they were legitimatizing the recommended cuts and would give up their legal rights to sue and for due process under the law.

DAREA believes that PA 436 is the anti-democratic dictator law that has taken away the rights of the aforementioned cities and school districts, is the common denominator used to take Detroit into bankruptcy, take over and privatize school districts, and is responsible for the lead poisoning of many of the residents of Flint, Michigan. All of these acts are crimes to the detriment of the citizens affected.

DAREA is requesting that this Detroit City Council pass a resolution in opposition to the continued imposition of PA 436, through the Executive Orders and directives left by the emergency manager, oppose mayoral control of DPS, restore the elected board, and support actions to resolve the Flint water crisis that include repairing the system and providing safe water to every home.

In memoriam: DAREA corresponding secretary Belinda Myers Florence, who battled to the end.

In memoriam: DAREA corresponding secretary Belinda Myers Florence, who battled to the end.

All of these actions were state-initiated through PA 436, which ignores the “State Constitution Article on Home Rule,” for the municipalities affected by a far reaching Republican Legislature, in some cases with local compliance and support.

DAREA demands that our pensions be restored. The State of Michigan Constitution Article IX Section 24 guarantees that public service pensions cannot be diminished or impaired.  Because of PA 436 and the imposition of the Emergency Manager Detroit was taken into bankruptcy and democracy eliminated.

Some of the dozens of DAREA members who presented position statement on EM law and its dire consequences to City Council March 22, 2016.

Some of the dozens of DAREA members who presented position statement on EM law and its dire consequences to City Council March 22, 2016.

DAREA PRESS CONFERENCE FEATURED BELINDA MYERS-FLORENCE:

DAREA has continued its court battle to overturn the entire Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy, appealing to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Dec. 28, 2015 and following up with a reply brief Feb. 12, 2016. Latest action has been that City of Detroit attorney filed notice of dates of unavailability for oral argument on March 8, 2016. DAREA has vowed to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be. Read 6th Circuit Court briefs at

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DAREA-Sixth-Circuit-Appeal-brief-12-28-2015.pdf

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/DAREA-APPELLANTs-REPLY-BRIEF.compressed.pdf

CONTACT DAREA: DETROIT ACTIVE AND RETIRED EMPLOYEE ASSOCIATION (DAREA)

P.O. Box 3724 Highland Park, MI 48203 

313-649-7018

Detroit2700plus@gmail.com Dareafights.blogspot.com

DAREA MEETS THE FIRST WEDNESDAY OF EVERY MONTH AT 5:30 PM at St. Matthews and St. Joseph Church at Woodward and Holbrook, and the THIRD MONDAY OF EVERY MONTH at Nandi’s Knowledge Café, 12511 Woodward, Highland Park.

DAREA: We fight because we’re right!

Civil Rights Attorneys Challenge Michigan Law That Led to Poisoning of Flint Water

May Day protest against Detroit takeover May 1, 2014.

May Day protest against Detroit takeover May 1, 2014.

March 14, 2016, Flint, MI Civil rights attorneys from the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, National Lawyers Guild, Sanders Law Firm, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed an appeal in Phillips v. Snyder, a 2013 federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s controversial emergency manager law, Public Act 436.

The appeal urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to reinstate claims that the law discriminates on the basis of income and race, deprives thousands of Michigan citizens of their fundamental right to vote, freedom of speech and association, and the Voting Rights Act.

See full brief at http://sugarlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Sixth-Circuit-Brief.pdf.

Flint kids join protest against poisoning of their city's water.

Flint kids join protest against poisoning of their city’s water.

The law allows the state to replace locally-elected mayors, city and town councils, and school boards in so-called “financially-distressed” municipalities and school districts with unelected emergency managers. Emergency managers in the city of Flint were directly responsible for switching the source of the city’s water supply to the contaminated Flint River, poisoning the city’s population.

Emergency mangers have been imposed almost exclusively upon low-income communities of color throughout the state. Fifty percent of Michigan’s Black residents have been placed under emergency manager rule, compared to only two percent of the state’s white population.

“To see the danger of Michigan’s emergency manager law, we need only to look at the tragedy in Flint, where unelected emergency managers unaccountable to the city’s residents made decisions that have caused grave harm to the lives and health of thousands of people, most of them low income people of color and many of them children,” said attorney Herb Sanders, a member of the Plaintiffs’ legal team.  

Attorney Herb Sanders

Public Act 436 shifts all legislative and executive power from locally-elected officials to state- appointed emergency managers. The case argues that the law violates federal constitutional rights to due process of law and discriminates on the basis of income by depriving residents of financially-struggling cities and towns throughout Michigan of the right to vote to elect the officials that govern them.

In addition, the lawsuit claims that the law has been applied in a racially-discriminatory manner that overwhelmingly targets majority-Black communities for emergency manager rule and thus violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA).

A lower court allowed the Equal Protection racial discrimination claim to proceed, but dismissed the due process, income discrimination, freedom of speech, Voting Rights Act and republican form of government claims, ruling that the Constitution does not recognize a fundamental right to vote and that the VRA only protects the right to cast a ballot. 

CCR attorney Darius Charney

CCR attorney Darius Charney

“This case aims to vindicate one of, if not the most fundamental rights afforded to citizens of this country: the right to elect those who represent us in government,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Darius Charney. “What good is the right to cast a ballot if those you elect are powerless to govern? Emergency manager laws have effectively canceled democracy for low-income and Black people in Michigan.” 

Michigan’s previous emergency manager law enacted in 2011, was repealed in a statewide voter referendum in 2012. One month later, the Michigan legislature enacted the new emergency manager law challenged today.  

Michigan’s law is unprecedented, the first such measure enacted anywhere in the United States that shifts all legislative and executive power from elected officials to appointed officials. Phillips follows an earlier case, Brown v. Snyder, that challenged Michigan’s previous emergency manager law. That case was rendered moot when the law was repealed.  

Protest during Detroit bankruptcy hearings.

Protest during Detroit bankruptcy hearings.

“Michigan’s emergency manager law is profoundly undemocratic and discriminatory. The ongoing crisis in Flint and in Detroit’s school system show the perils that this form of nontransparent and unaccountable governance invites,” said John Philo, Executive and Legal Director of the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice. “We are confident that the Court of Appeals will find in our favor and if the legislature is unwilling to repeal the law, that it will be struck down by the courts.”

The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, the National Lawyers Guild/Michigan-Detroit Chapter, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), along with several Michigan civil rights lawyers filed both cases.

 The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice

 National Lawyers Guild

 The ACLU

 The Center for Constitutional Rights


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THOUSANDS OF BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS WALK OUT

Boston Public School students who walked out March 7 gathered on the Boston Commons.

Boston Public School students who walked out March 7 gathered on the Boston Commons.

Liberation logo

By Nino

Mar 09, 2016

http://www.liberationnews.org/thousands-boston-public-school-students-walk/

(VOD article on the pending complete dismantling of the Detroit Public Schools will be out shortly. This article is published here as an example of what can be done in Detroit.)

O'Bryant student  Sarai Ortegon shouts out as she sits on the shoulders of Woyekson Lorves (both cq) .  Students from Boston schools protest proposed budget cuts by staging a walkout and marching on the State House on Monday, March 7, 2016. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

O’Bryant student Sarai Ortegon shouts out as she sits on the shoulders of Woyekson Lorves. Students from Boston schools protested proposed budget cuts by staging a walkout and marching on the State House on Monday, March 7, 2016. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

BOSTON–On March 7,  thousands of Boston Public School students made history when they autonomously self-organized a “walkout” rally on Boston Commons and at the Massachusetts State House in protest against millions of dollars being cut to Boston Public Schools while General Electric receives corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks.

Over the past three years, the budget has been cut by $140 million. Boston students passed out a flier in preparation for the protest stating why the budget cuts to their schools matter, saying:

“The education you are going to be provided with would be an education which would make it difficult, and maybe even impossible, to get into the college of your dreams. Plus, BPS runs on test scores, your intelligence is based on these tests too. You won’t be able to learn at full capacity if you don’t have the classes you need. If students are engaged in school, there would be less cracks for our youth to even look towards violence. We have lost too many young lives already.”

Police lined up on Washington St at Downtown Crossing. Monday,March 7, 2016. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

Police lined up on Washington St at Downtown Crossing. Monday,March 7, 2016. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

The #BPS walkouts rallied at Boston Common where students gave electrifying speeches and chants of “Student Power” and “Save BPS.” The students came out and showed their unity as well as the diversity that is Boston Public Schools. Afterwards, the students rallied at the Massachusetts State house despite intimidation from Boston school officials, bureaucrats and police. The Boston police reportedly arrested one student towards the end of the protest.

As former Black Panther Huey P. Newton once said, “The revolution is always in the hands of the young, the young always inherit the revolution.” What the Boston Public School students demonstrated by displaying their militancy, consciousness, organization and unity is essential to any progressive and revolutionary movement. Budget cuts to the public school system are a symptom of a larger problem—capitalist-imperialism. As public schools and the public sector in general are de-unionized, privatized and penetrated by corporate “free market” deregulation, all the ills of a white-supremacist capitalist system become more egregious.

Unequal and segregated

Forty-two percent of children in areas of Boston live under the poverty level.

Forty-two percent of children in areas of Boston live under the poverty level.

According to the Brookings Institute, Boston ranks #1 in America for income inequality. In addition, it ranks seventh out of the top ten most segregated cities in the nation. Boston Public schools are facing further re-segregation amidst deep budget cuts, which disproportionately affect students of color and poor working-class students in general. As the capitalist-imperialist system continues to decay and decline, forcing breakneck privatization of public goods, draconian austerity measures, and the expansion of the police state, the youth are rising to seize the time by mobilizing and beginning to organize in opposition.

It was clear that the students were aware of the severity of the budget cuts and the connections with charter schools and the corporate welfare for General Electric. Many donned stickers that read, “Cranes in the skies, cuts in our schools,” “Keep the cap” (referring to the cap on the expansion of charter schools), and “Millions for GE, budget cuts for our schools.” The budget cuts would severely affect students with special needs and disabilities and those seeking to engage in extracurricular activities.

Charter schools siphoning funds

BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang favors charter schools.

BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang favors charter schools.

One cause of the $18.6 million budget deficit is the failure to fully reimburse Boston Public Schools for the funds that charter schools are siphoning from the state budget. The state of Massachusetts is supposed to reimburse BPS for the charter school costs, but it hasn’t even covered half the expenses in the last school year. Superintendent of BPS Tommy Chang, who made his career in Los Angeles as a proponent of neoliberal measures and charterizating public schools, recently proposed cuts of $20 million from the central office budget and $10 million to $12 million from the per-student funding formula that affects budgets of individual schools—this in an effort to close a shortfall of up to $50 million. Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker were unavailable for comment as they were at a “Forbes Under 30” event at Faneuil Hall, where some students marched only to find that they were no longer on the scene.

Although the capitalist system is inherently unstable and the #BPSbudgetcuts are reflective of this, we can count on the radical energy and rising consciousness of the younger generations to combat this system. Students spoke later in the day at the English High School about linking the budget cuts to white supremacy, mass incarceration and gentrification. These are all phenomena of the latest stage of capitalism trying to squeeze as much as it can from the working class, primarily people of color.

Thousands have protested in Ireland around many issues, including water charges.

Thousands have protested in Ireland around many issues, including water charges.

The school committee has a March 23 deadline to vote on the budget cuts. Even if it votes them down, the struggle will need to continue as that is not a guarantee that the $140 million lost over the past three years will be restored, that Boston Public Schools will be fully funded, or that the neoliberal austerity measures will stop. As many students chanted “They say cut back, we say fight back!” and “I believe that we will win,” they shone a ray of light for the struggle forward. If students, parents, teachers, the teachers union and other allies of the working class and poor can unite and organize autonomously as the students did, that collective power can become an unstoppable force for saving BPS and putting the brakes on privatization.

To understand the extent of the budget cuts, look at this list compiled by the Boston Latin School parents in collaboration with the Citywide Parent Council Budget Subcommittee. (see list at Why the BPS walkout.) 


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EXPUNGEMENTS, PARDONS AND JOBS FOR EX-OFFENDERS, SAT. MARCH 19 9 AM TO 4 PM DOWNTOWN DETROIT

Job fair ex offenders


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WHY WAS FLINT’S WATER POISONED? JAIL SNYDER AND CORPORATE CRONIES!

FlintPB

 


Related stories from VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/15/bi-partisan-deal-led-to-flint-water-poisoning-for-profit-the-karegnondi-water-authority-kwa/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/10/16/flint-water-and-the-no-blame-game-true-files-fed-complaint-re-disparate-impact/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/10/13/will-regional-takeover-of-detroit-water-make-residents-of-6-counties-drink-flint-water/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/12/21/rachel-maddow-slams-gov-rick-snyder-for-poisoning-flints-water-emergency-manager-act/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/20/boycott-michigan-jail-snyder-cronies-for-flint-lead-poisoning-domestic-terrorism-racism/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/11/08/layoffs-flood-detroit-water-dept-risk-public-health-rising-debt-higher-rates-more-shut-offs/

CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST IN FLINT

Libyan child carries jug of water after the U.S. and NATO bombed his country back to the stone age, in the process destroying its world-class water infrastructure. These actions were carried out by U.S. Pres. Barack Obama with Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

LIBYAN CHILD CARRIES JUG OF WATER AFTER THE U.S. AND NATO BOMBED HIS COUNTRY BACK TO THE STONE AGE, IN THE PROCESS DESTROYING ITS WORLD-CLASS WATER INFRASTRUCTURE. THESE TERRORIST ACTIONS WERE CARRIED OUT BY PRES. BARACK OBAMA WITH HILLARY CLINTON AS HIS SECRETARY OF STATE. MAKE NO MISTAKE: THE POISONING OF FLINT IS NOT A PARTISAN OR AN ELECTION ISSUE. IT GOES TO THE HEART OF THE RUTHLESS PROFIT SYSTEM THAT RUNS THE UNITED STATES.

Dear Gov. Snyder: You Have to Go to Jail

Sign petition below

For everyone wanting to sign on to this petition calling for the IMMEDIATE resignation of Governor Snyder AND for the FBI to arrest him, please sign the petitio here.

Michael Moore, filmmaker and Flint resident.

Michael Moore, filmmaker and Flint resident.

Dear Governor Snyder:

Thanks to you, sir, and the premeditated actions of your administrators, you have effectively poisoned, not just some, but apparently ALL of the children in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

And for that, you have to go to jail.

To poison all the children in an historic American city is no small feat. Even international terrorist organizations haven’t figured out yet how to do something on a magnitude like this.

But you did. Your staff and others knew that the water in the Flint River was poison — but you decided that taking over the city and “cutting costs” to “balance the budget” was more important than the people’s health (not to mention their democratic rights to elect their own leaders.) So you cut off the clean, fresh glacial lake water of Lake Huron that the citizens of Flint (including myself) had been drinking for decades and, instead, made them drink water from the industrial cesspool we call the Flint River — a body of “water” where toxins from a dozen General Motors and DuPont factories have been dumped for over a hundred years.

GM, U.S. PROFIT SYSTEM DESTROYED FLINT, POISONED ITS PEOPLE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

GM, U.S. PROFIT SYSTEM DESTROYED FLINT, POISONED ITS PEOPLE FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

And then you decided to put a chemical in this water to “clean” it — which only ended up stripping the lead off of Flint’s aging water pipes, placing that lead in the water and sending it straight into people’s taps. Your callous — and reckless (btw, “reckless” doesn’t get you a pass; a reckless driver who kills a child, still goes to jail) — decision to do this has now, as revealed by the city’s top medical facility, caused “irreversible brain damage” in Flint’s children, not to mention other bodily damage to all of Flint’s adults. Here’s how bad it is: Even GM won’t let the auto parts they use in building cars touch the Flint water because that water “corrodes” them. This is a company that won’t even fix an ignition switch after they’ve discovered it’s already killed dozens of people. THAT’s how bad the situation is. Even GM thinks you’re the devil. Continue reading


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SHAME ON WAYNE! FEATURES DAN GILBERT, SUED BY USDOJ; MARY STAFFORD IN PRISON RE: 1 MORTGAGE

Detroit Blight Removal 2USDOJ says Gilbert’s Quicken Loans guilty of “hundreds of millions of dollars” in HUD mortgage insurance fraud, 40% of company’s loans

Detroit grandmother, community advocate Stafford unjustly convicted of charges in single mortgage she was not party to

 By Diane Bukowski 

March 17, 2016 

Mary Stafford is currently in Michigan's Huron Valley Women's Correctional Facility for crimes she did not commit.

Mary Stafford is currently in Michigan’s Huron Valley Women’s Correctional Facility for crimes she did not commit.

DETROIT – The justice system in this country is clearly fractured beyond repair. Though there are thousands of examples, including the fact that the United States has five percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its incarcerated people, one case in Detroit stands out for its glaring contradictions related to race and class.

Mary Stafford, a Black 66-year-old Detroit grandmother on Social Security, and a long-time community advocate, is languishing behind the walls of the Michigan’s Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, sentenced to one to 10 years by Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway on Feb. 19.

Her alleged crimes? “False pretenses” and “obstruction of justice” involving ONE mortgage loan which she did not even borrow. Wells Fargo Bank approved the loan in 2007 just before the global economy tanked due to the greedy corporate lending frenzy.

Dan and wife Jennifer Gilbert party with friends.

Dan and wife Jennifer Gilbert party with friends.

To justify exceeding a sentencing recommendation of 18 months probation, Hathaway compared Stafford’s alleged acts to “the excesses, fraud and greed of the mortgage banking industry, with dozens if not hundreds of mortgage bankers who should be in prison.”

Dan Gilbert, multi-billionaire owner of most of downtown Detroit, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and outstate gambling casinos, who basks in luxury and acclaim, is one of those mortgage bankers, says the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).

The USDOJ is suing Gilbert’s company Quicken Loans, alleging it defrauded taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars by approving Federal Housing Authority (FHA) insurance for mortgages it knew were ineligible, involving 40 percent of its total loan output. The USDOJ contends the loan approvals resulted from management policies that arrogantly scorned HUD guidelines.

QuickenBox2In an email, Quicken Loans Operations Director Mike Lyons called these “bastard loans . . . . plausible to the investor even though we know its creation comes from something evil and horrible,” says the USDOJ complaint.

But Wayne State’s Law School is featuring Gilbert at a “marquee event” March 30. Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson gushed in a release, “We are thrilled to have Mr. Gilbert join us . . . .to hear his thoughts on the numerous ways he has helped to lead Detroit’s revitalization.”

Quicken Loans sought to outwit the U.S. government by filing a pre-emptive lawsuit in Detroit against the USDOJ, but U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith peremptorily dismissed it Dec. 31, 2015. The USDOJ says in its filings in the District Court of the District of Columbia that the lawsuit delayed its proceedings for nine months, but it is now moving forward.

Ironically, one of the claims the USDOJ makes in its lawsuit is that, “When Quicken suspected that a potential [individual] borrower had committed fraud or made a misrepresentation, Quicken was quick to notify HUD. However, Quicken failed to notify HUD of any loans with serious underwriting deficiencies committed by Quicken, even when it concluded internally that loan approval was not justified.”

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Mortgage Deed Fraud Task Force clearly followed that example, targeting individuals like Mary Stafford instead of the predator banks and mortgage companies like Quicken Loans. Ironically, in Stafford’s case, Wells Fargo told VOD specifically that it had not sought prosecution of Mary Stafford or other parties with relation to the $395,000 and had sustained no losses after it foreclosed.

DGWSU_0001Wells Fargo itself has been charged by the USDOJ with similar mortgage crimes, as well as others. It clearly did not want to bring further attention to one of many predatory loans it approved.

In contrast to Mrs. Stafford’s quiet life as a homemaker and caregiver to numerous relatives and neighborhood children, Gilbert has flourished to mainstream media acclaim. As a mayoral appointee, he heads the Detroit Blight Task Force, which is demolishing thousands of homes across the city at inflated prices. Many were foreclosed as a result of Quicken Loans’ fraudulent actions.

He also accompanied former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer to Washington, D.C. to meet with top aides to U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss Detroit’s future after bankruptcy. Neither President Obama nor former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ever responded to a request from U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit) that the Justice Department investigate Public Act 4 (predecessor to the current Emergency Manager Act) as a violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

Now the most dire consequences of Michigan’s EM law have been laid bare in world-wide coverage of the irreversible lead poisoning and outright murder of the people of  Flint. The Flint water crisis follows the scurrilous Detroit bankruptcy, which has robbed the people of Detroit of most of their major assets, caused huge public job losses, impoverished retirees, while banks and corporations recovered 95.9 percent of their debt. Detroit’s debt is now projected to rise to 300 percent of what it was in 2013.

Partners-Gilbert et al

Now Gilbert is being held up as an example for Wayne State Law School students, alumni and the community-at-large by Dean Benson and WSU. Perhaps this is why the Staffords had continuing problems finding warrior attorneys with principles who were not frightened of Judge Hathaway, and willing to fight the injustice perpetrated on their clients. What are today’s lawyers learning in this city’s law schools?

The State Appellate Defender’s Office has now been assigned to deal with Mary Stafford’s appeal, through prominent attorney Valerie Newman. Judge Hathaway earlier denied Stafford’s  motion for an appeal bond, claiming that she had no likelihood of prevailing on appeal despite blatant irregularities at her trial.

Judge Michael Hathaway

Judge Michael Hathaway

They included Judge Hathaway asking expert defense witness Rick Woonton, ON THE RECORD, if he thought the Staffords were guilty; instructing the jury that they could find them guilty of “aiding and abetting” unnamed parties; conducting an ex parte discussion with another defense witness, and comparing Mary Stafford to arch criminal Bernie Madoff.  Stories linked below tell the details of the trial.

Her husband and supporters are hoping for an emergency writ from the appeals court to free her while her appeal is pending.

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Send letters of support to  Mrs. Mary Stafford, #972040, 3201 Bemis Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197-0911. She can also be reached by signing up for JPay, at www.jpay.com .  Emails and funds can be sent through JPay, as well as photos and Ecards.

Funds for Mary’s legal defense can be sent to https://www.crowdrise.com/vindicatingmaryoffalsechargesbygovernmentterrorists5

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Related documents:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Quicken-Loans-USDOJ-lawsuit-1.pdf 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/UNITED-STATES-OF-AMERICA-v-Quicken-Loans-Inc.pdf Federal Docket re: Quicken Loans

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/USDOJ-opposition-to-QL-renewed-motion-to-transfer.pdf

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Quicken-Preemptive-Suit-dismissal.pdf

Related stories re: Quicken Loans, Dan Gilbert

U.S. Atty: Quicken Loans shouldn’t get venue change http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/2016/03/10/quicken/81587510/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/24/u-s-sues-dan-gilberts-quicken-loans-over-mortgage-fraud-one-cause-of-detroit-blight/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/05/14/duggan-gilbert-target-brush-park-after-murder-arson-evictions-drove-black-residents-out/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/07/25/downtown-rally-protests-great-black-out-of-detroit-by-white-profiteers-politicians/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/11/dennis-archer-former-consultant-to-detroit-lender-ubs-ag-meets-with-top-obama-aides-execs/ (along with Gilbert)

Related stories re: convictions of Clifford and Mary Stafford:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/12/19/whos-guilty-of-detroit-mortgage-fraud-not-wells-fargo-but-community-advocates-says-county/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/12/wells-fargo-v-staffords-bombshell-bank-not-complainant-county-charged-couple-anyway/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/15/judge-hathaway-blames-2008-mortgage-meltdown-on-homeowner-advocate-couple-the-staffords/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/09/stop-the-railroad-of-community-advocate-mary-ann-stafford-come-to-court-fri-feb-12-at-9am/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/17/outrage-judge-michael-hathaway-gives-mary-stafford-1-10-yrs-no-evidentiary-hearing/

#JailDanGilbert, #FreeMaryStafford, #ExonerateCliffordStafford, #ShameonWayne, #StopWallStreetmortgagefraud, #Banksnottoobigtojail, #unjustconviction, #biasonthebench, #Beatbackthebullies, #StandUpNow, #StopthewaronBlackAmerica, #DetroitFightBack, #RecuseMichaelHathaway


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DONALD TRUMP IS THE REAL DEAL

Al Jazeera logoHillary Clinton is the political mask of the corporate face of America, but Donald Trump is the real deal.

Fascism arrived and wreaked havoc from one end of the globe to another by these very Republican cons and neocons a very long time ago, writes Dabashi [Reuters]

BDabashiy Hamid Dabashi  Opinion

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.

http://www.aljazeera.com

March 7, 2016

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

A spectre is hovering high over the United States – the spectre of a Trump presidency. All the elders of the Republican Party have now entered into a frightful alliance to disown and exorcise this spectre. But the goblin listens to no one, as millions of xenophobic, angry, “poorly educated” (as Trump proudly calls his own supporters), mostly white men and women storm around him, raising their right hands “Sieg Heil” style and pledging allegiance.

“In an extraordinary display of Republican chaos,” CNN reports, “the party’s most recent presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain, lambasted current frontrunner Donald Trump on Thursday, calling him unfit for office and a danger for the nation and the GOP [Grand Old Party].”

CORPORATE SKIN, POLITICAL MASKS

What is the difference between Trump and Clinton? This is the critical question the US voters face this year, but not the world at large, for which Trump promises to do more of what Clinton and all Democrat and Republican presidents before her have already done and continue to do to the world.

Hillary Clinton--the mask of naked fascism.

Hillary Clinton–the mask of naked fascism.

The difference between Trump and Clinton is the difference between commodity and branding. Trump is the real face of corporate America, Clinton its mask. In choosing Donald Trump, Americans are choosing corporate America instead of its representative Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is the real deal, Hillary Clinton is the camouflage.

Why buy the stooge of corporate America, Donald Trump supporters are effectively asking, when the real deal, their preferred candidate, is on sale?

This is a decisive moment because the fake facade of US politics is finally falling down and the naked truth of corporate reality running this show reveals its naked fascistic face for the whole world to see.

A demagogue salesman is appealing to the basest instinct of US consumers, to the very logic of US capitalism run amuck.

His supporters have been trained Pavlovian dog-style for Trump from birth and now instinctively each time they push a cart down the supermarket isle hunt for the cheapest product on sale. Trump is the cheapest product on sale.

NAKED FASCISM

Donald Trump–the specter of unmasked fascism.

The naked fascism that Trump flaunts today has always been there but hidden behind the mask of politics-as-usual; hidden behind smiling faces, false promises, gaudy oratorical speeches, the kissing of frightened babies, the shaking of insincere hands, while hiding the terror of global warfare, drone attacks, special forces, secret kill lists, CIA torture chambers.

A consensus is now building in the US that the Trump presidency is so dangerous Democrats and Republicans should unite to prevent it by electing Hillary Clinton. But what exactly is the difference between a Clinton and a Trump presidency for the world at large?

The prospect of a Trump presidency is only frightful if you think Hillary Clinton’s record of warmongering around the world – from Iraq to Libya to her threatening Iran with annihilation – is a stellar record of high-minded and competent diplomacy.

Video below: Hillary Clinton ordered vicious execution of Muammar Gaddafi; U.S./NATO bombed African Libya back to the stone age

Americans have every reason to fear a Trump presidency, but the world at large has not an iota of reason to believe Clinton would be any better. Trump is promising to deliver to Americans a dose of what Clinton, her husband, the current US president, and all the Republicans and Democrat presidents before him have administered to the world at large.

Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton have wrought destruction across globe, poverty, repression across U.S.

Now suddenly these Republicans are scared of fascism. They did not worry about fascism when they produced George W. Bush, who wreaked havoc on Afghanistan and Iraq and set in motion a criminal catastrophe that has now resulted in murderous mayhem raging from Iraq to Syria.

But now that Trump appears to threaten their entire party apparatus suddenly they worry about fascism. Fascism arrived and wreaked havoc from one end of the globe to another by these very Republican cons and neocons a very long time ago.

XENOPHOBIA IS ON SALE

Clinton has a proven record of murderous warmongering on a par with any Republican warmonger. Donald Trump only promises to do more of what she has done. He has no record of any such atrocities as yet.

He, in fact, has occasionally condemned both the Afghan and Iraq invasions, and on Israeli murderous records he has declared himself agnostic and neutral, even daring to suggest that Israel is not sincere in its claim to be peaceful. And, contrary to Clinton, he is not in any billionaire Zionist’s deep pocket and has not written and signed a pledge of allegiance to those hell-bent on stealing the entirety of Palestine no matter what the cost to Palestinian lives and Liberty.

Yes, indeed, the horrors of Trump’s xenophobic racism and misogyny against Mexicans, Muslims, women etc. are abominable, but we know all this because he is not a seasoned politician and has not learned how to conceal and camouflage his racism.

Video below: Hillary Clinton slurs African-American youth

When Clinton’s guard was down and she did not realize the cameras were rolling, she too called young African Americans “super-predators” who had to be “brought to heel”.

She is the same person – only now she has learned how to camouflage her racism.

Clintons at Trump wedding reception.

Clintons at Trump wedding reception.

Trump has not mastered that art. Trump has a different product to sell – himself – and has targeted a different market – white supremacists basking in their racism. The salesman is naked in his fascism, the politician is properly dressed in socially acceptable verbiage.

In choosing Trump over Clinton, Americans are opting to buy the real product instead of a badly packaged camouflage representation of that product.

Clinton is the political mask of the corporate face of America, and this time around Americans wish to see the real face of their government, the rule of corporate America, and not some corrupt politician being funded by them to represent that face with a mask of fair play and warm wishes.

@HamidDabashi

ALSO READ: Why I will vote for Bernie Sanders

ALSO READ: Trump and Baghdadi

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera

Related:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/02/09/the-covert-origins-of-isis-united-states-cia-in-libya-syria-iraq-afghanistan/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/10/27/human-rights-watch-executions-of-libyas-gadhafi-supporters-a-war-crime/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/27/neo-colonialism-chaos-haunt-the-new-libya-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/25/farrakhan-speaks-on-death-of-libyas-muammar-gadhafi-today-on-wvon-am-5-to-7-pm-detroit-time/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/20/black-libyans-make-their-stand-in-sirte-and-bani-walid/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/08/amnesty-international-ignores-atrocities-against-black-people-in-libya/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/09/02/u-s-nato-guilty-of-war-crimes-in-libya-says-cynthia-mckinney/

#DonaldTrump, #HillaryClinton, #Fascism, #Capitalism, #Wall Street, #RacistClinton, #FascistTrump, #OriginsofISIS, #IraqSyriaLibya, #MuammarGadhafiExecution, #WarmongererHillaryClinton


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FAMILY SEEKS FIRING OF WHITE NYC COP WHO KILLED RAMARLEY GRAHAM, UNARMED, IN 2012

Ramarley Graham, with his little brother and grandmother, who saw white NYC cop Richard Haste shoot him to death in their home in 2012.

Ramarley Graham, 18, with his little brother and grandmother, who saw white NYC cop Richard Haste shoot him to death in their home in 2012.

Feds refuse to file civil rights charges against white cop Richard Haste

Earlier state manslaughter charge dismissed

Family wants all cops involved charged and fired

By Colleen Long

March 10, 2016

Killer cop Richard Haste is applauded by his fellow white NYC cops as he leaves court.

Killer cop Richard Haste is applauded by his fellow white NYC cops as he leaves court.

NEW YORK (AP) — The family and friends of an unarmed black teen shot to death in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother by a white police officer demanded the officer’s badge Thursday and argued that if the races had been reversed, justice would be swifter.

This week, federal prosecutors declined to file federal civil rights charges against Officer Richard Haste in the 2012 death of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham. The decision ended the possibility of criminal charges for Haste, who was indicted earlier on a state manslaughter charge that a judge dismissed, saying prosecutors had improperly instructed grand jurors. Another grand jury then declined to indict Haste, who said he fired at Graham because he thought Graham would shoot him.

The police department hit Haste with internal charges. Disciplinary proceedings are now moving forward now that criminal proceedings are completed, which is standard procedure.

Ramarley's mother Constance Malcolm and father Franclot Graham weep at press conference. His father sang to him as a baby, "Ramarley Charley, you are my Charley Ramarley." His nickname became Charley.

Ramarley’s mother Constance Malcolm and father Franclot Graham weep at press conference. His father sang to him as a baby, “Ramarley Charley, you are my Charley Ramarley.” His nickname became Charley.

Haste was reassigned to the fleet services division and remains stripped of his gun and badge. He could request an internal trial and faces being fired, though Commissioner William Bratton has the ultimate say.

On Thursday, the frustration by Graham’s family was palpable — they believe Haste, his supervisor that day and any other officer involved should already be fired.

“We are tired,” said Constance Malcolm, Graham’s mother. “It’s four years, and I still don’t have an answer for why my son is dead.”

There’s also a larger problem at hand, they said. City Councilman Andy King said he is pressing Mayor Bill de Blasio and his colleagues for more candid discussion of how the black community is policed in New York, but he’s not getting anywhere fast enough and he’s tired of what he sees as a double standard.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron, a member of the Freedom Party.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron, a member of the Freedom Party.

“If this had been a black officer knocking down the door to a house of a white person and shoot a white teenager, see what kind of conversation we’d be having today,” he said.

City Councilman Charles Barron said so much disappointment within the black community could turn the movement from peaceful to violent.

“We’re not going to take this lying down,” he said. “Don’t blame me when people start saying, ‘An eye for an eye.'”

Haste’s lawyer Stuart London said that his client was gratified he wasn’t facing civil rights charges but that “there never were any winners in this case.”

And his union echoed the sentiment.

“The officer was working to combat the scourge of guns and drugs in the community,” said Patrick J. Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “The good-faith effort to combat those ills brought us to this tragedy. We extend our sympathies to the family.”

Graham’s family settled with the city in January 2015 for $3.9 million.

One of many rallies for Ramarley Graham, whose case was known around the world.

One of many rallies for Ramarley Graham, whose case was known around the world.

Photos of Ramarley and protest from his family’s official website at http://ramarleyscall.net/pages/ .


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PRAYER BRUNCH TO FREE DAVONTAE SANFORD SAT. MARCH 12; FALSELY CONVICTED AS CHILD OF 14, NOW 23

DavontaePB2

 

Davontae's mother, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, with his stepfather and family, pray for his release outside the Frank Murphy Hall, where Kym Worthy's offices are located, in 2012.

Davontae’s mother, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, with his stepfather and family, pray for his release outside the Frank Murphy Hall, where Kym Worthy’s offices are located, in 2012.

By Diane Bukowski

March 9, 2016

Davontae Sanford’s case is one of the worst miscarriages of justice Voice of Detroit has seen. At the age of 14, Davontae was lured by Detroit police into confessing to the gruesome murders of four people in an alleged drug house on Runyon Street on Detroit’s east side in September, 2007. Davontae is blind in one eye and developmentally disabled. Neither his mother, Taminko Sanford-Tilmon, nor an attorney, were present during that confession.

He is now 23, and has been imprisoned since 2008  on four counts of second-degree murder and one count of felony firearms. His earliest release date is in 2048 and latest release date is in 2099. Davontae has been subjected to numerous horrors while inside the walls.

Vincent Smothers (l) has repeatedly confessed to the crimes of which Davontae Sanford, shown at age 14 (r) is accused.

Vincent Smothers (l) has repeatedly confessed to the crimes of which Davontae Sanford, shown at age 14 (r) is accused.

His case is known across the world because Vincent Smothers, an admitted hit man, has repeatedly told police and prosecutors that he and another man committed the four killings, and that Davontae was absolutely not involved.

“I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable,” Smothers told AP reporter Ed White in a prison interview. “To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like. He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.”

Two innocence clinics came to his last aid year, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan have so far refused to let him withdraw his confession and go home to his loving family, despite an Appeals Court ruling that Smothers be allowed to testify on his behalf.

Davontae’s next court hearing, noted as a “Review Date” on the court website, is set for  April 1, 2016 at 9 a.m. in Judge Sullivan’s courtroom.

Davontae Sanford family and supporters after appeals court hearing August 6 Mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and stepfather Jermaine Tilmon at right. Detroit News reporter takes their photo at left.

Davontae Sanford family and supporters after appeals court hearing August 6, 2013. Mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and stepfather Jermaine Tilmon at right. Detroit News reporter Oralandar Brand-Williams takes their photo at left.

Some related stories from VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/19/davontae-sanford-moves-giant-step-closer-to-freedom-as-innocence-clinics-come-to-his-aid/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/23/mother-of-davontae-sanford-supporters-decry-pros-worthys-continued-persecution-of-her-son/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/27/victory-for-davontae-sanford-in-appeal-of-conviction-at-age-14-for-four-murders/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/10/davontae-sanfords-family-hopeful-after-appeals-court-hearing/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/07/ap-newsbreak-detroit-hit-man-says-davontae-sanford-is-innocent-will-testify/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/19/davontae-sanford%e2%80%99s-innocence-v-detroit-police-and-prosecutors%e2%80%99-reputations/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/01/15/free-davontae-sanford/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/sanfordjones-rally-receives-broad-coverage-hit-man-signs-affidavit-to-free-davontae/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/28/free-davontae-and-charles-justice-for-aiyana-and-trayvon/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/04/24/stop-the-war-on-our-youth-davontae-aiyana-and-dad-trayvon-kenny-snodgrass-production/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/03/25/davontae-innocent-being-tortured-in-prison-judge-refuses-to-allow-real-killers-confession/

https://twitter.com/JUSTICEDAVONTAE http://about.me/JUSTICEDAVONTAE

‪#‎justicewillprevail, ‪#‎FreeDavontaeSanford, #BeatBacktheBullies, #Blacklivesmatter, #BlacklivesmatterDetroit, #PoliceState, #PrisonNation


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RHODES’ RULE OVER DETROIT SCHOOLS OMINOUS; AS BANKRUPTCY JUDGE, HE DISMANTLED CITY OF DETROIT

Video above: DPS students from East English Village Academy, formerly the historic Finney High School, walked out Feb. 29 to protest school conditions, along with their teachers. Police maced and brutalized them, and arrested the teachers, just as they did in 2007 when students protested the closure of Northern High School, one of 210 closures that has hit DPS to date.

More closures, racist treatment likely under Gov. Snyder’s newly-appointed DPS overseer Steven Rhodes

Rhodes carried out Detroit bankruptcy on orders from banks, corporations

Dismantled Detroit, likely to demolish what is left of DPS

By Diane Bukowski

 March 7, 2016

Former bankruptcy judge Stephen Rhodes will now preside over the death of the Detroit Public Schools.

BYE BYE DPS! Former bankruptcy judge Stephen Rhodes dismantled City of Detroit, now will preside over death of DPS.

DETROIT— Conveniently turning the spotlight away from the state’s criminal chemical poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes the new overseer (with “emergency manager” powers) of what is left of the Detroit Public Schools Feb. 29.

The same day, students at East English Village Academy, formerly the storied Finney High School, walked out with their teachers to join other protests in DPS across the city. (See video above.)

“Judge Rhodes was a natural choice,” Snyder said. “He is highly respected in the city and was invaluable in leading Detroit out of bankruptcy. Detroit needs strong public schools for the city’s economic comeback to continue through its neighborhoods.”

Rhodes later told the Detroit Free Press he would appoint an “interim” superintendent to head a school board appointed by Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan until elections take place. He recommended elections take place in August. Bills in the Michigan Legislature that would divide the district in two would set the election for November. Rhodes said he would resign in September if they do not pass.

Former U.S. bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes, now DPS overseer, roller skates with family in hometown of Cape May, N.J, only five percent Black.

WELCOME WHITE DETROIT! Rhodes roller skates with family in hometown of Cape May, N.J, 5 % Black.

One district would pay off a $1.5 billion DPS debt owed through the year 2040, accumulated primarily under periods of state management since 1999. To pay this year’s allotment of the debt, 66 percent of the district’s state per-pupil aid would be used.

The other “debt-free” district would run a schools system tailored to incoming city residents being courted by Rhodes and Duggan, not to the majority-Black students left after state managers closed two-thirds of the district’s schools.

Rhodes did not rule out the possibility of yet more school closures, but said the process would be “transparent.”

We also have to understand that in the context of school capacity, that our goal here is to compete with the charters,” Rhodes told the Free Press.

“The appointment of Judge Rhodes shows that the white power structure considers the last 47,000 students left in the system and their families expendable,” Detroit schools activist Agnes Hitchcock responded. “Not only do we have an illegal white write-in Mayor running our city, now we have a little white bankruptcy judge running our schools.”

Agnes Hitchcock (center in yellow scarf) and allies from Call 'em Out hold Blackinaw Island rally May 31, 2014 to protest the white-out of Detroit.

Agnes Hitchcock (center in yellow scarf) and allies from Call ’em Out hold Blackinaw Island rally May 31, 2014 to protest the white-out of Detroit.

Hitchcock and the organization Call ‘em Out battled for years against the closure of 210 schools, two thirds of the district’s original number, tens of thousands of lay-offs of teachers and support staff, and the loss of 137,000 students, 74 percent of the 1994 enrollment of DPS. These actions began with the first state takeover in 1999 under Gov. John Engler (R), and were followed later by takeovers initiated by Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) and Snyder (R).

Wayne State University Professor of Education Thomas Pedroni posted the following comment on the Detroit Free Press website.

Prof. Thomas Pedroni

Prof. Thomas Pedroni

“24 hours a week, $225,000 per year,” Pedroni, who has adamantly campaigned for the restoration of DPS, said.

“No wonder Rhodes suddenly feels he is qualified, when before he said he would not take the position because he was not qualified. What qualifies a judge to run a school district? This guy went from having no confidence in himself to do the job to his current claim that he shouldn’t need more than 24 hours a week to get the job done. Finally, why is it beyond any Freep or Detroit news reporter’s capability to ask what exactly it is about the existing elected board that makes it out of the question that it would continue as the elected board over schools? Is it such an obvious foregone conclusion that the same electorate that is credited with electing [Mike] Duggan cannot be trusted in the choices it has already made for school board?”

Prior to his appointment by conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals former Chief Judge Alice Batchelder to handle the Detroit bankruptcy filing, Rhodes existed in virtual oblivion at the bottom rank of federal judges. He hails from the resort town of Cape May, N.J., where only five percent of the population is Black.

Detroit's 1967 rebellion.

Detroit’s 1967 rebellion.

“Part of the decline of the city itself can be attributed to our unique racial circumstances,” Rhodes told the Detroit Free Press about the bankruptcy. “However, the concept of civil unrest or civil disobedience [in response to bankruptcy cuts] was not really on my mind.” But when  Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman rose during a hearing to tell Jones Day attorneys, “You are not the City of Detroit,” Rhodes ignominiously ran off the bench to hide.

The only other Chapter 9 bankruptcy Rhodes had handled was the 1992 case of “Addison Community Hospital Authority,” in which he barred the “Concerned Citizens for Addison Community Hospital” from intervening as a group. Addison, located just south of Jackson, MI, has a population of only 605 according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

EM/Ch9 forum Oct. 10, 2012: (l to r) Frederick Headen, Edward Plawecki, Rhodes, Douglas Bernstein, Judy O'Neill, Charles Moore.

EM/Ch9 forum Oct. 10, 2012: (l to r) Frederick Headen, Edward Plawecki, Rhodes, Douglas Bernstein, Judy O’Neill, Charles Moore.

Rhodes began his rise to fame as overseer of the largest municipal bankruptcy in the U.S. by connecting with the major players in the genocidal attack on Detroit and Michigan’s other Black-majority cities. In October, 2012, prior to the bankruptcy trial, he chaired a Federal Bar Association (FBA) of Eastern Michigan Bankruptcy Committee forum, called “Between a Rock and a Hard Place–Municipal Entities in Distress.” In its notice of the forum, the FBA said it was “a panel discussion on emergency managers and Chapter 9 bankruptcy.”

Its participants were veterans of the battle to enact Michigan’s Emergency Manager Act, including Frederick Headen of the state Treasurer’s office, who has helped bring about numerous state takeovers during his tenure, Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill, both of whom acted as trainers for emergency managers, with O’Neill helping draft Public Act 4, the predecessor to the current EM Act 436. Most astonishingly, Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie spoke, and went on to become one of the chief witnesses for Orr during bankruptcy proceedings.

Protester carries a sign protesting removal of Black businesses from Detroit, March 7, 2016.

Protester carries a sign vs. removal of Blacks from Detroit, March 7, 2016.

Rhodes rejected this reporter/retiree’s request to recuse himself for this blatant conflict of interest.

The mainstream media, which practically anointed Rhodes Pope of Detroit for his handling of the Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy declared by Snyder’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr in 2013, predictably celebrated Rhodes’ return.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley called for Rhodes to deep-six what is left of DPS, despite his claims that he wants to increase enrollment.

“Just over a year after exiting bankruptcy, Detroit faces yet another great challenge,” Riley wrote. “Its schools are headed for either the greatest restructuring in the district’s history or an implosion that will force leaders and parents to find other ways to educate the city’s children — ways that might include citywide charter schools.”

Citing egregious mistreatment of Black students, New Orleans parents filed suit against the nation’s first all-charter school district, created by the state of Louisiana in 2014, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It is called the “Recovery School District (RSD).”

“The vast majority of public schools closed by RSD in the past five years were in poor and working class, African-American neighborhoods,” their lawsuit says. “Many of the schools existed for over a hundred years before being closed and had been attended by multiple generations in one family. These schools employed teachers and administrators who have taught in our communities for decades—staff who hold community knowledge, understand the hardships that face our students, and pass down our shared values. … After everything that we lost in Katrina, it has been devastating to lose our schools as well.”

Charter Schools graphA recent study by Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies showed that Detroit is the state’s capital of charter schools. As a Black-majority city, it has been targeted just as New Orleans was, by the state’s charter schools, 70 percent of which operate for profit, not for the children.

Despite the fact that 59 percent of Detroit’s children live in poverty and are now being consigned to a school district whose primary purpose will be to pay off DPS debt, the teachers’ union, minus its ousted but duly elected militant president Steve Conn, hailed Rhodes’ appointment.

“The Detroit Federation of Teachers will continue to fight for a locally elected and empowered school board, and it is our sincere hope that Judge Rhodes’ transitional leadership moves us closer to that goal and away from the failed emergency manager system,” the union said in a statement.

Ironically, Detroit teachers had just shut down most of the district’s schools in January, calling in sick to protest deplorable conditions. They did not cite as the chief cause of those conditions the loss of most of the system’s revenues to debt service since the first state takeover of 1999 under Michigan Gov. John Engler (R) and Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, followed by more takeovers under Governors Jennifer Granholm (D), and Snyder (R).

DPSchart


DPSfb“I think the governor is doing his part to pay off Rhodes for the illegal bankruptcy he and Jones Day carried out against Detroit,” Bill Davis, president of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), said. DAREA has appealed Rhodes’ bankruptcy confirmation to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which now has a new Black Chief Judge, R. Guy Cole, Jr.

Bill Davis, president of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA).

Bill Davis, president of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA).

“Snyder is doing this despite the fact that both Orr and Jones Day have been exposed as totally incompetent, for leaving out a half-billion worth of pension debt that they supposedly didn’t know about from the bankruptcy plan. Rhodes, Orr, Snyder and [former State Treasurer Andy] Dillon should end up in jail as part of a RICO conspiracy for this bankruptcy. Rhodes shouldn’t’ be in charge of anything.”

Davis referred to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s revelation during his State of the City address that bankruptcy consultants including Jones Day, Orr’s former law firm, used outdated mortality tables in their proposed plan of confirmation that left Detroit with a $491 million pension fund shortfall.

“How did we pay (bankruptcy consultants) $177 million for work they did and once they’re out of town they leave a $491 million hole a few months later?” Duggan said.

Voice of Detroit has exposed the criminal nature of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing in numerous articles. It left the city in a shambles. Detroit now owes three times its original debt, has lost most of its major assets including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), now operating in a temporary six-month “partnership” with the Great Lakes Water Authority.

DAREA officer Belinda Myers-Florence with mother and husband Jesse Florence, a D-DOT retiree.

DAREA corresponding secretary Belinda Myers-Florence with mother and husband Jesse Florence, a D-DOT retiree. Mrs. Florence passed away in Nov. 2015 after working tirelessly against the bankruptcy. She and her husband lost huge portions of their pensions and health benefits.

In the process, thousands of city workers have lost their jobs, further diminishing the city’s tax base as well as that of DPS. Due to drastic cuts in retiree pensions, individual savings accounts, and health care provision, many retirees have fallen below the poverty level.

The situation city retirees face is so drastic that the city figures they will be chomping at the bit to cash out part of their meager death benefits, while giving up the rest of their value. This reporter, as a City of Detroit Retiree, has been asked if she wants to get “$1,413. 50 in lieu of a death benefit in the amount of $3,255.00 otherwise payable to my named beneficiary or beneficiaries upon my death.”

Not only are the wealthy elite who run this country determined to drive Detroit retirees to early deaths by cutting their income and benefits, they want to consign them to paupers’ graves.

 

Related Stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/03/03/detroit-will-be-paying-for-school-bonds-until-year-2040-dismantling-of-dps-all-about-corporate-greed/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/02/26/cancel-dps-debt-to-the-banks-quality-education-for-detroit-children-tune-in-whpr-sat-2271030-am/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/08/31/10-years-after-katrina-new-orleans-all-charter-school-system-has-proven-a-failure/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/11/11/detroit-warriors-belinda-myers-florence-tangela-harris-rest-in-power-as-your-battle-continues

http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/after-six-years-and-four-state-appointed-managers-detroit-public-schools-debt-is-deeper-than-ever/Content?oid=2302010

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/13/bank-of-new-york-mellon-controls-dps/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/11/26/bail-out-the-schools-not-the-banks-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/10/22/banks-bobb-school-board-collude-against-detroits-schoolchildren/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/13/dps-caught-in-devils-triangle/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/09/29/bings-detroit-the-next-new-orleans/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/02/save-our-schools-save-detroits-oakman-and-school-of-the-arts/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/26/detroit-joins-natl-coalition-to-call-for-moratorium-on-school-closings-rally-wed-aug-28-3-pm-dps-hq-fisher-bldg/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/08/20/detroit-schools-set-to-pay-hefty-rates-on-92-million-bond-due-to-city-bankruptcy-filing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/04/dps-advocates-tell-obama-stop-destruction-of-public-education/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/04/stopping-the-neoliberal-blueprint-for-detroit-schools/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/18/de-vu-in-highland-park-outsourcing-public-schools/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/11/dps-board-restores-eaa-schools-to-district-as-pa-4-is-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/10/public-schools-are-the-next-big-thing-for-private-equity-and-venture-capital/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/11/08/layoffs-flood-detroit-water-dept-risk-public-health-rising-debt-higher-rates-more-shut-offs/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/15/detroit-bankruptcy-plan-genocide-in-usas-largest-black-majority-city-rich-get-95-9-poor-get-13-5/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/03/02/detroit-long-term-debt-rises-300-in-bankruptcy-retirees-fight-back-with-protest-court-appeals/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/02/21/rhodes-says-detroits-unique-racial-composition-led-to-bankruptcy-ignores-cops-fraud/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/10/27/a-thousand-take-streets-to-stop-detroit-bankruptcy-repeat-action-mon-oct-29-12-n-as-snyder-testifies-rhodes-should-recuse-self-led-pro-em-forum/

#JailSnyderRhodesOrr, #SaveOurSchools, #SaveOurDetroitChildren, #StandUpNow, #MoneyforSchoolsnotforBanks, #BaxtersBeatBacktheBulliesBrigade#StandUpNow, #Blacklivesmatter, #BlacklivesmatterDetroit, #BlackStudentsMatter, #DetroitPublicSchools, #SaveDetroit, #StoptheWaronBlackAmerica


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DETROIT WILL BE PAYING FOR SCHOOL BONDS UNTIL YEAR 2040; DISMANTLING OF DPS ALL ABOUT CORPORATE GREED

Finney High School, closed in 2009 at a cost of $2.9 million from 1994 bond, replaced later by East English Village Academy at a cost of $58.6 million from 2009 bond.

Historic Finney High School, closed in 2009 at a cost of $2.9 million from 1994 bond, replaced later by East English Village Academy at a cost of $58.6 million from 2009 bond. It bordered the wealthy Grosse Pointe suburbs.

liberal-america-logo-3b

By Marty Townsend on October 28, 2013

(VOD editor’s note: this story is several years old, but gives a clear and concise understanding, with examples, of what has happened to Detroit Public Schools bond money from 1994 to 2013, emphasizing the theft of billions of dollars for unregulated, non-public charter schools, the Educational Achievement Authority, and school closings and demolition. It does not emphasize the enormous amounts the banks have made from those bonds, which VOD will be doing in a story on Judge Steven Rhodes’ takeover of DPS, shortly forthcoming.)

DETROIT — In the city of Detroit, Michigan, a school bond of $1.5 billion was voted for in 1994 that started a cascade of debt that residents will be paying for until at least 2040. The original bond was to be used to repair and renovate school buildings to service a then stable student enrollment of 167,000 students.

Douglass Academy students walkout over school conditions 2012.

Douglass Academy students walkout over school conditions 2012.

Detroit Public Schools had, at that time, 261 schools not including administration buildings. Total repair costs and construction estimates stood at $3.9 billion, well above the bond amount. Construction delays caused by problems with the building plans stalled renovations so much that by 1999, very little of the bond money had actually been used to improve schools. Enrollment had continued rising, topping out at 173,000 students. (VOD–school activists said at the time that the real reason for not spending the bond money was DPS’ majority-Black governance. An article in Education Week in 1996 alleged that only one-third of the bond was to go to refurbishing current schools; Michigan’s State Treasurer had to approve any spending from the bond.  See http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1996/02/21/22detroi.h15.html .)

Also in 1999, citing low academic achievement and mismanagement of the district, the state enacted special legislation (Public Act 10 of 1999) for the purpose of allowing then-Governor John Engler to replace the democratically elected school board with state-appointed board members. Residents were not happy about the forced take-over of their school district and loss of local control. The immediate result was a loss of 5,000 students from the district for the next school year which began a hemorrhage of students that will continue long into the future.

The remains of the original Frederick Douglass High School on the city's east side long after its closure. This tragic photo was posted by author to hail graffiti art.

The remains of the original Frederick Douglass High School on the city’s east side long after its closure. This tragic photo was posted by author to hail graffiti art. The neighborhood around the school has deteriorated to below-poverty conditions.

(VOD note:  the paragraph above cites “low academic achievement” as a purported cause of the first state takeover in 1999, while in fact DPS student scores were rising rapidly, and the district had a budget SURPLUS of close to $100 million. After the takeover, the $1.5 Billion bond was handed over to national white-owned corporations like Barton-Malow, which used it for primarily for unnecessary new school construction rather than renovation.)

Detroit Public Schools was operated under [state] receivership from 1999 through 2005. When DPS was first put into receivership, they actually had a stable budget with a slight surplus. Since then, the surplus has been depleted and Detroit Public Schools has been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy. An Emergency Financial Manager was put in charge of DPS again in 2009 by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm under the provisions of PA72 of 1990, the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Rally to stop the first Emergency Manager Law, PA 4, in Lansing, MI April, 2013.

Rally to stop the first Emergency Manager Law, PA 4, in Lansing, MI April, 2013.

A second bond was voted for in 2009, under Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, adding another $500.5 million for building improvement, even though the district had lost over half of its student enrollment and closed dozens of buildings by then.

Whatever became of the bond money? It was spent on facilities, because by law it could not be spent on anything else such as decreasing the deficit, day-to-day operations or teachers salaries. The problem is in what happened to those buildings after renovations. Some were demolished; many have been leased to charter schools; and many more have been shuttered where they lay in disrepair attracting vandals, vagrants, drug dealers, feral animals, and scrap collectors who have gutted the structures and left nothing but barren shells of formerly majestic century-old showplaces.

Some of the more costly bond funded renovations went to the following projects:

Jared Finney High School as originally built.

Jared Finney High School as originally built.

Finney High School was demolished at a cost of $2.5 million under the 1994 bond, prior to the approval of the 2009 bond by voters.

Under the new bond, construction of a new high school on the former site of Finney HS was completed at a cost of $56.9 million. The new high school was named East English Village Preparatory Academy in 2012 and remains open to service DPS high school students. The school concentrates on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Fine and Performing Arts. Students must undergo an application and admissions process to attend this public school, so it is not an open admission neighborhood school available to all DPS students.

Demolition of Mumford High School, contracted out to Walbridge Aldinger, whose CEO John Rakolta is a close ally of Gov. RIck Snyder.

Demolition of historic Mumford High School, contracted out to Walbridge Aldinger, whose CEO John Rakolta is a close ally of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

Mumford High School was demolished and replaced with a new building at a cost of $56 million.

Upon completion in 2012, Mumford High School was immediately leased to the Educational Achievement Authority, a newly created statewide school reform district comprised of the 5% lowest performing schools in [the state–all in Detroit]. The lease amount is for $1 million per year, which will amortize the construction cost in a mere 56 years.

The EAA has benefited greatly from bond money intended to improve DPS buildings. Southeastern High School and Central High School both received renovations and repairs amounting to more than $50 million for each building and are also being leased to the EAA.

Kettering High School students walked out in 2009 to protest closure of the famous "K." Photo: WSWS

Kettering High School students walked out in 2009 to protest closure of the famous “K.” Sign supports the school’s principal.  Photo: WSWS

Kettering High School, renovated at a cost of $6.9 million, was closed in 2012 and remains vacant. Kettering was specially outfitted to service physically disabled students, with one entire wing converted for this purpose. Southwestern High School was closed in 2012 and remains vacant following a $6.5 million bond investment that included revamping the auditorium.

The bulk of the bond money paid by the residents of Detroit to improve their school system was spent between 1999 and 2006 (from the 1994 bond), and from 2009 through 2012 (from the 2009 bond). During all but a short period of time in 2006, Detroit Public Schools has been under the control of state appointed school board members or an Emergency Financial Manager.

Governor John Engler (R)

Gov. John Engler (R)

Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D)

Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D)

Gov. Rick Snyder (R)

Gov. Rick Snyder (R)

For years, the waste of funding has been blamed on Detroiters and poor election choices, but that is certainly not the case when it comes to the problems incurred by DPS. Those issues lay solely at the feet of the state, under three different governors (Engler until the end of 2002, Granholm from January 2003 through December 2010, and Rick Snyder from January 2011 to present). Money that was spent to build new buildings or improve buildings seems to be overwhelmingly benefitting the EAA reform district and not DPS students.

Chadsey High School, permanently closed, was renowned for its multi-racial, multi-cultural student population.

Chadsey High School, permanently closed, after several student walkouts, was renowned for its multi-racial, multi-cultural student population.

There are currently 87 vacant or underutilized buildings belonging to DPS that are for sale or lease. A total of $78.6 million was spent on improvements or renovations to 83 of those buildings. There have been 26 buildings demolished at a cost of $27.4 million. Another 28 buildings received a whopping $295.4 million investment and are now leased to community organizations, the EAA reform district, or charter schools. DPS has also sold several buildings that received a total $36.4 million in renovations and repairs prior to the sales. That is a lot of expenditure for buildings not being used by DPS. In fact, just over half of the bond money was spent on buildings that are still in use by DPS for Detroit students.

The previous two decades has been full of misspent funding by governor-appointed school boards, elected officials, and governor appointed Emergency Financial Managers. The toll this has taken on the Detroit Public Schools district has been devastating. But the biggest change in district enrollment numbers has an entirely different source– the rapid increase in Charter Schools following the enactment of the charter school law in 1994 (Public Act 362 of 1993).

School choice has been the single most devastating fact that has caused the decline of Detroit Public Schools. Residents are currently liable for the two bonds, plus interest, for building renovations on school buildings that the district is now leasing to charter corporations that are in direct competition with DPS for declining student enrollments. Over the past ten years, DPS has been forced to shut down a full two-thirds of their neighborhood schools. Enrollment in DPS has decreased to fewer than 50,000 students, while enrollment in competing charter schools has increased to 68,000.

That is the real cost of unlimited charter school expansion.

Detroit Public Schools teachers walked out across the district in 2001 to rally in Lansing against bill that would have opened the way to more charter schools. They succeeded for the time being, only to face the devastation to come.

Detroit Public Schools teachers walked out across the district in 2001 to rally in Lansing against bill that would have opened the way to more charter schools. They succeeded for the time being, only to face the devastation to come.


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