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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SALT LAKE COPS BATTLE CROWD THROWING ROCKS, BOTTLES AFTER SHOOTING 16-YEAR-OLD FROM KENYA

Salt Lake police battle rock throwers after shooting

Associated Press 8:05 a.m. EST February 28, 2016

A woman holds a frightened child as police battle protesters after cops shot a 16-year-old.

A woman holds a frightened child as police battle protesters after cops shot a 16-year-old in Salt Lake City. Photo: Lennie Mahler, AP

SALT LAKE CITY – Unrest broke out in a Salt Lake City neighborhood after what appeared to be a shooting involving a police officer.

The shooting happened about 8:15 p.m. Saturday near downtown. Selam Mohammad told the Salt Lake Tribune that a police officer shot a 16-year-old boy who was his friend.

In a tweet late Saturday night, Salt Lake City police said that officers were responding to an unrelated call in area when they were told of an assault in progress. The officers “tried to engage altercation,” the tweet says.

Detective Greg Wilking told the Tribune that “shots were fired,” but not how many or whether an officer fired them. Later Saturday, Salt Lake City police told the newspaper that one officer, and possibly a second one, were involved in the shooting,

Selam Mohammad says it was his friend police shot.

Selam Mohammad says it was his friend police shot.

Mohammad told the Tribune that the victim and a man were in a confrontation, and the victim was holding part of a broomstick at his side when officers arrived.

“They told him to put it down, once,” Mohammad said, and “started shooting him as soon as he turned around.”

The teenager was hit in the chest and stomach, Mohammad said. The victim was taken to a hospital, the Tribune reported.

City police were helped by officers from three other departments as onlookers threw rocks at officers and yelled obscenities, the Tribune said. Police closed a light rail stop in the neighborhood.

Police detained multiple people, but Wilking could not elaborate on the reason for the detentions.

Friends of Salt Lake City teen shot by cops say he is from Kenya.

Friends of Salt Lake City teen shot by cops say he is from Kenya.

There were “a lot of hostile people upset about what had taken place,” Wilking told the Tribune.

At 8:40 p.m., a line of officers moved protesters down a sidewalk, the newspaper reported.

There are a number of homeless shelters in the neighborhood, and business owners have long complained about the homeless population and drug dealing, the Tribune said.


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CANCEL DPS DEBT TO THE BANKS! QUALITY EDUCATION FOR DETROIT CHILDREN; TUNE IN WHPR SAT. 2/27@10:30 AM

DPS student Sasha Alford during 2005 protest against school closings and layoffs, outside the Coleman A. Young Center. Photo: Diane Bukowski

DPS student Sasha Alford during 2005 protest against school closings and layoffs, outside the Coleman A. Young Center. Photo: Diane Bukowski

Dr. David Snead in 1994

Dr. David Snead in 1994

“I’ve been reading news reports as well viewing them on national TV, about the deplorable conditions in DPS. Please know that the 1.5 Billion [bond] I campaigned for was never intended to knock down old schools but rather to renovate and repair. Very few new buildings were needed at the time for a growing population. I would have fought against that unholy effort. By doing so the powers that be helped the politicians and blood sucking vendors line their pockets with gold disguised as political contributions. If the schools had been renovated and repaired as well as they should have been the present conditions would not exist.”—Dr. David Snead, former DPS Superintendent 

WHPR********************************************************** Agnes Hitchcock, Marie Thornton, Diane Bukowski to appear on WHPR 33 Black History Month show Sat. Feb. 27 at 10:30 a.m. to discuss 22-year dismantling of the Detroit Public Schools by white power structure.

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By Diane Bukowski

February 26, 2016

DETROIT – Long-time Detroit Public Schools activists Agnes Hitchcock and Marie Thornton say a 22-year long process of dismantling the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system, and the resulting denial of quality, accessible education to Detroit’s majority-Black schoolchildren, began with the passage of a $1.5 billion school bond by grass roots voters in 1994.

Marie Thornton speaking at rally Jan. 28, 2009

Marie Thornton speaking at rally Jan. 28, 2009

“They decided Black people shouldn’t have that bond money,” Thornton, a former Detroit Board of Education member elected in 2005, said, referring to the 1999 state takeover of DPS under the administrations of Gov. John Engler and Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer.

Madison Madison International, a Black general contractor, was replaced with white-owned contractors to profit from the $1.5 billion bond, and tens of thousands of mainly Black, Detroit-resident DPS workers were laid off as private contracts were doled out.

Over the next 17 years, a succession of state-appointed CEO’s and Emergency Managers including Kenneth Burnley, Robert Bobb, Roy Roberts and Jack Martin closed hundreds of venerable DPS schools and drove the district deeper and deeper into debt at the urging of Michigan Governors Engler, Jennifer Granholm, and Rick Snyder, as well as Wall Street banks slavering for profit from bond money.

“Now they are trying to erase any sign of the history of a Black DPS,” Thornton continued. “Seven years after the bond passed, they began closing nearly all our schools, selling them off to become charter schools and churches. Now we have 47,000 children in DPS, down from 186,000 in 1999.”

Agnes Hitchcock speaks at Call em Out Town Hall at Bert's on Feb. 25, 2010.

Agnes Hitchcock speaks at Call em Out Town Hall at Bert’s on Feb. 25, 2010.

Hitchcock said, “All of this was part of a plot to take over City of Detroit from its Black majority, its schools, its world-class water infrastructure and international waterways, Belle Isle, the DIA, and its homes. Detroit used to be the Black home ownership capital of the country.”

Ironically, their comments come as former Mayor Dave Bing is being excoriated for belatedly denouncing the removal of Black people from Detroit, and predicting that Detroit is on the brink of becoming another Ferguson or Chicago. (Better late than never, Mr. Bing.)

Hitchcock, founder of “Call ‘em Out,” became famous world-wide in 2006, for throwing what became known as “the grapes of wrath” at newly-elected school board members who had just voted to close the first 50 DPS schools of hundreds more to come. Board Member Thornton was the lone dissenting vote on the closures, in keeping with her practice of voting her conscience no matter what abuse was heaped upon her by opponents.

Hitchcock noted that Detroit residents are still paying off the system’s bond debt, including a succession of other huge bonds and loans devoted not to growing DPS, but to demolish it as Hurricane Katrina demolished public schools in majority-Black New Orleans.

DPS 4th grader cries after being maced by DPS police during protest against the closing of Northern High School May 5, 2007.

DPS 4th grader cries after being maced by DPS police during protest against the closing of Northern High School May 5, 2007.

Detroit, the nation’s largest Black-majority city, thus became the first major city to face total war against its public school system. Ironically, kidnapped Africans who won their freedom after the Civil War were largely responsible for starting the public school system  in the U.S., having been lynched and tortured for learning to read and educate themselves.

“Where is our money, our $1.5 billion?” Hitchcock asked. “The back of my property tax bill includes millages largely for funding education.” She listed them as follows:

  • 5 ml for state education,
  •  3.6 ml for school operations,
  • 18.0 ml for school bond debt,
  • 13.0 ml for a ‘school judgment,’
  • 0.9 ml for Wayne County RESA [a regional school district],
  • 3.67 mills for RESA special ed,
  • 3.24 ml for Wayne County Community College,
  • 3.6 ml for the libraries.
DPS student speaks against school closings, including that of the historic Chadsey High School, at board meeting March 10, 2005

DPS student speaks against school closings, including that of the historic Chadsey High School, at board meeting March 10, 2005

“Then we have 19.9 ml for City of Detroit operations, 2.9 ml for the city garbage tax, 7.9 ml for city debt service, .9 ml for the Wayne County Jail, .24590 ml for Wayne County parks, 2.1 ml for the Detroit Wayne County Community Mental Health Authority, 1.0 ml for the Wayne County zoo, and .20 ml for the Wayne County Detroit Institute of Arts,” Hitchcock concluded.

Detroit co-czar Mike Illitch is grabbing a large portion of that millage money, building his new tax-free Red Wings hockey development at a cost of $881 million, 61 percent publicly funded by school, library, city, county and state taxes.

Meanwhile, Wall Street banks have grown fat off the profits from bonds and loans to DPS. From July 2015 through June 2016 alone, they are slated to take 75 percent of the district’s for-pupil state funding in debt set-asides, a total of $215,414,000 out of $285,366,000 in state aid.

Maureen Taylor of Michigan Welfare Rights participates in protest demanding cancellation of Detroit city and schools debt May 9, 2012.

Maureen Taylor of Michigan Welfare Rights  at protest demanding cancellation of Detroit city and schools debts May 9, 2012.

A condition of a record $210 million loan with a 50 percent finance charge, taken out by DPS CEO Kenneth Burnley under Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2004, was that DPS report to the New York Bank Mellon on a monthly basis that it had set aside enough funds out of state per-pupil aid to Detroit to cover debt payments. It has done so ever since.

Appropriately, New York Bank was founded by slave-owner Alexander Hamilton.Go to the new DPS website at http://detroit.k12.mi.us/data/finance/ to view the recent history of such letters.

Don’t forget: tune in to WHPR TV 33 on Comcast 20,  radio at FM 88.1, online at http://www.tv33whpr.com/ to hear Black History Month show in DPS with Agnes Hitchcock, Marie Thornton, and Diane Bukowski

VIDEO ABOVE: PROTEST AGAINST DPS CONDITIONS JAN. 27, 2016

Related stories:

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/2014/03/22/mich-reps-olumba-santana-help-pass-pro-eaa-bill-seats-from-detroit-courts-removed/

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/2013/07/07/july-4-protest-demands-independence-for-detroit-other-cities-and-schools-eviction-of-kevyn-orr/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/04/04/occupy-the-u-s-dept-of-education-april-4-7-vs-school-closings-detroit-leaders-to-speak/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/23/detroit-students-journey-4-justice-to-washington-d-c-jan-28-29-2013/

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/2012/07/29/detroit-teachers-protest-imposed-contract-no-solution-in-sight/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/29/chicago-teachers-win-relief-in-longer-day-battle-but-war-not-over/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/02/detroit-students-walkout-against-school-closures-and-deteriorating-conditions-later-hold-freedom-school/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/11/28/stop-the-attacks-on-city-county-detroit-public-school-workers/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/11/rally-to-save-catherine-ferguson-academy-and-all-dps-schools-thurs-june-16/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/10/united-states-good-bye-public-education/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/03/petition-for-a-public-hearing-on-the-future-of-catherine-ferguson-academy-cfa/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/26/charter-school-bidders-perform-worse-than-dps-schools/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/26/whose-schools-our-schools/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/07/7095/ (No to Roy Roberts, Charters, Keep All DPS Schools Open)

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/16/dps-dismantled-and-detroit-held-captive-coalition-files-suit-vs-bobb/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/21/bobbadams-plan-for-charter-schools-dps-loses-121-6-million-in-state-aid-in-2012-private-cos-profit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/19/dps-katrina-state-deficit-plan-charter-schools/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/02/dfts-johnson-tries-to-expel-members-who-want-to-fight-attacks-on-public-education/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/02/18/wisconsin-public-workers-students-legislators-shut-state-down-to-stop-union-busting-pension-attacks/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/02/16/wall-street-state-bobb-rob-detroit%e2%80%99s-children/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/02/01/nyc-school-closings-war-on-ny-public-sector-workers-unions-and-the-poor/

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

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/01/04/the-black-and-white-of-education-in-chicago/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/11/15/roy-roberts-and-all-pa4-ems-must-go-say-protesters/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/09/02/new-munger-school-contaminated-soil-standing-water-west-nile-virus/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/02/reverend-doctor-state-rep-jimmy-womack-is-a-liar/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/05/victory-bamn-wins-prop-2-affirmative-action-appeal/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/03/blair-evans-juvenile-prison-school-boss-no-bid-contractor-2/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/21/bing-ricktator-gate/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/02/all-dps-teachers-laid-off-bobb-says-he-will-abrogate-dft-contract-under-pa-4-national-attacks-on-teachers/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/19/6582/ Young mother describes occupation of Catherine Ferguson Academy

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/13/adams-presents-%e2%80%98joint%e2%80%99-boardem-charter-plan-to-city-council/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/13/southeastern-high-choir-wins-victory/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/02/08/dps-unions-community-take-battle-against-bobb-sodexo-to-big-media/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/01/19/victory-for-dps-bus-attendants-students-parents/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/12/14/gm-joins-push-for-privatization-of-dps/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/12/10/bobb-has-made-special-needsdisabled-children-and-adults-invisible/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2010/12/08/court-declares-bobbs-take-over-of-dps-illegal/

http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_6925.shtml

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/09/09/illitch-plans-881-million-red-wings-stadium-project-with-public-funds-despite-detroit-bankruptcy-filing/  

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


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RASMEA ODEH MAY GET NEW TRIAL, US APPEALS COURT RULES

Rasmea Odeh, a long-time activist in Chicago after her immigration to the U.S., participates in protest against U.S. killings by police.

Rasmea Odeh, a long-time activist in Chicago after her immigration to the U.S, participates in protest against killings by U.S. police.

Court unanimously says U.S. Detroit Judge Gershwin Drain erred in refusing to allow testimony about Odeh’s torture, rape by Israeli military

By Charlotte Silver

EIThe Electronic Intifada

February 25, 2016

A US court of appeals vacated the conviction of Palestinian American activist Rasmea Odeh on Thursday, returning her case to the district judge for a possible retrial.

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain

In November 2014, Odeh, 68, was convicted of immigration fraud for failing to disclose her 1969 arrest and conviction by the Israeli military on her immigration and naturalization documents filed respectively in 1994 and 2005.

Her lawyers appealed her conviction on the basis that US District Judge Gershwin Drain had denied Odeh the opportunity to present a complete defense by prohibiting her from speaking about the torture and abuse she endured that led to her signing a false confession in 1969.

Drain refused to allow Odeh to call Mary Fabri, an expert on torture, who had submitted an affidavit for the defense stating that that Odeh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from her torture, including rape, by Israeli interrogators.

Torture testimony

Fabri testified that Odeh’s PTSD may have affected her state of mind when she failed to disclose her military court conviction on her citizenship application.

Protest at U.S. District Court in Detroit during Rasmea's trial.

Protest at U.S. District Court in Detroit during Rasmea’s trial.

The panel of three justices reviewed Fabri’s testimony and unanimously agreed that the trial judge erred on his basis for excluding it from Odeh’s trial.

Judge Drain had barred it on the basis that Odeh was charged with a “general intent” crime rather than a “specific intent” crime – a legal distinction he held would make her state of mind irrelevant to the case.

“Regardless of whether [it] was a specific or general intent crime,” the ruling states, “Dr. Fabri’s proffered testimony is relevant to whether Odeh knew that her statements were false.”

Now Judge Drain must determine if there is another basis on which to exclude the expert testimony. Failing that, Odeh will be allowed to have a new a trial with the expert testimony.

Attorney Michael Deutsch with Rasmea Odeh.

Attorney Michael Deutsch with Rasmea Odeh.

“I feel confident she will get a new trial,” Michael Deutsch, Odeh’s lead attorney, told The Electronic Intifada.

“I don’t see another reasonable reason to exclude the expert testimony.”

Deutsch called the appellate court’s ruling a “a great victory.”

The Rasmea Defense Committee is calling today’s decision a “partial victory.”

“The conviction wasn’t overturned altogether, but at least Judge Drain will be forced to rethink his decision on the torture evidence,” Nesreen Hasan said in a press release.

The Center for Constitutional Rights had filed a brief supporting Odeh’s appeal, on behalf of five organizations with expertise on the impact of torture, including the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, Bellevue/NYU Program For Survivors of Torture, Public Committee Against Torture In Israel, REDRESS and the World Organization Against Torture.

Prejudicial material

The Israeli military has been exposed for its rampant beatings and torture of Palestinian children.

The Israeli military has been exposed for its rampant beatings and torture of Palestinian children.

Odeh’s defense had also argued that the government should not have been permitted to use Israeli military court documents during Odeh’s trial.

The documents included the Israeli military’s indictment against Odeh.

In 1969, Odeh was convicted of helping coordinate two bombings in West Jerusalem that caused the death of two civilians.

Odeh maintained that the conviction by an Israeli military court was the result of her prolonged torture.

Her defense argued that these details were prejudicial in a trial that was concerned with alleged immigration fraud, not her decades-old conviction.

One of the justices in the appellate court agreed that those details should have been excluded.

Attorney Deutsch told The Electronic Intifada that if there is a retrial, Odeh’s defense will argue again that those military court documents should be left out of the courtroom.

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/rasmea-odeh-may-get-new-trial-us-appeal-court-rules

Related from VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/07/palestinian-heroine-torture-victim-rasmea-odeh-convicted-in-detroit-appeal-planned/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/18/injustice-in-detroit-support-chicago-palestinian-leader-in-detroit-federal-court-oct-21-trial-nov-4/


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OUTRAGE: JUDGE MICHAEL HATHAWAY GIVES MARY STAFFORD 1-10 YRS, NO EVIDENTIARY HEARING

Ironically, Judge Hathaway sat on the Judicial Tenure Commission until Dec. 31, 2015. He is in second row at right.

Ironically, Judge Hathaway sat on the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission until Dec. 31, 2015. He is in second row at right.

 

Hathaway gave security guard Tigh Croff PROBATION after he chased and killed unarmed homeless grandfather Herbert Silas in cold blood

Judge Vonda Evans gave killer cop William Melendez  13 mos. to 10 years in near-fatal beating of Floyd Dent

 Hathaway likens Detroit grandmother, caregiver to criminal banks, Bernie Madoff

 Prominent attorneys filed motions to recuse Hathaway for “extreme bias” in Homrich 9 water-shutoffs trial 

Join the “Free Mary Stafford Committee,” call her daughter Monique Stafford at 313-458-6464

By Diane Bukowski 

February 17, 2016 

Mary Stafford

DETROIT— Comparing her to global banks which caused the 2008 mortgage meltdown and to Bernie Madoff, author of the largest financial fraud in U.S. history, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway yesterday sent 66-year-old grandmother and long-time Detroit community advocate and caregiver Mary A. Stafford to prison for one to 10 and one to five years on two charges involving a Wells Fargo mortgage she was not party to.

The sentences are to run concurrently.

Stafford is now housed at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.  Send letters of support to her at 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.

In contrast to Stafford’s brutal sentencing for a non-violent crime in which the alleged “victim,” Wells Fargo, says they never asked for prosecution, Judge Hathaway sentenced security guard Tigh Croff to PROBATION in 2011 for shooting unarmed 52-year-old grandfather Herbert Silas to death after chasing him down the street. When Silas turned around with his hands up, Croff told him he was going to kill him, and then did so. Hathaway reduced Croff’s original second-degree murder charge to manslaughter. In chambers, he told the prosecution and defense he would have done the same thing. Croff had testified he thought Silas was going to break into his house.

Tigh Croff

Tigh Croff

The prosecution moved unsuccessfully to disqualify Hathaway from hearing the case. To see what kind of person Hathaway freed, look at Croff ‘s XXX-rated Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tigh.croff.

“We love you, Mary Ann,” her family and friends called out to her as she was escorted out by a Deputy Sheriff for processing into the Michigan Department of Corrections system.

“Free my mama,” her daughter Monique Stafford said afterwards. “She has never done anything, not even get a parking ticket, except spend her life taking care of other people.”

At the age of 50, Stafford donated a kidney to Monique, who had gone into renal failure, becoming one of the first living organ donors. Stafford explained this in a letter to the judge. On February 16, Monique had just come home from hospitalization for pneumonia, but raced to her parents’ house to be with her father in the wake of her mother’s incarceration.

Staffords' home on Gilchrist for 25 years. Clifford Stafford was a UAW worker for 37 years.

Staffords’ home on Gilchrist for 25 years. Clifford Stafford was a UAW worker for 37 years. The family was illegally foreclosed on and lost the home. After that, they fought for the rights of others in the same plight.

For 25 years, while Stafford and her husband Clifford lived at 15474 Gilchrist, she acted as latchkey caregiver to all the children on the block who got home before their parents made it back from work. She even cared for the children of Emmett and Trenise Wyldon.

The latter individual, the actual signer of the mortgage in question, was charged as a co-defendant in the case, said she would inform on the Staffords and others, and got her charges dismissed.

The Michigan Department of Corrections probation report noted that Stafford had taken care of her six younger siblings growing up, had never been convicted of any offense, and made only $700 a month in Social Security benefits. That report recommended an 18-month sentence of probation.

Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court January 14, 2009 after a hearing pending trial. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Bernard L. Madoff leaves US Federal Court January 14, 2009 after a hearing pending trial.  TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Hathaway commented cynically, “Well Bernie Madoff didn’t have a criminal record either.”

Stafford’s sentence was almost identical to that earlier handed down to former cop William Melendez, 13 months to 10 years for the near-fatal beating of motorist Floyd Dent in January, 2015. Melendez was earlier sued in a dozen cases in federal court, two involving killings of unarmed men.

The Wayne County Prosecutor listed Wells Fargo Bank as the complainant in the case, which involved a mortgage on a Belleville, Michigan home obtained by Trenise Wyldon. Wells Fargo, however, told VOD they had never asked for a criminal prosecution. They said any criminal restitution charges should go to Fannie Mae instead.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Douglas said Fannie Mae, not listed as a complainant, had already received $206,748 plus insurance costs for the sale of the house, and was not asking for restitution. However, Hathaway set restitution at $75,000.

But Douglas then re-worked the sentencing guidelines in the case to a higher level of 10, with Stafford assessed as a “leader” in the alleged offenses over her husband and previous co-defendant Wyldon, the actual signatory to the mortgage. Judge Hathaway nodded approval every step of the way. Wyldon was earlier tried on a misdemeanor count of filing a false credit request, pled guilty, then had her charges dismissed after she agreed to testify against others in the case.

Attorney Anthony Lubkin

Attorney Anthony Lubkin

Attorney Anthony Lubkin, who represented Clifford Stafford at the preliminary exam before 36th District Court judge Ronald Giles, earlier told VOD that Judge Hathaway had agreed Sept. 2 to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence, including Wyldon’s missing testimony, in response to briefs he filed after the exam, then mysteriously changed his mind Sept. 8 and set a trial date.

“What happened in those six days to change his mind?” Lubkin asked. Hathaway was appointed to his position in 2001 and then ran for re-election three times. He is up for re-election this November, but he has asked the Secretary of State for an exemption on filing his campaign finance reports.

Lubkin said he had recommended that the Staffords’ new attorneys, Patrick McQueeney and Steve Lockhart, file an interlocutory motion to the Appeals Court objecting to setting the trial. That was never done.

On the court record Dec. 4, the last day of Stafford’s trial, Hathaway firmly ordered an evidentiary Ginther hearing on a pro se motion for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel, even after Stafford said she had changed her mind and wanted to withdraw the motion for the hearing.  But on Feb. 16 Hathaway said he was holding a “third” sentencing hearing after earlier reschedulings.

Atty. Craig Tank

Atty. Craig Tank

Stafford’s newly-retained attorney Craig Tank made no motion for the record objecting to a sentencing hearing, although he had been retained to conduct the Ginther hearing. He later told this reporter that Ginther hearings are only held AFTER sentencing hearings, a legal falsehood.

In his first meeting with them, Tank told the Staffords that charges of “obstruction of justice” for filing a “quiet title” lawsuit in the case using two attorneys, and then making a complaint to the Wayne County Deed Fraud Task Force, violated their First Amendment rights. He said nothing of the sort during sentencing.

Tank never obtained the trial transcripts prior to the hearing, as he told the Staffords would do, and repeatedly said he had not been present at the trial. He told Hathaway, “All I ask the court to do is give a sentence tempered by justice and fairness,” never once asserting any belief in his client’s innocence.

Stafford told VOD before the hearing that Tank had “promised” her she would get probation, an unethical promise also made by her previous attorney Steve Lockhart. Sentencing is solely up to the judge, even if he DOES promise something off the record.

Hathawaybiasbox2Judge Hathaway, dressed in wrinkled clothing and at times mixing up facts, painted Stafford as an incorrigible villain guilty of extreme offenses.

“Nationally, we experienced the greatest crisis in history, the 2008-09 mortgage meltdown and deep recession which followed, a huge disaster,” Hathaway opined. “One can actually point to and ascribe blame to specific individuals and organizations, cite the excesses, fraud and greed of the mortgage banking industry, with dozens if not hundreds of mortgage bankers who should be in prison. The lender [Wells Fargo] in this case was abysmally negligent, the mortgage brokers and title insurance companies downright crooked, but they could not act without crooked borrowers who had no intention to pay back the loans.”

Hathaway then repeated an act of misconduct committed by AP Douglas at trial, saying, “You could see her [Stafford’s] signature right up there on the screen. Anybody that saw the evidence could not have come to any other conclusion.”

Douglas had displayed a clearly Xeroxed copy of a warranty deed (a line ran down the middle because the Xerox was running out of ink), next to Stafford’s original signature on the Deed Fraud Task Force complaint, and asked the jury to use their own judgment as if they were certified forensic handwriting experts.

Deed Fraud Task Force Investigator Mary Williams-Jones testified during trial that she had whited out the signature on the alleged original of the document, made 30 copies, and had Stafford sign each one, contradicting a Michigan State forensic examiner’s advice to obtain 30 DIFFERENT examples of Stafford’s signature on OTHER documents made PRIOR to the execution of the questioned document.

Deed Fraud Task Force Invest. Mary Jones, a 25-year police department veteran with no real estate training.

Deed Fraud Task Force Invest. Mary Jones, a 25-year police department veteran with no real estate training.

Douglas could easily have used one of those copies for display on the screen.

Stafford contended all along that she was a victim of identity theft, that the name of her company and her own name and signature had been stolen for the profit of others, and that neither she nor her husband was present at any session in which the Belleville home was purchased.

Bank records show Stafford signed a $44,000 check from Reliant Title over to Valerie Kauth of the same company. Kauth also endorsed a check made out to “Private Consumer Consulting Services” although she had no business connection to the Staffords’ company at all. Other parties referred to as complicit but not charged by Judge Hathaway:

Nauticaripoff

Uncharged parties in Nautica ripoff: Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae, Valerie and Kevin Kauth of Reliant Title, Avis Washington and Glen P. Boggess, Jr, Brokers of NOVA 2000 and Loan Origination Concepts.

In a moving letter to the Court, Mary Stafford wrote before her sentencing: 

This is my life as sister, wife, mother friend and caregiver and loving human being who has shown kindness to all my family and others in my life. This is what life is all about; you should help those who cannot help themselves.

This is the first time in my life I have faced a life change involving charges that could send me to jail for committing a crime!

Black family                   Date one: In December 1982 I, met Clifford Stafford based on blind date. In December of 1983, we went out for dinner and after that we said let’s get together after the New Year.  We got married May 9, 1983 in the State of Ohio, Lucas County. Clifford was married and got divorced. He had 2 children in that union, Clifford L. Stafford Jr. and Lashawda Stafford. One year later I gave birth to our son, Kevin L. Stafford born on May 18, 1984. Clifford received full custody of his children, at that time, Lashawda was 14 years old, Clifford was 12 years old, and also Monique was 12 years old.

In 1985 his daughter at the young age if 15 years old got pregnant; she had Nathaniel Hardrick. He came to live we us at 9 months old, under a court order. Lashawda went to Job Corps in Ohio.  Nathaniel lived with us until  age 15 in 1999.  Kevin and Nat grew up like brothers, not like uncle and nephew.

Grandmother and child                   I would like to go to March 2000. This is when my sister Rosalind Green and my daughter Monique M. Stafford, also my brother Larry Sheridan, moved in to the same home that my husband and I had. This gave me and my family an easy way to take care of my sister and daughter.

My sister Rosalind Green was a victim of street violence; she was shot in the head and the police never found out who shot her!

My sister suffered with seizures and was paralyzed on the left side of her body for the rest of her natural life. Rosalind did not have any children but she a loving family that care for her. My sister passed December 28, 2015

Around that say time my daughter Monique went in to kidney failure. Monique was only 25 years old when she found out she was born with one kidney. My daughter came in to this “WORLD” 2 1/2 pounds 3 ounces, she is fighter to live her life to fullest.

At the age of 50 years old I gave my kidney to my daughter Monique through Henry Ford Hospital as a living donor. I was one of the first living donors.

The gift of a kidney.

The gift of a kidney.

In 2004 Monique lost the kidney that I gave her and she went back on dialysis, and back on the transplant list, as of today. [She is a fighter for life].  All at the same time my girlfriend Sherry asked me for help while she was working. Her mother had dementia. I would take Monique to dialysis and go to Sherry’s home, to bathe and dress and also give her mother Florence breakfast and lunch. I sat with her until 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Florence passed on at the age of 82 years, October of 2005.

Let go back to 2003 when my husband Clifford moved his sister Shirley J. Stafford into our home. She was born disabled at birth, mentally challenged. Around the same time in 2004 we found out Shirley had breast cancer. She didn’t deserve that kind pain and suffering. Shirley was a sweet warm-hearted, happy and friendly human being I knew. She loved sports especially college games like basketball and she knew all the players on every team. Shirley received chemotherapy at Botsford Hospital. I think she received three (3) treatments and then went to Garden City Hospital where she received six  (6) radiation treatments with medication.  Shirley had some side effects from all the treatment. She made it through all that. Shirley was then a cancer survivor for four years. She got her blood drawn every month for the rest of her life.

In the middle or end of 2010 Shirley’s cancer returned. Now she is going to Providence Cancer Center on Foster Drive off 9 mile. Again she received six (6) chemotherapy treatments, but the cancer spread to her left breast; it had to be removed. She was put on hospice and they sent her home because it nothing else they could do. Shirley passed June 14, 2014. I sat with her until Shirley took her last breath and she was gone.

Related stories:

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/2016/01/15/judge-hathaway-blames-2008-mortgage-meltdown-on-homeowner-advocate-couple-the-staffords

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/2015/12/19/whos-guilty-of-detroit-mortgage-fraud-not-wells-fargo-but-community-advocates-says-county/

#FreeMaryStafford, #VoteNOonJudgeMichaelHathaway, #TighCroff, #CliffordStafford, #MaryJones, #forgery, #mortgagefraud, #bankfraud, #unjustconviction, #biasonthebench, #toobigtofail, #mortgagemeltdown, #WayneCoTreasurer, #WayneCoROD, #questioneddocument, #FreeRevPinkney, #Beatbackthebullies, #AdvocatesforBaxter


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BI-PARTISAN DEAL LED TO FLINT WATER POISONING FOR PROFIT: THE KAREGNONDI WATER AUTHORITY (KWA)

VIDEO ABOVE: Flint water activist collapses into coma

NBC 25’s Dave Bondy talked to an emotional Sharon Moore following the congressional hearings in Washington on February 3. Moore’s son Jerome contacted Bondy on Friday, Feb. 12 telling him that Sharon collapsed earlier in the week while protesting during Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 Budget Presentation at Lansing Capital building. Jerome Moore tells us his mother remains in a Lansing hospital after waking up from a coma. She is now conscious and talking to nurses.

********************************************************************************

Time cover FLintNo Flint water crisis if no Karegnondi Water Authority

KWA started “greatest water war in Michigan history”

GLWA widened war, taking over all of  DWSD

KWA initiator Jeff Wright, a Democrat, tied to scandal-plagued Synagro, alleged money-laundering, shady campaign financing 

Wright prioritized selling untreated water to DTE, other businesses over the people’s need for treated water

 

By Diane Bukowski

February 14, 2015

DETROIT – The mass lead poisoning of the people of Flint, Michigan, a cold-blooded act of domestic terrorism, was contrived for the profit of the Wall Street bond market, corporations and politicians by both Republicans and Democrats with their own agendas

Karegnondi Water Group members get Bond Buyers' "Midwest Deal of the year award in 2014.

Karegnondi Water Group members get Bond Buyers’ “Midwest Deal of the Year” award in 2014. Without them, the poisoning of Flint would not have happened.

The two parties are battling the matter out in electoral debates, with Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder justifiably though hypocritically castigated by Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton for his role in this unspeakable catastrophe.

“The governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care,” Clinton said during the NBC News debate in Charleston, S.C. “If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action.” Clinton’s Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders simply asked Snyder to resign.

In the most  cynically exploitative campaign move so far, Clinton just published the video below. It calls for donations to a Flint non-profit, rather than pledging billions from the U.S. Treasury to save Flint, just as the U.S. Treasury bailed out General Motors, which left Flint, taking with it 72,000 jobs.

No politician has expressed any intention of locking Snyder and cronies up for life without parole, the only sentence appropriate under Michigan law, or of providing the billions of dollars necessary to rebuild not only Flint’s water infrastructure, but the city itself, devastated for decades by its abandonment by General Motors and other corporations.

Ten Flint residents have already died from Legionnaire’s disease linked to contamination of the city’s water.  Tens of thousands more, especially children and babies, face irreversible life-time damage due to the neurological and behavioral effects of lead, according to the World Health Organization.

GMFlintboxA petition to recall Snyder has finally been approved by the notoriously recalcitrant State Elections Board and will no doubt receive mass support, as it should.

But make no mistake—getting rid of Snyder will not cut out the cancer of racism and profiteering that has devastated Flint, Detroit, and cities across the U.S. for years.

The most blatant example of the bi-partisan midwifery of the Flint water catastrophe is the creation of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), in what a Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) spokesman called “the greatest water war in Michigan’s history.”

He was quoted before the creation of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), which has since robbed the people of Detroit, the largest Black majority city in the U.S., of the entire DWSD, the country’s third largest water and sewerage system, founded in 1836, which had been serving 40 percent of Michigan’s population.

The poisoning of the city of Flint, which is also a majority Black, would not have happened without the creation of the KWA at the instigation of Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright, a white Democrat who has been Drain Commissioner since 2001 and spent 23 years prior to that in the department under former Drain Commissioner Anthony Ragnone.

According to U.S. Census figures, Genesee County is 75.2 percent white, and 20.6 percent Black, with a 21 percent poverty level. Flint is 37.4 percent white, and 56.6 percent Black, with a 41.5 percent poverty level.

In 2013, the KWA began building a 63-mile pipeline to Lake Huron that runs parallel to DWSD’s pipeline for the region. While boasting it will lower water rates, the Authority admits the pipeline will only deliver raw water, unlike the DWSD, which delivers fully treated water. Communities which sign on to it will have to treat their own water, creating ways to do so at additional costs to customers and profits to contractors. Wright said in 2011 that he wanted to bring raw water in for the benefit of businesses in the area.

The pipeline was supposed to have been up for operation by 2015.

Jeff Wright, CEO of KWA, Genesee County Drain Commissioner

Jeff Wright, CEO of KWA, Genesee County Drain Commissioner

The KWA now includes the “Genesee County Drain Commissioner, Lapeer County Drain Commissioner, Lapeer City, Sanilac County Drain Commissioner and the City of Flint,” according to its website. St. Clair County is reportedly also considering membership as Wright courts more regional customers.

Wright, who has a history of shady dealings with water contractors, began the push to create the KWA in 2006. Snyder’s appointee, Flint Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz, later endorsed it as well. In 2013, Wright got the Democratic City Council of Flint to agree to disconnect the city from the DWSD, which had supplied high-quality water to Flint residents since 1967, and connect with the KWA instead.

Due to KWA construction delays, however, Snyder and Kurtz ordered the ultimately disastrous long-term use of the polluted Flint River in the interim, falsely claiming that Detroit had refused to negotiate better rates for its Genesee County customers. While the Flint Water Treatment Plant, using the Flint River, has always been a back-up water supply to DWSD, which gets its water from Lake Huron, the plant was never outfitted to operate with river water for more than 20 days, on an emergency basis.

DTE's Greenwood Energy Center

DTE’s Greenwood Energy Center in Avoca, MI is on the proposed Karegnondi line.

VOD reader Peter Bernard wrote, “DTE has been involved in the formation of KWA since the beginning. DTE didn’t need treated water to run its turbines. Was it the demand of DTE for untreated water as soon as Flint withdrew from DWSD that caused Flint to pump untreated water into its supply system? I worked for Detroit Edison as a summer intern 60 years ago and they always thought pure water was an extra expense since super-heated stem automatically purified the water driving the steam turbines.”

In 2011, Ron Fonger of the Flint Journal reported that DTE told the KWA board it was interested in purchasing up to three million gallons of untreated water per day from the Authority for its Greenwood Energy Plant.

“Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright called the news ‘very encouraging’ during a meeting of the KWA Board of Directors today, and said others could follow ‘as more businesses are made aware of (what we are doing and) the lower cost of untreated water,'” Fonger wrote, adding that Wright said KWA would work with DTE.

Map shows KWA pipeline in red, DWSD pipelines in blue.

Map shows KWA pipeline in red, DWSD pipelines in blue.

In 2014, the Bond Buyer magazine gave KWA the Midwest Bond Buyer of the Year award during an elaborate ceremony in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, for its second sale of $220 million in bonds to finance the pipeline, an intake facility, and two pumping stations.

It earlier sold $35 billion in bonds despite Detroit’s bankruptcy filing.

“Long before Detroit filed its Chapter 9 bankruptcy case in the summer of 2013, Flint and Genesee County, Michigan saw the need to break away from their dependence on the Detroit water system,” the narrator of a video shown at the ceremony said in a disingenuous, factually inaccurate introduction.

“In 2010 they formed the Karegnondi Water Authority, the two governments’ long-term strategy to deliver a more reliable water supply at more reasonable rates. After years of planning and crafting a bond structure with dual backstops to protect investors, the Authority hit the market in early April with its inaugural issue for $220 million in bonds. . . .The governments expect to cover the debt repayments with system revenues, and both put their limited tax GBO payments behind the bonds.”

The narrator said that Genesee County also pledged to cover Flint’s portions of the bonds if it is not able to do so under state emergency management.

Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick receive Bond Buyer award in 2004 for disastrous $1.5 billion COPS deal.

“Entering a market where local governments across Michigan faced heightened penalties, the authorities sold the bonds to more than 30 investors and achieved borrowing costs below projections,” the narrator said. “The deal paves the way for the County to trade in annual rate increases of about 11.5 percent for ones closer to five.”

The presentation recalled a similar Bond Buyer award given to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his then-CFO Sean Werdlow in 2004, for the disastrous sale of $1.5 billion in “Certificates of Participation,” or “Pension Obligation Bonds,” an amount that ballooned to $2.8 billion with default penalties and interest swaps. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr cited the deal as one reason for his improperly authorized 2013 Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing, but never followed through on a lawsuit he filed calling it “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.”

In 2013, Tucker, Young, Jackson and Tull (TYJT), a Detroit-based engineering and consulting company, was contracted by the Michigan Department of Treasury to provide a study of the proposed KWA, contrasting it with the advantages of Flint remaining with the DWSD. The study strongly contradicted claims the Bond Buyer made at the 2014 awards ceremony, and other made in a study contracted by the community of Swartz Creek. (See full TYJT study at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/FLINT-KWA-TYJT-water_report.pdf,)

DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson

DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson

“The Flint City Council’s approval of the Genesee County Drain Commission-backed idea to link Flint and a proposed multi-county connector effectively launched the greatest water war in Michigan’s history, “ Bill Johnson, communications head for the DWSD, said in a press release. “The action ignores a credible state-sponsored study that came out against the ill-advised Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) project. And the vote makes no connection to Flint’s fiscal reality. All things considered, the City of Flint is best served by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).” (See full release at http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/water_war_undermines_flint-dwsd_relations-2013-14.pdf.)

The study concluded that the cheapest and safest option out of eight through 2042 for Flint’s water supply was to provide it directly through an adaptation of DWSD’s Imlay City pumping station, which is closer to Flint. DWSD has always provided water for the area through its Lake Huron Water Treatment Plant at Ft. Gratiot, Michigan, which sends it to the Imlay City station to go to Flint. Flint then supplies it to other regional customers.  (See graph below.)

DWSD v KWA chart

TYJT noted that the KWA proposal did not account for cost overruns on construction contracts, an almost inevitable occurrence, or provide a back-up water supply as does the DWSD for all its customers in the event of failure of the primary supply.

Why did Wright ignore this study? His connections with shady contractors during his tenure as Genesee County Drain Commissioner beginning in 2001, and earlier in his 23 years serving under former Drain Commissioner Anthony Ragnone, are well-known.

Southwest community organizer Denise Hearn leads protest against Synagro boondoogle outside the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant July 31, 2008.

Southwest community organizer Denise Hearn leads protest against Synagro’s Detroit boondoogle outside the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant July 31, 2008.

Wright himself formerly owned a water consulting business called Tara/Aqua Management. During his term as Commissioner, he has signed multiple contracts with Synagro Technologies, Inc. for sewage sludge removal, dewatering, and land application at the county’s Linden and Ragnone treatment plants, from 2002 through 2009, according to a 2010 Flint Journal expose by reporter Ron Fonger.

At least two of the Genesee Drain Commission Synagro contracts, in 2003 and 2005, were signed by James Rosendall, former Synagro vice-president of development who went to prison for 11 months, in connection with the Synagro/Carlyle  bribery scandal that brought down former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, DWSD head Victor Mercado, and former City Council President Monica Conyers, among other Black city officials.

Synagro VP James Rosendall.

Synagro VP James Rosendall.

Rosendall was the only white who was jailed, while Black officials who refused to act as FBI informants received terms as long as five years. Judge Avern Cohn barred the defense from asking why Synagro and the Carlyle Group were not charged in the RICO indictment.

Wright was an FBI informant against Conyers’ aide Sam Riddle during the probe. Many officials involved in the probe acted as informants rather than being charged as well.

Synagro was purchased by the insidious Carlyle Group in 2007, one of the largest private equity and alternative investment firms in the world which has extensive ties to the global defense industry.

The Carlyle Group’s board has included politicians from around the world, including former U.S. Presidents George H. W Bush and George W. Bush, and their former cabinet members U.S. Secretary of State James Baker III, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, also former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Arthur Levitt, who served under Pres. Bill Clinton. It is connected to the Bin Laden family and to former Phillippines dictator Fidel Ramos, among numerous others. Synagro went bankrupt in 2013 and was sold.

carlyleconnectionsThe KWA’s current major contractors include the omnipresent L D’Agostini & Sons, based in Macomb, at a starting cost $24.6 million for the pipeline and $11.06 million for the intake station on Lake Huron. D’Agostini earlier sued the DWSD because it was barred from further contracting with the department after its involvement in the RICO indictment of Kilpatrick et. al. was exposed. D’Agostini previously did 70 percent of its business with the Department.

The Alabama-based American Cast Iron Pipe Company, which operates one of the largest ductile iron pipe casting plants in the world, has a contract with a starting cost of $84.1 million, while the Flint-based E & L Construction’s contract for the Imlay City pump station has a starting cost of $11.78 million. All this work duplicates DWSD pipelines and intake and pumping stations already servicing the area.

Pipe for Karegnondi Water Authority is hoisted into Lake Huron.

Pipe for Karegnondi Water Authority is hoisted into Lake Huron.

Recently, Channel 2 reporter Charlie LeDuff interviewed Jeff Wright in a story focusing on the profits made by contractors on the Flint water switch. They included Kurtz campaign contributors AECOM, with $18 billion in revenues in 2015, and the engineering firm hired to ensure that the switch to Flint River water would be safe, LAN (Lockwood, Andrews and Norman). LeDuff reports that firm’s original contract began at $140,000 and ballooned later to $4 million, despite the fact that it did NOTHING to ensure the safety of the city’s water.

(VOD takes issue with LeDuff’s initial contention that Flint ratepayers decided to opt for the KWA because they were paying “outrageous” rates to Detroit. That is a claim that has been made by DWSD’s wholesale customers in six counties for decades, never with an addendum that the communities involved add their own surcharges to the wholesale rates. LeDuff also appears to conclude at the end that water flowing through Flint’s pipes now from DWSD is safe, which it will not be until complete replacement of the corroded infrastructure. )

Some related stories from other media:

http://www.bondbuyer.com/video/doty-2014-midwest-deal-of-the-year-1069549-1.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2014/03/kwa_officials_think_credit_rat.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2011/05/dte_energy_tells_regional_wate.html

Related articles from VOD:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2016/01/24/maddow-snyders-new-mdeq-chief-opposes-feds-flint-water-order-flint-town-hall-jan-27-9-pm/

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

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

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

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/2015/08/18/judge-signs-order-to-lower-flint-water-rates-35-stop-shut-offs-tax-liens/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/07/10/regional-water-czars-plan-permanent-shut-offs-to-large-parts-of-detroit-while-increasing-rates/

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2010/06/synagro_contract_provides_new.html

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2005/09/fbi_seizes_wrights_campaign_le.html

http://transmissionsmedia.com/carlyle-group-and-bushs-crusades/

#JeffWright, #FlintWater, #KWA, #FlintLivesMatter, #Waterislife, #Beatbackthebullies, #DAREA, #Detroit2Flint, #BlacklivesmatterDetroit, #DetroitWater, #OurWaterOurVote, #Right2Water, #Saveourchildren, #StandupNow, #SaveFlint, #SaveDetroit 


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CARRIER A/C, OWNED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES, MOVING 1400 INDY JOBS TO MEXICO; WORKERS REACT WITH RAGE

Posted to YouTube by Joe Brunner

February 11, 2016       

2,184,879 views

Carrier Air Conditioner [parent company United Technologies] is moving production to Monterrey, Mexico putting 1,400 Indianapolis Jobs south of the border in 2017.

From TheIndyChannel.com Staff

February 10, 2016

Carrier A/C plant in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Carrier A/C plant in Indianapolis, Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS — There were gasps of anger and disbelief. There was yelling. At least one person in the crowd of Carrier employees shouted things that cannot be written here.

The employees had just been told the heating, cooling, air conditioning, and refrigeration company was relocating its Indianapolis plant to Monterrey, Mexico.

Carrier workers react with rage to announcement by Chris Nelson, seen speaking at top.

Carrier workers react with rage to announcement by Chris Nelson, seen speaking at top.

Around 1,400 people work at the plant. According to a release from Carrier, there will be no immediate impact on jobs.

The relocation process will take place over a 3-year period, according to the company. The work movement is expected to start in 2017, with completion in 2019.

Chris Nelson, president of HVAC Systems and Services North America, released a statement about the move.

“This move is intended to address the challenges we continue to face in a rapidly changing HVAC industry, with the continued migration of the HVAC industry to Mexico, including our suppliers and competitors, and ongoing cost and pricing pressures driven, in part, by new regulatory requirements. Relocating our operations to a region where we have existing infrastructure and a strong supplier base will allow us to operate more cost effectively so that we can continue to produce high-quality HVAC products that are competitively positioned while continuing to meet customer needs.”

Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson

“This decision is difficult and we recognize the impact on employees, their families and the community,” Nelson said regarding the status of the employees. “We are committed to ensuring that our employees are treated respectfully and to working closely with their representatives throughout this transition.”

VODAccording to its website, United Technologies had $57.9 billion in net sales in 2014, and employs nearly 200,000 people across the world.

“A leader in the global building systems and aerospace industries, United Technologies invents new and better ways to keep people safe, comfortable, productive and on the move,” the site boasts. “By combining a passion for science with precision engineering, we create the smart, sustainable solutions the world needs.

The F-35 Lightning II jet, the next-generation fighter for the United States and its allies, is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine. The U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35B variant is on track for initial operational capability in 2015, followed by the Air Force’s F-35A in 2016 and the Navy’s F-35C in 2019.

The F-35 Lightning II jet, the next-generation fighter for the United States and its allies, is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine. The U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35B variant is on track for initial operational capability in 2015, followed by the Air Force’s F-35A in 2016 and the Navy’s F-35C in 2019. Photo: UTC

“Our commercial businesses include Otis elevators and escalators and UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a leading provider of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire and security systems, and building automation and controls. Our aerospace businesses include Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines and UTC Aerospace Systems. United Technologies also operates a central research organization that pursues technologies for improving the performance, energy efficiency and cost of its products and processes.

To view full company profile, click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/UTC_Company_Overview_151104_FINAL.pdf

And the beat goes on–while Pratt & Whitney helps the U.S. obliterate people in wars across the world, its parent company UTC is obliterating the jobs of people here at home. Most comments on a Twitter post called on people to vote either for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

WAKE UP AND RISE UP, FOLKS! No matter who is elected, the next assault on U.S. workers in pursuit of war-mongering profits is coming to your neighborhood soon.


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STOP THE RAILROAD OF COMMUNITY ADVOCATE MARY ANN STAFFORD; COME TO COURT FRI. FEB. 12 AT 9AM

RICOBUSTERSPublished on Jan 28, 2016

We are on a mission of “Vindicating Mary of False Charges by Government Terrorists”

Please go to our CrowdRise fundraising website: https://www.crowdrise.com/vindicatingmaryoffalsechargesbygovernmentterrorists5/fundraiser/cliffordstafford

DO NOT VOTE FOR WAYNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE MICHAEL HATHAWAY THIS NOVEMBER

The ordeal of Clifford and Mary Ann Stafford at the hands of the Domestic Terrorist unit known as the Wayne County Deed Fraud Task force continues.

Clifford and Mary Ann Stafford

Clifford and Mary Ann Stafford

Mr. Stafford was sentenced to 18 months probation Jan. 13 for “obstruction of justice” related to a predatory Wells Fargo mortgage neither Stafford was connected to. Wells Fargo itself stated it did not initiate the criminal complaint although it is listed as the complainant.

On the same day, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway (of “MO’ WATER SHUT-OFFS’ fame ***), ordered that a postconviction “Ginther hearing” be held for Mary Ann Stafford, after reviewing her pro se motion for the hearing.

The motion alleges “ineffective assistance of counsel” during the Staffords’ trial Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, 2015, referring to attorney Steve Lockhart, and also references both prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.

Judge Hathaway first assigned attorney David Goldberg to conduct the hearing. When Goldberg told Mrs. Stafford that he was not going to hold the hearing as ordered, Mrs. Stafford fired him and retained another attorney at significant cost, Craig Tank, to do so.

Judge Michael Hathaway

Judge Michael Hathaway

However, Mr. Tank has now informed VOD that he cannot hold the Ginther hearing because there is no time to review trial transcripts before a sentencing date Judge Hathaway set for Friday, Feb. 12 at 9 a.m. Instead of objecting to Hathaway’s action, Tank said he would deal with Ginther issues AFTER the sentencing.

However, the Michigan Supreme Court decision in Ginther says such an evidentiary hearing must be held at the trial court level:

Although Ginther would have us reverse his conviction, until he establishes the factual substantiality of the claims that the judge should have disqualified himself, that another lawyer should have been substituted and that the plea of guilty was impermissibly induced, the only relief we could properly grant would be to require an evidentiary hearing concerning those claims.

A defendant who wishes to advance claims that depend on matters not of record canproperly be required to seek at the trial court level an evidentiary hearing for thepurpose of establishing his claims with evidence as a precondition to invoking the processes of the appellate courts except in the rare case where the record manifestlyshows that the judge would refuse a hearing; in such a case the defendant should seek on appeal, not a reversal of his conviction, but an order directing the trial court to conduct the needed hearing.

Click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/People-v-Ginther.pdf

Meanwhile, another pro se motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct against Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Douglas and misconduct as a public official against Investigator Mary Williams-Jones is being prepared in defense of Mrs. Stafford. With reference to that motion, see story below:

Prosecutor who sent innocent man to death row is disbarred

Anthony Graves, sent to death row on falsified evidence.

Anthony Graves, sent to death row on falsified evidence.

February 6, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas — A former prosecutor who used false testimony and withheld evidence to send a now-exonerated man to Texas’ death row has lost an appeal to overturn his disbarment.

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/1TPB1fq ) reports that the Board of Disciplinary Appeals on Monday upheld the decision of the State Bar of Texas to disbar Charles Sebesta. The board’s decision is final.

The bar revoked the Burleson County district attorney’s law license in June, finding he had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct in the case of Anthony Graves.

Graves was sentenced to death in 1994 in the slayings of six people in South Texas two years earlier. A federal appeals court reversed his conviction in 2006.

Prosecutor Charles Sebesta loses law license.

Graves spent 18 years in prison, including 12 on death row. He filed a complaint in January 2014.

___

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/prosecutor-who-sent-innocent-man-to-death-row-is-disbarred/ar-BBpikfg?li=BBnbfcL&ocid=U348DHP

READ MARY A. STAFFORD’S LETTER DETAILING THE COUPLE’S LIFE AT :

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/CLIFFORD-MARY-LIFE-STORY-edit.pdf

Related stories:

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/udge-hathaway-blames-2008-mortgage-meltdown-on-homeowner-advocate-couple-the-staffords/

*** http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/12/02/judge-michael-hathaway-seizes-water-protest-verdict-from-black-detroit-jury-halts-trial/


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GREECE GRINDS TO HALT IN GENERAL STRIKE OVER PENSION CUTS, AUSTERITY

Greek workers from wide swath of unions participate in general strike against austerity measures, pension cuts Feb. 4, 2016

Greek workers from wide swath of unions participate in general strike against austerity measures, pension cuts Feb. 4, 2016

Opposition to pension reform has cut across wide swath of occupational groups

Youth participation widespread

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February 4, 2016

Services across Greece ground to a halt Thursday as workers joined in a massive general strike that cancelled flights, ferries and public transport, shut down schools, courts and pharmacies, and left public hospitals with emergency staff.

Riot police in Athens duck petrol bomb thrown by protesters Feb. 4, 2016

Riot police in Athens duck petrol bomb thrown by protesters Feb. 4, 2016

Well over 20,000 supporters of a Communist party-backed union were marching through central Athens, while around 10,000 more people — including about 1,000 lawyers in suits and ties — were gathering for a separate demonstration. A heavy police presence was deployed in the capital, as previous protests have often degenerated into riots.

Unions are angry at pension reforms that are part of Greece’s third international bailout. The left-led government is trying to overhaul the country’s ailing pension system by increasing social security contributions to avoid pension cuts, but critics say the reforms will lead many to lose two-thirds of their income to contributions and taxes.

Opposition to the reform has been vociferous, uniting a disparate group of professions, including farmers, artists, taxi drivers, lawyers, doctors, engineers and seamen among others.

Taxi drivers block traffic, battle police

Taxi drivers block traffic, battle police

Demonstrations were also planned in Thessaloniki — where about 200 taxi drivers drove through the city centre honking their horns in protest Thursday — and other Greek cities.

Thursday’s general strike is the most significant the coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced since he initially came to power about a year ago. As an opposition party, Tsipras’ radical left Syriza party had led opposition to pension reforms, but he was forced into a dramatic policy U-turn last year when he faced the stark choice of signing up to a third bailout or the country being kicked out of the eurozone.

Syriza has even issued a statement backing Thursday’s strike.

A passenger looks at an announcement board inside the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, as flight controllers hold a work stoppage during a 24-hour general strike against planned pension reforms in Thursday. (Michalis Karagiannis/Reuters)

A passenger looks at an announcement board inside the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, as flight controllers hold a work stoppage during a 24-hour general strike against planned pension reforms in Thursday. (Michalis Karagiannis/Reuters)

Athens pensioner Yannis Kouvalakis said Tsipras’ government “fooled” Greeks by promising to reverse austerity cuts.

“Because they are from the left, what happened? Was the situation saved? Things got worse. They’d said they’d give some money to pensioners or the unemployed, increase the minimum wage to 750 euros (per month),” he said. “They cut five euros from my pension … What can they give? Forget it.”

The strike comes as the government negotiates with Greece’s international debt inspectors, who returned to Athens this week to review progress on the country’s bailout obligations. The central Athens hotel where the inspectors were staying was heavily guarded by police.

Farmers blockade Athens to Thessalonki highway.

Farmers blockade Athens to Thessalonki highway.

Ferries between Greece’s islands and the mainland remained tied up in port as part of the strike, while only limited public transport was operating in Athens for a few hours in the day and taxis also stayed off the streets. More than a dozen domestic flights were cancelled, while farmers maintained their blockades of highways that have forced motorists into lengthy detours.

State-run hospitals were functioning on emergency staff, while state schools, many shops and gas stations were shut.

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