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DETROIT ELECTION REFORM UPDATE

Commission Report Triggers Ordinance Enactment Procedure

July 15, 2015

Tom Barrow, Pres. Citizens for Detroit's Future

Tom Barrow, Pres. Citizens for Detroit’s Future

This note is intended to update YOU on the progress of the Citizens for Detroit’s Future (CFDF) election reform Initiative.  First, we thank you for sharing our information and will continue to endeavor to keep you informed.

As president of CFDF, on Monday  I attended the full Detroit City Council meeting where the Detroit Election Commission issued its “Report” that the CFDF petition had been successful in gathering sufficient signatures to trigger Section 12-107 of the Charter.  This section covers the procedure to enact Ordinances by residents which have grown from a citizen’s Initiative.

Following the charter’s procedure in Section 12-107, the Council voted unanimously to both receive the Report and refer it and the Petition to the Council’s “Internal Operations Committee” (IOC).  The IOC handles such matters and is a necessary proper step as part Section 12-107.  While we have not seen the Report, it would seem that it should be dated May 28th which is what we have.  Based on that date, Council would have 60 days to vote to enact the Ordinance.

Free and fair elections in Detroit!

Free and fair elections in Detroit!

Following the process, CFDF learned that the IOC committee is headed by Council Member Andre Spivey and includes Council Members George Cushingberry and Janeé Ayers.  Council President Brenda Jones is an Ex-Officio member.  The IOC  WILL meet this morning at 10am on the 13th Floor of the Coleman A Young Building.  It is open to the public.

The Committee is expected to discuss the CFDF Initiative but it remains unclear what to expect.  The IOC has at least two options: 1) it could immediately report back to the full council with a recommendation to enact; 2) or it could set a date for a formal public hearing.   As president of CFDF,  I will attend the meeting and make myself available to Committee Members to answer questions and meet with folks who also attend.

Yours for a Better Detroit,

CITIZENS FOR DETROIT’S FUTURE 

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/106047192879983/


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DETROIT COPS WHO ALLEGEDLY HIT CAR THAT KILLED CHILDREN TO TESTIFY IN COURT MON. JULY 13

Jackson obituary_0001Cops are Richard Billingslea, Steven Fultz, Hakeem Patterson

Driver of car, Lorenzo Harris, faces exam on multiple felony charges

His parole was for possession of ecstasy, served 7 yrs.

Family members, neighbors say cops should be charged as well

#PoliceBrutality,  #StopPoliceChases   #JusticeforMakiahMichaelangelo, #policeviolence#blacklivesmatter, #blacklivesmatterDetroit, #policechase,  #pursuit#saveourchildren, #thisstopstoday , #MMCare, #Beatbackthebullies

By Diane Bukowski

July 12, 2015

Hakeem Patterson, one of three cops in car that allegedly hit Lorenzo Harris' car in high-speed chase, killing the Jackson children June 24, 2015. Facebook (photos of others were not available).

Hakeem Patterson, one of three cops in car that allegedly hit Lorenzo Harris’ car in high-speed chase, killing the Jackson children June 24, 2015. Facebook (photos of others were not available).

DETROIT – The three cops alleged to have bumped the car that hit and killed two young children, Makiah and Michaelangelo Jackson, 3 and 6 respectively, on June 24, are scheduled to testify against the driver of the Camaro, Lorenzo Harris, in court Mon. July 13, 2015, according to an article in the Detroit News.

The cops are Richard Billingslea, Steven Fultz, and Hakeem Patterson. They will appear in the courtroom of Judge Shannon Holmes in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice at 1:30 p.m. to testify at the preliminary examination of the car’s driver, Lorenzo Harris.

“[The police] were right on their rear, the police car bumped their tail a little bit, and the car flew up in the air,” a direct eyewitness standing with Makiah at the time told VOD during a community vigil June 26. “There was no need for the police to be that close. I yelled ‘WATCH OUT’ but it was too late. When the car hit them, both of them just looked at me. They screamed. It just keeps re-playing in my head.”

Lorenzo Harris in court July 6, 2015.

Lorenzo Harris in court July 6, 2015.

The police appeared to have used an official maneuver called a “Precision Immobiliation Technique,” or PIT. Subsequently, Detroit Police Chief James Craig reported that the dashboard camera in the police car was mysteriously not operable, even though the cops were “Special Ops,” and that police were not able to find a gun they claimed they saw in the car being chased.

Several others at the vigil confirmed the original witness’s statement. They added that the car then hit the light pole at the corner of Nottingham and Frankfort and careened down the next block, hitting and seriously injuring Darius Andrews, Jr. 3, Isaiah Williams, 5, and Zyaire Gardner, 7.  Neighbors said the cops were still in close pursuit.

“I feel that if they had anything to do with it, they should be held just as responsible as the driver,” said Ronald Antczak, fiancé of the children’s grandmother Nicole Jackson.

Denice Hill, a cousin of Zyaire Gardner and relative to the other injured children, said after the Jackson children’s funeral, “The police should have got charged because they could have stopped the chase. There are nothing but a bunch of kids playing during the day all the way down Nottingham.”

Ronald Antczak, fiancé of Makiah’s grandmother Nicole, third from left, helps carry her little pink coffin out after funeral July 2, 2015.

She said that Zyaire remained hospitalized in Ann Arbor with collapsed lungs, on a ventilator, and was expected to remain there for at least three months.

“Somebody needs to ask the police why they lied about this and said they called off the chase,” another relative told VOD. “They want us to respect them, but they don’t respect us. They chase everybody.”

Maria Miller, Communications officer for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, told VOD July 1, “We have not received anything from DPD regarding the officers; we are not conducting an investigation at this time. We have no further comments because there is a pending case against the driver of the car.”

Harris faces two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), two felony firearms charges,  three counts of  Failure to Stop At Scene of a Serious personal Injury Accident and two counts of failure to stop at the scene when at fault, causing death, three counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily impairment, and two counts  of fleeing police officers, first degree.

Carrying out Michaelangelos

Carrying out Michaelangelo’s little blue coffin.

According to court records, Harris previously served seven years in prison for possession of the drug ecstasy, out of a 6 mo.—10 year sentence imposed in 2006.  He was paroled on Aug. 22, 2013, to end March 20, 2016.

In 2011, a federal judge ruled that sentencing for ecstasy-related crimes is based on “selective and incomplete” evidence and “that it punishes Ecstasy-related crimes far more harshly than is scientifically justified,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Police in the June 24 chase, however, are heard on the audiotape published in the Detroit News article referring to a charge of carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), not ecstasy possession. (Hear audio below. Note police sirens are not heard until midway through the audio. Were they on at the beginning of chase to warn residents away?)

Harris completed three probation sentences for a variety of crimes in 2005 and 2006, and was found not guilty by a jury of carrying a concealed weapons and two other firearms charges, in 2008.

Mourners leave Mt. Zion

Mourners leave Burns Seventh Day Adventist Church.

During a somber, sorrowful funeral for Michaelangelo and Makiah Jackson July 2, a young woman sang “The Rose,” a heart-rending song whose lyrics are in the video at the end of this story, along with copies of the obituary. Bertha Matthews read some of numerous cards sent to the family, including a personal letter from Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware, and a card from DTE workers who evidently worked with one of the family members.

Weeping, a young man said, “Our lives are turned upside down. I was there with the witnesses. I had just had Michael on my lap before it happened, and a part of me got left with him. My little brother cracked up when he saw our babies yesterday. I love these kids, I wish it had been me instead.”

Mourners leave church after children's funeral July 2, 2015.

Mourners leave church after children’s funeral July 2, 2015.

Flowerbearers for Jackson children outside church.

Flowerbearers for Jackson children outside church.

BELOW, JOAN BAEZ SINGS “THE ROSE.” A BEAUTIFUL RENDITION OF THE SONG WAS GIVEN BY A YOUNG WOMAN DURING THE FUNERAL.

RELATED STORY:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/06/26/detroit-cops-kept-chase-going-after-2-children-hit-killed-then-3-others-seriously-injured/

REMAINDER OF OBITUARY PAGES (COVER AT TOP)

(Click on Jackson children obituary.compressed for full PDF copy.)

Jackson obituary_0002Jackson obituary_0003Jackson obituary_0004Jackson obituary_0005Jackson obituary_0006Jackson obituary_0007Jackson obituary_0008


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REGIONAL WATER CZARS PLAN PERMANENT SHUT-OFFS TO LARGE PARTS OF DETROIT WHILE INCREASING RATES

Peoples Water Board coalition kicks off Detroit2Flint water march in downtown Detroit July 2, 2015.

Peoples Water Board coalition kicks off Detroit2Flint water justice march in downtown Detroit July 2, 2015. Photo: Valerie Jean, PWB Facebook

Great Lakes Water Authority plans to ‘down-size,’ permanently shut off water service to parts of Detroit and other majority-Black cities in Michigan

Master Plan: shutdown of Detroit’s Northeast plant, reduction of water intake  and booster sites, decreased infrastructure improvements

Banks get $5.7 B + while water rates, shut-offs, sinkholes increase

#OurWaterOurVote Coalition continues referendum campaign to shut down Great Lakes Water Authority

City Council likely to re-vote rate increases Tues. July 14

#WATERISLIFE #StandUpNow, @WeThePeopleDet, #OurWaterOurVote@Detroit2700plus, @DETWaterBrigade,  #DetroitWater, #Right2Water, #Detroit2Flint, @MCHumanRights, @PeoplesWaterDet, @ACLUofMichigan,  #‎noconsent, ‪#‎freetheirish5, ‪#‎neweradetroit, ‪#‎stopthewatershutoffs, ‪#‎nowaynopay

By Diane Bukowski

July 8, 2015

Water Works Park administration bldg. The WWP treatment plant will be the only DWSD fresh water treatment plant left in the city of Detroit if the GLWA shuts down its Northwest plant.

Water Works Park administration bldg. The WWP treatment plant will be the only DWSD fresh water treatment plant left in the city of Detroit if the GLWA shuts down its Northwest plant.

DETROIT – Permanent shut-0ffs and decreased water service to sectors of Detroit, the nation’s largest Black majority city, will likely result from a revised Master Plan laid out July 8 by representatives of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).

They met at the Water Works Park plant on E. Jefferson in Detroit.

The GLWA is slated to take over the DWSD six-county system, under terms of a contract signed by Detroit ‘Mayor’ Mike Duggan June 12, based on the city’s bankruptcy plan. It still needs to complete several requirements before a drop-dead date of Jan. 1, 2015.

Meanwhile, opponents of the GLWA takeover are conducting a city-wide referendum petition campaign known popularly as  #OurWaterOurVote to cancel the contract, as allowed under state law. (See link to earlier VOD story at bottom of article, plus links to petition, fliers, and instructions.)

Our Water Our Vote

Campaign sign for #OurWaterOurVote referendum campaign to shut down the Great Lakes Water Authority.

“What we’re talking about here today is a reduction in the size of this system,” Master Plan lead project manager Carl Johnson, of CDM-Smith, Inc., said during the GLWA-DWSD meeting, according to the Detroit News. “It also provides the opportunity to plan for if things change to where we can sell more water.”

Key aspects of the GLWA  20-year plan are:

  • A reduction from a $9 billion Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) through 2050 to a $2.9 billion CIP for the next 20 years. The plan says DWSD served 6 million people in 2004, but now has only 4 million customers.
  • The elimination of Genesee County, not just Flint, from the system, while holding open the possibility of attracting new customers.
  • A reduction in the system’s total daily pumping capacity from 1,760 million gallons to 1,040 million gallons.
  • Shutdowns or “repurposing” of  treatment plants and booster pumping stations, including Detroit’s Northeast Plant.
  • Rescission of planned upgrades for 14 sites, recommended by GLWA contractor Veolia, the world’s largest water privatizer.
  • Reduction of water intake sites from five to three.
  • Annual spending for water main renewal to drop to $25 million, allowing the replacement of only one percent of the lines per year.  This will particularly affect Detroit, which has the oldest infrastructure in the system. Sinkholes are popping up all over the city, caused by the collapse of underlying water mains.

(See GLWA power point presentation of Revised Master Plan at Water-Master-Plan-2015-07-08-BOWC-GLWA-Board-Workshop-Final.compressed).

Plans mapped out during the meeting coincide with those of Detroit Future City, which has published the following chart showing which areas of Detroit are planned to become virtual wastelands.

Detroit Future Cities 20-year plan for the City of Detroit.

Detroit Future Cities 20-year plan for the City of Detroit. Note large areas in tan, meant for “replacing, repurposing, or decommissioning.”  Areas in light blue are set for “reduce and maintain.”

Bill Davis retired from DWSD as a shift supervisor after 34 years, and is President of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA). DAREA has appealed the bankruptcy plan to U.S. District Court and is spearheading the coalition of groups conducting the #OurWaterOurVote referendum campaign.

“It appears to me that the GLWA in conjunction with our ‘Mayor’ and Gov. Rick Snyder are deliberately attempting to destabilize the Black community of Detroit,” Davis said.

He said that $537 million in illegal DWSD swaps deals with the banks should have been applied to improving DWSD’s infrastructure, rather than downsizing it. DWSD’s debt to the banks has now increased to $5.7 billion. Earlier, the Board of Water Commissioners deep-sixed a bankruptcy proposal to cut $2.3 billion of DWSD’s total debt. Wall Street ratings agencies strenuously objected to the cut.

DAREA Pres. Bill Davis carries banner at tax foreclosure protest June 8, 2015.

DAREA Pres. Bill Davis at tax foreclosure protest June 8, 2015.

“Under the revised Master Plan, pumping facilities are being moved farther out in favor of the outlying areas, taking jobs and economic development with them,” Davis explained.

“Why would they shut down one of the only two freshwater pumping facilities in Detroit, the Northeast plant, instead of considering the Southwest plant in Allen Park, which is only a short ways downriver from the Wastewater Treatment Plant?”

He noted that DWSD remains responsible under the GLWA for the cost of maintaining its own water mains, linked to the rest of the system.

“Detroit’s system is likely to collapse from providing a greater capacity for outlying customers,” he said. “It would only make sense that they contribute to maintaining Detroit’s infrastructure.”

Sinkholes in Detroit increasing due to breakdown of water infrastructure.

Sinkholes in Detroit increasing due to breakdown of water infrastructure.

Sinkholes caused by collapsing water mains are already rapidly increasing due to the lack of investment in DSWD’s infrastructure, linked to the high cost of contracts and bank bonds.

Davis noted that Flint’s former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, appointed by Snyder, took the majority-Black city of Flint out of the DWSD system. The revised Master Plan completely eliminates the whole of Genesee County, where Flint is located, from the system effective Jan. 2017.

“At least half of the ‘$27 million hole’ in the DWSD budget is created by the Flint withdrawal,” Davis went on. “The new Flint system has doled out more contracts to Snyder’s friends, and kickbacks to its operators. The system is so horrible that General Motors plants in Flint had to disconnect from it because the water was corroding their parts, and Flint residents are complaining as well.”

Gary Brown, vice-chair of GLWA, at GLWA meeting June 12, 2015 where DWSD takeover contract was signed.

Gary Brown, vice-chair of GLWA, at GLWA meeting June 12, 2015 where DWSD takeover contract was signed.

GLWA vice-chair Gary Brown, also Duggan’s Chief Operating Officer (COO),  is citing the alleged “$27 million hole” in the DWSD budget in his attack on the June 30 City Council vote of 6-2 against water rate increases.

Brown said the Council’s original “No” vote makes Wall Street nervous. Fifty-one percent of DWSD bondholders must approve the GLWA takeover, and at least one Wall Street ratings agency must guarantee that ratings of GLWA bonds will be no lower than current DWSD ratings.

Along with the editorial boards of the Detroit News and Free Press, the state is also bringing pressure to bear.

State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who heads the state-appointed Financial Review Commission (FRC), said in a letter to the Council the FRC is “statutorily required to provide oversight” of the city’s finances and demanded “the necessary information to demonstrate the city’s plan to comply with the approved budget … or the basis upon which the city will seek an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.”

The Council subsequently voted 8-1 to “revisit” the rate increases. It has held two subcommittee meetings this week, and is likely to take a re-vote on the rate increases at its next Committee of the Whole session Tues. July 14.

Council President Brenda Jones endorses GLWA plan during bankruptcy press conference, with Mayor Mike Duggan at right.

Council President Brenda Jones endorses Detroit’s 10-pt. Water Fund plan, which is NOT a water affordability plan, during press conference, with Mayor Mike Duggan at right. She also signed off on the bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones voted against the rate increases June 30 and is pledging to do so again. However, she along with Duggan signed off on the Detroit bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment, under which the GLWA was created.

DWSD officials have complained for years that water consumption is rapidly decreasing. They refuse to acknowledge that unaffordable water bills, high shut-off rates, and massive tax and mortgage foreclosures have driven out hundreds of thousands of customers from Detroit and other poor cities.

Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant worker during wildcat strike Sept. 30, 2012. EMA now runs the WWTP; 3 major sewage pumps are not working.

Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant worker during wildcat strike Sept. 30, 2012. EMA, which recommended 81% workforce cut, now runs the WWTP; 3 major sewage pumps are not working. Ironically, AFSCME Co. 25 Asst. Director Ed McNeil, who along with 2 other AFSCME officials sabotaged the strike, spoke at PWB Detroit2Flint rally shown at top of story.

“When you get your water cut off and they say ‘You have to pay $1,700’ and you tell them you don’t have any money, what are you going to do but move?” attorney Alice Jennings told the magazine Mother Jones this month.

The GLWA plans complement massive lay-offs that have already occurred in DWSD, under a recommendation from consultant EMA in 2013 that 81 percent of the system’s workforce be cut.

DWSD workers and retirees have said the cuts resulted in the “near catastrophic” failure of three of the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant’s major sewage pumps. That resulted in the massive flooding of metro Detroit freeways and homes in Aug. 2014, as well as the Toledo, Ohio/southeast Michigan water emergency that month, during which 430,000 residents could not use contaminated municipal water to drink, bathe, cook, or wash dishes.

“I anticipate from this new unholy alliance that the people of Detroit will have more flooded basements, streets and freeways,” Davis said.

Crosman Elementary School's flooded basement in Detroit, August, 2014.

Crosman Elementary School’s flooded basement in Detroit, August, 2014.

 

Also read Mother Jones article, “How Motor City Came Back From the Brink and Left Most Detroiters Behind” at http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/motor-city-after-bankruptcy-and-detroiters-left-behind

PREVIOUS VOD STORY ON REFERENDUM TO STOP GLWA:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/07/03/our-water-our-vote-battle-for-referendum-to-stop-regional-detroit-water-takeover-begins/

LINKS FOR COPIES OF PETITION, FLIERS, INSTRUCTIONS:

 REFERENDUM ON CITY OF DETROIT CONTRACT PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION 4

Click on BLOW THE GREAT LAKES WATER AUTHORITY OUT OF THE WATER 3 for PDF of front of flier; PDF of Instructions for Circulation is at INSTRUCTIONS FOR CIRCULATING (includes contact information to obtain petitions and turn them in.)

The Coalition needs to collect a total of 15,000 valid petition signatures within 45 days of public (newspaper) notice of the contract, meaning it must collect at least twice that to allow for invalid signatures. Signers must be Detroit residents who are registered voters. CIRCULATORS DO NOT HAVE TO BE DETROIT  RESIDENTS.

The Coalition’s Facebook Page is at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-to-Save-Detroits-Water-Sewerage-Department/1443509195955743?fref=ts

PETITIONS WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FOR PICK-UP AND TURN-IN AT:

  • Meetings of DAREA, 3rd Monday (next July 20) at 11 a.m. at Nandi’s Knowledge Café at 12511 Woodward, Highland Park; 1st Wednesday at 5:30 pm, St. Matthew and St. Joseph Church at Woodward and Holbrook.
  • Weekly meetings of Moratorium NOW! Mondays at 7 pm, 5920 Second at Antoinette, s. of W. Grand Blvd.

Other related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/06/16/authority-approves-bankruptcy-theft-of-detroits-water-system-retirees-begin-referendum-campaign/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/05/27/detroit-shuts-water-off-again-violating-un-declaration-when-will-city-rise-up/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/05/22/stop-water-shut-offs-now-cancel-detroitwater-debt-ireland-demands-no-water-charges/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/26/we-charge-genocide-detroit-water-shut-offs-foreclosures-focus-of-un-visit/

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

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

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


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KID ROCK TO CRITICS: ‘KISS MY ASS’ RE: CONFEDERATE FLAG; WHAT WILL DETROIT NAACP DO NOW?

Kid Rock gets award from Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of Detroit NAACP, during Freedom Fund dinner. Anthony also sits on the board of the Detroit General Retirement System, and remarked at its meeting Wed. July 8 that Greece needs an Emergency Manager!

Kid Rock gets award from Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of Detroit NAACP, during Freedom Fund dinner. Anthony also sits on the board of the Detroit General Retirement System, and remarked at its meeting Wed. July 8 that Greece needs an Emergency Manager!

Adaj Parr

Why are you a member of the Detroit NAACP…? (Facebook page)

July 11, 2015

Kid Rock making cozy with Wendell Anthony and former Mayor Dave Bing.

Kid Rock making cozy with Wendell Anthony and former Mayor Dave Bing.

DETROIT— Let’s be clear, when Kid Rock speaks on matters of social issues he speaks for all those who support him. That includes organizations that have honored him. The Detroit Branch NAACP led by Wendell Anthony honored Kid Rock.

Kid Rock told Rev. Charlies Williams II and Rev. Al Sharpton both who represent the National Action Network (NAN), and Sam Riddle, to KISS HIS ASS!

Kid Rocks speaks for Wendell and the Detroit Branch NAACP. Kid Rock supports waving the Confederate Flag and all that it stands for. Wendell Anthony and the Detroit Branch NAACP support Kid Rock!

Kid Rock, Wendell Anthony

Kid Rock, Wendell Anthony

VOD: Mr. Parr asked Rev. Charles Williams in an earlier post: what are you going to do about it? That question should also be put to NAN’s national head the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Related:

The MLIVE story below includes clips from the racist national coverage supporting Kid Rock, e.g. comments about how much Kid Rock has allegedly done for Detroit, and who the real villains in Detroit are: the city’s Black leadership for the past 30 years. http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/detroit/index.ssf/2015/07/kid_rock_tells_people_boycotti.html


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GREEK LEADER TRIES TO SELL LAST-DITCH AUSTERITY DEAL TO PARTY DESPITE REFERENDUM ‘NO’ VOTE

Pensioners protest in Athens 7 10 15

Pensioners protest in front of the finance ministry in central Athens, July 10, 2015. Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will seek backing for a harsh new austerity package from his party Friday to keep his country in the euro.(Photo: Emilio Morenatti / AP)

“If this is Europe, then we don’t want this Europe. If this is the eurozone, we don’t care if we go out or in. If in this life we’ll be slaves, it’s better to be dead.” — Aristidis Dimoupulos, Athens marketing professor

By Derek Gatopoulos and Elena Becatoros,

Associated Press

July 10, 2015

Greek leader Alexis Tsiparas in front of his party's flag, is trying to sell new austerity measures to his parliament.

Greek leader Alexis Tsiparas in front of his party Syriza’s flag, is trying to sell new austerity measures to his parliament.

Athens, Greece — Left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was seeking backing for a harsh new austerity package from his party Friday to keep his country in the euro — less than a week after urging Greeks to reject milder cuts in a referendum.

Government ministers signed off on the sweeping new measures — likely to extend the recession after six years of painful decline — that include pension cuts and tax hikes.

The proposals were sent to rescue creditors for approval at emergency meetings of European Union leaders and finance ministers over the weekend. The proposed new bailout worth nearly $60 billion would be Greece’s third since it lost market access in 2010.

But in an unusual procedure, Tsipras is first seeking authorization from parliament to negotiate with the creditors based on the proposal in a vote Friday. He is essentially asking his Syriza party to sign off on the U-turn despite more than 60 percent of voters opposing more austerity in the July 5 referendum.

Did Greeks want MORE austerity measures when they voted Tsiparas in? Supporters of Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's Syriza left-wing main opposition party attend his pre-election speech at Omonia Square in Athens Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. . (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Did Greeks want MORE austerity measures when they voted Tsiparas in? Supporters of Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s Syriza left-wing main opposition party attend his pre-election speech at Omonia Square in Athens Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. . (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Tsipras was convening his party’s lawmakers for discussions Friday morning before the parliamentary debate.

The coalition government has 162 seats in the 300-member parliament and pledged backing on a deal from a large section of opposition lawmakers. But failure to deliver votes from his own government would likely topple his coalition.

The proposals are to be discussed by eurozone finance ministers on Saturday, ahead of a summit of the European Union’s 28 leaders Sunday.

Greeks march with banner: STOP AUSTERITY GROWTH NOW!

Greeks march with banner: STOP AUSTERITY GROWTH NOW!

“My feeling is that the agreement will be signed,” said Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas as he arrived in parliament. He said he believed both the party and parliament would sign off on the proposal, “and we will have an agreement, that is my feeling, on Sunday night.”

As the government inched closer to a deal to ensure Greece doesn’t crash out of Europe’s joint currency, some Greeks adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach.

“I don’t know. The chances are fifty-fifty” for a deal, said Athens resident Omiros Fotiadis. There were many things to take into account, he said. “One being if all the European countries will accept the agreement, as well as the institutions, and the other is whether the agreement … will be accepted internally.”

But some were furious at the deep spending cuts in the proposals.

“If this is Europe, then we don’t want this Europe,” said Aristidis Dimoupulos, a marketing professor in Athens. “If this is the eurozone, we don’t care if we go out or in. If in this life we’ll be slaves, it’s better to be dead.”

The negotiations have come amid capital controls in Greece, with banks shut since late last month and Greeks restricted to cash withdrawals of 60 euros ($67) per day. Although credit and debit cards work freely within the country, many businesses are refusing to accept them and insisting on cash-only payments. All money transfers abroad, including bill payments, require special permission from a finance ministry committee. Continue reading


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CITIZENS FOR DETROIT’S FUTURE NEEDS CALLS TO COUNCIL TO GET ELECTION ORDINANCE ENACTED

Citizens for Detroits Future logo 2

WE NOW NEED YOUR HELP AND THAT OF THE COMMUNITY

NOTICE (Sharing Informs the Public)

Dear Friend:

Tom Barrow: Citizens for Detroit's Future NEEDS YOU!

Tom Barrow: Citizens for Detroit’s Future NEEDS YOU!

As many reading this will know, last October, Citizens for Detroit’s Future and a number of determined Detroiters, undertook an Initiative to create a first ever Detroit election Ordinance.

The Initiative would “Provide for the Immediate Posting of Detroit Election Results”.  The Ordinance creates a public transparency by informing the public of election results…in real time…i.e. after the polls have closed for the evening.  The Initiative grew from numerous recurring anomalies discovered during city election recounts which the public never sees.

To create the Ordinance, CFDF turned to Section 12-105 of the city’s charter which requires that petition Initiatives be submitted to the Clerk’s office and validated by the Detroit Election Commission.

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones

Call Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and at least your own Council member.

This past May 28th, the Detroit Election Commission reported to us and the Detroit City Council, that our petitions had sufficient valid signatures to move the Initiative forward.  That “report” activated Section 12-107 of the Charter which mandates that council must conduct a “public hearing” and a vote to enact the Ordinance within 60 days of May 28th or before July 27th.

Earlier this week,  each member of the Detroit City Council received a certified letter from our organization further informing them of the requirements under the Detroit City Charter and its deadlines.  It is now important that the public get involved by taking just 2 minutes to minimally call the Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones’ Office (313-224-1245) and then their own Council Member’ Office.

The call should inquire as to:

1) when the public hearing will be held

2) when will the matter be formally voted upon and

3) ask that they do so immediately.  

CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS PHONE NUMBERS 

  • Detroit City Council-President, Brenda Jones, 313-224-1245; 
  • James Tate, Dist. #1,313-224-1027;
  • George Cushingberry, Dist #2, 313-224-4535;
  • Scott Benson, Dist #3, 313-224-1198;
  • Andre Spivey, Dist #4, 313-224-4841; 
  • Mary Sheffield, Dist #5, 313-224-4505;
  • Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, Dist #6, 313-224-2450;
  • Gabe Leland, Dist # 7,313-224-2151;
  • Janeê Ayers, At-Large, 313-224-4248)

Demand that he/she contact the Clerk’s office to demand that her report be issued forthwith as is required by Charter.

We understand that a call takes time but it is essential that officials respect both you as a citizen and importantly, the democratic process.

Respectfully,

CITIZENS FOR DETROIT’S FUTURE

Previous release: July 7, 2015

Contact: Citizens for Detroit’s Future

Media Telephone: 313  393-3100  – Option 3

INITIATIVE SUCCEEDS:  COUNCIL TO TAKE UP ELECTION REFORM

Historic Initiative Creates July 27th Charter Deadline for Full Council Vote

DETROIT (July 7, 2015) — In what is being hailed as an historic exercise of Detroiters democratic rights,  Citizens for Detroit’s Future president Tom Barrow today announced that the city’s Election Commission had secretly “reported” to City Council President Brenda Jones, (a requirement of Charter Section 12-105), that the Group’s reform petition to “Provide for the Immediate Posting of Election Results” had enough valid signatures to move the Initiative forward.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is part of current unelected Election Commission, which is a division of her office.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is part of current unelected Election Commission, which is a division of her office.

The Detroit Election Commission’s notification activates Section. 12-107  titled Time Limit for Enactment or Repeal of Ordinance and mandates a public hearing and full Council vote on the Ordinance by July 27th.

In an envelope containing the May 28th “Report” and post marked June 25th and addressed to Citizens for Detroit’s Future‘s President Tom Barrow, Detroit Election Commission Deputy Director, Gina Avery-Walker secretly “reported” that CFDF’s petitions had been checked and was found to have sufficient valid signatures to go forward. The notification automatically activates Section 12-107 which requires a hearing and vote by the entire council within 60 days of the May 28th date or by July 27th.

“While I am convinced that receiving a letter addressed to me nearly a month after it was written is no accident, it not only emphasizes further the need for reform but also confirms that certain Officials are resistant to our public transparency Initiative.” said Tom Barrow, the group’s president.

“With a kind of official resistance, it is essential now, more than ever, that the public get involved as a united public seeking reform is more powerful” he said.


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A WAYNE COUNTY EM? STATE FINANCIAL REVIEW TEAM HOLDS PUBLIC MEETING FRI. JULY 10

Michigan Department of Treasury logoContact: Terry Stanton, (517) 335-2167

Media Advisory for Friday July 10, 2015

The Wayne County Financial Review Team, appointed to examine the county’s finances following a preliminary review requested by the County Executive, is scheduled to conduct a public information meeting at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, July 10, 2015.

The public information meeting, required under Public Act 436 of 2012 (Local Fiscal Stability and Choice Act), provides Wayne County residents an opportunity to share their opinions, thoughts, and/or concerns about the county with members of the review team. The review team will not be issuing a report or presenting information regarding its review of the county’s finances during this meeting.

The meeting will be held in the Wayne County Commission chambers on the mezzanine level of the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold Street in Detroit.

# # # #

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans requested state review team.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans requested state review team.

MEMBERS OF REVIEW TEAM

Clarence Stone, director of Legal Affairs for the State Housing Development Authority;

Jeffrey Bankowski, chief internal auditor, State Budget Office;

Tom Davis, deputy director at the Senate Majority Policy Office;

Sharon Madison, owner of design and construction firm Madison Madison International, and

Frederick Headen, legal adviser for the Michigan Department of Treasury. He also was on the financial review team for the city of Detroit that was appointed in December 2011.

The review team has up to 60 days to report to the governor whether a financial emergency exists in Wayne County. State Treasurer Nick Khouri, a member of the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board, said he expects it to be completed within “weeks, not months.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans requested that the state step in on county finances.


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A VISIT WITH MICHIGAN POLITICAL PRISONER REV. EDWARD PINKNEY

Rev. Pinkney campaigns against Whirlpool during PGA tournament in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.

Rev. Pinkney campaigns against Whirlpool during PGA tournament in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.

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By David Sole and Marcina Cole

July 6, 2015

Prisoners in Lakeland Correctional Facility yard.

Prisoners in Lakeland Correctional Facility yard.

Coldwater, Mich.  In rural, south central Michigan, several hours from Detroit, sits Lakeland Correctional Facility.

Upon our arrival we noticed the sun reflecting brightly off the triple row of 12-feet-high razorwire, coil fencing surrounding the extensive state prison. After passing through metal detectors, pat-downs and shoe, sock and feet inspections, we entered the visiting room to the warm embrace of the Rev. Edward Pinkney.

Rev. Pinkney, a leading African-American activist in Benton Harbor, Mich., was tried and convicted in late 2014 by an all-white jury for supposedly altering five dates on a recall petition against Benton Harbor’s mayor. Not one shred of evidence was presented that Pinkney committed these alleged acts.

The prosecutor, Michael Sepic, could not produce one witness to say that Rev. Pinkney was the culprit. Judge Sterling R. Schrock allowed Sepic to tell the jury, “You don’t need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney.”

Rev. Edward Pinkney during earlier visit with Marcina Cole.

Rev. Edward Pinkney during earlier visit with Marcina Cole.

All the prosecutor showed the jury was that Rev. Pinkney was a speaker at press conferences and chaired meetings of his organization, BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). That was enough for this gang of racists to convict and sentence him to 2.5 to 10 years in prison.

As we sat and talked, we were amazed at Pinkney’s energy and optimism after six months behind bars. He had petitioned the authorities to be transferred to Lakeland, which is not far from his spouse Dorothy, making visits much easier. Previously he had been at Marquette prison, a 10-hour drive from his home.

But Rev. Pinkney was also somber about his situation. “Lakeland has 1,400 prisoners, and I’d say 70 percent are lifers,” Pinkney told us. “Being here is serious business. Every day is a challenge. Many of these guys have been here 20, 30, 40 or more years. Today ‘life imprisonment’ means just that — they will never get out.”

Helping those ‘who will never get out’

Prison graphicIn his short time among these men, Pinkney has done what he always does — organize and assist people.

“I spend most mornings and afternoons in the law library helping inmates with legal research. Then a group of lifers asked me to help them better organize their group meetings, which I am doing. The Muslim prisoners invited me to speak to their Friday prayer session when they found out about my case and history of activism.”

Rev. Pinkney receives many books and periodicals from supporters. Part of the work we do in the Detroit-based Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice is fundraising for his legal appeal. We also send a monthly donation to help pay for his daily phone calls to his spouse. He often calls in to our weekly Monday evening meetings.

Rev. Pinkney is a voracious reader, so we send him one or two books a month and gave him a subscription to Workers World newspaper, which the prison allows in. “I share the books and articles you send me. As soon as I am done they go hand to hand,” he said. He noted that he could use more good reading material.

Sentenced to death in prison.

Sentenced to death in prison.

Pinkney’s activism and kindness have won him the respect and admiration of many of the prisoners, but not all. “I’d say that 90 percent of the prisoners here love me and 10 percent hate me. That 10 percent resent my getting so many visitors, when many of them never get a visit. They resent the many books and letters I get. They resent that I will get out of this prison sooner or later and maybe they won’t.”

This small group of hostile prisoners poses a problem for Rev. Pinkney and could endanger his safety. “I try to avoid confrontations and de-escalate situations. But I don’t let them bully me. Several tense situations have arisen. Everyone here knows what goes on, and some of the Muslim brothers have taken to escorting me through the facility when I am done at the library each day. I told them I could take care of myself, but they insist,” said Pinkney.

“Another danger is that my friends and supporters might take it upon themselves to physically confront those who might threaten me — and that would also drag me into a situation involving the prison authorities. So I have to chill my friends out.”

Don’t sweep this injustice ‘under the rug’

Rev. Pinkney and his wife Dorothy have battled against the Whirlpool Corporation, which has decimated Benton Harbor with job loss and land grabs, for years.

Rev. Pinkney and his wife Dorothy have battled against the Whirlpool Corporation, which has decimated Benton Harbor with job loss and land grabs, for years.

Rev. Pinkney was looking forward to his appeal, which is being filed soon. His hope of getting an appeal bond and going home was strong. He has high hopes that he will be released soon because there was no evidence to convict him of felony crimes. But he also knows that there is a “criminal enterprise in Berrien County” that put him in prison in the first place.

The court officials, Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower and behind them the power of the Whirlpool Corporation headquartered there will be working overtime to try to stop him from returning home. “I am asking all my supporters to get the word out in the next 30 days after the appeal is filed. Get this out to the news media so that this injustice can’t be swept under the rug and the appeals court is forced to deliver justice,” Pinkney urged.

For information on how to help free this political prisoner, visit bhbanco.org.

Send letters (no cards, books or objects — only letters) to Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671, Lakeland Correctional Facility, 141 First St., Coldwater, MI 49036. Send a book to Rev. Pinkney only through Schulerbooks.com using this address and his prisoner number.

Order a “Free Rev. Pinkney” white T-shirt (sizes M, L, XL, 2X, 3X) for a $10 donation plus $3 shipping (proceeds go to his legal expenses) at moratorium-mi.org., or mail your order and payment to Moratorium NOW!, 5920 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202.

Print PDF

Also see:

  1. Racist court denies justice for Michigan Civil Rights leader
  2. Civil rights activist denied appeal bond
  3. Campaign builds to free Rev. Pinkney
  4. Rev. Pinkney jailed for fighting racist power structure
  5. Political prisoner’s health scare ignites mass action

Related VOD stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/04/07/fight-to-free-rev-edward-pinkney-from-prison-convicted-by-all-white-jury-with-no-evidence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/01/28/rev-pinkney-now-in-marquette-prison-trial-motions-hearing-tues-feb-24-1-pm-st-joseph-mi/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/28/rev-pinkney-defense-campaign-builds-wife-says-they-remain-strong-despite-racist-imprisonment/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/12/16/rev-pinkney-gets-2-5-10-yrs-as-cops-wilson-pantaleo-walk-on-mike-brown-eric-garner-murders/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/30/rev-pinkney-lynch-mob-mentality-in-st-joseph-as-he-awaits-sentencing-dec-15/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/11/05/all-white-jury-convicts-rev-pinkney-of-5-felony-counts-pros-wants-life-sentence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/29/free-rev-pinkney-frame-up-benton-harbor-trial-targets-nationally-known-freedom-fighter/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/07/13/drop-the-charges-against-rev-edward-pinkney-of-benton-harbor-trial-set-for-july-21/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/07/benton-harbor-rev-pinkney-to-face-trial-on-felony-charges-july-21-despite-no-evidence/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/03/rev-pinkney-in-the-mouth-of-the-beast-in-benton-harbor/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/27/dismiss-all-charges-against-rev-pinkney-court-fri-may-30-save-benton-harbor-boycott-whirlpool/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/10/rev-edward-pinkney-marcus-muhammad-battle-whirlpool-for-benton-harbor-pinkney-court-hearing-may-30/

 http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/26/free-rev-edward-pinkney-recall-whirlpool-stooge-benton-harbor-mayor-james-hightower/


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‘NO’ VOTE WINNING IN GREEK AUSTERITY REFERENDUM; 61% to 39% LANDSLIDE

Greeks celebrate projected “NO” vote on austerity.

AP logo 3

By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS and NEBI QENA

July 5, 2015

Greeks voting overwhelmingly against banks’ demands for more austerity

Earlier polls had expected close vote

ATHENS, Greece — Greece faced an uncharted future as its interior ministry predicted Sunday that more than 60 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum had rejected creditors’ demands for more austerity in exchange for rescue loans.

Greek Prime Minister votes.

Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras votes.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was gambling the future of his 5-month-old left-wing government on the vote, insisted that a “no” vote would strengthen his hand to negotiate a better deal with creditors, while a “yes” result would mean capitulating to their harsh demands.

The opposition has accused Tsipras of jeopardizing the country’s membership in the 19-nation club that uses the euro and said a “yes” vote was about keeping the common currency.

With more than half of the votes counted Sunday evening, the “no” side had about 61 percent of the vote, compared with 39 percent for “yes.” The interior ministry predicted that margin would hold.

Thousands of government supporters gathered in celebration, waving Greek flags and chanting “No, No, No.”

Greeks wave their nation's flag to celebrate 'NO' vote on austerity.

Greeks wave their nation’s flag to celebrate ‘NO’ vote on austerity.

“We don’t want austerity measures anymore, this has been happening for the last five years and it has driven so many into poverty, we simply can’t take any more austerity,” said Athens resident Yiannis Gkovesis, 26, holding a large Greek flag in the city’s main square.

Governing left-wing Syriza party Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis said that “Greek people are proving they want to remain in Europe” as equal members “and not as a debt colony.” The referendum was Greece’s first in 41 years.

Jubilant 'NO' supporter waves flag of governing left-wing Syriza party.

Jubilant ‘NO’ supporter waves flag of governing left-wing Syriza party.

Minister of State Nikos Papas, speaking on Alpha television, said it would be “wrong to link a ‘no’ result to an exit from the eurozone. If a ‘no’ prevails that will help us get a better agreement.”

Tsipras’ high-stakes brinkmanship with lenders from the eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund resulted in Greece defaulting on its debts this week and shutting down its banks to avoid their collapse. He called the referendum last weekend, giving both sides just a week to campaign.

“Today, democracy is defeating fear … I am very optimistic,” Tsipras said earlier in the day after voting in in Athens.

European officials had openly urged Greeks to vote against the government’s recommendation.

Greeks march with Syriza flag to support 'NO' vote on austerity measures.

Greeks march with Syriza flag to support ‘NO’ vote on austerity measures.

“I hope people say ‘yes,'” European Parliament President Martin Schulz told German public radio. “If after the referendum, the majority is a ‘no,’ they will have to introduce another currency because the euro will no longer be available for a means of payment.”

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt was one of the first eurozone ministers to react to the initial results.

Large lines could still be seen outside ATMs all over the country, as worried citizens continue to withdraw their daily limit of €60 ($67), a restriction imposed by the banks. (Pictured) Referendum campaign posters that read "No" in Greek are seen as people line up at an ATM. CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/Newscom/Reuters

Large lines could still be seen outside ATMs all over the country, as worried citizens continue to withdraw their daily limit of €60 ($67), a restriction imposed by the banks. CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/Newscom/Reuters

“This likely ‘no’ complicates matters,” he told Belgium’s VRT network, but insisted the door remained open to resume talks with the Greek government within hours.

The vote was held amid banking restrictions imposed last Monday to halt a bank run, with Greeks queuing up at ATMs across the country to withdraw a maximum 60 euros per day. Banks have been shut all week, and it is uncertain when they will reopen. Large lines once again formed at ATMs on Sunday.

Daniel Tsangaridis, a 35-year-old Athens resident, said he didn’t expect banks to reopen soon, despite a government pledge that they would do so Tuesday.

“It’s not going to happen in the next 48 hours,” he said. “If the situation improves and we can have a deal, then the banks will open.”

Bank debt, ratings downgrades  are burdening  people of Greece and the world. CANCEL THE DEBT!

The Syriza party came to power in January after a six-year recession. Since then, the standoff between Athens and its international lenders has grown more bitter, and early signs of some economic growth and recovering employment in Greece have disappeared.

The debt-wracked nation also suffered repeated ratings downgrades and lost access to billions of euros after its existing bailout deal expired last week.

Polls published Friday showed the two sides in a dead heat with an overwhelming majority — about 75 percent — wanting Greece to remain in the euro currency.

“Today, we Greeks decide on the fate of our country,” conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras said. “We vote ‘yes’ to Greece. We vote ‘yes’ to Europe.”

This bride told reporters, "The only time I will say YES today is to my new husband."

This bride told reporters, “The only time I will say YES today is to my new husband.”

The sense of urgency was palpable as Greeks struggled to decipher a convoluted referendum question after being bombarded with frenzied messages warning of the country’s swiftly approaching financial collapse.

Neither result on Sunday, however, would lead to a clear answer on what Greece should do about its overstretched finances.

Greece is no longer in a bailout program since its previous package expired last Tuesday. It now has to negotiate a new one with its creditors that involves even more money for the government and banks and new economic austerity measures.

Despite the Greek government’s assertion that a “no” vote will not lead to a euro exit, most experts agree it would open up more uncertain financial outcomes.

A number of European politicians, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top eurozone official, have said a “no” vote would jeopardize Greece’s place in the 19-nation eurozone. Investors are also likely to believe a “no” win increases the chance of a so-called “Grexit,” where Greece returns to its own old currency.

Earlier, Greeks held massive protests against austerity, including pension cuts.

Earlier, Greeks held massive protests against austerity, including pension cuts.

Related:

http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/06/30/bankers-aim-to-strangle-greece-seeking-capitulation-and-regime-change/


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OUR WATER, OUR VOTE—BATTLE FOR REFERENDUM TO STOP REGIONAL DETROIT WATER TAKEOVER BEGINS

Our Water Our Vote

People of Detroit have rallied for the human right to water, which will be further endangered by the creation of a regional Great Lakes Water Authority

Referendum petitions seek people’s vote on 40-year SALE of DWSD property, $6 billion in revenues to regional Great Lakes Water Authority

15,000+ signatures must be turned in to City Clerk, according to state law 

GLWA would increase water shut-offs, rates, foreclosures resulting from water bills attached to property bills

Water quality crisis looms as Authority eliminates thousands of experienced City of Detroit workers, in addition those already gone  

Detroit City Council rejected water rate increase June 30, now set to re-consider it July 7; GLWA will take over that role in future 

#OurWaterOurVote; #WATERISLIFE#StandUpNow; @WeThePeopleDet; @Detroit2700plus; @DETWaterBrigade; #DetroitWater; #Right2Water; #Detroit2Flint@MCHumanRights; @PeoplesWaterDet; @ACLUofMichigan

 By Diane Bukowski  

July 3, 2014

DETROIT – A fight has begun to stop the takeover of Detroit’s $6 billion Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) by the regional Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), through a Detroit electoral referendum. The city’s “Mayor” Mike Duggan signed the takeover contract between the City of Detroit and the Great Lakes Water Authority June 12.

PB applause DB 6 27 15

Part of the crowd of people who packed Calvary Presbyterian Church for DAREA prayer breakfast fundraiser June 27, 2015.

The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) distributed the first petitions for the vote at its packed Prayer Breakfast June 22, held at Calvary Presbyterian Church, featuring Rev. David Bullock as its keynote speaker. DAREA’s membership includes many active and retired DWSD workers. DAREA first endorsed the campaign June 15, and has since been joined by many more organizations as members of “The Coalition to Save Detroit’s Water & Sewerage Department.”

The ballot language on the petitions asks for a NO or a YES vote on whether Detroiters “approve this contract which states it is a ‘BILL OF SALE’ of personal property and all revenues of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) to a regional, unelected Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), including a representative of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, for at least 40 years. It includes an option for GLWA to SELL DWSD real property.” 

GLWA’s six member board includes representatives from the State of Michigan, Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties, as well as Detroit. The counties of St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee, Washtenaw, and Monroe, which would be part of the GLWA system, have no representation.

DAREA officers (l to r) Cecily McClellan, Yvonne Williams-Jones, and Bill Davis present one of six WARRIOR awards to Monica Lewis-Patrick of We the People of Detroit, during prayer breakfast June 27, 2015.

DAREA officers (l to r) Cecily McClellan, Yvonne Williams-Jones, and Bill Davis present one of six WARRIOR awards to Monica Lewis-Patrick of We the People of Detroit, during prayer breakfast June 27, 2015. We the People of Detroit is also a member of the referendum campaign.

“Each of us should be a warrior in this fight,” DAREA president Bill Davis said at the breakfast. “We have made tremendous progress. Each day is more promising than the day before. If we can fight, we can win.”

He referred not only to the referendum campaign,  but to DAREA’s U.S. District Court appeal of the Detroit bankruptcy plan, which includes the GLWA.

DAREA just filed a supplemental brief in that appeal, citing the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that pension protections in that state’s constitution, virtually identical to Michigan’s, cannot be abridged. The court ruled that pensions are considered more than just contracts, and that the constitution represents “the will of the people.”

“The Our Water Our Vote campaign is directly tied to the fight to stop water shut-offs, rate increases, and foreclosures caused by the attachment of water bills to property tax bills,” noted another DAREA member at the prayer breakfast. “The GLWA contract allows it to continue water shut-offs, while possibly spreading them throughout the region. It has no true water affordability plan. The GLWA will have the sole authority to increase rates to pay off the $5.2 billion DWSD debt. The debt is expected to skyrocket as board members, in particular from the State of Michigan and Oakland County, bring their contractor cronies on board.”

Rev. David Bullock of Rainbow:PUSH speaks at DAREA prayer breakfast. He said, "We have never lost a battle that we fought; we have never won a battle we didn't fight."

Rev. David Bullock of Rainbow:PUSH speaks at DAREA prayer breakfast. He said, “We have never lost a battle that we fought; we have never won a battle we didn’t fight.”

On June 30, Detroit’s City Council voted 6-2 to reject a water and sewerage rate increase for the City of Detroit June 30, but is now set to reconsider the vote at its next committee of the whole meeting Tues. July 7 at 10 a.m.  At least one Wall Street ratings agency must approve the GLWA contract before it is enacted.

Gary Brown, Vice-Chair of the GLWA and also the City of Detroit’s Chief Operating Officer under Duggan, told the Detroit News the Council’s failure to approve the rate increases may make Wall Street uneasy.

“The lease was signed, but it’s contingent upon bond holders consent,” he said. According to the contract, 51 percent of DWSD bondholders must approve the contract before it is enacted.  At least one Wall Street ratings agency must guarantee that it will not give the GLWA bond ratings lower than those currently in effect for DWSD.

Tom Barrow, former Detroit mayoral candidate and head of Citizens for Detroit’s Future (CFDF), said of the Our Water Our Vote referendum campaign, “This is HUGE.”

Tom Barrow, head of Citizens for Detroit's Future

Tom Barrow, head of Citizens for Detroit’s Future

CFDF has joined the “Coalition to Save Detroit’s Water & Sewerage Department #OurWaterOurVote.” The Detroit City Clerk declared May 28 that Barrow’s organization gathered sufficient valid petition signatures to put an “Election Reform” ordinance on the ballot, which would create an independent, elected city Election Commission.

Other initial endorsers of the OurWaterOurVote campaign include We the People of Detroit,  Moratorium NOW! the Detroit Water Brigade, StandUP Now, the Russell-Woods Sullivan Neighborhood Association, and Baxter’s Beat Back the Bullies Brigade.

Additionally, The Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition said it disagrees with the decision to transfer oversight of the DWSD to the GLWA for reasons including: “(1) the detrimental effect it will have on Detroit residents who continue to bear the burden of infrastructure costs without full system control; (2) the failure by local authorities to implement the 2005 Water Affordability Plan which provides for low income affordable payment plans and conservation efforts; (3) the circumvention of democratic proceedings in the development of the GLWA; (4)  the failure of all parties to protect water as a human right and as a public trust; (5) the continued threat of privatization of Great Lakes water, which should be held in common; and (6) the implicit entitlement  by the GLWA to assume DWSD ownership rights after the Detroit-paid water system was expanded at the request of suburban communities to serve their needs.”

The proposed takeover, which has a drop-dead date of Jan. 1, 2016, will also further endanger the quality of water provided to residents of the six counties. Hundreds of experienced DWSD workers, most of them Detroit residents, have already been laid off, including skilled trades workers. More cutbacks are expected under the GLWA’s plan to prioritize debt payments to the banks before good water service to its customers.

Drivers on Detroit freeway wade to safety Aug. 11, 2014, after massive flooding of roads and homes.

Drivers on Detroit freeway wade to safety Aug. 11, 2014, after massive flooding of roads and homes.

In 2014, DWSD workers reported that that workforce cuts enacted by consultant EMA, which now runs the Wastewater Treatment Plant, caused the massive flooding of metro Detroit freeways and homes Aug. 11 to Aug. 12, leading to three deaths and untold property damage, as well as Toledo, Ohio water emergency that began Aug 3. During the weeks-long crisis, 430,000 residents of that city and parts of southeastern Michigan could not use municipal water to drink, bathe, cook, or wash dishes as it was contaminated with toxic algae and other substances.

Mike Mulholland at informational picket outside DWSD Huber plant. EMA recommended that 81% of the DWSD workforce be cut, and has proceeded to do so.

Mike Mulholland at informational picket outside DWSD Huber plant in 2012. EMA recommended that 81% of the DWSD workforce be cut, and has proceeded to do so.

“They have reduced staffing to a skeleton crew,” AFSCME Local 207 officer Mike Mulholland said at the time.  “Although there was a torrential rain Monday, the sewage pumps already were not working properly due to minimal maintenance. It is EMA’s intention to strip the plant down and run it remotely as much as it can. Instead of 24/7 maintenance, they only check equipment every few days. The pumping stations at the plant, the incinerators, and other equipment are close to catastrophic failure.”

DAREA President Bill Davis retired after 34 years from DWSD, as a WWTP shift supervisor. He said at that time that at least three major WWTP sewage pumps were not operating.

“Monies that should have been allocated to improvements in our infrastructure and helped employ people went to the banks in illegal deals instead,” Davis said then. “That $5 billion going to the banks under the bankruptcy plan should instead be going to the people, to rebuild our system.”

At prayer breakfast, children to whom Detroit water is life: (l to r) Christa Dailey, 7, Alyse Dailey, 8, Amiah Sanders, 11; in rear, Ramona Hall and Tayla Dailey, 10.

At prayer breakfast, children to whom Detroit water is life: (l to r) Christa Dailey, 7, Alyse Dailey, 8, Amiah Sanders, 11; in rear, Ramona Hall and Tayla Dailey, 10.

The Our Water Our Vote referendum is allowed under Public Act 233 of 1955, cited in the first paragraph of the contract between Detroit and the GLWA as the state law which authorizes the contract. PA 233 of 1955, 124.288  Sec. 8(2), says,

“If within the 45-day period [after public newspaper notice] a petition signed by not less than 10% or 15,000, whichever is less, of the registered electors residing within the limits of the municipality is filed with the clerk of the municipality requesting a referendum upon the contract, the contract shall not become effective until approved by the vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the municipality voting on the question at a general or special election.”

The act specifies that the petitions are to be filed with the clerk of the municipality. The Our Water Our Vote campaign is therefore not being conducted under the Detroit City Charter, but under state law.

Click on Referendum language in PA 233 of 1955 to read portion of act related to this campaign. Click on mcl-Act-233-of-1955 for entire act.

One opponent of the effort said he believed it would “go nowhere” because of the bankruptcy ruling. However, while U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes overruled Michigan’s constitutional  pension protection clauses with regard to Detroit retirees, he did not overrule all other legislation passed in the State of Michigan.

Flier for the Detroit Coalition to Save Detroit's Water & Sewerage Department.

FLIER FOR THE COALITION TO SAVE DETROIT’S WATER & SEWERAGE DEPT. #OurWaterOurVote

Click on BLOW THE GREAT LAKES WATER AUTHORITY OUT OF THE WATER 3 for PDF of front of flier; PDF of Instructions for Circulation is at INSTRUCTIONS FOR CIRCULATING (includes contact information to obtain petitions and turn them in.)

Download a copy of the petition itself by clicking on REFERENDUM ON CITY OF DETROIT CONTRACT PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION 4. It is permissible to make your own copies of the petition, as long as they are complete.

The Coalition needs to collect a total of 15,000 valid petition signatures within 45 days of public (newspaper) notice of the contract, meaning it must collect at least twice that to allow for invalid signatures. Signers must be Detroit residents who are registered voters. CIRCULATORS DO NOT HAVE TO BE DETROIT  RESIDENTS.

The Coalition’s Facebook Page is at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-to-Save-Detroits-Water-Sewerage-Department/1443509195955743?fref=ts

Related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/06/16/authority-approves-bankruptcy-theft-of-detroits-water-system-retirees-begin-referendum-campaign/  

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/05/27/detroit-shuts-water-off-again-violating-un-declaration-when-will-city-rise-up/ 

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2015/05/22/stop-water-shut-offs-now-cancel-detroitwater-debt-ireland-demands-no-water-charges/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/26/we-charge-genocide-detroit-water-shut-offs-foreclosures-focus-of-un-visit/

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

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

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


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