GLOBAL HERO MARYANNE GODBOLDO BACK IN COURT; NEW CRIMINAL HEARING SET FOR MARCH 14

(L to r) Debbie Williams, who is waging court battle to regain custody of her grandchildren, Mubarak Hakim, Atty. Allison Folmar, Maryanne Godboldo, and Helene Buchanan, also fighting CPS, after court hearing

(L to r) Debbie Williams, who is waging court battle to regain custody of her grandchildren, Mubarak Hakim, Atty. Allison Folmar, Maryanne Godboldo, and Helene Buchanan, also fighting CPS, after court hearing

Criminal charges for defending her child from police seizure, forced medication, reinstated 

PACK 36th District Court hearing re-set for March 14 at 1:30 pm 

Godboldo attorney Folmar receives CCHR award as well

By Diane Bukowski 

February 23, 2013

Maryanne Godboldo speaks at rally July 7, 2011

Maryanne Godboldo speaks at rally July 7, 2011

DETROIT – Maryanne Godboldo, recognized world-wide as a hero for standing off a Detroit police SWAT team trying to seize her young daughter to administer the dangerous drug Risperdal in 2011, was in court once again Feb. 14. In a never-ending continuation of the original assault, she is to face criminal charges re-instated by an appeals court after 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles and Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Gregory Bill adamantly dismissed them.

Godboldo’s arrest and her daughter Ariana Godboldo-Hakim’s six-week involuntary institutionalization elicited global outrage and support. It exposed such child seizures as common practice not only in the Wayne County Juvenile Court, but across the U.S. and much of the world.

36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles
36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles

The COA remanded the case to Giles, who postponed a hearing until Friday, March 14 at 1:30 p.m.  to give the prosecution a chance to review a defense brief mandated by the appeals court.

“We are not going to allow a bum rush job on this case,” Godboldo’s defense attorney Allison Folmar said. “The Appeals Court order in fact gives Judge Giles several other ways to dismiss this case, including the doctrine of self-defense and the right to resist an unlawful arrest. This case also raises issues of a parent’s right not to allow their child to be used as a guinea pig for experimentation by the pharmaceutical companies.”

Folmar received an award for fighting mental health abuse from the Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Los Angeles February 1. Godboldo received a similar award from the organization last year. (See video below).

Folmar’s co-counsel Byron Pitts said, “The Court of Appeals indicated to Judge Giles that he should review the case under a certain analysis. In our brief, Ms. Folmar and I are expressing another set of facts the court should look at, different than the ones used in his ruling. This was a break-in by police into the home of a single mother who was simply protecting her child. We are saying there are a myriad of ways to dismiss this case.”

Atty. Byron Pitts reviews search warrant with Maryanne Godboldo, executed months after police invaded her home.
Atty. Byron Pitts reviews search warrant with Maryanne Godboldo, executed months after police invaded her home.

In her separate version of the Appeals Court opinion, Judge Karen Fort-Hood referenced the People v. Moreno case, in which the Michigan Supreme Court upheld “the common-law right” to resist illegal actions by the police, overturning an appeals court decision that said citizens had to comply with police orders whether they were lawful or not. She also noted “the castle doctrine,” under People v. Riddle, which broadened the right of self-defense.

Giles originally dismissed charges against Godboldo due to the lack of a court order executed after a judge’s review, and said any other evidence was the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Godboldo had faced felony charges of “discharging a weapon in a building, felonious assault, assaulting or obstructing a police officer, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felony-firearm).”

After the hearing, Attorney Folmar referred to a recent $2.2 billion settlement being paid by Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Risperdal.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces $2.2 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson related to Risperdal and other drugs.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces $2.2 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson related to Risperdal and other drugs.

The U.S. Department of Justice reported in a Nov. 4, 2013 release, “Global health care giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations relating to the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega and Natrecor, including promotion for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and payment of kickbacks to physicians and to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider. The global resolution is one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. history, including criminal fines and forfeiture totaling $485 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $1.72 billion.” http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/November/13-ag-1170.html

The drug was first prescribed for Ariana by doctors at the New Oakland Child, Adolescent and Family Center, which has had paid connections with pharmaceutical companies since at least 2004, to conduct “Adult and Pediatric CNS [Central Nervous System] Clinical Trials for a number of pharmaceutical companies,” according to its website.

CPS worker Mia Wenk
CPS worker Mia Wenk

Ariana’s Child Protective Services (CPS) worker Mia Wenk testified during a court hearing that the sole reason she asked police to take the child was to administer Risperdal, although Godboldo had signed a release which allowed her to take the child off the drug at any time. Under medical supervision, Godboldo was weaning Ariana off the drug due to harmful side effects.

After Ariana was seized in 2011, the Hawthorne Center not only re-administered Risperdal to her, but a cocktail of other drugs. They took her prosthetic leg, which she had worn since her ability to walk due to a birth-related injury, and her parents have alleged she was sexually abused as well.

The Justice4Maryanne Committee is asking all her supporters, and those of other families facing the same state-sponsored assaults, to pack the court at her hearing.

Website: http://justice4maryanne.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Maryanne-Godboldo/178678602179610

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jstice4maryanne

Related VOD stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/06/01/michigan-court-re-instates-criminal-charges-against-maryanne-godboldo/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/09/state-county-pursue-prosecution-of-maryanne-godboldo-and-her-child/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/05/18/michigan-supreme-court-upholds-right-to-resist-police-misconduct/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/02/25/wayne-co-requests-appeal-on-dismissed-maryanne-goldboldo-case-almost-30-days-late/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/12/13/double-victories-for-maryanne-godboldo-and-family/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/12/06/worthy-tries-to-reinstate-charges-against-maryanne-godboldo-hearing-set-for-fri-dec-9-9-am-judge-gregory-bill/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/10/31/stop-state-child-abductions-support-godboldos-tues-nov-1-12-noon/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/30/9604/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/24/referee-youssef-orders-mother-from-home-after-cps-claims-5-children-suffer/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/17/detroit-father-of-5-pursues-federal-civil-rights-suit-against-mia-wenk-dhs-judges-agencies-for-removal-of-children/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/17/police-invade-godboldo-home-2nd-time-in-belated-evidence-search/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/16/jury-rules-against-maryanne-godboldo-in-custody-trial/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/08/ariana-godboldo-hakim%e2%80%99s-parents-tell-of-loving-life-with-daughter-during-custody-trial-nso-worker-testifies-she-admitted-child-to-psychiatric-hospital-without-family-consent-or-doctors-orde/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/08/tangled-web-in-godboldo-case-drug-cos-private-and-public-agencies-judge-dhs-all-benefit-from-child-abduction/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/07/u-s-johnson-johnson-wrongly-marketed-risperdal-to-kids/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/08/03/another-shock-no-judge-authorized-ariana-godboldos-removal/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/27/shocking-new-details-in-godboldo-police-stand-off-case/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/23/broad-support-at-maryanne-godboldo-rally-pack-36th-district-court-mon-july-25-830-a-m/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/15/my-child-does-not-belong-to-the-state-rally-for-maryanne-godboldo-sun-july-17/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/11/godboldo-hearing-adjourned-to-mon-july-25-830-a-m-%e2%80%9cpromptly%e2%80%9d-mother%e2%80%99s-supporters-to-rally-sun-july-17-8801-woodward-4-6-p-m/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/07/07/godboldo-hearing-thurs-july-7-9-am-alternet-article-on-militarization-of-police-in-u-s/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/06/28/judge-ewell-revokes-stay-on-criminal-charges-v-maryanne-godboldo-attorneys-protest/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/06/judge-orders-godboldo-daughter-home-to-family-may-6/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/05/02/pack-court-hearing-may-4-to-demand-ariana-godboldos-release/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/26/judge-orders-joint-medical-plan-for-ariana-in-one-week-subsequent-release-from-hawthorn-center/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/24/child-removal-laws-are-unconstitutional-hurt-michigan-families-aclu-charges-in-federal-lawsuit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/14/%e2%80%9ci-want-my-daughter-back-now%e2%80%9d/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/08/mother-wins-indefinite-stay-of-criminal-proceedings/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/04/08/justice-4-maryanne-free-ariana/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2011/03/29/community-rallies-behind-mother-accused-of-stand-off/

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ATTORNEYS VOW APPEALS IN CONVICTIONS OF AIYANA JONES’ DAD, CHAUNCEY OWENS

Dominika Jones' favorite photo of her daughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Dominika Jones’ favorite photo of her daughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Jones acquitted of gun counts, the only reason for murder charges

Role of Owens’ brother in Blake killing not accounted for

No forensic evidence 

Killer cop Weekley’s trial postponed indefinitely

By Diane Bukowski 

Analysis 

February 21, 2014 

JKiller cop Joseph Weekley in star photo from A&E website.
JKiller cop Joseph Weekley in star photo from A&E website.

DETROIT – The fix was in from the moment Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley shot Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, in the head with an MP-5 sub-machine gun as she lay sleeping with her grandmother in the early morning hours of May 16, 2010, two days after Jerean Blake, 17, was killed.

That was clear during a press conference May 18, 2010, held by Atty. Geoffrey Fieger with Aiyana’s family present. The first question a reporter asked was, “Didn’t Charles give Chauncey the gun [in the killing of Jerean Blake]?” Since Jones was not charged until 17 months later, that question could only have come from a police leak aimed at justifying Aiyana’s killing.

Fieger, shocked, responded, “What has that go to do with it?”

Jones family at Fieger press conference May 18, 2010: (l to r) Mark Robinson, Dominika Stanley-Jones, Charles Jones, Geoffrey Fieger, Mertilla Jones, LaKrystal Sanders

Aiyana Jones’ family at Fieger press conference May 18, 2010: (l to r) Mark Robinson, Dominika Stanley-Jones, Charles Jones, Geoffrey Fieger, Mertilla Jones, LaKrystal Sanders

The beautiful little girl Aiyana, killed during an unnecessary military-style police raid staged for the benefit of viewers of A & E’s “The First 48,” is now forgotten, as the mainstream media reports the jury verdicts rendered against her father Charles Jones and her “uncle” Chauncey Owens on Feb. 13 in Blake’s killing.

Aiyana’s father, who crawled through his daughter’s blood and brains as Special Response Team members swarmed through his mother’s home that horrible day, was convicted of second-degree murder and perjury but acquitted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and using a firearm during a felony, after nearly four days of jury deliberation.

Charles Jones asleep with his children; Aiyana is at right. Family Facebook photo
Charles Jones asleep with his children; Aiyana is at right. Family Facebook photo

“The theory of the prosecution is that my client possessed the gun, gave the gun to Mr. Owens, who used it in the killing,” Jones’ lawyer Leon Weiss said in published remarks,  “That’s the reason they charged him with homicide. I think [the jury’s acquittal of Jones on the gun charges] gives us pretty good grounds for appeal.”

He told VOD later, “My appellate team is looking at all options. Unfortunately, Michigan case law is fairly clear that juries are allowed to come back with stupid, compromised and inconsistent verdicts. We will continue to fight for Charles at every turn.”

Owens was convicted of first-degree murder, using a firearm in a felony and being a felon in possession of a firearm after one day of deliberation, a Friday. Two of his jurors had told Wayne County Circuit Court Richard Skutt they needed to leave before the following Tuesday because they had vacation plans.

David Cripps, Owens’ attorney, said he also plans to appeal his client’s verdict. He presented testimony during the trial that another man, Sh’rron Hurt, Owens’ brother, killed Blake. Hurt, who testified against Owens, was at the scene of Blake’s killing, then hid the moped he was driving in a friend’s house across from the Jones residence,  and fled to his “second” suburban home in Macomb County.

Chauncey Owens refuses to testify against Charles Jones at Jones' preliminary exam Nov. 28, 2011
Chauncey Owens refuses to testify against Charles Jones at Jones’ preliminary exam Nov. 28, 2011

During Weekley’s trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in June, 2013, which ended with a hung jury, several members of the SRT surveillance team testified that they saw Owens in the daytime outside the home at least twice, during which they could have easily arrested him. Instead, they waited until after midnight to stage their violent raid in view of “The First 48’s” TV camera.

“If he would not have given him that gun, Je’Rean Blake would still be alive right now,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran said during closing arguments against Jones. Although Moran is also prosecuting Weekley for involuntary manslaughter, he blamed Aiyana’s death primarily on Owens and her own father, a glaring conflict of interest.

The mainstream media has ignored that issue to pursue its own agenda, in line with that of the police, insisting that Owens confessed that Jones gave him the gun, despite the lack of one shred of evidence in Owens’ court file, which VOD reviewed at length, that he ever said that. The only evidence VOD had not reviewed was the police videotape of Owens’ alleged confession.

Jerean Blake
Jerean Blake

VOD was the ONLY newspaper present nearly every day of the three-weeks long Owens/Jones trial. Print media, which reported largely on opening and closing arguments and the verdict, missed the showing of that videotape. So did the Jones jury, which was unfortunately excused for that part of the trial.

If they had been there, they would have heard Owens name ANOTHER man as the one who gave him the gun. This was only after another “First 48” star like Weekley, Sgt. Kenneth Gardner, broke him down during a manipulative interrogation by belatedly letting him know his niece had died. Owens then began rambling, telling several different stories. Despite Sgt. Gardner’s repeated efforts to get him to name Charles Jones, he recovered enough each time to adamantly state Jones was NOT involved, or at the very most, was only present at the scene, which is NOT a crime.

Owens later repeatedly refused to testify against Jones during Jones’ preliminary exam, despite losing his second-degree murder plea as a result.

The ONLY evidence presented against Jones at the trial was that of two disreputable “jail-house snitches,” and a recorded conversation between Jones and Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley-Jones.

Jay Schlenkerman's latest mug shot, from Charles Egeler Reception Center. He was sentenced to 6 to 10 years Feb. 6, 2014.
Jay Schlenkerman’s latest mug shot, from Charles Egeler Reception Center. He was sentenced to 6 to 10 years Feb. 6, 2014.

The snitches were Jay Schlenkerman, a serial woman-beater, drunk driver, and self-admitted perjurer, and Qasim Raqib, who signed a written pledge to give evidence in exchange against Jones and two other prisoners in exchange for lesser charges in the 2011 murder and dismemberment of a transgender teen.

A recording of a jail-house conversation between Jones and Aiyana’s mother Dominika Stanley-Jones, in which Jones remarked that it was the anniversary of “the day I got my daughter killed,” was also played.

Jones’ mother Mertilla Jones said her son felt it was his fault because he had asked Aiyana to move to the side of the couch by the door to sleep. There are of course numerous interpretations that can be made of a bereaved parent’s statement; survivor’s guilt plays a large role in most deaths of loved ones.

There was absolutely NO forensic evidence presented during the entire trial: the  gun, the second bullet which did not hit Jerean, fingerprints, vehicles, a store videotape, or videotapes taken by A&E of witnesses identifying Owens in a photo line-up. It was clear from day one that the prosecution and police were intent on fingering Owens and Jones to justify the cold-blooded slaughter of a little child.

Roberto Guzman (center) with the late Kevin Carey (l) and members of the Detroit Crime Lab Task Force.
Roberto Guzman (center) with the late Kevin Carey (l) and members of the Detroit Crime Lab Task Force.

Paralegal Roberto Guzman, who has worked on behalf of dozens of prisoners appealing their cases, remarked on the contrast between the charges brought against Jones and Owens, and those against Weekley.

“What no one in that prosecutor’s office is able (or willing) to answer is why was Weekley undercharged with involuntary manslaughter, despite overwhelming evidence of premeditation and deliberation, elements for first degree murder! DPD and the raid team prepared, rehearsed, and discussed going into that home before the invasion. That is premeditation! Weekley also deliberated the pros and cons before and after he fired his gun, lying as he did on Mertilla Jones. DPD tried to do damage control and clean that lie up after the State Police crime scene results and the second autopsy came back seriously refuting Weekley’s lie that he accidentally shot the gun after grandma struggled with him over the weapon. Liars and killers! That’s what they are. You or I under similar factual scenarios would have been charged with MURDER.”

Weekley walks free, at home in Grosse Pointe Park, on personal bond to this day, nearly four years after he killed a little girl. A preliminary  hearing for his re-trial was scheduled for Feb. 28, but Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office just announced, “ Joseph Weekley – Detroit Officer charged in connection with the death of Aiyana Stanley-Brown, who was fatally shot during a police raid. The judge is not available on the originally scheduled date of 2/28/14. A new date has not been announced by the court at this time.”

Even Aiyana’s name has been forgotten.

March for Aiyana Jones in downtown Detroit June 26, 2010.

March for Aiyana Jones in downtown Detroit June 26, 2010. Photo: Herb Boyd

Weekley’s trial was repeatedly postponed earlier by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, who said several times from the bench that the Owens/Jones trial should proceed first.

Charles Jones faces sentencing March 13, and Chauncey Owens March 14. Aiyana’s family, meanwhile, has been torn apart by unimaginable grief and sorrow since her death and the charges brought against her father. Her great-aunt, who was present in the room during the police raid, died shortly afterward, as did another sister of Mertilla Jones.  The family has suffered a host of illnesses, police harassment and arrests of its younger male members, among numerous other misfortunes.

Protest against growing police state in Detroit Oct. 21, 2013, outside Frank Murphy Hall.
Protest against growing police state in Detroit Oct. 21, 2013, outside Frank Murphy Hall.

Blake’s mother Lyvonne Cargill, reacted to the verdicts in published remarks, saying, “I’m just happy now. I can smile and sleep now.”

Angelo Henderson, the talk show host who repeatedly featured her on his show to push the police version of events, passed away two days after the Owens/Jones verdicts were given, at the age of 51 on Feb 15, 2014. Henderson and many others in the media falsely tried to equate the growing murderous menace of a police state with the violence born of oppression, poverty and despair in the Black community.

Related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/10/who-killed-detroits-jerean-blake-17-and-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/01/did-another-man-kill-jerean-blake-17-before-police-killed-aiyana-jones-7-in-2010/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/01/29/trial-in-jerean-blake-killing-begins-with-contradictory-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/01/27/jury-finds-jailhouse-snitch-jay-schlenkerman-informant-vs-aiyana-jones-dad-guilty-of-3-more-felonies-sentencing-feb-6/

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DETROIT’S AGONY SHOWS WHY BLACK AMERICA NEEDS A PEOPLE’S PLAN FOR THE CITIES

The future of Detroit's youth, shown here enjoying a sunny day on Belle Isle in Sept. 2012 is gravely imperiled.

The future of Detroit’s youth, shown here enjoying a sunny day on Belle Isle in Sept. 2012 is gravely imperiled.

BAR logo 2By BAR executive editor Glen Ford

We must make it possible for the people to see the city as it actually exists, so that they can rationally dream, plan and build the city as it should be.”

Hundreds of low-wage surveyors scour the depopulated streets of Detroit, mapping the extent of “blight” [11] that has consumed the city. The three-person teams of the Blight Removal Task Force [12] are financed by private corporations and foundations whose mission is the “orderly” destruction of the nation’s largest Black metropolis, to clear the way for a “new” city – one in which marginalized people like the surveyors themselves will be relegated to the shadows.

Dan Gilbert, the second wealthiest man in Michigan, is busy buying Detroit's future.
Dan Gilbert, the second wealthiest man in Michigan, is busy buying Detroit’s future.

The resulting data-base will allow real estate moguls like Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, the task force sugar daddy, to create an urban grid that maximizes land values and forms the basis of future city planning. The corporate schemes that flow from the survey, beginning with recommendations to be released in late March, will dictate the types of people that the city will accommodate, and their “place” – if any – in the new urban configuration. Other corporate-financed demolition planners, under the so-called Detroit Blight Authority [13], have already begun clearing land for private exploitation.

There is no question that Detroit’s state-imposed bankruptcy has dramatically quickened the pace of the land rush. However, private capital has always positioned itself on the ground floor of urban planning in the United States, where cities are first configured by profiteers and then occupied by those populations that can manage to fit themselves into the capitalist-contoured framework.

Detroit's Black population rose up in 1967 against intolerable conditions of poverty and police brutality. The conditions are comparable today. Whites and real estate agents used this as an excuse for the ignominious white flight.

Detroit’s Black population rose up in 1967 against intolerable conditions of poverty and police brutality. The conditions are comparable today. Whites and real estate agents used this as an excuse for the ignominious white flight.

The phenomenal, stunning – and wholly unplanned – explosion of Black urban pluralities and majorities in the Sixties and Seventies occurred when capital followed white populations in flight from the cities. Capital later reasserted itself, paving the way for gentrification with its “renaissance” projects in cities across the nation, thoroughly suborning the newly established Black political (misleadership) class to the task of African American removal.

This mostly incremental process, streamlined through the normal intrigues of capitalist corruption of the public sphere, is always preceded by investments in corporate urban planning. Usually, such planning is carried out in secret, as a matter of course, with selected political “insiders” allowed a peek and a small slice as payment for facilitating the grand schemes. It is the methodical return of corporate capital that has capped and rolled back the growth of “Chocolate Cities” in the U.S.

Detroit’s state-imposed bankruptcy has dramatically quickened the pace of the land rush.”

Little girl in shock after the destruction Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans. A good number of Detroit's neighborhoods resemble this photo now after massive illegal foreclosures and evictions by the banks.
Little girl in shock after the destruction Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans. A good number of Detroit’s neighborhoods resemble this photo now after massive illegal foreclosures and evictions by the banks.

However, some cities were too darkly chocolate for incremental transformation. Nature provided a miraculous opportunity for capital to put its plans on steroids in New Orleans, in 2005. As I wrote in the May 5, 2007 issue [14] of Black Agenda Report, in response to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s contention that “Katrina is a metaphor for abandoned urban America”:

“The problem is not the lack of an urban policy, but the failure to formulate progressive Black urban policies and plans. Corporate America and finance capital have both general and detailed visions of what the cities should look like and which populations and enterprises will be nurtured and served by these new and improved municipalities – ‘renaissance’ cities of the (near and, in some places, very near) future.

New Orleans Public School children on the first day of classes in 2006. The school system is now at least 70 percent privatized, and much more white.
New Orleans Public School children on the first day of classes in 2006. The school system is now at least 70 percent privatized, and much more white.

“Corporate planners and developers believed they had been blessed by nature when Katrina drowned New Orleans, washing away in days the problem-people and neighborhoods that would ordinarily require years to remove in order to clear the way for ‘renaissance.’ “Greed led to unseemly speed, revealing in a flash the outlines of the urban vision that would be imposed on the wreckage of New Orleans.

As in a film on fast-forward, the ‘plot’ (in both meanings of the word) unfolded in a rush before our eyes: Once the Black and poor were removed, an urban environment would be created implacably hostile to their return. The public sector – except that which serves business, directly or indirectly – would under no circumstances be resurrected, so as to leave little ‘space’ for the re-implantation of unwanted populations (schools, utility infrastructure, public and affordable private housing, public safety, health care).”

Corporate America and finance capital have both general and detailed visions of what the cities should look like and which populations and enterprises will be nurtured and served.”

“Disaster Capitalism” does not require a natural calamity; it is fully capable of accomplishing the desired results by man-made means. Detroit, a city so deeply chocolate that a simple downtown renaissance strategy could not be sufficiently racially transformative in the near-term, needed to be crushed by the heavy hand of the state, through direct dictatorship and bankruptcy.

Graffiti If we fight together our city will riseThat having been accomplished, the corporate planners are tripping over themselves in haste to create the new urban grid. Since the dismantling of Detroit is a very public affair, the corporate planning process will also be more transparent than usual. The accelerated schedule of political atrocities surrounding the unprecedented dissolution of a major American city – and the breakneck speed with which the Wall Street juggernaut now moves in pursuit of its unfolding neoliberal agenda – will make the agony of Detroit a spectacularly ugly affair.

Lessons that should have been learned from Katrina will present themselves, again, with twists even more applicable to the rest of besieged urban America. With low-wage surveyors plodding Detroit’s streets, providing data for corporations to create the new grid that will abolish their own neighborhoods, our 2007 analysis [14] remains relevant:

“Had the post-1970 crop of urban Black leadership used the intervening decades to formulate urban plans and policies that transformed the cities in ways that served the needs of the new Black majorities and pluralities, they would now be capable of bargaining with onrushing capital – and would have had something to offer to the people…as corporations presented plans for the coup de grace on the Black majority.  But the misleadership class spent their terms in office wasting the historical opportunity, and the window is rapidly closing.”

We cannot accept that it is too late for Black Detroit, because if that is true, then it is also probably too late for the other heavily Black cities of the nation. All of them face the same enemy: concentrated capital, which abhors concentrated Black people.

Chocolate Cities Must Save Themselves

Back in 2003, at the urging of Bill Lucy, then head of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, I wrote a series of articles for BlackCommentator.com titled, “A Plan for the Cities to Save Themselves [15].” The five-part project stretched over nearly a year, from August 2003 to July 2004. The central conclusion was that urban political activists must also be urban planners who are as knowledgeable about the cities in which they organize, as are their corporate enemies. Serious urban organizers/planners need to do thorough audits of the assets of their cities, just as the corporations do. As we wrote in Part Five [16]: Continue reading

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DOWNTOWN DETROIT’S GRISWOLD APARTMENTS: ‘I SEE WHITE PEOPLE;” COUNCIL HEARING THURS. FEB. 20

Ad inside Griswold building, newly named "The Albert" shows all white patrons.

Ad inside Griswold building, newly named “The Albert” shows all white patrons. Photo was taken through glass window and iron gate partition, accounting for distorted qualilty.

 Developers’ ads may violate federal law

Tenants mobilizing for City Council meeting Thurs. Feb. 20, 10 a.m.

Dan Gilbert’s contractor Sachse Construction has office there now

 By Diane Bukowski

 February 18, 2013

News flash: Griswold tenant Willie Griffith reports he was able to get all the contractors currently creating dangerous conditions at the Griswold, while residents still live there, barred from the premises. He said they had pulled no city permits to do the work.

 DETROIT –The new developers of the Griswold Apartments, currently occupied by 117 senior, disabled and largely Black tenants, have posted large picture window ads at the site which depict new residents and patrons of the building, renamed “The Albert.” They are all white.

Display on front of Griswold Bldg.

Display on front of Griswold Bldg.

Ads depicting all whites violate the Federal Fair Housing Act, according to Attorney Margaret Brown, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit. VOD sent photos of the ads to her. Brown said the Center will open an investigation.

“The depiction of any single race in an ad or a series of ads is a violation of the Fair Housing Act,” Brown, formerly Director of Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), told VOD.

Atty. Margaret Brown, ED of Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit.
Atty. Margaret Brown, ED of Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit.

“This was first litigated in 1992 and it has been re-litigated over and over and upheld. It is very important for all landlords and developers to understand this Act. Its whole purpose is to make housing available to all persons. Especially in Detroit, which has a history of being one of the most segregated cities in the country, this has special meaning. As Detroit re-develops, it has to be a new Detroit that includes all.”

Brown sent VOD a 1992 New York Times article which detailed the first litigation against such ads. It resulted in an $850,000 jury award to plaintiffs against Colonial Village in Arlington, Virginia.

“The plaintiffs argued that the use of exclusively white models over a five-year period, from 1981-1986, had sent a message that Blacks were not welcome there,” said the article. (Read full article at Fair housing ads Keith newspaper clipping 2014.)

Griswold noticeThe Griswold tenants are mobilizing to attend a City Council meeting to protest their situation on Thurs. Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. They face eviction March 31, 2014 after 1214 Griswold Apartments, LLC, a developer with ties to downtown’s co-czar Dan Gilbert, bought the building. The developer had to give them one year’s notice under HUD guidelines.

In November, 2013, the Council approved a 10-year “Commercial Rehabilitation” tax abatement for the developers after the new owners negotiated a pact with the Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) and United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) to provide minimal moving and placement services for the tenants. UCHC’s director Ted Phillips told the Council he is representing the tenants, but that they have signed no representation agreement and are free to pursue their own legal representation.

His organization received a $481,000 “Tenant Resource Network” HUD grant to finance similar roles with a total of 18 developments in Southeastern Michigan.

Griswold tenants leave City Council meeting Nov. 19, 2013.
Griswold tenants leave City Council meeting Nov. 19, 2013.

VOD met with Griswold tenants once again on Feb. 15. They had brought complaints to the City Council that the original deal with the developers, which would have allowed 10 tenants to remain with “enhanced vouchers,” as guaranteed by Phillips, fell through.

They also told VOD that moving from their downtown Detroit location will interfere with access to their doctors, most of whom are in the Detroit Medical Center, and transportation. Most do not own cars. They said UCHC has provided them only with bus tickets to go see possible placements, while a private individual has volunteered her time to drive them to the locations. Many of the complexes involved have also sent buses to allow residents to tour their sites, at the complexes’ expense.

A Feb. 7 report from David Whitaker, Director of the Council’s Legislative Policy Division, absolved the developers of any blame for the loss of “enhanced vouchers.”

Griswold developers smile approvingly as UCHC Director Ted Phillips (r) reports to City Council Nov. 19, 2013.
Griswold developers smile approvingly as UCHC Director Ted Phillips (r) reports to City Council Nov. 19, 2013.

“Based on its new rents, which will be in excess of $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment, the rents for this building exceeded MSHDA’s guidelines,” Whitaker reported. “MSHDA indicated that the new rents were far more than the average rents in the area for comparable buildings of a similar size and age. Therefore the building was deemed ineligible for enhanced HUD vouchers.” He said two Council members are asking the developers to lower the rents on the 10 units to comply with the MSHDA guidelines.

Phillips earlier told this reporter that the problem was a “rent comparables” report. VOD accessed the MSHDA “rent reasonableness” site from which such reports are generated, using a standard five-mile radius. MSHDA’s press representative Katie Bach said VOD’s first results were inaccurate.

Lofts of Merchants Row on Woodward around the corner from Griswold Apartments.
Lofts of Merchants Row on Woodward around the corner from Griswold Apartments.

“The Rent Reasonableness report generated off the Michigan Housing Locator site pulled a number of fully furnished corporate suites as comparable properties,” Bach said. She said rents would have to be comparable to the units at the Griswold in their current condition.

“MSHDA was not party to any agreement between City Council and the owner to allow 10 current residents to remain at Griswold,” she added, belying Phillips earlier promises to City Council and the developers.

So VOD did a second report, excluding the corporate suites, and produced three regular high-rise apartment buildings in downtown Detroit charging more than $1100: the Lofts of Merchant Row at $1795, East Jefferson and Chene condos at $1190, and regular Broderick Tower units at $1,350. Only three comparable units have to be identified under MSHDA regulations to validate rent reasonableness. See report at 1214 Griswold Rent Comparables Report revised.

Whitaker also reported that the tax abatement was provided under Public Act 10 of 2005, the “Commercial Rehabilitation Act.” (See link below for full Act.)

Woman in Philadelphia protests tax abatements. Michigan's PA 210 indicates that money is taken from the state school aid fund and other sources to provide tax abatements.
Woman in Philadelphia protests tax abatements. Michigan’s PA 210 indicates that money is taken from the state school aid fund and other sources to provide tax abatements.

That act, however, says, “Commercial property” means land improvements classified by law for general ad valorem tax purposes as real property including real property assessable as personal property pursuant . . . . the primary purpose and use of which is the operation of a commercial business enterprise. Commercial property shall also include facilities related to a commercial business enterprise under the same ownership at that location, including, but not limited to, office, engineering, research and development, warehousing, parts distribution, retail sales, and other commercial activities. Commercial property also includes a building or group of contiguous buildings previously used for industrial purposes that will be converted to the operation of a commercial business enterprise.”

The Act also says, “’Qualified facility’ means a building or group of contiguous buildings of commercial property consisting of 1,000,000 or more square feet of space that is 40% or more vacant for 12 or more consecutive months immediately preceding the date of application for the certificate and that is 15 years old or older.”

None of those definitions fit the Griswold Apartments, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been a residential building housing seniors and disabled tenants for more than 30 years, and has at least 117 tenants occupying its 127 units.

Griswold resident Willie Griffith at his apartment window with view of downtown.
Griswold resident Willie Griffith at his apartment window with view of downtown.

Resident Willie Griffith, who is assisting tenants in the move, told VOD earlier, “The senior citizens that helped build this country should be entitled to stay down here among the wealthy. This is nothing but financial discrimination. The tenants don’t want to move, they resent it with a passion. If all Blacks and poor whites would get together, like in the Million Man Marches I attended, we can shut them down.”

Meanwhile, Sachse Construction, which does the renovation work on Gilbert’s numerous holdings, has established an office on the building’s ground floor, next to the large ads. Its officers include Todd Sachse, CEO, Steven R. Berlage, President and COO, and Richard Broder, Vice-President. All staff shown on its website at http://www.sachseconstruction.com/index.php/our-team are white.

According to the company’s 2014 state filing, Broder is the owner/agent for 1214 Griswold Apartments, LLC. Gilbert’s representative Paula Silver has in the past denied that Gilbert owns the building. However, according to articles in other newspapers listed in previous VOD stories on the Griswold Apartments, Gilbert is known for using front companies to purchase property. He already owns most of the buildings on Capitol Park, where the Griswold building is located, along with a wide swath of buildings throughout downtown.

Sachse Construction office in Griswold Apt. building,
Sachse Construction office in Griswold Apt. building,

His “Bedrock Real Estate” and “Opportunity Detroit” signs adorn most of his holdings as well as DDOT buses and other vehicles. He is also CEO of Quicken Loans, Rock Financial, and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He excoriated player LeBron James for leaving the team to go to the Miami Heat, creating a furor in the Black community, many of whom took his statement to mean that he did not like a slave leaving the plantation.

Related:

Fair Housing advertising manual

PA 210 2005 – The Commercial Rehabilitation Act

Report on Colonial Apartments ads: http://www.fairhousing.com/index.cfm?method=page.display&pageID=3498

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/01/27/tax-abatement-deal-with-devil-in-downtown-griswold-tenants-eviction-has-gone-to-hell/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/12/15/city-council-state-feds-non-profits-in-bed-with-developers-destroying-black-detroit/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/18/developers-hud-non-profits-collude-to-move-detroit-seniors-disabled-out-of-downtown-griswold-apts/

Griswold Apartments on Capitol Park were designed by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn; hence the new owners' name for them: "The Albert."

Griswold Apartments on Capitol Park were designed by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn; hence the new owners’ name for them: “The Albert.”

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WALL STREET ATTACKS DETROIT BANKRUPTCY COPS LAWSUIT

Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor's (at mike) and Joe O'Keefe of Fitch Ratings sell snake oil to City Council Jan. 31, 2005: COPS loan of $1.44 billion which caused the city to default in 2009 after 2008 global economic collapse due primarily to predatory mortgage lending.

Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s (at mike) and Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings sell snake oil to City Council Jan. 31, 2005: COPS loan of $1.44 billion which caused the city to default in 2009 after 2008 global economic collapse due primarily to predatory mortgage lending.

 

The Bond Buyer logoMoody’s Sees Detroit COPs Repudiation as Isolated

by Caitlin Devitt

FEB 14, 2014 10:00am ET

CHICAGO — Detroit’s attempt to invalidate $1.4 billion of pension certificates as part of its bankruptcy is a “radical” move that is unlikely to be copied by other issuers even if successful, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

RATINGS AGENCIES NEVER INFORMED DETROIT OF RISK INVOLVED IN COPS LOAN.
RATINGS AGENCIES NEVER INFORMED DETROIT OF RISK INVOLVED IN COPS LOAN.

“The attempted repudiation of municipal debt is an extremely rare and unusual act,” Moody’s said in a comment released Friday titled “Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: Detroit’s Attempted COPs Repudiation an Extreme Act.”

“Ultimately, the city’s repudiation attempt is unlikely to impact the broader municipal market because it is so rare. Should the city prevail, the case is still likely to have limited implications for COPs holders elsewhere,” analysts wrote.

Detroit filed the lawsuit challenging the certificates of participation on Jan. 31, arguing that the debt structure, which relied on service corporations, is illegal because it was set up solely to allow the city to avoid state debt limits.

The lawsuit is part of the city’s ongoing effort to settle with its swap counterparties, who hedge $800 million of the COPs.

Retirees and residents of Detroit demand cancellation of the city's debt to criminal banks.

Retirees and residents of Detroit demand cancellation of the city’s debt to criminal banks.

If the city wins in court, it could be positive for other creditors because it would mean more money to go around, Moody’s notes.

But it’s also possible that the city could be made to return the proceeds of the $1.4 billion sale, which were used to fund its two pension systems. That would severely weaken the pension funds’ assets and could roil the bankruptcy case.

The last time a government tried to repudiate debt on such a scale was in 1983, when the Washington Public Power Supply System successfully argued that its take-or-pay contracts were illegal and invalidated $2.25 billion of revenue bonds.

WPPPSS“We do not expect debt repudiation to become a frequently used tactic for local governments given the very strong credit fundamentals of the vast majority of COPs issuers,” Moody’s said. There are very few other Michigan issuers who have used similar debt instruments, and many states recognize lease-back obligations as valid, according to Moody’s.

In related news, Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing Detroit’s Chapter 9 case, set a hearing date of Feb. 19 for a key dispute that goes to the heart of the city’s effort to treat its unlimited-tax general obligation bonds as unsecured.

National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. and Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. sued Detroit in November over the city’s treatment of the ULTGOs as unsecured. Ambac Assurance has filed its own suit, which includes the limited-tax GO bonds.

The insurers are arguing that the ULTGOs are secured because they are paid for with a special property tax levy imposed specifically for those bonds and as such are special revenues. State law requires that those tax revenues raised under the levy not be diverted for any other purpose than debt-service on the bonds, in or outside of bankruptcy, according to the insurers.

Detroit is current using the tax money raised under the levy for general operations.

First march in Detroit demanding cancellation of bank debt, May 9, 2012.
First march in Detroit demanding cancellation of bank debt, May 9, 2012.

“The ‘pledge’ of special ad valorem taxes is not, and is not intended to be, a mere ‘promise,’” the insurers argued in a recent filing that counters the city’s claim that a pledge is distinct from a statutory lien.

The city claims that the pledge is similar to the “pledge of allegiance,” and therefore not a promise or a lien, the insurers say in a footnote.

“In fact, it is a pledge of specific and identifiable property,” the insurers claim. “The appropriate analogy is not ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag,’ as defendants argue, but rather, ‘I pledge this flag for repayment of my debt.’”

May 9, 2012 march demanding cancellation of debt to banks, funding of city services.
May 9, 2012 march demanding cancellation of debt to banks, funding of city services.

The issue is a key one for the municipal market, which traditionally has treated ULTGOs as among the safest debt available, secondary to treasuries, noted Richard Ciccarone, president and chief executive officer of research firm Merritt Research Services LLC.

Critics point to the apparent lack of a statutory lien, but from a “common sense perspective, it has all the markings of a special revenue designation,” Ciccarone said. “Going to intent and common sense, you have to ask, what else are you going to use that money for?” he said. “It doesn’t make sense and it’s harmful to the entire municipal credit structure if you let the GO go that easily.”

MOODY’S: DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES: DETROIT’S ATTEMPTED COPS REPUDIATION AN EXTREME ACT

On January 31, the City of Detroit, MI (Caa3 negative) filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to invalidate $1.45 billion of pension obligation Certificates of Participation (COPs). The attempted repudiation of municipal debt is an extremely rare and unusual act. A successful repudiation is still subject to court approval and would be credit negative for holders of the city’s COPs and potentially for pensioners and other bondholders if the city were also required to return the proceeds of the certificate sale. The return of proceeds is a possibility since they were used to fund the city’s previously unfunded pension liabilities and are part of the assets of the pension system. Ultimately, the city’s repudiation attempt is unlikely to impact the broader municipal market because it is so rare. Should the city prevail, the case is still likely to have limited implications for COPs holders elsewhere. Continue reading

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NEW HOPE FOR MICHIGAN’S PAROLABLE LIFERS? HOUSE CTTE. MEETING WED. FEB. 19

SOME OF MICHIGAN'S PAROLABLE LIFERS.

SOME OF MICHIGAN’S PAROLABLE LIFERS.

Prisoner advocates, corrections officials, state legislators want reform

60 percent of 850 parolable lifers are Black, 39% from Wayne County

Most have served decades beyond sentencing judges’ intent

New reports, House bills lay out remedies

By Diane Bukowski 

Feb. 15, 2014 

DETROIT — “Over the last years of incarceration,” Detroiter Johnny Alexander told this reporter in 2003, “I’ve tried very hard to maintain a positive sense of hopefulness in a not so pleasant and adverse environment. I have trusted that one day I would return back to a free society where I can be the productive man my wife and family know I now am, and share with my community the valuable lessons I’ve come to learn while
confined.”

Michael Sapala (l), retired judge, receives Pioneer of Justice award from Don Johnson, Chief State Defender for Legal Aid and Defender Association. John Meiu/Photographer
Michael Sapala (l), retired judge, receives Pioneer of Justice award from Don Johnson, Chief State Defender for Legal Aid and Defender Association. John Meiu/Photographer

More than a decade later, Alexander is now 52 and has been incarcerated for second-degree murder since 1981. He is a parolable lifer whose sentencing Judge, Michael Sapala, said he expected Alexander to be released with evidence of rehabilitation after 10 years. But Alexander, also known as “Papa,” is still behind bars, despite obtaining a doctoral degree in theology and teaching ant-recidivism classes to prisoners, among other accomplishments.

“Eight hundred fifty people are essentially trapped in a system with few rules, no accountability, and little transparency,” Barbara Levine, Executive Director of the Michigan Coalition on Prisons and Public Spending (MI-CAPPS), said during a press conference Feb. 12. She announced two new MI-CAPPS reports on parolable lifers. (See links below).

She said almost 60 percent of parolable lifers are African-American; the report says two-thirds of the lifers are from the following counties: Wayne (38.6%), Oakland (6.6%), Genesee (5.7), Saginaw (5.7%), Kent (5.0%) and Berrien (4.5%). She said many prisoners charged with the same offenses typical of parolable lifers, such as second-degree murder, but sentenced to terms of years, have long since been released.

Barbara Levine
Barbara Levine

Former corrections officials as well as state legislators joined her, saying they want such practices to end, in part because they place a huge burden on taxpayers. A package of new bills, led by HB 4809, has been introduced in the state House calling for a return to pre-1992 practices. Numerous Republicans are sponsors, in addition to Democrats.

“Every decision to deny parole to these prisoners costs taxpayers $200,000,” Levine said. “It costs $17 million a year to house half of these prisoners, whose median age is 56. Fully one-third of them were sentenced before 1980, and two-thirds before 1990, when parole policies changed. As a group, they are at very low-risk for re-offending, with a rate of only two percent. They are older; they know how much they have to lose.”

She said the original intent of Michigan’s “Lifer Law” was to allow such offenders a chance to earn their way out of prison, not to be held until they died. That began to change during Governor John Engler’s administration. The parole board, originally civil service, was replaced with appointees. One chair under Engler, Stephen Marschke, a former Berrien County sheriff, declared at the time, “Life means life.”

Bernard Prosser, now 83, was finally paroled in 2013.
Bernard Prosser, now 83, was finally paroled in 2013.

One of the oldest parolable lifers, Bernard Prosser, 83, was finally paroled in 2013 after being held since 1968. Levine said many parolable lifers are now in the prisons’ geriatric sections, which resemble nursing homes.

Prior to 1992, parolable lifers were reviewed personally by the parole board after seven years, then every two years. Now, Levine said, prisoners only get reviews every five years, which don’t even have to be in person. The Board can and does render decisions of “no interest” for many without even seeing them, prison staff who have worked with them, or giving any reason. Their right to appeal such decisions has been abolished.

Levine said in many cases have grown so old that the original sentencing judges have retired, and passed the cases on to judges who never saw the individuals. These judges can now block the prisoners’ right even to a hearing.

Prisoners being wheeled back into geriatric unit.

Prisoners being wheeled back into geriatric unit.

Waymon Kincaid, now 56, has been in prison since 1976.

His case is highlighted in the first MI-CAPPS report, “Parolable Lifers in Michigan, Paying the Price of Unchecked Discretion.”

Vivian Kincaid speaks on behalf of her incarcerated brothers, Waymon, a parolable lifer, and Timothy, a juvenile lifer, at forum at Wayne State University,

Vivian Kincaid speaks on behalf of her incarcerated brothers, Waymon, a parolable lifer, and Timothy, a juvenile lifer, at forum at Wayne State University, They recently lost their mother Odessa Kincaid as well.

“In 1975, at the age of 18, Kincaid shot the customer of a prostitute with whom he was associated,” says the report. “There was a dispute about whether the killing resulted from an attempted robbery or an argument over the price of the woman’s services. Kincaid was sentenced to a parolable life term by Judge Samuel Gardner, who said in a 1998 letter to the parole board and a 2002 affidavit that, assuming good conduct, he had expected Kincaid to be released after serving 10 years.”

It quotes an assessment from a prison therapist, “The prognosis given was: ‘Mr. Kincaid’s maturity, the character strengths described above, and his demonstrated willingness to adhere to rules and regulations are interpreted as positive indicators for the potential for a future problem-free adjustment to the community at large.”

However, Judge Gardner’s successor blocked Kincaid’s parole in both 2009 and 2013.

“There are countries in Europe where you can’t get more than 15 years for any crime, even murder,” parolable lifer Louis Moore’s appeals attorney, James Howarth, told this reporter in 2003. “So I can’t imagine how Michigan’s parole board . . . could say ‘you’re here until you die’ for lesser crimes. . . .Mr. Moore is an honorably discharged veteran whose level of education and deportment has risen 100 percent since 1981.”

Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy shown here with assistant prosecutors, has been responsible for blocking many parolable lifers' releases.
Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy shown here with assistant prosecutors, has been responsible for blocking many parolable lifers’ releases.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Moore’s judge had jurisdiction to re-sentence him. But the prosecutor’s office won an indefinite stay from the state Supreme Court, and the re-sentencing was never held.

Kenneth Foster-Bey’s motion for re-sentencing was granted by Judge Gregory Bill but later overturned on appeal. His original sentencing judge, Robert J. Colombo, said that in 1975, he believed Foster-Bey would be parolable in 10 years.

“Nor was this the opinion of only this judge,” Colombo said, “but the vast majority of the entire judiciary of this state.”

Black men in prison 2Foster-Bey was a plaintiff, along with Alexander, Kincaid, and three others, in a federal lawsuit against Michigan’s parolable lifer release practices. U.S. District Court Judge Marianne O. Battani handed the plaintiffs a victory, but that decision too was eventually overturned at a higher level. All but one of the original plaintiffs are still incarcerated.

Karen Kantzler, a victim of spousal abuse, was convicted in 1988 for killing her husband. She is now 65, blind in one eye, and frequently depends on a wheelchair. Her judge, Norman Lippitt, has continued to advocate for her release. His successor re-sentenced her to three to ten years, an action again overturned on appeal.

Her case illustrates what Levine said is common practice by the parole board, looking solely at the original offense instead of evidence of rehabilitation.

Kantzler was sentenced before the enactment of Michigan's Spousal Abuse law.
Kantzler was sentenced before the enactment of Michigan’s Spousal Abuse law.

“Kantzler’s prison record is outstanding,” says the MI-Capps report. “She has not had a single misconduct in 26 years and has had excellent reports from all her prison jobs. Although she already had her college degree and several state occupational licenses, she has participated in numerous academic, vocational and self-improvement programs. She also completed . . .anger management, domestic violence prevention and assaultive offender therapy (AOT). Her 2005 AOT evaluation shows “excellent” progress on 27 of 28 factors scored and states that Kantzler ‘addressed all of her needs in her [relapse prevention] plan and has an exceptional support system.’”

Required by Judge Battani’s Foster-Bey decision to explain itself, the parole board last interviewed Kantzler in 2009. It stated that her “growth and insight are limited, her version of the crime was inconsistent, she blamed her abuse for the murder and she ‘needs to engage in further treatment to develop a full understanding of [her] assaultive, criminally deviant behavior.’”

State Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Troy), District 41.
State Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Troy), District 41.

State Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Clawson, Troy), is one of 25 sponsors of H.B. 4809, many of them Republican. It was referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice.

That committee, chaired by Rep. Kurt Heise, is to hold a joint meeting with the Appropriations Committee Wed. Feb. 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 519 of the House Office Building in Lansing to hear a presentation by the Council of State Governments Justice Center on their sentencing study and “justice reinvestments in Michigan,”  (see link below) along with any other “proper business.”

“The suburbs have had this bunker, tough on crime mentality,” Howrylak said during the press conference. “But statistics do not prove that this has decreased crime rates. It costs $70,000 a year to house a geriatric prisoner. Common sense reform is needed. There is clearly a need for punishment and to protect society, but we have neglected to properly assess behavioral rehabilitation.”

The bill says in pertinent part, “A prisoner sentenced to imprisonment for life, other than a prisoner described in subsection (6)[i.e. prisoners sentenced to life without parole], is subject to the jurisdiction of the parole board and SHALL BE CONSIDERED FOR PAROLE ACCORDING TO THE SAME CRITERIA AND UTILIZING THE SAME ASSESSMENT TOOLS THAT ARE APPLIED TO ALL PRISONERS BEING CONSIDERED FOR PAROLE.” 

The bill would make parolable lifers subject to parole after 10-15 years. It requires  personal (including interactive video) interviews by a parole board member every two years after first eligibility. It says denial of a public hearing constitutes denial of parole, requiring the board to include a summary of its reasons, and that successor judges may weigh in on parole board decisions, but not block them.

The MI-Capps report includes several other recommendations:

  • Recording of parole interviews.
  • Restoring prisoners’ right to appeal parole denials to the courts
  • Allow only the sentencing judge to exercise veto authority
  • Establish a temporary lifer review board with the authority and capacity to make  parole decisions and recommend commutations.
    Gary Gabry
    Gary Gabry

Gary Gabry, a former parole board chair, is one of 24 individuals who were previously corrections officials who have signed a statement in support of the recommendations.

“Looking at the evolution of the lifer process during my tenure, I believe there must be fundamental fairness,” Gabry said at the press conference. “Many of the current parolable lifers went in when the system still provided corrective opportunities like a college education. We should want to correct, give prisoners the opportunity and tools to go back into society. The whole focus [of the parole board] has shifted from rehabilitation to what did they do, with the attitude, ‘Ohmigod, this is terrible.’ The whole risk assessment process has been abolished. Sometimes, even if a judge supports parole, it is denied. Lifer files used to include a history of notes by previous parole board members. Now there is no grid, there are no guidelines, they are just punting. It is not fair.”

Donna Houtz, who served as warden of the Coldwater prison for 27 years, described her experience.

Former prison warden Donna Houtz.
Former prison warden Donna Houtz.

“I’ve watched prisoners grow from immature youngsters to having decades without violations, becoming role models for other prisoners, and assisting staff,” she said. “Coldwater has an 80-bed geriatric unit with prisoners in extremely poor health, from heart attacks, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. Thirty of the 80 are in wheelchairs. It looks like a nursing home. The parolable lifers that I knew were filled with remorse, and confused about what more the parole board expects of them.”

Monica Jahner is a former parolable lifer who served 27 years and now sits on the MI-Capps board. She runs the “Grassroots Re-entry Program for Ex-prisoners.”

“There were so many people that I left behind who deserved a second chance,” she said. “There is no justice in the current system.”

Related docs:

HB-4809 

rev-Michigan-Department-of-Corrections-Professionals-Comment-on-Lifer-Paroles

Michigan’s Parolable Lifers – The cost of a broken process

Click on http://www.capps-mi.org/ for access to complete report: Parolable Lifers in Michigan: Paying the Price of Unchecked Discretion

For Committee of State Governments Justice Center Report on Michigan Sentencing Practices, click here: http://csgjusticecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/MLRCThirdPresentation.pdf

Michigan's parolable lifers are dying in prison, although state Lifer Law says they should be eligible for parole after 10-15 years.

Michigan’s parolable lifers are dying in prison, although state Lifer Law says they should be eligible for parole after 10-15 years.

 

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EM LAWSUIT V. COPS LOAN DEMANDS $1.45 BILLION BACK TO CITY; MAKE THE BANKS PAY! NO DETROIT PENSION OR HEALTH CARE CUTS!

Rhodes has scheduled no hearing on lawsuit

Banks, Wall Street reps not named in lawsuit, media reports on Werdlow

Is lawsuit a paper tiger for mediation purposes?

By Diane Bukowski

February 11, 2014

DETROIT – A lawsuit FINALLY filed by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr against the 2005-06 Pension Obligation Certificates (COPS) loan in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Jan. 31 says, “. . . the total amount of the outstanding COPs is approximately $1.45 billion.” It seeks a declaratory judgment and injunction against any further payment by the City of Detroit on what it calls transactions that were flagrantly illegal and void ab initio. 

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick accepts "Bond Buyer" award for innovative (and criminal) POC financing scheme, as Sean Werdlow hovers in background.
Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick accepts “Bond Buyer” award for innovative (and criminal) POC financing scheme, as Sean Werdlow hovers in background.

That SHOULD be $1.45 billion back in the city’s coffers. Additionally, an argument SHOULD be made that the money already paid out, estimated by a Detroit News report to be $2.8 billion with interest, fees and penalties, should be returned.

Former Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, now COO of the minority lender involved, Siebert, Brandford and Shank, has FINALLY been all over the front pages and on TV news as one perpetrator of the shady loan, the largest such deal in state history. This reporter has fingered him since 2005 in the pages of the Michigan Citizen, Voice of Detroit, and in a filing before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in Aug. 2013.

Despite this welcomed vindication, VOD notes that the chief lenders in the deal, UBS AG and later Bank of America, and co-brokers Stephen Murphy of Standard and Poor’s, and Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings, (seen in photo taken by this reporter in box below) are nowhere cited as likely criminal lead conspirators and racketeers by the big business media. They are also NOT defendants in the lawsuit.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette.
Michigan AG Bill Schuette.

“To uphold his oath and protect the rights of pensioners, Attorney General [Bill] Schuette has asked the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide this question,” Michigan’s AG says in a release. “Michigan’s Pension Clause in the constitution is more than just a contract right: its inviolability is a part of Michigan’s fundamental law.”

(VOD has a request in to Schuette’s office for a copy of the filing, which a diligent search on numerous court sites did not turn up.)

So why are news reports still replete with such headlines as “Detroit may tailor pension cuts to ages, incomes?” (Detroit News, Feb. 11, 2014).

Judge Rhodes has yet to schedule a hearing on the lawsuit, two weeks later. The City (i.e. Kevyn Orr and the Jones Day law firm), claims it will be filing a proposed “plan of adjustment” next week, presumably including pension cuts and health care reductions for both active and retired workers.

Yet the violations cited in the lawsuit are mind-boggling. They say the “Service Corporations” and a Trust set up to handle the transaction only existed on paper, repeating contentions made in a Demos report by Wallace Turbeville in Nov. 2013, and that the debt incurred to them is void ab initio. Below are some sections, with the complete lawsuit at DB POC lawsuit.

POC lawsuit box

The lawsuit does not cite the additional fact, as does Turbeville, that as debt, the COPS should have been treated as bonds and therefore have been subject to a city-wide vote.

It also claims falsely that the State Constitution ensures pension rights outside of bankruptcy, and that it was the Retirement Systems themselves who insisted on payment of 30 years of unpaid obligations. The retirement systems, as correctly noted in the Channel 7 video at top, in fact vehemently objected to the issuance of the mammoth debt, as did many union leaders, city workers, and retirees, at Council hearings covered by this reporter.

It appears evident that EM Orr, in likely collusion with Judge Rhodes, who chaired a pro-EM, pro-PA 4 conference on Oct. 2012, are using the lawsuit simply as a paper tiger to threaten the city’s creditors into some concessions. They are also trying, in mediation, to elicit concessions from the pension systems, whose ELECTED officials have been strangely silent outside of court filings, and have not mobilized the massive protests that retirees as well as current city workers and residents, should be conducting to safeguard their livelihoods and their city.

Judge Steven Rhodes (3rd from l) at "Municipal Distress Forum" on Ch. 9 and EM's, with participants (l to r) Frederick Headen of the state treasury, a participant in dozens of city takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Douglas Bernstein, an EM trainer, Judy O'Neil, a co-author of PA 4 and an EM trainer, and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Orr/Jones Day during the bankruptcy hearing, and advocate of pension cuts.

Judge Steven Rhodes (3rd from l) at “Municipal Distress Forum” on Ch. 9 and EM’s, with participants (l to r) Frederick Headen of the state treasury, a participant in dozens of city takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Douglas Bernstein, an EM trainer, Judy O’Neil, a co-author of PA 4 and an EM trainer, and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Orr/Jones Day during the bankruptcy hearing, and advocate of pension cuts.

Related:

Demos Detroit bankruptcy report highlighted

DB POC lawsuit Exhibit G Bond Buyer article

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WHO KILLED DETROIT’S JEREAN BLAKE, 17 AND AIYANA JONES, 7?

Moran victimsUpdate Feb. 13, 2013: According to Maria Miller of the Prosecutor’s Office, “Charles Jones was found guilty by a jury of Second Degree Murder and Perjury. Jones was found not guilty of Felon in Possession and Felony Firearm. Jones will be sentenced before Judge Skutt on  March 13, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.  The verdict for Owens has not announced at this time.” VOD story on the verdict(s) will be forthcoming.

Moran fingers Chauncey Owens for both deaths; he is also prosecuting killer cop Joseph Weekley, Jr. in Aiyana’s killing

 ‘Confession’ video shown at trial is highly conflicted

“Jail-house snitches” take stand

 Analysis

 By Diane Bukowski 

Feb. 9, 2014 

DETROIT – “Because of his actions, not only is a 17-year-old dead, but Aiyana Jones is dead.”

Defense attorney Leon Weiss (top) and Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran (bottom) during preliminary exam on Charles Jones in June, 2012.
Defense attorney Leon Weiss (top) and Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran (bottom) during preliminary exam on Charles Jones in June, 2012.

These were the words of Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran in his closing arguments at the first-degree murder trial of Chauncey Owens, accused of killing Jerean Blake May 14, 2010. But Moran is also prosecuting Detroit police officer Joseph Weekley for “involuntary manslaughter” for shooting 7-year-old Aiyana Jones in the head with an MP-5 submachine gun on May 16, 2010, during a military-style police raid filmed by “The First 48” reality TV show. Police said they were seeking Owens.

So who killed Aiyana – Owens or Weekley? Why is the same man prosecuting both?

“The judge should have called a mistrial then and there,” Cornell Squires, a paralegal with We the People for the People, reacted.

Charles Jones, in shock the morning Aiyana was shot to death by Detroit police, stands next to bloody couch where she died May 16, 2010. Photo/Diane Bukowski
Charles Jones, in shock the morning Aiyana was shot to death by Detroit police, stands next to bloody couch where she died May 16, 2010. Behind his head is the shattered windown through which police threw an incendiary stun grenade just prior to shooting the little girl in the head. Photo/Diane Bukowski

Moran’s words spoke volumes about the motivation of the police and prosecution in pursuing charges not only against Owens, but against Aiyana’s father Charles Jones 17 months later. Jones was ordered to crawl through bits of his child’s blood and brains after she was rushed out of their poor east-side flat by another killer cop, Kata-Ante Taylor, according to testimony in Weekley’s trial last June. That trial ended with a hung jury, but Weekley has yet to be re-tried after four years.

Weekley’s pre-trial, scheduled for Feb. 6, was once again postponed in a clear effort to await the results of the verdicts against Owens and Jones. The Jones jury is to hear closing arguments and begin deliberations Feb. 10, while the Owens jury has already brought back a “sealed verdict,” to be opened when the Jones case is complete. Weekley has been free on bond since his arraignment on charges of involuntary manslaughter, while Owens and Jones have languished in the Wayne County Jail since their arrests.

Before being subjected to hours of interrogation, Owens, arrested in an upstairs flat wearing only his trunks, was forced to sit on the blood-soaked couch where the little girl died as she slept with her grandmother, according to court files. Throughout the subsequent police interrogation, he was dressed in a plastic see through coat of some kind, and he repeatedly asked for his family to bring him clothing.  Court records say that earlier police officers taunted him by putting a shower cap on his head.

Houses where Shrron Hurt and friend Jay lived across the street from Jones family,
Houses where Shrron Hurt and friend Jay lived across the street from Jones family,

Owens’ brother Shrron Hurt, who testified at the trial, lived across the street from the Jones family. Hurt testified that he was at the scene of Blake’s killing with an individual named “Chris” on his moped. Owens and one other witness, Charles Howard (in a written statement not admitted at the trial) said Hurt killed Blake. If police would have charged Hurt instead of Owens, they would have had to admit that in the rush to judgment required by “48 Hours,” they raided not only the wrong flat but the wrong house, killing a seven-year-old little girl.

‘CONFESSION’ VIDEO SHOWN

The Owens interrogation, shown at the trial on video on Feb. 6, ended with a confession to Blake’s killing, but only after interrogators Sgts. Kenneth Gardner and Theophilus Williams belatedly let Owens discover that his little niece had died. Previously in that interrogation and during an earlier one by Sgt. LaTanya Brooks, Owens adamantly denied he killed anyone and said his brother Shrron Hurt, known as “Chinaman,” killed Blake.

Interrogator Sgt. Kenneth Gardner was evidently also a star for A & E's "The First 48," since this photo comes from that show's website.
Sgt. Kenneth Gardner was evidently also a star for A & E’s “The First 48,” since this photo, like that of Joseph Weekley, comes from that show’s website.

“I’m really pissed off about this,” Owens says in the beginning. “My brother’s little daughter got hurt [referring to Charles Jones, his brother in common law]. I’ve tried to cover up for my brother [referring to Hurt] too much.” He asks the interrogators repeatedly about Aiyana’s condition, but they claim [falsely] that they don’t know.

“My brother [Hurt] is from around here,” Owens says. “There’s all these guys, little gangs, little cliques, whatever. . . .Chinaman broke it down. His story was that he was on his moped at the store and [got into it] with a little boy. Chinaman pulled up to the house on Lillibridge, took the van, and took his gun with him. Later he went to Centerline where his wife is at.”

At one point in the video, Owens says he told Hurt, who called him afterwards to tell him to get out of town, “I’m not running from my home. I didn’t do shit, I’m not going no place, I swear to God on my mama’s grave.”

Owens' defense attorney David Cripps
Owens’ defense attorney David Cripps

Owens’ defense attorney David Cripps pointed out that Owens went home and was sleeping in bed when police raided his flat and the lower flat where Aiyana Jones was present with her grandmother, great aunt, uncle, two toddler brothers, and her mother and father. He said Hurt himself testified that he concealed his moped in his friend Jay’s house and had his wife come pick him up to take him to their home in suburban Centerline.

Gardner repeatedly told Owens he should confess because “there had already been enough pain” in his family with the injury of Aiyana, and that the family would blame him and become “alienated” from him if he tried to put the killing off on Hurt. Owens repeatedly asks to talk to his wife, LaKrystal Sanders.

“I love her so much,” he says.

Video: Jones did not provide gun to kill Blake

Later, Gardner calls Sanders on his cell phone, putting it on speaker. She is heard telling Owens, “’Yana’s dead.” Owens breaks down weeping and begins rambling. He ends by saying he and a group of people were walking down Lillibridge when Chinaman came by and said there had been an incident at the store and he needed help. Owens says the group went to the store and that a young man in the group unexpectedly handed him a gun.

LaKrystal Sanders is at right in this photo of Aiyana Jones family at rally in March, 2013. Her mother Dominika is at left, with grandmother Mertilla Jones behind her, and Aiyana's maternal grandfather Jimmie Stanley at top.
LaKrystal Sanders is at right in this photo of Aiyana Jones family at rally in March, 2013. Her mother Dominika is at left, with grandmother Mertilla Jones behind her, and Aiyana’s maternal grandfather Jimmie Stanley at top.

In the video, Owens did not finger Jones for giving him the gun involved, as the “unbiased” major media, clearly operating on police leaks, has reported for four years, since one week after Aiyana’s death. Sgt. Gardner tries twice to get Owens to identify Charles Jones as the shooter, and also as the gun’s provider, but Owens says adamantly he did not identify Jones, but Chinaman as the killer and the young man as the one who gave him the gun.

Owens says he fired off the gun once, in the air as a warning shot, but says it must have gone off as he lifted his arm, demonstrating by raising his arm.

“I never wanted this to happen, I never wanted nobody to be killed,” he says. He describes a chaotic scene at the liquor store, with dozens of people present milling around.

Where is the second bullet?

All witnesses who said they were at the scene described TWO shots, leaving open the possibility that a second gun was fired. The murder weapon was identified as a .357 revolver; revolvers do not leave casings. However, police officers and evidence technicians at the scene, who appear to have conducted a rather cursory investigation according to one officer’s testimony, did not find a second bullet. Blake’s autopsy report shows that only ONE bullet entered his body.

Where is the second bullet from the scene of Jerean Blake's death?
Where is the second bullet from the scene of Jerean Blake’s death?

After breaking Owens down to that point, Sgt. Gardner tells him he will “feel better” once he confesses. Then Sgt. Williams writes down a statement that does not include any of Owens’ allegations earlier in the session that his brother was responsible. Owens, rambling and intermittently weeping about Aiyana’s death, merely glances at it before signing it.

“So who acted guilty?” Cripps asked the jury in his closing statement. He recalled Hurt’s testimony that he put his moped inside “Jay’s” house, then called his wife to pick him up and take him out to their home in Centerline in Macomb County. Cripps alleged that Hurt gave two associates, known as “Ant” and “Anthony Bruce” the murder weapon as they sat outside his Lillibridge residence in a Black car and Hurt admittedly talked to them.

Photo of "Birdman" moped/scooter.
Photo of “Birdman” moped/scooter.

Cripps revealed, with no objection from Moran, that the prosecution has had in its possession from the beginning a written statement from witness Charles Howard that two confederates of Hurt’s, “Jay” and “Dee,” told him that Hurt said he killed Blake after Blake tried to steal his “Birdman” moped. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt barred Howard from testifying to that statement, ruling it was multiple hearsay.

But Howard did testify that he, Jay, and Dee knew Hurt well because they sold drugs for him out of Jay’s house across the street from the Jones family’s home, next door to Hurt’s residence. He said he had known Hurt since 2002. During testimony at Weekley’s trial in June 2013, officers testified that the neighborhood was known to be “drug-infested.” Hurt has pled guilty to a felony charge of attempted possession of methamphetamine and ecstasy pills in Detroit in 2009, as well as attempted assaulting and resisting a police officer in 2006, among other violations in a multi-county area.

Hurt was known in the neighborhood for showing off his white moped, Howard testified, swerving it through the streets repeatedly. Blake’s mother Lyvonne Cargill earlier admitted to giving police a statement that “kids, I don’t know who” at the scene of Blake’s killing told her someone nicknamed “Scooter” had killed her son.

So who killed Jerean Blake?

“Jail-house snitches” testify 

As expected, two jail-house snitches took the stand to testify against Owens and Jones.

Jay Schlenkerman testifies at Charles Jones' preliminary exam in Jan. 2012.
Jay Schlenkerman testifies at Charles Jones’ preliminary exam in Jan. 2012.

The first, Jay Allen Schlenkerman, was incarcerated with Owens in 2011 on a domestic violence charge that was originally termed a “kidnapping” by Brownstown Township police. Police reports on the case indicated that he repeatedly beat his live-in girl-friend about the head and in the genitals, and forced her into the bathtub where he urinated on her, not allowing her to leave their house for three days. According to medical records, the beatings resulted in a closed head injury, leakage of brain fluid from her nose, and severe post-traumatic stress syndrome. That case was one of several such assaults on women for which Schlenkerman has been charged.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office dropped the charges to misdemeanor domestic violence and later reduced Schlenkerman’s probationary sentence after he told the prosecutor he had repeated conversations with Owens in which Owens told him about his and Charles Jones’ involvement in Blake’s killing.

Schlenkerman was set to be sentenced in a third OUIL case and on a fourth habitual offender charge Feb. 6. Jones’ defense attorney Leon Weiss and Cripps both noted the pending sentencing, which could have ranged up to life in prison, as a likely motive for Schlenkerman’s testimony. Records just posted from the Michigan Department of Corrections show Schlenkerman received sentences of six and 1/2 to 10 years on the OUIL count and a “fleeing and eluding police” count. He had boasted at the trial that the MDOC told him they were recommending a 23-month mininum.

Quasim Raqid with his murder victim Shelley Hilliard, who was dismembered.
Quasim Raqid with his murder victim Shelley Hilliard, who was dismembered.

Cripps got him to admit that he lied during that trial, saying he did not drive a car in the case, and had not driven a car since 2002, despite numerous other OUIL’s on his record since.

Schlenkerman repeated some of his testimony at Jones’ preliminary exam, but in not as much detail. He did say that he reported Owen’s “confession” to him to Wayne County Deputy Richard Donahee. Donahee took the stand on the final day of testimony, however, and denied that Schlenkerman had done any such thing. On cross, he admitted the two “lived together” in an eight-man protective custody unit at the Dickerson jail.

The second witness, Qasim Raqib, who is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, admitted that he had signed written agreements to testify against his co-defendant, another prisoner, and Charles Jones, in exchange for reduction of his charges from first-degree murder. He was involved in the killing and dismemberment of a transgender teen, Shelley Hilliard, who was to testify against him and others in a drug sting.  He claimed Jones “told me about a gun he gave Mr. Owens, and that he [Owens] killed a little boy with the gun.”

Judge Richard Skutt/Facebook photo
Judge Richard Skutt/Facebook photo

On cross, Weiss got Raquib to admit that he was a “lying murderer.”

At the close of testimony Feb. 6, both defense attorneys moved for directed verdicts from Judge Skutt, saying the prosecution had not met their burden of proof for the charges of First Degree Murder (for both defendants), felony firearms, and perjury. Skutt, however, denied their motions, saying the juries would have to make the determinations.

Two Black jurors were excused from the 14-member Owens jury as alternates. The jury reportedly returned a sealed verdict after deliberating all day Feb. 7. The Jones jury is to return for closing arguments and deliberations Feb. 10 at 9 a.m.

One of Dominika Jones' favorite photos of Aiyana, just posted on Facebook. There is absolutely NO excuse for equating growing police violence and murder directed against poor communities with the violence born of poverty and despair which takes place within those communities.

One of Dominika Jones’ favorite photos of Aiyana, just posted on Facebook. There is absolutely NO excuse for equating growing police violence and murder directed against poor communities with the violence born of poverty and despair which takes place within those communities.

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MICHIGAN, DETROIT CAR INSURANCE RATES HIGHEST IN NATION

Detroit freeway interchange; half of Detroit's drivers cannot afford car insurance according to studies.

Detroit freeway interchange; half of Detroit’s drivers cannot afford car insurance according to studies.

Where you live matters more than how you drive

By Justin Hyde

Motoramic

February 5, 2014

(VOD: Thanks to John Kavanagh for sending this article along.)

Detroit police stop car. If the driver has no insurance, he/she is ticketed. If the driver cannot afford to pay the ticket(s), his/her license is suspended. IT'S KNOWN AS 'DRIVING DIRTY.'
Detroit police stop car. If the driver has no insurance, he/she is ticketed. If the driver cannot afford to pay the ticket(s), his/her license is suspended. IT’S KNOWN AS ‘DRIVING DIRTY.’

Auto insurance rates have long been one of the abiding mysteries of car ownership. Despite the overall decline in crashes over the past decade, auto insurance rates have steadily risen, driven by what insurers say are higher vehicle repair and health-care costs. Yet a new study also shows that no matter your driving record, a simple change of zip code can cause large swings in how much you pay

The survey by NerdWallet looked for the highest and lowest annual auto insurance rates in 125 cities, using a profile of a 26-year-old man insuring a 2012 Toyota Camry with a $500 deductible, living in an urban zip code. Seven of the 10 lowest-cost cities were in North Carolina, where a unique set of laws caps rates and personal-injury awards while giving regulators broad control over price increases.

Rank City State Average annual car insurance rate
1 Detroit MI $10,723.22
2 New Orleans LA $4,309.61
3 Grand Rapids MI $4,042.42
4 Newark NJ $3,525.43
5 Baton Rouge LA $3,363.73
6 Hialeah FL $3,271.86
7 Jersey City NJ $3,266.63
8 Louisville KY $3,255.99
9 Miami FL $3,168.75
10 Philadelphia PA $2,930.53

As for the most expensive cities, Detroit’s car insurance rates exist on a separate plane from the rest of the country, with a price tag more than double the next most-expensive locale. Michigan requires insurers to offer unlimited medical benefits, which pushes up rates to begin with. Detroit’s high rate of auto thefts and overtaxed police force add to insurers’ worries as well.

Whether this accident was the driver's fault or not, his insurance rates will skyrocket.
Whether this accident was the driver’s fault or not, his insurance rates will skyrocket.

And the cost becomes a vicious cycle; the rates have been so high for so long many lower-income residents can’t afford coverage, with some studies finding more than half of the city’s drivers go without auto insurance despite state laws. The problem has become so acute that newly elected mayor Mike Duggan vowed during his campaign to start a city-owned auto insurance company to provide affordable coverage to Detroit residents.

The rest of the list shows little to no correlation between population size or congestion; while Washington, DC, consistently ranks as the worst city for driving in the nation, its average auto insurance premiums didn’t break into the top 30. All of the top 10 cities hail from states with no-fault insurance, a system that raises insurers’ costs, and other legal quirks often fuel further increases. These areas also suffer from high rates of uninsured motorists, and a fair amount of severe weather.

There’s only so much an individual in one of these cities can do to lessen these rates. Most companies offer discounts for shoppers who know what they are. A good driving record helps; some insurers now offer electronic driving monitors that can lead to discounts for safe driving. Even an improved credit score can lead to lower rates. Other than that, the only sure path to savings might be a move to North Carolina.

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REPORTER CHARGED WITH TAKING PHOTOS

Photo of plane crash involved from another newspaper; apparently Charlevoix County News dumped story and photographer, a hazard in the free-lance journalism business.
Photo of plane crash involved from another newspaper; apparently Charlevoix County News dumped story and photographer, a hazard in the free-lance journalism business.

 

By Mitchell Jon MacKay

February 4, 2014

(VOD: Damien Leist, working for the Charlevoix County News, was arrested and charged for taking photos of the scene of a plane crash. Story at http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/d29a5f4648e64f40be967e6ccb61e30d/MI–Airplane-Wreckage-Footage. Also see the story of VOD editor Diane Bukowski’s arrest and felony convictions at http://freedianebukowski.org. Thanks to Jimmy Sabin for sending this article to VOD.)

Charlevoix County Prosecutor Alan Telgenhof in casual apparel.
Charlevoix County Prosecutor Alan Telgenhof in casual apparel.

PROSECUTOR CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, bad checks, property damage, charges reporter with taking photos of a crime scene. Wait, didn’t reporters always take pictures of crime scenes? Well, yes, but that was before an obscure law having to do with gravesite indignities that the current prosecutor of Charlevoix County, Michigan dug up from presumably computer search because he had no idea the law even existed. But then he presumably didn’t know he couldn’t beat up his wife, write bad checks or destroy property either, so….

This is a matter of relativity. Not long ago State Police employee Bill Smith, commander of the Gladwin post was busted for drunk driving in Sault Ste. Marie but got off through a complicit judge; trooper Aaron Sweeney of the Petoskey post was busted for domestic violence; a former Charlevoix deputy was charged with domestic violence on M-66 – it goes on and on. And a reporter is busted for taking photos. This is known as malfeasance, using the law and the uniform for nefarious purposes. Happens every day.

Michael Morton, exonerated of the death of his wife through DNA avidence after 25 years in prison,
Michael Morton, exonerated of the death of his wife through DNA avidence after 25 years in prison,

Way down there in Texas a former prosecutor was recently found guilty of malfeasance for failing to record exculpatory evidence in the Michael Morton trial which begot Morton 25 years in prison. The ex-prosecutor, most recently a judge – there’s a scandal in itself – was disbarred, fined, ordered to community service, and received ten days in jail of which he did five with good behavior and…that’s all. Twenty-five years of an innocent man’s life begot five days in jail and loss of license which he can reapply for in five years.

I know of a certain judge who did five years of disbarment for misappropriation of trust funds but he certainly never did anything so heinous as photographing dead bodies. That takes an especially diabolical paparazzi. Fortunately our local cops and prosecutors are on the job, even if some of these are on the docket.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, right, Thad Cochran, R-MS, second from right, and Senator John Hoeven, R-ND, center, just after Congress gave its final approval to the sweeping five-year farm bill, Tuesday, February 4, 2014. At left are Senator John Boozman, R-Ark., and Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, right, Thad Cochran, R-MS, second from right, and Senator John Hoeven, R-ND, center, just after Congress gave its final approval to the sweeping five-year farm bill, Tuesday, February 4, 2014. At left are Senator John Boozman, R-Ark., and Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But then, we have to allow for hypocrisy too. Well, like congresswoman Debbie Stabenow for instance who campaigned on the internet for salvaging the SNAP program of food assistance, then appeared for photos with the congratulatory promoters of cutting food assistance and rewarding agriculture with more corporate welfare, people like those Koch brothers. That photo should be illegal. Where would America be without hypocrisy? The US Constitution upheld slavery – yes, it actually says it in that short document. The US Constitution upheld Indian displacement – yep it’s there too. What’s not there in that hallowed parchment is separation of church and state; the framers didn’t want to go there nor did they want to deal with the precept of presumed innocent until proven guilty – those items were added argumentum ad hominem in the course of interpretation thereafter. Well, sort of like “Citizens United” with nary a citizen voting.

What we have here, friends and neighbors, is the burgeoning police state that disallows anyone, reporter or public from “interfering” with police actions. They don’t want proof positive of any malfeasance. That’s what this is all about. First it’s money, then it’s power trip, then it’s secrecy, in that order. Isn’t the latter what the whistleblowing chronicles are all about? And isn’t the former what bureaucracy is all about? The middle ground is the benefit of putting on the uniform so that clemency is pretty much a done deal when officials go afoul of the law.

Police state NewsweekLook, if a prosecutor, a judge and a cop can break the law with impunity but a news reporter can be arrested for exercising the 1st Amendment, we may know there’s something very wrong here in America. And this is not big bad Chicago, Los Angeles or Detroit; this is Charlevoix county, rural Michigan. But the coliseum games continue unabated because it’s established in rule of law, due process. Watch this upcoming contest for Circuit judge of this county, which will prove to be a real sideshow, a freak show tragicomedy of errors but for the only reputable candidate to date, Roy Hayes III. It’s time for another American Revolution, folks. The reason is exactly the same as ever: arrogate oppression.

©2014 Mitchell Jon MacKay

Related:

http://theprettylieortheuglytruth.blogspot.com/2013/04/telgenhof.html

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/justice/exonerated-prisoner-update-michael-morton/

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178247/farm-bill-cuts-8-billion-food-stamps-preserves-handouts-koch-industries

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