MASS WATER SHUT-OFFS, MASS INCARCERATION AT MOUND ROAD PRISON FOR PROTESTERS

Marchers protest thousands of water shut-offs May 23 outside Water Board Building in downtown Detroit

Marchers protest thousands of water shut-offs May 23 outside Water Board Building in downtown Detroit

Contractor Homrich shutting water off to thousands of Detroiters without notice or mercy

Charity Hicks, who protested assault by Homrich employee thrown into Mound Road prison to endure “conditions THAT are meant to shame you, demoralize you, criminalize you and break you down”

Call em out Agnes speaks 2 25 10 2 croppedMS. HICKS WILL BE SPEAKING AT AN ACTIVISTS’ RE-UNION POT-LUCK PICNIC SATURDAY, MAY 31, 1-7 PM OUTSIDE THE HOME OF CALL ‘EM OUT FOUNDER AGNES HITCHCOCK, ON E. PHILADELPHIA BETWEEN JOHN R AND BRUSH; CALL 874-2792 FOR MORE INFO

By Diane Bukowski 

May 28, 2014 

Charity Mahouna Hicks/Facebook photo

Charity Mahouna Hicks/Facebook photo

DETROIT —  The State of Michigan’s fascist iron glove is pounding on Detroiters, using mass water shut-offs without notice, and mass concentration camp imprisonment at the Mound Road state facility. There, hundreds are locked into filthy holding rooms without sanitation, proper food, water and medical care, guarded by Michigan Department of Corrections personnel.

That is the horrendous story Charity Hicks told VOD, after her arrest during mass water shut-offs in her east-side neighborhood near Osborn High School. On May 23, members of the People’s Water Board, Moratorium NOW! and others protested the shut-offs outside the Detroit Water Board building as part of a series of weekly “Freedom Fridays.”

“There was a contractor on the block shutting off the whole block,” Hicks said. “They were no-knock, no-notice shut-offs of homes including those where pregnant women and children live. After they shut mine off, I went two houses over to ask the man if he could wait until the family could gather some water together for their immediate needs. They were coming early in the morning, between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and people had no time to brush their teeth or wash up. He told me he doesn’t have to give notice to the homes, and that he was just doing his job.”

MI iron gloveHicks said she told him that was the same explanation given by Nazis at the concentration camps, and by Detroit police when they are busting people’s heads.

Hicks said he wore some sort of water department decal without the name of Detroit, over his company badge. She said people she knows living in the Warrendale neighborhood had earlier complained about the shut-off workers not being official City of Detroit employees.

The Detroit Water Board approved a $5.6 million, 730 day contract with Homrich Wrecking April 24, Contract No. DWS-894, “Water Shut-Off/Turn-On Project,” according to the Board’s minutes.

“The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is initiating this project to reduce DWSD’s delinquent water accounts,” DWSD Director Sue McCormick said in a letter to the Board. “As part of the overall plan to increase DWSD’s revenue collection, the Department will increase its efforts of water shut-offs for customers with a 60-day or more past-due balance. . . This project will target approximately 70,000 residential accounts throughout the City of Detroit over a period of two (2) years.” (Click on

Marchers demand "Defend Charity Hicks"

Marchers demand “Defend Charity Hicks”

Hicks said the contractor got mad when she asked to see the termination orders for herself and her neighbors.

“He told me they are on the computer and he couldn’t produce them,” Hicks said. “They are shutting people off with no procedures and no due process, despite the critical importance of the water infrastructure. The guy went to his car to look up the orders I thought, and I followed him so he could show me on the computer. I was leaning up slightly into the car to see, and all of a sudden he peeled off, hitting me and causing me to fall down and hurt my hip and gash my foot, which began bleeding. He didn’t say get back, and I just got discombobulated and fell down.”

Marcher demands hit big businesses who haven't paid their water bills first.
Marcher demands hit big businesses who haven’t paid their water bills first.

 

Hicks said a one-gallon red plastic gas container fell off the back of his truck when he hit a bump in the road. She then called 911 to report that she had been assaulted.

“The police came, looked at my foot, and then told me they were going to charge me with felonious larceny for stealing city equipment. They said if they were going to believe anybody, it would be the city. All of a sudden, I became the perpetrator.”

Hicks said she had hurriedly dressed and was virtually naked, with no shoes, no socks, no underwear, no keys or other belongings. She said the two officers, who were white, arrested her in front of her home, did not read her her rights, then made racist remarks to her as they drove her to the Mound Road facility.

“They were completely racist, disrespectful and arrogant,” Hicks said. “They told me I seemed to be pretty articulate, asked how many degrees I had, and said it was clear that I wasn’t a typical Detroiter. They said they were ‘good ‘ol boys’ and kept playing country music on the radio.”

Mound Road prison

Mound Road prison

Hicks discovered when she got to Mound Road that everyone arrested in the city, whether for misdemeanors or felonies, is being taken there and booked by the Michigan Department of Corrections, which guards them and takes their fingerprints and photos, then keeps them in state custody. She said she was told she would be there for four days, although state law says arrested individuals must be arraigned within 72 hours.

She said she was disrobed and strip-searched.

Women in prison; general photo.
Women in prison; general photo.

“They threw me in a cell with hundreds of women,” Hicks recounted. “There was one urinal and no water to drink or wash with, and there was human waste including menstrual blood all over the floor. I asked for socks or shoes because of the wound in my foot, but got none. No water, no beds, no nothing. We had to use the urinal with no regard to our health and safety, where we could get HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. Even the Border Patrol brought a woman in because they are stopping people there who have warrants.”

Protesters at Water Board Building.
Protesters at Water Board Building.

 

She said women were separated into two holding areas, one for those brought in for alleged misdemeanors, and another for those with alleged felonies.

Hicks said City of Detroit police officers are in the back processing prisoners so they can be video-arraigned later in the 36th District Court, with arraignments for felonies going on seven days a week and for misdemeanors from Monday through Friday. She said staff from the Prosecutor’s office comes through there at all hours of the day and night to interview the prisoners.

She said the prosecutors frequently add six or seven more charges to the one the prisoner was brought in for, a tactic that office has long used to get people to plea bargain rather than face a jury composed primarily of non-Detroiters.

Attorney Alice Jennings speaks at rally v. bankruptcy April 1.
Attorney Alice Jennings speaks at rally v. bankruptcy April 1.

 

“The conditions are meant to shame you, demoralize you, criminalize you and break you down,” Hicks said. She said attorney Alice Jennings intervened to get her released after two days, and that no charges were even brought after her traumatic experience.

Jennings told VOD that she and Attorney John Royal went to the prison to get Hicks released due to her medical condition. She said she tried to visit with Hicks at one of the individual visting sections with glass walls, but the phones were not working in the sections. She asked the guards why she couldn’t meet with Hicks in a separate room, since they had brought her out in handcuffs anyway, but they refused.

“We basically had to communicate with each other through lip reading,” Jennings said. “This is an egregious violation of a prisoner’s right to consult with counsel.”

Lila Cabbil of the People's Water Board.
Lila Cabbil of the People’s Water Board.

During the May 23 protest, Russ Bellant said Homrich had come through his east-side neighborhood as well, shut off at least nine people on his block alone without notice, then went to other blocks in the area of Seven Mile and Sherwood as well.

“We plan to launch a major international media campaign,” Lila Cabbil of the People’s Water Board told VOD during the protest. “Shutting water off affects children the worst. [Emergency Manager] Kevyn Orr is in violation of the Water Affordability Ordinance, which requires that late fees are supposed to be put into a fund to help those who can’t pay their bills.”

Protesters noted that the State’s Child Protective Services removes children from families where the water and other utilities are off. They said that numerous large entities including the VA hospital, the Palmer Park golf course, Ford Field, and others have not paid their water bills but do not face shut-offs.

“Illitch owes $80,000, Ford Field owes $55,000, and the golf course and hospital each owe at least $200,000. If they paid THEIR bills there would be no need to shut off poor folks,” Cabbell said.

Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman

Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman

Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman went into the customer service area of the Water Board building and began speaking to the numerous people there, telling them that thousands of people in the city are being shut off and are in danger of losing their children. He said guards threw him out despite his protests that it was a public building.

“They told me this is a place of business,” Wylie-Kellerman said.

Monica Patrick said, “These policies are totally inhumane and most egregious, aimed at literally killing off the people.”

She said she has been consulting with people from North Carolina who are visiting Detroit. They have been sponsoring the hugely successful Moral Mondays protests there against that state government’s policies, which closely resemble those passed by Michigan’s legislature and enacted by Gov. Rick Snyder.

For more information, go to http://moratorium-mi.org/, http://peopleswaterboard.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/peopleswaterboard.

Water cut-offs in Detroit a violation of human rights

|May 27, 2014

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. More information on Maude Barlow can be found at: www.canadians.org/Maude

Maude Barlow speaks at People's Water Board meeting in Detroit.
Maude Barlow speaks at People’s Water Board meeting in Detroit.

 

I recently visited Detroit, Michigan and am shocked and deeply disturbed at what I witnessed. I went as part of a Great Lakes project where a number of communities and ‎organizations around the basin are calling for citizens to come together to protect the Great Lakes as a Lived Commons, a Public Trust and a Protected Bioregion. We are also deeply worried about the threat of extreme energy such as diluted bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta and fracked oil and fracking wastewater from North Dakota being transported by pipeline and rail near the lakes and on barges on the lakes and are calling for a ban of these dangerous toxins around and on the Great Lakes.

But the people of Detroit face another sinister enemy. Every day, thousands of them, in a city that is situated right by a body of water carrying one fifth of the world’s water supply, are having their ‎water ruthlessly cut off by men working for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Most of the residents are African American and two thirds of the cut offs involve children, which means that in some cases, child welfare authorities are moving in to remove children from their homes as it is a requirement that there be working utilities in all homes housing children.

People are given no warning and no time to fill buckets, sinks and tubs. Sick people are left without running water and running toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook. Is this a small number of victims? No. The water department has decreed that it will turn the water off to all 120,000 residences that owe ‎it money by the end of the summer although it has made no such threat to the many corporations and institutions that are in arrears on their bills as well. How did it come to this? Continue reading


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CHINA SENTENCES MINING TYCOON LIU HAN TO DEATH

Corbis: Shen Zhengyi, ImagineChina/Liu Han, center, former chairman of mining conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group, is held by police officers during a trial at the Xianning Intermediate Peoples Court in Xianning city, central Chinas Hubei province, 31 March 2014

Corbis: Shen Zhengyi, ImagineChina/Liu Han, center, former chairman of mining conglomerate Sichuan Hanlong Group, is held by police officers during a trial at the Xianning Intermediate Peoples Court in Xianning city, central Chinas Hubei province, 31 March 2014

 

By Agence France-Presse

April 23, 2014

A Chinese court on Friday convicted a mining billionaire said to have links with former security tsar Zhou Yongkang of murder and sentenced him to death.

Liu Han led private company Hanlong, which once launched a billion-dollar bid for an Australian firm. He and his brother Liu Wei were found guilty of “organising and leading a mafia-style group”, murder and other crimes, the Xianning Intermediate People’s Court said.

They and three accomplices were sentenced to death.

Han Long GroupThe Liu brothers’ gang, based in the southwestern province of Sichuan, killed eight people and wounded many others over nearly 20 years, the court said in a posting on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

“Liu Han and Liu Wei had extremely malicious intentions, their acts were exceptionally atrocious, their social influences were extremely vile and their crimes and the consequences were extremely serious,” it said. “They should be severely punished according to the law.”

Another 31 accused were given penalties ranging from suspended death sentences — normally commuted to life imprisonment — to three years in jail, state media said.

Sichuan is one of the power bases of Zhou Yongkang, who once enjoyed vast power as China’s security chief but is now at the centre of rumours about a corruption investigation. He has not been seen in public for months.

The influential business magazine Caixin has reported that Liu Han once had dealings with a businessman believed to be Zhou’s son. State media have also hinted that the gang had connections to central government officials.

The verdicts suggest officials are building a case against Zhou Yongkang, said Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing.

Han Long mining site
Han Long mining site

 

“These cases are being used to collect evidence against Zhou, I think this verdict is preparation for Zhou’s trial,” he said.

Senior party leaders “don’t want to punish Zhou Yongkang as a political case, but as a corruption case. Although it could be hard to find evidence against him,” he added.

Scores of people with connections to Zhou have reportedly been detained in recent months.

“It’s not certain whether he will face trial, that depends on how strong his remaining political ties are,” Zhang said.

- ‘Huge amount of money’ -

The court said Friday that the gang were “sheltered by staff members of state organs”.

The Beijing News previously quoted a friend of Liu Han as saying that he spent “huge amount of money” to get to know a “leader” in 2001 and from then “rapidly expanded his business to other provinces and foreign countries”.

Politburo Standing Committee of China

Politburo Standing Committee of China

Zhou was the party boss of Sichuan from 1999 to 2002 before he was promoted to China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, whose members have generally been regarded as untouchable even after retirement.

If the investigation into him is confirmed, it would mark the first time in decades that such a high-ranking figure has been targeted in a formal inquiry, a move that would send shockwaves through China’s political elite.

Liu Han’s Hanlong group is a diversified firm with interests ranging from tourism to minerals, and has assets of more than 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion).

It launched a takeover bid of more than $1.0 billion for listed Australian iron ore company Sundance Resources in 2011. But the deal collapsed last year after the Chinese firm failed to follow through. Chinese media reports said at the time that Liu Han had been detained.

China’s Communist Party authorities have been waging a much-publicised anti-graft campaign in the year since President Xi Jinping came to power.

But critics contend that no systemic reforms have been introduced, and that moves targeting Zhou are intended to sideline a political figure rather than battle corruption.

© 2014 AFP


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DISMISS ALL CHARGES AGAINST REV. PINKNEY; COURT FRI. MAY 30! SAVE BENTON HARBOR! BOYCOTT WHIRLPOOL!

Dorothy Pinkney, Rev. Edward Pinkney's wife, addresses rally on Benton Harbor City Hall steps May 24, 2014.

Dorothy Pinkney, Rev. Edward Pinkney’s wife, addresses rally on Benton Harbor City Hall steps May 24, 2014.

 

Dozens from across the U.S. turn out for May 24 Benton Harbor rally

Pinkney pre-trial set for Fri. May 30, 8: 30 a.m. in St. Joseph, MI on false election recall charges

By Diane Bukowski

May 24, 2014

Detroiters Zelma Kinchloe, Cornell Squires, Cindy Darrah, Marcina Cole, and Kim Green visit with Rev. Pinkney at his home after rally.

Detroiters Alma Cozart, Cornell Squires, Cindy Darrah, Marcina Cole, and Kim Green visit with Rev. Pinkney at his home after rally.

BENTON HARBOR, MI – Supporters of renowned activist Rev. Edward Pinkney turned out from California to Indiana to Detroit to New York City for a rally and march denouncing Whirlpool’s corporate takeover of this poor, majority-Black city and ongoing state control on May 24.

They also called for five felony and six misdemeanor charges brought against Pinkney to be dropped, related to a recall campaign against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, a Whirlpool ally. Pinkney faces a preliminary exam on these charges before Judge Sterling R. Shrock, Fri. May 30 at 8:30 a.m. in the Berrien County Courthouse, located at 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

The charges, which his supporters and court files indicate are patently groundless and violate Pinkney’s First and 14th Amendment rights, are to be heard in one of the most racist court systems in the country. Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. 

Marchers circulate through Benton Harbor's gentrified downtown.

Marchers circulate through Benton Harbor’s gentrified downtown.

“This is the death of democracy,” Pinkney’s wife Dorothy Pinkney said during the rally on the Benton Harbor City Hall steps. “Whirlpool, which has its headquarters here, believes it owns our resources and cloaks itself behind numerous private entities with public funding, such as the Cornerstone Alliance. The Harbor Shores development is the next stage of the dispossession of our impoverished post-industrial city, where Whirlpool closed its plants in the 1980’s after getting huge tax incentives to stay. This is neocolonialism, stealing our natural resources and making the Black population disposable.” 

Dorothy Pinkney's daughters and grandson traveled from Columbus, Ohio for the event.
Dorothy Pinkney’s daughters and grandson traveled from Columbus, Ohio for the event.

By electronic hook-up, Pinkney himself addressed the rally. 

“We must get rid of this corrupt system and prove I am innocent of all charges,” Pinkney said. “The Mayor hooked up these charges; we must tear James Hightower down and show what we are capable of doing. LET’S FIGHT BACK! LET’S FIGHT BACK!

The Harbor Shores Development, sponsored largely by Whirlpool, includes the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course, where a national PGA tournament was taking place May 24, a luxury housing development, and other development of land adjacent to the beautiful Lake Michigan beach that is part of the public Jean Klock Park.

The Black Autonomy Network (BANCO), the Green Party, and numerous other organizations are calling for a boycott of Whirlpool products, marketed under the brand names of Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknechtand others.

The petition to recall Mayor Hightower was initiated after he refused to authorize a city income tax that would have garnered substantial income from Whirlpool, which pays no city taxes despite the fact that it raked in $19 billion in sales in 2013.

Pinkney supporters march down Main St. in Benton Harbor May 24.

Pinkney supporters march down Main St. in Benton Harbor May 24.

According to a Court Complaint, Juan Mata of the Sheriff’s Department brought felony charges against Pinkney of “election law forgery” and misdemeanor charges of “Election Law False Cert Circulatory,” prior to a massive inter-agency SWAT raid on Pinkney’s home April 25. Pinkney and his wife had left to celebrate her birthday, but Pinkney with his lawyer Tat Parish turned himself in the following day.

Ralph Poynter of NYC speaks at rally.
Ralph Poynter of NYC speaks at rally.

Judge Shrock placed Pinkney under house arrest after his arraignment, even though he posted a $30,000 10 percent bond. He forbade Pinkney from using his computer and forced him to wear a tether to track his movements within his house.

“They have never put anyone under house arrest for anything to do with ballots before,” Ralph Poynter of New York City pointed out during the rally. “We cannot allow them to silence Rev. Pinkney. This must not stand. The National Lawyers Guild, unions, socialist and democratic organizations, if they are for freedom, must join the fight.”

In a letter asking for a criminal complaint against Mayor Hightower and one Ron Johnson, dated May 6, 2015, Pinkney told the U.S. Justice Department that the Sheriffs went to the homes of petition signers and circulators to intimidate and interrogate them at length and in great detail on a massive level. Such activity against petition signers has not seen since the McCarthy era of the 1940’s and ’50’s.

Ralliers came from all over Michigan, including Traverse City and Detroit.

Ralliers came from all over Michigan, including Traverse City and Detroit.

“This complaint against the two above-named parties is based upon action to obstruct justice and the Democratic process by 1) thwarting, circumventing and blocking the previously scheduled May 6, 2014 Benton Harbor voting mayoral recall election; 2) conspiring, manufactur[ing], and present[ing] false information in order to impede . . . the recall process and 3) to have directly or indirectly utilized the auspices and/or Office of the Mayor of Benton Harbor, Michigan and the Berrien County Sheriff Department to harass, intimidate and or otherwise impede Benton Harbor voters . . .” Pinkney said in his complaint.

Four voters submitted identically-worded affidavits asking for their signatures to be removed but several later recanted. Bethany Johnson and Ronita Johnson signed affidavits as below (their addresses and signatures, which were below addresses, have been cut out).

Pinkney letters_0001Pinkney letters_0002Non-expert Sheriff’s Department deputies, who claimed they found date changes and duplicate signatures on the petitions, selected only 10 of 62 petitions submitted to Berrien County Clerk Sharon Tyler to send to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab’s Questioned Documents Unit. Tyler earlier certified the majority of the petitions and ordered the recall vote.

Protesters at city hall. Green sign says at bottom: What's next, our lives?
Protesters at city hall.

 

Only five of the 10 petitions were circulated by Pinkney, although he circulated a total of 34 petitions; the others were not questioned.

The Sheriff’s case report shows absolutely no proof of Pinkney’s involvement in any alterations of dates (allegedly proved by the use of “different ink formulations,”) or clearly accidental duplicate signings by several voters.

Pinkney never had sole possession of the petitions. His co-defendant, James Cornelius, who has been charged with one misdemeanor count, turned them in to the Clerk’s office because the office would not accept them from Pinkney, since he lives in Benton Harbor Township. Pinkney said another woman was in charge of the petition gathering process.

In fact, the only admission of alteration of dates on the petitions came from the Sheriff’s Department itself, which caused the Michigan State Police Crime Lab to alter dates on five of the petitions. See Page 13 below.

BH date changes

A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) showed that most crime labs rely on outdated, unscientific assumptions and methodology, and called for all crime labs to be separated from law enforcement.

“Forensic scientists who sit administratively in law enforcement agencies or prosecutor’s offices, or who are hired by these units, are subject to a general risk of bias,” the Feb. 18, 2009 NAS report said.

“The potential for conflicts of interest between the needs of law enforcement and the broader needs of forensic science are too great.” The report called for the creation of an independent National Institute of Forensics Sciences, which would conduct scientific research, set national standards, and certify, regulate, enforce and standardize forensic testing and testimony.

PGA goers at shuttle stop watch coffin "Death of Democracy" pass by during march.
PGA goers at shuttle stop watch coffin “Death of Democracy” pass by during march.

 

Hightower earlier threatened former Berrien County Commissioner Dennis Knowles about the recall campaign. He told him during a phone conversation that he “got a call from Lansing from two people” regarding a resolution passed by the Commission, which has been upset about the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department’s massive intimidation and interrogation of petition signers at their homes, reminiscent of the McCarthy era.  

“I’m going to commit every resource and everything that I have to ensure that my name goes on the ballot, your name won’t be on the ballot, and I guarantee that you will not be in office, you will not be holding any office,” Hightower told Knowles. “If that’s how you’re going to come at me, than I don’t have any choice. . . .You ain’t going to like it. I’m pulling out all the stops. You know I’m not pulling no punches.”

James Hightower's car between two Detroit cars going to visit Rev. Pinkney at his home.
James Hightower’s car between two Detroit cars going to visit Rev. Pinkney at his home.

 

Hightower may have been spying on the demonstration, since his car was driving directly in front of protesters from the Detroit delegation on the way to visit Pinkney at his home. It turned off into the Mayor’s palatial digs, however.

Other speakers at the rally decried the ongoing assault on Benton Harbor, the first city in Michigan to fall victim to Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law, before its repeal in Nov. 2o13, and on its chief advocate, Rev. Pinkney.

Benton Harbor no longer has an EM, but is still under state control under provisions of Public Act 436, the illegitimate successor to PA 4, passed in the dead of night by less than a two-thirds quorum of the Michigan legislature.

BH 5 24 14 South Bend
Rev. Charles Taylor of South Bend, Ind.

Rev. Charles Taylor, of People United for Better Government in South Bend, Indiana said they planned to rally the following day in their community against rampant police brutality.

“God is getting ready to send a whirlwind to Whirlpool,” Taylor said. “This is the day they can repent of their sins before it happens. Instead of Rev. Pinkney, they should have had a lot of people in prison in Florida for hanging chads. There is voter fraud everywhere, from the top beginning with Gov. Snyder all the way to the bottom.”

Renowned Detroit activist Monica Patrick, who helps host Pinkney’s 5 p.m. Sunday internet radio show since his house arrest, cried out, “Somebody needs to go to jail, and if not, somebody needs to go to hell.”

Monica Patrick of Detroit speaks.
Monica Patrick of Detroit speaks.

“This is not Rev. Pinkney’s first go-round,” Patrick told the crowd. “In 2007 after he waged a courageous fight for the youth, because he quoted scripture to a judge, they jailed him. Rev. Pinkney already told us long ago they’re going to steal your homes, your children, your land, and that is what’s happening now in Detroit.”

Pinkney was also falsely charged with several counts of election fraud on that occasion, for which he spent time in the Michigan Department of Corrections before his sentence was reduced to probation. A massive campaign on his behalf was conducted across the country.

Cornell Squires of We the People for the People said, “The civil rights movement means nothing to our current politicians, courts and judges. People across the U.S. are going to see the wickedness, and stand on justice and truth. There is strength in numbers. It doesn’t take but a few people to start a movement, people that aren’t scared. All great leaders suffer. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, we may be incarcerated, beaten up, and lied on, but America is not going to escape judgment.”

U.S. Rep. John Conyers at forum on Detroit bankruptcy last year.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers at forum on Detroit bankruptcy last year.

The charges against Pinkney are being pursued on the heels of two recent U.S. District and Michigan Supreme Court decisions which held that elections laws must be interpreted in the manner that is in the best interest of the public and its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.Regarding challenges to U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ placement on the ballot because several petition circulators were alleged not to be registered voters in the district, U.S. District Court Judge Hon. Matthew F. Leitman ordered him placed on the ballot May 23.

Leitman held the Registration Statute to be unconstitutional based on U.S. Supreme Court rulings and also on the Michigan legislature’s own amendment of state law allowing out-of-state residents to circulate petitions.

He said that the challenges by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson amounted “to a severe burden on Mr. Conyers’ First Amendment rights and . . .  also  compels the conclusion that application of the Registration Statute severely burdened the First Amendment rights of the Plaintiffs who gathered the signatures that were disqualified.”

Leitman further said, “As to irreparable injury, “it is well-settled that loss of First Amendment freedoms, even for minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury,” and “Amici argue that Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the equitable doctrine of unclean hands. There is insufficient evidence in the record that any Plaintiff knowingly and intentionally engaged in improper conduct that would warrant application of this doctrine.”

Rev. Pinkney speaks at first rally against Public Act 4 in Detroit in Jan. 2011. His wife Dorothy is at his right.
Rev. Pinkney speaks at first rally against Public Act 4 in Detroit in Jan. 2011. His wife Dorothy is at his right.

 

In an Aug. 3, 2012 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court held that petitions containing the signatures of over 240,000 Michigan voters calling for a referendum vote on Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager act of 2011, were acceptable despite clearly picayune contentions by opponents relating to the type font and size on the petitions. The MSC ordered the PA 4 referendum on the ballot. Over 53 percent of Michigan voters, a total of 79 out of 83 counties, voted to repeal Public Act 4.

One of the key contentions by Public Act 4 opponents was that it violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment by barring voters in predominantly Black Michigan cities from voting for municipal and school district officials who would have the power to carry out their duties without the interference of a state-appointed Emergency Manager. Benton Harbor was the first Michigan city to fall victim to PA 4.

Berrien County Judges: Front row, l to r:  Hon. Gary J. Bruce, Hon. Thomas E. Nelson, Hon. John E. Dewane (civil judge on recall election), Hon. Scott Schofield;  Second row, l to r:  Hon. Angela M. Pasula, Hon. Dennis M. Wiley, Hon. John M. Donahue, Hon. Arthur J. Cotter, Hon. Sterling R. Schrock (Pinkney's criminal judge)Hon. Charles T. LaSata, Hon. Mabel J. Mayfield. Berrien County is renowned for its racist court system, which incarcerates more African-Americans proportionately than any other county in Michigan.

Berrien County Judges: Front row, l to r: Hon. Gary J. Bruce, Hon. Thomas E. Nelson, Hon. John E. Dewane (civil judge on recall election), Hon. Scott Schofield;
Second row, l to r: Hon. Angela M. Pasula, Hon. Dennis M. Wiley,
Hon. John M. Donahue, Hon. Arthur J. Cotter, Hon. Sterling R. Schrock (Pinkney’s criminal judge)Hon. Charles T. LaSata, Hon. Mabel J. Mayfield. Berrien County is renowned for its racist court system, which incarcerates more African-Americans proportionately than any other county in Michigan.

Contact Rev. Pinkney at 269-925-0001; BANCO website is at www.bhbanco.org. Call in to his internet radio talk show, which is being hosted by others for the time being, on Sundays at 5 p.m. at 347-994-3644.

Recent related stories:

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

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


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GENERAL GORDON BAKER, GLOBALLY KNOWN DETROIT REVOLUTIONARY, PASSES

ON THE DEATH OF COMRADE GENERAL G BAKER

September 6, 1941—May 18, 2014

From the People’s Tribune Editorial Board

As the People’s Tribune was going to press, we received word that, after a prolonged illness, Comrade General Baker had died. As an internationally known and respected revolutionary, much has been and will be written about his life and contributions. In future editions of the People’s Tribune we will add our understanding of the significance of his life as one of the era’s most effective revolutionaries. Through the centuries of struggle for the freedom of the working people, we have said farewell to numberless fighters.

General Gordon Baker

General Gordon Baker

What they fought for, what they believed in, far outlasts the memory of what they did. The vision of a new world of peace and freedom crowned the legends of struggle led by General Baker. The ruling class knows how to deal with the spontaneous uprisings of the people, no matter how heroic they may be. What they fear most, what they can never defeat, is a mass in motion, guided by vision. Comrade Gen’s life is summed up as the effort to organize the scattered demands of the exploited into a vision, to organize the fighters around that vision. In his final days, General Baker said to the family and comrades gathered around him, “Carry on!” We say farewell to Comrade Gen with the pledge of revolutionaries over the centuries, “This fight will go on until we win!”

This article will appear in the June, 2014 edition of the People’s Tribune. We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2014 People’s Tribune. All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at http://www.peoplestribune.org/

CELEBRATION OF GENERAL BAKER’S LIFE:

SATURDAY MAY 24, 2014   4 P.M.

UAW LOCAL 600

10550 Dix Ave, Dearborn, MI 48120

Pastor Edwin Rowe of Central United Methodist Church presiding

General Baker (center) with his wife Marian Baker at right, during the Sept. 29, 2011 Michigan Welfare Rights Organization protest against state cut-off of thousands of families and children. Photo: Diane Bukowski

General Baker (center) with his wife Marian Baker at right, during the Sept. 29, 2011 Michigan Welfare Rights Organization protest against state cut-off of thousands of families and children. Photo: Diane Bukowski

GENERAL GORDON BAKER — A HISTORY

General Baker

www.speakersforanewamerica.com

April 6, 2011

General Baker [was} an internationally known labor leader and autoworker who championed the cause of the unemployed and unorganized [over his entire lifetime]. General Baker was the first American who refused the Vietnam draft. His case was a landmark in draft resistance, symbolizing the beginning of the anti-war movement.

General Baker letter to draft board

Detroit I do mind dyingHe is also legendary for his role in leading black autoworkers in the 1960s Detroit wildcat strikes against automakers and discriminatory union leaders. Baker was a founder of D.R.U.M., and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

The book, “Detroit: I Do Mind Dying” (about the worker revolts of that era) calls him the soul of the movement. This book is widely recognized as one of the most important books on the black liberation movement and labor struggles in the United States.

General Baker letter to Chrysler Corporation

General letter 2More recently, “The American Dream,” a documentary about labor history, featured him and his family, as well as other historical figures. General Baker also ran for statewide political office in Michigan; led in the statewide effort to support Detroit’s homeless tent city; was part of the North American delegation to the 7th Pan African Congress in Uganda, and has addressed other international gatherings in Europe.

League of Revolutionary Black WorkersAs an autoworker for over 30 years, Baker witnessed robots replace workers on the assembly line, forcing many into the homeless shelters and food lines. His effort [was] always to build unity among different sectors of workers regardless of ethnicity or gender around their common, class interests.  General Baker remained one of the few leaders from the 1960′s who continued the struggle for a whole new cooperative world. Baker worked as a furnace operator at Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan, and is past president of the Coke Oven Blast Furnace Unit of the United Auto Workers. He is also a founder and chair of the Steering Committee of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.

Baker was a convenor of the 1993 conference in Detroit commemorating MalcolmX and celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; He was a featured speaker at MIT (1994) and the University of Illinois(Chicago) (1995) at conferences concerning the impact of electronic technology on industry and the community. He has also been featured at: Cleveland State University; University of Massachusetts; State Universityof New York at Binghamton; and the Carnegie Mellon Institute; Howard University Conference on the Columbus Quincentennial.


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RACIST DETROIT BANKRUPTCY PLAN: $11.5 BILLION FOR BANKS, $0 FOR RETIREES; VOTE NO OR LOSE APPEAL RIGHTS!

Mayday march against Detroit bankrutpcy plan occupied streets, banks downtown May 1, 2014, calling for a NO vote on POA4.

Mayday march against Detroit bankrutpcy plan occupied streets, banks downtown May 1, 2014, calling for a NO vote on POA4.

 

Under Chapter 9, Plan of Adjustment #4 cannot be “crammed down” if it “discriminates unfairly” against Black and poor retirees and residents

 Bank debt to be paid first out of city general fund before other needs

 State/DIA “grand bargain” package: $716 M over 20 years to cover $3.2B claims; not binding, not to be signed until Dec. 31, 2014

 For “grand bargain,” retirees must vote Yes, revoke appeal rights re: Ch. 9 eligibility, state pension protection, EM law PA 436 constitutionality

 Pension fund “investment” oversight board for 20 years, bank-run health care VEBA trust: billions more for wealthy  

Thousands of marchers descended on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's home outside Ann Arbor on MLK Day, 2011 to demand an end to racist EM laws.

Thousands of marchers descended on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s home outside Ann Arbor on MLK Day, 2011 to demand an end to racist EM laws.

By Diane Bukowski

 May 20, 2014

Analysis

DETROIT—As the Detroit Chapter 9 bankruptcy debacle unravels, the corporate media and voluntary “retiree associations” are focusing only on what retirees and city workers will do about Detroit’s alleged debt crisis. In one-sided stories regarding the Fourth Plan of Adjustment (POA4), and YES vote recommendations, they are ratcheting up the pressure on these tens of thousands of seniors, who are least able to afford cutbacks.

Leaders of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, meanwhile, are telling retirees and workers to hold off on voting on the plan until the State and the Detroit Institute of Arts have agreed

This includes threatening a “cramdown” if retirees vote NO, despite the fact that Chapter 9 provides in part, “Under ‘cram down,’ if all other requirements are met except the § 1129(a)(8) requirement that all classes either be unimpaired or have accepted the plan, then the plan is confirmable if it does not discriminate unfairly and is fair and equitable.”

An analysis by VOD of POA4 shows that POA4 does in fact discriminate grossly against Black and poor retirees, workers, and residents of Detroit, based on income, race, and gender.

In this Nov. 2, 2011, photo Cassandra Cabil stands in shadows cast from her home as she looks out into her street illuminated by house lights in Highland Park, Mich. The 2.2 -square-mile city, unable to pay its $80,000 per month light bill has worked out a deal with DTE Energy to have the electricity provider turn off and remove nearly a third of Highland Park's overhead street lights. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
In this Nov. 2, 2011, photo Cassandra Cabil stands in shadows cast from her home as she looks out into her street illuminated by house lights in Highland Park, Mich. The 2.2 -square-mile city, unable to pay its $80,000 per month light bill has worked out a deal with DTE Energy to have the electricity provider turn off and remove nearly a third of Highland Park’s overhead street lights. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The charts below, compiled by VOD from information in POA4, show that Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr proposes to pay bank/bondholder creditors a total of $11.5 BILLION out of the city’s general fund. This includes payment of at least $945 million on the 2005-06 Certificates of Participation (COPS) debt and swaps deals to UBS and Bank of America, if they consent to take 40 percent of the original deal. Orr declared these “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable” in a Jan. 17, 2014 lawsuit in bankruptcy court.

Under terms of POA4, the banks get their debt payments FIRST, prior to the provision of city services for the residents of Detroit. What about street lights, garbage pick-up, reconstruction of Detroit neighborhoods devastated by illegal and predatory bank lending and foreclosures, and jobs for the youth in the public sector, which “Mayor” Mike Duggan is rapidly privatizing?

Meanwhile, Orr and his vulture partners from Jones Day and other law firms purporting to represent Detroit are slating $0 from the city’s general fund for pensions.  The State if Michigan and the Detroit Institute of Arts have allegedly promised to provide a measly $716 million over 20 years to fund pension claims which amount to over $3.124 BILLION. The city will contribute NOTHING from its general fund towards any pension obligations until at least 2023. Nothing is said in the plan about the $723 million in state revenue-sharing that Detroit lost over the last ten years, according to a recent Michigan Municipal League report.

How can Detroit be bankrupt while it owns billions of dollars worth of art at the DIA?

How can Detroit be bankrupt while it owns billions of dollars worth of art at the DIA?

The State and DIA deals will not be signed, if at all, until Dec. 31, 2014, the effective date of the plan, but Orr wants retirees to vote by July 11, 2014. The deals state in plain language that they are “non-binding,” and there are numerous loopholes for the DIA and state to renege. In exchange for the puny offering, the City of Detroit will hand over all the art it owns at the DIA, likely worth billions of dollars, to a vaguely defined “trust,” the coup de grace for the city’s privatization of DIA operations in the 1990′s.

Leaders of Michigan AFSCME Council 25 meanwhile have told their members including retirees to hold off voting on the plan until the State and DIA deals are signed, which creates a problem for Orr since he has set a voting deadline of July 11.

DB claims chart_0001DB claims chart_0002

 

(PRINT COPY BY CLICKING ON DB Claims chart; it is also easier to read the charts at a 100% size by clicking on the document itself. Also click on GRAND THEFT OR Grand Bargain 2 to read summary of pro’s and con’s on POA4 by Detroit Concerned Citizens, Active Employees, and Retirees.)

Once the plan takes effect, all is not over by a long shot.

No Consent croppedIt says, “Post-Effective Date Governance 20 years: Prior to or on the Effective Date, a financial oversight board shall be established pursuant to and in accordance with State law now in effect or hereafter enacted to ensure that, post-Effective Date, the City adheres to the Plan and continues to implement financial and operational reforms that should result in more efficient and effective delivery of services to City residents. The financial oversight board shall be composed of individuals with recognized financial competence and experience and shall have the authority to, among other things, impose limits on City borrowing and expenditures and require the use of financial best practices.”

Judge Steven Rhodes--is he really in charge?

Judge Steven Rhodes–is he really in charge?

Indefinite bankruptcy court oversight

Additionally, POA4 says that the Bankruptcy Court shall retain oversight of its provisions indefinitely, and anything at all within them may changed at the discretion of the court. It also retains jurisdiction over union contracts.

“Pursuant to sections 105(c), 945 and 1142(b) of the Bankruptcy Code and notwithstanding entry of the Confirmation Order and the occurrence of the Effective Date, the Bankruptcy Court will retain exclusive jurisdiction over all matters arising out of, and related to, the Chapter 9 Case and the Plan . . . to the fullest extent permitted by law, including, among other things, jurisdiction to . . . Enforce the term (maturity) of the collective bargaining agreements identified on Exhibit II.D.5 of the Plan, notwithstanding any state law to the contrary. . . Approve any modification of the Plan or approve any modification of the Confirmation Order or any contract, instrument, release or other agreement or document created in connection with the Plan or the Confirmation Order. . . .”

Newly appointed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mark Randon.
Newly appointed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mark Randon.

 

It is unclear, actually, how Judge Rhodes is still wielding power, since according to Judgepedia, he retired Dec. 31, 2013 and is to be replaced by newly-appointed Bankruptcy Judge Mark Randon, the court’s first Black judge.

Bios of Rhodes state different dates for his original appointment as a bankruptcy judge, ranging from 1986 to 2009. The 1986 date indicates he was appointed under the Ronald Reagan regime.

It is unclear from the bios whether he was serving as a bankruptcy judge July 17, 2013 when the bankruptcy case was filed. He was appointed by U.S. Sixth Circuit Court Chief Judge Alice Batchelder, another Reagan appointee, to handle it, with glowing recommendations from U.S District Court Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, a member of the ultra right-wing Federalist Society who Rhodes appointed as mediator in this case.

Perhaps he was already planning to retire but was resurrected by Batchelder et al to do the bidding of the banks and corporations on the Detroit bankruptcy.

Retiree health insurance actually protected by Chapter 9

Orr has already imposed drastic health care out-of-pocket costs additionally that will put thousands in poverty. Such benefits are actually protected under Chapter 9, which declares any cuts must be “fair and equitable.” (Click on Ch9 US Code Payment of Insurance Benefits to Retired Employees. )

Orr gives retirees a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Orr gives retirees a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Orr did NOT take the steps required by Chapter 9 listed in the US Code before cutting retiree health care benefits, another reason to challenge the legality of POA4. He has bragged that Federal law “trumps” state law but evidently ignored these provisions.

Click on CH 9 US CODE CONFIRMATION OF PLAN to read about required conditions of fairness and equity. That section also states that impaired creditors like city retirees should receive at least the amount of the value of their holdings as if they had been liquidated (i.e. $6 billion from the pension plans.)

“To me, the choice is the devil and the deep blue sea with a large stone around our neck, and Orr dropping buckets of blood in the water to draw sharks,” Water Department retiree Keith Davis said. “If I vote no, at least we have a chance with the legal [appeal]. If [we] vote yes, you’ll all say, you took it yourselves, don’t whine to us. I would be voting NO!”

A YES vote requires that the retirement systems, unions and others with cases pending before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy, which are backed by strong amicus briefs from retirement systems nationally, including California’s CalPERS, the largest in the nation, have to withdraw their appeals. Other cases pending before the U.S. District Court and state courts which challenge the constitutionality of Public Act 436, which put Orr in place would also have to be withdrawn.

Under terms of POA4, a YES vote from retirees would cancel out their rights to legal challenges to the pension and health care cutbacks, in particular any challenge citing the Michigan State Constitution’s protection of public employee pensions:

Article IX, Sec. 27 : “The accrued financial benefits of each pension plan and retirement system of the state and its political subdivisions shall be a contractual obligation thereof which shall not be diminished or impaired thereby.”

Retirees at N'namdi's meeting. The Detroit Concerned Citizens, Active Employees and Retirees meets there, at 12150 Woodward in Highland Park, every Monday at 11 a.m.
Retirees at N’namdi’s meeting. The Detroit Concerned Citizens, Active Employees and Retirees meets there, at 12150 Woodward in Highland Park, every Monday at 11 a.m.

 

POA4 even says that voters must agree that the clause does NOT apply in this case, despite the fact it was included in the Constitution during the 1963 Michigan Constitutional Convention and cannot be negated without the will of the people.

At a recent meeting of the Detroit Concerned Citizens, Active Employees and Retirees, (DCCAEER) one retiree pointed out that actuarial figures used to compute the amount of pension and annuity cuts for each individual retiree, including the retiree’s expected life span, are race-based and therefore also discriminatory.

Life expectancy chart(Ironically, POA4 says the figures are based on THREE different actuarial reports, from Milliman, Inc., Gabriel, Roeder and Smith, the city’s official actuary, and a third company hired by the Retirees Committee. According to testimony at the bankruptcy trial from Kevyn Orr and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, the Milliman report, which claimed the retirement funds were $1.5 billion underfunded, was never completed. The Gabriel, Roeder and Smith report estimated an approximate total of $800,000 underfunding. So the estimates used in individual ballots of cuts to retiree pensions and annuities are highly questionable.)

According to the site, http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/life-expectancy-african-american, Black males in Michigan have a life expectancy of 68.1 years while white males can expect to live to 76.29. Life expectancy for Michigan’s Black females is 76.8 while white females live to an average age of 81.12.

This is not to mention the fact that Public Act 436, under which Detroit’s EM Kevyn Orr was appointed and eventually declared bankruptcy, has been applied almost exclusively to majority-Black cities, in this case to the nation’s largest Black-majority city.

New investment committee, VEBA represent additional windfall for banks

The DGRS held a membership meeting Sept. 25, 2012 at Fellowship Chapel but did not rally its retirees. Many of trustees shown are no longer on the board.

The DGRS held a membership meeting Sept. 25, 2012 at Fellowship Chapel but did not rally its retirees. Many of trustees shown are no longer on the board.

The retirement systems’ silence on POA4 can be explained by the fact that their trustees’ positions are retained in the document, unlike POA3 which replaced them with appointees who were not allowed to be city employees or retirees, union members or leaders, or anyone else related to the pension systems. POA4, however, sets up an “Investment Management Committee” composed of members similar to the POA3 description, along with an “Investment Manager,” who will have oversight over the retirement boards. They will not only make investment decisions, they will have the power to control distribution of assets to retirees.

What power the elected trustees will retain remains unclear, but likely they will still get a chance to take their little trips to retirement system conferences around the world, in exchange for selling out their memberships.

Health Care rally May 30, 2009/Photo Courtesy Greencare
Health Care rally May 30, 2009/Photo Courtesy Greencare

 

The two Voluntary Employee Benefit Associations (VEBA’s) for the DGRS and the DPFRS which are proposed to handle the city’s health care obligations to its employees likewise represent huge profits for the banks. The city will choose ONE bank to run the systems as a trust. It will have broad decision-making powers over the administration of retiree health care as well as investments of the funds the city contributes, namely

The VEBA language in the proposal says in Sec. 2.4: “No Guarantee. Nothing contained in the Trust or the Plan shall constitute a guarantee that the assets of the Trust Fund will be sufficient to pay any benefit to any person or make any other payment. The obligation of the Plan to pay any benefit provided under the Plan is expressly conditioned on the availability of cash in the Trust to pay the benefit, and no plan fiduciary or any other person shall be required to liquidate the OPEB Claims Notes or any other Plan asset in order to generate cash to pay benefits.”

AFSCME Locals 457 and 273 from the now defunct Detroit Health Dept. marched in Washington against the first U.S. war on Iraq in 1991. Local 457 Pres. Al Phillips is at right being interviewed, member Denise Cranford (in hat) listens.

AFSCME Locals 457 and 273 from the now defunct Detroit Health Dept. marched in Washington against the first U.S. war on Iraq in 1991. Local 457 Pres. Al Phillips is at right being interviewed, member Denise Cranford (in hat) listens.

Sec. 2.5 adds:  “No Interest. Detroit shall not have any legal or equitable interest in the assets of the Trust Fund at any time, including following the termination of the Trust.”

Sec. 5.9 addresses Bank Compensation: “The Bank will apply the assets of the Trust Fund to pay its own fees in the amounts and on the dates [set forth in Exhibit A]. The Bank’s compensation shall constitute a lien on the Trust Fund.”

The VEBA agreement says, “The Mayor of Detroit shall appoint three (3) voting members, both (sic) of whom shall be residents of the State of Michigan and neither of whom may be an employee, contractor, agent or affiliate of the City or any labor union representing employees of the City, a member of any such labor union, or a Participant.”

Carole Neville, who represented Denton's at bankruptcy hearings.
Carole Neville, who represented Denton’s at bankruptcy hearings.

 

Other members are to be selected by The Detroit Retired City Employees Association (DRCEA) and the Official Committee of Retirees in the case of the DGRS VEBA, and the Detroit Retired Police and Firefighters Association (DRPFFA) and the Official Committee of Retirees in the case of the DPFRS VEBA. Both associations are voluntary and completely non-representative of the total membership of the DGRS and the DPFRS.

No wonder Dentons, PLLC on behalf of the Official Retirees Committee, the DRCEA and the and the DRPFFA sent out letters recommending a YES vote on this horrendous, racist theft of the little that Detroit’s retirees and active employees have to keep from being homeless and starving. SHAME!

Dentons, US LLP, which identifies itself as counsel for the Official Committee of Retirees appointed by the court AND THE CITY, announced with little notice that it is holding town hall meetings at Cobo Hall Wed. May 21, 2014 and Fri. May 23, 2014, with morning sessions from 10 am to 12 noon and afternoon sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. This is the first time Denton’s, which argued strenuously AGAINST bankruptcy eligibility, has said it represents the City (i.e. Kevyn Orr as recognized by Judge Rhodes).

Rev. Wendell Anthony embraces Kid Rock, who used Confederate flags on stage during his performances.
Rev. Wendell Anthony embraces Kid Rock, who used Confederate flags on stage during his performances.

 

The city’s retirement systems are holding meetings at Rev. Wendell Anthony’s Fellowship Chapel (notice below). The notice stresses that the meetings are “informational” only, meaning it is likely that remarks from retirees themselves will be extremely limited. Anthony sits on the DGRS board, which voted to approve POA4, saying it was “the best” they could get.

Retiree meetings_0001

The Detroit Concerned Citizens, Active Employees and Retirees is sending the following message by postcard to the DGRS and plans to be at all the meetings to campaign vigorously for a NO VOTE!

DCCAER postcard

To read the entire POA4 and its Disclosure Statement, click on

4th amended Plan of Adjustment http://www.mieb.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/detroit/docket4392.pdf

4th amended Disclosure Statement http://www.mieb.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/detroit/docket4391.pdf.

ATTEND ‘FREEDOM FRIDAYS’ AT 4 P.M. EVERY FRI 

Read it and weep, then sing along with Nina Simone, substituting for Mississippi, DETROIT GODDAM.  THEN VOTE NO IF YOU HAVE ONE OUNCE OF SELF-RESPECT LEFT IN YOUR BODY.

ATTEND ‘FREEDOM FRIDAYS’ AT 4 P.M. EVERY FRIDAY  TO BUILD MOVEMENT AGAINST PHONY BANKRUPTCY, OTHER AUSTERITY   Go to http://moratorium-mi.org/ for more information. This Friday, May 23:

FF Water Board 5 23

MEETINGS OF THE DETROIT CONCERNED CITIZENS, ACTIVE EMPLOYEES, AND RETIREES EVERY MON. 11 A.M. AT N’NAMDI’S CAFE, 12150 Woodward, Highland Park

MEETINGS OF THE STOP THE THEFT OF OUR PENSIONS COMMITTEE EVERY MON. 7 P.M. AT 5920 Second Avenue, Detroit, Phone 313-680-5508

RELATED ARTICLES:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/16/detroit-retirees-blast-bankruptcy-deal-in-lansing-drceas-lightsey-sells-out/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/14/state-bills-target-detroit-assets-in-bankruptcy/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/12/dccr-update-on-pensions-in-detroit-bankruptcy-plan-vote-no/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/05/aarp-joins-other-groups-in-legal-support-for-detroit-retirees/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/03/no-detroit-bankruptcy-deal-may-day-marchers-block-detroit-streets-banks-natl-retiree-systems-blast-rhodes/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/29/days-of-rage-hearing-on-pa-436-april-30-shut-down-detroit-may-1/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/24/detroit-bankruptcy-plan-vote-no-shut-down-detroit-may-1-claw-back-debt-to-the-banks/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/11/vietnam-is-sentencing-corrupt-bankers-to-death-by-firing-squad/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/09/detroit-bankruptcy-swaps-agreement-huge-cramdown-cuts-for-retirees-residents-billions-for-banks/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/02/thousands-of-retirees-residents-march-at-detroit-bankruptcy-court-send-out-call-to-shut-city-down-may-1/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/03/28/detroit-declares-war-on-pensioners-proposed-cuts-amount-to-70/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/03/26/the-great-6-2-b-revenue-sharing-heist-michigan-municipal-league-report/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/03/17/the-plot-against-pensions-pewarnold-foundation-alec-support-banksters-attack/

And many more over the past two years on VOD: put Detroit bankruptcy or related terms in search engine.


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DETROIT RETIREES BLAST BANKRUPTCY DEAL IN LANSING; DRCEA’S LIGHTSEY SELLS OUT

Detroit retirees and supporters blockaded downtown streets, banks and other facilities May 1, 2014 to protest bankruptcy deal.

Detroit retirees and supporters blockaded downtown streets, banks and other facilities May 1, 2014 to protest bankruptcy deal.

Michigan lawmakers hear from Detroit retirees

By Keith Davis, sent courtesy of Cecily McClellan

May 16, 2o14

 (Report posted on Facebook in WWTP Retirees section)

Keith Davis, a DWSD retiree with 31 years

Keith Davis, a DWSD retiree with 31 years

LANSING — Three of us went to testify before the senate today in Lansing. Our DRCEA rep [Shirley Lightsey] showed up as well. She testified that the majority of the retirees would receive only a 4.5% cut. There was a small group that would be clawed back 15.5%. But that was better than the alternative, which would happen if the vote was no. So, she would be recommending a resounding yes vote.

Sen. Harvey Santana asked her how could she do that, because at all the community meetings he attended, he was constantly told not to accept this bad deal. Moreover, that there was a lot of confusion about the exact nature of what the members stood to ultimately lose.

Shirley Lightsey, Pres. DRCEA; under terms of plan, DRCEA, a voluntary association, gets 50 percent control of new VEBA health benefits board. Photo: Facebook

Shirley Lightsey, Pres. DRCEA; under terms of plan, DRCEA, a voluntary association, gets 50 percent control of new VEBA health benefits board. Photo: Facebook

She admitted that the letter was confusing. That there would be some informational meetings held by the pension board, but none by DRCEA. (Please note, she lobbied heavily against ALL informational meetings. I understand the DRCEA board has turned against her.We came up next. First there was a 26 year employee. She was forced to retire because they laid her off. Her pension is less than $1000 dollars a month; $250 went for Obamacare. She couldn’t afford that, let alone a claw back. With the rest, she had to support herself and her family. They asked her, in her circumstances, how would she vote?She said, because she could afford neither, she had no choice but to vote NO!

I said the medical cuts alone amounted to a 20-30% slash, and that we always had co pays of 20% or more and nothing had changed with the ACA. That basically, the conspiracy theorists have been proven right over and over again. This was nothing more than a take over.

Why was a 20-year oversight placed in our package? It wasn’t done with Pontiac, Flint, Benton Harbor or anyone else? Why did the strict constitutional republicans ignore the state constitution on this and not defend it? Why were the winners corporate interests and losers senior citizens?

Cecilly McClellan, of Detroit Concerned Citizens and Retirees, calls for no vote, blasts bankruptcy plan. tells retirees vote
Cecilly McClellan, of Detroit Concerned Citizens and Retirees, calls for no vote, blasts bankruptcy plan. tells retirees vote

 

I told them that none of the so called surplus was to take back the new taxes you placed on the retirees. Should I then call them tax and spend republicans? I told them these cuts are going to send thousands of retirees into emergency rooms instead of doctors and then death. Because we can’t afford the $600 – $1000 a month in real dollars out of our checks.

I told them thousands of retirees would lose their homes. Because they could no longer afford to pay the rent or mortgage. I told them this will place thousands of retirees on food stamps. Because they could no longer afford to eat. This is not how people who worked all their lives are supposed to be treated.

Cuts will kill retirees, Davis testified at hearing.
Cuts will kill retirees, Davis testified at hearing.

 

I told them I go to all my senior and AARP meetings. I tell them who is attacking us and has done it from day one. We may have senior moments, but we vote and have very long memories. Defend our state constitution and protect us like you promised. Because if I lose everything, I guarantee many of you will lose your jobs. I was then asked how I would vote?

I told them to me, the choice is the devil and the deep blue sea with a large stone around our neck. And Orr dropping buckets of blood in the water to draw sharks. If I vote no, at least we have a chance with the legal [appeal]. If vote yes, you’ll all say, you took it yourselves, don’t whine to us. I would be voting NO!

The last person was a D-DOT driver. He said, I went to work every day. I paid my dues. I paid my bills. I raised my kids and put them thru school. I did it right. My reward is to come out after 33 years with nothing? They all had their heads down after his testimony. We were mobbed by reporters afterwards.

View the Free Press article at http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?ID=/201405152053/NEWS06/305150110

See related VOD article below this: http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/14/state-bills-target-detroit-assets-in-bankruptcy/

VOD will be publishing a comprehensive analysis of the Bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment and Disclosure Statement this weekend. The Detroit Concerned Citizens and Retirees meets every Monday at 11 a.m. at N’Namdi’s on Woodward in Highland Park. The Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee meets every Monday at 7 p.m. at 5620 Second, Detroit.

D-DOT workers honor one of the last militant union leaders, Leamon Wilson, at his funeral April 16, 2013. He was only 55.

D-DOT workers honor one of the last militant union leaders, Leamon Wilson, at his funeral April 16, 2013. He was only 55.


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STATE BILLS TARGET DETROIT ASSETS IN BANKRUPTCY

Monica Patrick in green and Debra Taylor at left rally a crowd of 10000 April 13 2011 in Lansing during protest against PA4, the predecessor to the current EM law, PA 436. PA 4 was thrown out by Michigan voters.

Monica Patrick in green and Debra Taylor at left rally a crowd of 10000 April 13 2011 in Lansing during protest against PA4, the predecessor to the current EM law, PA 436. PA 4 was thrown out by Michigan voters.

FYI, These bills target Detroit and are designed to manage Detroit and its assets from Lansing for years and years. The state is using this bankruptcy to control the population of Detroit. This is unconstitutional and taxation without representation. Too many of our local officials are quiet, just to get a pay check – Cecily McClellan

Jean Vortkamp 2
Jean Vortkamp

BY JEAN VORTKAMP

May 14, 2014

DETROIT — The Michigan House of Representatives bills  I am about to describe are as shady as the “Grand Bargain” (named the same as the phrase for putting social security onto the market) itself. Crawling out the slime of Lansing…this is based on a Free Press article just from today. More in depth research is warranted, but it would probably make me sick.

Warning, below is crabby cussing.

Protest against ALEC/Photo Popular Resistance

Protest against ALEC/Photo Popular Resistance

HB 5568 sponsored by Gail Haines (R), who was herself a contributor to Duggan of at least $1000 and raised $37,550 at a dinner for him is sponsoring the suspiciously ALEC-esque bill to switch city pensions to defined contribution plan. (See http://www.alec.org/?post_type=model-legislation&s=pension for ALEC’s model bill.) HB 5566 creates a seven- member commission to oversee the finances of Detroit. It “must meet monthly and can contract for services BUT THEY WON’T BE REQUIRED TO BID COMPETITIVELY FOR THOSE CONTRACTS. ” Read whole bill at HB 5568 2014.

It is run through treasury for $900,000. In the old days (maybe before I was born) , there was a really elected mayor & city council, city departments, audits, and the FBI. Already paid for. Idiots.

Detroit budgetHB 5567 for cities with over a 600,000 population (um, Detroit) with revenue estimating conferences twice a year for $100,000. Who the hell has a $50,000 conference to estimate costs? Isn’t that called the budget and a budget review that our tax money already pays for? What the hell is wrong with these people? Read whole bill at HB 5567 2014.

HB 5570 establishes an investment committee to recommend or reject pension investments (perhaps to be sure their friends are the investment managers and the entities invested in). It seems this is already in the Fourth Plan of Adjustment so I am unsure why they need this twice. Insurance for their sub-par F- bankruptcy plan? Hello, RICO. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act)Read whole bill at HB 5570 2014.

RacketeersHB 5571 no future tax on DIA. Considering that the current $900,000 of tax money from the tri-county area will be quietly transferred to this new DIA governed only by greedy pigs…Whole bill at HB 5571 2014.

HB 5572 transferring money from the rainy day fund. Why couldn’t they have just use this money to take care of the $200 million we were in the hole in 2012 and be done with it. What the hell is going on?  Whole bill at HB 5572 2014http://www.freep.com/article/20130204/NEWS15/302040093/Michigan-Gov-Rick-Snyder-takes-heat-over-500-million-surplus-in-state-s-Rainy-Day-Fund

beware-bankstersHB 5575/HB 5574 Michigan Settlement Administration Authority. Just what the world needs, another authority with little to no responsibility to voters. Icing on this cake of corruption is that it “provides release of any current or future claims against the state regarding the bankruptcy terms.”  This is ALSO in the 4th plan of adjustment. Why twice? HB 5575 2014 and HB 5574 2014.

HB 5573 Really, is that the proper use of tobacco money? I thought it was to prevent smoking, not pay for banks’ stealing. Rainy day fund again. (Budget Stabilization Fund – sounds like a load to me) And really, we can’t have our revenue sharing, our hardest hit money, but these dumb asses can do all this dumb expensive shit. HB 5573 2014.

Unassigned bill: something about arbitration for police and firefighters. Maybe setting up for when they privatize it all (see the Detroit Public Safety Foundation…ready to go!)

Brogan Orr vultureAre the car companies jumping on board because of Syncora’s probable argument, if this crap newspaper is right, to get to the $100 million just so the bankruptcy can go through? Greedy pigs sticking together. It would mean they would also have a say in the governance of the pension fund. It also mentions that the J. Paul Getty Trust is interested in giving. Don’t they have something to do with Eli Broad? That’s no good to have an art collector like that lurking in this. http://www.philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/los-angeles-times-reports-on-broad-deal-with-getty-trust

But whatever, this bankruptcy seems to be attracting every unethical vulture for thousands of miles.

(VOD editor: Chapter 9 bankruptcy rules preclude creditors from demanding dissolution of a municipality’s assets, “UNLESS THE DEBTOR CONSENTS.” Our allegedly unbiased bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes immediately declared Kevyn Orr to be the City of Detroit at the beginning of this whole scoundrels’ paradise. Orr is the one who is consenting to these actions. Detroit is the only entity in the country going through Chapter 9 which is governed by an UNELECTED emergency manager dictator.)


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ON 4TH ANNIVERSARY OF AIYANA JONES’ KILLING BY DETROIT POLICE, MORE GRIEF IN STORE FOR HER FAMILY?

Family members of Aiyana Jones demanded justice for her family and other victims of police brutality during a protest outside the Frank Murphy Hall Oct. 21, 2013.

Family members of Aiyana Jones demanded justice for her family and other victims of police brutality during a protest outside the Frank Murphy Hall Oct. 21, 2013.

 

Inside source says prosecutor plans to bring perjury charges against family members

By Diane Bukowski 

Aiyana Jones in her mother Dominika Jones' favorite photo of her.
Aiyana Jones in her mother Dominika Jones’ favorite photo of her.

 May 13, 2014 

DETROIT – As the fourth anniversary of the brutal slaying of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, by the Detroit police approaches May 16, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy may be planning to bring yet more unfathomable grief to her family. An inside source has reported that perjury charges against Aiyana’s family members who testified during hearings related to the case are imminent.

Aiyana’s father Charles Jones was sentenced April 18 to 40-60 years in the killing of Je’Rean Blake, 17, for allegedly giving the shooter the gun involved. Contradictorily, he was acquitted of any weapons charges. He said during his sentencing that he was innocent.

Aiyana Jones' father Charles Jones is comforted by her great-aunt JoAnn Robinson, sitting on couch where she died, below window shattered by police grenade during raid April 16, 2010. Joann Robinson, who saw her great-niece killed, died a short time later. Photo by Diane Bukowski
Aiyana Jones’ father Charles Jones is comforted by her great-aunt JoAnn Robinson, sitting on couch where she died, below window shattered by police grenade during raid April 16, 2010. Joann Robinson, who saw her great-niece killed, died a short time later. Photo by Diane Bukowski

“All you’re doing is trying to cover up my daughter’s death because of a reckless officer,” Jones said. “I hope you go after him like you did after me.” He said police have been harassing his entire family since his daughter’s killing.

The Blake killing took place two days before the horrific military-style police raid on the sleeping Jones family’s home. Officer Joseph Weekley shot Aiyana in the head with an MP5 submachine gun immediately after entering the house according to testimony at his trial.

VOD earlier reported that a source with contacts in the prosecutor’s office said a no jail time deal for Weekley was in the works subsequent to Charles Jones’ conviction. Involuntary manslaughter charges against Weekley would be dropped in exchange for a plea to reckless use of a firearm, a misdemeanor.

“It makes me sick to see prosecutors like [Robert] Moran knowingly lie to put innocent people in jail,” the source said in a letter. “I still know good people in Worthy’s office who feel the same way I do. . . .My friend fears the prosecutor may be trying to pass the blame of Aiyana’s death onto the Jones family. . . .Please give the Jones family my deepest sympathies and condolences for their tragic loss. I only hope they can find peace in God.”

Wayne Co. Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran.
Wayne Co. Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran.

 The source also said, “I realize this is a theory based on hearsay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring more perjury charges against other family members.”

Today, the source reported that those perjury charges are imminent, expected as early as tomorrow.Prosecutor Worthy is allegedly considering using undated Facebook photos of young men from the family, showing them with guns or facsimiles thereof, to claim family members lied about the presence of guns in the Jones home. The photos were admitted into evidence at Weekley’s trial in August last year, which ended in a hung jury.

However, numerous police officers and technicians testified at the trial that the surprise raid recovered no weapons whatsoever from the home or from the persons of family members present. They included Charles Jones, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Jones, grandmother Mertilla Jones, and various uncles and cousins inside and outside the house.

Moran, who ironically is the prosecutor in both the Weekley and Jones/Owens cases, objected extensively to the use of the Facebook photos, while the jury was out. He was overruled by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway. With the jury present, he hurriedly declared his objection on the record, with no details. Copies of the photos were then distributed to the Weekley jury.

Mertilla Jones during press conference Oct. 29, 2012, shows Aiyana's photo.

Mertilla Jones during press conference Oct. 29, 2012, shows Aiyana’s photo.

Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones, who was sleeping with Aiyana on a front-room sofa on the day of the raid, and witnessed her brutal death, testified during the trial that she recognized various family members in the photos. She said, however, that she was not sure whether the guns in the photos were real and that she had no idea who took the photos, when, or where.

The source alleged that prosecutors are also considering bringing perjury charges against unspecified family members who testified that they had no knowledge of Jones’ presence at the scene of the Blake killing.

Only Sherrod Hurt, Owens’ brother, who defense attorney David Cripps said was likely the real killer, and a young classmate of Blake’s who had seen Jones on TV coverage of the death of his daughter testified that Jones was at the scene.

Jay Schlenkerman prison photo after latest incarceration in Kinross Correctional Facility.

Jay Schlenkerman prison photo after latest incarceration in Kinross Correctional Facility.

Two jail-house snitches gave the only testimony that he gave the gun involved to Owens. One, Jay Schlenkerman, is now serving a sentence of six to ten years at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on charges of “Police Officer – Fleeing – Third Degree, and Operating Intoxicated/ Impaired / Controlled Substance, 3rd.”  According to prison records, he had ten previous such charges.

Owens refused to testify against Jones. During a videotaped police interrogation shown at his trial, he identified another man as the one who gave him the gun. Still in shock from learning that Aiyana died during the raid, he appeared confused and gave several versions of the incident, but never fingered Charles Jones.

Detroit Sgt. David Pomeroy and St. Clair Shores Sgt. Michael Notoriano.

Detroit Sgt. David Pomeroy and St. Clair Shores Sgt. Michael Notoriano.

The source compared Worthy’s alleged plans to charge Jones family members to the perjury charges her office brought against Robert Cureton. In a well-publicized case, Cureton and two other Detroit men accused two police officers, St. Clair Shores Sgt. Michael Notoriano and Detroit Sgt. David Pomeroy, of armed robbery and felonious assault at an east-side gas station, while they were off duty. See Perjury article.

According to an article in the Macomb Daily, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Callahan dropped all charges citing Cureton in the incident May 2. Pomeroy’s attorney Michael Rataj said after Callahan’s ruling, “In my mind, the rest of the charges should be dismissed as well.”

The Prosecutor’s office is seeking to extradite Cureton from West Virginia. A motion hearing on the officers’ case in front of Callahan was scheduled for May 14. Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, communications director for the office, said in a statement,

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy

 

“David Pomeroy and Michael Notoriano – Detroit and St. Clair Shores police sergeants charged with crimes in connection with a an iPhone stolen from Notoriano’s 16-year-old daughter. Today Judge Michael Callahan granted a motion to quash all felony counts against Pomeroy finding that the district court erred in binding the case over. The following counts were dismissed: one count of Armed Robbery, two counts of Unlawful Imprisonment, one count of Larceny of a Firearm,one count of Public Official- Willful Neglect of Duty, and Felony Firearm. The two misdemeanor counts of Public Official- Willful Failure to Uphold the law remain. The court indicated that a stay of proceedings would be granted if the case was appealed. ‘The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office disagrees with court’s decision today and will appeal the ruling,’ said Maria Miller.

The judge denied the motion as it relates to Notoriano and his case will proceed on the following charges: Armed Robbery, two counts of Unlawful Imprisonment, two counts of Felonious Assault, two counts of Ethnic Intimidation, one count of Public Official-Willful Neglect of Duty,Felony Firearm and two misdemeanor counts of Public Official-Failure to Uphold the Law.”

Miller had not responded to a request for comment on any pending perjury charges against Jones family members before press time.

Recent related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/18/dad-of-aiyana-jones-7-killed-by-detroit-police-sentenced-to-40-60-years-in-blake-killing/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/22/attorneys-vow-appeals-in-convictions-of-aiyana-jones-dad-chauncey-owens/

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

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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DCCR UPDATE ON PENSIONS IN DETROIT BANKRUPTCY PLAN: VOTE NO!

May 1, 2014 --Detroit protesters take Shelby to federal courthouse in ongoing blockade of streets and banks..

May 1, 2014 –Detroit protesters take Shelby to federal courthouse in ongoing blockade of streets and banks..

FROM: DETROIT CONCERNED CITIZENS AND RETIREES (DCCR)

Cecily McClellan of Concerned Citizens and Retirees speaks at rally May 1, 2014.

Cecily McClellan of Concerned Citizens and Retirees speaks at rally May 1, 2014.

Retirees demand pension board ask for Judge Rhodes removal due to conflict of interest

Detroit — On April 23, 2014, May 1, 2014 and May 7, 2014 a group of concerned citizens and retirees attended the Pension Board Trustee Meeting(s). During public comments the trustees were asked “why” they had agreed to the Bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment dated 4/16/2014. The only individuals that spoke during this meeting were Michael VanOverbeke, Pension Board Legal Counsel and Rev. Wendell Anthony, community representative, all other trustees were silent. Mr. VanOverbeke stated that the trustees had not voted or agreed to the plan.

Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP
Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP

 

He further stated that they had only supported the economic issues like (1) 4.5% reduction in pensions, (2) up to a 20% claw-back and (3) elimination of cost of living adjustment (COLA). Mr. VanOverbeke emphasized later that support and approval are two different things legally, and that the pension board had not voted to approve. Sounds like splitting of hairs. He also stated that the board were trying to get the best deal and the final vote or decision was up to the retirees.

Rev. Anthony echoed Mr. VanOverbeke’s statements, but further stated the media had misrepresented the actions of the pension board. During the discussion between the board and retirees it was unclear whether they had supported only the 4.5% or all three economic items stated above. The retirees requested a copy of the minutes from the 4/16/2014 GRS Pension Board Meeting and submitted a request Freedom of Information Request Act (FIOA) for the minutes over the last year. “See minutes attached received today” (link below). The following are issues presented to the GRS Pension Board by retirees:

  • 95 million spent by Kevin Orr (EM) on consultants and 5.5 million spent by Mike Duggan on new staff while retiree’s pensions are cut.
  • State cut of $732 million in revenue sharing to Detroit, millions in tax abatements to millionaires/billionaires, while retirees are cut.
  • No guarantee of future cuts or changes in plan of adjustment.
  • Pension board will be run by outsiders, 5 of who will be appointed by the mayor from a list provided by the governor.
  • No active city employee, family member, contractor or union member can be a trustee.
  • Retirees requested a general meeting of all retiree before voting ballots are sent out to discuss the details of the Bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment
  • Retirees demanded that the pension board not agree to cuts to our pensions.
  • Retirees stressed that the bankruptcy court is rushing to conclude Detroit bankruptcy plan before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rule on whether it violates State constitutionality of pension protection (10th Amendment US Constitution, Section 903 of Bankruptcy code) and Federal law protecting contracts.

See article below briefly covering meeting “Plan Elements Still Fluid”

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140424/METRO01/304240035#ixzz31ENfLWaM

Jacqueline Morrison, AARP Michigan State Director

Jacqueline Morrison, AARP Michigan State Director

On May 7, 2014, retirees inquired about the national support Detroit retirees had received from AARP, California Pension Plan and Texas Pension and public employees. These plans represent over 2 million people and are worth over 2 trillion dollars. This is powerful support! Rev. Anthony stated that the pension board had solicited the support from these groups. However, very little has been stated by the pension board of this support. The local corporate media will not be balanced or tell the whole story. See attached articles, copies of brief are included:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/AARP-Amicus-brief-Detroit-bankruptcy-appeal.pdf

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/DB-6th-CalPERS-ab-2.CV01.pdf

http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/DB-6th-ab-Natl-Conf-PERS_3-compressed.pdf

Diane Bukowski discussed her official objection to Judge Steven Rhodes’ participation in a pro emergency manager conference before he was appointed as judge in the Detroit Bankruptcy case.

Judge Rhodes (center) chaired one-sided forum on Chapter 9 and EM's on Oct. 10, 2012 with (l to r), Treasury Dept. rep. Frederick Headen, who has led many takeovers; Edward Plawecki, EM trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O'Neill (also a co-drafter of PA 4), and accountant Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a major witness for Orr at bankruptcy trial.

Judge Rhodes (center) chaired one-sided forum on Chapter 9 and EM’s on Oct. 10, 2012 with (l to r), Treasury Dept. rep. Frederick Headen, who has led many takeovers; Edward Plawecki, EM trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill (also a co-drafter of PA 4), and accountant Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a major witness for Orr at bankruptcy trial.

Charles Moore of Conway Mackenzie, a financial expert witness in this case for Kevyn Orr, also attended this one-sided conference, along with Judy O’Neill, a co-author of Public Act 4, and others who spoke  in favor of Chapter 9 Bankruptcy and emergency managers. Diane Bukowski EARLIER asked that judge Rhodes recuse himself due to this conflict that has not been disclosed. See link to article on this issue and Diane’s official objection with the court below. Diane Bukowski demanded that the pension board file an objection to this conflict of interest. This is a bombshell, maybe this is why Judge Rhodes is being conveniently replaced by Mark A. Random.

The legal counsel for the pension plan stated that the city was paying about $180 million for health care, that cost has been reduced to $40 million. This is a 78% decrease in health care cost primarily due to dropping retirees. This saving has and will change the city’s financial state.

The 4th Detroit Bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment was submitted Monday 5/5/2014. All active and retired City of Detroit Employee should weigh the “pros and cons” of voting yes or no. Indicated below is just a brief comparison, added your pros and cons:

Bankruptcy Voting Pros and Cons

Pros – YES Cons – NO
Fearful of press reports that deal will get worse Judge must rule on City’s actual financial status not propaganda from Snyder, Orr or Media
You believe your pensions were not earned Employees paid into the plan and their funds were used for investments (annuity savings)
You believe Orr that federal law trumps state law US constitution 10th amendment recognizes state’s right-Section 903, trumps is a false issue.
The courts are on Snyder and Orr’s side. Pension Plans are protected by the State constitution, “not to be diminished or impaired”
Snyder, legislature, and corporation will give money to GRS and PFRS, 350 million Only an elected official can file bankruptcy, not an emergency manager
If PA 436 is found to be unconstitutional, then this bankruptcy is also
You give up all future rights to sue or appeal any decision or person related to bankruptcy.
The pension boards will be taken over by the state and private interests with high administration costs.
No guarantees, the plan can change how much you will be paid now and in the future, greater than 27%.
Current city’s financial status unknown annual financial report (CAFR) , Orr given extension
City will save $140 million in health care cost this year per pension board, 78 % decrease from $180 million.
GRS had an 11% and PFRS 18% return last fiscal year, This equates to millions of dollars.
City will eliminate the death benefit
The pension is not underfunded the city is withholding pension obligations
Retirees are forced to pay high health care costs.
Recoup revenue sharing, tax abatements, tax giveaway to millionaires and billionaires
Reductions 4.5%, 20% Clawback, Elimination of COLA, not guaranteed or required.
We are not under-funded per actuary firm Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company We are funded better than the State and County.

“The General Retirement System Board of Trustees plans to hold two informational meetings for retirees after the Plan of Adjustment ballots are mailed. The meetings are planned to help retirees understand the Plan of Adjustment ballots. We will mail postcards to notify retirees of the details for each meeting.” — NOTE ON MAY’S PENSION CHECK STUBS.                                           

VOTE NO!

Protesters begin civil disobedience in downtown Detroit, blockading Jefferson Avenue.

Protesters begin civil disobedience in downtown Detroit, blockading Jefferson Avenue.

Related documents:

DETROIT CONCERN CITIZENS AND RETIREE Update

Stop Theft of Our Pension Committee0001

GSR Minutes 4 16 2014

MDB objection from News article (Bukowski’s request for Rhodes’ recusal, covered by Detroit News)

DB Rhodes order MDB motion (Rhodes response to Bukowski motion for recusal)

Detroit bankruptcy judge tosses activists recusal bid (Detroit News article)

Related articles:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/05/03/no-detroit-bankruptcy-deal-may-day-marchers-block-detroit-streets-banks-natl-retiree-systems-blast-rhodes/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/24/detroit-bankruptcy-plan-vote-no-shut-down-detroit-may-1-claw-back-debt-to-the-banks/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/09/detroit-bankruptcy-swaps-agreement-huge-cramdown-cuts-for-retirees-residents-billions-for-banks/

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/01/03/recuse-detroit-bankruptcy-judge-rhodes-mediator-rosen-em-orr-from-the-citys-future-abolish-the-em-law/

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

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/11/07/judge-rhodes-strikes-retiree-request-for-hearing-on-recusal-official-retirees-committee-request-for-additional-legal-assistance/


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REV. EDWARD PINKNEY, MARCUS MUHAMMAD BATTLE WHIRLPOOL FOR BENTON HARBOR; PINKNEY COURT HEARING MAY 30

Support Pinkney

Leid Stories – Called to Action: Pastor Takes On The Battle for Benton Harbor, Mich. – 05/07/14

By progressiveradionetwork

Hearing Friday, May 30, 8:30 a.m. on felony voter fraud charges vs. Rev. Pinkney in Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Court St. Joseph, Michigan (Hearing has been changed several times to discourage attendance; go to Black Autonomy Community Network Organization [BANCO] website to check for any updates at http://www.bhbanco.org/.)

Rev. Edward Pinkney leads rally against Whirlpool-sponsored PGA in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.
Rev. Edward Pinkney leads rally against Whirlpool-sponsored PGA in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.

Under house arrest until a hearing May 16 on voter-fraud charges, the Rev. Edward Pinkney maintains a surprisingly upbeat demeanor, calling it “just the latest effort to beat us down in the battle we’ve been waging here.”

“Here” is Benton Harbor, Mich., an almost all-black town that has seen its population plummet from 45,000 to about 10,000 residents, 70 percent of them unemployed and 90 percent at or below the U.S. poverty level. But it is a “beachtown,” on the shores of Lake Michigan, and major corporations have their eyes on its real estate.

Whirlpool Corp. wants it all, Pinkney says, and it’s been very aggressive in getting its way—including co-opting local political leadership and paying off civil-rights organizations like the NAACP. His house arrest, he says, stems from his leadership of a campaign to recall the mayor, who he calls a “stooge of the corporations.”

The pastor of the nondenominational God’s House of Faith, discusses his abiding faith in the power of grassroots people to create change, even when the odds appear to be against them. They must be prepared—as he is, he says—to deal with “corruption and co-optation of their own.”

Hear interview with Rev. Pinkney below.

Final call logoTROUBLE IN BENTON HARBOR

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -

Assistant Editor-

Last updated: May 6, 2014 – 11:41:38 PM

A court ruling postpones elections amid questions about voter signatures and fears of high level political intimidation

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (FinalCall.com) - The Benton Harbor mayoral recall election did not take place on May 6 as scheduled. Berrien County Judge John E. Dewane granted a preliminary injunction halting the vote.

Marcus Muhammad announces candidacy for Mayor. Photo Melanie Yuill Fox 28
Marcus Muhammad announces candidacy for Mayor. Photo Melanie Yuill Fox 28

The election has Benton Harbor Commissioner Marcus Muhammad challenging current Mayor James Hightower. It was halted after signatures needed to demand a recall, just under 400 were needed, and an outspoken local activist and recall supporter who collected signatures were arrested and charged with voter fraud. Fewer than 40 signatures were challenged.

In a written ruling issued May 1, Judge Dewane determined there was not enough time to sort out the facts prior to the scheduled recall election and granted a request from Berrien County Clerk Sharon J. Tyler to stop the election.

Berrien County Judge John Dewane.
Berrien County Judge John Dewane.

It was also Ms. Tyler who approved the signatures and allowed the recall to originally go forward. The judge decided it was in the “best interests” of Benton Harbor voters and Berrien County’s elected officials to keep the vote from happening

Despite the talk of procedure, signature verifications and eligibility questions, some worry the hold-up isn’t about voters but about who will rule the small majority Black town and challenge the awesome power of giants like the Whirlpool Corp., which is based in Benton Harbor. There have been debates about whether corporations have too much power and too many benefits while giving Benton Harbor’s Black residents little. Meanwhile just across a bridge, literally, sits St. Joseph, a majority White city thriving locality.

A judge’s ruling and questions

“The election is scheduled in five days. I cannot hold a trial to determine the facts before the election. Therefore, Clerk Tyler has requested a preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo pending a determination of the facts. Granting a preliminary injunction is within my sound discretion,” Judge Dewane wrote. “While the alleged altered dates on sheet 38 escaped Clerk Tyler’s detection on initial cursory examination, they now appear to be in some instances obvious.”

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at reception in Whirlpool HQ,
Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower at reception in Whirlpool HQ,

Rev. Edward Pinkney, 65, leads the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) and is an outspoken area activist highly critical of Whirlpool as a corporate interloper he believes exploits the poor. He believes legal hurdles are being erected late time to prevent a recall vote and keep Mr. Muhammad from becoming mayor.

“They want to postpone it indefinitely they figure that their man (Mr. Hightower) doesn’t have a chance. They have even lost faith in their own man,” said Rev. Pinkney. “We had enough signatures, the city clerk verified, the county clerk certified it. So there’s a problem. If the county clerk certified then she should be held accountable that’s how I look at it,” he added.

Mayoral candidate Marcus Muhammad with James Cornelius.
Mayoral candidate Marcus Muhammad with James Cornelius.

Rev. Pinkney has been charged with five counts of election forgery, each a felony carrying up to five years in prison, and six misdemeanor charges connected with allegedly allowing people to sign more than once.

James Cornelius, listed as the sponsor of the move to recall Mayor Hightower, also faces two misdemeanor charges. Mr. Cornelius is a proud member of BANCO, the organization run by Mr. Pinkney. This is nothing but political harassment, said the 59-year-old. He told The Final Call that Berrien County Sheriffs have questioned him multiple times and he is not afraid of the consequences of being an activist. He does not believe he did anything wrong—even if someone did in fact accidently sign a petition multiple times.

Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower's wealthy home in Benton Harbor.
Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower’s wealthy home in Benton Harbor.

“I’m going to still be out here being a champion for the people, and that’s my job in the community. Everybody’s job should be that, but they’re putting fear in them so they are scared to even do anything. I ain’t scared! I’m a soldier,” said Mr. Cornelius. “The very people trying to work for Mr. Muhammad as far as the election—they are targeting us.”

Shortly after the ruling on May 1, Mr. Muhammad expressed respect for the court decision, but plans to continue to campaign.

“Despite the prevailing circumstances, I’m encouraged and eventually the people will have their day,” said the hometown hero who led Benton Harbor High School’s basketball team to success as a player and coach and hopes to lead his struggling town to progress, as well.

Most of Benton Harbor's neighborhoods are full of homes like this. It is the city of any size with the highest poverty rate in the country.

Most of Benton Harbor’s neighborhoods are full of homes like this. It is the city of any size with the highest poverty rate in the country.

Mayor Hightower said he is glad some time is being taken to “sort things out.” He said his inspection of petitions found 190 violations and he wondered why the Benton Harbor City Clerk and the Berrien County Clerk certified the signatures.“In my opinion, they never should have been certified in the first place,” said the incumbent mayor. “To have an election based upon possible fraudulent circumstances would be a travesty for the residents of the city. We have to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

But even he admits, “There’s a disconnect between the state board of elections and the legislators. You can’t give me a list of rules to go by to challenge these petitions and then there’s another set of rules that the clerk goes by to certify them. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Voter intimidation?

Although there may be questions regarding some of the signatures, it has not come from residents. In fact, some residents felt intimidated by Berrien County Sheriffs who questioned them about signatures.

Berrien County SheriffsHelen Jones, who has lived in Benton Harbor for over ten years, said she felt “scared and intimidated” when sheriffs came to her apartment asking her about her signature and “shoving a recorder in my face.”

Evelyn Canaga had the same experience when officials came to question her about her signature.

“I did not like it at all,” said Ms. Canaga. “I got so scared when they approached me,” she added. She said she talked to her neighbor who was also uncomfortable by the presence of the sheriffs mentioning that she might not ever sign anything again. Residents of the small town were looking forward to the May 6 vote to have their voices heard and their feelings known.

Many Benton Harbor residents expressed support for Muhammad over the man currently in office.

Rev. Pinkney gives award to actor Danny Glover at Justice Dinner in Benton Harbor last year.

Rev. Pinkney gives award to actor Danny Glover at Justice Dinner in Benton Harbor last year.

Joseph Outlaw is 40-years-old and has lived in Benton Harbor all his life. Mr. Outlaw believes the political establishment fears those who want to actually improve conditions. The future depends on making change, not just having rallies and talking about making change, he said. Mr. Outlaw cited that as the reason he supports Mr. Muhammad for mayor.

“He can bring change—they don’t want to change the conversation around this place. They want to keep having something to argue and fight about. He’s fixing to get rid of that arguing and fighting and that’s what they don’t want. They want us to stay at this standstill. He can bring opportunity, he can bring movement,” said Mr. Outlaw. “Right now we are not moving and that’s what they’re scared of. They’re scared of real change.”

Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor
Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor

John Howard, 40, has lived in Benton Harbor for the last two decades. He was the director of the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor until April 18. He was asked to resign after being photographed at a campaign rally for Mr. Muhammad. Numerous associates of Mr. Howard who knew of his work called him an asset to the community as mentor for youth. He’s unable to go into details about his resignation because of an agreement with the Boys and Girls Club. However he did say leaving the position “was not my choice.”

“In our community we are at a turning point,” said Mr. Howard. “We live in a community that publicly wants some people to stay neutral, and I have never been a neutral person.”

Political opponents targeted?

Mr. Muhammad recently walked throughout the community to smiles and waves, stopped to speak with residents and visited Mr. Pinkney who is under house arrest pending a court appearance.

“Reverend Pinkney has already been persecuted as a political prisoner,” said Mr. Muhammad. “All politics are local and given that he is a strong freedom fighter on a local level, the political attack and persecution is beginning right there. As I have said, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but as I see it, the charges are frivolous and trumped up.”

Marcus Muhammad with NOI Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Marcus Muhammad with NOI Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Members of the Nation of Islam from Benton Harbor and Grand Rapids, Mich., as well as community residents, showed support for the outspoken activist. Rev. Pinkney said change and a new direction is needed. The current mayor only cares about himself and his personal needs, he added.

Mayor Hightower’s goals are more aligned with corporate interests than the needs and desires of those in the community, he continued.

“I think where Hightower is leading us is towards failure for the residents of Benton Harbor, not for Whirlpool Corporation, not for Lakeland Hospital—because those are the people he supports—I’m thinking about the residents, the people that’s on the ground, the people that live here, the people that are unemployed, those are my concerns,” said Rev. Pinkney.

Youth of Benton Harbor take part in May 26, 2012 march against PGA and Whirlpool.
Youth of Benton Harbor take part in May 26, 2012 march against PGA and Whirlpool.

“We can’t wait. Black people always wait. We wait so long for everything and we never get it. Next year I might be gone I might be deceased, anything could happen. I think the time is now,” said Rev. Pinkney. “I think we need a change and I think Marcus Muhammad is the man to be in there as mayor.”

Rev. Pinkney denies knowingly allowing people to sign a recall petition more than once. If it happened, it was an administrative or clerical error and not done with intent to deceive, he added.

“If you sign twice the signature becomes null and void, so that would have been defeating my whole purpose of being out there,” the activist said.

Joseph Taylor, the Benton Harbor Area School Board treasurer, was one of those who also met with Rev. Pinkney and supports Mr. Muhammad for mayor. He describes the state of affairs in Benton Harbor as “chaotic.”

Slavesmaster Rick Snyder goes after Michigan's Black cities, schools.
Slavesmaster Rick Snyder goes after Michigan’s Black cities, schools.

“The future of Benton Harbor is gentrification, which is going on all across America,” said Mr. Taylor.

Emergency financial managers have been placed in control of several cities in Michigan, including Benton Harbor, Detroit and Flint, and the voters have been disenfranchised, said Mr. Taylor. All of the cities have large or majority Black populations. What is happening now with the corporate takeover of Benton Harbor has been years in the making, he said. Those corporate interests have taken precedence over the needs of the people, he added.

Mr. Muhammad believes the political attack against Rev. Pinkney and other supporters is aimed at stopping a political awakening taking place in Benton Harbor largely due to his mayoral campaign.

“The former director of the Central Intelligence Agency said every time there is an assassination there is a cover story, and the cover story only covers or camouflages the real story,” said Mr. Muhammad. “The real story in this case was to stop the election because in all of the polls and in all the predictions, they had Marcus Muhammad becoming the next mayor of a city that just had nearly $600 million in corporate and private dollars invested. Big money and big business would have a hard time at the bargaining table with an administration that is not favorable to their desires,” he said.

Rev. Edward Pinkney at conclusion of May 7, 2011 March against Snyder fascist takeover of Michigan.

Rev. Edward Pinkney at conclusion of May 7, 2011 March against Snyder fascist takeover of Michigan.

Previous related VOD article:

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


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