Paul Ryan accepts GOP nomination for Vice-President in Tampa, Florida.


Paul Ryan Unleashes His Terrifying Vision for America

Paul Ryan Obscures His Koch-Backed Agenda With a Pack of Lies in Convention Speech 

AlterNet / By Adele Stan

August 29, 2012

TAMPA, FLA. — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan may carry himself with an air of earnestness, but at his heart, he’s a liar. What other determination could one make after Ryan’s compendium of distortions and outright untruths, delivered Wednesday night to the Republican National Convention?

“Jim Rogers was the topic of discussion following a recent interview at a wealth-management conference in Vancouver, B.C. when he stated that the U.S. national debt, which comes out to about $5 trillion held by the public, has essentially doubled due to credit crisis bailouts.
So much for free market economics.
Rogers goes on to say that interest rates will be forced to climb. Foreign investors will not buy American debt if there are no incentives to do so. And Americans are clueless as to how bad things are going to get down the road.
Every time there is a problem, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his henchman come to the rescue. They just keep propping everything up and bailing out weakened institutions. (See link to article at end of this story.)

Whether falsely claiming that President Barack Obama was looting funding from Medicare to pay for health-care reform, blaming the president for the nation’s credit-rating downgrade that came about as an unprecedented refusal by congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling (a maneuver Ryan helped to lead), or accusing his opponent of refusing to to implement the recommendations of a bipartisan commission on the debt whose final report Ryan voted against, the Wisconsin congressman proved himself willing to hoodwink the American people with a smile on his boyish face.

It was to be expected, I suppose, given his status as the youthful ward of David Koch, the billionaire funder of Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group that helped lift the Wisconsin congressman from relative obscurity to the lofty post of House Budget Committee chairman, where he has championed a set of ideas that could have been authored by Koch himself — ideas that fundamentally revolve around coddling the rich, crushing the poor and giving the shaft to the middle class.

Koch Brothers Exposed is a hard-hitting investigation of the 1% at its very worst. This full-length documentary film on Charles and David Koch—two of the world’s richest and most powerful men—is the latest from acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed, Rethink Afghanistan). The billionaire brothers bankroll a vast network of organizations that work to undermine the interests of the 99% on issues ranging from Social Security to the environment to civil rights. This film uncovers the Kochs’ corruption—and points the way to how Americans can reclaim their democracy. (

It’s not really a set of ideas one can sell truthfully to the voters, most of whom belong to the classes at which you’re aiming the boot and the shaft. So, a little lying — or a lot — is required.

The selection of Paul Ryan was, in and of itself, a strong bit of circumstantial evidence that the Republican Party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch political enterprise. David Koch and his brother, Charles, you’ll recall, are the multibillionaire brothers who are the principal owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately-held corporation in the United States.

Through Americans For Prosperity and its allies, the Kochs have built the get-out-the-vote infrastructure for the American right, cobbling together the old network of evangelical churches with more broadly defined Tea Party groups. It’s a network to which the Republican presidential candidate desperately needs access if he’s to win in November, especially given a shrinking number of persuadable independent voters. And Paul Ryan dances perfectly to the Kochs’ tune, crafting economic plans that lower the taxes on the wealthy, cut social spending on the poor, and that would change Medicare into a virtually unrecognizable voucher program.

Striding to the convention podium with his gelled coif and boyish demeanor, Ryan looked more like a student council president than the prevaricating philosophical progeny of two of the greediest men on earth. But even as Ryan accused the Obama campaign of obscuring the president’s true agenda, Ryan mentioned not a word about his plans to voucherize Medicare — a plan that could cost seniors thousands of dollars more per year.

Lying to Obscure the Greed

In a move seemingly designed to taunt fact-checkers, Ryan reprised his claim that Obama broke a promise made during the 2008 presidential campaign to keep a General Motors plant open in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., but instead was ultimately responsible for its closing. But the plant closed while George W. Bush was in office, and Obama never made such a promise. (As I write, PolitiFact has already rated this part of Ryan’s speech as false.) Continue reading

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The Execution Of Milton Hall, Justice For Milton Hall!

Published on Aug 29, 2012 by KennySnod

A No Struggle, No Development Production! By KennySnod * *

The Execution Of Milton Hall, Justice For Milton Hall!

Detroit civil rights leader threatens to ‘shut Saginaw down’ if officers involved in Milton Hall death are not fired.

SAGINAW, MI — A Detroit civil rights leader was at the Saginaw city council meeting Aug. 28 to ask Saginaw leaders why six officers involved in the shooting death of Milton Hall are back working desk jobs at the department.

If he does not get the answer he wants, the Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network, said he will be back.

“We want the officers fired,” Williams said in a phone interview earlier. “If they’re not fired, we’re prepared to hold a mass demonstration in Saginaw. We’ll make it a national issue and shut Saginaw down.”

During the press conference, Williams called the shooting of Hall “A modern day lynching.” He said he believes the killing was racially motivated.

Racist six Saginaw City Police officers were involved in the shooting death of Milton Hall. They shot him 11 times, but shot at him 46 times! – -

A No Struggle, No Development Production! By Kenny Snodgrass, Activist, Photographer, Videographer, Author of 1} From Victimization To Empowerment…  eBook available at
2} The World As I’ve Seen It! My Greatest Experience! {Photo Book}
YouTube: I have 320 Video’s, over 102,000 hits averaging 3,000 a month on my YouTube channel @

Click on for earlier VOD story.

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Residents evacuate their flooded neighborhood, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, in LaPlace, La. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)

Tropical Storm Isaac

September 1, 2012

By: Deborah Dupre

The National Weather Service issued a warning that a “dam failure” in the Louisiana-Mississippi border area might occur and flooding is “expected on the Tangipahoa River near Percy Quin park,” prompting a mandatory evacuation of approximately 50,000 more people and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announcing the dam would be intentionally breached to prevent it from breaking.

“Until it’s safe, we don’t want them to go home. We want them to get clear,” Burgess said. He said he did not yet know when the mandatory evacuation order could be lifted.

Nevertheless, most evacuees who were in shelters soon after the evacuation was ordered, are no longer in those shelters.

Four deaths have been attributed to Isaac [now seven].

“Unfortunately, I believe we will find more bodies, ” Plaquemines County Coroner’s chief investigator John Marie told NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez.

The National Hurricane Center said Friday, “Even though Isaac is no longer a tropical storm, life threatening hazards from storm surge, inland flooding and tornadoes are still occurring.”

“Evacuate out of an abundance of caution,” pleaded Gov. Jindal to people in the Louisiana-Mississippi southern border area. “Hopefully, it’ll turn out the dam doesn’t breach. If there’s a breach several hours from now, we wouldn’t want people to be moved in the middle of the night.”

Hundreds were evacuated in darkness of night as new areas in southern Louisiana flooded while Isaac crawled north.

Isaac evacuees.

Louisiana state officials say if the dam burst, it would raise water levels to 17 feet, almost equal to the area’s two worst floods on record, one in 1983.

Isaac continues to spin off life-threatening weather including storm surges, inland flooding from torrential rain and potential tornadoes.

Flooding possibility in areas where high waters have never been experienced, even without dam problems, is something many residents and public officials in the area might have not considered, despite scientists warning this would happen due to Louisiana’s wetland erosion changing its landscape. Continue reading

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Hurricane Isaac

August 29, 2012

By: Deborah Dupre

Bayou Corne sinkhole, Louisiana, on Aug. 15, 2012.

Nearly stationary Hurricane Isaac has already caused residents to begin saving people stranded on rooftops and in attics in 12 to 14 feet of water as levees fail and the storm slowly lashes toward Assumption Parish, only fifty-three miles southeast of Houma, Louisiana, less than 100 miles south of Bayou Corne’s sinkhole where a hurricane warning is in effect Wednesday and at 8:00 a.m. and officials report trees and power lines falling and winds to intensify.

At 9:00 a.m., the National Weather Service reports that Hurricane Isaac is near Houma, Louisiana that is approximately fifty miles south of the Bayou Corne giant sinkhole over the Napoleonville Salt Dome.

Trees and power lines down.

“We have reports of trees down in the Napoleonville and Paincourtville area, one blocking Highway 401 (Canal Road) where work is being done to remove it from the roadway,” Assumption Parish officials reported at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, urging residents who remained to stay sheltered.

About 75% of New Orleans residents are already without power.

“For many people, it’s not even half over,” said Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, saying that pounding rains will persist “all day today, into tonight, into tomorrow.”

Officials have declared that there would be no rescue services of fire vehicles or ambulances in Assumption Parish after Isaac’s winds are sustained at 50 miles per hour., according to officials in a curfew and mandatory evacuation alert issued Tuesday.

Closer to Isaac, residents have already begun rescuing neighbors in areas where waters have quickly risen, forcing people into attics and onto rooftops to prevent drowning.

Katrina deja vu

“We have reports of people on their roofs, in attics, in 12 to 14 feet of water,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

In a deja vu scenario of Hurricane Katrina, residents have saved at least one woman on her roof and saved two other people, according to Nungesser, but others are stranded on roofs in waters quickly rising.

Homes in up to 14 feet of water are on the east bank of a levee, but “this storm is going to kick around and deliver the same type of flow to the west bank,” Ningesser said.

The levee in the parish overtopped Wednesday. It was not upgraded after Hurricane Katrina, that struck seven years ago today. Continue reading

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Bill Nojay campaigned for N.Y. State Assembly while working as public employee, in violation of Hatch Act 

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and COO Chris Brown knew of campaign, right-wing radio talk show  

VOD filing Hatch Act complaints on all three officials

Aug. 23, 2012

By Diane Bukowski 

DETROIT – After a reporter from New York’s weekly Livingston County News filed a Hatch Act complaint against Detroit Department of Transportation (D-DOT) Deputy Director Bill Nojay Aug. 8, he was finally dumped from his city job here this week. The newspaper broke the story of his apparent violation, noting that he was running for State Assembly in New York while working for D-DOT.

Bill Nojay (center) campaigning July 9 at “Arktown Hometown Heroes” parade in New York, while working as D-DOT Deputy Director.

Nojay is a far right-wing Republican candidate for the New York State Assembly who lives in Pittsford, N.Y., and has appeared at Tea Party functions. He previously chaired the Rochester Genessee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA).

He is also an attorney who currently hosts a New York  talk show  which espouses racist and ultra-conservative views.

The federal Hatch Act forbids public employees whose job involves supervision of federal funds from running for partisan public office. (Click on Hatch Act flyer from US OSC.)

City of Detroit COO Chris Brown told the Detroit News Aug. 23 that Nojay informed both Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and himself that he was running for office in New York when he began his campaign.

Nojay oversaw federal D-DOT funding, which comprises the majority of the Department’s $130 million budget. On July 19, Mayor Bing announced a new federal grant of $30 million to both the D-DOT and suburban SMART systems. During his tenure, D-DOT purchased 46 new buses with $13.8 million in federal funding and obtained additional funds to upgrade D-DOT facilities.

The buses were purchased from the Gillig Corporation. RGRTA also bought buses from Gillig.

Bill Nojay is at far left in the photo taken Feb. 22, 2012 by VOD editor Diane Bukowski during Mayor Dave Bing’s introduction of Ronald Freeland (3rd left from bus door) as “CEO” of D-DOT. Bing (r) also showed off some of D-DOT”s 46 new buses bought from the Gillig Corporation with $13.8 million in federal funding.

“That racist is gone,” exulted Leamon Wilson, president of AFSCME Local 312, which represents bus mechanics at D-DOT. “He was sworn in as deputy director and he personally told me during a meeting that he occupied that position. The D-DOT director’s office also confirmed that.”

Nojay openly espouses his right-wing views on the website for his radio talk show. Its introduction slams “big unions, the  education lobby and enviro wack jobs.” It says New York is now nothing but “a crumbling socialist New Age penal colony  disproportionately populated by malingerers, criminals and self-serving  grievance groups perennially attached to the teat of a bloated and indifferent  government.”

AFSCME Local 312 President Leamon Wilson at left during 2005 demonstration at Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s State of the City address. D-DOT service has worsened even more since that time under Bing. Kilpatrick is on trial for corruption. Should Bing, Chris Brown and Bill Nojay be on trial too?

Wilson said since Nojay and his boss Ronald Freeland took over the management of D-DOT, service is at an all-time low.

In the wake of drastic route cuts begun in February under Freeland and Nojay, Mayor Dave Bing and Freeland announced  a new “415″ policy to ensure stops 15 minutes apart on four major routes, Dexter, Grand River, Gratiot and Woodward, which account for 34 percent of the system’s ridership. The announcement took place April 30.

But Wilson said buses have been pulled from other areas to improve the routes Bing designated, causing passengers on the other routes to experience long lines and waits.

Wilson said all federal funding for D-DOT had been held up in the wake of the passage of the Detroit Public Act 4 consent agreement April 4.  His Local filed a complaint with the federal government then that the City violated the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Act (UMTA) by eliminating collective bargaining rights for workers under the agreement. Since then, he said, his local and two others representing D-DOT workers have been exempted from provisions of the consent agreement including having their locals’ only full-time officials, the presidents, forced back to the job.

Nojay told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that he left the job voluntarily to pursue his campaign for 133rd District Assemblyman in New York, where he lives.  He had worked for D-DOT since Feb. 1 and has been campaigning for the New York Assembly post since at least May 11, when New York’s Monroe County Republican Party announced his candidacy.

Nojay told the Livingston County News that he was “a consultant to a consultant to a consultant,” working in a private capacity with D-DOT.

“One of the largest law firms in Upstate New York researched [my situation] carefully and concluded there was no danger of my being ‘Hatched,’” Mark Gillespie, editor-in-chief of the paper, quoted Nojay in an article Aug. 23.

Nojay made the same claim to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is investigating the Hatch Act complaint filed by LCN reporter Howard Appell, according to the LCN.

Wilson provided VOD with copies of two letters on D-DOT stationery which refer to Nojay as Deputy Director, after Mayor Dave Bing’s office repeatedly failed to answer VOD’s inquiries on his status. (Click on Nojay docs.)

VOD had asked Bing’s office for the names of those occupying positions for Director and Deputy Director, listed in the current D-DOT budget.  Bing appointed Ronald Freeland as “CEO” of D-DOT in February, as part of an arrangement with subcontractor Envisurage, run by another former RGRTA chair, Mark Aesch.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing (r) announces his appointment of Ronald Freeland (l) as “CEO” of D-DOT on Feb. 22, 2012.

Freeland in turn hired Nojay, allegedly as “COO.” No one else has been named to the budgeted positions of Director and Deputy Director and Bing’s office to date has not responded to VOD’s inquiries about those positions.

Envisurage has since morphed into a company called TransPro, still run by Aesch. Neither company is listed with Michigan as a business entity, but Transpro maintains a website at  Aesch is an ardent advocate of transportation privatization who is very interested in pursuing newly available federal transportation funding, according to an article he wrote. (Click on Fed Trans Bill_MarkAesch.)

In another apparent recognition of Nojay’s status as a public employee, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland ordered Nojay and Freeland to appear in their capacities as D-DOT officials at a June 6 hearing on a case involving D-DOT violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Warriors on Wheels” protested lack of adequate access on D-DOT buses for disabled riders outside the Coleman A. Young Center. An ongoing lawsuit in their case was again heard by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland June 6, 2012.

Nojay and Freeland repeatedly ducked earlier hearings in front of Cleland, sending underlings who did not have the information needed, according to federal court documents. The case is Dilworth et. al. and the United States of America v. City of Detroit, 2:04-cv-73152. 

City of Detroit COO Chris Brown at City Council meeting Aug. 7, 2012.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and City of Detroit Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown were fully aware of Nojay’s situation, according to an article in the Detroit News Aug. 23.

“The mayor’s office was aware of his radio show and was informed when he  decided to run for office,” Chris Brown, the city’s chief operating officer,  said in an email,” wrote News reporter Christine McDonald.

“Mr. Nojay conducted  these activities during off-hours. … Mr. Nojay campaigned on weekends.This department directly affects the lives of Detroiters and the mayor is  concerned about what happens in Detroit, not New York.”

Thus, Nojay, Bing and Brown may all be complicit in violations of the Hatch Act. VOD is contacting the federal Office of Special Counsel for information on their ongoing investigation of Nojay and today filed a complaint of its own against all three individuals.

Stephen Boyle

Occupy Detroit member Stephen Boyle has also filed complaints with the City of Detroit Ethics Board, saying Nojay neglected his D-DOT job to campaign back home. Boyle raised the issue during a City Council hearing in June.

Nojay’s Facebook page shows him campaigning at numerous events in New York, with photos dated Thurs. July 5, Sun. July 8, Mon. July 9, Mon. July 23, Mon. Aug. 6 and Mon. Aug 13. He even had a car in a local demolition derby.

Click on!/BillNojay .

Nojay ran this car in a local New York demolition derby while D-DOT Deputy Director.

Since being dumped by Detroit, he has gone on merrily campaigning without acknowledging the controversy.

“Had a great week walking door to door in the 133rd Assembly District and attending the Mendon Steak Roast Wednesday night [Aug. 22] and the Rush Pig Roast tonight!!” Nojay wrote. “Looking forward to a weekend of door to door and my Trap & Shoot BBQ Fundraiser at the Mount Morris Gun Club!! Hope to see you there!”

The Livingston County News had been under attack after Aspell filed the Hatch Act complaint.  After Nojay’s repeated insistence that he was a private employee, OSC spokesperson Ann O’Hanlon said at first that he was not subject to Hatch Act restrictions.

Mark Gillespie, editor-iin-chief, Livingston County News.

“The Hatch Act is all about keeping improper politics out of the federal government, so when the federal funds reach into the states and localities, the Hatch Act follows that money to assure that the power of the federal purse can’t be used to coerce or influence partisan politics,” O’Hanlon told the LCN. “Persons covered by the Hatch Act have to be state or local employees.”

Since discovering that Nojay had was gone from his post at D-DOT, LCN reporter Appell is continuing to pursue his complaint.

Howard Appell, Livingston County News reporter. Photo: LCN

“When news broke of his reassignment,” wrote Gillespie, “The County News was in the process of confirming Nojay’s status with the City of Detroit — including whether he had been sworn into civil service, had supervisory and budgetary discretion, and whether he was presented as a public official to other city employees, elected officials outside the city and the general public.”

The Voice of Detroit will publish updates on its requested investigation of Nojay, Bing and Brown for violations of the Hatch Act by the Office of the Special Counsel as they become available.

Related documents and articles

DDOT ADA case filing ordering Nojay to appear for DDOT

DDOT ADA case filing 2

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Libyan man walks by the remnants of the destroyed residence of Col. Muammar Gadhafi in June, 2012./Getty Images


By Brian E. Muhammad-Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Aug 24, 2012 – 6:34:42 PM

( – During an August ceremony in Tripoli, the Western-backed National Transitional Council that undermined, overthrew and assassinated Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi handed power over to a 200-member General National Congress elected in July.

While some praise the election and transition as a glimmer of hope for democracy, critics say Libya is far from stable and still steeped in chaos, bloodshed and acute tribalism since the downfall of former leader Gadhafi.

“Elections are sometimes signs of hope. By themselves, elections don’t mean very much and I don’t think this one will mean very much,” opined Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

The U.S.-NATO led invasion of Libya destroyed the government and infrastructure of the People’s Jamahiriya, which had played a leading role in developing the African continent. Col. Muammar Gadhafi, assassinated during the invasion, opened Libya’s borders to workers from other African nations to benefit from the country’s oil wealth. He was planning the introduction of an African currency to rival the Euro and the dollar, and a continental African army.

Outgoing NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil formally handed the state reins to the GNC calling it the “sole legitimate representative” of the Libyan people. The congress is charged with choosing a prime minister, a cabinet and by next year drafting a new constitution. Following agreement on a new constitution, general elections for parliament and president will be held.

It remains “unclear” what the congress means for the Libyan people and to what degree the candidates who ran for the seats truly represent the population, said Ms. Bennis. She noted that a high percentage of Libyans didn’t participate in the elections.

Some regional powers from eastern Libya, mainly Benghazi, Brega and Ras Lanouf, held back in the election claiming under-representation in Tripoli.

The majority of Libyans are concerned with the lack of security, jobs, and economic possibilities. In some areas, a lack of food, health care and electrical power remain huge challenges. Whether the will exists to answer those needs, “it’s way too soon to say,” Ms. Bennis added.

Ms. Bennis concedes, however, the Aug. 9 transition from an interim authority to an elected government is a good sign. “Is it a major proof of the democratization of Libya and validation of what the U.S. and NATO did in the military war? I would say not.”

What’s more there are misgivings about whether the new government will work in Libya’s favor or as a proxy for foreign interests, considering the decisive role U.S. and NATO forces played in deposing the previous government.

“Now the top leadership represents those that were exiled in America,” observed A. Akbar Muhammad, the International Representative of the Nation of Islam.

Many of the transitional actors have similar ties to America and Europe which raises credibility questions. If they were exiled in Algeria, Morocco or Egypt then it “would not raise the specter of suspicion about their overall objective,” he added.

Libya’s new president Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf

Mr. Muhammad was referring to the first major decision by the congress in choosing longtime Gadhafi opponent Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf as its president—making him the interim head of state. Mr. Magariaf is a politician and former ambassador to India who spent nearly 30 years exiled in America. He led the National Front for the Salvation of Libya that was purportedly financed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia and responsible for several failed attempts to oust Col. Gadhafi over the years.

“There is no doubt that there is a strong Western influence on the political process in Libya,” said Lamis Andoni, a commentator on Middle East affairs, answering a Final Call inquiry from Amman, Jordan.

“Some Libyan expatriates who are involved, either in the council or the assembly, don’t see a problem with Western influence,” she said. Continue reading

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 From Rev. Edward Pinkney, Pres. Benton Harbor -Twin Cities NAACP

Rev. Edward Pinkney (center top in cap) with supporters at court hearing in Detroit on his lawsuit against the Michigan chapter of the NAACP, on April 11, 2012.

(VOD ed: Rev. Pinkney, along with other leaders of militant chapters of the NAACP, has recently come under severe attack by the Michigan chapter of the NAACP. The state chapter purported to hold an election to oust him, in conjunction with Whirlpool Corporation, which has devastated Benton Harbor, a majority-Black city that is the poorest in the country.) 

August 25, 2012 

A little over a month ago, I alerted folks that Wells Fargo is a lead sponsor of the NAACP’s 101st annual convention.

The sponsorship came within weeks of the NAACP dropping its racial discrimination lawsuit against the subprime mortgage lender.

While patting itself on the back for getting Wells Fargo to commit to doing what the bank says it is already doing, the NAACP refuses to disclose the details of their “partnership.”

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. commemorating MLK Day 2011; he has since agreed to NAACP lawsuit settlement with Wells Fargo.

A number of cities, including Memphis and Baltimore, are suing Wells Fargo for its predatory lending practices. Tellingly, Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr. announced the lawsuit in front of the National Museum of Civil Rights at the Lorraine Motel.

The New York Times reports:

“Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.

The mayor and former bank loan officers point a finger of blame at large national banks — in particular, Wells Fargo. During the last decade, they say, these banks singled out blacks in Memphis to sell them risky high-cost mortgages and consumer loans.

The City of Memphis and Shelby County sued Wells Fargo late last year, asserting that the bank’s foreclosure rate in predominantly black neighborhoods was nearly seven times that of the foreclosure rate in predominantly white neighborhoods. Other banks, including Citibank and Countrywide, foreclosed in more equal measure.”


The NAACP should be shouting about Wells Fargo’s lending practices from the rooftop of the Lorraine Motel. Instead, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization is being sponsored by the predatory lender.

In addition to being a lead sponsor of the NAACP’s upcoming convention, Wells Fargo was a co-sponsor of the Leadership 500 Summit held last week in Florida.

The summit featured a workshop on maintaining and building wealth. I wasn’t there but it’s safe to assume the Wells Fargo representative did not acknowledge the bank’s role in destroying black wealth in Memphis and cities across the country. Continue reading

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For copies of flier, click on Aug 24 march.

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DWSD workers and supporters protest outside Huber Avenue plant Aug. 15, 2012.

Toronto underwater in June after EMA carried out same plan there

Huber Avenue protest: “They say cut back, we say strike back!”

August 22, 2012

By Diane Bukowski

Part of a series: next stories on Toronto and EMA, Wall Street’s role in DWSD cuts

DETROIT– If Detroiters and residents of the six counties serviced by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) don’t want their cities to face the massive floods that Toronto’s subway system and basements experienced in June, they need to wake up and smell the sewage—fast.

Toronto Union Station underwater after massive city-wide flooding in June resulting from inadequate water/sewerage system.

On Aug. 8, Detroit’s suburban-controlled Board of Water Commissioners heard a proposed plan by the EMA Group, Inc. to eliminate 81 percent of the DWSD work force over the next five years. EMA Canada, Inc. carried out a similar plan for Toronto’s water and sewerage system beginning in 1999. In June of this year, storms flooded the city’s homes and subway stations, inadequately contained by Toronto’s water/sewer system.

On Aug. 15, 2012, DWSD workers and supporters picketed the DWSD Huber Avenue facility on the city’s east side, calling for community support. It was the third action meant to build for a city-wide strike related to contract negotiations. Supporting it may be customers’ only chance to avoid a disaster like that in Toronto.

AFSCME Local 207 Vice-President Lakita Thomas

“The city is paying EMA $175,000 for just the first phase of the project,” AFSCME Local 207 Vice-President Lakita Thomas told VOD on the picket line. “Phase II still has to be approved. EMA is busy going around talking to employees allegedly to find out what would make their jobs better, but then they plan to contract them out using the information they get.”

EMA wants DWSD to cut the workforce from its current budgeted total of 2,244 to 374 city jobs. Another 361 jobs, in so-called “non-core” areas including lab, security, maintenance, minor/major fleet repairs, payroll, legal, printing, billing and mailing, would be outsourced. In its report, EMA did not account for the costs of these private contracts.

“Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council are against us.” DWSD worker Kenneth Coleman said. “Who do we have that’s going to fight back except for us? People need to come out and speak their mind.”

DWSD worker Kenneth Coleman.

Coleman said EMA claims to be doing interviews with people who do the front-line jobs.

“Well, I’m a welder and the person they talked to that they said was a welder wasn’t,” Coleman said. “They also interviewed a blacksmith, and they didn’t put that in the newspapers. People have no idea how important a blacksmith is to our operation.”

Local 207 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Mulholland carried a sign proclaiming, “81%? R U Nuts?”

“They claim the reason for the cutbacks is that rates are too high, but rates are going to go even higher under the EMA plan,” Mulholland said. He said the local plans to take a strike vote soon.

AFSCME Local 207 Secretary-Treasurer Michael Mulholland.

Workers chanted, “They say cut back, we say strike back,” and “Water and sewerage is a must, Detroit won’t go to the back of the bus.”

EMA claims annual savings would be $149 million, a paltry sum compared to DWSD’s total current annual budget of $932.4 million.

DWSD Director Sue McCormick said during her presentation to the BOWC Aug. 8 that debt payments account for 44 percent of the water budget and 40 percent of the sewerage budget, or approximately $382.5 million.

She did not address the billions of dollars the department spends every year on other lucrative private contracts, predominantly with non-Detroit-based businesses.

Contracts posted at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on W. Jefferson.

Instead, she said cutting operating and maintenance (O & M) costs is the only way to decrease water and sewerage customer bills.

Workers march in front of Huber DWSD plant Aug. 15, 2012.

“By 2013, we will see a 250 percent increase in sewerage costs for retail customers since 2003, and a 150 percent increase for wholesale customers,” McCormick said. “The water rates will have increased 200 percent for both.”

Retail customers are individual households in Detroit. The term “wholesale customers” refers to all the other municipalities in the DWSD service area.

“DWSD provides water service to the entire city of Detroit and neighboring southeastern
Michigan communities throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, Lapeer, Genessee, Washtenaw and Monroe counties,” says the DWSD website. “The 1,079-square-mile water service area, which includes Detroit and 126 suburban communities, makes up approximately 40 percent of the state’s population. Wastewater service is also provided to a 946-square-mile area that encompasses Detroit and 76 neighboring communities.”

DWSD service area.

McCormick said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) told DWSD that in order to meet their regulations, bills must run less than two percent of the median annual household income. She said they are currently running 2.64 percent on sewage and one percent on water.

Presumably, the median annual household income was calculated from all six counties, since thousands of Detroiters have their water shut off because they cannot afford the bills and have incomes far below those of families in neighboring counties. The shut-offs are a factor in what DWSD claims is “declining demand.”

EMA VP Brian Hurding (white haired man at helm) enjoying his yacht on Canada’s waterways, evidently unworried about Toronto floods.

EMA VP Brian Hurding, speaking with a distinct Canadian accent, told the BOWC that in addition to the staffing cuts, EMA is considering mothballing two DWSD operations plants and outsourcing large engineering projects. He also said changes in job design and the increased use of technology [VOD: read lucrative contracts] would further contribute to savings.

McCormick’s and Harding’s entire presentations can be heard in the video below.

Picket line at Huber Avenue plant grew consistently on Aug. 15, 2012.

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Toronto’s Union Station is flooded in water. Royal Bank Plaza concourse flooded, June 2012 (You Tube commentary on video above):

 At about 12:30 p.m., water inundated Toronto’s Union Station, one of Canada’s busiest transportation hubs. More than three dozen people were trapped on a street car in the Harbourfront tunnel when the flooding began. They have since been rescued and evacuated. Subway services have been suspended on a portion of the Yonge-University-Spadina line — but GO train services continue to operate.

A sewage back-up, mixed with a heavy influx of rain, has caused significant damage. Power has been shut off as crews work to clean and sanitize the station, which is expected to remain closed until Saturday. Witnesses said the water came down “like a monsoon” Water also flooded the lobby of neighbouring Royal Bank Plaza as well as part of the PATH system linked to Union — prompting the closure of the underground walkway at 2 p.m.

Toronto hired EMA in 1996; now DWSD wants to use company too 

By Diane Bukowski 

August 22, 2012 

DETROIT – The city of Toronto was virtually underwater in June due to backed-up sewage lines affecting its subways, homes and streets. Such floods have been common over the last decade, according to media reports, since EMA, Inc. revamped Toronto Water.

EMA Group CEO Terrance Brueck

Now the EMA Group wants to re-do the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department using  a plan similar to the “Works Best Practices” Program (WBP) they initiated in Toronto in 1996. The EMA Group is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has a subsidiary, EMA Canada Inc. with offices in Toronto and Winnepeg.

EMA Vice-President Brian Hurding told the Board of Water Commissioners (BOWC) Aug. 8 that EMA wants to reduce the DWSD workforce by 81 percent, and force the remaining workers to do the jobs of many others by merging classifications.

DWSD Director Sue McCormick, hired Jan. 1, 2012

DWSD Director Sue McCormick told the BOWC why she had selected EMA.

“They utilize significant employee input,” she said. “They have conducted desk audits and reviewed technological and business processes. They have track records in 400 communities of producing results that achieve or exceed projected savings. They never compromise safety or quality and maintain regulatory compliance.”

Hurding, who works out of EMA Canada’s Toronto office, touted Toronto Water as his company’s prime success story.  He presented slides featuring laudatory quotes from Toronto Water managers.

Toronto hired EMA Canada in 1996. A 1999 memorandum from Toronto City Auditor Jeffery Griffiths to the city council detailed a proposed Phase II EMA contract for the Works Best Practices (WBP) Program, costing $14.5 million.

Flooded basement bathroom in Toronto, June, 2012.

“The WBP Program is a long term improvement initiative undertaken by the Water and Wastewater Services Division of the Works and Emergency Services Department,” Griffiths wrote.  “The objective of the program is to ensure that the Division provides the most cost effective and efficient service to its customers. Phase 1 of the project focused on the design of new work practices, new technologies and organizational change.

EMA has already carried out Phase I of its Detroit plan. Phase II is set for a BOWC vote soon.

“Phase 2 includes full implementation of redesigned work practices and organizational units, integrated business and operations systems and technologies, detailed design, and construction and commissioning work for new process control systems across the major water and wastewater operating facilities,” Griffiths said. “Staff estimates that annual savings of approximately $36 million will be realized upon completion of the project.”

Cars underwater during June, 2012 flood in Toronto resulting from faulty water/sewage system.

Hurding told the BOWC that after 10 years, DWSD will realize a total savings of $.9 billion.

Frank Morrissey, former Chair of CUPE Local 416′s water and wastewater division, retired in 2004.

In Toronto, by 2002, Frank Morrissey, who was chair of  the water and wastewater division of Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and preventive maintenance coordinator at the Ashbridges Bay water treatment plant, told the group Water Watch that the city’s sewage system had deteriorated in the wake of EMA’s work.

He spoke during a campaign to stop eventual privatization of Toronto Water, which was partially successful but resulted in an altered governance structure with less accountability.

He said recommendations to transform the system into a “public corporation” were “a stepping stone on the bridge to privatization. It sets the system up as ripe for the plucking.”

Water Watch wrote, “Wastewater, often less scrutinized than what comes out of the tap, has already come under the cost-cutting knife. Morrissey says corporate pressure has ratcheted down standards for sewage treatment at the Highland Creek plant. An American consulting firm, EMA, has deployed a cost-reduction scheme that cut staff and drastically reduced the quality of the plant’s discharge.

“With the city’s higher standard, any system failure meant the plant’s discharge would still meet the province’s requirements. Now, failure means contaminated water. ‘The effluent used to be treated to a higher standard than the provincial minimum, and that meant security. But we’ve got no margin any more,’ says Morrissey.”

Damage to roadways occurred as a result of the June, 2012 floods in Toronto.

According to a report from Watergy, under EMA’s Works Best Practices Program,  “the utility revamped its management structure to empower line workers to maximize efficiency in operations. Facilities have been divided into distinct geographic areas that are managed in a business unit fashion by a team of line staff. The teams meet on a daily basis to discuss operational and maintenance strategies. Team supervisors provide oversight and regularly meet among themselves to discuss interteam collaboration on efficiency projects. This team structure has helped optimize operational performance and provide a more rapid response to redressing inefficiencies.”

That process is very similar to what EMA proposes to use in DWSD.

In 2005, the Toronto passed a $1 billion 10-year plan to address ongoing problems, still working with EMA.

Gag photo shows current Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, a right-wing advocate of privatization, helping to empty water from Toronto’s Union Station.


Fast forward to 2012. Continuing reduction in staff, training, vehicles and other supplies was detailed in a previously confidential  budget release after CUPE Local 416 voted to accept the changes early this year. Toronto;s Mayor Rob Ford has led an anti-public worker campaign since he took office.

Another view of Toronto’s Union Station under water in June, 2012 after 16 years of dealing with the EMA Group.

By June, 2012, Toronto’s water and sewerage infrastructure had deteriorated so badly that massive flooding of basements, streets and even the city’s world-renowned subway system took place. As shown in the video at the end of the story, a similar flood happened in 2009.

Toronto Post reporter Vidya Kauri wrote regarding this year’s floods, “It is believed a backed-up storm sewer may have caused the flooding. Heavy rains may have contributed to water pumping issues.”

Kauri said that two feet of water put Toronto’s Union Station completely out of operation, while the system ran bus shuttles through the city to make up for service interruptions in other stations.

“Toronto fire spokesman Adrian Ratushniak confirmed that fire crews ‘assisted passengers from track level and in some cases had to lift them through water,’  but added there were no reports of injuries,” Kauri wrote.

Michelle Berardinetti, Toronto Ward 35 Councillor

“I could smell for sure what I thought was sewage,” pedestrian Michael Tomlin told the Post. Tomlin was about to enter the station but turned back when he saw the gushing water.

“Police blocked vehicle access along Front St. from York St. to Bay St. while crews worked to clean up the mess,” Kauri added. “Parts of the PATH underground walkway connected to the station were also closed due to flooding.”

The paper also interviewed numerous homeowners whose basements flooded in four major regions served by Toronto Water, which it said are “often shut down during major storms.”

One homeowner, a Toronto City Councillor, told the Post her home has flooded six times in the last nine years.

“Ward 35 Councillor Michelle Berardinetti visited the homeowners wearing thick galoshes that almost came up to her knees.” said the Post. “Sewage backed up into her home near Danforth Ave. and Kennedy Rd. as well, and she is worried about the presence of E.Coli.”

EMA website graphic: out to conquer the world.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford also visited homeowners.

As he stood in one basement with four inches of sewage, he told Kauri, “My heart bleeds for these people to have to go through this. They fix up their basement. A lot of people live in their basement. You come home to have sewage in your basement and all your furniture ruined, your chairs are ruined, your TV’s ruined, then you start over again. You know how frustrating that is.”.

It is unclear jjust how drastic Toronto’s staffing cuts have been. But in light of the massive floods and sewage back-ups Toronto’s residents experienced in July, it appears the reduction of an astounding 81 percent of the DWSD workforce portends a similar nightmare for residents of the six-county DWSD service area.

VOD contacted EMA Vice-President Hurding at his office in Toronto for comments on this story, but to date he has not returned the call.

You Tube video below of similar Union Station flood in 2009.

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