Peoples’ Water Board demonstrates at Detroit Water Board Building Aug. 21, 2012.

Detroit water/sewer system is third largest in U.S., serves 40 percent of Michigan population 

Environmental groups oppose privatization; union threatens strike

Bond manager SBS says rate increases are imperative, wants more debt

By Diane Bukowski 

September 9, 2012

DETROIT – Despite adamant opposition from Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) workers, environmental groups, and union leaders, the city’s Board of Water Commissioners (BOWC) unanimously authorized Phase II and III of a 5-year, $48 million consulting contract with the EMA Group, Inc. on Sept. 7.

EMA recommends the elimination of 81 percent of the DWSD workforce over the next five years, reduction of job classifications from 257 to 31, changes in business process and IT design, and outsourcing of “non-core” services.

EMA Exec. Brian Hurding at BOWC meeting Sept. 7, 2012. He refused comment on flooding of Toronto subways, homes and streets due to sewage back-up after rainstorm in June, after 16 yers of EMA oversight. He earlier refused to return a VOD phone call to his office in Toronto.

A Minneapolis-based firm with offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, EMA claims DWSD will save $.9 billion over 10 years through their plans.

“We have a number of pressures, including increasing citizen expense, the deferment of infrastructure investment needs, mounting system debt, and rising personnel costs including health care and pension costs,” DWSD Director Sue McCormick, who has headed the Department for nine months, told the BOWC.

DWSD is the third largest water and sewerage system in the U.S. It provides water for 40 percent of the state of Michigan’s population, over 1,079 square miles including Detroit and six surrounding counties, and wastewater service over 946 square miles. (See DWSD website at

WWTP worker Susan Ryan tells BOWC EMA plan will destroy DWSD sewage system.

DWSD water has long been recognized as among the safest in the country, despite federal oversight since 1978, after the city’s first Black Mayor, Coleman A. Young, Jr., took office. The system is not running a deficit. Until recently, Wall Street rating agencies scored its bonds at top levels.

Susan Ryan is a senior Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) worker with 15 years on the job.

“This reduction in staff will cause the complete failure of our sewage system,” she told the BOWC at its hastily-called “special” meeting. “They are selling you a fantasy. You are flushing $48 million down the toilet.”

Mike Mulholland, Sec’y.-Treasurer AFSCME Local 207 at Aug. 15 protest outside Huber DWSD plant.

She and Mike Mulholland, a 29-year WWTP worker and union representative, told the BOWC that lesser cutbacks in previous years have resulted in high levels of sewage contamination of the area’s waterways, among other problems.

After EMA spent 18 years advising and managing Toronto’s water system, that city experienced record flooding of its world-famed subway system, neighborhood homes, and streets in June, attributed to sewage back-ups.

“You have not shown any data explaining the need for these cutbacks.” Sierra Club member Melissa Damaeschke told the BOWC. “You have not shared the EMA studies. There is no transparency and this will cause public unrest. We fear this will take away public ownership of our system.”

Representatives of Sierra Club, Peoples Water Board, and Food and Water Watch at BOWC Sept. 7 meeting protested EMA plan.

DWSD has released power point presentations on EMA’s plans on its website. But it has so far refused to make public copies of “due diligence” studies on EMA which Fausone said back up the company’s reliability, reports by EMA, EMA contracts, and a huge notebook of documents on the EMA proposal provided to the BOWC Sept. 7.

Catherine Phillips is chief negotiator for the Detroit locals of Michigan Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). She said DWSD management has also refused to give any of those documents to the union.

AFSCME Co. 25 negotiator Catherine Phillips speaks to reporter after BOWC meeting Sept. 7, 2012.

“DWSD has never been broke, it has all the money and resources,” she said. “We are angry. They want to take away everything that the people of Detroit have built.  Now they want us to go sit at the bargaining table and in good faith negotiate an agreement to send our members out into the streets. Well, whatever they get from us, they’re going to have to take it.”

AFSCME Local 207, the largest DWSD local, has been mobilizing for a city-wide strike for several months.


U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, a right-wing member of the Federalist Society.

Meanwhile, said Phillips, Council 25 will argue its case against orders by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox in an Oct. 9 hearing in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Last year, Cox changed the make-up of the BOWC so that ultimate control of rates and contracts rests with its suburban members, most of them connected to various corporations and banks.

He also instituted draconian anti-worker changes.

Suburban and out-state forces have long campaigned for control of DWSD, a racially-charged situation since Detroit’s population is close to 84 percent African-American, and the DWSD workforce is also predominantly Black. EMA claimed it will ensure “diversity” in future workforces at the plant, but refused to commit to any numbers.

(Left to right) DWSD Director Sue McCormick, nine months on the job, BOWC Detroit member Linda Forte, a Comerica bank exec, BOWC chair and Oakland Co. member James Fausone, who was president of an environmental remediation, industrial service, and waste transportation company for three years, BOWC member Macomb County rep. Fred Barnes, who owns his own engineering consulting company and is a West Point graduate, and former BOWC chair Mary Blackmon of Detroit, also head of Wayne County RESA. Board members asked questions but all gave excuses for their votes in favor of the EMA cutbacks.

During the Sept. 7 meeting, BOWC chair James Fausone tried to justify personnel cutbacks by pitting DWSD customers against the workers.

The late Mary Shoemake (l) of Call ‘em Out, participates in protest against DWSD water shut-offs during Kwame Kilpatrick administration.

“Water rates are unaffordable for most of our customers,” he said. “Thirty percent of Detroit customers can’t pay their water bills on time. Sewage rates have gone up over the last 10 years in Detroit 10.1 percent, and in the suburbs 5.2 percent, with water rates rising 6.4 percent in Detroit and 7.2 percent in the suburbs.”

However, no written guarantees of rate reductions are included in documents that DWSD has made publicly available so far. On Aug. 29, a prominent municipal bond management firm told the BOWC that in fact customers must be prepared for more rate increases.

During a workshop that day, Siebert, Brandford, Shank & Co. (SBS) told the BOWC that to “enhance DWSD credit,” primary goals must include “educating the public about [infrastructure] projects and the need for water and sewer rate increases.”

Then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, SBS rep Brian Doherty, Fitch Ratings’ Joe O’Keefe, Standand & Poor’s Stephen Murphy and Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams pressure Council to approve disastrous $1.5 billion pension obligaton certifcate loans Jan. 31, 2005. Werdlow is now a managing partner of SBS, which conducted workshop for BOWC Aug. 29 stressing need for rate increases and more debt. UBS is one of several companies being sued by Boston and other municipalities for fraud for manipulating interest rates before 2008 economic bust.

SBS partnered with global giant UBS to get the City of Detroit to borrow a record $1.5 billion in “pension obligation certificates” in 2005, during the Wall Street profit bubble which burst in 2008. To stave off default on UBS-SBS debt in 2009, the city agreed to funnel all of its casino tax revenues through a trustee, US Bank NA, to ensure payment.  Its state-revenue sharing funds have been similarly handed over.

Despite McCormick’s earlier report that 40 percent of DWSD expenses currently come from debt payments, SBS currently recommends additional borrowing to pay for upcoming infrastructure needs.

Detroit additionally labors under the constraints of a “consent agreement” negotiated under Michigan’s Public Act 4.  PA 4 hands dictatorial control of municipalities and school districts in deficit to unelected “emergency managers.” The “consent agreement” hands similar control to a “Financial Advisory Board” and state officials. In November, Michigan voters will decide whether to repeal PA 4.

The Mayors’ Water Council of the U.S. Conference of Mayors said in a blistering report in 2011 that what cities really need is increased federal investment in their water and sewerage infrastructures.

“The Federal government, (i.e., Congress and the relevant Federal Agencies) has performed one of the most sophisticated acts of avoiding responsibility for the policies it has imposed on the nation’s cities in modern history when it comes to public water and wastewater,” says the Mayors’ report.

“Local government was a willing partner with Congress in setting the lofty goals of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts . . . but the Federal government has abdicated its role as ‘partner’ in this effort.  Instead of sharing the responsibility to finance the necessary infrastructure Congress has taken the position that achieving the goals of the water laws is not a federal responsibility.”

The report goes on to say that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has instead assumed the role of “prosecutor” in situations related to compliance issues, much as it has done in Detroit.

It sets a “National Action Agenda to Renew and Strengthen the Intergovernmental Commitment to Water and Wastewater Structure.” (See sidebar.)

Related documents and articles:

ema_phase_2_resolution; DWSD ema_phase_2_and_3_proposal; dwsd_phase_2_and_3_presentation_09072012; US Mayors Water Council report

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Chicago Teachers Union members at Labor Day march Sept. 3, 2012.

By Theresa Moran

 September 7, 2012

With Chicago teachers preparing to strike Monday, unionists say it’s a “which side are you on?” moment for Democrats. But from the looks of this week’s convention, it would seem Democrats have already made their choice.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel addresses Democratic convention Sept. 4, 2012.

Have Democrats abandoned teacher unions in their pursuit of a corporate-backed education overhaul? From the looks of the Democratic National Convention, it would seem so.

At the podium, speakers like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt praised the Obama administration’s willingness to embrace such change, singling out the controversial Race to the Top program for special attention. The program requires states to link teacher evaluations to student standardized test scores and pushes charter schools and ‘turnarounds’—in which at least 50 percent of teachers are fired—to replace struggling public schools.

The program fits perfectly with the corporate reform agenda of destroying job security for teachers, privatizing public schools, testing everything, and turning whatever can be quantified into a statistic, no matter how disconnected from the realities of teaching children.

Chicago teacher and students. Photo: CTU

As he praises corporate reform on the federal level, Emanuel has fomented a confrontation over education reform in his hometown. The 26,000-member Chicago Teachers Union looks to be heading for a strike Monday over class size, better funding for school programs and services, fair pay, and job security.

Observers see the strike as a “which side are you on?” moment for Democrats. On one side is the teacher union, which says too big class sizes, too few school services, and too little support for teachers are the problems. On the other are the corporate-education pushers, who heap blame on bad teachers.

“There are two distinct constituencies with conflicting goals and we’re going to highlight that with a strike. You can’t gloss over it very easily,” says Bill Lamme, a Chicago public high school teacher.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Some Chicago teachers think Obama could not stomach a strike in his hometown on the eve of the November election and will lean on Emanuel, his former chief of staff, to settle. Others fear national Democrats could welcome the chance to look tough by fighting the union. If the Democratic convention is any indication, their fears may be warranted.

Parent Tricker

The teacher-bashing at the Democratic convention started Monday with a pre-release screening of the anti-union drama “Won’t Back Down,” sponsored by Democrats for Education Reform.

DFER is a political action committee made up of hedge fund managers seeking investment opportunities in education. The group supports privatization, vouchers, merit pay, teacher evaluations based on student test scores, and doing away with teacher tenure. It flaunts its hostility toward teacher unions.

The film, starring Maggie Gyllenhall and Viola Davis, shows a mother and a teacher battling an evil teachers union to convert their struggling public school into a charter through a “parent trigger” law.

While at first blush it sounds like a feel-good tale of community empowerment, the film has drawn sharp criticism from teacher advocates for its unfavorable portrayal of urban teachers and their unions. Continue reading

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Greg Thrasher in DC.

By Greg Thrasher
Washington DC Bureau Chief
Voice of Detroit

September 7, 2012

According to the latest studies and mainstream media accounts which populate the chatter rooms and the evening news, the narrative is how broke and poor the Black community is after the financial meltdown of 2008.

In the recent Pew Study on this topic it was documented that white families on average have 27 times more wealth than the average Black family. This gap of course increased after the financial meltdown. The core reason for this wealth gap is the loss of home ownership that Black families have suffered from as a result of this economic turbulence.

Black income has never reached parity at any time in the history of our nation so this latest scorecard really reflects the economic disparity between the whites and Blacks in America.

One of the really ugly aspects of this loss of wealth in our community is the fact this plunge in assets and wealth has taken place under the tenure of the country’s first Black president. This stings on many levels and this very fact is often employed to fuel divisive attacks and indictment of our president by his critics and those who enjoy observing misery and difficulty in the Black community.

So into this landscape of economic duress and fragile financial status it is critical that we develop a collective posture and strategy to confront yet another obstacle and challenge in being Black in America. I opine and reason that instead of evaluating and viewing our worth and value based upon the metrics of money and status the Black community must now develop a new equation and template to measure and value our wealth. We must create a more pragmatic reference and base line to value and appraise our assets and wealth.

In other words we must conduct an inventory of our human and personal assets and insert these assets into the marketplace. We must increase our personal relationships with each other, we must volunteer, donate, share, contribute, loan, convey, transfer, and use are existing assets that we took for granted and give them new a new purpose and status.

When we create an exchange system based upon the utility of the items we bargain and negotiate such a system augments our collective and individual wealth.

We can create and develop a new currency based upon an exchange of our existing material assets and wealth and blend and merged these units of wealth into a community collective with a theme which is underwritten by sharing and relationships rather than profit and budgets based upon money and traditional wealth.

In truth we really have no choice. Our communities are broke and in fiscal disarray. Far too many Black families are on financial life support. Entire families are now being fed by non-profits and food programs and housed in shelters, facing foreclosures, holding part time jobs, and have exhausted 401(k) plans which have reached their limits. We are in a crisis but there is a way forward.

Today we can begin to ignore our pride and start contacting family and friends and create pools of shared assets and wealth, from car- pooling to offering up empty bedrooms for families living in shelters. We can share coupons, old furniture, clothes and household wares.

In reality we are a rich community full of assets and materials that we take for granted . In the new era of economics our community can become rich with the recognition of our present assets by taking an inventory of the material assets we all have in our homes and families that are under-utilized.

We have so much wealth in our communities that simply needs to be inventoried and then made operational.  Instead of pawn shops and consignment shops run by major non -profits we can use these retail models as community base depots to feed our poor and hungry for free.

In this new era of currency the Black community will be quite wealthy. It is just a matter of how we want to count our new money and how then to spend it.


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DPS Board member Carol Banks denounced the EAA at the City Council committee meeting Aug. 30. “We don’t want another Tuskegee Institute experiment on our children,” she said. During the infamous Tuskegee experiment, Black men in the South were allowed to die of syphilis while researchers followed them, allegedly to find a cure.

 Feds in Detroit for special Council committee meeting

By Diane Bukowski 

September 1, 2012 

Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson (center) chaired meeting. She and Peter Cunningham (back to camera) listen to Prof. Thomas Pedroni.

DETROIT – Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson called an extraordinary meeting of the City Council Quality of Life Task Force Committee Aug. 30. Special guests were Peter Cunningham, U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Stephen Robinson, Special Consultant to the White House, and Tracey Jordan, Director of Inter-Governmental Affairs.

Elder Helen Moore, leader of the Keep the Vote No Takeover Coalition, worked with  a national network of public education advocates to bring the meeting together.  Moore said the network had met with the guests in Washington, D.C. and plans to return there this month.

Elder Helen Moore of Keep the Vote No Takeover at council committee meeting Aug. 30, 2012.

During the committee session, researchers, educators, Detroit Board of Education members, parents, and community advocates offered passionate, often blistering descriptions of the state of education in Detroit.

“Not too long ago, a national group got in touch with us from Chicago after they heard about the student walk-outs at Frederick Douglass Academy and Western and Southwestern High Schools protesting the closures of their schools,” Moore said.

“Twenty different states have joined in,” she continued. “Our assessment after a number of meetings has been that districts with Black and Brown children are being treated the same way nationally. They are being discriminated against.  Here in Detroit, our children’s resources are being stolen by charter schools, the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA), and site-based management.”

DPS Interim Superintendent Dr. John Telford (l) speaks to Ms. Jordan, Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Robinson during committee meeting Aug. 30, 2012.

Dr. John Telford, newly appointed as interim superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools by the school board, chimed in.

“It is appalling, egregious, illegal and unconstitutional that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the state legislature, and the state Supreme Court have colluded to take away our schools, to take away our city.”

Dr. Thomas Pedroni, Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies at Wayne State University, presented a history of the assault on public education in Detroit (published in full in post below this story).

Chicago parents, children and teachers protest school closings in 2009. Photo: Labor Notes

“Mr. Cunningham, I have news for the coalition that is destroying our schools,” Pedroni told the federal officials. “You, Excellent Schools Detroit, Michigan Future Schools, EAA, you are the status quo. You defend what has been shown to not work; you defend what fails our kids. You see, the cities in America are talking to each other now. It may be Excellent Schools Detroit here but it’s the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago. We’re talking to each other through our coalition. . . and we’re telling you we don’t want your failed blueprint.  .  .  .we are not going to let you do to our schools what you did to them in Chicago and Philadelphia and New Orleans and elsewhere.”

Pedroni said real reform will come from the community.

Highland Park students outside school board meeting as their teachers were inside protesting lay-off notices in 2004.

“It will bring the education reform that sends the test companies packing, the educational management organizations packing, the emergency managers packing,” he said. “And in their place we are making our schools places of joy, places of community. We are using the best of our research—real research, not phony baloney think tank research—to face some real challenges in Detroit, and we need our youth to be smart, creative, communicative—the way they were born—not dull and passive before a computer screen doing time in school before they do time somewhere else.”

Detroit Board of Education President Lamar Lemmons.

Board of Education President Lamar Lemmons III called the situation in Michigan “taxation without representation,” which has led to the “dismantling of our school system for the profit of people not from our community.”

He noted that in 1999, DPS had a $93 million surplus, and test scores in the middle range state-wide.

“After years of two state takeovers, we now have a half-billion dollar deficit,” Lemmons said. “But they have used deficits as an excuse for the takeovers.”

Board of Education member Carol Banks said, “Four of my kids graduated from DPS, and now I have a special needs grandchild going there. Special needs students need smaller classrooms, and special types of teachers, but they are being moved into a new system, into general classrooms and 15 EAA schools, where their needs are not addressed. We do not want another Tuskegee Institute experiment on our children, and we do not want teachers from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California from Teach for America coming here to teach our children.”

DPS Board member Wanda Akilah Redmond denounced the disenfranchisement of Detroiters and publicly-elected officials under DPS EM Roy Roberts’ rule.

Board member Rev. David Murray decried the treatment of special needs children in DPS.

“There is a steady decline, it is disgusting,” Murray reported. “Some of the best teachers in the country, who put their life blood, tears and sweat equity into teaching our developmentally disabled children, are gone. We are setting our children up to be criminalized. The parents right now don’t know where to send their children. A new DPS security agency is barring them from coming to DPS, because when they g0t angry at how they were treated, they fought back and were expelled.”

Board member Tawanna Simpson said she had worked at the Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit as a teacher for 12 years, where she saw the other end of the spectrum.

“They claim they want to turn Detroit around, but they have miseducated our youth, pulled out the jobs, and locked them up,” Simpson reported.

Walbridge Aldinger CEO John Rakolta, Jr. (at far left) celebrates Mitt Romney’s nomination at 2012 Republican Convention.

Bill Dickens noted that the architects of the state takeovers under Governors John Engler, Jennifer Granholm and now Rick Snyder have been major white-owned construction companies including Barton-Malow and Walbridge Aldinger, He said their main goal is to profit from the two DPS bond issues, $1.5 billion in 1994 and $500.5 million in 2009.

Walbridge Aldinger’s CEO John Rakolta was a major contributor to Snyder’s campaign and has a daughter-in-law working on the governor’s staff. He also currently sits on the DPS bond oversight committee. He is a co-chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign finance committee.

“This is nothing but voter suppression,” stormed Minister Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Movement. “It is designed to hurt us in the November elections. We demand no lay-offs, no school closings, no forcing teachers into welfare salaries. We had 182,000 students in this district before the takeovers, now we have only 65,000. The rich are getting richer, stealing our schools.”

Min. Malik Shabazz addresses federal officials in crowded Council chambers.

DPS teacher Shirley Kendrick testified, “Under the 2009 bond proposal, they built brand new schools which are now being handed over to the EAA. Our babies are being put in the old schools with asbestos problems.”

A Pershing High School teacher called the situation “ethnic cleansing.”

“We have 79 students in classrooms half the size of this room [council chambers],” he said angrily.  “Many of the kids come to school unfed. When I tried to get them food from the cafeteria, they told me I couldn’t because the district could be sued.”

Teacher Darati Forbes-Mulibwa

Teacher Darati Forbes-Mulibwa said, “Everyone is looking at the teachers as objects. We go into our personal pockets to get supplies for the children. I would drive by to their houses when they did not come to school to see what was wrong, and I was told I could not do that.  I was told, ‘It’s not like they’re going to grow up and be doctors.’ I said these are my children and was told they are not my children. Those of us who cause a problem are removed from the classroom.”

Verna Mason asked why no one is watching how the state handles federal funding meant for DPS.

School board member Annie Carter, who is in her fourth term, reported that Title I funds were misappropriated by the state during the first state takeover, according to a 2005 report from the Office of the Inspector General. As a result of that, she said the federal government put DPS schools on a priority alert.

DPS Board member Annie Carter.

“Every year DPS has to give money back to the federal government,” Carter said. “The former DPS CEO borrowed over $200 million which we are still paying back. The state regulates every dollar we get, and right now, we can only draw down 20 percent of state per-pupil aid, the rest must come from our general fund.”

Edith Lee Payne, a litigant in a lawsuit against Public Act 4, said, “Mumford High School, which received money from President Obama’s stimulus fund, was torn down and a new building built costing $50.3 million. Now it has been handed over to another authority (the EAA). Most DPS teachers have been laid off and are being replaced by Teach for America staff at the EAA schools.”

Payne again contended that since Public Act 4 has been suspended pending the November elections, the state constitution says it cannot be replaced by Public Act 72. DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts and others across Michigan are continuing to function over the financial affairs of municipalities and districts targeted by PA4.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette declared that PA 72 replaces PA 4 during suspension despite clear language in Michigan Constitution.

Ruling on a lawsuit brought by the Board of Education, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John Murphy earlier upheld State Attorney General Bill Schuette’s opinion that PA 72 is now in force. He opined also that all actions taken by Roberts prior to the suspension of PA4 Aug. 8 will remain in effect, including the establishment of the independent EAA, which includes 15 Detroit high schools.

At an earlier school board meeting, Payne, who is a co-litigant in a lawsuit against Public Act 4, noted that MCL 8.4 of the State Constitution says clearly,

“Whenever a statute, or any part thereof shall be repealed by a subsequent statute, such statute, or any part thereof, so repealed, shall not be revived by the repeal of such subsequent repealing statute.”  

Some speakers who addressed federal officials.

A laid-off arts teacher confirmed Payne’s allegations regarding the wholesale lay-off of certified DPS teachers. In the wake of Roberts’ abrogation of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) contract last year, teachers are being forced to re-apply for their positions with their school principals regardless of seniority rights.

Painting by DPS student.

“The principal sat in my classroom for all of 30 minutes,” the arts teacher said. “Her negative evaluation was incorrect. My kids have had their artwork featured in the Thanksgiving Day parade, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne County Community College, and the American Federation of Teachers national conference in Detroit. I have a master’s degree from Wayne State, and have been certified by the state as a highly qualified and effective teacher.”

Carolyn Brown, an education administrator for 41 years, reported that the Highland Park Public Schools system has been completely charterized on the advice of the state, and warned the same is likely to happen to DPS. She said this happened even though their public schools outperformed charter schools on the MEAP tests.

“During the 1960’s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had to go beyond the state to the federal government,” Brown said. “I am appealing now to the brilliant President Obama. His educational policy is destroying our urban centers. It is not being managed well. I am calling on the President to come talk to us and to discontinue carrying on the policies of the previous Republican administration.”

Standing ovation for Interim Superintendent’s chief of Staff Sherry Gay-Dagnogo.

Sherry Gay Dagnogo, chief of staff to Superintendent Telford, drew a standing ovation after she reported that she had met with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to ask that he himself attend the council session.

“I met with him on my own dollars, and I was told that some meetings are only for the bigwigs,” Dagnogo said. “Well, the bigwigs are right here in this room. Across the country the rate of incarceration and criminal justice involvement for Blacks is 13-1. Duncan spoke at events for the United Way,  the Skillman Foundation, Excellent Schools and others. I am looking in your eyes today. I want to have a true race to the top. I want you to support the people. We are capable of making our own decisions.”

Peter Cunningham: “These are mostly state and local issues.”

Cunningham commented briefly at the end of the two-hour session.

“It’s pretty clear how you guys feel about what the State of Michigan has done here in Detroit, and about charter schools,” he said. “I note that you don’t agree with all our policies. Your concerns will be shared with President Barack Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan. There are things we can and cannot do. These are mostly state and local issues. We have a lot of information, and will get it back to where it should go.  I am shocked and deeply concerned.”

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U.S. Department of Education officials, including Peter Cunningham (center) listen to comments from parents, teachers and others during special Council session Aug. 30, 2012. Prof. Thomas Pedroni is second from left, Elder Helen Moore at far right. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson chaired the meeting.



COMMENTARY TO PETER CUNNINGHAM, U.S. DEPT. OF EDUCATION, at special City Council meeting Aug. 30, 2012

(VOD: full story coming shortly.)

By Dr. Thomas C. Pedroni

August 30, 2012

Mr. Cunningham,

What will be your legacy?

Elder Helen Moore speaks at council session Aug. 30, 2012.

Elder Helen Moore’s legacy will be that she carried the children of Detroit her entire life. I don’t know if you can see that when you look at Elder Moore, but I can. When I look at her, I see the thousands and thousands of Detroit children she has shouldered for generations now—going on 50 years. Their warmth, their humanity, their dreams. She shoulders it all. Many of those children are in caskets, because in Detroit, it’s no longer a strange thing for a child to die. The unimaginable is everyday in Detroit. . . .

The question that confronts us all, that we all need to ask of ourselves, is whose burden are we carrying? You, Peter, have the ear of Arne Duncan and so many other powerful people who impact our children. You’re carrying a burden too. We can all see that. But we want to know, whose burden are you carrying?

Peter Cunningham (above, in White Sox cap) has long taken “progressive” stands on public issues. On October 27, 2007, for example, Cunningham and his wife (holding “Cut Off the Money” sign were part of a major anti-war march in Chicago that ended at the Chicago federal plaza. The plaza was the site of Barack Obama’s famous anti-war speech three years earlier (the speech that Obama’s campaign used to cut off Hillary Clinton from many anti-war voters during the Democratic Party primaries). Above, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham stood with Sharon Schmidt, Josh Schmidt (holding “Stop the War” sign) and Sam Schmidt (holding the “No War” sign he had made himself) during the speeches at the October 27, 2007 march in Chicago against the Iraq War. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Sometimes we don’t really know whose burden we’re carrying. We all need to ask ourselves from time to time. We’ve all seen the photographs of you holding up those “NO to WAR” signs in Chicago. You are obviously a man who respects life and who has put himself out in public to share views that aren’t always popular and sometimes even get you called some names. That takes courage.

What will be your legacy? Who will they say you carried? It’s not always easy to tell whose burden we are carrying.

That’s where the voices of the people come in, because they can help us know whom we are carrying a burden for. And those who watch and pay attention, those who study these issues, in Detroit, in Chicago, in New York, and so on—we can help let you know whose burden you’re carrying also. Then you can decide if you’re carrying the right burden or not.

I’ve done some research. That’s what I do. I’m a researcher. An educational researcher. I’ve been a researcher and an educator and a teacher for more than 20 years. And I’ve done all that in big cities for all those years, and in Detroit for the last seven years. Here’s some of what I’ve learned from countless interviews, meetings, from archival research, from analysis of media, from documentary evidence.

Now Elder Moore, I’m about to call some people out. Do I have your permission to do that?

As I just said, I’ve only lived here for seven years. I don’t have the time in this place like my elders, like you, but I’m catching up fast. Do I have your permission to join you in calling out those who need to be called out?

Amber Arellano

On December 13, 2009, Amber Arellano, a journalist with the Detroit News, one of our two local dailies, sent an excited email to Bill Hanson at the Skillman Foundation. It said, in part, “The Excellent Schools Detroit coverage is coming…First piece on Monday lays out what coalition is trying to do. Frames the debate as supporters of the status quo v those who want more accountability, work together, willing to change.”

This is important, and actually foreshadowed much of what was soon to come. Here was a journalist, expressing her excitement that the “coalition”, of which the Skillman Foundation was and still is a key part, was about to be presented by the newspaper glowingly, as the solution. More significantly, anyone who disagreed with or raised questions about “what the coalition is trying to do”was going to be framed in the coverage as the status quo, as defending what is not defensible, as the problem.

Tonya Allen, Skillman Foundation

It’s nice of the Detroit News to make it so clear to their readers. And in case the paper’s readers still might not get it, Ms. Arellano told Bill at the Skillman Foundation, the Detroit News had published “a bylined oped from Tonya and Sharlonda [that] appeared in Friday’s News.”

For those who don’t know Tonya and Sharlonda by first name, as Ms. Arellano did, that would be Tonya Allen, currently on the board of Skillman, Michigan Future Incorporated, and founder of the Detroit Parent Network, and Sharlonda Buckman, executive director of the Detroit Parent Network, board member of Excellent Schools Detroit, board member of Michigan Future Incorporated, and board member of the new statewide EAA or Educational Achievement Authority.

Sharlonda Buckman, Exec. Director of Detroit Parents Network, which was recently disbanded by the elected Detroit Board of Education.

With the multiple pieces in the Detroit News, Amber Arellano, the journalist, had done her job well. She delivered. And she was soon rewarded by becoming the executive director of Education Trust Midwest, the think tank funded by the Skillman Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Ford, Metlife, and the United Way Venture Fund. She is perhaps the state’s most often quoted educational expert, even though her background is in journalism and not educational research, and even though she is paid to give her expert commentary about educational reforms by the same people who are paying for the educational reforms upon which she comments.

It’s a neat little circle, a closed little circuit of a world that removes all the difficulties and the ambiguities of actual life.

Louis Glazer speaking at Mackinac Policy Conference.

These same organizations, the ones I’ve mentioned so far, pop up over and over again when you study what has happened over the past few years to the Detroit Public Schools, and schools in Detroit generally, as I have, as many of us have. You can take one name and trace it through the circuit.

Here is an example. Louis Glazer is the founder and director of Michigan Future Schools, which supplies seed money to charters. Louis Glazer sits on the board of Excellent Schools Detroit, along with Sharlonda Buckman, Carol Goss, Roy Roberts, and Shirley Stancato. Those four are also on the board of our new Educational Achievement Authority. (Actually Sharlonda Buckman may have just resigned.) Continue reading

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Wyandotte Students Face Racism & Bullying!
A No Struggle, No Development Production! By KennySnod * *

Why Does The Wyandotte MI. Schools District Allow Bullying & Racism By Staff Members Toward Its Students?

August 31, 2012

Wyandotte, MI–Members of Team For Justice, The Clear Purpose Foundation, and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice” (MECAWI) picketed and protested outside the offices of the Wyandotte Schools District Administration building Aug. 30 to show their opposition to the continued support of a temporary school employee by the School District and Board members.

They say they tried to get the attention of the administration to address this problem for over six months but were stonewalled at every turn, according to Joe Hudson, father of one of the students who had been victimized.

On Wednesday July 3, 2012 Wayne County Circuit Judge Megan Brennan issued a Personal Protection Order on behalf of two middle school students who faced a hostile environment, bullying, racist taunts, physical threats, stalking and social media attacks by Theresa Elliot during the second half of the 2011-2012 school year. Elliot worked for Temporary School Staffing, a contractor based in Dearborn.

Earlier this month the Assistant Principal of Wilson Middle School had signed an Affidavit of Support for Elliot in her motion for Reconsideration of Judge Brennan’s ruling.

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 over 320 Videos, over 103,000 hits averaging 3,000 a month on my YouTube channel @

Part of parents’ protest outside Wyandotte Board of Education Aug. 30, 2012. The protest grew in numbers to approximately 40 people


Say administration, board have refused to address situation

By Diane Bukowski

September 1, 2012

WYANDOTTE, MI—Parents of Wyandotte Public Schools students of all races marched outside the district’s Board of Education Building Aug. 30 to demand an end to racism and bullying by staff at Wilson Middle School, and the administration’s apparent tolerance of it.

“No federal funds for racist schools, stop violating children’s civil rights,” they chanted. “Defend our children—all children, Black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American.”

Parent Joe Hudson, President of the Team for Justice (l) leads protesters in chants at the Wyandotte Board of Education Aug. 30, 2012.

Parents said the alleged perpetrator, Theresa Elliott, 49, a temporary worker at the school, and her friends conducted a virtual campaign of terror against 12 and 13 year olds, including African-American children and their friends, during the previous school year, stalking, taunting and physically threatening them.

They said the Wyandotte Police Department colluded with Elliott, responding to her allegedly falsified 911 complaints against them with a show of force, but not to parents’ complaints against her.

Lori Tims, mother of one of the complaining students, and Janice Havlicsek, who tried to file complaints with the Wyandotte Police Department.

“My daughter is one of the petitioners who was granted a personal protection order (PPO) on July 3 along with another 12-year-old,” Joe Hudson, president of the 40-year-old civil rights organization Team for Justice, told VOD during the protest. “Both moms filed petitions to stop bullying and harassment by Theresa Elliot. She harassed our children for almost six and one-half months. We complained to the principal, the superintendent, and others, but no action was taken. We just want our children to go to school this fall in peace.”

In addition to those two children, another child was granted a third PPO.

Hudson said he received a phone call from a school official two days before the protest claiming Elliott would not be back at Wilson, but that he asked the official why he waited from July 3 until then. Hudson said he does not trust the district to end the hostile atmosphere.

He described Elliott’s alleged behavior.

Wyandotte’s Wilson Middle School.

“She was intimidating, got physically close to the children and made hand grabs for them,” Hudson said. “She went into their lockers and used threatening language. My daughter said she followed them around, and that she and other employees sat in front of them while they had lunch and stared at them.”

Hudson said a friend of Elliott’s, Cecilia Maxey, followed the children into their locker room and taped their conversations without notifying them, a violation of state law, but that she was not arrested or punished.

Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Megan Brennan

The PPO’s, issued by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Megan Brennan, bar Elliott from following the two children, appearing at their homes or confronting them in a public place or on private property, sending mail or other communications to them, calling them, threatening to kill or physically injure them, or posting messages to them on the internet.

Despite the PPO’s, the Hudson family’s attorney Scott Smith told Thomas McLellan, president of the Dearborn-based Temporary School Staff, Inc. which employed Elliott, in an Aug. 16 letter that Elliott continued the harassment.

“It is apparent that Ms. Elliott keeps violating the PPO’s in various ways,” Smith wrote. “Ms Elliott had made internal postings and sent messages to the students she is prohibiting from having contact. Since your company is her employer, this is to put you on notice that your failure to immediately take steps to insure that Ms. Elliott abstain from harassing Ms. Hudson and the other 12-year-old girl will compel my client to file appropriate litigation against your company and the school district for damages and other injunctive relief.”

Thomas McLellan, Pres. Temporary School Staff, Inc.

Hudson said his attorney has received no response to date.

“She [Elliott] was targeting African-American children and any Caucasian students who befriended them became her targets as well,” Hudson said. “I continuously spoke with Principal Thomas Kell and got no results. I’ve been fighting for civil rights all my life and will die for the same thing. I marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with my mother as a baby. I’ll be darned if I’m not going to fight against oppression, or any act to cause harm or undue stress to my child or any child in Wyandotte schools or anywhere.”

Protest August 30 at Wyandotte Board of Education.

Hudson said Wyandotte used to be one of 31 Michigan cities considered “sundown towns,” where African-Americans had to be out of town before dark or face dire consequences. He said he has lived there for 25 years and believes great progress has been made, but that he will not tolerate a return to the “sundown” years.

Lori Tims, mother of the second student, who is white, said, “Theresa Elliott followed my daughter, and screamed and yelled at her and five other children during fifth hour gym class. It got progressively worse. She even petitioned for PPO’s on us, and filed false police reports. We dropped our kids off at school one day, and she called 911 and said seven parents were in the parking lot threatening her. The police came and detained us for over a half-hour, while they checked our drivers’ licenses.”

Keith Tims. whose daughter had to get a PPO against Elliott.

Keith TIms added, “My daughter loves school. To have somebody stalk her, intimidate her with gestures, words and do the same to other children she was friends with is intolerable. The Superintendent and the president of the school board, Ron Kirby, refused to stop it. Kirby said he contacted the judge to have the PPO revoked, an ethicval violation. We just want equality for all—is that so hard—this is 2012.

Parent Janice Havlicsek said she went to the Wyandotte police station to file complaints against Elliott and her friends, but that an Officer Scott Alfholter told her, “We’re tired of baby-sitting you.”

Two other mothers joined the protest spontaneously.

Mothers Rebecca Hodges and Valen Gow refused to send their children to Wilson, instead driving them miles out of town to another school district.

“I pulled my son out of Wilson because he was being bullied and school officials did nothing,” said Valen Gow. “He was physically assaulted and didn’t even know the name of the boy, who was suspended for only three days even though it was his second offense. There was no reason for the attack. He was friends with everybody, it wasn’t even racial, just bullying. Those anti-bullying signs they have posted are merely a decoration. When I complained to [former] Superintendent Patricia Cole, she just told me, ‘Boys will be boys.’ Now I pay $5,000 a year to send my son to a school outside Wyandotte. I told the Superintendent, “Kids across the world commit suicide because of bullying. I will not allow my son to be a statistic.”

Wilson Principal Kell has now been appointed principal of Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte.

Thomas Kell, former principal at WIlson, now promoted to principal of Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte.

“My son said, ‘good luck to the kids there,” Gow said. “It’s said that a 14-year-old has to say that.”

Rebecca Hodges told VOD, “My daughter was supposed to attend Wilson, but I pulled her out before she could go there because of what I’d heard. Now instead I drive her 25 miles to Gibraltar schools.”

Jerome Jackson of Detroit, who attended the protest in his wheelchair, said, “I was bullied at 14 and shot and ended up being a paraplegic. That’s why I’m out here. No child should have to fear going to school. “

Jerome Jackson joined the protest for the safety of all children. He was shot by a bully at the age of 14 and became a paraplegic.

VOD entered the Board of Education building at the end of the protest to talk to any official present to get an official statement. No one would comment, even on the racial make-up of the school district. A secretary provided VOD with a statement which completely denied responsibility for anything.

“The district is now aware of any claim of discrimination during the 2011-12 school year that was not addressed by the District according to our policy, wrote current Superintendent Carla S. Harding. “We are familiar with a pending lawsuit between an employee of an independent contractor hired by the District and the family of a Middle School student. We are not a party to that case, have taken no position with respect to those facts and circumstances that led to that lawsuit, and do not intend to do so, now or in the future.”

Rob Kirby is at right.

Messages were left for Board President Rob Kirby and Wyandotte police chief Daniel Grant for their responses to the parents’ allegations.

Kirby replied in an email as follows: “All I can comment about is those statements are false.  I am in contact with the district’s attorney about the false comments that was put into print and given out at the protest.  Also, I am discussing possible legal action against those who printed those false statements.  When a statement is prepared by the districts legal team I will forward it too (sic) you.”

The Wyandotte PATCH said, “Police Chief Daniel Grant said he’s aware of one incident involving ethnic intimidation earlier this year and that an arrest was made in that case. He denied the claim that police “have refused to do anything.”

“The Wyandotte Police Department, in its history, has always investigated claims that are determined to be criminal,” Grant told the PATCH. “And I want to stress that: claims that are determined to be criminal are investigated.”

As Hudson held a prayer circle at the end of the rally, he said demonstrators would be back at the Wyandotte School Board meeting, and also speak with the Mayor and City Council regarding their complaints.

The next Wyandotte Board of Education meeting is a special meeting TUESDAY, SEPT. 18, 2012 at 7 p.m in the Council Chambers at Wyandotte City Hall, 3131 Biddle Ave.

VOD: Joe Hudson also said he earlier fought a racist attack by a Wyandotte neighbor, James Arther Mitchell, who he said threatened to kill him and rape his 12-year-old daughter. He said Mitchell is now jailed. The News-Herald reported on the case at:

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Community activist Sheila Crowell points to one of two huge hills of contaminated soil excavated during construction of Munger Middle School and left for the kids. Photo taken 8/30/12 Diane Bukowski

From:  Sheila Crowell, Mother,  Resident, Homeowner, Advocate,  Community Leader who Fights for All. 

Sheila Crowell shows depth of standing water.

To:   Detroit Public Schools officials 

Photos taken by Sheila Crowell in June and July, 2012

August 22,2012

As each of you know, I have talked to you through email, including showing a few of you the Standing Water which is located located between the two hills of contaminated soil on the Edsel Ford W. side of the school. Water has been there for months, no one is doing anything about this mess. Water stands in the street by the curb because of the water that comes from this area on school property.

Standing water between two contaminated hills on Munger grounds after rainstorm.

As each of you know the West Nile Virus is bad this year. People of all ages walk, run, even ride bikes on the street and sidewalk on Edsel Ford West.

Neighborhood also affected by water draining from contaminated soil on Munger grounds.

Also please do not forget the residents who live on Larkins only yards away from this standing water, also having to face the standing water problems from the DPS property each time it rains hard, causing standing water to lay between DPS property line and Ironside, because of what?

As you should know, I have too many pictures to prove what I have said.

Kids with bikes playing on Munger’s contaminated hills during summer.

What about the youth who are riding their bikes onto the hills? All it would take is for one to slip and fall into the standing water that has laid for months. When winter comes, the water will freeze, meaning it will never leave.  Am I the only person that cares about the safety of our residents of all ages?

A dedication was held for the new Munger on August 25, 2012. What we found odd was the attention the DPS gave to the dedication by cutting the grass in the tennis court; this was the first time in 2012.

Summer rains flooded street in front of Munger.

You can cut grass when it benefits you, yet the DPS cannot or will not do anything about a horrible problem such as standing water which could cause great harm to others, just like the lack of cutting down 15 feet of weeds that are located on the DPS property behind Munger school.

Munger grounds flooded as well, showing patches which need to be investigated for contamination.

I have been asking for 2 years for the DPS to help our youth and all be safe that go into the DPS owned park. This is not a bush, it is a baseball diamond covered in weeds that you for some reason will not take care of just like the standing water!!!

Pile of contaminated dirt left during construction–was it covered over by hills?

August 2, 2012 

Chadsey High School demolition after numerous reprieves occasioned by student walk-outs over the years. What happened to all that wreckage?

As many of you know, a new school was built replacing the old Chadsey High & Munger on Martin in the 48210 Claytown Neighborhood.

The reasons for my email to you all are:

1. McGraw: Street is missing “curbs” at school site next to the berm on McGraw. Some were installed others parts were not.

Sewer on street in front of Munger backed up in flood.

2. Martin: A line of “patching” was so called done from Martin to Edsel Ford W along the street  next to the sidewalk. This action caused one of the city sewerage drains to back up along the front of the new school on the city’s street with standing green water about 2/3 inches. I was told it was the tarring of the street that caused the drain to be stopped up. It has been drained,  at the same time part of the drain was broken. The next rain will tell if it was unplugged the right way or will it cause more problems? This also put’s our “lives in danger”.

Holes left in mud after rain brought contaminated soil onto sidewalk.

3. The contaminated soil from the two hills which is on the DPS property, has run not only onto the DPS school driveway & sidewalks, also the contaminated soil has run down the sidewalks onto Edsel Ford W, covering more drains at the same time putting lives in danger. With each rain this action will continue to take place. In the winter it will become ice, putting all “lives in danger.”

4. At the bottom of the two hills is a somewhat flat area of land, which fills up with water, also causing the contaminated soil to run onto the sidewalk etc., leaving it for days with standing water. Last rain was 5 days ago, as of yesterday water was still laying on this area. So with each rain we have, the contaminated soil will run from the two hills putting all our “lives in danger.”

On Aug. 30, 2012, area between two hills on Munger ground was covered with mud and strange scaly materials left over from previous rain. Diane Bukowski photo.

4. Edsel Ford W has been beat up so badly from the heavy trucks that came from the DPS site there are more hole in the street than you would want to count, also putting “lives in danger.” Not only EFW, Martin, McGraw, Cecil, Pittsburg, Barden. The DPS is responsible.

“Handicapped” parking space outside Munger.

5. Sidewalk with the handicapped plate, which is located at EFW & Larkins has contaminated  Soil on this area where the contaminated soil has run down the street from the problems of the two hills.

5. Concert has been poured, hardened, and left in the “alley between Larkins homes” at EFW by the DPS workers installing the iron fencing along with two buckets. My son cuts the alley [grass] and has for “years,” helping to make it safe & clean.

The City of Detroit also has a responsibility to both property owners on each side of the alley. The DPS does not keep up its responsibility; fencing is rusted, broken and dangerous, weeds growing, wires hanging.  My son can do only what he can, at the same time “not placing himself & his wife in danger”, because the DPS has no sense of responsibility for anyone walking, running, riding, anyone living on Larkins. Putting all “lives in danger”.

Workers cleaning up after floods on Munger grounds.

I ask that you call me, meet with me, please help me to help our residents be safe. The DPS  wanted to tear down two schools then build one school, the DPS has a true responsibility to each of our homes and lives, not putting our “lives in danger.”

This is not right nor fair to the City of  Detroit. These problems add to the too many problems we already have. Please we do not need any more problems added to our homes, lives and Claytown Neighborhood.

“To cause harm to another is unacceptable from anyone.”

Why were sewers patched by workers during rain? Ms. Crowell said similar material was layered under the contaminated hills during construction.


Decomposed dead dog on Munger grounds during construction. Was the carcass buried under the mounds on which kids will play?

VOD editor: Ms. Crowell reported violations to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during this period. VOD is currently reviewing documentation of those reports and any actions taken to remediate hazards, and will report back shortly.

Youth play basketball at bottom of contaminated hill next to Munger on August 30, 2012.

VOD visited the Munger grounds with Ms. Crowell on Aug. 30, 2012. There had been no rain, but the two hills of contaminated soil were still there, with a strange looking patch of scaling, crackled mud left from previous storms in between them (see photo above).

We watched as youth played basketball on a court adjacent to the mounds, and women with their babies in buggies enjoyed the weather, walking through the Munger grounds next to the mounds. 

The historic Chadsey High School housed students of all races for decades in Detroit. Students conducted several walk-outs to stop its closing.

Detroiters voted for the Proposal S DPS half-billion dollar bond with the expectation that they would be provided with good, safe schools for their children.

Instead, Chadsey High School, one of the most acclaimed in the city, and a gorgeous historic building, is now gone, as is the old Munger Elementary. In their place is a modern-looking building on grounds that are a danger to the students and the neighborhood.

Veronica Wright of Chadsey High School protests the proposed closure of her school, as Stewart Elementary School student Satin Berry points to sign supporting her, in March, 2005. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel McDonald hold the sign. Both historic schools have since been closed along with at least half of the schools that existed in Detroit in 2000.

The Detroit City Election Commission just voted to put a renewal of that bond on the November ballot, after DPS EFM Roy Roberts slipped his proposal to them with no publicity. (Story coming.)

Detroiters must stop providing profits for construction companies like Walbridge Aldinger, which is closely tied to Gov. Rick Snyder, and vote NO on the so-called “renewal.”

The Katrina-style devastation of the Detroit Public Schools system is an unforgiveable crime against the children.

Contact Sheila Crowell at

2010 groundbreaking brochure shows companies which profited from Proposal S.

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From: Michigan League for Human Services

Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Labor Day Report: Michigan’s lower unemployment rate masks deeper issues

State has highest rate in the Midwest for working families living in poverty

Michigan’s unemployment rate has dropped dramatically since it hit 14.2 percent in August 2009 and the state is no longer No. 1 in unemployment, but the lower rate masks serious problems with employment in Michigan, a Labor Day report concludes.

Detroit children and parents wait in line for free winter coats provided by Moorish Science Temple of America.

In fact, Michigan has more “lost workers,’’ than unemployed workers. Lost workers are those who have left the workforce and are not counted in the employment statistics as either unemployed or employed. In addition, Michigan has the biggest share in the Midwest of working families who live in poverty, despite holding down jobs.

The Labor Day Report, Michigan Falling Unemployment Rate Masks Serious Concerns , was released by the Michigan League for Human Services. (Click on MLHS Labor Day Report for full report.)

Gilda Jacobs

“Thankfully we no longer are known as the state with the highest unemployment in the country, but that doesn’t mean our workers are all doing well,’’ said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services. “It’s still important that we address policies that will offer workers a career ladder and the ability to cover their basic needs.’’

Michigan has a shrinking labor force with 4.66 million workers, down from 5.12 million in January 2001. Slightly more than 60 percent of the state’s adults were in the labor force in 2011, the lowest on record, dropping from nearly 69 percent in 2000, the highest on record.

Photo credit:

Of Michigan’s working families, one in every 10 was living in poverty in 2011, the highest percent in the Midwest. Poverty is about $18,000 a year or less for a family of three and $23,000 a year or less for a family of four.

Other findings:

Continue reading

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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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