Sandra Hines (l) and other Detroiters pack City Council hallway prior to session Nov. 20, 2012. More and more kept arriving, but Council President Charles Pugh refused to move the meeting to the auditorium despite the willingness of the Zoning Appeals Board and a second event there to switch places. Hundreds including seniors and disabled people waited outside for hours, chanting, “Let us in or we’ll shut it down!” They were unable to see or hear the proceedings at all, in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Act, until allowed in to comment for one and a half minutes.

 EMA, MILLER-CANFIELD CONTRACTS GO DOWN, but Bing, top council officers still plot to get them passed

Other issues: Hantz and Henry Ford hospital land developments, D-DOT contracts, department closures

Pugh violates OMA, denying residents access to meeting for hours

Wall Street, Bing, state respond with further threats to workers, poor 

By Diane Bukowski 

November 23, 2012 

When Miller-Canfield speaks: Atty. Michael McGee (in blue suit) advises (l to r Detroit CFO Jack Martin, now disappeared Detroit COO Chris Brown, Mayor Dave Bing, and Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis on matters involving Public Act 4 and the consent agreement June 12, 2012. He concurrently advised officials of the State of Michigan and the Michigan Finance Authority on the same matters, likely a gross violation of legal ethics.

Update: Diane Bukowski, VOD editor, has sent a four-page letter to Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh and members of the Council, cc’d to Mayor Dave Bing, Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon, and Law Department Attorney Dennis Mazurek notifying them of gross violations of the Open Meetings Act which took place Nov. 20, 2012, and may occur again Nov. 26, 2012. Click on OMA violations letter to Pugh et al signed to read letter. If members of the public wish to sign on to court actions regarding these violations, please notify Ms. Bukowski as soon as possible at, or by commenting on this story.

DETROIT – Wall Street, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing have begun a new assault on Detroit since the Detroit City Council disobeyed them Nov. 20. After a raucous three hours of public comment, the Council voted against a contract with the Miller Canfield law firm, co-author of the now dead Public Act 4, as well as the EMA contract that would cut 81 percent of the water department’s work force. 

Child at DPOA/Firefighters protest against imposed contracts July 26, 2012.

They did approve a contract with Ernst & Young, which has constantly claimed Detroit is running out of money, while at the same time reporting that the city paid $597 million on its debt to the banks in fiscal 2011. They earlier approved a contract with Milliman, which plans to gut the city’s pension system. 

State Treasurer Andy Dillon said he will withhold $30 million in bond money due to the city as a result of the Miller Canfield vote, a move which the Council voted to challenge in court. He and Governor Rick Snyder met Oct. 12 in New York with Wall Street agencies to beg them to restore the state’s AAA bond ratings, assuring them that the city’s PA 4 consent agreement will remain in place despite PA 4’s repeal. 

Frederick Douglass

Although even lawyers for the state-imposed Financial Advisory Board (FAB) said Nov. 12 that PA 4’s repeal restored the city’s duty to bargain with its unions, Bing announced he will unilaterally force unpaid furlough days on city workers beginning Jan. 1, 2013. 

Inside sources say he has recruited enough Council members to hold a special session to re-consider their votes including Miller-Canfiled, set for Mon. Nov. 26, at 1 p.m.

In the wake of the massive public turn-out at the Nov. 20 meetings of the Council, it remains to be seen whether the people will tolerate any further attacks. 

“We are calling on everyone to come back to Council Monday in even larger numbers,” Cecily McClellan of Free Detroit-No Consent told VOD. Sources also told VOD that people should come prepared to wait it out, because there may be plans to delay the session for several hours to get people to leave.

“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both,” renowned anti-slavery fighter Frederick Douglass said. “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Council President Charles Pugh upbraids audience as Pro-Tem Gary Brown averts gaze.

Hundreds of Detroiters who stormed the Council Nov. 20 chanted “Let us in or we’ll shut it down!” for hours.  

Council President Charles Pugh again refused to hold the meeting in the auditorium, leaving citizens including seniors and the disabled standing in the hallway outside Council chambers, unable to hear or observe the meeting, in violation of the Open Meetings Act (see sidebar and click on Michigan OMA and FOIA.)

The crowd, which included prominent community leaders and city workers, wore badges declaring “No on EMA,” “No on Milestone,” and “Recall Bing Now.” 

They said the the EMA and Miller Canfield contracts, as well as $58 million in contracts to companies which have decimated the city’s bus service, the largest land sale in the city’s history to Hantz Farms, Henry Ford Hospital’s takeover of neighboring homes, and the closure of federally-funded city departments will deal a death blow to Detroit. 

Jackie Taylor (second from left) addresses Council while audience demands a NO vote on EMA, other contracts.

“I am utterly opposed to the Milestone Agreement Mayor Bing signed with the state, without the Council’s approval,” Cecily McClellan of Free Detroit-No Consent said. That agreement, signed Nov. 13, includes the Miller-Canfield contract as a requirement for Detroit to obtain the remainder of the $137 million it borrowed from the state in April. 

Cecily McClellan

“There is no reason this body should even consider a contract that would give away the water department, particularly knowing about campaign finance money water contractors gave to [Council Pres. Pro-Tem] Gary Brown. Brown and Pugh are not working for this city; they’re working with the Board of Water Commissioners and Judge Sean Cox. As far as Miller Canfield, if Bing didn’t think he could resolve this city’s problems without their advice, he shouldn’t have run for office.” 

As part of a special “Roots Cause” committee established by right-wing U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, Pugh and Brown signed a Nov. 8 recommendation for total separation of DWSD from the city, to allow the implementation of the EMA contract regardless of the Council vote. Cox has not yet ruled on that recommendation. 

Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon tells Council she could NEVER approve Miller Canfield contract under state’s extortionate terms.

They also signed recommendations for partial separation and drastic anti-union measures which were part of Cox’s Nov. 4, 2011 order. That order is awaiting a decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on union challenges heard in oral arguments in Cincinnati Oct. 9, 2012. 

Testimony by Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon was key to the Miller Canfield vote. Her powers to enforce the city’s Home Rule charter were cemented by Detroiters’ approval of local proposal C Nov. 6. 

“There are a number of conflicts of interest [in the contract] that I cannot ethically advise this body on,” Crittendon said, after audience members applauded her entrance.

Dep. AG Mark Lockridge

“The Charter requires the Corporation Counsel to prepare or approve all contracts with outside legal firms. I did neither.” 

Discussion of the contract included revelations that Miller Canfield represented all sides, the city, the state and the Michigan Finance Authority, in preparing Public Act 4, the Fiscal Stability Agreement, and the $137 million bond documents. Deputy Auditor General Mark Lockridge testified that Miller Canfield forced him to sign a non-disclosure agreement before he reviewed their invoices to the city, and that he could not therefore reveal what he found to the Council. 

PMD “Kriss” Andrews

Asked by Councilwoman Brenda Jones if the Council would be violating the Charter if it approved the contract, Crittendon said, “My opinion is that you would be violating the Charter. 

Regarding the state’s threat to withhold $30 million in already approved bonds, Crittendon said she could NEVER ethically approve a contract extorted under those circumstances. 

Project Manager Walter “Kriss” Andrews, hired under terms of the FSA, said he was among the parties recommending approval of the contract. When the Council voted 8-1 against it (Gary Brown being the lone dissenter), he stormed out of the meeting. 

The status of the FSA itself since the repeal of Public Act 4 has been the subject of several closed sessions the Council has held with Crittendon, who may prepare a legal challenge to it. Her previous challenge, based on the state’s outstanding debt to the city of over $300 million, was denied by Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette, who said she did not have standing to sue. 

Hantz Farms wants to plant 15,000 trees on Detroit land, uprooting 1200 homeowners and renters.

The Council also voted to delay the sale of 1500 parcels of Detroit land to Hantz Farms, two-thirds of it occupied by homeowners and renters, until after a public hearing Dec. 11, and pledged not to approve the Henry Ford Hospital development until a community benefits agreement is in place. But it was clear during the session that the push to approve both as soon as possible is still on.

TRU leader Ruth Johnson presents Council with “D” report card on bus service, as Susan Glaser listens.

Council voted against all but one of six D-DOT management contracts worth $58 million, but said they would allow emergency interim contracts until permanent management is found. Ruth Johnson, head of Transportation Riders United, presented the Council with a “D” report card on current transportation service under those managers. 

The Council also voted not to approve Bing’s Executive Organization Plan which axes the Detroit Health and Wellness, Human Services, and Workforce Development Departments. It was unclear what impact that would have as the departments have already been substantially shut down and privatized. 

Detroit Employment Solutions CEO Pamela Moore, formerly head of the Detroit Workforce Development Department, at Council Nov. 20. 2012.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Baxter recently ordered laid-off DWDD workers back to jobs with the privatized Detroit Employment Solutions, if employees currently there are performing the same work. However, DES CEO (also former DWDD department head)  Pamela Moore told the Council they have taken no action to re-hire them yet. 

Residents across the city who could not come to Council’s day-time and evening sessions watched on their TV’s and computers. 

“They tore the Council a new one,” one Detroiter remarked about the blistering three hours public comment during the day-time session, and more at a Council community meeting held at Mark Twain School that evening. 

Pugh, Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown, and Councilman Kenneth Cockrel, Jr. in particular demonstrated utter contempt for the public in turn. 

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson demanded meeting be held in auditorium.

Pugh refused Councilwoman JoAnn Watson’s adamant demand to hold the session in the auditorium, slammed down his gavel, interrupted speakers every 30 seconds with a notice of their remaining time, and ignored them while focusing on his computer and other matters. 

He also confronted former Detroit school board member Marie Thornton when she called out “Where’s the grapes?” 

“There will be no grape-throwing and no disrespect of the process,” Pugh responded. How can you refer to one of the most disgraceful incidents in this city’s history, that you were part of?” Pugh told Thornton. 

Marie Thornton testifies.

He apparently confused her with Agnes Hitchcock, leader of Call ‘em Out, who threw what became known as “the grapes of wrath” at school board members who voted for the closing of 50 schools in 2004, the first of hundreds which have since devastated Detroit’s public school system. 

Brown said large swaths of the city need to be “mothballed,” with regard to the Hantz deal.  Cockrel, Jr. called the hundreds who came out to comment “the peanut gallery.” 

Ultimately, Detroit police, who had guarded Council doors to keep people out, expelled angry Detroiters including Sandra Hines and Morris Mays as they shouted out their condemnation of the Council members’ abuse, but not before they said what they came to say. 

Police put Sandra Hines (l) and Morris Mays (center) out of Council meeting.

Among many dozens of comments (please excuse name misspellings as it was not always possible to go to the speaker to get the correct spelling due to council security): 

Theo Broughton, Hood Research: “DWSD is the biggest asset the city has. This is nothing but vulture capitalism. They make the city borrow money and then suck it dry for its assets through rampant corruption.” 

Sandra Hines, Free Detroit-No Consent: “I outright oppose the Memorandum of Understanding [Milestone agreement between Bing and Dillon]. As Councilwoman Watson said, the city’s water is gold. Why would you take away from the people the very things we need to survive as a people?  Many of you made backroom and bedroom deals to give our city away.” 

Bing at press conference Feb. 22, 2012 announces hiring of Parsons Brinckerhoff, Envisurage, and Ronald Freeland to manage D-DOT. At far left is Bill Nojay, forced to resign as Freeland’s Deputy Director after a Hatch Act complaint was filed against him for running for public office in New York while overseeing federal funds.

Ruth Johnson, Transportation Riders United: “We just gave D-DOT a grade of D, up from our last report of D-. Buses are now 67 percent instead of 63 percent on time, despite the loss of service, the failure of the 4/15 plan on the major routes. Riders are left hanging on the phone after trying to reach customer service nine times.” 

Speaker wanted Treasurer Andy Dillon to come explain himself to Detroit residents; he is shown here being put through the wringer by them at meeting of the Financial Review Team.

Susan Glaser, SAAA, Pension Board, laid off city worker: “The EMA contract is about giving away the rest of the city, even though it has no money problems, before you hit the pension system by July 1. The vultures are swarming, civil service has been dismantled, and I am now laid off with no health benefits after 30 years with the city.” 

Richard March (sp?): “It is absolutely despicable to say that we will die as a city unless Miller Canfield, which wrote the consent agreement, is hired again. Have Andy Dillon come to the table and explain why.” 

Alice Burke, DWSD retiree: “EMA has not given you everything you need to know, including the cost of replacements and automation. The EPA asked for additional time to look over the contract, but I understand you have decided not to give it to them, so you’ll probably continue hearing from them about violations for the next 30 years if you approve this contract.” 

Speaker at right is brought to tears during public comment.

(Name?): “Where I live, people who have been in their homes for generations are getting new homes on the streets. You won’t pay attention to what the citizens are saying. We put you where you are, but you are putting us in the street with no benefits.” 

Phil Jones, chair of the Detroit Food Policy Council, on Hantz: “We are not about stopping development, but there is a need for proper process. Selling the land like this sets a precedent going forward. Any vote on this needs to be delayed at least a couple of months.” 

Board of West Grand Boulevard Collaborative; Mildred Robbins is center, bottom row.

Mildred Robbins of the West Grand Boulevard Collaborative and Community Coalition: “There must be transparent negotiations with the developers. They seem to think that because our homes are not grand, this is not necessary. They are receiving tax breaks and money from the federal and local levels. We want jobs and training for our residents and adequate city services. We ask for a no vote on this deal.” 

(Councilwoman Watson and residents of southwest Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge, who earlier blockaded the bridge to protest bridge owner Matty Moroun’s devastation of their neighborhood, all advocated Community Benefits Agreements for every land development deal.) 

Councilman Andre Spivey goes into outburst questioning Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon.

Marie Thornton, former school board member and precinct delegate: “Council members Charles Pugh and Gary Brown no longer represent us, since they signed the Root Cause agreement. You knew this meeting was taking place and you should have set up proper accommodations. You are in violation of the Open Meetings Act.” 

(Name?): “Dave Bing sitting at the table advised by McGee of Miller Canfield was a violation of the City Charter, and so is the Milestone Agreement. Outside counsel must be approved by the Corporation Counsel. Attorneys [Richard] Mack and [Herbert] Sanders [representing AFSCME], I hope you are entertaining filing a lawsuit against anyone on this council that votes in favor of this contract.” 

DWSD worker Joseph Rowland and Tyrone Travis

Tyrone Travis: “Everyone in the consent agreement including the Project Management Director, the CFO, the Financial Advisory Board and their staffs must be fired immediately. The community better get busy and be organized in 2013.” 

Valerie Burris: “A bloodless coup is taking place in Detroit, replacing a Home Rule city with private corporations under the name of ‘reform’ and ‘reconstruction.’ We must meet their violence by any means necessary. Hit the streets! Workers must fight for their jobs, retirees for their pensions, homeowners for their homes and schools. WE are our salvation, not these people in front of us!” 


Joseph Rowland on strike at Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Joseph Rowland, DWSD worker: “Vote NO on all these contracts, especially EMA. In Toronto, they were a disaster. They cut the staff at their pump and substations in half, and the city’s subway stations and homes and neighborhoods were flooded, costing the city $1.2 billion. They have been in Toronto for 16 years, and the same problems are still there.  We at the Wastewater Treatment Plant are the real public safety officers of this city. Our work affects 4.3 million people in Michigan. A simple mistake can cause a life-threatening disaster. EMA can’t manage Toronto’s water department, which is half the size of Detroit’s, so how can they manage Detroit’s?” 

Ed McNeil, assistant to Al Garrett, President of AFSCME Council 25: “We are requesting criminal and civil investigations of the ethics violations involved in letting millions of dollars of contracts, including Miller Canfield, the primary drafter of Public Act 4, the consent agreement, the bond agreement and the Milestone Agreement, all of which are slanted heavily in favor of the state.” 


This speaker told the Council off in no uncertain terms.

Marcella Slappey: “You must reconsider saving the Department of Human Services. The contractors are not providing services to the people, no one is monitoring the funds. This is a violation of our civil rights and we are filing lawsuits under Title VI and VII.” 

Greg Newsome: “I just recently purchased a home in the Hantz area. I am very concerned about the sale of the land with a lack of community engagement, and a lack of accountability.” 

(Name?): “Research needs to be done. The Council is accountable to the people. I am speaking on behalf of those who have had their homes foreclosed while a wealthy person buys up the land. This is not about money, it is about quality of life. Land and water mean wealth and power for the people.” 

Susan Ryan, Cheryl Minniefield, Charity Hicks at Council.

Susan Ryan, DWSD worker, AFSCME Local 207 officer: “There is no respect for democracy. A federal judge assisted by Charles Pugh and Gary Brown are ordering the future of our water department. If you can’t handle the heat [directed to Pugh and Brown] stay out of the kitchen.” 

Cheryl Minnifield, retired DWSD worker: “Before [Dennis] Archer opened the floodgates, knowledgeable employees and managers brought DWSD into compliance with EPA requirements and out of receivership. But now you are constantly taking from operations and maintenance staff to pay the water department’s debt and its contractors. There is no longer any competent management, technicians, chemists and others in place no longer have state licenses.” 

DWSD workers on strike Sept. 30, 2012.

Mike Mulholland, DWSD worker, secretary-treasurer AFSCME Local 207: “This process makes a mockery out of democracy, but people who want to take over Detroit want it this way, because no one will vote for what they are doing to our schools and city. I cannot believe any City Council member would sign a document to separate the water department from the city, even agreeing to give it its own Social Security number. There are hundreds in the hallway, wastewater treatment plant workers went on strike, the city is getting ready to blow!” 

Tia Lebhertz, Food and Water Watch: “According to research we have done, water rates increase an average of 15 percent a year when water departments are privatized. The understaffing proposed under the EMA contract will affect the quality of our water. Under the Board of Water Commissioners, there is a lack of transparency.” 

Speakers including Rhonda Anderson (center) and Marian Kramer of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

John Riehl, President AFSCME Local 207: “A recent study by the Detroit Engineering Society showed that DWSD needs more staffing, not less, to stay in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Gary Brown and Charles Pugh have signed off to give the judge more power by separating the water department and putting the EMA contract under the Board of Water Commissioners only. But keep in mind the battle is not over. [VOD: i.e. Cox has not signed off on the Root Cause Committee recommendations, the EPA has not issued its report despite Brown’s claim that DWSD Director Sue McCormick said in a letter that the EPA has OK’d the contract, the Sixth Circuit has not ruled on the unions’ lawsuits against Cox’s orders, and the numbers of people turning out to stop the destruction of Detroit are growing.] 

Councilman Kwame Kenyatta supported Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon and blasted Miller Canfield. He first exposed their role in authoring Public Act 4.

Valerie Glenn, Free Detroit-No Consent: “The Council cannot alter or infringe on the rights of our citizens, even if it and the Mayor have been bought. The entire Milestone Agreement is unconstitutional. The Council must not go forward with the Ernst & Young, Miller Canfield, and Milliman. Charles Pugh and Gary Brown, you committed TREASON when you signed the Root Cause letter.” 

Bill McMasters, Michigan Taxpayers United: “I represent 300 Detroit residents. The Public Health and Safety Committee (chaired by Brown) only yesterday voted out $58 million in D-DOT contracts with private firms, but you are allowing the public only one and a half minutes of comment.” 

Dozens of other citizens presented comments in similar vein on the various issues, but space is limited here. One said, “I’ll bet the CEO of Hantz Farms got more time than one and a half minutes when he discussed the largest land sale in the city’s history with you.” 


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Students organized by BAMN protest at Michigan state capitol against Proposal 2, 2006.


  • State students begin campaign to double minority enrollment now
  • Plaintiffs say they welcome state AG’s appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
  • Case connected to others from Texas, California

By Diane Bukowski 

November 18, 2012 

DETROIT – In a historic ruling Nov. 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned Michigan’s anti-affirmative action ban, passed by state voters in 2006 as Proposal 2. By a close vote of 8-7, the full Sixth Circuit thereby rejected Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s appeal of the Court’s finding on July 1, 2011 that the ban violates the 14th “equal protection” Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

ttorneys Shanta Driver. George Washington and Monica Smith announce affirmative action victory Nov. 15, 2012.

“Finally the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State Universities, along with colleges across the state, will be able to re-open their doors to Black and Latino students,” said attorney Shanta Driver during a press conference Nov. 15 in downtown Detroit. She and attorney George Washington argued the case on behalf of the lead plaintiff, the national Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, & Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality (BAMN). 

Attorney Shanta Driver of BAMN at press conference Nov. 15, 2012.

“This is a huge victory for BAMN and the new civil rights movement,” Driver explained. “It reflects the slow leftward direction most of the country wants to take. It brings an end to an era of using ballot proposals in a cynical way, at the expense of Black and Latino youth, and should convince opponents of affirmative action nationally that they cannot use ballot fraud and win.” 

Michigan voters passed Prop. 2, a state constitutional amendment, in Nov. 2006. It struck down all programs in public educational institutions granting “preferential treatment . . . to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” 

That included not only students, but workers and businesses contracting with the institutions. Nine out of ten Black voters voted against Proposal 2, but it passed by 58 percent because white voters supported it two to one. 

Justice Ransey Guy Cole, Jr. of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote the court’s majority decision.

Washington noted that since then, the U.S. is becoming a “majority-minority” country. 

“The decision means universities will be able to open their doors to the newly-emerging majority across the U.S,” he said. 

In its closely divided ruling, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court Justice Ransey Guy Cole, Jr. explained in basic terms the reason for the court’s ruling. 

“A student seeking to have her family’s alumni connections considered in her application to one of Michigan’s esteemed public universities could do one of four things to have the school adopt a legacy-conscious admissions policy. She could lobby the admissions committee, she could petition the leadership of the university, she could seek to influence the school’s governing board, or, as a measure of last resort, she could initiate a state-wide campaign to alter the state’s constitution.” 

Ward Conerly and Jennifer Gratz, initiators of MCRI. Conerly also helped sponsor California Proposition 209.

The last is what white student Jennifer Gratz resorted to, supported by California businessman Ward Conerly and funded by corporate right-wing think tanks.

Justice Cole continued, “The same cannot be said for a Black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally-permissible race-conscious admissions policy. That student could do only one thing to effect change: she could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution—a lengthy, expensive, and arduous process—to repeal the consequences of Proposal 2. The existence of such a comparative structural burden undermines the Equal Protection Clause’s guarantee that all citizens must have equal access to the tools of political change. We therefore REVERSE the judgment of the district court on this issue and find Proposal 2 unconstitutional.” (Read full decision at 

Michigan AG Bill Schuette

Cole wrote in the Court’s July 1 panel decision that two previous Supreme Court decisions, Seattle, 458 U.S. at 467, and Hunter, 393 U.S. at 393, clarify that equal protection of the law is also “an assurance that the majority may not manipulate the channels of change in a manner that places unique burdens on issues of importance to racial minorities . . . . an electoral minority is by definition disadvantaged in its attempts to pass legislation.” 

Schuette said he plans to appeal the en banc ruling on what he called “The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative” (MCRI), the name of the group that campaigned to put Proposal 2 on the Michigan ballot. Its petition-takers frequently told signers they were signing to support a pro-civil rights amendment.

Protest against Prop. 2 at U of M.

“MCRI embodies the fundamental premise of what America is all about: equal opportunity under the law,” he said in a release. “Entrance to our great universities must be based upon merit. We are prepared to take the fight for equality, fairness and the rule of law to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Driver, Washington and attorney Monica Smith of BAMN said they welcome that opportunity. They said it will aid the building of a national movement in conjunction with other states. A decision from the U.S. high court is pending on oral arguments held Oct. 10 in Fisher v. Texas, and an appeal of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision supporting California’s Proposition 209,  is also pending before the USSC.

March to support affirmative action on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2003, prior to USSC decision.

Attorney Monica Smith said she, along with her brother and cousin, graduated from Michigan universities only because of their affirmative action policies. U of M’s policies were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger.  BAMN and other groups brought 50,000 people, including many Michigan students, to the steps of the USSC in Washington, D.C. that year. 

Monica Smith (right) and other protesters confront Jennifer Gratz as she enters U.S. District Court in downtown Detroit to defend Proposal 2.

“I joined BAMN for this reason, to win affirmative action,” she said. “I was in the very last class of law students at Wayne State before Proposal 2 took effect. In my class, only 22 out of 300 students were Black. The following year, that number diminished to 11. This fight is our generation’s Brown v. the Board of Education.” 

Smith said that the small number of Black and Latin students in her class, even before Proposal 2, contributed many times to a hostile atmosphere based on race, in the middle of a city that is at least 82 percent Black. She said the following year’s drop in ‘minority’ enrollments also hurt white and poor students, because the size of the entire class diminished overall due to funding cutbacks. 

Police place Detroit Central High School youth on bus after mass raid inside school.

In previous years, even at the undergraduate level, the majority of students at WSU have been white, at one point comprising 83 percent of the student population. Meanwhile many Black students in Detroit and other cities across the state are denied admission and funneled into what the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union termed “The School to Prison Pipeline” in a 2009 study, available at . 

The attorneys compiled statistics from university websites which showed the dramatic decline of the admission of students of color into Michigan’s three major universities from Sept. 2005 to Sept. 2010. U of M averaged a 31 percent decline at the undergraduate level, with a 46 percent decline at the graduate levels. Wayne State University’s Schools of Law and Medicine averaged a 37 percent decline. (Click on AA stats) for all figures. 

“This decision ought to at least double the number of ‘minority’ admissions to these schools pending the outcome of the appeal,” Driver said. 

Nearly 70 percent of Michigan’s prisoners sentenced to juvenile life without parole are Black and Latino.

“In the meantime, the lives of many Black and Latin students have been changed forever over the last six years,” Washington noted. “These policies have already ruined enough lives. It is crucial that we train a new generation of leaders for the new majority-minority country.” 

In the wake of the Sixth Circuit Court decision, BAMN is launching a statewide campaign, kicked off with a rally Dec. 7 at the U of M campus in Ann Arbor, to demand: 

  • The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and all of Michigan’s universities act immediately on the Sixth Circuit decision and reinstate their affirmative action policies in this admissions cycle, and
  • Michigan’s universities create Dream Scholarships, offer full access to financial aid and in-state tuition to undocumented students.  

They say they are aiming to double the enrollment of “under-represented minority” students in 2013-14.

For more information, contact the law offices of Scheff, Washington & Driver at 313-963-1921, or go to the BAMN website at .

Sign petition for immediate compliance with Sixth Circuit Court ruling at

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Sandra Hines speaks at rally in Lansing Feb. 23, 2011 which drew thousands of Detroiters out to protest state takeover moves that led to Public Act 4.


  • Ask people to storm Council meetings Tues. Nov. 20, 9:30 a.m. & 7 p.m.
  • Council Pres. Pugh, Pro-Tem Brown asked judge to sever DWSD from city Nov. 8

By Diane Bukowski 

November 19, 2012

Council Pro-Tem Gary Brown and President Charles Pugh during meeting April 3, 2012, a day before they voted to approve the city’s disastrous PA 4 consent agreement.

DETROIT – Detroit City Council Pres. Charles Pugh and Pres. Pro-tem Gary Brown have asked U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox to completely separate the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department from city control, in order to effectuate the $48 million EMA Group plan to cut 81 percent of the department’s workforce.

The two were among five signers of a “Root Cause Committee” report Nov. 8 which asked Cox to thereby circumvent the Council’s power over the contract. DWSD asked him to approve the committee’s recommendation Nov. 15, but he has not yet taken action.

Judge Sean Cox

“If successfully implemented, the organizational optimization will result in a reduction of the number of employee classifications within the Department, leading to a more flexible workforce, with more training, and greater opportunities for career advancement for the staff,” says the document. “Further the Root Cause Committee has reviewed the due diligence materials prepared by the Board of Water Commissioners and acknowledges that EMA’s work has improved compliance efforts in other jurisdictions.” (Click on DWSD Root Cause 11 8 12 re EMA and on DWSD motion to approve Root Cause Cttee report 11 15 12. to read full documents.)

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated the 1977 consent agreement under which a federal judge oversees DWSD Clean Water Act (CWA) compliance. It requested Oct. 16 that Cox delay any action on the EMA contract for 45 days. It said DWSD has been in federal compliance with the Act since November of last year.

At Brown’s Public Health and Safety Committee meeting Nov. 19, Detroiters including Councilwoman JoAnn Watson rose up in outrage. They called on people to storm the full Council meeting Nov. 20 at 9:30 a.m., where Brown said he wants the Council to vote the contract “up or down.” Watson said no vote should be held before the Council’s community public meeting that evening, from 7 p.m. to  8:30 p.m. at Mark Twain Elementary School.

Members of the public already flooded Council chambers to oppose the EMA contract at a “public hearing” which Council President Charles Pugh deliberately set at 9 a.m. Nov. 13, flowing out into the hallway. (VOD story on that hearing is still coming.)

DWSD workers conducted a five-day strike at the Wastewater Treatment Plant beginning Sept. 30, with the EMA contract a major issue of the strike.

Wastewater Treatment Plant rank-and-file workers led a five-day strike beginning Sept. 30, 2012 against EMA contract and other union-busting measures.

Despite that hearing and the strike, which had sympathetic news coverage nationally, the Board of Water Commissioners approved a $1,977,000 partial contract with EMA Nov. 13, ducking just under the threshold of $2 million needed for Council approval.

Cecily McClellan leads chants against PA 4 during first protest against EM’s in Benton Harbor.

“It is malfeasance to have Council members participate in a Root Cause Committee that recommended the separation of the water department,” said Cecily McClellan of Free Detroit-No Consent Nov. 19.  “Our Corporate Counsel needs to be listening very closely. There is not a deficit in DWSD. We don’t need a solution where a problem doesn’t exist. EMA is nothing but an opportunity for outsiders to get rich.”

Under the City Charter, and as confirmed by voters who approved Detroit Proposal C Nov. 6, Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon can bring legal action against city officials and others who violate the city’s Home Rule Charter. McClellan, who is also Vice-President of the Association of Professional and Technical Employees (APTE), told VOD earlier that no EMA “due diligence” documents were presented at a special meeting DWSD held with Council staff and union leaders in October.

AFSCME Local 207 VP Mike Mulholland protests EMA contract outside DWSD Huber facility in August, 2012.

“Someone on this Council wants us to approve this contract before Thanksgiving, and bust the unions, but the EPA has said the department is in full compliance,” Councilwoman Watson said.  “If it’s not broken, why fix it? This is nothing but a takeover, a power grab for the largest asset the city holds. It would be malfeasance for any elected official to advocate breaking it up, divvying it up. There is no drinking water in the country better than ours. DWSD is a magnificent asset, paid for by the citizens, owned by the citizens, and run by the citizens. This is a disgrace before God!”

Sandra Hines (shown in photo at head of story) added, “This is what a takeover looks like. We have to fire these people that are not working for us, making decisions that are detrimental to our children.  Water is gold, there are countries where people wish and pray they had the water we have. You are trying to put us back in slavery in modern-day times. Don’t let these few Black people who don’t understand Black power give up the little power that we have. This is nothing but racism.”

Strikers at Wastewater Treatment Plant raise EMA’s dramatic failure in Toronto.

Speakers at the hearing wore vivid “NO EMA” and “NO MILESTONES” ribbons during the meeting.

The last referred to the “Escrow Release Milestones Agreement” Bing and State Treasurer Andy Dillon signed Nov. 13 without Council approval. The document says the state will continue to hold the remainder of Detroit’s $137 million loan from the state hostage unless contracts with the firms of Miller Canfield, Ernst & Young, and Milliman are approved by Council Nov. 20.  It sets numerous other requirements, including the outsourcing of the city’s Public Lighting and Transportation departments. (Click on Milestone Agreement.)

Atty. Michael McGee represented Mayor Dave Bing in opposing Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon’s lawsuit against consent agreement July 13, 2012.

Miller Canfield’s attorney Michael McGee was a co-author of the “dictator law” Public Act 4, which was struck down by Michigan voters Nov. 6. Ernst & Young first claimed the city was running out of cash in a secret meeting with Council last November. Their financial report later showed the city paid $597 million on its $16.9 billion debt to the banks in 2011-12.

Milliman has drafted a plan to takeover and gut the city’s $6 billion pension system.

Cox established the “Root Cause Committee” in Feb. 2011, ostensibly to analyze the department’s non-compliance with Clean Water Act and state Department of Environmental Quality department standards.  Cox implemented their recommendations Nov. 4, 2011, partially separating DWSD from the city and implementing drastic anti-union measures.  (Click on Sean-Cox-DWSD-order-11-4-11).

DWSD unions are still waiting for a decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on their appeal of Cox’s order, in wake of a hearing held in Cincinnati Oct. 9.

DWSD Director Sue McCormick (l) and BOWC Chair James Fausone at BOWC meeting where EMA contract was approved.

Along with Pugh and Brown, other members of the committee who signed the document were DWSD Director Sue McCormick, appointed to head the department at the beginning of 2012, Walter Fausone, chair of the Board of Water Commissioners (BOWC), and Mayor Dave Bing’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown.

Channel 7 Action News said Nov. 9 that they had confirmed that Chris Brown had resigned as COO for undisclosed reasons.  VOD filed federal complaints in August against Brown, Bing, and former D-DOT Deputy Director Bill Nojay for Hatch Act violations related to Nojay’s run for state office in New York. The case is open and ongoing according to the federal Office of the Special Counsel.

The committee reports to Cox’s Special Master David Ottenwess, an attorney who has specialized in defending health institutions from medical malpractice lawsuits.

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Why was Council Pres. Pro-Tem Gary Brown (r) in this picture of Mayor Dave Bing announcing the EMA contract and the elimination of 81 percent of DWSD jobs?

By Diane Bukowski 

Nov. 19, 2012

DETROIT — Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown has been the chief Council member pressing for passage of the EMA contract, through the Public Health and Safety Committee which he chairs.

During that committee’s  hearing Nov. 19, many from the public asked who was paying Council members to sell off all of Detroit’s major assets.

Tyrone Travis, Detroit activist since the 1960’s, member of Free Detroit-No Consent, and founding member of the Coallition to Stop Privatization and Save Our City, at earlier Council meeting.

“All but two Council members have sold their souls to the corporations,” Tyrone Travis said. “Thomas Jefferson said that when you have a government that prevents you from pursuing life, liberty and happiness, you must get rid of that government. We have got a vested interest to organize, not to waste time appealing to people who have sold their souls to the devil. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not go before the council, or the courts. He organized people, he started a boycott and demonstrations, and the people won their demands in 30 days. They are taking our homes, they have shut our schools, they are stripping the city of its assets. We must organize now to shut the city down and take everything back.”

Aside from whatever secret dealings he has had as part of U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox’s “Roots Cause Committee,” a review of Brown’s city council campaign finance documents shows strong connections with BOWC vice-chair James F. Thrower, and many Water Department contractors.

Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (center) and former DWSD Director Victor Mercado, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to DWSD contracting, at the scene of the Macomb County sinkhole on 15 Mile in Sterling Heights in 2004, with contractors hired to repair the damage.

Most striking are the number of contributions from executives associated with the Lakeshore Group, Inland Waters Pollution Control, and Nth Consultants. They were all involved in the $50 million Macomb Interceptor sinkhole repair project which began in 2004, under the administration of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Macomb County sued Lakeshore Engineering and Inland Waters for alleged overbilling of $25 million on the project. The project is also tied to the federal criminal trial of Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and Bobby Ferguson, another DWSD contractor.

A spokesperson for Lakeshore, Audrey Young, said however that Lakeshore had been dismissed from the lawsuit early on. VOD is still checking for court records on the case.

Lakeshore Engineering’s CEO Avinash Rachmale and its Vice-President Thomas Hardiman are currently testifying against the defendants in the Kilpatrick trial, claiming they were extorted by them to include Ferguson’s company in the project. It is possible that they and other corporate witnesses were threatened with federal charges in order to obtain their testimony.  (See recent Channel 7 report on their testimony below.)

Macomb County’s actions may have been directed to wrest control of DWSD from the City of Detroit, which they and Oakland County have partially done, with the compliance of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, under a Feb. 2011 deal reached under Judge Sean Cox.

Gary Brown pushes for passage of EMA contract at City Council committee hearing Oct. 15, 2012.

But nonetheless they raise questions about dirty dealings behind large-scale private contracting everywhere.

Since he took office, contributions to Gary Brown from large-scale, mainly white-owned contractors who often do business with the Water Department, the Transportation Department and others have gone up dramatically, according to campaign finance reports which can now be accessed online at the Wayne County Clerk’s website at  Many of these contracts come through his committee before going to Council.

VOD looked at Brown’s reports submitted from 2009 to 2012, and pulled out contractors associated with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, as shown in the chart below. The list is likely not complete due to time constraints. VOD will also research Council President Charles Pugh’s contributions this week.

Since this story was completed after-hours, Brown was not available for comment. But he owes the public which elected him an explanation at the Council meetings Nov. 20.



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There will be a VOD story coming shortly on Council EMA hearing Nov. 13.

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  • Highland Park school board member Robert Davis

    COA rejects lawsuit v. DPS EFM Roy Roberts, PA 72 standing

  • State high court chief justice earlier noted law negating return of repealed acts

By Diane Bukowski

November 17, 2012

DETROIT – Highland Park School Board member Robert Davis, who has ceaselessly fought Michigan’s Public Act 4, repealed Nov. 6, has forced the issue of whether all the state’s “emergency financial managers” must now be ousted to the state Supreme Court.

In response to Davis’s lawsuit filed Nov. 13, a Michigan Court of Appeals (COA) First District panel ruled Nov. 16 that Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts remains in place under PA 4’s predecessor law Public Act 72.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon

“I’m thankful for their expeditious review of the matter, and now once and for all the Supreme Court is going to decide the issue and the will of the people,” Davis responded in published remarks.

State Treasurer Andy Dillion re-appointed Roberts and seven other PA 4 emergency managers as PA 72 “emergency financial managers” after the placement of PA 4 on the ballot, pending the November vote.

The COA opinion echoed Attorney General Bill Schuette’s stance that voters repealed PA 4’s repeal of PA 72. During oral arguments on whether to put the PA 4 referendum on the ballot July 25, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young, Jr. appeared to scoff at that opinion.

He read into the record MCL 8.4, which says, 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.”

DPS EFM Roy Roberts and puppetmaster Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

When he asked the COA for a writ of mandamus enforcing MCL 8.4 on Nov. 13, Davis said, “The law in the state of Michigan is very clear . . . . When an act is repealed, it’s as if it never existed.”

The First District COA panel disagreed.

Appeals Court Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly

“Petitioner’s reliance on the anti-revival statute, MCL 8.4, is unavailing,” Presiding Judge Kirsten Frank Kelly wrote. “The plain language of MCL 8.4 includes no reference to statutes that have been rejected by referendum. The statutory language refers only to statutes subject to repeal. Judicial construction is not permitted when the language is unambiguous. Driver v Naini, 490 Mich 239, 247; 802 NW2d 311 (2011). Accordingly, under the clear terms of the statute, MCL 8.4 does not apply to the voters’ rejection, by referendum, of P A 4. Even if the rejection of P A 4 is deemed to operate as a repeal subject to MCL 8.4, the voters rejected P A 4 in its entirety by way of the referendum.” Click on Davis v Roberts COA for ruling.

“Oh, really?” Chief Justice Young responded to the Schuette’s attorney John Pirich, July 25.

Appeals Court Judge Michael Riordan

Two of the three judges on the appeals panel, Kirsten Frank Kelly and Michael Riordan, were on the panel that delayed placement of the PA 4 referendum on the ballot, after hearing arguments on the petition’s type size. Although they essentially supported voters’ right to the referendum, they refused to order the Board of Canvassers to comply. Instead they unsuccessfully asked for a meeting of the entire Appeals Court to clarify the matte

Attorneys for Stand Up for Democracy and others then appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered the referendum’s placement on the ballot.

Riordan was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor Rick Snyder this year. Snyder previously considered appointing Kelly to the Supreme Court. The third appeals judge, Christopher Murray, was previously chief legal counsel for former Governor John Engler.

Protesters occupied the lobby of Cadillac Place, where the Appeals Court meets, on June 28, 2012 to demand placement of PA 4 referendum on ballot.

The stance of the entire Supreme Court remains to be seen when Davis’ appeal is heard. Young is one of the ultraconservative justices on the Court who has been supported by the Republican Party. Whether the more “liberal” justices will agree with the COA is questionable.

Pontiac City Council member Kermit WIlliams is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit v. PA 72 filed Sept. 26.

Earlier on September 26, the Sugar Law Center, The Center For Constitutional Rights, Sanders Law Firm, Melvin “Butch” Hollowell and Goodman & Hurwitz PC filed suit in Ingham County Circuit Court on behalf of Council members from Pontiac City Council members Donald Watkins and Kermit Williams, four Benton Harbor city commissioners, and all nine members of the Flint City Council.

“At this moment, there is no law authorizing the use of emergency managers in the state of Michigan,” Sugar Law Center director John Philo said in a release. “The suit we filed is based on the obvious fact that there cannot be emergency managers without the legal framework to support them. The new law has been suspended and the old law is dead.”

Scott Kincaid, chair of Flint City Council.

The suit asks for the restoration of the council members to their legally elected positions, and the removal of “emergency financial managers” Joe Harris of Benton Harbor, Ed Kurtz of Flint, and Louis Schimmel of Pontiac. The suit challenges the reinstatement of PA 72 prior to the election.

The case is set to be heard Dec. 5, 2012 before Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

A separate lawsuit filed by members of the Flint City Council led by its chair Scott Kincaid awaits hearing in Genessee County Circuit Court Judge Neithercut Dec. 18, 2012.

Pontiac Silverdome, sold off for pennies on the dollar.

EM’s and EFM’s in all the cities involved have sold off city assets such as the Pontiac Silverdome and the city’s 11 water plants, parts of Benton Harbor’s publicly-owned Jean Klock Park, its public radio station, and golf courses in Flint, along with laying off hundreds of city workers and privatizing city services.  ‘

“I think what it shows is that the issue is bigger than Flint, and emergency manager law doesn’t fix the long-term problems that the state creates by cutting our revenue, declining property values and legacy costs,” Kincaid said in published remarks.

Emergency financial managers continue to operate also in the cities of Ecorse and Allen Park and the school districts of Highland Park and Muskegon.

Whether the residents of Michigan will continue to stand for this policy of “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” remains to be seen. Rev. Edward Pinkney, a long-time community leader in Benton Harbor, addressed the need for a people’s fight for democracy, in the streets if need be. (See video below.)

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Residents want Detroit’s Financial Advisory Board, shown above at Nov. 12 meeting, to pack up and leave.

  •  Residents challenge control by banks, state
  • Detroit not broke according to FAB docs; duty to bargain reinstated
  • Mayor Dave Bing colludes with State Treasurer Dillon to withhold bond funds

November 14, 2012 

By Diane Bukowski

DETROIT– Despite the definitive defeat of Michigan’s Public Act 4 (PA4) at the polls Nov. 6, its minions handling City of Detroit governmental affairs appear determined to stay until they are dragged out by their heels.

Detroit’s “Project Management Director” Kriss Andrews (I), told VOD he and the Financial Advisory Board are not leaving. Here he presents report to FAB Nov. 12, 2012.

Members of the community and city workers appear equally determined to see them vanish into the dustbin of history. At meetings of the city’s “Financial Advisory Board” (FAB) Nov. 12 and of the Detroit City Council Nov. 13, they demanded “people before banks,” and excoriated state-appointed officials and their elected collaborators. They said that “social tension” in Detroit is rapidly rising.

Financial Advisory Board meeting Nov. 12

Linda Willis demands cancellation of Detroit’s debt to the banks during protest at Bank of America held May 9, 2012.

“We are proceeding forward with the reform agenda,” Walter ‘Kriss’ Andrews told VOD at the beginning of the Nov. 12 meeting of the FAB, established by the city’s PA4 Financial Stability [consent] Agreement (FSA). “We are not planning to stop at all. The repeal of Public Act 4 didn’t put one dime in the city’s coffers.”

The nine-member FAB is an appointed board which can overrule the city’s elected officials.  Andrews is the “Project Management Director” for Detroit, appointed to his $220,000 -a year position by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to enact a “reform agenda” by dismantling the city.

Andrews presented a 77-page report to the FAB. He claimed it shows the city is in imminent danger of going broke. However, the report does not include in city revenues the remaining $81 million the city borrowed from the state under the consent agreement, or pending property tax payments. Instead, it adds a costly “re-structuring analyst,” likely a firm. Detroit would be liable for half the costs of that firm.

Marie Thornton, with granddaughter Tylynn behind her, demands the FAB disband at their meeting Nov. 12.

“This is an illegal meeting of an illegal board,” long-time community activist and former Detroit School Board member Marie Thornton countered during public comment. “There is no Public Act 4. There is no Public Act 72. You do not exist!”

Cecily McClellan, vice-president of the city’s Association of Professional and Technical Employees (APTE), told the FAB to clear out.

“The whole board and every position created under the consent agreement, including Kriss Andrews, must leave, cease receiving their salaries, and restore the powers of our elected officials,” McClellan said. “It’s time now to develop a reconstruction plan for Detroit, including the restoration of the Detroit Health, Workforce Development and Human Services Departments.”

Stephen Boyle demands blood from the banks, not the people.

She and other speakers said the banks have been the only forces to benefit from PA 4 and the FSA, after devastating the neighborhoods of Detroit and other majority-Black cities in particular with predatory lending and foreclosures.

“We need to hold the banks accountable for what they have done to Detroit,” Stephen Boyle of Free Detroit-No Consent said.  People before banks! Why is our blood shed rather than that of the banks? The risk they’ve created has spread across the entire nation.”

According to city records, Detroit paid $597 million on its $16.9 billion debt to the banks in the previous fiscal year.

FAB chair Pierce’s bank a defendant in national “LIBOR” lawsuit

FAB chair Sandra E. Pierce was previously CEO of Charter One Michigan, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland, being sued for rigging interest rates.

FAB chair Sandra Pierce was formerly CEO of Charter One Michigan, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The City of Baltimore, other cities, states, and investors are suing RBS and 12 other global banks in a mammoth federal class action, IN RE LIBOR-BASED FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS ANTITRUST LITIGATION,for rigging rates in interest “swaps.” The plaintiffs contend the banks’ criminal actions have robbed them of billions of dollars that should have been spent on services for their residents.

They allege the banks conspired to “unlawfully manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate for the U.S. dollar (‘LIBOR’) from August 1, 2007 through such time as the effects of the Defendants’ illegal conduct ceased . . . .”  The banks named are members of the U.S. Dollar LIBOR panel, which set global borrowing rates.

Pierce announced at the beginning of the FAB meeting that the group was going into a “brief” closed session to obtain a legal opinion from its attorneys on the current status of PA4 and the FSA.

Detroit City Council members Gary Brown, Saunteel Jenkins, and Kenneth Cockrel, Jr. herded out of the room along with the FAB to the closed session. The three did not take with them their own Charter-mandated legal counsel. Detroit voters just approved Detroit Proposal C, which cemented Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon’s powers to take even the Mayor and Council members to court for City Charter violations.

City Council member Gary Brown (rear l) and former Council member Sheila Cockrel (center), who supports the FSA and the FAB, attended the FAB meeting Nov. 12. Brown and Council members Kenneth Cockrel Jr. and Saunteel Jenkins participated in FAB closed session. In front are Marie Thornton and Wayne Bernard, who both spoke against the banks/state takeover of Detroit.

Brown and Jenkins refused comment when the group returned after two hours. But Council member Andre Spivey, who arrived after the closed session, told VOD, “No, I wasn’t in the session, I’m not a member of the Financial Advisory Board.”

FAB attorneys declare PA repeal restored ‘duty to bargain’

On the group’s return, Pierce read a brief statement claiming the FSA remains intact despite the repeal of PA4, with the exception of “provisions 4.1, 4.3 and 4.4 related to the duty to bargain.” (Click on for FSA terms.)  The statement claimed the remainder of the FSA is valid under Public Act 7.

Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon.

Crittendon is preparing a statement for the City Council on the effects of the PA4 repeal. In earlier opinions, she said clearly that most of the FSA derives from PA 4, and that there is no statutory basis at all, even under PA4, for the existence of the FAB.

Now even the FAB’s legal counsel has gutted a large portion of the FSA, declaring that the roles of Bing, the FAB and Andrews in approving or terminating labor contracts, laid out in FSA sections 4.1 and 4.3, are null and void as a result of the PA4 repeal. They also said that the city’s duty to bargain with its unions under state law, which 4.4 negated, is now restored.

Ironically, City of Detroit Labor Relations Chief Lamont Satchel then reported on the progress of the “City Employment Terms” (CET) unilaterally imposed on city employees by Bing and the FAB July 16. The CET, which should now also be now null and void, includes wage and benefit cuts, work rule changes, layoffs, departmental shutdowns, and attacks on the city’s pension system.

“Progress has continued on CET implementation despite legal and other challenges,” Andrews said in the executive summary of his document. “More than half of the changes have been implemented; the majority of the items are on track to be completed by 1/31/2013.”

As the monkeys indicated, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”

The section of Andrews’ document titled “Escrow Release Milestones Status” shows that the state is deliberately restricting Detroit’s revenue from the $137 million loan the city received as part of the consent agreement.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and State Treasurer Andy Dillon collude to keep FSA in place.

Mayor Dave Bing said Nov. 13 that he and State Treasurer Andy Dillon had signed a new agreement in the wake of the PA 4 repeal (see link to “Escrow Release Milestones Agreement” at end of story.

In a statement, Bing said, “We are committed to our reform agenda as it is the only way for the City of Detroit to achieve financial stability and to improve the quality of life for our citizens. . . . The Milestone Agreement is a significant tool that will help us succeed in transforming Detroit.”

Dillon echoed the mayor.

:The benchmarks Mayor Bing and I have established provide the city with a transparent roadmap to receive bond proceeds that have been set aside in escrow,” Dillon said. “The funds from the bond proceeds were never intended to fund the status quo in Detroit, but rather aid with its government reforms.  While some progress has been made in the city since the signing of the Financial Stability Agreement in June, it is moving slower than what all parties would have anticipated.  There is still much work to be done.”

The states of New York and New Jersey are suing Ernst & Young, which cooked Lehman Brothers’ books before the company’s collapse, which had a domino effect across the U.S. in 2008.

In order to obtain $20 million November 20 and $10 million December 14 from the so-called “escrow account,” the document says Detroit’s City Council must approve contracts with Milliman, a national firm based in Seattle, Washington which plans to gut the city’s pension system, Ernst & Young, and Attorney Mike McGee of Miller Canfield, a co-author of Public Act 4.

Those contracts are set for a vote at the City Council Committee of the Whole Nov. 20.

Numerous other measures are laid out, including the gutting of the city’s Public Lighting and Transportation Departments. The section also ignores the city’s duty to bargain under state law, as well as Crittendon’s authority under the charter to approve contracts with outside law firms.

City Council meeting Nov. 13 

The following day, residents and union workers and leaders jammed Council chambers to denounce the proposed contract with EMA, which would cut 81 percent of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s workforce (see separate story).

Council members who voted for “Fiscal Stability [consent] Agreement” April 4, despite the pending people’s vote on Public Act 4.

They also took the Council to task for its 5-4 vote for the Fiscal Stability Agreement. Corporation Counsel Crittendon, and Council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones, and Kwame Kenyatta had argued that they should take no action on the agreement until the people’s vote on Public Act 4.

Campaign to repeal Public Act 4 was victorious.

“When do the lies and bullying stop?” asked Ed McNeil, executive assistant to Al Garrett, president of Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

“We hear we’re going to run out of cash in November and December, we were running out of case in August, July, June, May and April,” McNeil said. “The whole purpose is to lay the basis for another PA 4. Somebody here in Detroit has to stand up. Get the people of Lansing out of the city of Detroit, get rid of the Financial Advisory Board, the Project Management Director and the CFO. Get them the hell out of here. Without them, the city wouldn’t be broke.”

Council 25 funded the campaign to defeat Public Act 4. No other union in the state put money behind it, instead spending hundreds of millions on the unsuccessful campaign for Proposal 2, which would have put the right to collective bargaining into the state’s constitution.

Valerie Burris speaks at City Council Nov. 13, 2012, telling them to stop payment to bondholders until people’s needs are met.

An inside source said those unions claimed the issue of PA 4 was “toxic,” i.e. it related to racial issues because nearly every city under the lash of PA4 has been majority-Black.

Valerie Burris summed up the opinions of many others confronting the Council.

“We must stop being reactionary and begin being revolutionary,” Burris said. “We must put services for the people before bonds. The people are tired and are beginning to raise up. We have to be bold, stop paying the bondholders. What are they going to do? Take us to court? When people are broke, they take care of their families first before they pay their credit card bills. Take care of the people, not the banks!” 

Related documents:

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School Board member Tawanna Simpson (r) helps post eviction notices at DPS EM Roy Roberts’ offices Nov. 12, 2012.
  • Rally at DPS HQ held Nov. 12
  • Lawsuit filed by Robert Davis
  • Protesters go to Lansing to stop EAA law

By Diane Bukowski

November 15, 2012

DETROIT – Detroiters took both direct and legal action this week to remove Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts and the state’s other EM’s, in the wake of the defeat of Public Act 4.

On Nov. 12, community and religious leaders, teachers, parents and school board members came out in pouring rain to deliver notices of eviction to Roberts at his offices on the 14thfloor of the Fisher Building.

DPS Board Member David Murray outside Fisher Building Nov. 12, 2012.

“We are going to drive him away,” Detroit Board of Education member David Murray declared. “We want to put an end to the criminalization of our children. The people overwhelmingly said Nov. 6 that we do not want Public Act 4, but Roberts and others are determined to continue to oppress our people. They are trying to lock our children out of leadership roles for the future.”

Rev. David Bullock, chair of Michigan Rainbow PUSH, said, “It is a travesty of justice that despite the resounding repeal of Public Act 4, Mr. Roberts and emergency managers around the state remain in office. All emergency managers should be given notice by Gov. Rick Snyder to step down. If we have to march again on Snyder’s house, we will.”

Bullock said it is their position that Public Act 72, a limited version of PA 4 which does not grant administrative duties to “emergency financial managers,” is no longer on the books either. State Attorney General Bill Schuette earlier issued a non-binding opinion that it is in place.

“If the EM’s need help moving,” Bullock said, “we are ready, willing and able to bring moving trucks and deliver boxes and tape to pack their things. We have plenty of unemployed people in the state that we can pay to carry out this job.”

The school district’s offices were closed for half a day in observance of Veteran’s Day, but ralliers, who kept growing in numbers, marched up to the 14th floor of the building and posted eviction notices all over the walls and reception window gate.

They listened to community leaders including Elder Helen Moore, who called on them to attend a Jan. 29 congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. on the de-funding and disenfranchisement of majority-Black school districts across the country.

Last December, U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to open an investigation of federal Voting Rights Act violations by state officials enforcing PA 4. They have concentrated almost exclusively on the state’s majority-Black cities.

Holder never sent a response. Neither President Barack Obama nor other top leaders of the Democratic Party have ever weighed in on the validity of Public Act 4.

Detroit Board of Education President Lamar Lemmons, Elder Helen Moore, and Rev. David Bullock outside Fisher Building Nov. 12, 2012.

On the legal front, Board President Lamar Lemmons Jr. said the $500.5 million Proposal S bond funds are still under Roberts’ control after voters re-affirmed the proposal Nov. 6. He said the board would be suing to remove Roberts. Roberts continues to prevent the board from meeting on DPS premises, claiming he is still in charge of financial affairs under PA 72.

Confirmation of such a lawsuit was not available at press time. But meanwhile, Robert Davis, the Highland Park school board member who has filed numerous lawsuits related to Public Act 4, filed an emergency petition with the State Court of Appeals to remove Roberts and to find that PA 72 is no longer in effect with regard to other EM’s, according to published reports.

The State’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young has already opined on that issue.

During a hearing July 25 on whether to put a referendum to repeal Public Act 4 on the ballot, Young read into the record MCL 8.4, which says, “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.” 

Also pending is the continuation of a lawsuit filed by the school board’s attorney George Washington earlier against Roberts after PA 4 was certified for the ballot Aug. 8. The suit has been transferred to Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry, from Judge John Murphy, according to attorney Hugh “Buck” Davis.

Murphy ruled that PA 72 was still in effect after the referendum to repeal Public Act 4 was certified for the November ballot Aug. 8. But he said that if PA 4 was repealed, he would entertain motions to allow the board to take back 15 Detroit Public Schools which were transferred into a state-run “Educational Achievement Authority” district for the five percent of the state’s “lowest-performing schools,” all in Detroit.

On the evening of Nov. 13, the school board again voted to restore the EAA schools, during a crowded meeting.

Many of those who rallied at the DPS headquarters Nov. 12 boarded a bus to Lansing Nov. 13 for a House Education Committee meeting on HB 6004, which would enshrine the EAA in state law.

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Chris Griffiths, Monica Patrick and Sandra Hines celebrate defeat of Public Act 4, Prop. 1. All are members of Free Detroit–No Consent.

  •  Detroit youth played major role; 82 percent of city voted NO on Prop 1
  • Snyder, Bing, et. al. connive to keep bank-imposed austerity measures 

By Diane Bukowski 

November 10, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama carried Oakland and Macomb counites in Michigan, but they were among only eight counties that voted to keep PA 4.

DETROIT– After a strenuous grass roots battle, Michigan voters struck down Public Act 4, the notorious “local dictator law,” by a solid margin of 52 to 48 percent on Nov. 6. In Detroit, 82 percent of voters, including many youth,  opposed the PA 4 referendum, known as Proposal 1, tipping the balance.

Only eight of 83 counties voted to keep the act. Wealthy and populous Oakland and Macomb counties, which border Detroit, the largest Black-majority city in the world outside of Africa, were among the eight counties voting for Public Act 4, according to state election results. President Barack Obama nonetheless carried those counties in the race for the nation’s highest office.

Cecily McClellan, another Free Detroit-No Consent leader, shows off her power to Detroit sweatshirt at mayoral campaign rally for Tom Barrow Nov. 2, 2012.

“We did it!” exulted Monica Lewis Patrick during an impromptu celebration Nov. 9 at a downtown restaurant. She said chaos at many election sites in the city, including hours-long waits and a virtual uprising at the Coleman A. Young Recreation Center, did not discourage voters.

At one site, a young man with his wheel-chair bound brother said they were among many voters directed to the wrong polling place by City Clerk Janice Winfrey’s office.  At the initial site, they waited for two and a half hours, but persisted, going to the correct polling place afterwards to cast their ballots.

Video below, by Kenny Snodgrass, is a collage of rallies against PA 4 takeover of Detroit and other largely Black cities, with many youth.

“I saw young women with their babies waiting in line,” Patrick said. “When we were campaigning, we talked to many young people at clubs and other places, to educate them about PA 4. We found that many were already familiar with the issues.”

Patrick works with Free Detroit-No Consent, a small group founded April 4, after Detroit’s City Council voted 5-4 for a “Fiscal Stability [consent] Agreement” to stave off the appointment of an emergency manager under terms of PA 4.  Under that agreement, a nine-member corporate-dominated Financial Advisory Board, two state-appointed city officials, and the state’s treasurer and governor have veto power over the city’s elected officials.

The Detroit Public Schools district is also suffering the effects of PA 4, under EM Roy Roberts. More than half of the district’s schools are closed, and many others have been turned over to a state-run “Educational Achievement Authority.”

Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon.

Significantly, Detroit voters also passed local Proposal C, which cements the power of the city’s Corporation Counsel to interpret and enforce the City Charter, by legal action if necessary. Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon earlier challenged the consent agreement in court but was shot down by Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette, who said he did not believe that any city official could overrule the Mayor.

Since the passage of the PA 4 consent agreement, Detroit has unilaterally imposed lay-offs and wage and benefit cutbacks on its employees, while planning a pension system takeover.  The city has shut down three key federally-funded departments. It plans to cut the workforce of the city’s mammoth Water and Sewerage Department by 81 percent, and lease the city’s world-renowned island park, Belle Isle, to the state for a total of 90 years including renewals.

Brandon Jessup, CEO of Michigan Forward, initiated the petition referendum campaign to repeal Public Act 4. Here he speaks at Feb. 28 rally celebrating state-wide collection of over 240,000 signatures.

“We realize that, like in the city of Detroit, you have roughly 35% of the people trying to manage 100% of the city’s costs,” Brandon Jessup, 31, the young Detroiter who birthed the PA 4 referendum petition drive, said in an earlier interview with the Urban Policy Institute.

“We have some corporate entities in the city of Detroit that don’t pay their taxes annually,” Jessup explained. “They use the city of Detroit as a tax write-off. That’s not fair when we look at our city lights being off, our city buses pretty much breaking down, and you leave that to what, 30 percent of the community, that’s facing more pay cuts from whomever they may work for?  . . . Our problem is that we have too many hands idle in this state; we lost 867,000 jobs over a ten year period. So no matter what you do, the State can’t intervene, the State has to create jobs, they have to get people back to work.”

Gloria (Aneb) House, Steven Boyle, Monica Patrick and Valerie Glenn celebrating PA 4 defeat. They also belong to Free Detroit-No Consent.

Jessup founded Michigan Forward, working with a small crew and eventually with funds from the state’s largest public union, Michigan AFSCME Council 25, to gather over 240,000 petition signatures to put the referendum on the ballot. Attorneys from Council 25 and progressive law firms fought a drawn-out court battle which culminated with the state Supreme Court ruling Aug. 8 that the measure should go on the ballot.

The defeat of Public Act 4 is a Wall Street nightmare and may comprise part of what sent it into a tailspin after the elections Nov. 6. Most Wall Street pundits had said that stocks usually soar after a national election no matter which party wins the presidential race, but that did not happen.

Wall Street predatory lending to Detroit: Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings and Steven Murphy of Standard and Poor’s tell Detroit’s City Council on Jan. 31, 2005 to approve a disastrous $1.5 billion pension obligation certificate bond, which Detroit has defaulted on twice. It added to the city’s mammoth debt burden.


PA 4 guaranteed payment of the massive debt to the banks owed by many municipalities and school districts in Michigan. It allowed state-appointed “emergency managers” or “consent agreement” administrators to unilaterally impose grueling austerity measures on the people to compensate.

These included seizing and selling public assets, dissolving or merging cities, townships and school districts, eliminating collective bargaining, closing vital public services without a hearing, and privatizing them without legislative oversight by bodies like Detroit’s City Council.

Protesters demand cancellation of Detroit’s debt to the banks during march in downtown Detroit May 9, 2012.

“It has always been a tenet of municipal credit that at some point paying debt service may come in conflict with, and be superseded by, a government’s obligation to provide essential services such as education, public health, and safety,” Wall Street bond rating agency Fitch Ratings said in an Aug. 20 report.

The report goes on to stress the necessity for state intervention in such cases, and says Public Act 4 was “perhaps the strongest program in the nation, as it allows a state-appointed emergency manager to ‘reject, modify, or terminate terms and conditions of an existing contract.’” By “contract,” Fitch referred to labor agreements. (Click on Fitch Ratings Local Govt Downgrades to Persist for full report.)

“Flint, Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Pontiac, and Detroit Public Schools have all had emergency managers appointed to administer their financial affairs,” Fitch said in a report issued Aug. 3 while the Michigan Supreme Court was deliberating the placement of PA 4 on the ballot. “Some were appointed under PA 4 while others were appointed under PA 72. As Detroit’s fiscal stability agreement has several features that rely on the existence of PA 4, most notably the ability to suspend collective bargaining, the repeal of PA4 could weaken or nullify the agreement. This may have an adverse effect on the city’s ability to continue the reforms already begun under the agreement and therefore stabilize and improve its credit quality.”

Benton Harbor rally against first emergency manager, Joe Harris. Rev. Edward Pinkney leads march; Rep. Pscholka initiated PA 4 law.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette issued an earlier, non-binding opinion that the repeal of Public Act 4 would result in the restoration of the earlier, less stringent “Emergency Financial Manager” Public Act 72.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon at raucous Detroit Financial Review Team meeting, where the crowd drowned out deliberations by corporate members.

Until recently the daily media has repeated Schuette’s opinion like a mantra. The Bond Buyer reported Oct. 12 that Snyder, State Treasurer Andy Dillon and Budget Director met with all three Wall Street ratings agencies in New York to argue for a restoration of Michigan’s AAA bond rating in anticipation of a $100 million state general obligation bond sale Nov. 8, two days after the election.

They stressed that even if PA 4 is repealed, PA 72 would be restored.

“That law lacks what is considered Public Act 4’s most powerful feature, the ability to unilaterally amend or terminate a labor contract. But it’s still workable, Dillon said,” the Bond Buyerreported. “The state lived with PA 72 from the late 80s until 2011, so it works. What is better about PA 4 is the ability to come in sooner and get out faster. It would just take us longer under PA 72. If you can’t negotiate the contracts, then you just have to wait them out. It’s slower and more painful, but it will happen.”

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young.

However, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young shot that argument out of the water during oral arguments on the PA 4 ballot question July 25.

Attorney John Pirich, who represented the AG’s office during the proceedings, argued that if PA 4 were repealed, its repeal of Public Act 72 would also be negated.

Young read into the record MCL 8.4, which says, “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.”

Young declared, “It’s still repealed, albeit by a law that might be suspended.”

Snyder, Dillon and Bing are now frantically scrambling to find a fix, including the introduction into the state legislature of a new version of Public Act 4. Meanwhile, lawsuits filed by the Flint City Council, the Sugar Law Center, and others are pending in various courts calling for a re-iteration of what the state’s Chief Supreme Court Justice has already declared:


Michigan’s people must be ready for a head-on assault by Wall Street on their right to control their own destinies, not face continued control by the banks and corporations which have devastated their lives.

“If it takes going to jail, that’s what we’re going to have to do,” one PA 4 opponent said Nov. 9 at the restaurant celebration.

PA 4 defeat celebration.

Related articles:

Brandon Jessup interview:

Michigan Supreme Court oral arguments on PA 4:

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By Diane Bukowski

November 10, 2012

DETROIT– Detroit’s Channel 7 news is reporting that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown has resigned. VOD recently noted his absence from public meetings.

VOD is investigating to see if this is related to our filing of Hatch Act complaints against Mayor Dave Bing, Chris Brown, and former D-DOT Deputy Director Bill Nojay. Nojay left in August amid controversy over his running for office in New York State while overseeing federal funds at D-DOT.

VOD was recently informed by the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel that it continues to investigate those complaints.

The complaint against Brown cites his acknowlegment to the media that both he and Bing knew of Nojay’s run for the New York State Assembly at the time he entered the race, as follows from VOD story:

“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.”

A case of foot-in-mouth disease, Mr. Brown? Still going to file slander charges against VOD as you threatened, for calling Mike McGee a co-author of Public Act 4, which he himself admitted in print (another case of foot-in-mouth, we suppose)?

Related articles:

The many faces of Chris Brown, Detroit’s first “white mayor” since before Coleman A. Young, Jr, including (bottom l) Brown consorting with PA 4 co-author Mike McGee (center) and Project Management Director Kriss Andrews on union-busting “City Employment Terms” document before first Financial Advisory Board meeting in June. Now that PA 4 is gone, the Financial Stability Agreement, the FAB, Andrews and others should get swept into the dustbin of history as well.


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