Group Urges Detroit to Go on Offense To Stop EFM and Protect City Assets
From Tom Barrow, previous mayoral candidate
(DETROIT (JANUARY 8) —-A Detroit civic organization, Citizens For Detroit’s Future (CFDF), headed by prominent Detroit accountant Tom Barrow, today delivered letters to Detroit’s elected leaders calling on them to accept that the railroad is running towards the city and is controlled by conservative interests seeking to take the City’s coveted resources and assets.
Recount hearing on 2009 Detroit mayoral elections, requested by candidate Tom Barrow (l) was packed with his supporters. The Wayne County Board of Canvassers found that over 60 percent of the ballots, including all the absentee ballots, were unrecountable. Was Dave Bing really elected by the people?
“It is clear to city residents and our suburban neighbors– Detroiters all–that our city is being maligned daily and a conservative agenda being perpetrated against it to get what our late Mayor Young called, the city’s ‘Crown Jewels’,” said Barrow.
CFDF has long taken the public stance that a Detroit Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) will be appointed no matter what the Mayor or Council does. Therefore, the city must get off of defense and go on offense to protect the city’s jewels.
“If Detroit’s Mayor and Council continue to act like lambs, conservatives will continue to feast like lions.” Barrow said.
Contrary to the view by some on the city’s council, “it is naive to believe that if you take draconian actions desperately trying to satisfy unrealistic milestones, extremists will somehow like you, be pleased and stop coming after at you…they will not because their agenda is rooted in a phony fiscal ruse which can never to be satisfied.” Barrow explained.
States with municipalities authorized to file for bankruptcy under Chapter Nine of the US Bankruptcy Code.
CFDF’s Executive Board passed a resolution calling on Detroit’s city council to immediately order the city’s law department, not Miller-Canfield, to explore Detroit’s options under Title 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code at Chapter 9, specifically designed for municipalities.
Why a municipal bankruptcy reorganization? Because it is vastly preferable to a state appointed EFM.
Barrow, who has been appointed by the federal courts as a trustee in multiple corporate bankruptcies in the past, said “I understand the process.”
CFDF believes that a conservative railroad is running on tracks designed by the Koch Brothers, Devos and Walton Foundations. These conservative financiers’ plan of EFMs, right-to-work and voter suppression efforts is operating nationally and here in Michigan and goes like this:
First, the EM will be appointed by the conservative state and will be someone we recognize but who has quietly bought into the conservative right-wing philosophy and will wear a seeming Democrat’s suit;
DWSD workers picket Huber plant in Aug. 2012 before striking the Wastewater Treatment Plant in September for one week. They demanded not only preservation of city ownership of DWSD, but also protection of their pensions. Public pension plans may be endangered under a bankruptcy filing.
Second, s/he will render the elected Mayor and Council impotent (thus the people silent);
Third, s/he will sell or transfer city assets including the water department and Belle Isle etc. to private outside interests using the fiscal ruse a la Pontiac, Flint, Benton Harbor, Ecorse etc.;
Fourth, the EFM then will decimate the city’s unions and privatize multiple clear government functions; and
Fifth, its most impactful effect on our over 230-year old democracy, the EFM once in, no matter what anyone says, will last indefinitely and not be accountable to anyone in Detroit. (Just Look at Detroit Public Schools) and become an indefinite overseer.
Conversely under a self-imposed Chapter 9 Reorganization, the Mayor and Council control everything. City assets remain under the ownership of the city and cannot be sold or transferred and the Mayor and Council is given absolute power to set aside any contract they decide.
While a Chapter 9 Mayor and Council can set aside a union contract, a new Mayor and Council will have the same power to re-instate any contract or whatever has been done during that short and interim period.
Linda Willis participates in downtown Detroit protest May 9, 2012 demanding payback from the banks.
But most importantly, because Detroiters are in control and because the primary concern of the bankruptcy court will be the Bond Debt with which the city is fine, it should immediately re-affirm all General Obligation and Special Revenue Bond debt to reassure the financial markets. The city can then on its own:
– Set aside any state or local agreement, including having the ability to abrogate the Consent Agreement, and the Memorandum of Understanding;
– Dissolve the Financial Advisory Board and remove the state’s two $260,000 per year imbedded operatives and all other state operatives whom we have been forced to hire.
In short, by judicious use of Chapter 9, the city can get the state out of its business and allow the current and future Mayors and Councils to run the city subject only to the Court and without state interference. The mayor and council can decide when to emerge from the Bankruptcy Reorganization. Should the city need to borrow it need only ask the court, not Treasurer Andy Dillon or Governor Rick Snyder.
Fitch Ratings Joe O’Keefe (3rd from left0 and S & P’s Stephen Murphy (2nd from right) pressured Council to borrow $1.5 billion in Pension Obligation Certificates unnecessarily in Jan. 2004, from UBS whiah has now admitted to massive fraud.
CFDF has railed repeatedly that the city was NOT running out of cash and that the state’s claims were a ruse orchestrated by their imbedded operatives to generate a false flag media furor to make the city appear inept and incapable of managing it’s finances.
State operatives, with the complicity of some naive elected officials (Note: none of our elected officials are trained in finance), falsely pushed city leaders to borrow money they did not need and then use the funds as a faux bludgeon to demand compliance with a conservative privatizations of city services and hiring more state operative.
All while the city is sitting on a half a billion dollars in its own water department, half of which is “unrestricted” and which, properly structured, could have been used to borrow from ourselves with the interest paid to ourselves.
International Underground Railroad Monument in Detroit’s Hart Plaza.
Around the end of November, the state’s bluff was called by a Council super-majority, 8-1, legitimately concerned with Miller-Canfield’s obvious conflicts representing all sides, the State, the City and even itself (inserted into the MOU with a requirement that the firm be hired “or else”), our Mayor was forced to admit that we would not be running out of cash and will last through the Spring of 2013, contradicting three years of Chicken Little shouts of “We’re running out of money!” That entire argument has now gone quietly away.
Yet, state operatives continue to set up faux milestones designed to get their EFM and make it appear rational and Detroiter’s own fault. This to provide justifications to disintegrate city unions, privatize essential government services and city’s departments and ruining city workers lives, further depressing the local economy.
Trains have been very good to Detroit in the past, but not this one. Our local history, from the metaphorical Underground Railroad that delivered escaped enslaved people to Canada via Detroit; to the great railways that delivered the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II; to the automobile makers receiving steel and supplies from across the nation, it served as a symbol of the city’s dominance. This train, conducted by a conservative Gov. Snyder, however, is steaming toward downtown Detroit to load up on city jewels and must be derailed with this very prudent and necessary step to solvency.
(VOD is researching the issues surrounding a bankruptcy filing, which many Detroiters called for at a City Council meeting today, and will later publish an independent article. An alternate proposal that VOD has raised for years is a moratorium on the city’s massive debt to the banks, a result of predatory lending advanced by Wall Street. As Councilwoman JoAnn Watson has raised, corporations owe Detroit over $800 million.
Additionally, dozens of cities, states and other borrowers are suing global banks including UBS, largely responsible for Detroit’s debt, for rigging interest rates in the LIBOR scandal. UBS just paid the U.S. a $1.5 billion fine, admitting to criminal fraud.)
Records obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request indicate that the FBI employed tactics under a “counter terrorism” initiative called “Operation Tripwire” in the monitoring of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists.
[Note: records referenced in this article were obtained by DBA/CMD on November 8, 2012, as a partial response to a FOIA request submitted by DBA/CMD to the FBI on June 7, 2012. DBA/CMD have been analyzing these incomplete materials along with other public records to tell a more complete story of the pattern of domestic surveillance that has been underway.]
“Tripwires,” Mall Cops, and “Radical Cheerleaders”
On October 19, 2011, an FBI agent filed a report, titled “Domain Program Management [,] Domestic Terrorism,” detailing an October 11 briefing given to “Jacksonville Executive Management” (EM) and a supervisory special agent (SSA) “Counter Terrorism Program Coordinator.” The subject of the October 11 briefing had been the potential growth of the OWS movement throughout north/central Florida. (All agent names were redacted from this, and other, FBI reports.)
“During the 11 October intelligence meeting, writer advised EM of the Occupy venues and further advised that they may provide an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction,” wrote the agent, who went on to say that special areas of concern were Daytona, Gainesville, and Ocala, where “some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.”
As such, the report’s author recommended that the Counter Terrorism Program Coordinator, “consider establishing tripwires with the Occupy event coordinators regarding their observance of actions or comments indicating violent tendencies by attendees” (emphasis added).
Occupy Gaineville cheerleaders were targeted by Tripwire.
Interestingly, the report went on to discuss the author’s sharing of information obtained from the FBI Houston field office– as an example of such potential “exploitation”– with the Jacksonville Counter Terrorism Program Coordinator. The FBI Houston information related to the “exploitation” of Occupy Houston by an individual (name redacted) who had allegedly plotted to “kill local Occupy leaders via sniper fire.” (It is worth noting here that one of the few other instances of a credible threat identified by the FBI in relation to OWS contained in the DBA/CMD FOIA records relates to an October 2011 instance in which a person reportedly threw a “chemical bomb” made from tinfoil and Drano at “Occupy Maine” protestors after shouting “get a job!”)
US DOJ “Operation Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
According to the FBI, “Operation Tripwire,” established in 2003, focuses on “information and intelligence-sharing operations from the NJTTF’s [National Joint Terrorism Task Force] participating agencies to help identify terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S.” Such information is obtained through intelligence provided by various private sector “critical infrastructure stakeholders,” along with apparent networks of informants established through regional JTTF “community outreach” activities.
An example of Tripwire’s intended use at the time of its inception is as follows: a suspicious pattern of chemical purchases might be provided to the FBI by a merchant. This information would be relayed from the regional JTTF to NJTTF. Continue reading →
Article 4, Section 29 of the Constitution of Michigan, states that no local or special act by lawmakers:
“…shall take effect until approved by two-thirds of the members elected to and serving in each house and by a majority of the electors voting thereon in thedistrict affected.”
Since 1996, state lawmakers, in collaboration with the Detroit City Council members and Mayors have denied Detroit residents the above constitutional right, by writing within the state laws language which required only a vote by city council. When the city council voted (yes or no), they gave VALIDATION to the unconstitutional laws and denied Detroit electors their right to vote on all state laws that affect Detroiters.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
The above Article 4, Section 29 language does not permit city council to pass a resolution selecting one or four options as offered in Section 7(1)(a) to (d) of Senate Bill No. 865, Titled: Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, Signed by Governor Rick Snyder December 27, 2012. (Click on SB 865 draft3 to read full bill.)
The new (which is in fact the old) emergency manager law called The Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, affects the electors in Detroit, by:
(1) eliminating city government service “departments” and also “sell[ing]…assets” in them, thereby, eliminating employment, services and public ownership of assets.
(2) “the disincorporation or dissol[ution],” that is, submerging the City of Detroit into metro entities that would have a solid white voting majority that would bring to an end Black local representation, violating federal voting right laws, and,
(3) the new Emergency Manager (EM) law would be able to borrow monies on – taxpayers, without our consent.
Detroit City Council
Since 1996 the above collaboration between state and city government have harmed our children and our children’s children, present and future. They are being deliberately and systematically destroyed and that means genocide.
Therefore, CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, do not VOTE on any part of the new Emergency Manager Law, YOUR future near or far is on you!
Forwarded by Detroit Public Schools teacher Steve Conn
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released today a report on the “underutilization crisis” in the Chicago Public Schools system, a crisis that has been manufactured largely to justify the replacement of neighborhood schools by privatized charters. The study, titled The Black and White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools, analyzes the mechanisms and effects of CPS schemes that masquerade as educational policy.
While the policy of neighborhood school closings and charter openings has not moved education in Chicago forward in any significant way, the benefits to charter school operators, private testing companies, real estate interests, and wealthy bankers are growing. Far from being a system of reform that improves education, the policy of closing schools in one area of the city and opening schools in another has been the failed status quo in Chicago for nearly 20 years, and key outcomes are:
Increased racial segregation in schools
Depletion of stable schools in Black neighborhoods
Disrespect and poor treatment of teachers
Expansion of unnecessary testing
Decreased opportunities for deep, conceptual learning
Increased punitive student discipline
Increased student mobility
Minimal educational outcomes
CTU President Karen Lewis
“When it comes to matters of race and education in Chicago, the attack on public schools is endemic,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “Chicago is the most segregated city in the country, and our students of color are routinely deemed as second-class by a system that does nothing but present one failed policy after the next.”
The Black and White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools has three major sections describing CPS’ failed public education policy. Part One, “Playing Musical Chairs with CPS Schools—Facilities Decisions and School Actions in the Age of Mayoral Control,” assesses the processes and outcomes of school actions, facilities decisions and charter proliferation; Part Two, “Students First or Students Last? Setting the Record Straight on the Portfolio District,” investigates the realities of student outcomes, district and charter budgets, charter waiting lists and the Gates Foundation charter school compact; and Part Three, “Innovation in Name Only: Charter Education,” examines the true nature of charter operators’ alleged innovations—excessive test-focused curricula, harsh student discipline, exploited teachers and reduced teacher diversity and parental input regarding their children’s education.
Chicago Public Schools students.
The study examines the history of school attacks in Chicago, and whether educational apartheid is being implemented under the guise of educational improvement. More than 42,000 students have been directly impacted since CPS school actions began in 2001 and 88 percent of those affected have been African American. Schools where the overwhelming majority of students are children of color have been the primary target—representing more than 80 percent of all affected schools—and Black communities have been hit the hardest, as three out of every four affected schools were economically disadvantaged and extremely segregated African American schools. Continue reading →
Council members (l to r) Andre Spivey, Gary Brown, Charles Pugh, Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., James Tate and Saunteel Jenkins collaborated with Gov. Rick Snyder’s fascist regime. After World War II, French people who collaborated with the Nazis were paraded with their heads shaven through the streets, as shown in this actual (but doctored) photo.
Present drastic cutbacks plan to State Treasurer, big media
Refuse to confront corporations who owe city $870 M, banks other cities are suing for fraudulent lending practices
By Diane Bukowski
DETROIT – Six of Detroit’s nine City Council members are openly collaborating as an independent body with state officials, big business media, and Wall Street in a war against the city’s 82 percent Black population, where 51 percent of public school children live in poverty.
Marchers protested last round of city lay-offs outside Bank of America, demanding a moratorium on the city’s debt to the banks, May 9, 2012.
The six, Council Pres. Charles Pugh, Pres. Pro-Tem Gary Brown, and members Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, Kenneth Cockrel Jr., and Andre Spivey, met openly with the editorial boards of the city’s two dailies, The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press Dec. 27. According to the newspapers, they presented a plan for drastic cuts in workers’ wages and benefits, 1,000 lay-offs in addition to last year’s 2,500, and the sale of some city assets, in order to address an alleged budget deficit.
They said they had already sent the plan to State of Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon, without discussion or approval by the Council as a whole, or disclosure to the people, a likely violation of the State’s Open Meetings Act. They said they hope it will stave off the appointment of a state “emergency manager” under the “Local Financial Stability and Choice Act” signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Dec. 27 to replace Public Act 4, which was overwhelmingly repealed by state voters Nov. 6.
Chris Griffiths of Free Detroit-No Consent speaks at City Council in Sept. 2011.
“This reminds me of slavery days,” Chris Griffiths told the Council at its session Dec. 11, where the majority voted for contracts and land sales opposed by hundreds of residents at various meetings. “You guys are doing the exact same thing the white people did to us.”
An emergency manager (EM) has absolute control over a municipality or school district. The EM can dissolve or regionalize it, sell off its assets, revoke union contracts, and remove elected officials or override their decisions.
City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, a leader in the battle to repeal PA4, said, “This meeting came as a shock to me. I found out from Council member Kwame Kenyatta who said a staff member at the Free Press told him. I have not received a copy of the plan, and am meeting with legal representatives right now about possible Open Meetings Act violations.”
Councilwoman JoAnn Watson (r) at Council session Dec. 4, 2012.
Watson has sponsored a resolution calling on the city to collect over $800 million in taxes and other charges owed to it by major corporations. (Click on Money Owed the City12-11-12 final for full resolution as revised.) A recent expose in the Detroit News showed that the Detroit Red Wings, the city’s hockey team owned by local billionaire Mike Illitch, owes $70 million in cable franchise fees to the City.
Attorney Jerome Goldberg of the Moratorium NOW Coalition called on the city to make the banks pay what they owe for criminal predatory lending practices not only to homeowners, which have devastated Detroit’s neighborhoods, but to the city itself.
Attorney Jerry Goldberg of Moratorium NOW! calls for city to take blood from the banks, not the workers.
“Rather than taking the blood out of the workers with an additional 20 percent wage cut and requiring them to pay a large part of their pension and health costs, when they have been taking cuts for years, the Council should look at who the real robbers are, and sue them as other cities are doing,” Goldberg said.
“Dillon is fully aware of the real basis for the city’s deficit,” Goldberg explained. “He and the city’s first financial review team concluded that without interest payments to the banks, the city would have more than enough revenue to fund its expenses. Their report showed the city owes a total debt of over $16.9 billion, with $4.9 billion in interest. The banks’ fraudulent lending procedures, including a $1.5 billion pension obligation certificates (POC) loan in 2004, forced the city to pay an additional $1 billion to hedge funds for betting wrong on which way interest rates would go.” (Click on Detroit FRT report 3 26 12 for full report.)
Forbes editor apologized for running this earlier cover after UBS admitted to criminal fraud and paid a $1.5 billion fine to the U.S.
According to Reuters, UBS, the Swiss global bank which pressed the $1.5 billion POC loan on Detroit, just paid a $1.5 billion fine, most of it to the U.S. Department of Justice. It admitted to committing criminal fraud in manipulating interest rates from 2005 through 2010. The City of Baltimore and dozens of other borrowers are suing UBS and 12 other banks involved in the so-called “LIBOR” (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal for their losses.
“It is an outrage that Detroit’s City Council and Mayor have not joined this fight against the banks,” Goldberg said. “They need to end up in the dustbin of history after the people rise up. We are about to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for copies of all city bond documents so we can conduct a people’s review. The state instead is rushing to put an EM in place to ensure payment of this fraudulent debt.”
The six City Council members had not returned calls and emails for comment for this story before press time, but were quoted in stories in the News and Free Press. The Free Press story included photos showing them laughing and smiling.
Charles Pugh, after voting for consent agreement April 4, 2012.
“My perception is . . . . our plan, if implemented, could work,” Pugh told the News. “There’s got to be some pretty tough cuts of an estimated $15 million a month for at least the next three months.”
He told the paper he had been in touch with state officials, adding, “This time there has to be a plan and the plan (has) to be implemented. The state realized you do have some people in place who are willing to make tough decisions . . . .The real prospect of an emergency financial manager has never been more real and (with) the few options we have left, the mayor realizes this is do or die.”
Over this Council’s term since 2009, its majority has repeatedly recommended deeper cuts to the workers and poor than even those proposed by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Pugh in particular has scoffed at the public during hearings on the city’s April 4 PA4 consent agreement, a contract with the Miller-Canfield law firm, which helped draft PA4 and acted in the interests of the state against the city in other matters, and the largest land sale in the city’s history, 143.8 acres for $520,000 to Hantz Woodlands, LLC to establish a “tree farm.”
At a public hearing swamped by over 600 residents opposed to the land sale Dec. 10, the Council was told that Hantz’ parent company, Hantz Financial, is embroiled in litigation over a $2.2 billion Ponzi scheme the company recommended to investors, and that it paid a $675,000 settlement in 2005 for admitted fraud. However, they voted for the sale anyway.
During the Dec. 11 hearing, Pugh ridiculed former school board member Marie Thornton as she spoke during public comment, then ordered Council police to remove her. She staged a civil rights-style protest, lying down as audience members shouted to the police to get their hands off her, until Pugh finally relented.
“The Council members would get all dressed up and meet with the media during the holidays,” Thornton, who garnered 90,000 votes in the school board election, said. “But they are powerless now; they are already dead because of the consent agreement. If they think that they are going to get more power from meeting behind closed doors with Snyder and his kind, they are wrong. No one is going to vote for those Negroes in the 2013 election.”
Pugh has deliberately held key Council hearings in the small Council chambers, rather than the large auditorium down the hall where the Council previously sponsored meetings with large turn-outs. As a result, hundreds, including seniors and the disabled, have been forced to stand outside in the hallway waiting their turn to render one minute each in public comment, unable to see or hear the Council proceedings, another violation of the Open Meetings Act.
DWSD workers took direct action Sept. 30, 2012, striking for a week against assault on Detroit.
“The Council majority is not working for us,” said Cecily McClellan of Free Detroit-No Consent, and also a laid-off city worker and union official. “They are working for the Chamber of Commerce and corporate America.”
Jay Henderson, president of the Riverbend Community Association, called for new people’s strategies to regain control of Detroit in the New Year.
“We need to go back to the tactics of the ‘60’s,” he said. “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again but expect different results.”
Below is video from May 9, 2011 demonstration against the banks in downtown Detroit.
From every TV and radio news broadcast, the words, ‘fiscal cliff’ are being mentioned, in a tone and frequency of dread and fear.
Listeners, viewers and readers can sense the dread and faux fear, but little clarity arises from the dust.
What is the fiscal cliff?
It is a political creation – made by Congress itself, as a self- made rule to force agreement (but really to blackmail political opponents), or else massive cuts will be automatically made in defense, social services and other government programs.
In the Mel Brooks-made cowboy comedy, Blazing Saddles, a Black sheriff moseys into town to the shock and surprise of the white townspeople. When things get ugly, the sheriff (played by actor Cleavon Little (1939-1992), pulls out his Colt. 45 and points it at himself, warning them to get back, or else he’ll shoot.
The fiscal cliff? It’s “Blazing Saddles.”
LarrY Holmes of Workers World Party.
But, it’s no comedy.
As Workers World’s Larry Holmes sees it, this so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ is a recent political invention designed to erect an American austerity program-cut-backs in social services so that more money could be sucked up by the ruling 1 %.
Holmes, in remarks made to a recent Workers World party conference, made the following analysis:
We are going to hear a lot about the so-called “fiscal cliff”. It is:Worldwide austerity. In Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, in Ireland, in South Africa, all throughout Latin America and here in the U.S. From the point of view of the capitalists, the idea is to fix their system on the backs of the workers. They can’t get it from profits because of overproduction, so let’s just go literally into the body of the workers and get more pounds of flesh by stealing things from them. It is a mad, insane exercise in destruction, social destruction. It really should be called “the terminal crisis-of-capitalism cliff.”*
In sum, this is economic warfare parading as a political conflict, between two capitalist parties.
Tom Barrow, 2009 Mayoral Candidate, speaks at election forum Nov. 2, 2012.
Wow…what is going on in the City-County Building? That’s 4 Mayors and 4 Finance Directors and thirty-two years of Independent audits. This is just plain IRRESPONSIBLE ! How do you let more than $70,000,000 just go by and never miss it….. This should NEVER have happened and why hasn’t the city’s INDEPENDENT Auditors revealed this in the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and why have not the INDEPENDENT Auditors for the Detroit Building Authority (THE DBA BUILT THE ARENA AND SIGNED THE CONTRACT) caught this and revealed it. It takes the Detroit News to tell us
Bing and Snydrr, “joined at the hip” (Bing quote).
We are ruining city employee’s lives peoples with unnecessary draconian measures when we are owed this kind of money…. What the ….!! There is some serious malpractice going on….SERIOUS, SERIOUS malpractice!!!! No wonder they selected Bing as Mayor…. and believe me Detroit, they will do it again next year!
The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.
Chaplain conducting service at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports. Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.
Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year. According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much.
Pres, Barack Obama with AFRICOM chief Gen. David Rodriguez and his wife.
“If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they’re prepared,” Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, tells the AP. “But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order.” Additionally, the AP says that US troops will head specifically to Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger in order to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda linked groups.
Americans will also train and equip forces in Kenya and Somalia, reportedly, in order to stand up to al-Shabab militants. Despite the troops being deployed to more than half of the countries in Africa, though, the AP reports that Uncle Sam will try to avoid giving the impression that the United States is leaving a substantial footprint across the continent.
“The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country,” explains Rodriguez. “We’re not there to show them our system, we’re there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do.” Sources speaking with the AP say that the United States has already prepared nearly 100 different exercises and training programs to conduct with African troops during the coming year.
PENTAGON PREPARES MILITARY OPERATION IN MALI
U.S. troops in Mali/Photo AFP Robert Nicklesberg
Published: 08 December, 2012, 00:39
It’s only December, but it looks like the Pentagon has all planned out how they’ll spend a good part of 2013. US officials now claim that the Defense Department is busy preparing a military operation in the nation of Mali.
FILE – In this March 19, 2011 file photo, supporters of besieged Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi cheer as they rally in support of him in the city of Bamako, Mali. While Western powers herald the death of Gadhafi, killed Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, many Africans are mourning a man who poured billions of dollars of foreign investment into desperately poor countries. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore, File)
United States officials with knowledge of the matter tell the Washington Post that the Department of Defense and the US State Department will assist next year in a mission to overthrow Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda who took under control a significant part of Mali, a small West African country that is still picking itself up after a coup this past March. Earlier this year, military officers displaced the administration of then-President Amandou Toumani Toure, claiming that he was reluctant in addressing the extremist issue himself. However since then the military junta failed to improve security in the country and retake control of the northern part of Mali captured by the Islamists.Now the US is claiming that it’s ready to help the military rulers, even though it may be a clear violation of American laws: the Pentagon cannot assist first-hand with people responsible for ousting a democratically elected leader. That doesn’t mean, however, that Washington won’t find a way to send support overseas.
According to testimonies from officials speaking to the Post, both the Pentagon and State Department will assist opposition to the terrorists by training, equipping and transporting troops to tackle what Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Delaware) has called “the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world.” Speaking on the record, though, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for Africa tells the paper that US influence might not end there.
Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa Policy.
“There’s plenty of other forms of information and intelligence that are circulating that give us enough insight for planning purposes,” the Defense Department’s Amanda J. Dory tells the Post this week. According to the paper, Dory also floated the possibility of US warplanes being deployed to North Arica to provide troops there with aerial protection. “We definitely don’t know how that would work out,” Dory says. In advance of next year’s expected war, the State Department and the Treasury announced this week that they have blacklisted two Mali extremist groups, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, as terrorists officially in the eyes of Uncle Sam. The Associated Press reports that doing such will make any of those groups’ members ineligible to receive assistance from the US or conduct business, the start of crippling sanctions expected to continue until eventual military intervention.
Johhny Carson, assistant secretary for African Affairs under US President Barack Obama
Meanwhile, though, the wheels are indeed in motion in terms of starting to send US support towards Mali. On Wednesday, Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for African Affairs under US President Barack Obama, said “We have sent military planners to [the Economic Community of West African States] to assist with the continued development and refinement of the plans for international intervention.” Carson acknowledged that US assistance will be needed in order to overthrow al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, but added, “it must be African-led; it must be Malian-led.”
Testifying to Congress, Rep. Dory adds that AQIM and its affiliates “took over administration of northern cities and began imposing a harsh version of Sharia law” in Mali. “This expanded safe haven and control of territory allows al-Qaeda and affiliates to recruit supporters more easily and to export extremism.”
Gov. Snyder announces EFM review, “stricter” consent deal in 2013
Residents call for new fight-back strategies
By Diane Bukowski
December 22, 2012
DETROIT – City Council’s narrow approval of the Miller-Canfield contract Dec. 11 and other items in Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s “Milestone Agreement” with the state, along with the Hantz Woodlands land sale, has only accelerated the war on the nation’s poorest major city.
The Council’s “Fatal Five,” many of whom met with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief of staff Dennis Muchmore prior to the meeting, acted after State Treasurer Andy Dillon threatened to appoint an emergency financial manager under the now defunct Public Act 72.
A week later, on Dec. 18, Snyder empaneled a six-member review team to begin the EFM process anyway, and is now threatening as an alternative to impose a “stricter” consent agreement under a new “emergency manager” act voted in during the state legislature’s lame duck session.
“King” Rick Snyder.
“My administration has worked, and will continue to work in collaboration, with Mayor (Dave) Bing and city officials to ensure a revitalized and successful Detroit,” Snyder said in a statement. “However, given the financial crisis that continues to grip the City of Detroit, we must move quickly to ensure city residents have continued access to essential services they expect and deserve.”
Snyder ignored the fact that Detroit’s financial crisis has been caused by its huge debt to banks like UBS, which recently agreed to pay $1.5 billion in fines resulting from its criminal interest-rate rigging in the “LIBOR” scandal. (Click on The City of Baltimore and other municipalities and states are suing UBS and other global banks to recoup their losses fr0m those “LIBOR” deals, but Detroit’s leaders insist on blaming the people. (Click on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/12/19/ubs-admits-fraud-in-1-5-billion-libor-rigging-settlement/.)
Marie Thornton is applauded at town hall meeting opposing $500 million school bond Jan. 28, 2009.
Life-long community activist and former Detroit School Board member Marie Thornton strongly opposes Snyder’s assault. She conducted a civil-rights style protest at the Dec.11 council meeting, lying down on the floor after Council President Charles Pugh at first ordered her to leave because he didn’t like her comments, and repeatedly insulted her. (See video at top of story.)
“Pugh came up to me and others in the audience before the meeting and asked us if we were going to be ‘good,’” Thornton recalled. “I am old enough to be his mother. He tried to remove me prior to the meeting and during the meeting, but I was determined not to let him succeed.”
Audience member Tyrone Travis called out repeatedly, “Get your hands off her,” and “assault” as police surrounded her, begging her to get up so they could take her out. Pugh eventually relented and told Council police hovering over her to let her stay.
Thornton got over 93,000 votes in the 2005 Detroit school board elections, ranking third because of voters’ admiration for other protests she conducted against school board practices, protests Pugh disparaged as “disruptions.”
Charles Pugh boasts to media about vote for Detroit PA4 consent agreement April 4, 2012.
Pugh refused to apologize for wrongly blaming Thornton on Dec. 4 for the “grapes of wrath” protest Call ‘em Out leader Agnes Hitchcock conducted against the board’s vote to close 50 schools in 2005. During her term, Thornton opposed numerous costly private contracts and hundreds of school closings, despite constant attacks on her instigated by Board president Jimmy Womack.
She was the only board member to vote “No” on the consent agreement which led to former Governor Jennifer Granholm’s imposition of an EFM on the district. A recent report revealed that 51 percent of children attending DPS now live in poverty, up from 39.4 percent in 2007. More than half the district’s schools are now closed.
“Everyone should have sat on the floor Dec. 11,” Thornton told VOD, “including the Council members who voted no. We are living under lawless officials. I watched the Council relive Public Act 72 , which is dead, and act as if they didn’t know it. They are playing into the hands of Gov. Snyder. They should never even have conducted a second vote on Miller-Canfield because the agenda said no reconsiderations were to be voted on. That was nothing but a dog and pony show in violation of the Open Meetings Act.”
Mayor Dave Bing (2nd from l) and top staff Jack Martin, Chris Brown (now disappeared), and Kirk Lewis listen intently to advice from Michael McGee of Miller Canfield at Council session June 12, 2012.
As during Council’s previous meetings, hundreds of residents waited in the hallways for hours, unable to see or hear the proceedings, only to be allowed in for one-minute comments.
The Council voted 8-1 against the Miller Canfield contract Dec.4, citing the firm’s conflicting role on behalf of the state in writing the original “emergency manager” Public Act 4, the so-called Detroit “consent agreement,” the “Milestone Agreement,” and brokering the $137 million state loan deal.
The Council “Fatal Five” who voted “Yes” to Miller-Canfield Dec. 11 were Pugh, Gary Brown, Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, and Kenneth Cockrel Jr. The same crew approved the April 4 “Fiscal Stability (consent) Agreement.”
Detroit’s ruling Financial Advisory Board, dominated by corporate kingpins.
That pact essentially put the city under the control of 13 emergency managers, including a nine-member corporate-dominated “Financial Advisory Board,” Program Management Director Kriss Andrews, CFO Jack Martin, Dillon, and Snyder. All can override the decisions of Detroit’s elected officials.
Rally to save Belle Isle Sept. 22, 2012.
It led to the unilateral imposition of “City Employment Terms” on city workers despite an earlier union pact which would have saved the city at least $68 million, the closure of three federally-funded city departments, a proposed 90-year “lease” of Belle Isle to the state, wage and benefit cuts, and threats to the city’s pension system.
Many residents who spoke at hearings before the Council vote April 4 asked the body to wait until after the Nov. 6 referendum vote on Public Act 4, which birthed the proposed consent agreement. Michigan voters resoundingly repealed the act. A case is now pending before the state Supreme Court challenging Snyder’s use of Public Act 72 to maintain EFM’s in most of the state’s majority-Black cities.
PA4 and PA72 opponent Robert Davis, Highland Park school board member.
However, neither City Council nor the city’s major unions have joined plaintiff Robert Davis in that suit or in filing one of their one, despite the fact that Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young cited MCL 8.4 in a hearing before the Court ordered the PA 4 repeal referendum on the ballot.
“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,” MCL 8.4 says.
“Public Act 72 does not exist,” Thornton said. “But the Mayor, the City Council and the state won’t let it die. Snyder could not get away with what he is doing if the Council would stand up to him. As far as the upcoming city elections in 2013, it’s going to be the same game but different players. The powers that be want to control Detroit in any lawless way possible because it is the largest city in the state, with the most people and the most resources.”
Nicholas Cosmo, CEO of Agape World, under arrest in 2008 for Ponzi scheme like the one Hantz is facing litigation over. Michael Kessler, hired by Council to review workers comp claims for fraud, exposed Cosmo.
In addition to the Miller-Canfield contract, the Council voted for a $300,000 one-year contract, with one-year renewal, with an outside firm to search for fraud in the city’s workers’ compensation and benefits process, which the Milestone Agreement required to be retained before Dec. 14, 2012. The firm is Kessler International of New York City.
But the Council’s “Fatal Five” blithely voted to approve the largest land sale in the city’s history, 143.8 acres for $520,000 to Hantz Woodlands, LLC.
They were well aware that Hantz’ parent company, Hantz Financial, is embroiled in litigation over a $2.2 billion Ponzi scheme the company recommended to investors, and that it paid a $675,000 settlement in 2005 for “fraud stemming from misleading, inaccurate and fraudulent representations, misstatements, omissions and patently incorrect statements about its independent status.”
John Hantz’ Indian Village estate includes to homes and two carriage houses. Shown is one living room with 12-foot ceilings, favorite art pieces, including (left to right) a Frederic Remington sculpture (one of four in the home), a Handel desk lamp, a Tiffany floor lamp, a Wilson Irvine painting (above the sideboard), a large painting by T.M. Nicholas, and a Handel lamp. The collection, Hantz says, “is about quality and the ability to pass on.” However, he said Hantz Woodlands is about “creating scarcity.”
Actor/activist Danny Glover at Timbuktu Academy rally against Hantz Woodlands deal Dec. 8, 2012.
The Hantz hearing was attended by at least 600 people, all but a few in opposition to the deal. During the hearing, as one speaker pointed out, it was clear that Pugh at least had already made up his mind, since he told another speaker who inquired whether Hantz would pay taxes on the land, “Oh, yes, they WILL pay taxes.”
Riverbend Community Association President Jay Henderson asked the audience, “What will you do if the Council votes against your wishes?” He later told VOD that Detroit residents must create new direct strategies to win back control of their city in the New Year.
On Dec. 4, the Council had unanimously supported Councilwoman JoAnn Watson’s request that Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon send a “letter of demand” to State Treasurer Andy Dillon for the $30 million he was withholding from the city until Council obeyed his demands. But on Dec. 11, they turned down the resolution which would have authorized that letter.
Instead, they approved the following resolution authored by Watson:
After the council votes on Miller-Canfield and Hantz, the audience erupted in anger. According to Cecily McClellan of Free Detroit-No Consent, not only Council police but deputy sheriffs from county courts in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center were summoned to eject them forcibly from Council chambers.
Videos of the Council session Dec. 11 and its public hearing on Hantz Farms Dec. 10 have not been posted in their archives as is normally the case.
SELECTED PUBLIC COMMENTS FROM COUNCIL MEETING DEC. 11
Valerie Burris speaks at Council meeting Nov. 20, 2012.
Valerie Burris: I’m wearing red in support of the unions in Lansing today and in support of our children being slaughtered in the streets because of the policies of the city. No to Miller Canfield. No to the bogus consent agreement. Stand up and fight for the people.
Cecily McClellan: The Council very much aware that the state has no jurisdiction over you to force you to approve these contracts. This is clearly extortion. The Council is very much aware that PA4 is dead and PA72 as Robert Young indicated cannot be revived. This will not provide you cover. You need to stand your ground, not be disrespected. The citizens fought hard and long to repeal PA4. We restored your responsibility so now stand up and do your job.
Lynnette Bowens in earlier photo.
JoAnn Jackson: The people of Detroit voted Nov. 6, Asians, Blacks, Latinos and whites, we all voted no on PA 4. We the people pay your salaries and we want you to vote no on anything dealing with an emergency manager. If you don’t we are taking to the streets and get rid of every one of you.
Lynnette Bowens: “I see this contract with Plante Moran, and one for a workers comp fraud audit. Do we no longer have any city employees in the accounting department? The health care dependent eligibility audit—do we no longer have a Human Resources Department. Miller-Canfield—have we gotten rid of our law department? I see there is also a a resolution to increase the contract procurement threshold for the City Council, a resolution to circumvent your authority.
Keith Hines at Council session Nov. 20, 2012.
Attorney Richard Mack, AFSCME Council 25: – What this honorable body should consider is that this cash crisis has been created by Dillon holding the city’s money. The city borrowed $104 million, and $86 million is left. Twenty-four$ million has already been paid. So prior to the Nov. 13 Milestone Agreement, someone came along and changed the contract under which you would get your money. This body can go to court and contend that Dillon is abusing his discretion.
Keith Hines: I’m going to take 10 seconds to say “The Trolley Riot of 1891.” (He referred to a worker-community uprising in Detroit during which workers on the city’s horse-drawn trolleys struck for better pay and conditions, and riders supported them, demanding electrification of the private trolley system. Large crowds took over the trolleys and ran many into the river. This was the beginning of Detroit’s public sector.)
Edith Lee Payne: Different corporations including Mike Illitch owe the city in excess of $800 million. There is no financial crisis, this is strong-arming and extortion by the state, which also owes money to city. The Council should initiate forfeiture proceedings against Bing, he has mismanaged every single department.
Ann Grimmett in earlier photo.
Ann Grimmett: Why is this meeting not in the auditorium. It is such disrespect to the citizens of Detroit when they are not allowed to participate in whole meeting. This is a terroristic tactic. (Many speakers commented on this issue. VOD is recruiting plaintiffs and attorneys for an Open Meetings Act lawsuit like those already filed by unions after the right-to-work vote in the state legislature. If successful, such a lawsuit would void all actions taken during the meeting.)
Julia Enright, Pres. AFSCME Local 1023: ask you again to really look at the fact that the City of Detroit is owed money, and turned down savings from its unions. But this past Friday longevity payments were given to non-union employees and appointees. (Her contentions were later confirmed by city officials. Unionized workers have not received longevity pay, ranging from $150 to $750, since 2009.)
Morris Mays (center) and Jackie Taylor (r) at Council session Nov. 20, 2012.
Chris Griffiths: Vote No on the Hantz land grab and Miller Canfield. They cannot resurrect PA 72 from the dead. Only Jesus resurrected someone from the dead. This reminds me of slavery days. You guys are doing the exact same thing the white people did to us.
Morris Mays: You are afraid to face the public in an open meeting. I want to exercise my right and authority to have the Corporation Counsel present so she can open up the books on you and break out the law on you so when you get ready for privatization. I hate what you’re doing, the people hate it.
“WHERE IDEAS HAVE VALUE” Founded 1993 Opinions-Research-Consultations Alternative Think Tank, Activism-Services
Recently in the sports arena there was a big controversy over a sports columnist questioning the “Blackness” of an athlete. This issue has been a fixture of late in the post racial era especially during the election of the first person of color in the white house as America’s president.
President Barack Obama was also subject to a number of barbershop and beauty salon conversations in the Black community regarding his commitment and advocacy of the Black community given not only his bi-racial DNA but also his wilingness to discount and marginalize a Black agenda to appease and pander to the white electorate. It was an internalized race based litmus test that was warranted on many levels in not just the Black community but other venues in our nation.
Black unemployment rate ranges from 40 percent in some areas to 90 percent among youth.
President Obama during all of his presidential campaigns deliberately avoided and navigated around the issue of race and his ‘Blackness’ in part for fear of offending the white electorate and creating a premise that he would be concerned only with Black Americans and not the entire country’s agenda. Obama’s wilingness to handcuff his approach to ‘Blackness’ and reflect a Black agenda has proven to be lethal and fatal for many segments of the Black community, from the high rates of Black unemployment in the domestic area to the foreign policy template where he discounts Africa to attend to the issues of the Middle East and Europe. There is a real time reality which comes when our elected Black officials position our concerns at lower tiers of importance.
Sculpture of boxing champion Joe Louis’ fist in downtown Detroit. His victory over Max Schmeling was considered a victory for Blacks across the U.S.
The question and relevant issue of ‘Blackness’ of course is deeper than a cosmetic obsession and focus. The issue of ‘Blackness’ and the lack of it has been a staple of the Black community since our illegal and inhumane entry into America. Our ‘Blackness’ has been a portal and conduit for the ruling class and even other minority groups to wage havoc and contempt for our very existence and humanity. The insertion and presence of ‘Blackness’ is a cultural utility of the highest order and we must always object and reject those attempts to make it impotent.
More tham 50,000 people marched to support affirmative action April 1, 2003 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which returned a verdict essentially upholding the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies.
The Utility of ‘Blackness’ has allowed us to survive the insanity of oppression and every manner of indignity. We have employed and engaged the Utility of ‘Blackness’ to assist us secure employment, educational opportunities, and a myriad of hidden opportunities that were lost to us because of our Black heritage. Black people have used ‘Blackness’ to disarm Uncle Toms, Black apologists, shallow liberals and many others who discounted our basic dignity and value as a matter of fact and custom. In far too many circles and bandwidths of life in our nation it is fashionable to indict and ridicule the exercise and behaviors of ‘Blackness’.
The Utility of ‘Blackness’ created a loyal and devoted ethos and principle within the Black community. It allowed us to navigate around racism and it required people who secured opportunity to look out for others who were not as blessed or selected because of their Blackness. This utility helped the first wave of the Black middle class to create a duty to give back. It also created a defense against those who sought to disenfranchise Black issues. Many people in powerful bandwidths in our nation have been held in check for fear of ‘Blackness’ biting them in the ass from harassment on the job to policies which have fostered the low expectation of soft bigotry.
Dance for self-determination at Kwanzaa ceremony in Euclid, Ohio.
The litmus test of ‘Blackness’ was created by us and for us on the souls of Black people. It has allowed us to disarm and put into check those with Black faces who seek to engage in intra-racism and color-ism. Many people who reject to the Utility of ‘Blackness’ often undervalue and fail to appreciate this authentic Black cultural norm created by Black people in America! This was an internal cultural tool and adaptation which never required the approval or validation of the white majority culture. The protocols and nuances of ‘Blackness’ have been a priceless asset and process which deserve our continued usage and defense from even those other Black folks who seek to remove it from our community.
Those who seek to indict, object, ridicule and make the Utility of ‘Blackness’ a negative force must be ignored. The Black communities’ assets should not be abandoned, displaced or marginalized. It is imperative that we continue to evolve and tweak all of our internal cultural and racial protocols and not run from them to appease others in this “post racial” era.