DE JA VU IN HIGHLAND PARK: OUTSOURCING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Posted by: Jack Gerson

August 16, 2012

Joyce Parker, emergency manger for Ecorse and Highland Park Public Schools, stands in front of Ecorse City Hall on July 20, 2012. Parker was appointed in November 2009 by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Ecorse’s $14.6 million deficit was eliminated during Parker’s tenure via across-the-board cuts, grant funding and the sale of special bonds. She now is part time in Ecorse until the state decides the emergency over. Photo by E.L. Conley

Two weeks ago, Highland Park Michigan announced that it is outsourcing its three schools to a for-profit charter school company, Leona LLC. The decision to privatize was made after a state takeover of the schools: in May, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager for the school district, Joyce Parker, and it was Parker who made the decision to privatize Highland Park’s schools.

“This could be the new model for public education,” said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a national research and advocacy group that supports school choice. “It stands to be a lab of innovation where people can see that thinking outside the box is not so scary.”

This all sounded eerily familiar. Then I remembered: Philadelphia, 2002. Management of 38 schools was outsourced, including 20 to for-profit charter school company EdisonLearning. This was done shortly after the state of Pennsylvania took over the Philadelphia school system. The outsourcing back then was going to be an experiment “to see if the free market could educate children more efficiently than government.”

School workers, parents and students led massive protests against cuts in education funding across Pennsylvania this year.

The results of that experiment were clear: the outsourcing flopped (as reported in a 2007 Rand Corporation study) and Philadelphia had to undo the privatization. (Outsourcing schools to for-profit education management firms was also tried and failed in Britain in the past decade – for example, in the London borough of Islington [population about 250,000], whose school system was turned over to Cambridge Education Ltd.)

Well, maybe charter school corporations fare better in Michigan than in Pennsylvania? Actually, no. A study published last March by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education found that in Michigan, charter schools spend an average per pupil of $774 more on administration and $1140 less on instruction than public schools.

Also last March, Bridge Magazine published the results of a study by Public Sector Consultants which showed that in Michigan, public school students outscored charter school students on statewide reading, writing, and math tests. These results are consistent with numerous studies, which show on average test scores of students at charter schools are no better, and more often than not worse, than those of students at public schools.

So:
• Charter schools in Michigan spend more money on administration and less on instruction than public schools. Their scores on standardized tests are lower – and standardized tests are the benchmark that the corporate privatizers themselves have held up as the measure of success.
• Outsourcing public schools to private management failed its “laboratory experiment” in Philadelphia.

Detroit school workers rally in 2002, during the early stages of the decimation of the DPS district under state control.

So why does the Center for Education Reform’s Jeanne Allen hail outsourcing school management as “the new model for public education”? Why do she and other privatizers insist on the need to treat students like lab rats in yet another “laboratory experiment” doomed to failure? Why are Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Oakland and other large urban districts following New Orleans down the path of school closures and charter school proliferation, when charter schools are outperformed by public schools?

Because their goal isn’t educating. It’s fully disenfranchising the public from any control of education. It’s imposing a system that rewards march-in-line obedience and penalizes inquiry and creativity, one that marginalizes and criminalizes students from low-income families, especially students of color. It’s wringing profits out of tests, test prep, textbooks, software, cyber learning, tutoring, schools, school management, after school programs.

That’s privatization. Commodifying or re-commodifying everything. Air. Water. Social Security. Medicare. Public education. Taking back from the public what has been public for generations. If we let them.

Related documents and stories:

RAND study Philadelphia charter schools

http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2012/03/in_michigan_charters_results_n.html

http://bridgemi.com/2012/03/charter-schools-different-road-but-still-bumpy/


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

MICHIGAN CHALLENGES U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING ON JUVENILE LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

Cortez Davis

State AG Schuette, Wayne Co. Prosecutor Worthy try to block Cortez Davis re-sentencing

By Diane Bukowski 

August 16, 2012 

DETROIT – Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and State Attorney General Bill Schuette are attempting to block one of the state’s first juvenile lifer re-sentencings, that of Cortez Davis, since the June 25 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama. That ruling outlawed mandatory juvenile life without parole. The two have additionally asked the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on Miller as a whole.

Michigan has at least 360 juvenile lifers, the second highest number in the nation.

A network established by prisoner advocacy agencies has recruited over 150 attorneys to represent all of them,  pro bono if need be, in re-sentencing hearings. The attorneys took special training in the issues involved on July 27 and are targeting a core group for immediate re-sentencing hearings, those who have served the longest terms, and who were not the “principal actors” in the crimes involved.

Ironically, Davis, 16 when he was convicted of felony murder during a robbery, could be considered a poster child for nearly every aspect of the Miller decision.

Davis was not the shooter, faced “horrific” circumstances in his early life, and has thoroughly rehabilitated and educated himself while in prison, even getting married, according to a motion for relief from judgment filed by his attorney Clinton Hubbell, of the law firm Hubbell Duvall, PLLC.

“There are two issues, whether Miller is retroactive, and whether re-sentencing is appropriate,” Hubbell told VOD. “They [Worthy and Schuette] are hoping to narrow down what Michigan trial courts can do under Miller.” 

But, said Hubbell, “I don’t see them with a lot of legal traction. Our position is that Miller is pretty obviously retroactive. It was not decided in a vacuum, but as a culmination of other Supreme Court decisions outlawing the death penalty and life without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. There has to be a re-sentencing. Miller says the sentencing judge has to take into consideration a list of things, essentially that the defendant’s whole life must be put in front of the judge before sentencing.”

A hearing in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Vera Massey Jones was scheduled for September 14, 2012 on Davis’ motion for relief from judgment. But Worthy and Schuette intervened, asking the Michigan Supreme Court to rule that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision is not retroactive for juveniles in Michigan and that Davis should not be re-sentenced.

The Michigan Supreme Court has not yet granted leave to appeal in the case, despite numerous filings by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Baughman.  Baughman earlier got the Court to ban judges from trying to remedy racially-imbalanced juries.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy (l) testifies at earlier Senate subcommittee hearing.

Schuette’s release says in part, “Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy noted that the Supreme Court decision ‘affects more Wayne County families of murder victims than anywhere else in the State. I urge a prompt determination of the reach of the Miller decision by the Michigan Supreme Court. This will help avoid further trauma to those who lost their loved ones, some many years ago, and rightfully thought that the criminal justice system had provided them some degree of closure.’”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

Schuette called all juvenile lifers “teen-age murderers” in the release. However, according to a study by the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), most juvenile lifers were not the actual killers, as in Davis’ case.

“We are not victimizing the community or anyone else with these re-sentencings,” Hubbell said. “The individuals in question did not actually commit the offense for which they were sentenced, first-degree murder, and they had diminished culpability as juveniles.”

Attorney Clinton Hubbell represents Cortez Davis.

Davis’ sentencing judge first refused to give him life without parole, but the prosecution successfully appealed.

During Davis’ re-sentencing in Detroit’s now defunct Recorders Court, the judge said, “I think he’s salvageable . . . . I believe somebody’s been throwing this young man away from the day he was born. . . . And maybe when the [legislature], because they’re beginning to take a look at it, that they may change it. Though it will be years from now, but they may change it. . . .They’re going to find out how unjust it is to do this. So don’t give up hope. You may not be in there for the rest of your life.”

Legislative efforts during the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, however, went nowhere. Worthy and other county prosecutors testified strenuously in front of a Senate sub-committee against “second-chance”  bills that would have made juvenile lifers eligible for parole.

Families and other supporters of juvenile lifers lobbied state legislators in Lansing May 6, 2009.

Davis’ motion for relief from judgment describes the “horrific” circumstances of his life before he went to prison.

“Davis’ mother was 16 years old at the time he was born, and she already had his two-year-old sister,” the motion says. “Mr. Davis’ father passed away in 1986 when Mr. Davis was nine years old, from drug use, at which time his mother turned to drug dealing and use. She began to neglect Mr. Davis and his siblings by failing to keep food in the house.”

Child Protective Services removed the children from the home twice, sending them to live with their grandmother. That placement failed when Davis’ sister was molested by an uncle.

The motion goes on, “Davis dropped out of school in 1993, in the 8thgrade to support himself and his siblings. At one point, Davis was homeless. Davis’ maternal grandmother stated that Davis’ mother introduced Davis to selling drugs from their home.”

Cortez Davis completed numerous courses with the Blackstone Institute to obtain a certificate in paralegal studies.

An earlier Supreme Court decision, Graham v. Florida, held that “juveniles are more capable of change than are adults, and their actions are less likely to be evidence of ‘irretrievably depraved character’ than are adults.”

Davis has thoroughly rehabilitated himself since his incarceration, says the motion.

In addition to obtaining his G.E.D., Davis has taken 52 classes, including construction trades, and numerous courses from the Blackstone Career Institute involving the study of law. He qualified for a “Paralegal Certificate” in August, 2010.

He completed basic and advanced training in American Sign Language. He has also served as “Warden’s Forum Representative” and has applied to serve as a “youth mentor” in the Thumb Correctional Facility where he is incarcerated.

The extent of Davis’ current skills can be seen in a motion he filed pro se in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan. (Click on Cortex Davis fed – COA Pro Se Mtn for Reconsideration July 21, 2009.)

He cited numerous legal precedents and the 1980 Michigan Supreme Court decision in People V. Aaron, which outlawed the use of “felony murder” charges.

Gracie Hines, the mother of juvenile lifer Bobby Hines, speaks at earlier press conference in Lansing. Hines is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed by attorney Deborah LaBelle in U.S. District Court.

“Movant was not afforded his due process constitutional protection as a juvenile where he was arrested without a warrant and held in police detective custody unlawfully for four days without the assistance or benefit of counsel,” Davis wrote, using the third person. “He was not given fair notice of the charges against him where he was compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case, that’s contrary to the U.S. Constitution V, VI, and XIV, Lucas v. O’Dea 179 F.3rd 412 (6th Cir. 1999).”

His motion contended that he did not receive “effective assistance of counsel” because neither of his attorneys filed pre-trial motions to challenge the legality of his arrest, involuntary statement and juvenile waiver. Many of the nation’s juvenile lifers have faced similar problems with court-appointed attorneys, since most are poor and could not afford their own attorneys.

“Life without parole is the most severe penalty permitted by Michigan law and shares some characteristics with death sentences that are shared by no other sentences,” says the motion filed by Hubbell. “Since Michigan currently does not execute convicted felons, it is the most severe penalty available. While the state does not execute the offenders, life without parole alters the offender’s life by a forfeiture that is irrevocable. . . The sentence means denial of hope, that good behavior and character improvement are immaterial, and whatever the future might hold in store for the mind and spirit of the offender, he will stay in prison for the rest of his days.”

To print or save this story, click on Michigan Challenges U.S. Supreme Court on JLWOP VOD

Related stories and documents:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/07/02/us-supreme-courts-juvenile-lifer-decision-brings-hope-to-thousands/

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/19215742/pa-high-court-fast-tracks-juvenile-lifer-appeals

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/05/mother_of_juvenile_lifer_pasto.html

Miller v Alalbama decision

Cortez Davis Successive Motion for Post Judgment Relief-signed

Schuette Worthy re Miller case

Second Chances Juveniles serving life without parole in Michigan prisons

The Rest of Their Lives Updated- Life without Parole for Youth Offenders in the United States 2008 Update

Attorney Clinton Hubbell contact: clint@hubbellduvall.com

Attorney Deborah LaBelle’s office is coordinating the defender network for juvenile lifers. Phone: (734) 996-5620 Fax: (734) 769-2196 e-Mail: deblabelle@aol.com

Attorney Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Institute, in video above, argued the Miller case on behalf of the defendant. He has devoted his life to such cases, despite the fact that his own grandfather was killed during a robbery by a group of teens.


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

DETROIT’S ASSESSOR’S OFFICE OUT OF PAPER DUE TO LACK OF PAYMENT TO VENDOR, BUT BING HIRES COSTLY MANAGERS

Greg Murray

By Greg Murray

August 17, 2012

(This is the first of a series of columns on the Assessor’s Office.) 

The City of Detroit is at it again. One step forward, two steps back.

Everyone knows the City of Detroit needs every penny it can get.  What some do not know is that there are divisions within Detroit’s departments that are charged with generating revenue.  One would think that those departments and divisions would be given priority when it comes to providing them resources need to keep the money flowing.  But one would be mistaken.

The city of Detroit’s Assessors office is out of paper.  Completely out of paper.  They need paper to make the city’s cheddar, so to speak.  The division cannot function without paper. You might think it is a small thing, but what business can function without paper?

This office within the City of Detroit’s Finance department is tasked with generating and defending millions of dollars in property tax assessments.  Yet, the workers in this office cannot get printer paper for its office because the vendor has not been paid and will not allow new orders.  That stops the business of the office dead in in its tracks.  A scramble is on right now to get some paper into the office at some point next week. Re-read that last sentence. 

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh (l) and Mayor Dave Bing (r).

How does this happen when Bing’s administration just rammed two personal service contracts down City Council’s throat for the division’s two management-level assessors who retired after 20 years with the city on July 20, 2012?  These two, who will now be paid a total of more than $250,000, ran the office that cannot now get a basic office resource such as paper. Who would not find this situation unconscionable and why should not those two persons be held accountable?

Starving a department of the resources necessary to conduct business is an age-old management strategy to negatively affect the performance of the department and thus justify contracting out the functions to other parties “to improve operational efficiency.”  Where have we heard this before (Detroit’s  Workforce Development Department, Department of Health and Wellness Promotion, and the Detroit Human Services Department)?

Assessor’s Division is in charge of property taxes which provide revenue to the city.

Sounds like a tactic right out of Bain Capital’s alleged playbook.

Bing’s administration has been in office long enough to ensure payment to vendors for services to key department and divisions.  The assessor’s office is such a division.  The assessor’s office determines the property tax for homes and businesses and answers taxpayer appeals of those assessments to the Michigan Tax Tribunal, which affects revenues the city should receive for property tax assessments. The revenue this department brings in helps prop up Detroit’s annual budget, and any slowdown in its operations can actually worsen the overall deficit.

In the corporate world, someone’s head would roll. Someone in management should be fired or, at the very least, disciplined.  The two high level assessors who ran the office for years and who just retired just to get cushy personal service contracts in the same division should be held accountable for what appears to be a history of their department’s bill’s not being paid.  Just where does the buck stop?


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PUGH BULLIES INTERN ON TWITTER OVER ABS VIDEO

Posted: 06/25/2012 7:30 pm Updated: 06/26/2012 2:08 am

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh has made headlines of late after releasing a workout video chronicling his battle to lose weight and develop six-pack abs – all while the city is on the brink of financial collapse.

Charles Pugh in abs video

The City of Detroit has entered into a controversial consent agreement with the State of Michigan to avoid bankruptcy because of structural long-term debts estimated at $12 billion. Detroit’s 2012-13 budget under Mayor Dave Bing slashed $250 million in spending, including eliminating 2,500 city jobs. In a city where fires break out on a daily basis, almost one in five sworn firefighters will be laid off by late July.

But Pugh, a rumored candidate in Detroit’s upcoming mayoral election, is dealing with a possible PR nightmare after publicly fighting with a journalism intern who questioned his leadership abilities on Twitter — even going so far as to threaten the young man’s unpaid job.

It all began two days ago, when, according to auto blog Jalopnik, Automotive News intern Josh Sidorowicz tagged @Charles_Pugh in a critical Tweet that referenced a recent column by the Detroit News’ Laura Berman.

Though Berman praised Pugh’s devotion to healthy living and exercise, which helped him lose 60 pounds since 2011, she signed off with a rebuke: “If only he would channel that same missionary spirit to saving the city he’s been elected to help lead.”

Tweeted Sidorowicz: “Wow, love this little piece. Too bad @Charles_Pugh has been such a disappointment for the city of Detroit so far.”

Pugh responded with a barrage of Tweets arguing with Sidorowicz, who questioned whether Pugh’s “celebrity status and personal agenda” were overshadowing the needs of a cash-strapped city.

Pugh bristled with new skinny guy, ripped abs-having confidence, pummeling the hapless intern like an unfortunate water boy bullied into the ring so the champ can enjoy a human punching bag for a change.

But Detroit’s City Council president, currently overseeing a contentious City Council in an ongoing fiscal crisis, didn’t stop there. He sent a Tweet to the main account of Automotive News, suggesting they rein in their summer charge.

@Charles_Pugh: @Automotive_News I’d appreciate a word to your intern Josh Sidorowicz about his offensive posts to my page. It doesn’t represent you well”

According to Sidorowicz’s Twitter account, he’s a senior at Michigan State University who sent over 2,600 Tweets, though his bio notes, “Views reflected on this account are my own and do not reflect those of my employer or other affiliates.” Continue reading


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

REV. PINKNEY FIGHTS LATEST ATTEMPT TO TOPPLE HIM FROM BH NAACP POST

Rev. Edward Pinkney, President of the Benton Harbor Twin Cities NAACP (center in cap) with his supporters after initial court hearing on lawsuit he has filed against Michigan NAACP attempt to oust him, April 11, 2012. The court ruled that the parties should work the matter out between them, and canceled a special election the state NAACP had planned for April 16.

 

From Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations (BANCO), Benton Harbor, Michigan

August 15, 2012

Rev. Edward Pinkney, president of the Benton Harbor Twin Cities NAACP, will burn his NAACP membership card along with eight different NAACP branches from around the country on Sunday at 5:30pm on the Pinkney to Pinkney show, blogtalkeradio.com!

Rev. Pinkney is asking every member of the NAACP to burn their NAACP membership cards. If a majority of members participated, it would send a clear message that we no longer tolerate the organization being run by corporations and people who comply with them.

Spread the word ! We need one thousand calls…………..call Gil Ford at 410-404-1408 at the NAACP National Headquarters. 

Rev. James Atterberry receiving award in 2007 from Lake Michigan College Officials. He headed a task force appointed by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in the wake of the 2004 Benton Harbor rebellion against police brutality. Its promises of jobs and better economic conditions for the residents of Benton Harbor were never carried out.

 

A corporate-looking email is circulating. It states that the newly created Benton Harbor “Leadership Caucus” endorses a state NAACP organized election to oust Rev. Pinkney. People who made calls to Rev. James Atterberry of this “group” heard from him that Pinkney is too much of a “trouble maker.”

They want a new Twin Cities NAACP president. (Or, at least their overlord, Whirlpool, does.) James Atterberry is a black man who would be elected to handle the affairs of Whirlpool.

This is Rev. Pinkney’s response: 

Rev. Pinkney at May 26, 2012 rally against the Whirlpool-sponsored Senior PGA held on a luxury golf course which took over public park and beach land.

 

None of the current membership will be attending the unsanctioned election. The national office provided us the list of memberships paid by check from Whirlpool’s Marcus Robinson. It includes the Benton Harbor School Superintendent Leonard Seawood, Rev. Kenneth Gavin, Rev. Melvin Burton, Ms. Alloyd Blackmon, Rev. Nat Wells, Rev. James Atterberry, Mr. Corey Bell, and Mr. Jerry Price. These are the people who support Whirlpool and not the community.

Attorneys representing Rev. Edward Pinkney in lawsuit against state NAACP were (l to r) Buck Davis and Elliott Hall.

The election is in direct violation of the Wayne County Circuit Court order. Only the $100,000 law suit was thrown out because the national office did not have time to respond to activities of state pres. Yvonne White of Detroit and VP James Gill of Lansing.

It’s alleged that they must have this election in August to ensure that Whirlpool is given an NAACP business-of-the-year award.

The voices of the PEOPLE of Benton Harbor need to be heard. Unfortunately, the oppression has lasted for so many years, and the injustices are so profound, that the voices have been silenced.

This has been the Whirlpool plan all along. Eliminate as many jobs as possible, convict and imprison as many people possible, take away as many services as possible, and people are either driven away, or stay — in silence. Then, the land grab is easy. Instead of fighting the oppression (not too strong a word), the people who signed onto this “Call for new leadership” are playing a part in it.

God help the “Leadership Caucus” as we return to court with the membership list, the email from Whirlpool, and letters of compliance from President Jealous.

Contact: Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001

President Benton Harbor Twin Cities NAACP

http://www.bhbanco.org

Blogtalkradio.com   “Pinkney to Pinkney”  Every Sunday 5pm


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AFRICAN WORLD FESTIVAL AUG. 17 THRU 19: WATCH ON UIN NETWORK

The Wright Museum of African American History contracted the UIN network to broadcast the African World Festival. This will be done as a Pay Per View to raise funds for the Museum. UIN will stream 3 days of great programming all for $9.95.

Click on the link below to sign up.
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8WTZV4C8U7BPU


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ECUADOR GRANTS ASYLUM TO WIKILEAKS FOUNDER ASSANGE, FEARING EVENTUAL EXTRADITION TO U.S.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (l) and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

 

By NBC News and wire reports 

August 16, 2012 Updated at 8:52 a.m. ET

LONDON — Ecuador granted asylum to Julian Assange on Thursday, expressing fury at a threat by Britain to seize the WikiLeaks founder at its London embassy.

Ricardo Patino, the Ecuadorean foreign minister, told a news conference in Quito it was upholding international law by granting asylum to Assange.

Britain earlier said it would it would revoke the diplomatic status of Quito’s embassy in west London — where the Australian has been holed up since June 19 — in order to seize Assange irrespective of the asylum decision.

Ecuadorean Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino addresses the media during a news conference to announce the government’s decision over Julian Assange’s case at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Quito August 16, 2012. Ecuador has granted political asylum to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on Thursday, a day after the British government threatened to storm the Ecuadorean embassy in London to arrest the former hacker. REUTERS/Erick Ilaquize

Patino expressed fury at Britain’s earlier threat to arrest Assange, saying it was a direct threat to the Ecuador’s sovereignty.

Assange, who incensed American government officials by publishing thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables and Iraq and Afghan war dispatches in 2010, sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over assault and rape claims, which he denies. He exhausted all appeals after a 17-month legal battle.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, accused the UK of making an “open threat” to enter its embassy to arrest Mr Assange, an Australian national.

Sweden immediately summoned Ecuador’s ambassador in Stockholm, according to foreign ministry spokesman Anders Jorle. He said: “We want to tell them that it’s [unacceptable] that Ecuador is trying to stop the Swedish judicial process.”

In his statement, Patino said there was a risk Assange would be taken to the United States where he “would not have a fair trial, he could be judged by special or military courts, and it is not unlikely to believe he would be treated in a cruel and degrading way, that he would receive a life sentence or death penalty, with which his human rights would not be respected.

A version of Patino’s statement was posted online by Ecuador’s foreign ministry (in Spanish).

Assange’s recognition as a political refugee by Ecuador’s leftist government was a big symbolic victory for the ex-hacker, but it did little to answer the question: `How will he ever leave the embassy?’

“We’re at something of an impasse,” extradition lawyer Rebecca Niblock said shortly after the news broke. “The U.K. government will arrest Julian Assange as soon as he sets foot outside the embassy but it’s very hard as well to see the Ecuadorean government changing their position.”

She said there was practically no precedent for the situation, invoking the case of a Hungarian cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, who camped out at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest from 1956 to 1971. “One can’t see Mr. Assange doing the same thing,” she told BBC television. “One side will have to back down eventually.”

Outside the embassy on Thursday,  protesters chanting slogans in support of Assange tussled with police.

Protester supporting Assange is arrested outside Ecuadorean embassy in London Aug. 16, 2012.

“There was a serious escalation in the police presence, including a helicopter overhead,” said NBC News’ Keith Miller at the scene. “This has turned from a legal situation into a major physical standoff in central London. The next move will be interesting because the only way for Assange to leave the embassy is through the front door, where he would be immediately arrested.”

A Reuters reporter saw at least three protesters being dragged away by police as the crowd shouted: “You are trying to start a war with Ecuador.” About 20 officers were outside the embassy trying to push away the crowd of about 15 supporters.

“It is too early to say when or if Britain will revoke the Ecuadorian embassy’s diplomatic status,” a Foreign Office spokesman earlier told Reuters by telephone.

“Giving asylum doesn’t fundamentally change anything,” the spokesman said, adding that Britain had a legal duty to extradite Assange to Sweden.

After the announcement, a spokesman said the UK foreign ministry “disappointed” but would still carry out its “binding obligation” to extradite Assange to Sweden.

“Throughout this process we have drawn the Ecuadoreans’ attention to relevant provisions of our law,” the British Foreign Office wrote on its Twitter account early Thursday.

Ecuador: UK threatened to break WikiLeaks’ Assange out of embassy

“We are still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution,” it tweeted.

‘Colonial times are over’
Quito bristled at the threat.

“We want to be very clear, we’re not a British colony. The colonial times are over,” Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said in an angry statement after a meeting with President Rafael Correa.

“The move announced in the official British statement, if it happens, would be interpreted by Ecuador as an unfriendly, hostile and intolerable act, as well as an attack on our sovereignty, which would force us to respond in the strongest diplomatic way,” Patino told reporters. Continue reading


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘SUICIDE’ WHILE HANDCUFFED IN JONESBORO, ARKANSAS

 

Theresa Carter, mother of Chavis Carter, is interviewed by a news station following the candlelight vigil held in her son’s honor on August 6, at the First Baptist Church on Kitchen Street in Jonesboro, Ark. Chavis Chacobie Carter, 21, of Southaven, Miss., died following a traffi c stop on Haltom Street. The offi cers who made the stop, Keith Baggett and Ron Marsh, said the man committed suicide while handcuffed in the back of the police car. They remain on paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation, Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates said. AP Photo/The Jonesboro Sun, Krystin McClellan

‘My child was never suicidal’

A grieving mother, family, friends and community are trying to get an answer about how a 21-year-old kills himself while handcuffed behind his back. Some are convinced Chavis Carter was killed by police in Arkansas and say his death is part of a longtime problem—the killing of Black males at the hands of law enforcement.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee (l) and police commissioners express dismay at Council refusal to put tax for police on ballot, Aug. 7. 2012.

(VOD ed. note: this excellent article also describes the national epidemic of police brutality, which is currently being ignored here in Detroit in most media outlets. Instead, the daily media here attacked the City Council for refusing to place an extra “public safety” tax on the ballot for the police. In fact, the Law Department advised the Council it would mean a loss of state revenue-sharing funds for other services. Nothing was brought up about the continuing flood of police brutality lawsuit payouts in Detroit.)

By Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: Aug 15, 2012 – 8:59:51 AM

Theresa Carter doesn’t believe police claims that her son shot himself to death with his hands cuffed behind his back in a police cruiser.

She is hurting and wants to know what happened in the last moments of life for 21-year-old Chavis Carter, who died in the custody of Jonesboro, Ark., police after a traffic stop. A growing number of people also want the truth and others believe the young Black man was killed by police. The suicide story, they say, is ludicrous.

Chavis Carter (family photo)

“I’m just heartbroken. I just want to know what really happened. … My child was never suicidal. He would never kill himself. My son was full of joy, full of life, full of ambition,” Ms. Carter somberly yet emphatically told The Final Call in an exclusive interview.

There is a growing movement to get the truth about the death of Chavis Carter with Facebook pages calling for justice, an online petition and a protest scheduled for August 20 at the National Civil Rights Museum to press demands for justice and the story of what happened. At Final Call presstime, the Department of Justice was scheduled to hold a community forum at Greater Dimension Church, Jonesboro, Ark., on August 14.

Some five hours after the shooting, police said Chavis, who is left-handed, shot himself in the right temple after being searched twice, Ms. Carter said.

Brother Kareem Ali, member of Nation of Islam’s Southaven, Mississippi Study Group with the mother and family of Chavis Carter at an Aug. 6 prayer vigil in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Photo: Charles Wali Muhammad

Her son’s father and two brothers are also having difficulty coping, she added. “A day don’t go by I don’t cry. I’m just trying to be strong and hold up. I just want justice served,” she added. The mother was resolute after a Sunday evening vigil Aug. 12 for her son in Tunica, Miss.

“It’s a case that begs to be looked at and we’re going to look and see if we can tell exactly what really happened that night,” said family attorney Russell Marlin of the Cochran Firm. The lawyer called the case one of the oddest police custody incidents he has ever looked at.

Jonesboro Police Chief Michael Yates

As answers are awaited, police don’t know when forensics results will be ready but have requested priority on the case, Chief Michael Yates said in an Aug. 10 e-mail to The Final Call. Without the results, the chief said no further information could be released.

Authorities say Chavis Carter and two men were stopped by Jonesboro police July 29 for driving erratically. Police allegedly found marijuana, small plastic bags and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle and on Mr. Carter, in the back seat. He was searched twice, arrested for an outstanding warrant and placed in a police car. The other two people involved, both of whom were White, were let go, officers said

While officers were not looking, they say Mr. Carter shot himself with hands behind his back.

Youth protests death of Chavis Carter while in police custody and handcuffed.

Two days after his burial, the Tunica NAACP hosted a prayer vigil Aug. 6 where friends of Chavis Carter waved posters that read, “Am I Next?” and “Justice for Chavis.” More rallies and vigils are planned, according to Kareem Ali, an activist and member of the Nation of Islam’s Study Group in South Haven, Mississippi.

The Carter family is asking the community to keep them in prayer, share what they know, and stay vigilant for the truth, according to Mr. Ali.

“I met the aunt of Chavis Carter and I consoled her as she was in tears. She said, ‘Ya’ll don’t stop fighting! Don’t stop fighting!’ It was the moment I knew that we had to help this family,” Mr. Ali said.

Chavis Carter (Facebook photo)

He is helping to organize the upcoming prayer vigil and rally at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Mr. Ali suggested the museum, the former Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered, as a good location for the mid-South. The staff is working to help make the event successful, he said.

Meanwhile a website to increase awareness about the case is in the works, a petition demanding justice has been launched on Change.org and a Justice for Chavis Carter Facebook page has been created.

Fear of a police cover-up

Shortly before the shooting, Mr. Carter called his cell phone, said Demetris Itson, his best friend. He regrets not picking up.

“I don’t know if he called to say, ‘Hey man, I’m in trouble,’ or ‘They’re fixing to do something to me.’ I don’t know what he wanted and that’s something that bothers me day in and day out,” Mr. Itson said. Continue reading


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

NYC POLICE MOB KILLS MAN WITH KITCHEN KNIFE NEAR TIMES SQUARE

Media, You Tube censored video above

Man was stopped for smoking marijuana, police say

NYPD officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man near 37th and 7th in front of a large crowd of shocked bystanders. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital around 3pm where he later died Aug. 12. Police claimed the man was approached for smoking marijuana and ran away. They gave chase.

They claimed he lunged at them, but he is seen continually backing away during the chase. Police cars surrounded the large crowd of police obscuring bystanders’ views as they shot the man to death. A man is heard at the end of this cell phone video saying, “That wasn’t a justified kill.”

The New York Times displayed the video above on their website, but cut it short after only a few seconds. You Tube flagged the video, forcing viewers to sign in with their user name and password and give their birthdate before viewing it.

One bystander commented in another video that the man appeared dazed and panicked, as if he didn’t know what to do.

Bystander’s photo of police aiming guns at man, who has not yet been identified.

 


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DETROITERS FIGHT SNYDER/BING, BANKS TO END PA4 “CONSENT AGREEMENT,” SAVE CITY; COUNCIL MEETING AUG. 14

 

Detroit water department workers and their supporters march outside Coleman A. Young Center Aug. 2: SAVE WATER DEPT! SAVE DETROIT! STRIKE!

 

 

By Diane Bukowski

August 13, 2012 

DETROIT – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, aided and abetted by the local daily media, are constantly insisting that Detroit’s Public Act 4 “Fiscal Stability (consent) Agreement” (FSA) is solidly in place despite the suspension of PA 4.

Local 207 is mobilizing for a city-wide strike to save Detroit. This protest Aug. 2 was the second in a series planned across the city.

The State Board of Canvassers voted to place a measure that would repeal PA 4 on the ballot Aug.8, after the Michigan Supreme Court ordered them to do so. The Act is thus null and void until a popular vote in November, according to state law.

Bing told the Associated Press Aug. 12 that the suspension of PA 4 “shouldn’t change” what Detroit has already done under the FSA. That includes his shutdown of three federally funded departments,  the unilateral imposition of a “City Employment Terms” edict on Detroit’s unionized workers, plans for thousands of lay-offs including 81 percent of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department work force, and plans to lease Belle Isle to the State.

Regarding changes in four other cities and three school districts since the suspension of PA4, he told the AP, “They had an emergency manager. We have a financial agreement. That’s the difference. That’s a big difference.”

Marchers blasted Bing during his 2010 State of the City address.

The city’s Corporation Counsel, attorneys for Stand Up for Democracy, members of Free Detroit-No Consent, city workers, and even Wall Street’s Fitch Ratings Agency disagree strongly with the Snyder-Bing stance.

The City Council is set to hold a special closed session Tues. Aug. 14 at 9:45 a.m. on specific matters related to the consent agreement. They will consider two Law Department opinions issued on the administration’s transfer of funds and equipment in the Detroit Workforce and Health and Wellness Promotion departments to private entities. Public comment is scheduled prior to the closed session.

(Click on  CC Special Session -08-14-12 to view Council agenda, and on http://voiceofdetroit.net/2012/08/11/did-city-directors-steal-fed-for-private-agencies/ for earlier VOD story.)

Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon

“Without an enabling statute, the State and City are not authorized to vitiate provisions in a home rule charter, which have been adopted through a vote of the people,” Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon told the Council in a formal opinion April 1.

“Although the city may enter into the proposed Agreement [FSA], the City Council should be cognizant of the possibility that the Agreement may be invalid if the petitions to repeal Public Act 4 are certified, or Public Act 4 is repealed. Further, although the City may enter into the proposed Agreement, the City Council should be cognizant of the potential legal challenges that may arise concerning the proposed Agreement.”

Crittendon cited numerous sections of the FSA which are enabled only through PA 4. She noted that even PA 4 does not authorize the establishment of the nine-member corporate-controlled Financial Advisory Board appointed under the FSA. Lawyers for the city’s unions have argued the city has no right to abrogate collective bargaining agreements, pursuant to state statutes not overturned by PA 4.

Attorney Butch Hollowell (l) with City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson and Detroit NAACP head Wendell Anthony demand PA 4 go on ballot at Court of Appeals.

“Clearly, the financial stability agreement was negotiated within the Public Act 4 context,” Attorney Melvin “Butch”  Hollowell, one of four lawyers who represented Stand Up for America, initiator of the PA 4 referendum, told the AP. “There is no court that wouldn’t understand that. You can’t put illegal provisions in a contract and expect them to hold up. . . . My sense is probably the actions going forward are under serious legal question. You can no longer impose your will by dictatorship.”

At a Council session Aug. 6, members of Free Detroit No Consent called on the Council to undo the harm they have already done by voting for the FSA. Many of the five Council members who voted for it have since expressed dismay at its consequences. Council President Charles Pugh has said he would not have voted for it if he had known it would mean union-busting.

Free Detroit-No Consent truck outside CAYMC Aug. 7, 2012.

“I urge you to pass not a resolution but an ordinance pursuant to the Michigan Supreme Court decision,” Valerie Glenn of Free Detroit-No Consent said. Meanwhile U-Haul trucks ready to evict the Financial Advisory Board and officials including Project Manager Kriss Andrews circled the building with huge signs declaring “MOVE OUT NOW.”

Dr. Gloria House read parts of the group’s letter to the Council.

Dr. Gloria House, Edith Lee Payne and Valerie Green asked City Council to undo the damages done by the consent agreement, during session Aug. 7, 2012.

“We in Free Detroit No Consent are confident that the people will vote to repeal Public Act 4 in November,” she said.

“In the intervening weeks, we call for the suspension of all measures that have been initiated by the emergency manager of Detroit schools and by the City Council through the Consent Agreement and the Financial Advisory Board. These decisions, which have violated the rights of workers to collective bargaining, allowed the dismantling of city agencies which provide health and welfare support to thousands of citizens, and fostered total chaos and demoralization in our public education system, must be reversed.”

She asked the City Council to take action to “undo the mistake it made by entering into the Fiscal Stability Agreement.”

Detroit City Council took oath to uphold the City Charter during their swearing-in ceremony.

In addition to possible legal challenges from the Council, the City Charter gives it the power to put the decision back in the hands of the people, where many have said it should have been in the first place.

Andrew Daniels-El (r) with city charter during Call ‘em Out rally to save water department Jan. 28, 2009. Agnes Hitchcock, Local 207 President John Riehl on stage.

Sec. 3.105 of the Charter says, “The City Council may submit, by resolution adopted not less than seventy (70) days before any election or special election, any proposal to the voters of the city.”

Thus the Council still has time to submit a proposal to voters asking them to affirm or negate  the FSA  Nov. 6. Such a move would cut short the long-drawn out legal process that PA 4 advocates have counted on to dismantle Detroit.

Even Fitch Ratings recognized the impact of the suspension of PA 4 on the FSA.

Fitch Ratings said PA 4 repeal may nullify Detroit consent agreement.

“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,” Fitch Ratings said in a statement after the state Supreme Court ruling.

During the Council session Aug. 7, Tyrone Travis of Free Detroit, and the Coalition to Stop Privatization and Save Our City, called on the people themselves to take action.

Tyrone Travis and Valerie Burris of Free Detroit No Consent address city council Aug. 7 in opposition to consent agreement.

“They are treating Detroiters like N’s,” Travis said. “I call on Detroiters not to vote for any bonds, and on elected officials to put any taxes to the state in escrow. Then prepare to shut the city down. They have condemned us to slavery and our children to prison.”

Valerie Burris said, “We can take our power back. The Detroit Free Press and News websites are full of racist comments from suburbanites against our city. The city has been overtaken by corporate rulers putting public power in private hands.”

Water department workers and supporters at CAYMC Aug. 2, 2012.

On Aug. 2, city water department workers and their supporters marched again in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Members of Local 207 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are mobilizing for a city-wide strike against the city’s proposals in DWSD, by DWSD workers as well as the rest of the city. (See Local 207 newsletter below this story.)

Meanwhile, the Metro Times published an article Aug. 8 blaming global banks for the distress of cities like Detroit, but only advocating bankruptcy as a solution. Many activists are calling instead for a moratorium on Detroit’s $12.6 billion debt to the banks, which have already profited from trillions in taxpayer bail-out dollars.

Detroiters campaign for moratorium on city’s debt to the banks May 9, 2012 at CAYMC.

 


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment