Bing’s Detroit Works “Advisory” Task Force

 Corporate, private foundation leaders and realtors dominate list 
By Diane Bukowski

Bishop Charles Ellis praying for auto bail-out

CHAIR: Bishop Charles Ellis, Greater Grace Temple

Mayor Dave Bing held his first “community forum” on “restructuring” Detroit at Ellis’s palatial temple at Seven Mile and Telegraph, Sept. 14. Ellis also owns and operates the Rogell golf course, which previously belonged to the city, and is negotiating to take over four other public courses. He runs two charter schools and a senior apartment complex among other revenue-producing enterprises

In Dec. 2008, Bishop Ellis conducted a well-publicized prayer service calling on Congress to vote for the multi-billion dollar auto industry bail-out. 

 “ . . .If the auto industry gets their bail-out, they are going to FIRE thousands of workers to survive a little while longer until they need another taxpayer bailout,” said ‘Professor Tracey’ on a local blog. “Bishop Ellis and his flock needed to hold a prayer service for new jobs OUTSIDE of the auto industry . . . . not something that will keep white auto executives collecting bonuses for failing at their jobs! . . . .the very idea of holding a prayer service for the auto industry when so many black folks are losing their homes, dying in Iraq, struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, languishing in prisons, not getting a quality education, not saving for the future, not safe in their own homes, etc. What a waste!”!”

Phillip Cooley

CO-CHAIR: Philip Cooley, owner Slow’s Bar BQ, developer

“Since launching the perpetually packed Slows five years ago, Cooley has morphed into one of the city’s most-visible urban activists . . . .Up for grabs, however, is whether longtime Detroiters will buy into the progressive agenda of this small-town transplant and his like-minded allies — mostly young, white and suburban-raised — and their affection for the city’s Rome-like ruins.” (Detroit News 5/6/10.)


Cooley and his brother established O’Connor Development Group, LLC in 2004, a real estate agency located in the same building as Slow’s. Today, O’Connor Development . . . .also owns about eight commercial and residential properties in Detroit,” says Crain’s. “Several of the properties have been renovated and are rental loft apartments while other properties are in the development stage.” In that article, Cooley called Detroit “a blank canvas.”


Several years ago, Cooley and a group of Corktown newcomers posted a controversial email establishing committees to transform the area:


(excerpt) “Team Bagley Market: These folks will start organizing complaints against Bagley Market, as well as rogue acts of bad will. We hope to make their operation as difficult as possible until the day when we can afford to swoop in and buy them out to open our own specialty grocery;The Bermuda Triangle: This includes . . . activism to stop the free handouts in our neighborhood that facilitate the drugs, crime and general malcontent that thrives from St Peters to the Train Station to the Mission on Michigan. Phil and I are hoping to go talk to the people at the church next week and will give an update. We’ll try being nice first.”


Allegedly, Cooley et. al. backed off and began cooperating with Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman of St. Peters, which sponsors a soup kitchen, as well as Charles Sorel, brother-in-law of Michigan Citizen publisher Catherine Kelly, and founder of another white-frequented bistro, Le Petit Zinc.

Lydia Gutierrez

CO-CHAIR Lydia Gutierrez, Mexican Foods LLC, SWDBA

Crain’s: “The president and CEO of Detroit-based Hacienda Mexican Foods LLC oversees three facilities, 80-plus employees and a company with $8 million to $10 million in revenue. Gutierrez and her late husband Ricardo started Hacienda, a manufacturer and distributor of Mexican food products, 22 years ago.” 

Crain’s quotes Gutierrez regarding some of her concerns:“What kinds of businesses will help to fuel more business in Corktown, what’s going on in Bagley, and how does that connect with Riverfront Conservancy, the greenway, the (Ambassador) Bridge, downtown Detroit?”

The Southwest Detroit Business Association joined in the One Detroit coalition of Mexican, Asian and Arab-American business owners who helped defeat the initial proposal for a city-funded African Town in 2006, despite the fact that the city has invested millions in the neighborhood known as Mexican Town.  

Alice Thompson

Alice Thompson, Executive Director, Black Family Development,  member Change for Better Schools 

 Black Family Development is a non-profit that raked in $28.9 million in revenues during 2008. According to recent grant applications, it works closely with the Skillman Foundation and their Good Neighborhoods/Good Schools Initiatives.

In a grant application linking the Osborn and Clark Park neighborhoods, BFDI is partnering with DPS, the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the Detroit Parent Network, Child Trends, Southwest Solutions, Inc. and City Year. Matching funds are expected from the Skillman, W. K. Kellogg, and Kresge Foundations.

Osborn High School and Clark Park Elementary are expected to be torn down and replaced by K-14 campuses under DPS Czar Robert Bobb’s $500.5 million bond issue.

Thompson is a member of “Change for Better Schools,” the coalition that tried unsuccessfully to get a proposal for Bing’s mayoral control of DPS on this November’s ballot.      


Heaster Wheeler to right of Dave Bing at ALPACT dinner

Heaster Wheeler, Exec. Director Detroit NAACP

Wheeler works closely with Rev. Wendell Anthony, who recently hosted a forum featuring speakers from numerous law enforcement agencies, addressing crime in Detroit. Wheeler himself serves on the board of ALPACT (Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust), at a time of rising numbers of killings by police regionally. ALPACT was founded in the wake of 9/11, saying “all Americans are feeling a mix of pain and agony, patriotism and unity.” Its stated goal is challenge rising “bigotry and hate.”


Its first meeting in Detroit, featuring then Mayor Dennis Archer and numerous law enforcement officials as speakers, was swamped by victims of police brutality from metro Detroit who denounced the panelists. Protesters from the family of Imam Luqman Abdullah, killed by the Detroit FBI in a raid last November, and their supporters demonstrated outside an ALPACT dinner held at the RenCen only weeks after the Imam’s death. Detroit FBI head Andrew Agenda and attorney Nabil Ayad co-chaired the dinner, which featured U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as a speaker. 

To date, neither the federal nor state governments have released any conclusions about their investigations of the Imam’s virtual execution (he was shot 21 times). Twelve members of his mosque, which ministered to the needs of residents of one of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods, still face charges based on conversations reported by FBI informants. 

Wheeler also sits on the board of People and Land (PAL), “an organization focused on growth and change in Michigan, funded by the W.K. Kellog Foundation, according to its website.   


TASK FORCE MEMBERS (listed alphabetically)

Troy A. Adam: employed by the global Metzeler Automotive Profile Systems, now known as Henniger Automotive after a merger in 2007. Also works with North Cass Community Gardens, which provide food for Motor City Brewing, Majestic Café, Atlas Global Bistro, and Mario’s restaurants.

Larry Alexander, board chair of the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, which now runs Cobo Hall. The DRCFA was allegedly established to expand Cobo, but has now announced expansion plans are off the table. It recently contracted management of Cobo to SMG, a Pennsylvania-based company, and borrowed $80 million from Wells Fargo Bank. Alexander is also President/CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and board member of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Birdies Anderson, Jr. of Goldfinger Enterprises, LLC, founded in 2010 to market sportswear. Also with After School Connect and Promote Your Business. Resident of Oak Park.

Prof. Erick Barnes, University of Detroit Mercy. Director of The Master’s of Intelligence Analysis program, “designed to help meet the governmental need for specialists in the area of intelligence analysis to assist in the tasks of homeland security in the face of threats from global terrorism.” Also former Dep. Chief  with Detroit Police Department, directed crime mapping.

Russ Bellant, Helco Block Club, also with DPS Transition Team. Retired city worker who worked with skilled trades apprenticeship program.

Delores Bennett, founder of Northend Improvement Council. Also member of Change for Better Schools, which supported mayoral control of DPS. Worked with former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s “Next Detroit” transition team, resulting in devastation of  North End, according to residents.

Fay Beydoun, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, which includes small businesses as well as multinational corporations. Its partners include Ford Motor Co., Comerica Bank, ATT and DTE. VP of American Middle East Economic Affairs Committee of the U.S. Arab Economic Forum.

Austin Black II, founder of City Living Detroit, a real estate brokerage specializing in Detroit properties in downtown, the riverfront, the cultural center, and historic neighborhoods.

Dr. Robert Bland, founder Bland and Associates realty. Retired from Lewis College of Business.

David Blaszkiewicz, founder Detroit Investment Fund. Board members include wealthy realtor Matthew Cullen, DTE CEO Anthony Earley, MASCO CEO Richard  Manoogian, reps. of Ford Motor Co. and GM, Charter One Bank, and Honigman, Miller Schwartx $ Cohn.

Paul Bridgewater, Pres. CEO Detroit Area Agency on Aging.

Sonya Delley, Senior VP of Community Relations, real estate at Bank of America. “We’re converting old buildings into beautiful, funky lofts for the creative class and visionaries,” she said.  

Edward Egnatios,  Skillman Foundation program officer with “Good Neighborhoods Initiative.”

Tom Goddeeris, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation. Recently hosted former police chief Warren Evans’ multi-law enforcement agency press conference.on crime.

Anika Goss Foster, LISC  (Local Initiatives Support Coalition) “The Detroit LISC mission is to develop strategic relationships that serve as the catalyst to empower neighborhood developers, using our financial and technological resources, to build economically viable neighborhoods.” LISC is funded by private entities like Bank of America, Charter One, Comerica, DTE, Fannie Mae, Fifth Third Bank, the Ford Foundation, GMAC, Home Depot, Knight Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the Kresge Foundation, Living Cities, MASCO, MSHDA, Skillman Foundation, Small Business Administration. State Farm, HUD, and the Kellogg Foundation.

Ponsella Hardaway, Director  MOSES, coalition of faith-based organizations. MOSES is sponsoring a forum in October on “Regionalism: Equity and Opportunity: We are all in this together!” They support Mayor Bing’s Detroit Works Plan. Although originally part of the Coalition to Protect Detroit Health Care, they began acting independently of partners like MichUHCAN, setting up forums that were essentially rallies for Mike Duggan’s proposal to turn the DMC over to Vanguard Health Care.

Adam Hollier  Arden Park East Boston Association, representing a historic district of lavish homes, most of which have been renovated.

Michelle Jackson  Green Explosion, (DBA) 12001 W. McNichols, Detroit.

Andre Johnson, Director, Detroit Recovery Project, run by the private Clark Associates out of city property in the Herman Kiefer Health Complex. Clark has numerous other private projects receiving public funding.

Eleanor Josaitis  Focus: HOPE. Provides food  to mothers, children and seniors; job training, much of it funded by the military-industrial complex.

Christine Kageff  J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation

Luther Keith  ARISE Detroit: “We are a broad-based coalition of community groups. Our mission is to launch a new wave of volunteerism for the many worth while programs and activities that are struggling with the issues that trouble our community – illiteracy, high school dropout rates, crime and youth violence, drug abuse, domestic abuse, neighborhood blight and unemployment.” Replaces what were originally public jobs paying good wages for Detroit residents.  Officers include leaders of the Skillman Foundation, City Year and Youthville Detroit.

Renee Kent PNC Bank Community Development

Anita Lane  CDAD, originator of the Detroit Strategic Framework Plan on which Bing’s Detroit Works Project is based. Members are “community development corporations” and other major corporate players. From website:  “Vacant land and very-low density areas [0-51 percent populated according to maps published earlier) should be repurposed in ways that enhance the quality of life for city residents, create jobs, improve the environment and lay the groundwork for future redevelopment. New uses could include open space, recreation, greenways, urban agriculture, alternative energy production or temporary land banking. Residents of low-density areas should be provided incentives to relocate into denser, more stable neighborhoods. However, Detroit has enough vacant land that reuse strategies could begin with little or no displacement of residents.

Ann Lang,  CEO Downtown Detroit Partnership. Board chair is Roger Penske; other officers include realtor Matthew Cullen, Marvin Beatty of the Greektown Casino, John Blanchard of GM, William Brooks of United American Healthcare, Keith Crain, Crain’s Communications, Lorenzo Creighton of MGM Grand, George Jackson of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Cynthia Pasky of Strategic Staffing Solutions (outsourcer), Danile Loepp of BCBS, Thomas Ogden, Comerica Bank, John Rakolta of Walbridge-Aldinger, Gary Torgow of the Sterling Group.

Sharon Madison Polk, Madison Madison International, Black-owned general contractor which was ousted by first state take-over school board from managing the 1994 $1.5 million construction bond.

Conrad Mallett, Jr. , CEO DMC Sinai-Grace; advocate of Vanguard takeover.

Martin Manna, Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce.

Patricia McGants , You Can International. “The mission of  You Can is to assist in creating business opportunities that will positively impact the direction of Africa and the United States. To be a support mechanism as we build across the Atlantic Ocean with out stretched arms toward one another. Sharing our knowledge, understanding and embracing each others difference.”

Faye Nelson, CEO  Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, board composed of CEO’s from most major Detroit Corporations.

Steve Ogden, Exec. Director  Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative; “ Our mission is to reinforce, revitalize and redevelop targeted neighborhoods into thriving communities.” Received $1.25 million grant from Knight Foundation (newspaper brothers) To assist Detroit in implementing land use plans for more than 4,400 publicly-owned abandoned or vacant properties in the pivotal Northend neighborhood.

Dan RIngo IUOE 324, Local recently took over IUOE 547, which sponsored apprenticeship programs in Detroit; IUOE 324’s apprenticeship school is in Howell, MI.

Shenay Shumake, Pastor  Solid Rock Assembly of God

Shirley Stancato, New Detroit, another conglomerate of major corporate leaders

Kim Tandy, Sherwood Forest Neighborhood Assn., representing one of Detroit’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Paul Taylor, Inner City Sub Center

James Thrower, Sr. JAMJOMAR, dba McDonald’s at 1000 Mack.

Kevin Tolbert  UAW.  President of Trade Union Leadership Council (TULC)

Khary Turner, Black Bottom Collective, local hip-hop artist and music scene commentator.

Rev.Jerome Warfield, Sr.  Brightmoor Alliance, also chair of Board of Police Commissioners; member of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Detroit program; 2007 Outstanding Ecumenical Leader Award from the N.E.X.T Detroit Neighborhood Initiative; worked in corporate America’s health care industry for more than 17 years, as a sales consultant for Fortune 500 companies, the Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, Bausch & Lomb, 3M Corporation, 3M Media, and MERCK & Co.; associated with Skillman Foundation.

Kathleen Wendler   Southwest Detroit Business Association (see co-chair Lydia Gutierrez).

Alan Scott White, WISE Real Estate   Junior League

Donele Wilkins, director Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

Rev. Chas. Wms II, Historic King Solomon Baptist Church

Thomas Woiwode, Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan; director for their Greenways Initiative, completed more than 300 conservation real estate acquisitions,

Malik Yakini, Detroit Black Food Security Network, also charter school CEO.

Corporate and private foundation leaders dominate list  

By Diane Bukowski

Heaster Wheeler next to Mayor Dave Bing at ALPACT dinner

CO-CHAIR Heaster Wheeler, Exec. Director Detroit NAACP 

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