Public workers protest Bing and council attacks Nov. 17, 2011

Are Snyder, Bing, Council and EY conspiring to get concessions or EM?

PA 4 (EM law) may be frozen by mid-December, as referendum petition nears signature goal

Council handing out tax abatements as it demands 2300 lay-offs

By Diane Bukowski

November 26, 2011

DETROIT – Are Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council manufacturing an economic crisis in collusion with Ernst & Young as well as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder? Are they trying to force “sacrifice” out of the city’s workers and poor while allowing the city’s corporations and banks to make hay while the sun shines?

VOD reader S. Mack said it all in a recent on-line comment. 

Nov. 17 protester

A Forensic Audit is needed to catch these crooks from the past to the present administrations,” Mack noted. “We need an honest outsider to do the Audit. It’s not hard to see things are purposely in place to continue to give away assets and to privatize, regionalize and corporatize the city.  

“[It is] also population control to remove one group for another, [and] an attack on the poor, a cause and effect to raise the poverty numbers in this City, while they give the banks,  corporations, casinos and big businesses a pass. Tax abatements should be a thing of the past. There are businesses who haven’t paid taxes in thirty years or more, rich taxpayers who don’t live in the city. Millions of federal dollars are sent back instead of being utilized to build economic wealth for the city. You gotta believe things are being done deliberately.” 

PA 4 could be frozen by mid-December 

The recent sequence of events raises the possibility that there is a deliberate effort to put an EM over Detroit, or at least to bleed concessions out of the unions, before Public Act 4 is frozen. That could happen as early as mid-December. 

In a recent release, Michigan Forward said regarding its campaign for a referendum to repeal PA4, Stand Up for Democracy is announcing it has verified more than half of the 250,000 signatures the group wants to collect. Only 161,304 valid signatures are needed to freeze the emergency manager law and put it on the November 2012 general election ballot.” 

Michigan Forward is a state-wide coalition of labor, community and religious leaders. Its founder Brandon Jessup said they expect to have enough signatures by mid-December.  

Michigan’s Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 9 says, “No law as to which the power of referendum properly has been invoked shall be effective thereafter unless approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon at the next general election.” 

(Click on to read previous VOD article on campaign to defeat PA 4.) 

Snyder becomes bad cop 

Snyder turns bad cop

Snyder appears rather concerned. After Bing timorously raised Councilwoman JoAnn Watson’s demand that the state repay $220 million it owes to Detroit, the governor suddenly turned from good cop, claiming he did not want an EM for Detroit, into bad cop. 

“Based on the mayor’s remarks … and the severity of the situation he described, we anticipate he will be submitting a request for preliminary financial review in the near future,” Snyder said. 

Bing said that he has been in constant consultation with Snyder on the city’s finances since April and that therefore a preliminary review, the first step in naming an EM, is not needed. So does he plan to skip straight to the second step and ask for one?  The daily media is saying that folks like the current EM’s of Benton Harbor, Pontiac, and Ecorse are under consideration. A city hall insider told VOD there are also local names in the pot. 

A union official who asked not to be named told VOD that his department is paying bills from private corporations within two to three days in an apparent effort to spend down as much money as possible, to verify the claims of a pending cash shortfall made by Bing, the Council, and Ernst & Young. 

(Go to and to read VOD’s previous articles exposing this criminal firm.) 

Frantic meetings Thanksgiving week, turkey and shopping 24th and 25th 

Council ate turkey, called for 2300 layoffs

Bing, the Council, and the city’s unions met frantically during Thanksgiving week, claiming that an EM would be named any moment. 

The situation could not have been so dire, however. Mayor and Council went home Thursday and Friday to consume their turkey, and take advantage of “Black Friday.” Council President Charles Pugh was spotted by a local TV station shopping his well-heeled self off at an upscale store Friday. 

Carl Bentley, Saunteel Jenkins

Perhaps Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, who has proposed that city retirees give up their 13th check, was busy snuggling with her presumed squeeze Carl Bentley while filling up on Thanksgiving goodies to add to her steadily increasing girth. The two have been photographed together at numerous society functions. 

Bentley works for Strategic Staffing Solutions, a city and county contractor now under investigation by the feds for its role in the Wayne County Business Development Corporation scandal.


Council demands 2300 lay-offs, based on secret Ernst & Young meeting 

The City Council sank to new depths of depravity in the sessions it conducted during the first three days of the week. On Nov. 22, they spent the afternoon debating whether a demand for 2300 city worker lay-offs should be number one on a list to present to Mayor Bing, or whether the state’s $220 million debt to the city should go first. 

Ernst & Young gets cooking the books award of the 21st century

In the end, NO ONE would give a definitive “NO” vote against presenting the 2300 lay-offs as one option, and only JoAnn Watson appeared to believe that the demand for the state debt repayment was serious. 

They also disclosed that actual representatives of Ernst & Young were present during their secret meeting they held with Bing about the city’s finances Oct. 26, in violation of the Open Meetings Act. 

VOD is consulting with the On-Line Media Network to obtain legal assistance in filing suit against the Council for holding that meeting. Two other suits are contemplated regarding a closed Council session on the $750,000 DTE Energy contract to repair 500 streetlights, and another on revamping the city’s Privatization Ordinance. 

Violation of the Open Meetings Act under state law is a criminal misdemeanor. (Where’s Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy when we need her?) 

Happy Thanksgiving! Council hands out tax abatements, not turkeys 

Prior to discussing how to bleed city workers, the Council took care of other business, happily handing out holiday gifts in the form of tax abatements. After all, companies like Covanta, witn about $1.7 billion expected in 2011 revenues, can certainly afford to buy their own turkeys. 

Marchers demand clean energy in protest outside Detroit Renewable incinerator

The Council voted 5-4 in favor of a $4.1 million brownfield development tax abatement for Covanta subsidiary Detroit Renewable Power, which operates the Detroit and Hamtramck incinerators. The incinerators are reviled by environmentalists and hundreds of people who live in the path of their fumes. Detroit Renewable Power was recently cited by the state for several environmental infractions, as several of the many speakers against the abatement pointed out. 

“Covanta Energy is one of the world’s largest owners and operators of infrastructure for the conversion of waste-to energy, as well as other waste disposal and renewable energy production businesses,” the company says on its website. “Covanta operates and/or has ownership positions in 44 energy-from-waste facilities, primarily located in North America, and 20 additional energy generation facilities, including other renewable energy production facilities in North America. “

The company has also been cited for numerous  environmental infractions and labor violations.

The five Council members voting for Covanta  were  Black Friday shopper Charles Pugh, Bentley squeeze Saunteel Jenkins (who got $1,000 from Covanta during her campaign), Gary Brown, Andre Spivey and James Tate. Voting against the tax abatement were Council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones, Kwame Kenyatta, and Ken Cockrel, Jr. 


Big Tax Break for Detroit Incinerator:

The Council additionally voted 8-1 to give Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano a zoning change so he could build his new county jail.  

Walbridge and EDGE are prominently displayed on Wayne County Jail sign on Gratiot and St. Antoine

Councilwoman Watson thought to ask, “Who’s the contractor?” knowing it is Walbridge Aldinger. The FBI has also subpoenaed records from that company, whose CEO John Rakolta sits on the Wayne County Business Development Corporation board and on the EDGE non-profit board.  He is an ardent Snyder supporter, and was a major fundraiser for the 2004 Bush campaign. 

Over the past few weeks, the Council has also voted to give 10 and 15 year Renaissance Zone tax credit extensions to the James Group International/OJ Land Development and 1208 Woodward, LLC, in exchange for a guarantee of —ELEVEN JOBS. 

Snyder, Bing, Council, Ernst & Young

Meanwhile, the council approved city revenue INCREASES of over $2.7 million from the state, casinos and elsewhere, but said they would be used in large part to pay for the Ernst & Young contract. (Click on Detroit revenue increase slated for Ernst Young.) 

So, the question becomes—is there a crisis or not?  Previously Wall Street screamed crisis at Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick over an alleged $300 million deficit in 2005. It sent its minions from Standard and Poors and Fitch Ratings directly to the Council table to demand that the city borrow $1.2 BILLION in pension obligation certificates.  The Mayor and council caved. 

When the city was in danger of defaulting on same, in 2009, Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. agreed to turn ALL of the city’s revenue-sharing and casino tax income over to a bank trustee so he could chop off what UBS Financial Services considered sufficient to stave off default on the debt Wall Street demanded. 

What other ingenious and eventually catastrophic solution does Wall Street have in mind for Detroit now?


Moratorium NOW! plans to take up issue of Emergency Manager attack on Detroit

Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shut-offs — Organizing Meeting 

Monday, November 28, 2011, 7:00 pm

5920 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 (at Antoinette, just north of Wayne State University) 

We will be discussing actions in coordination with Occupy Detroit in support of the December 6 National Day of Action Against Foreclosures. 

We will also take up the fight against the imposition of an Emergency Financial Manager on the City of Detroit.

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  1. Dee Dee Harris says:

    Diane, thank you so much for standing up for the retiree’s 13th check yesterday. You were amazing and right on point! I find it quite odd about the timing of the meeting, Nov 29. A lot of people that are on fixed income could not pay the high parking rates yesterday. Why? Waiting for the “first”. I have been looking on line for two weeks for information, the only thing I could find was from your paper. Tried to spread the word to retirees.
    A few years ago (1990’s) you came to the Housing Dept on Woodward and Mack and tried to help the Section 8 employees join the union. You were friends with a young lady on the first floor. She always wore a ponytail. You were a fighter then and you still are. You are in my hero book!!!

    Dee Dee

    • Diane Bukowski says:

      Thank you so much for your VERY heartening response, Ms. Harris. It lifted my spirits tremendously. I was so ANGRY with that Council yesterday and with the abusive treatment I received from Charles Pugh (who referred to my arrest for doing my job as a journalist in 2008 taking photos after an illegal State Police chase that ended with two men from the east side dead). It is the COUNCIL MEMBERS who need to be ARRESTED and tried for conducting THREE illegal closed sessions, one with Ernst & Young, one on the privatization ordinance, and one on that ridiculous $750,000 DTE contract to repair only 500 streetlights. Then they proceeded to meet in secret with Mayor Bing yesterday afternoon AGAIN! They also need to be in jail for all the money they’ve taken from contractors and tax abatements they’ve handed out while they expect us retirees to live on a pittance. They timed that session for Nov. 29 so they could prevent us from getting the 13th check that was coming Dec. 1. That was their way of saying HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL THE CITY WORKERS WHO KEPT THIS PLACE GOING FOR 25 AND 30 AND 40 YEARS OF THEIR LIVES WHILE BEING BEAT UP ON BY CITY MAYORS, ADMINISTRATORS, WALL STREET RATINGS AGENCIES, AND NOW THE CITY COUNCIL!

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