In Loving Memory of
Susie M. Bennett
July 12, 1928 - Feb. 19, 2012
Your Source for Information
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR RECOUNT !!
Our request for recount has been granted and will commence beginning December 9th. There are too many unanswered questions about the election process in Detroit especially as it relates to absentee ballots. All of our concerns may not be addressed with this recount but starting down that road is important. Great change is needed and this will be one among so many others who have already made a clarion call to fix what's broken and eliminate the fraud.
New Council Should Select Brenda Jones President of City Council
Now that we're entering a new year soon with a new city council we must bid outgoing councilmembers Watson, Cockrel and Kenyatta a fond farewell for their service to the city of Detroit and we must also congratulate the winners which includes four council incumbents. This new body will be for the first time selecting their leadership by selection of the body and not by highest vote getter which was the previous model under the old charter rule. If this were the old rule Councilwoman Brenda Jones, who was the highest vote getter would be the new council president. Jones is not only the highest vote getter she is also the most senior member of city council now and if this body is going to have the level of camaraderie that many citizens hope they would have, starting by recognizing its most senior and experienced member would be a good place to start. Brenda Jones was elected to city council in 2005 before taking office in 2006. She is now beginning her 3rd term as an at-large city council member. Jones won re-election with little money and fewer endorsements. She has the support of a community that feels increasingly left out of Detroit's future. Jones is a vote for the people 100% of the time. No slight on anyone else elected to the body but Jones would be the right choice to lead city council. Rumors circulating around city hall say Mayor-Elect Mike Duggan has met with some council members elect and he favors Sauntel Jenkins. Jenkins has long had the support of Cindy Pasky of Strategic Staffing Solutions. The story of payment of campaign debt by Pasky in exchange for support of Jenkins as President started circulating early in the campaign season.
City will pay for Belle Isle
Even with the agreement to lease Belle Isle to the state for a minimum of 30 years there is still cost to the city of Detroit. The city of Detroit will still be responsible for $2.5 million in water and sewer cost. Council also wanted the state to assume Belle Isle’s nearly $2.5 million water and sewer bills, the state refused. But the original plan as describe to the public and shared with local media, who quoted it often was the state lease of the Island would save the city $6 million a year. Many believed that figure included the water and sewer bill. Also the report of officers that would be returned to patrol from their Belle Isle assigment is also inflated. Officers presence is increased during the summer months because of increased traffic but during the winter months that number is about 5 officers spread over 3 shifts.
Police Executives get pay raises.
Police Department Executives were notified last week that the 10% cut those at the ranks of Captain and above suffered in the recent past would be returned. For many of the newly appointed executives its like a double raise since many of them just recently received a promotion in rank from Lieutenant. No word yet on if and when the rank of police officer will receive the 10% that was cut from their pay back. It would behoove this current leadership to totally restructure the pay scale so as to make the Detroit Police Department more competitive with other department, which would allow the department to retain good officers and attract qualified new candidates.
COMSTAT morale buster
It would seem that the current police leadership intends to make it a regular practice of inviting media in while chewing out the brass. While that maybe a good sound bite and certain media and citizens may eat it up in the long run it could be counter-productive because brass and citizens who are part of the working public and understand how embarrassing that could be will began to lose respect for department leadership. Getting chewed out in front of co-workers is bad enough but now the camera's are rolling. Its not only ruinous to morale it could be considered creating a hostile work environment, in a word its tacky.
No Snitch mind set and conversation about it is overrated
One of the local stations aired a story the other night where the center piece of the story was the don’t snitch mind set that exist in Detroit. The first question that needs to be asked, is it real and the answer is yes. Next question, is it as impactful to the crime situation as its reported and the answer to that question is no. The violent crime that's occurring in the city of Detroit is being carried out by a culture, who under no circumstances would have any contact with the police anyway unless they were cuffed and on their way to prison. These people not only do not snitch they don’t talk. The culture of violent activity being perpetrated, in some cases on competitors if its drug related does not call for any side to walk into a police precinct and report what happened. That's counterintuitive for a culture that acts as its own judge, jury and executioner. They carry out their own form of justice. If you’re going to catch them it better be in the act or it will be because as criminal minds tend to work, they don’t cover every detail sometimes so evidence of a crime is left to track. But usually what it takes is good police work and one of the things the Detroit Police Department is lacking in is enough officers to track down and lock up the perpetrators. That is one answer , the kryptonite if you will for don’t snitch is more police officers who will carry out good police work. The other answer has absolutely nothing to do with violent crime or its perpetration. This has more to do with everyday petty crime such as theft, robbery, B&E, home invasions and any other crimes against property. That answer is employment. Detroit is a city where more than 60% of the population is unemployed. In Detroit 21 out of every 100 people are employed, compared to Atlanta where that number grows to 73 out of 100. Most Detroiters know and understand what it means to struggle and they understand the struggle of their neighbors so its less likely that neighbors who sit across from a school or a house that is openly being stripped or invaded will get involved. Nobody wants their personal space invaded and their homes broken into but Detroiters are a little bit more lenient when it comes to buildings that sit vacant and unoccupied. The very life has been sucked out of a city and those in power barely raised their voices in protest. The jobs coming to Detroit right now already has a body coming with it so there are no real employment opportunities for many Detroiters especially those college age adults in community colleges right here in the city. This is deeper than a no snitch thing, its about survival and people finding whatever means they can to do so. Many Detroiters don't view that house burglar or building stripper as the problem, they see the state of Michigan and outside interest who've contributed to sucking the life from their city as the problem. The anger and frustration that grows is directed at Lansing not the guy next door.
Will mayor elect Duggan seize power from EM Orr?
One of the most asked questions since Election Day has come and gone is will the new mayor have any power while the city is under an EM. Conspiracy theorist conclude that he will because the deal has already been cut to turn the city over to Duggan. In fact emails that were acquired under the Freedom of Information Act by activist Robert Davis indicate that there was some conversation between the newly elected mayor and Governor Snyder over the last two years. So if in fact there is a deal already this is all a moot point. But whether there is a deal or not, when Duggan gains the keys to the city will be a topic for months to come. The chatter downtown seems to indicate that emergency manager Kevyn Orr will turn over control to all city departments, including police and fire, to Duggan when he officially becomes mayor. But he absolutely WILL NOT get control of the city’s finances which makes giving control over departments like giving keys to a car on an empty tank. As an example, if Orr does give Duggan authority over the police department, he still won’t have authority to hire his own chief because that would fall into the category of a financial matter. Current Chief Craig has a two year contract for a reported $225,000 annually. If we have a financial crisis one could not justify replacing the current chief for another making a similar salary. This will no doubt be a problem that Duggan will find with most departments he is given control of. Without controlling the purse strings he really would lack control. In the end Duggan will probably prevail because the downtown money pit that poured millions into his campaign to become mayor wants him to have that control and Governor Snyder will acquiesce since 2014 is an election year for him and he would like to be a benefactor of some of the largesse that Duggan benefited from. If the bankruptcy is allowed to go forward Orr will likely move with all deliberate speed to put his plan in place so he can be gone on schedule. However, according to the EM law there will be an advisory board still in place to oversee the city’s finances when Orr is gone. This is all assuming that the EM law will not be repealed. Should that happen a lot of what has been put in placed that hasn't been co-authored by city council will be dismantled. Like it or not, and this EM probably doesn't, city council has to sign off on many of these changes to prevent them from being reversed in the event a turnover of the law occurs.
Bankruptcy ruling due this week
On Tuesday, December 3rd the bankruptcy Judge will render his verdict on whether Detroit is eligible to go forward with its bankruptcy. At this point its hard to imagine a scenario where the judge will not approve the bankruptcy filing but one could make the case that since Detroit was owed money it should not be eligible. But the judge won’t let that little "fly in the ointment" stop what It seems many from Detroit to Washington DC and cities all around the country are watching and hoping for. This is historic and should the judge approve it other cities around the country will be lining up. The catch all in the bankruptcy stands alone and that is the pensions. There is so much at stake and so many lives of working people will be affected by the judge’s decision as it relates to the two pension systems in Detroit. This could be a case of the judge splitting the baby. He will likely allow the bankruptcy filing to go forward but protect the pension systems from this filing. In fairness to the many workers, past and present, it’s the right thing to do. There is no debate that workers who have paid their dues and moved on to a life of retirement, many on fixed incomes are entitled to receive all of the pension benefits the city agreed to give them when they were hired. As for freezing the pensions of active employees or the city’s desire to opt out of the pension business all together, that is something that should be negotiated with those bargaining units. Let’s hope the judge, who will probably be receiving a pension at some point himself, understands the importance of pension protection.
Judge Steven Rhodes must now hold Orr and Snyder accountable after acknowledging that they didn't act in good faith
A big day in Detroit; a historic day in Detroit and around the country, Detroit’s declaration of bankruptcy confirmed by Judge Rhodes. Throughout this process Judge Rhodes consistently reminded both parties that every day they spend squabbling with each other in court is another day that residents, retirees and employees are forced to live with a dysfunctional city government, dangerous neighborhoods and uncertainty over their financial future. More than anyone else or anything else Rhodes focus appears to be on protecting the citizens of Detroit; getting Detroit better. But in doing so he dropped the gavel that will deliver a lot of pain. The big winners potentially obviously are the citizens of Detroit. The biggest losers without a doubt are city employees, retired and active. Judge Rhodes agreed that pensions could be cut but in doing so he warned the city that he wouldn’t accept any deal for cutting pensions. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr had proposed cutting pensions 50% and this is probably what Judge Rhodes was referencing when he warned the city that just because pension rights can be impaired, that does not mean he will approve a plan with steep cuts. He won't approve pension cuts unless the entire plan of adjustment is fair and equitable. Although Judge Rhodes gave Orr a heavy hammer he should use it with due care especially where livelihoods are impacted. If Orr is going to follow through on his threat to cut pensions he should make very effort to protect those already retired; It may take some sort of sliding scale in order to achieve this. Of the 11,000 retired city workers many of those are not at the highest end of the pay scale. Orr should set a threshold for cuts. In the police department there are a very small number who may have a pension over $80k the majority of police retirees are at or under $30k annually. Any retiree who left the department in the 70’s maybe receiving a pension of under $1000 per month. Add the additional cost of new co-pays and other health related expenditures these people are now added to the country's poor and potentially homeless. One thing that cannot be forgotten is public safety workers in Detroit don’t receive social security, which makes the pension so vital to their survival. Judge Rhodes should also insure that city workers aren’t the only ones expected to take a hair cut. Already the finagling to protect certain interest is in full gear and its very disingenuous for the mastermind (Orr) to now suggest that the DIA art is worth less than $2 billion and could do nothing to solve Detroit’s crisis. Interesting how the word WORTHLESS flashing across the newspaper screamed back a message, strategically planted. Fortunately Judge Rhodes has mentioned that ALL of the city’s assets are on the table. This bankruptcy cannot be about protecting the interest of some and not others and not the city as a whole. We should not emerge from this bankruptcy and still have debt and financial issues if we are to believe what we’ve been told, and that is that all of Detroit’s financial concerns will be resolved in this bankruptcy. It will be up to Judge Rhodes to hold Kevyn Orr accountable. We must hold Orr and Governor Snyder accountable. Judge Rhodes acknowledged that the city (Orr) did not negotiate in good faith. He challenged Orr on his misleading statements as it relates to the pension. Judge Rhodes knows that the parties he’s dealing with have not behaved in good faith; he has a duty to the people HE talked about protecting, to hold the architects of this bankruptcy plan accountable.
Footnote: Under Chapter 9 Bankruptcy Protection the courts cannot force the municipality to liquidate its assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors. Judge Rhodes can't force the sale of city assets under Chapter 9 but he could disallow the sale of a city asset.
Detroit Police bringing Detroit back from insolvency one block at a time
On the day that it was announced that Detroit is bankrupt the Detroit Police Department took over a housing project in an effort to clear out crime and send a message. Detroit is under siege financially and under siege from a deluge of crime in our neighborhoods. Judge Rhodes sent a message; Chief Craig is sending a message. There is nothing new about raiding but what makes this different is for as long as Detroit has had financial troubles it seems it’s also had crime problems, they go hand in hand. The same people looking for relief from crime and violence are the same people looking for a break from the financial malaise over Detroit; the two are intertwined. Not having the finances has kept our streets dark, police unavailable and the cost to live in Detroit astronomical. People cheered at the raid two weeks ago on E. Jefferson. They cried and thank the officers at the raid on Wednesday in the Martin Luther King homes. The message from the police department lead by Chief Craig is the department is here to stay, giving back to those Detroiters who’ve stayed through difficult times, paid the high cost of living here which has allowed police officers, firefighters and all city workers to maintain a good standard of living even at a time when the city is financially broken. Equally important as the raids, is the message that even in difficult times some things, such as crime and violence, are just unacceptable. In making his decision on Detroit’s bankruptcy Judge Rhodes talked about the testimony of Chief Craig. He said Chief Craig’s testimony was powerful. The judge said his testimony established that the city was in a state of service delivery insolvency. Is it any wonder why those citizens, some even in handcuffs thank the officers? The names of Judge Rhodes and Chief James Craig will be somewhere in the history books years from now when future generations reflect on Detroit’s insolvency.