Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
“The public has raised some questions about what has happened, but it has not prevented people from coming. We are important in many communities and we are usually the last institution to leave the community.”
— JOANNE MONDOWNEY, Executive Director, Detroit Public Library
The Detroit Public Library is not only a Detroit institution rooted in the educational mission of the city, but also a jewel and a massive resource for many who look to the library to attend to their educational and research needs.
Children, students and adults all use the Detroit Public Library as a reservoir of knowledge for the exchange of information and ideas and a community asset that stands as a connecting pillar and a learning tool.
Often it is said that you can tell the educational commitment of a city by the kind of attention paid to the effective functioning of its public libraries and the set of eyes in charge of its management.
Because libraries are places where knowledge is built in grooming a community of learners and those who would contribute to society.
That is why news of the Detroit Public Library embroiled in allegations of financial mismanagement shocked most in the community because given its nature, it is the last place to expect scandals that are routine in government bureaucratic structures where “pay to play” is often the order of day.
Earlier this year, the library’s Main Branch on Woodward Avenue was raided by FBI agents in a corruption sweep that led to the firing of one of the top officials at the public library, Tim Cromer, who handled technology.
Cromer’s Bloomfield home was also raided by federal authorities following reports that he awarded a $3 million no-bid technology contract to an outside company.
Another company, Core, was contracted by Cromer to update the library’s technology infrastructure during which the cost of the work jumped to an unexplained $1.7 million from the initial $712,000. James Henley, the owner of Core, was indicted last month on bribery charges, that he allegedly paid $600,000 in kickbacks to an anonymous public official.
With the cloud of alleged financial mismanagement hanging over the Detroit Public Library like the Sword of Damocles, officials from the library, including Executive Director Jo Anne Mondowney and Library Commission President Russell Bellant, are on an aggressive mission to separate fact from fiction in an effort to maintain the institution’s reputation.
The case they are making is that the actions of one or few individuals who are still going to have their day in court should not be used to paint the library with a wide brush considering what it has meant in this community for decades.
“The memory is going to be there. We still have to deal with the fact that it happened. We can’t keep getting beat up for it because everybody wasn’t a part of it,” Mondowney said during an interview in my office last week, noting that there is still an ongoing investigation. “You would think the library would be (exempt) from that kind of behavior but we’re not.”
During the entire ordeal and the federal probe that made the library garner national attention, Mondowney said, “It was something I had to deal with and take responsibility for which I did. I tried to investigate and determine how to respond. And because I’m from Baltimore, I had the courage and strength to stand up to what was happening. I did not make excuses.”
Witnessing what was happening for Mondowney meant that it was time to not let the reputation of an institution of this stature go down the drain because “this is a fine institution that deserved to be exonerated and I was the person that could help with what was happening.”
Given where things are and the fact that the federal probe is still continuing, she said the leadership of the library will have to be more accountable because “people trust us with their money.”
Commissioner Bellant, who is also a union leader, said even though the library was hit with this scandal it should not be misconstrued as a failure of the entire leadership.
He cited as an example the Detroit Public Schools, where he said past allegations of mismanagement were far more rampant saying what happened at DPS is not equal to the allegations facing the library.
“When it happened we as a commission issued a statement that reflected the commission’s view that we will cooperate fully. But what happened at DPS was so systematic and widespread, and the library was one person. By comparison, the library had a clean bill of health,” Bellant said. “You can’t see services being undermined while people profit for themselves. We have a lot of young people using the library.”
“The public has raised some questions about what has happened but it has not prevented people from coming,” Mondowney said. “We are important in many communities and we are usually the last institution to leave the community.”
Even though the library is currently reviewing policies and instituting internal controls to avert what happened in its technology department that is still under investigation, Mondowney said, “Rules are as good as the folks who implement them and there are people who find a way to get around and do wrong. That’s why the law is there.”
The library’s role cannot be dismissed no matter what has happened, Mondowney said.
“The public has seen us as an institution that has tried to minimize the digital divide. We provide that role in a daily basis,” She said. “In our Main Library we have a literacy program and technology has made the library far more relevant. There is a need to stay connected. We have people accessing our computers every single day.”
Mondowney, who has been on the job now since 2009 as director, said her vision is weaved into the library’s mission.
“We find hope for people. We create an environment of lifelong learning. We know as technology evolves libraries are still needed to help people maintain a quality of life in this society,” Mondowney said.
The challenge now is about revenue and how the library continues to provide services that are beyond the wrongdoing that has been reported.
“It is not going to derail us from looking hard at the central question,” Mondowney said. “We provide very creative summer reading programs that help children maintain a reading level that allows them to excel. You accomplish something when you help a child to love to read. The library tries to teach a child to love to do this and our programs are centered around keeping children excited and engaged in the love of reading.”
In the coming months and years, the library’s leadership will continue to face the questions in the financial scandal, but the challenge remains on its ability to show in concrete terms what it is doing to prevent misdeeds of some on its staff, the kind that can lead to deplorable and embarassing sitiuations such as this one. These questions and any improvement to its operating standard as it relates to guarding tax dollars takes on a more central role as the library works to renew its existing millage which will expire in 2015.
Public libraries are important because they contribute not only to our democracy, but also to education and the lifelong learning that those who spend hours in the library researching information benefit from.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:59
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing went on the offensive Tuesday afternoon after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited Detroit’s murder rate in underscoring the low murder rate on the streets of New York.
Speaking to police officers, Bloomberg noted that if New York had the same number of people getting killed, more than 4,500 who live in the world’s financial capital would have died instead of the 419 murders in New York last year, the Detroit News reported.
“Last year, we had a record low 419 murders. If instead we had Washington, DC's murder rate, nearly 1,200 New Yorkers would have been murdered last year instead of 419," Bloomberg said. "And if we had had Detroit's murder rate, more than 4,500 New Yorkers would have been murdered last year instead of 419. That's a factor of ten.”
Mayor Bing fired back, saying the billionaire mayor who was once considered a potential presidential candidate is taking Detroit’s crime issue out of context when compared to New York City.
“I think it is sad and inappropriate for anyone, especially public officials, to tout their crime fighting efforts by highlighting other cities’ murder rates,” Bing said. “There are dramatic differences between New York and Detroit.”
Bing cited as an example New York’s 40,000 police officers compared to only 3,000 men and women in blue in Detroit.
“Secondly, New York has crime fighting techniques and resources such as ‘stop and frisk at will’ and a sophisticated surveillance system that we do not currently have in our crime fighting arsenal, in part due to the fact we are under a federal consent decree,” Bing said. “We are all engaged in reducing violent crimes and we need to fight this battle together. Therefore, I support Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to get Congress to toughen gun laws so that gun violence is reduced in Detroit, New York and across this country.”
Detroit’s crime statistics that were released earlier this year showed 411 homicides last year, up from 377 the following year. The FBI’s violent crime statistics for the first half of 2011 showed that overall violent crime rate was down 24 percent.
In the same speech to the rank and file of the New York Police Department, Mayor Bloomberg accused the media of double standard in its coverage after he came under heavy criticism for the police department’s “Stop-and-Frisk” program which has been widely criticized by police brutality advocates for targeting people of color.
Bloomberg said that the New York Times criticism of the “Stop-and-Frisk” program was baseless and accused the paper of racial double standard in the lack of coverage of a 17-year-old shot to death last week in the Bronx.
“Do you think that if a White 17-year-old prep student from Manhattan had been murdered, the Times would have ignored it?” Bloomberg asked. “Four days after Alphonso Bryant's murder went unreported by the Times, the paper published another editorial attacking stop-question-frisk. They called it a ‘widely-loathed’ practice — even though a growing number of mothers and fathers who have had their children murdered with guns have been speaking out in support of stop, question and frisk.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:53
Category: News Briefs Written by CNN News
(CNN) -- A cargo plane crashed in Afghanistan killing all seven crew members on board Monday.
All seven were U.S. citizens, the cargo carrier National Airlines said.
The crash happened shortly after takeoff from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the U.S.-based company said. The Boeing 747-400 was en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
"This was a purely cargo flight and no passengers were aboard," a company statement said. "Cargo consisted of vehicles and routine general cargo."
Inside a firefight with the Taliban Dangerous challenge for Afghan police
National specializes in moving freight for the military and businesses, as well as charter passenger service in the Middle East.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.
But Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said his group shot down the aircraft and that "several foreign soldiers were killed."
That claim could not be immediately verified. But in the past, the Taliban has exaggerated casualty figures.
"This is a devastating loss for our family and we'll work diligently with authorities to find the cause," National Airlines President Glen Joerger said in the statement.
"Our focus at this time is on the family members of those we've lost, and on assisting the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority in their investigations."
Six of the victims were from Michigan, National said, and they were identified as Brad Hasler, Jeremy Lipka, Jamie Brokaw, Rinku Summan, Michael Sheets and Gary Stockdale.
The other victim, Timothy Garrett, was from Kentucky.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:46
Category: News Briefs Written by CNN News
(CNN) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it approved the availability of the Plan B One-Step emergency contraception pill without a prescription for women 15 and older.
This move comes just weeks after a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, ordered the FDA to make the morning-after birth control pill available to women of any age, without a prescription. Tuesday's FDA announcement, which pertains to an application from Teva Women's Health, Inc., is not related to that, the FDA said.
"The FDA's approval of Teva's current application for Plan B One-Step is independent of that litigation and this decision is not intended to address the judge's ruling," the FDA said in a statement.
In early April, the U.S. Justice Department indicated an appeal of the Brooklyn judge's order was under consideration. "The Department of Justice is reviewing the appellate options and expects to act promptly," department spokeswoman Allison Price said.
According to the new FDA decision, Plan B One-Step will now be labeled to reflect that proof of age is required to purchase it, and it cannot be sold where age cannot be verified. The packaging will include a product code that prompts the cashier to ask and verify the age of the customer.
The product will be available in retail outlets with pharmacies, but the pill can be sold during non-pharmacy hours, too.
"While we fully support this expansion of access to birth control, we continue to believe that the administration should lift all unnecessary restrictions to emergency contraception, consistent with the prevailing science and medicine," Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said Tuesday in a statement.
The FDA decision does not pertain to the two other emergency contraceptive drugs marketed in the United States. Plan B is available from generic manufacturers over-the-counter for women 17 and older and Ella is available by prescription only, for all ages, and prevents pregnancy within five days of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.
"Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg in a statement. "The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease."
None of these products protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Controversy surrounding emergency contraception in the United States has lasted more than just one morning.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended last year that oral contraceptives be sold over the counter in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Opponents of prescription requirements say prescriptions can delay access to the drug.
In 2011, Teva Women's Health Inc., maker of Plan B One-Step, had asked the FDA to make the drug available without prescription to all sexually active girls and women.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA's recommendation in 2011, saying, "I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application." She mandated requiring a prescription for girls under 17.
In early April, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman said in his order, "The decisions of the Secretary with respect to Plan B One-Step and that of the FDA with respect to the Citizen Petition, which it had no choice but to deny, were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."
Korman's order sparked praise among supporters of the morning-after pill for all ages, such as the Center for Reproductive Rights, which had launched a relevant lawsuit.
Nancy Northup, the center's president and CEO, said in a statement about that order: "This landmark court decision has struck a huge blow to the deep-seated discrimination that has for too long denied women access to a full range of safe and effective birth control methods."
But other groups, including the Family Research Council, expressed concerns about Korman's order.
"There is a real danger that Plan B may be given to young girls, under coercion or without their consent. The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today's ruling removes these common-sense protections," Anna Higgins, director of the organization's Center for Human Dignity, said in a statement.
The FDA approved Plan B in 1999. The key ingredient in Plan B is a synthetic hormone called levonorgestrel.
This drug stops an egg from being released from the ovary, or preventing fertilization of the egg by sperm.
If there has been fertilization, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus. But if the egg has already been implanted in the uterus, the morning-after pill will not work.
Emergency contraceptives are intended for use within 72 hours after sex but are most effective if taken within 24 hours.
Many developed countries require a prescription for oral contraceptives, including Canada and most of Europe, but other countries sell the pill without a prescription even formally or informally.
A 2012 study in the journal Pediatrics found that there is misinformation about emergency contraception, including about what age women can obtain it without a prescription, and who can take it in general.
The morning-after pill goes for about $50, said Susannah Baruch, interim president and CEO of Reproductive Health Technologies Project.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:42
Category: News Briefs Written by MLive
DETROIT, MI -- UFO researchers can't get Congress to listen to testimony about their extraterrestrial studies, so they're having their say this week before a group of former lawmakers including Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. Click Here For Complete Story
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 10:30
Category: News Briefs Written by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil
Depending on the day, what you’re reading or who you’re listening to, the economy is either still in the tank, in recovery, getting worse or is on the upswing. Whatever the fluctuating state of the American economy, money is being spent. And, guess what, ladies? The economic oil that keeps the wheels and workings of our world turning is largely controlled by us.
Want to know just how much purchasing power we pack in our purses? Any guesses? Well, if you guessed between $5 trillion and $15 trillion you were correct. This is the collective annual estimated purchasing power range of women in America, which is more than the GNP of dozens of small countries. Do you know what that means? An eye-opening report from Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., a global, full-service public relations agency, tells us that women will be in control of two-thirds of the consumer wealth in this country within the next 10 years.
No matter what economic position any of us find ourselves in right now, I want us all to feel an integral part of the whole . . . feel your power. Just think how far we’ve come. Women couldn’t even vote before 1920 (of course, for those of us who are Black, that right came some decades later), and now we control most of the purchasing decisions in our households. And the way things are looking, we may even have our first female president of the United States in the near future.
Whether it’s groceries, new clothes, a new sofa, car or even a new house, it’s usually our (final) call. We appreciate their input, but we all know how challenging it can be to persuade the men in our lives to accompany us shopping, and the numbers bear that out. Women do most of the shopping, or have a major say in it. However, we must give credit where credit is due. Nielsen research indicates that men are stepping up. In fact, the number of shopping trips we make has actually decreased in most shopping channels between 2004 and 2012. With men, their average number of shopping trips has increased during that time, except for grocery and drug stores. Take a look at how the sexes stack up with the average number of shopping trips between 2004 and 2012 across all the many shopping outlets available to us (see chart at left).
There is another critical component for manufacturers and marketers to keep in mind when examining consumer need and creating new advertising and outreach strategies. Women also outspend men $14.31 per trip at the supercenters and $10.32 per trip to the grocery store. Other Nielsen studies document how women come into the world with the inherent abilities to juggle multiple balls and wear many hats, in addition to being able to see the big picture. So I am surmising that those God-given female tendencies add up to pre-planning involved for most trips to the market.
Advertisers should also pay attention to how much content we consume. In 2012, women over 18 spent more time watching video on all the platforms available than men did. On average, we viewed a little more than 191 hours of video each month, which is up from 184 hours in 2011. (My senses are telling me that much of that viewing time was logged probably while preparing dinner, picking up around the house or answering emails on our laptops, tablets or smartphones.) Men spent over 18 spent almost 175 hours a month watching video, compared to 170 hours the previous year. The bottom line is that whatever you or I do as consumers — how we shop and how we watch our favorite shows and other content — contributes to the whole. We hold the power.
Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of public affairs and government relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsenwire.com.
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 14:32
Category: News Briefs Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Wayne County FREE Health Expo for the Uninsured
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
9:00 am – 4:00 pm EDT
Cobo Conference Center, Michigan Hall,
1 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
1-800-WELL NOW or 313.224.0810
Have you had your annual health exam or physical? Uninsured or underinsured? If you haven't, don't put it off. Your health is important. Come to the Wayne County Health Expo for the Uninsured and get your health checkup for FREE...
The FREE annual Wayne County community health event features FREE essential health and dental screenings and health education, vendors, health-related giveaways, informative health-related sessions, refreshments, FREE parking on Cobo Roof, entertainment and much, much more!
Don't miss it! For more information, visit: http://www.waynecounty.com/
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 08:45
Category: News Briefs Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The Shirt Box today announced the Farmington Hills-based retailer, in partnership with Heart 2 Hart Detroit (H2HD) is still in need of donations of new and gently used shoes and boots. The partnership has generated a donation of more than 500 pairs of shoes in the first three weeks of the campaign, though the high demand for footwear continues. The program will extend through the month of May.
Launched in 2013, “Soles for the City,” encourages the donation of new and gently used shoes and boots to be distributed to homeless individuals living within the city of Detroit. Among the items supplied through organizations such as Heart 2 Hart Detroit, donations of food and clothing remain in constant demand, but shoes and boots are often overlooked creating an overwhelming need among Detroit’s homeless population.
“The community support since the program’s inception has been unbelievable,” said co-owner Ron Elkus. “Unfortunately, the demand is great right now and shoes aren’t as commonly donated as canned foods or used clothing.”
Heart 2 Hart Detroit will coordinate distribution of the shoes to men, women and children in need. The organization was established to address the needs of homeless individuals living in the Detroit Metropolitan area. Deliveries of clothing, shoes, packed lunches and toiletries are made three times a week to Hart Plaza and the surrounding area and shelters.
Donations can be made at The Shirt Box, 32500 Northwestern Highway in Farmington Hills.
About The Shirt Box
Celebrating more than 30 years, The Shirt Box has been the store-of-choice for men’s fashions. Trendsetters will find an extensive merchandise assortment of men’s furnishings, corporate casual wear and business wardrobe classics. Men’s footwear, accessories and gifts round out the assortment. The shop is located at 32500 Northwestern Hwy. Farmington Hills, MI 48334, (248) 851-6770. Visit The Shirt Box on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shirt-Box/200715706615769 or on Twitter @TheShirtBox.
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 08:35
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Former Detroit mayor and four-term City Council member Ken Cockrel, Jr., who has served Detroit with honor and distinction has announced that he will not seek reelection in this November’s municipal elections, according to a release from Cockrel’s office. After 18 years of continuous public service, Cockrel said that it is time for him to refocus. “I feel the time is right for me to seek new challenges, new opportunities and new ways to help Detroit,” Cockrel said. Cockrel was first elected to City Council in November 1997 after serving for three years on the Wayne County Commission.
He was reelected in 2001 and again in 2005 when he became City Council president. His current term began in January of 2009. During his more than 15 years on the council he has passed and fought for laws ensuring that Detroit’s contractors are paid timely, stiffer zoning regulations of liquor stores, pawn shops and group homes, and expanded city job opportunities for ex-felons. Cockrel became mayor in September 2008 following the resignation Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Though he did not win election to the post in the May 2009 special election to fill the seat, he had a significant impact during his brief time as mayor.
As mayor, Cockrel restored people’s trust and faith in city government. Successful efforts included negotiating the creation of the regional authority that now operates and is expanding Cobo Hall and avoiding city bankruptcy after a credit rating downgrade impacted a municipal credit swap agreement. He also led an effort to put police back in neighborhoods by opening several new police mini-stations, reopening the 10th Precinct, and facilitating the creation of Detroit’s first mobile precinct to support major events and community-based policing.
Cockrel is also the founder and chair of the Detroit City Council Green Task Force and has championed a sustainable agenda for the City of Detroit. He has passed both anti-idling and green purchasing ordinances and spearheaded the adoption of Detroit’s Non-Motorized Plan, which thus far has produced 62 miles of bike lanes in the city. Also while mayor, he created an Office of Energy and Sustainability and launched a curbside recycling pilot project that continues to this day. A cum laude graduate of Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism, Cockrel is a former reporter for the Detroit Free Press, the Grand Rapids Press and the Cincinnati Inquirer.
He is also a former columnist for The Metro Times. Cockrel is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University as well as the Program for State and Local Government Officials at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In fall 2011 he earned a master’s degree in international affairs from Irish-American University in Dublin, Ireland. He is currently chair of the City Council’s Committee on Budget, Finance, and Audit and the vice chair of the Committee on Planning and Economic Development.
He also serves as a board member of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, the Detroit Jazz Fest, and Tour Detroit. In addition he is a member of the advisory boards for Bridging Communities and ACLU Michigan. Ken Cockrel, Jr. and his wife, Kimberly, have two sons, Kenneth III and Kyle Vincent, and three daughters, Kennedy Victoria, Kendal Imani and Kayla Lanette. Cockrel said that though he will be leaving the City Council table, he intends to remain active in neighborhood, civic and political affairs.
“I’m not going anywhere. I will definitely remain a staple on the Detroit scene,” he said. “I truly believe that Detroit’s best days are ahead of it and I’m eager to be a part of it.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 April 2013 08:52
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Today, April 26, 2013, 4:00 pm
E 3rd St & Water St, Rochester, MI | Get Directions »
MI Earth Day Fest is the premier, biggest Earth Day event in Michigan, and with 50,000 expected, one of the largest on the planet. Featuring exhibits, products, presentations, entertainment, food and family fun, MI Earth Day Fest will highlight environmental issues and solutions through education, innovation and longterm sustainability strategies. Admission is free. Visit www.miEDF.org.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 April 2013 08:33
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