Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts revealed during his retirement press conference that William Aldridge, a longstanding CPA who is currently the chief financial officer of the public school system, will be elevated to the position of chief administrative officer.
That means more responsibility for Aldridge whose portfolio will now include oversight of the district’s procurement & logistics and information technology departments.
“Detroit Public Schools has made great strides toward eliminating its deficit and balancing its budget under Bill’s financial leadership these last two years,” Roberts said. “However, in order for this forward momentum to be sustainable, the district must establish strong systems and processes and a sound operational model. Bill’s 40 years of experience in public accounting, consulting and school district management make him the absolute right person for this position.”
According to DPS, the first major systems project that Aldridge is overseeing in his new role as chief financial and administrative officer is the procurement and implementation of the district’s new human resources and finance computer system, which will provide the district with exponentially greater efficiency and effectiveness in these critical areas.
“I am confident that Bill’s extensive institutional knowledge of Detroit Public Schools, as well as his four decades of experience, will provide the District with the continuity that is critical to the turnaround of our school system and its return to local control in a timely manner,” said Roberts. A look at his biography shows that Aldridge began his professional career at the international public accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Company in 1970. He then co-founded Barrow, Aldridge & Co., a firm providing auditing, tax, consulting and other services. Within five years, the firm became one of the largest minority CPA firms in the country. He remained at Barrow, Aldridge & Co. for 13 years before joining Detroit Public Schools as its divisional director of financial planning and budget and chief accounting officer.
Aldridge remained with DPS until 1992, when he was recruited by Cleveland Public Schools to become its first African-American chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary of the Cleveland Board of Education. In 1996, he returned to Detroit Public Schools to serve as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. In early 2000, he joined Pierce, Monroe & Associates, LLC as its principal.
Before joining the staff of DPS, Aldridge’s CPA firm, along with Coopers & Lybrand, became the first African-American firm to audit a major school district. Upon joining DPS as the divisional director of financial planning and budget and chief accounting officer in 1988, he was also responsible for assisting in the elimination of DPS’ accumulated deficit of $160 million.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 16:06
Category: News Briefs Written by Click On Detroit
DETROIT - Detroit police Officer Brian Huff, who was killed in the line of duty in 2010, was honored Friday with the retirement of his scout car, 5-14.
In an emotional early morning memorial service, which was attended by many of Detroit's finest and Huff's family, the car was officially retired at 3:50 a.m. Click Here For Complete Story
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 10:20
Category: News Briefs Written by MLive
DETROIT, MI - Celebrity chef Michael Symon is looking to add a second restaurant in Detroit.
The mastermind of Roast in Detroit's Westin Book Cadillac Hotel is now planning to bring his B Spot burger concept to the Motor City. He runs six B Spot restaurants in Cleveland, including one in Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers play. Click Here For Complete Story
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 09:45
Category: News Briefs Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
Al Jazeera TV?. Bet that conjures up some images in your mind. You’d be right if you think Iraq, but you’d be off on all other counts if any include, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden or any other terrorist-related notions. But Al Jazeera, a Pan Arab broadcast company gone international, offers an intimate look and and first hand knowledge of troubled comunities world-wide.
"If you are in the middle east and you are in a war zone, what are you going to cover? Is there dialogue to cover? Not yet, I wish there were, but they are not that mature," explains Ehab Al Shihabi, the executive director for international operations for Al Jazeera America. His remarks are indicative of the type of hard-hitting candor viewers can expect from the station when it opens it Detroit bureau later this summer.
Al Jazeera television is infamous for shining a spotlight on the injustices and horrors. In fact the camera's don't shy away from showing viewers what’s really going on in that and other parts of the world.
Which may be why the broadcast company's operating license was suspended by Iraqi officials only days ago. Al Jazeera, however continues to expand its mission of “giving a voice to the voiceless,” and unveiled plans to open an Al Jazeera bureau in Detroit at the Detroit Athletic Club recently.
“Detroit is not as covered as it should be and it’s communities have been overlooked … most news agencies have abandoned areas like [this], save for those tragic stories. … But we want to talk about what is really happening in these areas that have been so hard hit … the suffering on the human side needs to be covered,” said Shihab
The television station is currently head quartered in New York.
“We don’t want to parachute people in from different places and then [extract] them. They need to live here,” said Shihab. "I came by bus and expected to see all the disaster, but I was quite surprised about how beautiful [the area] is," he confided.
Following an in-depth discussion outlining the details of Al Jazeera's commitment to Detroit, Shihab addressed audience questions about the type of programming viewers can expect from Al Jazeera TV. “It will be in depth, fact-based news for the American audience with documentaries, talk shows, and lifestyle programs."
Finally when asked about the news company’s image and the Americans audience's reaction to the name Al-Jazeera, Shihab replied “All they have to do is watch. We will go into 50 million households and those viewers will talk to others about what they see on Al-Jazeera.”
To shore up the point Ale Velshir, who recently left CNN to join Al Jazeera recounted a news story he covered in Detroit. “I remember being here in 2005 when we had big layoffs, 40,000 in one day. Someone said that’s enough to fill a sports stadium. But what that does not what articulate is it’s not just 40,000 in a stadium and. Its 40,00 workers, people and their families and the communities and towns that will be shuttered. … That’s why it’s important to be here, and not cover the news remotely."
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 11:59
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
DETROIT – Fred Durhal Jr. officially jumped into the Detroit Mayor’s race today when he filed petitions with 1000 signatures this afternoon at the Detroit City Clerk’s office.
“I am ready to share my plans to bring the great city of Detroit back to prominence,” said Durhal. “Detroit citizens have been ill-served for too long and they deserve a city that works for them and will work for their children. I am anxious to get into the neighborhoods to talk with families, and to visit Detroit businesses to listen to what the people have to say and to share my vision for Detroit’s future.”
Durhal is currently in his third term representing the 5th District in the state House of Representatives, which covers part of Detroit. He grew up in Detroit, the oldest of 12 children, and attended and graduated from Detroit Public Schools. As a public servant he has served in positions with the legislature, the Michigan Economic Development Corp, the city of Detroit, and the Virginia Park Citizens District Council. He announced in November 2012 that he would be a candidate for Mayor of Detroit.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:36
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Roy Roberts, Detroit's emergency manager who battled with the Detroit Board of Education over academic control in court, announced his retirement today at Pasteur Elementary School. He is leaving at the completion of his second year contract which expires May 16.
Roberts, a former General Motors executive, was named to the post by Gov. Rick Snyder and praised as someone who would bring focus to the troubled school district.
"I've had many amazing opportunities throughout my professional life, and my wife, Maureen, has been there along with me the entire way. In fact, when Gov. Snyder approached me about taking this position we agreed together that we had to do this," Roberts said at a news conference. "It's now time for me to really listen to what it is that will make her happy and that is the two of us along with our family spending more time together. Every time I tell her that I'm going to retire — and I've done it two or three times now — she believes me. This time I meant it." Roberts said he is confident in the leadership team he's leaving at DPS.
"Their continued presence is important because it brings the district the stability that is critical to its future success," Roberts said. "Together along with 600 teachers, administrators, students, parents, clergy, community members and business and community partners, this team developed a fiveyear strategic plan designed to create neighborhood centered, quality schools."
Roberts said some of those plans include ensuring that every four year-old child in Detroit is introduced to early childhood education by the school district, creating a day care in the schools and getting neighborhoods to claim ownership of schools. Roberts’ replacement will announced by Snyder soon.
Bankole Thompson is senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle. He is the author of book series on the Obama presidency. His book "Obama and Black Loyalty," published in 2010, follows his recent book "Obama and Christian Loyalty" with an epilogue by Robert S. Weiner, former White House spokesman. Thompson is also a political news analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit (NPR affiliate) and a member of the weekly "Obama Watch" Sunday evening roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 12:50
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
A new poll showing former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan leading the pack of mayoral candidates is bound to raise the intensity of the mayoral campaigns heading into the fall with unpredictability. The poll of 500 likely voters from Detroit conducted by Target-Insyght and MIRS, a Lansing political newsletter, shows Duggan ahead with 34.8 % and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon trailing with 27.4 % while the remaining candidates, State Rep, Fred Durhal Jr., Krystal Crittendon, Lisa Howze and Tom Barrow lag behind.
An earlier poll put Napoleon ahead of Duggan but this latest poll shows that the race for mayor could be a two-person race even though it is unclear what will happen once the candidates have the opportunity to debate. The poll is significant because it comes on the heels of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing pulling out petitions for a possible second mayoral run. However, the poll showed him scoring 11% behind Duggan and Napoleon while Crittendon came in third with 7.3%, Howze and Barrow both received 4.7% and Durhal, 2.5%.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 15:42
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
Kimberly Hill Knott, senior policy manager at Detroiters Working For Environmental Justice (DWEJ) and project director for the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative, said the three most pressing environmental justice issues for Detroiters are air quality, cumulative impact and climate change.
A recent report stated that five of the state’s most toxic zip codes are located in the city of Detroit.
“So that’s a major issue and the reason it’s a major issue is because of its impact on health,” she said.
Hill Knott said any time five of the most polluted zip codes are in one city, it will have great bearing on air quality. That, in turn, will have an impact on public health.
“So when you look at issues like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and even cancer, you’ll see that many of those conditions have been exacerbated by the constant exposure to these polluting facilities,” she said.
Asked what the average person could do to address these issues, Hill Knott said people can reduce the risk within their own homes.
People who smoke should stop, especially if they or their children have asthma or other respiratory ailments.
“Really, the ultimate goal there is to stop and get the treatment, and go through the treatment that’s necessary to do that,” she said.
She also said if there’s lead paint or mold or asbestos, then people would have to work with and identify agencies that can remediate those particular issues. Many non-profits can do that.
If this is done properly, people could see a significant improvement in their household as it pertains to health.
“Now, when you have pollution, some of the issues have to be remedied at a higher level,” she said. “In other words, it obviously has to be the company. Or the source of pollution must be dealt with. But also there are legislative factors or elected officials that play a key role in addressing those issues. So you have an issue of promoting responsible businesses that readily embrace sustainability practices that would focus on effective pollution control measures.”
Hill Knott noted that the DWEJ believes environmental justice must be addressed at multiple levels — the community, residential, corporate and legislative levels.
“When this particular method is used to reduce pollution, inevitably, we will be able to create an effective system that works for everybody,” she said, adding that a cleaner and greener business operates more efficiently.
“Which means there’s a cost benefit,” she said, also pointing out that it reduces the challenge on the community, because now people are healthier.
“Many of the people who are being plagued by these conditions the people in the poorest communities,” she said.
“And as a result, they do not have the necessary resources to perhaps get the necessary treatment that is required.”
These people may not have health insurance and end up going to the emergency room to handle a situation that may be appropriately addressed in a long-term fashion if they had a doctor to visit on a regular basis.
She noted that there’s legislation that looks at is how much pollution is one particular area, and added that it’s critically important because when you have a community that has been historically overburdened with these noxious facilities, you’re going to have more environmental challenges.
There has to be a measure in place that says a particular community has been overburdened for too long.
“So we need to look at whether to place this particular facility in another community or just not allow for an expansion at this time.”
She said the legislation would address this issue.
On April 11, Kimbrerly Hill Knott was honored by the White House Champions of Change program as a Community Resilience Leader. She represented Detroit as one of 12 champions of change.
This came about as an indirect result of a 2011 meeting between Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and key stakeholders to determine the feasibility of launching a climate action plan for the city.
After much discussion, they formed the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative.
The DCAC has partnered with the U of M school of natural resources to conduct the greenhouse gas inventory.
Hill Knott said the DCAC has a dynamic team of people putting together seven work groups:
• Homes and neighborhoods
• Parks, public space, and water infrastructure.
• Public health
• Solid waste
• business institution,
She a big part of the climate action plan will be focusing on mitigation, which looks at the causes, and adaptation, which looks at how to reduce the risk.
That’s important because projections show heat and flooding are two of the major issues that are caused by climate change.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 14:33
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
“The real and projected job gains from the end of 2009 through 2015 means that the county will have replenished 62 percent, or about five in eight, of the jobs lost from summer 2000 to the end of 2009.”
On the heels of its strongest two-year job growth in almost 20 years, Oakland County’s economy will add nearly 42,000 jobs through 2015, say University of Michigan economists.
After gaining 48,000 jobs during 2011 and 2012 — Oakland’s best back-to-back years since 1994-95 — the county will add 11,600 jobs this year, 13,300 next year and 16,700 in 2015.
“Oakland’s recovery is becoming as remarkable as the retrenchment that preceded it,” said economist George Fulton. “Since the recession’s low point at the end of 2009, the recovery has been red-hot with a growth rate averaging 3.8 percent per year in 2011 and 2012. We see the continuation of a solid recovery through 2015, extending its span to six years, but with job growth moderating from its sizzling pace of the past two years.”
In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, Fulton and colleague Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy say that high-wage industries — with average pay of more than $62,000 —accounted for more than half of the new private-sector jobs created during the recovery, a trend that will continue throughout the forecast horizon.
“That the past two years were special is reinforced by the finding that private-sector job gains well exceeded what they averaged per year over the 1980-2000 period, prior to the extended weakness of the 2000s,” Fulton said. “The more moderate job gains we are forecasting over the next three years fall a little below that benchmark in 2013 and 2014, but a little above in 2015.”
According to the forecast, the private service-providing sector will add 35,000 jobs through 2015. More than 40 percent of these job gains (15,500) will be in professional and business services, with another 5,300 new jobs in health services, 5,300 more in wholesale and retail trade, 4,100 in leisure and hospitality, and 2,300 in finance, insurance and real estate.
Job growth in professional and business services over the next three years will be concentrated in engineering services, employment services, computer systems design, corporation management and testing laboratories, the economists say.
“With the exception of employment services, all of these are high-paying industries that mostly employ people with college degrees,” Grimes said.
In the goods-producing sector, which includes manufacturing and construction, Fulton and Grimes predict jobs gains of nearly 7,000 over the next three years. About 4,100 jobs will be added in manufacturing — including 1,400 in motor vehicle manufacturing — and 2,700 in construction.
“The more modest job growth in manufacturing reflects a typical recovery from a severe recession —rapid job gains in the immediate recovery period followed by more modest gains,” Grimes said. “Within the construction industry, most of the job gains are the result of increased residential construction activity, while industrial and commercial construction improves at a more modest pace.”
Unlike the private sector in Oakland County, in which every major industry division will gain jobs this year and in each of the next two years, the government sector (which includes public education) will continue to suffer job losses—but at a much slower rate compared with the previous six years — until finally adding more than 200 jobs in 2015.
Overall, Fulton and Grimes say that Oakland remains among the better local economies in the nation, ranking 10th among 36 comparable U.S. counties on a series of measures that indicate future economic prosperity.
The real and projected job gains from the end of 2009 through 2015 means that the county will have replenished 62 percent, or about five in eight, of the jobs lost from summer 2000 to the end of 2009.
“This is good progress, indeed, but it leaves some ground to make up,” Fulton said. “The county, however, is especially noteworthy for its share of residents employed in professional and managerial occupations and for its residents’ high level of education, both of which bode well for future growth opportunities in higher-paid activities.
“Whether we assess Oakland County with respect to how it is positioned in key economic fundamentals across all regions of the United States or more restrictively among many of the elite local economies, it is hard not to see the county thriving as time goes on.”
The 28th annual
U-M forecast of Oakland County’s economy was sponsored by nine regional organizations.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 14:23
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
Amid widespread news reports that the governor sanctioned a “secret panel” to discuss ways in which to reshape public education in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder responded by asking Mike Flanagan, state superintendent of public instruction, to lead future discussions in a more public and transparent manner.
News reports began to surface approximately two weeks ago that the governor’s clandestine group of computer software companies, charter school representatives and several state employees had been meeting for several months to explore ways of integrating technological advancements into the public education system, as well as looking at options to implement a school voucher system.
The secrecy of the project drew outcry from educators and other stakeholders from around the state, saying that the lack of transparency was the opposite of what Gov. Snyder had promised when he ran for the state’s highest office in 2011.
In addition, the panel did not include teachers or administrators. While Snyder initially defended his administration’s endorsement of the group and its methods of meeting, he quickly changed directions.
“The governor still is very interested in studying how current and future technologies can improve education delivery and outcomes for Michigan students,” Flanagan said recently to a gathering of school business officials in Grand Rapids. “At my urging, I believe the governor feels that these issues are best served by being in an open and public process, and he asked me to be directly involved.”
In a press release statement issued on April 24, Flanagan expressed that the reform group would adopt an inclusive process by extending invitations to the State Board of Education, K-12 education stakeholders, early childhood education stakeholders, school business officials, teacher preparation programs, education technology experts, colleges, career and technical education leaders, post-secondary programs and the public.
Flanagan also emphasized that the group will not discuss school vouchers, and that any savings that may be realized from the use of technology will be reinvested back into the schools.
“Kids today are wired into technology from an early age,” Flanagan said. “We must adapt our system of education to be customized to their learning tools, and not the learning tools with which their parents and grandparents were taught.”
For House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), the governor’s latest decision is a step in the right direction. Greimel had earlier denounced the governor’s advocacy of the secret group.
“It was very disturbing that the governor had this secret group form and meet without any form of transparency,” Greimel said during a phone interview. “The group’s name, ‘skunk work’ really said it all. The governor and his administration probably realized that this looked bad and that they needed to back peddle.”
On the reform group’s new direction: “It is certainly an improvement to have Superintendent Flanagan lead the group. But more importantly, it’s making sure that the process is transparent and that the public have an opportunity to participate and provide input. Most importantly, there needs to be the involvement of educators to shape this discussion group.”
On technology as a short cut to quality education: “There are no shortcuts when it comes to quality education,” Greimel said. “You can’t sit kids in front of a computer screen and expect they’ll get the same amount of personal attention and help as they would from a teacher. It’s time to stop thinking of public schools as an expense, when in reality they are the best investment that we can make.”
Greimel said that he plans to meet with Flanagan regarding the direction of the group.
“I hope to reach out to him next week about my concerns and the need for the process to be more transparent,” said Greimel. “Certainly there may be some disagreement over policy, but if the process is transparent, at least the public can have a discussion in the open.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:45
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