Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
It’s the day many in Detroit have been waiting for, whether they liked it or not. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to announce Kevyn D. Orr, 54, a partner in Jones Day, a Cleveland-based law firm, as Detroit’s emergency manager on March 14, 2 p.m, in the Cadillac Building in Detroit, according to sources familiar with the preparations for this major seismic shift in Detroit’s governance structure.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is among those expected to be at the announcement when Orr, a successful African American lawyer who is a graduate of the University of Michigan law school, is named the new leader to lead the financial restructuring process for Detroit.
According to the Jones Day website, Orr “has practiced in the areas of business restructuring, financial institution regulation, and commercial litigation since 1984. Throughout his career he has demonstrated the ability to handle all aspects of complex and precedent-setting matters and has successfully tried numerous jury trials to verdict.”
He has served as “both the chief government legal officer of a failed financial institution and a special master to oversee the operations of a real estate development firm. He also has assisted clients with government RFPs and inspector general audits.”
Orr works out of Washington, DC.
Most notably, Orr, who has roots in Detroit, was one of the lead attorneys during the Chrysler bankruptcy process.
“Representative matters include counseling and representing: Chrysler LLC with regard to all aspects of its bankruptcy, URS/WGI against claims by the Department of Justice for alleged FAA/FCA and related common law contract claims, health care financier National Century Financial Enterprises in its bankruptcy and asserting that company's claims in the health care provider bankruptcies of PhyAmerica Corporation and DCHC/Greater Southeast Hospital, Laidlaw Corporation in its defense of a $1 billion claim by the purchaser of its environmental cleanup division, investment banks and advisors in bankruptcy matters, and sellers and bidders in bankruptcy-related auctions,” the Jones Day’s website reads.
Orr has also testified before Congress on bankruptcy and financial institution regulation.
His announcement tomorrow is coming on the heels of the Detroit City Council’s failed bid to convince Gov. Snyder that local officials in Detroit can avert a financial crisis on their own and that they have a plan to do so.
Sources also indicate that Mayor Bing has already met Orr and had conversation with the new manager about what the mayor’s role would be in this new era.
In an interview with the Michigan Chronicle this week, Bing made it clear he won’t be around if he doesn’t have the power to effect change and carry out his plans under an EM.
It remains to be seen what Orr would do and how he would see council’s role in this new government structure that has met significant opposition as well as support from all sides of the political equation.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 09:43
Category: News Briefs Written by HuffingtonPost
The all-important (or irrelevant, depending on who you ask) U.S. News & World Report rankings of the top law schools for 2014 were released Tuesday.
As expected, a number of law school deans immediately attempted to diminish the rankings' value. Above The Law gathered responses from University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Michigan State University College of Law and Brooklyn Law School all explaining why the rankings don't tell the whole story.
Joan W. Howarth, dean of Michigan State College of Law, told the site, "These rankings are terribly flawed, with next-to-nothing in the formula that directly reflects the quality of the education we offer."
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 13:12
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
What the world witnessed in federal court in downtown Detroit on Monday in the sweeping corruption conviction of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his longtime friend and city contractor, Bobby Ferguson, and his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, was the bitter and painful ending of political power who once had the potential to not only make Detroit a game changer in the state but across the country.
It was the sad ending to a political story that carried with it the riveting campaign mantra “Right Here, Right Now,” the refrain that defined the rise of Kwame Kilpatrick as chief executive officer of the 11th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building.
Kilpatrick, once embodied an emerging political leadership that represented a class of brilliant Black men who could be pleading Black America’s cause before the nation’s conscience, the same path that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is on now with his frequent appearances on “Meet the Press,” on NBC, making the case for urban America while being a no-nonsense surrogate for the Obama administration.
He once symbolized a new generation of bold Democratic leaders who had the propensity to expand their base beyond their own traditional lines of operation with the ability to build crossover relationships with various constituencies and communities.
To put it bluntly, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick could have been a United States senator from Michigan because he was on that path to national political stardom. It was in 2004 that he was made a guest speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the same year that then Sen. Barack Obama was introduced to the nation and the world when he keynoted that same convention.
It is worth noting that very few in the political class ever, in a lifetime, get the opportunity to address a national political convention, the hallmark of political power, and a speaking slot reserved only for those whose life stories or real promises of political leadership have the potency to affect the course of the nation. These are two skillful men who chose a different destiny for themselves.
Years later, one man headed to the White House to change the course of history for generations to come by entering into the pantheon of American history as a major political force, and to put America on the map as a leader on the ever evolving question of a multiracial democracy fighting to expand itself and to continue to give full meaning to the notion that “all men are created equal,” because a competent Black man is now the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The other man wallowing and wiggling in hubris and intoxicated with political power began to sink into the pool of political and legal troubles that would arrest his future. Kilpatrick, blinded by his own follies and youthful exuberance coupled with some opportunists masking as trusted advisors whose only response to a new and exciting leadership abounding with untold opportunities for success, was “Yes sir,” instead of protesting and resigning to send a signal when the ship, by all accounts, was headed for a Titanic-type calamity.
Instead of trying to change course quickly in the middle of the political ocean he was swimming in, the former mayor displayed arrogance and thought everyone was fixated on him, or obsessed with the earring he wore and later stoppd wearing after multiple complaints to his advisors about how a sitting mayor wearing an earring like a rap star defies the conventional appearance pattern of an executive of a major city.
Many reminded Kilpatrick that he was not elected as “the hip-hop mayor.” He was elected as mayor of the city of Detroit. He blamed the media for all of his issues and not once pointed the finger at himself as an elected official who swore to uphold the public trust.
While the media has an obligation to always report the facts and to do so without bias or animosity, Kilpatrick was the one elected by the people of Detroit, not the media that he waged a very public battle with.
Every politician wages battles with the media, but the smart ones soon realize that the media did not elect them and thus fighting an unwinnable battle was hopeless.
Inasmuch as the media exists to serve as the space between the elected and the electorate, ensuring transparency and accountability, the obligation for Kilpatrick was to those who chose him to serve when he rode triumphantly into office at only 31 years of age, becoming one of the youngest mayors of a major city in the country’s history.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade, who was named by President Obama to the post, said in prosecuting the “Kilpatrick enterprise,” her office was sending a strong message to those called to elected office to work diligently for the people, not to line their pockets.
Elected office is a privilege and an honor and should not be the center of gravity for things that defy the spirit of that office.
Much has been made about individuals and companies who collaborated with Kilpatrick and others indicted in the corruption schemes that were unraveled in federal court. While it is true that the collaborators should be held accountable as well, the burden of demonstrating stewardship of the public trust is on the official elected by the people or appointed to serve the people.
In any case, where tax dollars are at stake, there should be a higher degree of accountability, probity and transparency. That is the standard all public officials should be held to.
The trial of Kwame Kilpatrick represented one of the most intriguing legal cases and certainly will be remembered as an instructive study for everyone seeking to enter public office about what to avoid that will create the appearance of impropriety.
With this trial came one of the most racially diverse juries in the history of the Eastern District of Michigan, including five African Americans and one Hispanic, who were part of the jury that rendered the verdict on a man who once symbolized Black electoral power.
The diversity of the jury pool at the federal system has been a source for concern until the federal court commissioned a study to look at ways to enhance racial diversity on juries with federal judges Denise Page Hood and Victoria Roberts leading the study, backed by Chief Judge Gerald Rosen.
All three judges representing the federal bench and McQuade as well as the Chief Federal Defender Miriam Siefer engaged on a series of community conversations to address the importance of jury service and racial diversity on juries.
The result was Kilpatrick having one of the most racially diverse juries in the judicial system in Detroit as a benefit of democracy, and the effort of the court taking an inward look at how it once operated. The challenge now is for the court to maintain that standard of racial diversity.
The challenge for elected officials and those candidates filing for public office to run for mayor and city council is to not repeat history and to show the world that Detroit is far more than the sum total of the Kilpatrick conviction.
The conviction of the former mayor should belong to the gallery of public corruption, period, which happens everywhere, and not to the image or the character of Detroit. It is biting because Kilpatrick leaves his sons behind and a wife who will now have to confront the challenge of ensuring a future for those children. His public malfeasance abruptly ended his mother, former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick’s service in Congress when she lost reelection.
The convictions on racketeering and extortion should symbolize greed by a select group of individuals who abused their power, and not a blanket condemnation of Detroit’s present leadership.
The lesson in the Kilpatrick saga can best be summed up in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book “The Brothers Karamazov,” a work that demonstrates one of the greatest sagas of political literature with moral struggles at the core of the human experience, and how one emerges depends on their own fortitude. The question is, can we balance the scales so that evil does not outweigh good?
Could Kwame Kilpatrick have balanced the scales so he wouldn’t have been weighed down by corruption?
Dostoyevsky, the father of political and moral literature, should be recommended reading for public officials and those seeking public office to gain profound insight for enlightened leadership that benefits from classical exposition.
Dostoyevsky said, “Man has it all in his hands, and it all slips through his fingers from sheer cowardice.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 10:21
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, in an exclusive interview with Bankole Thompson last week in his office, charged that State Treasurer Andy Dillon sent mixed messages to different Detroit civic groups, lamenting that he wished Dillon had been straightforward in his meetings with various government and civic organs in the city. Bing also said he is ready to work with the emergency manager whenever he is named and won’t sit at city hall without the power to effect change. The following are excerpts from that interview.
MICHIGAN CHRONICLE: From your vantage point, what is Detroit going to be under an emergency manager?
DAVE BING: I think the emergency manager, because it is an 18-months time frame, let’s be honest, you are not going to fix our problems in 18 months. But I think because of the emergency manager coming in with the support of Lansing, it means Lansing is going to have to come to the table more so than they have. Because it’s on his (the governor’s) watch as well as mine.
If we don’t fix some of the problems or at least start moving in the right direction, then we are all failures and I don’t think anybody wants that title. So the emergency manager from my vantage point is going to help us do some things that we couldn’t do.
MC: Like what?
DB: I think the City Charter is a major impediment. There was a rewrite of the Charter based on what was happening with the last administration. I think they went way too far and it handcuffs us from doing things that we need to do.
The first thing was a corporation counsel and that became a big issue. You couldn’t do what you needed to do. Then you couldn’t privatize, outsource anything without going through multiple steps that slowed the process down. You talk about the police commission. There were things that could have been done before that you can’t do now.
One of the things we need to do is to go back and look at what changes need to be made in the Charter and then talk about the process of so many things that need to be done going through city council for their approval.
And there’s been a lot of push and pull between the city council and the executive office because there are things that we feel like are the right things to do, we need to do and we need to move it fast. Tthey slowed the process down in a lot of cases. You can look at what’s happening at the pension board. There is a major issue there.
Look at labor agreements, those are impediments that keep us from moving as fast as we need to be.
So with the emergency manager he can get around all of that and make things happen quicker.
MC: What role will you play under an emergency manager?
DB: I can’t tell you what that role is right now. We’ll have to sit down once he’s identified and comes in. I think we need to figure out my role, we need to figure out council’s role. In particular we need to figure out the role that the state is going to play. All of that has to be negotiated.
I would not stay here and be somebody who just cuts ribbons and kisses babies. That’s not what I came here to do. If I can’t move my initiatives forward, which would be public safety, lights, public transportation, blight, recreation — those are the five things I think have the greatest impact on our citizens.
So I want to do what’s best for our citizens so that they can improve their quality of life. Once again, I need my team in place. A lot of people think that they know what is happening at city government. I can tell you they don’t. You’ve got to spend some time here to understand that. So somebody coming from the outside, coming in they need us to get through all of the minutiae and I think we can play a significant role.
MC: Would it make more sense to get an emergency manager from this area rather than someone from out-of-state?
DB: It depends on the capability, the intellect and the capacity of the person. If we had that kind of talent here, what would happen? The problem of getting somebody local would be the politics.
MC: Charlie Beckham, who worked for you and left your administration, has been shopping to be the emergency manager.
DB: Never happened. (Laughs) Wasn’t a serious candidate and Charlie worked for five different mayors in several different departments, and all of them are still screwed up. So how in the hell is he going to be an emergency manager and fix anything when he had the opportunity to work in certain departments and things didn’t get fixed?
MC: The governor disagreed with my assessment last week that an emergency manager is a huge gamble for Detroit. Do you feel that it is a gamble?
DB: It is a huge risk. There is absolutely no doubt about that. That’s why I’ve taken the position that I’ve taken. I’m more interested in... not about some political future. I’m not all hung up in my ego. We are here for one reason and one reason only and that is to solve some of the problems that this city has had for the last 40 or 50 years.
So if the state is going to step in and be helpful with that, I’m OK with it. Ultimately, what I think we have to do is work as hard as we can together and solve as many problems as we can in this 18-month period. And the city council has the authority to displace the emergency manager. If we don’t do that we are going to elongate the process. I don’t think anybody wants to do that. We must work together.
MC: Your relationship with the governor has evolved. You came from presiding over his inauguration to the tug of war over the consent agreement. What is the state of your relationship with the governor now?
DB: I think we’ve got a professional relationship. I respect him and what he is responsible for from a state standpoint. And I think he respects me in terms of what I’m responsible for from a city standpoint. We may not always agree, but I think we are respectful of each other.
MC: The opposition to an emergency manager has pointed to Benton Harbor and other cities where financial recovery has not been immediate. What would like to see happen in the first six months of an emergency manager?
DB: I think there’s a misconception that an emergency manager is going to solve the problems. That’s not the case. What kind of resources will the emergency manager get to help solve the problems? He’s going to need some money. That’s got to come from the state. He’s going to need some people. I’m not sure where they are going to come from.
Without that, all the plans that we have in place, and we do have plans, won’t be executed. It’s all about executing the plans. So if you talk about a six-month window, is it a low hanging fruit? Probably so. Can we put some of the lights on? I think so, but you’ve got have money to do it. Can you put Belle Isle back on the table? I think so.
MC: Do you want to see council play a role?
DB: Council will play a role. I’m not sure what it is. It depends. I think the governor has made it clear, if you don’t want to work get out of the way. I’ve already said I’m going to work with the emergency manager because in order for us to move forward that needs to happen. There are some council people who may want to work with the emergency manager, there may be others that don’t want to. And the governor has made it clear
MC: There’s been talk in the political grapevine that the Office of the Treasurer under Andy Dillon played a different ballgame on the financial negotiations with Detroit than what was coming through from the governor’s office. Is this true and did you feel that way?
DB: Andy Dillon from a personality standpoint may not have been the right guy. I don’t know what his agenda is, but I think there is more than one agenda. Andy got in the way and got in the mix of a lot of things that I don’t think he should have. That is, trying to interface with all of the constituencies here in Detroit whether it was faith based or my office, city council, labor.
MC: Do you think he was trying to be the mayor?
DB: Maybe the governor. I don’t think he wanted to be the mayor. But I wish that he had handled it a different way.
MC: You didn’t think it was appropriate talking to different civic groups in the community?
DB: Depending on what your agenda was. If the message is the same to everybody, maybe it could have worked better. We talked. The city council got a message different from ours in some cases. Labor got a message that’s different. Faith-based organizations got a message that was different. You’ve got be straightforward and honest with people and have the same message for everybody.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 10:24
Category: News Briefs Written by Nicole RupersBurg, ModelD
From the Paris of the Midwest to the New Orleans of the North: Detroit is getting a taste of the Bayou with Beignets. After many years of traveling to the Big Easy and enjoying late-night beignets with chicory coffee at the famous Café du Monde, Michele Pearson and her partner Mark Hausner launched Beignets to bring the dense French doughnut to Detroit. "We just loved the fact that when people were together eating beignets all hours of the night, listening to zydeco, they were happy," says Pearson. "We figured with the French influence in Detroit, why doesn't Detroit have something like this?"
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 08:58
Category: News Briefs Written by huffingtonpost
A 12-year-old student's high-rolling ways may be making her popular with classmates, but less so with the police. They're just trying to get to the bottom of how she ended up at school Monday with a backpack loaded with cash -- a circumstance that Taylor's Chief of Police Mary Sclabassi told WDIV-TV was "extremely unusual." ABC News Radio reports that the young girl brought $20,000 to Sixth Grade Academy in Taylor, Mich. that day and was handing some of the bills out to her fellow classmates. After learning about the situation, the school's principal notified police.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 08:46
Category: News Briefs Written by David Sands, huffingtonpost
An environmental group is taking action against an energy utility company they say is responsible for at least 1,400 violations of the federal Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against Michigan's DTE Energy in regards to four Southeast Michigan coal-fired power plants on Tuesday in U.S. District Court, following a notice of intent to sue issued last fall.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 08:35
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle
Over the last four years, Eastern Michigan University has clearly stamped itself as the statewide leader in keeping costs down for its students while still reinvesting in key academic facilities and programs, President Susan Martin said Tuesday (March 12) in testimony before Lansing lawmakers.
During her appearance before the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Martin noted that affordability and accessibility have become synonymous with Eastern Michigan. She cited Eastern’s singular efforts in keeping tuition down, while arguing those efforts should be strongly noted in the funding formulas laid out in Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal.
Among President Martin’s key points on tuition:
•Eastern’s tuition has increased only $32 per credit hour or 2.86% per year over the last four years, which is the lowest increase among the state’s fifteen public universities.
• Eastern was a nationwide pioneer when it froze tuition, room, and board in 2010 with 0%, 0%, 0% increases. “We took this bold and unprecedented step because, in the midst of the global recession, we felt it was vital to keep higher education affordable and accessible to Michigan families,” Martin said.
• Eastern has also increased institutional financial aid by 78%, from $21.4 million to $38.1 million, over the last six years. The dramatic increase in funding supports scholarships and awards that supplement federal financial aid and private loans.
Martin emphasized that, in addition to keeping college affordable, Eastern is making the investments necessary to preserve its stated mission of “Education First” by undertaking key initiatives designed to meet Michigan’s workplace needs.
Those include opening a new graduate program in 2014 to train physician assistants, a rapidly growing field that pays high wages, along with Eastern’s Information Assurance program, which encompasses the scientific, technical, and management disciplines to ensure computer and network security. “The recent news of Chinese cyber attacks against our governments and American companies gives even greater urgency to this field of study,” Martin said.
The President noted that being accessible to a wide variety of students involves forging strong partnerships with Michigan’s community colleges. Eastern has more than 130 articulation agreements with community colleges that clarify the path to a four-year degree with 84 to 92 credits taken at the community college, saving students time and money.
Such efforts at limiting student costs and program development have resulted in increased enrollment and a higher number of graduates at Eastern. Over the last five years, enrollment has increased 7 percent, to 23,547 students from 22,027 in 2008. Last fall, Eastern enrolled its largest undergraduate class in history, with 5,076 students. The incoming freshmen class of 2,595 students was the largest in a decade, which represented a 21-percent increase from the prior fall’s freshman class.
In addition, 4,460 students are expected to graduate this academic year, representing a 9 percent increase over last year and nearly a 28-percent increase in just three years.
Martin cited the results of a recent market analysis by Deloitte, which identified 183 high-wage, high-growth occupations. Half of these occupations are in education and health care, while another quarter exist in positions reliant on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Eastern is preparing students in the high-wage, high-demand occupations in 72 percent of its bachelor’s degrees, 70 percent of its master’s degrees, and 84 percent of its doctoral degrees, Martin noted.
Meanwhile, Eastern maintains a leading role in administrative cost reduction efforts that help keep tuition low. In the past two fiscal years, the University has eliminated 111 administrative positions, which included forty layoffs, saving $5.6 million in wages and benefits. Eastern’s employees now share 20 percent of health insurance costs. Because of such efforts, Eastern received the best score this year in the state budget performance metric that measures a university’s spending on administrative overhead.
Martin said Eastern supports the Governor’s proposal to include performance funding and tuition restraint from 2013 in EMU’s appropriation for 2014, but strongly requested that any increase in funding be made permanent. She also applauded the proposed increase in total funding for higher education by $30 million, but added that, “far more is needed to support our students financially.”
“Eastern has consistently proven that we will reinvest the State’s resources in lower tuition,” Martin said.
Martin said EMU strongly supports the recommendation of the Business Leaders for Michigan group to add a performance metric that measures Pell Grants, which go to low-income students. She also recommended using overall degrees awarded as a performance metric instead of six-year graduation rates, which fail to take into account transfer students, including those from community colleges, along with veterans and career changers.
“Why are we using a metric that discourages universities from reaching out to veterans, punishes partnerships with community colleges, and is inconsistent with the Governor’s call for more a flexible and seamless learning system?” Martin asked.
Martin noted that keeping higher education affordable and accessible is personal for her. She grew up on a farm in rural Michigan and attended a one-room schoolhouse before earning a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and an MBA and doctorate in accounting from Michigan State University.
“I took a test in high school and the State of Michigan taxpayers funded a competitive scholarship for me that paid my tuition and fees,” Martin said. “Eastern is committed to working with the legislature to give the students of today and tomorrow the opportunity to work hard, earn a college degree, and become productive taxpaying residents of Michigan. Our role is to serve Michigan.”
A full copy of President Martin's testimony can be seen at http://www.emich.edu/president/
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 08:29
Category: News Briefs Written by Bill Shea, CrainsDetroitBusiness
Advertising agency Campbell Ewald, which last week announced its decision to relocate its headquarters from Warren to downtown Detroit inside Ford Field, is in talks to pick up a major new client: Cadillac.
Crain's has been briefed on the matter by sources familiar with the situation, but who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity.
A deal has not yet been finalized and financial terms have not been disclosed, but the account for the General Motors brand is believed to be valued at about $244 million annually in media billings. No timeline has been disclosed.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 10:26
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Britney Spear, Regional Content Editor
Looking for a quality car? If you're planning on buying American, you've got quite a couple of neat options.
Consumer Reports has released it's latest list of "Top American Cars". Who's at the top? Chevy wins big. After being dubbed by the publication as the "best of the best" brand, the automaker placed in several categories.
Budget car: the Chevrolet Sonic LT sedan
Compact car: Chevrolet Cruze Eco, Ford Focus SFE
Midsized sedan: Ford Fusion Hybrid
Green car: Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max hybrid
Small SUV: Ford Escape Titanium
Midsized SUV: Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia
Sports sedan: Cadillac CTS
Luxury car: Chrysler 300
Sports car: Ford Mustang V6, Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 09:30
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