Category: Breaking News Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
Following reports that Treasury Secreatary Timothy Geithner may not return for President Obama's second term, the Washington Post reports that the president is expected to be nominate Jacob Lew for the position this week.
Lew, the White House chief of staff, was also a behind-the-scenes fixture during the Clinton administration and served as chief operating officer for New York University and Citigroup, among other organizations.\
Lew previously served as Obama's budget director and a senior State Department official. He also was budget director during the Clinton administration and has been negotiating bipartisan compromises over taxes and spending since the 1980s, when he was a top aide to then-House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) ...
Lew will be taking over Treasury at a time of serious challenges to the nation's economic picture. Congress is facing a battle over raising the $16.4 trillion debt limit, as well as a clash over how to stop deep spending cuts, which are set to take effect in early March. A continuing resolution funding the government expires later that month, setting the stage for battle that could lead to a government shutdown.
The nomination also means that Obama will have to choose a new chief of staff. Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Biden, is among the rumored candidates, as is Denis McDonough, a deputy national security adviser.
Lew's nomination is the latest as Obama rounds out his second-term team. This week, he nominated former senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as his next secretary of defense and counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan as director of the CIA.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 09:14
Category: Breaking News Written by Rachel Tepper, The Huffington Post
Although hoopla surrounding the inauguration on January 20 is expected to be less frantic than it was four years ago, Washington, D.C. is still expecting plenty parties of presidential proportions. Details about more events are begining to trickle in, including the inaugural luncheon -- and the menu is already finalized.
About 200 guests will be in attendance, including President Obama, Vice President Biden and their families, plus the Supreme Court, Cabinet members and members of Congressional leadership. The event, which has been a tradition for more than a century, will be hosted by members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Arlington, Virginia-based catering firm, Design Cuisine, designed the menu to highlight ingredients from across the country. Paired wines hail from New York, the home state of Sen. Chuck Schumer, the host committee chairman. In a release, Sen. Schumer described the menu's significance:
“Agriculture has always played a starring role in American culture and has been at the heart of our cuisine since the birth of our nation,” said Schumer. “This Inaugural luncheon menu incorporates foods that the first Americans enjoyed, but with a modern, forward looking approach. I’m confident that Democrats, Republicans, and representatives from all three branches alike will enjoy these incredible dishes from all corners of our nation.”
The hosting committee has already posted the menu online, as well as recipes for those who'll be unable to attend and want to experience the luncheon for themselves.
Without further ado, here's the menu for the 2013 Inaugural Luncheon:
First Course: Steamed lobster with New England clam chowder sauce, served on sauteed spinach with sweet potato hay.
Wine: Tierce 2009 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (NY)
Main Course: Hickory grilled bison with wild huckleberry reduction, strawberry preserve and red cabbage, red potato horseradish cake, baby golden beets and green beans and butternut squash purée.
Wine: Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot (Long Island, NY)
Dessert: Hudson Valley apple pie with sour cream ice cream and maple caramel sauce. Aged cheeses and honeycomb will also be served, including Toma Celena and Jersey Girl Colby from Cooperstown Cheese Company (Milford, NY).
Wine: Korbel Inaugural Cuvee (California)
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:47
Category: Breaking News Written by thehuffingtonpost
Kwame Kilpatrick has once again found himself in a sticky situation with the law after he was spotted on a security camera at Walmart. The former Detroit mayor, currently on trial for corruption, could be facing another stint in jail for not reporting a $2,000 Christmas gift from a supporter.
A security camera at the Chesterfield Township, Mich. store recorded him cashing a $2,000 wire transfer sent by Chicago Pastor Corey Brooks in December, Detroit affiliate Fox 2 reports. Officials told the news station that Kilpatrick kept about $800 for himself and wired around $1,100 to Texas, where his family now resides.
Brooks told Fox 32 in Chicago he had done nothing illegal by sending the money, which he called a "Christmas gift."
The Detroit Free Press reports Kilpatrick lied to a parole officer about the $2,000 when he was asked if he had reported all of his December income and gifts. Failing to report the funds could be a violation of his parole for crimes related to a text-messaging scandal.
Kilpatrick lied under oath about an affair during a police whistleblower lawsuit, pled guilty in 2008 to two counts of obstructing justice and served a little over a year in jail.
According to the Detroit News, the state Department of Corrections is reviewing the situation to determine whether there will be a consequence for Kilpatrick.
The News reports that he called the matter "trivial" after a day in court Tuesday. Kilpatrick is currently on federal trial along with his father Bernard and his friend Bobby Ferguson for running the mayor's office as a criminal enterprise for their own profit.
The ex-mayor owes the city of Detroit more than $800,000 in restitution for his crimes.
In March, the State of Michigan tripled his restitution payments from $160 to $500 after giving evidence that Kilpatrick was living a "life of luxury," despite claims that he could not make his payments.
Kilpatrick reportedly missed his November restitution payment and almost received a parole violation for failing to prove he had logged his required community service.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:40
Category: Breaking News Written by David Sands, thehuffingtonpost
The Kresge Foundation has pledged $150 million to aid in the implementation of a long-ranging, comprehensive framework for Detroit's future. The Detroit Future City plan, which paves the way for the city's evolution over the next 50 years, will get a jump start with the Kresge Foundation's five-year gift announced Wednesday.
CEO Rip Rapson announced the donation at press conference held by Mayor Dave Bing to unveil the Detroit Future City plan, according to the Detroit Free Press.
"It is a fundamental belief on our part that every dollar we spend simply has to reinforce the spirit, the letter and the intent of this plan," he said.
The Kresge Foundation, along with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, also committed $3 million on Wednesday to support operations at the project management office for two years.
Created by Bing's Detroit Works Project, the Detroit Future City strategic plan maps out possibilities to transform the city over the next 50 years, charting paths for land use, neighborhoods, economic development and more. Over two years in the making, Detroit Future City is intended to guide decision-making on change and development in the city over the next 50 years.
Bing first proposed the idea that would become the framework in 2010, as a way of re-envisioning a city plagued by population loss, large legacy costs associated with infrastructure and other long-term financial issues.
"As mayor of Detroit and a longtime member of this community, I've witnessed the steady decline of a city with so much promise," Bing said during the conference. "It became clear to me that business as usual would not effectively transform our city and a new framework for Detroit's future needed to be developed."
At the time, he called for downsizing Detroit into between seven and nine different population centers. As much as 45 square miles of the city, or one third of Detroit's total land, would have been essentially shut down, with city services cut off for any residents who remained. Concerns about service cuts and the administration's top-down approach sparked a community outcry that eventually forced the Bing administration to re-evaluate their stance.
A reboot of the project -- Detroit Works 2.0 -- made participation of Detroit citizens and community groups central to the effort. Under the new setup, ideas for restructuring the city were to be based on a combination of community and technical expertise. The project's civic engagement team held numerous community talks, sponsored a roaming table that engaged people around the city and even created an online game to gather input from citizens. Their work included 30,000 conversations with residents and the gathering of 70,000 survey responses.
Roundtable discussions were also held with businesses, as well as philanthropic groups -- who helped foot the bill for the project. In addition to the Kresge and Kellogg Foundations, Detroit Works Long-Term Planning also received financial support from the Erb Family, Hudson Webber, John S. and James L. Knight and Ford Foundations
Acknowledging the challenges Detroit Works faced in establishing its Detroit Future City framework, Mayor Bing noted the wide range of actors involved in its creation at Wednesday's conference.
"I know that it has been very, very difficult to get from where we were two years ago to where we are today," he said. "And I think the beauty of this is that we had so many people from so many different walks of life that came to the table to participate because we care for and love this city and its people. "
With the strategic framework now established, it now remains to be seen how Detroit Future City will be implemented. Detroit Work's steering committee has recommended creating a consortium that could help provide guidance and maintain citizen involvement, but the future of the project will depend on the political will of many different groups and governmental entities.
Detroit's current financial difficulties, which could lead to bankruptcy or a state takeover, also loom heavy over the venture.
At Wednesday's press conference, Bing admitted there were challenges ahead, but remained optimistic about the future of the project.
"The work really starts today. We planned for two years. We've got a lot of recommendations. We've got a lot of data and now we're ready to move forward," he said. "Let's make Detroit great again!"
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:29
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
The hot toddy is the quintessential wintertime drink. Typically served at ski lodges and similar destinations, it is best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire after a cold day spent braving the elements. Although not known for certain where the origin of the name is from, the toddy itself does have a storied history. Although some say it originated in the 1700s from the Todian Spring in Scotland, it is most likely from India, as toddy is the word for the ‘sap’ of the coconut tree found throughout the region.
When Jack Frost nips at your nose, he’s surely advocating a trip to discover one of the best hot toddies in town, and the establishments listed below are the city’s top contenders.
Is there a blizzard outside? Not to worry, simply prepare a toddy within the comfort of your own home, following the instructions below. Adjust according to your tastes.
1 ounce brandy, rum or whiskey
1 ounce honey
4 ounces hot water
A slice of lemon, whole cloves pierced into the rind
Combine all ingredients in a glass mug. Place water in a teapot and bring to a rolling boil. Add water to fill mug. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Some Michiganders may want to substitute 4 ounces of Vernors Ginger Ale.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 10:52
Who will be Detroit’s Emergency Manager? Beckham, Brown, Hendrix, Williams viewed as viable candidates
Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Emergency manager are two poisonous words in Detroit politics right now, yet they are the two most powerful words in the city’s cataclysmic financial conversation.
With last week’s financial report showing the widening financial crisis of the city, and the escalating crime rate reducing Detroit to a killing field, it’s hard to imagine how the city can extricate itself once and for all from the malaise of economic hardship and public safety nightmare it is already in without the requisite soul searching and bold action needed to get Detroit back on track. Because Detroit cannot continue borrowing to pay its own bills, the city faces a series of choices for financial recovery including an emergency manager, mediation, consent agreement and bankruptcy.
But the most obvious reality that some are now resigned to is the real possibility of an emergency manager running the city — for at least a year — to get the city’s books in order before the return to representative democracy.
For critics of the revised emergency manager law, this is the worst that could happen to Detroit’s democratic system of governance, where the long tradition of home rule and the right to self-determination has guided electoral politics.
Mindful of this political minefield, Gov. Rick Snyder, and his Lansing team that includes State Treasurer Andy Dillon, have been walking a fine line to ensure that none of their actions in Detroit’s financial recovery is interpreted as a state takeover. That has led supporters of an emergency manager for Detroit to conclude that the state is babysitting Detroit’s financial crisis and at the same time playing fiddle. Detroit needs a strong surgical operation into its finances if the city cannot get its books in order, EM supporters say.
Everyone agrees that the city of Detroit has massive structural problems that have engulfed its financial wellbeing. And the current financial review that’s under way, the first step to determine an emergency manager, will further show how decades-long problems have been left unsolved, leading to this point.
And if Detroit goes the route of an emergency manager, who will that person be?
It will be the most significant position in the city in decades because of not only the enhanced powers of that individual, but also the political seismic shift that occurs instantly once the person is installed.
Also because that person will always be in the political crosshairs of all debates about the future of the city, and the public outrage about an EM as well as outbursts about the ineffectiveness of Detroit’s government.
Because of that, it appears “play it safe” has been the guiding rule for the deciders of the EM with the careful circulation of names that are familiar in Detroit politics such as former deputy mayor and mayoral candidate Freman Hendrix, former mayoral candidate and municipal executive Charlie Beckham, former Coleman Young veteran Charlie Williams as possible candidates for EM.
These names are being thrown around to guage public reaction and its unclear if, in fact, any of them would emerge as emergency manager for Detroit if the city gets to that point.
Beckham ran the mayoral campaign of Mayor Dave Bing and left the administration shortly after.
Some sources have said Lansing has been constantly talking with Beckham who’s been a leading critic of the Bing administration’s recent approach to overhaul of the city’s finances.
In numerous interviews Beckham has been intimating that Detroit’s cumbersome problems were too overwhelming for the mayor and that a mammoth political institution like Detroit requires tough choices that may not be politically expedient.
In the past Beckham has said he is only offering an honest and strong cure for the city’s finances and that there was noting personal between him and Mayor Bing whom he says he still plays golf with. It will be interesting to see how a once insider who helped orchestrate the Bing era now stands as a possible succcessor to Bing, but in the form of an emergency manager.
Hendrix, when contacted, said no one from Lansing, including the governor’s office, talked to him about being an emergency manager for Detroit.
But another name that keeps coming up is Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown.
Brown, a former deputy police chief whose entanglement with the administration of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and his court vindication, contributed greatly to the downfall of that regime, rose to political power as a victim of the follies and failures of the Kilpatrick era.
When I contacted Brown Monday afternoon to ask whether he’s talking to the state treasurer and the governor about becoming Detroit’s emergency manager his response was, “I’m not in favor of an emergency manager.”
Further asked if he will accept the job should Dillon appoint him, he only said he has “not been asked,” without saying what his response would be.
Pressed further on the matter, Brown said he is “not going to speculate on something that has not happened.”
The Brown factor becomes even more interesting given his close ties with Dillon whom he endorsed for governor when the former Democratic House speaker was seeking to become Michigan’s next governor. Brown was reportedly on Dillon’s short list for lieutenant governor if he had clinched the nomination.
In December of 2012 Brown issued this statement regarding Detroit’s dire finances and supporting Mayor Dave Bing’s push for layoffs.
“Detroit’s elected officials had frequent opportunities to make the bold cuts, including the FY2011 and FY2012 budgets. Due to the lack of political will we failed to make the necessary cuts to the General Fund Budget. During the FY2012 budget process I recommended a $140 Million cut that was eventually decreased to a $50 million reduction,” Brown said.
“Both the legislative body and administration faltered on making the politically tough choices to change the culture of overspending. Our primary issue today is that we are burning through cash every minute while the reforms are not being implemented. The progress we have made has been slow and extremely frustrating.”
Brown said there has been incremental progress at city hall.
“We approved a contract to modernize our payroll system that will save several million dollars.”
Tom Barrow, former mayoral challenger is opposing any form of an emergency manager for Detroit. Instead Barrow in an email to supporters said Detroit should head to Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
“If Detroit’s mayor and council continue to act like lambs, conservatives will continue to feast like lions,” Barrow said.
Detroit attorney Bertram Marks who is general counsel of the Detroit Council of Baptist Pastors said he’s urging Gov. Snyder to name Beckham emergency manager because he has “ran five different departments” of the city and has “the insight, energy and fortitude to make tough decisions and stand by them as long as they improve the service delivery and operations of the city.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 10:43
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
He was certainly considered royalty within the African American community. After all, he’s the son of one of America’s heroes, a man who not only ran for president way before there was a Barack Obama, but changed the very landscape of how we look at race in this country.
So it’s not surprising that anyone who wanted to succeed the resigned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois – would have to wait in line.
The embattled Jackson Jr. left congress Nov. 21 after a lengthy absence, where during that time he underwent treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He also faced a federal probe of the alleged misuse of campaign funds.
Consequently, on Monday, 22 candidates—17 Democrats and 5 Republicans—filed for the Feb. 26 primary to supersede the Congressman.
Since Jackson Jr.’s resignation, many have not been sheepish about coveting his former seat in the house. And while a plethora of people showed interest in the position, a mere 22 were able to present at least 1,256 signatures that would allow them to run.
Among those not previously named, were Joyce Washington, who vied for the U.S. Senate in 2004. She announced her candidacy Sunday and filed by the Monday 5 p.m. deadline. There is also former African American conservative radio host and political commentator Lenny McAllister, who many believe is a serious challenger from the GOP field.
Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson is also back in the mix after losing the Democratic primary election to Jackson Jr. in 2012, when he garnered an overwhelming 71 percent of the votes. Needless to say, she is elated to have a second chance at the sought-after seat, insisting she is the front runner because of her congressional experience.
Take in to account, the heavily Democratic Chicago-area 2nd District will likely center on the Democratic slate, where former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds; state Sen. Toi Hutchinson; Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale; Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly; health care executive and former U.S. Senate candidate Joyce Washington; and former NFL linebacker and state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris, will all be vying for the opportunity.
The winners of their party primaries will face off in an April 9 special general election.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 09:08
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
After a sudden city council vote that allowed Mayor Dave Bing to demote the city’s top lawyer, Bing said the city is now better poised to make necessary financial reforms and stave off a state-appointed financial manager.
But according to Bing it wasn’t him who pressed for the removal of corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon, it was members of a state-appointed team reviewing Detroit’s finances to decide whether the city needs emergency intervention.
"I think [based on] the pressure that's been applied by the review team that's in here presently, we knew that we had to make changes in order for us to move our program forward," he said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Last year Bing urged the council remove Crittendon after she raised a controversial legal challenge to the city’s consent agreement with the state. At that time, the council refused to vote on the matter, prompting Bing to abruptly leave the June city council meeting calling it a “sideshow”.
Council members voted 6-3 Tuesday to allow Bing to remove Crittendon from her post as top lawyer without cause.
Crittendon said she has not decided whether she will continue working for the city’s law department.
The results of the state review team could trigger the appointment of an emergency financial manager and may be available as soon as this Friday Bing said. The state is still operating under Public Act 72. The new emergency manager law, Public Act 436, will not go into affect until March.
Bing said he was encouraged by a growing relationship with council members after meeting with a number of them over the holiday break.
“I think we worked very well together and I think that will continue as we move through 2013,” Bing told council members at Tuesday’s meeting. “I just hope that our relationship strengthens and we do the things that are necessary to bring the city back.”
Council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones and Kwame Kenyatta where the only dissenting votes on Tuesdays decision to remove Crittendon, and calling it a “miscarriage of justice” and a “disgrace”.
Crittendon said she believed the re removal was a concealed requirement that City and State officials agreed on in order to receive bond money held in escrow.
"From what I hear, I was a secret milestone," Crittendon told The Free Press. "They don't want anyone there who's going to require them to follow the law."
Crittendon came into the spotlight last year when she filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the consent agreement. She was she was concerned that the agreement was in violation the city charter, which prohibits the city from entering contracts with entities with debt to the city. Crittendon cited millions in revenue sharing debt and unpaid water bills.
A judge ruled dismissed the charge, but the move prompted Bing to seek outside legal advice and hire law firm Miller Canfield to counsel him on legal matters.
Crittendon opposed the $300,000 miller canfield contract citing a conflict of interest. But city council eventually voted to approve the contract under pressure to receive state bond money.
Bing said he felt Crittendon’s removal was best for the city, and not a personal act of revenge.
"There is no animosity from our vantage point. There is no personal agenda for me,” Bing said. “I've got to make sure I've got the right people with me."
He said he would appoint a new corporation counsel by the end of January.
City Council on Tuesday also approved $7 million in contracts with private turnaround firms. The state has offered 1.1 million to help the city pay for turnaround costs.
Detroit Program Manager Kriss Andrews said the sums spent on financial consulting are investments in the city’s future.
"The consulting contracts are going to be to the left of the decimal compared to the things that we need to do to make this a great city again,” Andrews said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 09:00
Category: Breaking News Written by Jenée Desmond-Harris , The Root
Medgar Evers' widow to deliver inauguration prayer: President Obama has chosen Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation at his public swearing-in later this month, the Washington Post reports. This will be the first time a woman, and a layperson rather than a clergy member, has been chosen to perform the invocation. In other inauguration news, the committee planning the event announced today that the Rev. Louie Giglio has been selected to deliver the benediction at the inaugural swearing-in ceremony. "Vice President Biden and I are honored that Myrlie Evers-Williams and Rev. Louie Giglio will participate in the Inaugural ceremony," Obama said. "Their voices have inspired many people across this great nation within the faith community and beyond. Their careers reflect the ideals that the vice president and I continue to pursue for all Americans: justice, equality and opportunity."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:33
Category: Breaking News Written by Matt Smith, CNN
(CNN) -- The past year saw a mild winter give way to a balmier-than-normal spring, followed by a sweltering summer and high temperatures that lingered into the fall, all punctuated by extreme drought and intense storms.
Now 2012 is officially in the books as the hottest year on record for the continental United States and the second-worst for "extreme" weather such as hurricanes, droughts or floods, the U.S. government announced Tuesday.
The year's average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit across the Lower 48 was more than 3.2 degrees warmer than the average for the 20th century, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That topped the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree.
Every state in the contiguous United States saw above-average temperatures in 2012, with 19 of them setting annual records of their own, NOAA said. Meanwhile, the country faced 11 weather disasters that topped $1 billion in losses each, including a lingering drought that covered 61% of the country at one point.
That drought shriveled crops across the American farm belt, leading to an expected rise in food prices in 2013, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. It also turned forests of the mountain West into stands of tinder that exploded into catastrophic wildfires over the summer, scorching millions of acres and destroying hundreds of homes.
And then there was Superstorm Sandy, a late October post-tropical cyclone that killed more than 110 people in the United States and nearly 70 more in the Caribbean and Canada. Damage estimates from the storm run around $80 billion in New York and New Jersey alone.
The report is likely to fuel new concerns over a warming climate. Seven of the 10 hottest years in U.S. records, which date back to 1895, and four of the hottest five have now occurred since 1990, according to NOAA figures.
The year also saw Arctic sea ice hit a record low in more than 30 years of satellite observations and studies that found the world's major ice sheets have been shrinking at an increasing rate.
Scientists are quick to point out that no single storm can be blamed on climate change, but say a warming world raises the odds of extreme weather.
"I think unfortunately, 2012 really may well be the new normal," said Daniel Lashof, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group. "It's the kind of year we expect, given the global warming trend is ongoing."
The science of global warming is politically controversial but generally accepted as fact by most researchers, who point to heat-trapping carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as the major cause.
Lashof's group is trying to press the Obama administration to tighten limits on carbon emissions, but he said those steps "are not going to reduce the threat of extreme weather overnight."
"We need to take greater preparations, anticipating the kind of storms and droughts that we saw are going to continue to be more frequent as we go forward," he said.
Though parts of the country such as the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast had wetter-than-average years, average precipitation was nearly 2.6 inches below normal -- the 15th driest since records started being kept in the 1890s, according to NOAA.
The two remaining U.S. states, remote Alaska and Hawaii, saw a mixed picture in 2012.
Alaska was slightly cooler and wetter than normal, while nearly two-thirds of Hawaii's island chain faced moderate to exceptional drought conditions by December, NOAA said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:31
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