Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
The last twelve months have been crucial for Detroit. And the next twelve months will be even more so for one of America’s major urban centers.
During the past year we saw how the city once hailed as the bastion of American manufacturing power and the arsenal of democracy is fighting to compete with other cities that have already claimed their rightful place on the stage of a global economy. With the comeback of General Motors and Chrysler salvaged by the Barack Obama administration, Detroit’s automotive glory is coming back.
The city once regarded as the last bastion of Black electoral power made possible by the era that informed Coleman Alexander Young, becoming the first Black mayor of Detroit, now sits at the crucible of a viable White mayoral candidate, Mike Duggan, forcing a transcending dialogue on issues, who is most capable of leading Detroit, while evoking the long narrative on race that defined the Eight Mile border.
The city whose obituary has been written repeatedly in national media because of its previous lack of concrete initiatives that make up the attributes of a comeback city, now boasts of a downtown that is booming with a proliferation of industries anchored around entrepreneurship.
Downtown Detroit is rapidly becoming the definition of a true business district with heavy investments of companies that are not only repositioning themselves in the wake of tangible prospects, but also offering incentives for their employees to live downtown.
Outside of downtown is Midtown which has become an entrepreneurial hub and a city within a city because of the amenities it provides to residents and small businesses in the area.
Once upon a time the mayor of Detroit garnered so much political power that it was not a stretch to suggest that such power matched the power of the governor in some respects.
Because the mayor of Detroit carried influence as head of Michigan’s largest city, the institutional power of the office and the power of the long history of this city’s cultural evolution and political struggles, that whenever the mayor spoke on key issues, it was decisive. But the last twelve months and before saw the gradual dwindling of the power and office of the mayor, and the frequent battles the mayor’s office has engaged in with not only the City Council, but also the corporation counsel whose powers were enhanced by the newly revised Detroit City Charter.
The cultural change in the power equation at city hall in 2012 and the delicate balancing act that the mayor must play in dealing with not only the legislative body and the corporation counsel, but also with the governor provides a more complex governance era and leadership demands for 2013.
And this cultural shift becomes even more fascinating with a mayoral election months away because it raises the question of how will the next mayor be effective in the wake of a broken government that is faced with stiff measures to correct its own books, including the real possibility of an emergency manager?
This shift adds another layer to the operation of the City Council, the institution that has been the most notable and vocal legislative body in the state, because voters would now have to elect council members by districts. That impacts the demographic, racial, gender and issue makeup of the council at a time when the legislative body has found itself in the middle of a perception nightmare.
The other shift is that some neighborhoods in the city are undergoing transformation with the support of the foundation community, while others are still lurking behind waiting on needed attention from city hall. A council by district will mitigate the lack of attention that some neighborhoods in Detroit have long been suffering from and the public safety nightmare they have been through.
he New Economy Initiative (NEI) is sparking a regional growth in Southeast Michigan, making Detroit a key focus of its operation and helping to enhance an entrepreneurial climate in the city while fostering the growth of already existing businesses. The approach by NEI and its collaborative vision of tackling diversity through New Michigan Media, an ethnic media entity that is forcing ethnic communities to the forefront of social engagement and diversity as an ingredient for meaningful growth, makes Detroit the centerpiece of a new cultural revolution of ideas and innovation.
As Detroit goes, so goes the rest of Michigan. We can all make a contribution to Detroit in 2013.
Happy New Year.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:46
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
It’s 2013 and that means it’s game time for anyone suiting up for a season of Detroit politics. The upcoming months will be bursting with campaign quips, candidate smack talk and, as Mike Duggan throws his hat into the ring as the city’s first viable white mayoral candidate in decades, perhaps a bit more racial tension.
Former Detroit Medical Center (DMC) CEO Mike Duggan marked his last day on the job with a letter explaining why he wants to take charge of a city teetering on the edge of bankruptcy—not to mention neck-deep in a myriad of other big hairy problems—in a newsletter to DMC employees.
In the letter, written on new year’s eve, Duggan vows to start campaigning full-time starting Wednesday and also to “see people’s souls first” before the color of their skin.
“I’ve listened to people tell me I can’t get elected because I’m white,” Duggan wrote in the letter. “ I’ve listened to those same people say if I do get elected, it won’t matter, because most Michiganders won’t ever support Detroit’s recovery because most of our citizens are black. It can get really demoralizing if you believe that stuff.”
The new year is only in its second day, but the political smack talk has already started. In the newsletter Duggan took a swipe at State Rep. Fred Durhal, who announced his candidacy for mayor in November.
“We have a City a half-step from bankruptcy and the only other candidate with a realistic chance of getting elected has never successfully financially managed anything,” Duggan said of Durhal. “He admits this, but promises to “hire someone smart” to figure out the finances if he gets elected.
Can you imagine at my hiring in 2004 when DMC was near bankruptcy, if I had said my turnaround plan was to “hire someone” to help me understand the finances? I hate to think where DMC would be today.”
Duggan said he could not “sit by and watch” Detroit decline any longer and that, is why he plans to campaign for a job that current mayor Dave Bing calls “the second hardest job in the nation.”
Duggan, much like Bing, is a man who has run businesses in Detroit and moved into the city from the suburbs in order to be eligible to run for mayor. Unlike Bing, Duggan has a track record of success in turnaround giving him perhaps an edge in the race.
Still, Duggan’s toughest opponent may not be incumbent Bing. Bing has not indicated whether he plans to run for a second term and even if he did, Bing’s popularity is reportedly shaky as a recall petition is circulating to remove him from office. In fact, local pundits predict the race will mainly be fought between Duggan and prospective candidate Wayne County Sherriff Benny Napoleon.
While Napoleon has not announced a 2013 mayoral run, Signs point to this being the case as he ups is social media presence and recently had some fightin’ words aimed at Duggan.
"It's our Detroit, and we're going to keep it for Detroiters," Napoleon said from the pulpit of New Bethel Baptist Church the Detroit News reports.
"He (Duggan) cannot say he has the common experiences that Detroiters have," Napoleon told The News.
While Napoleon is busily pinning Duggan as an out-of-touch outsider, Duggan is doing a little soul searching to try and get the race issue out of the way.
“The great majority of DMC employees see people’s souls first, and see the color of their skin second, I see it every day in our employees as you interact with each other and as you interact with our patients,” Duggan wrote to DMC employees in his new year’s eve letter. “ I can’t help thinking: what if Detroiters and our fellow Michiganders came to see each other as souls first?”
Read Duggan’s letter to DMC employees HERE: http://intodetroit.com/article/duggan-announces-mayoral-run-via-employee-newsletter
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:22
Category: Breaking News Written by Elise Labott,CNN
(CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was treated with blood thinners on Monday at a New York hospital to help dissolve a blood clot in her head and doctors were confident she would make a full recovery.
Clinton was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday due to the clot that was discovered during a follow-up exam related to a concussion she suffered this month, her spokesman, Philippe Reines, said.
The clot was located in the vein between the brain and and the skull behind Clinton's right ear and did not result in any stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said in a statement.
Clinton was treated with blood thinners to help dissolve the clot and would be released once the medication dose had been established, they said.
"In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress and we are confident she will make a full recovery. She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family, and her staff," Clinton's doctors said.
Clinton, 65, was suffering from a stomach virus earlier this month when she fainted because of dehydration, causing the concussion.
Blood clots "are clumps that occur when blood hardens from a liquid to a solid," according to the National Institutes for Health.
Clots can form inside veins or arteries or even the heart, the NIH says. "A blockage in the vein will usually cause fluid buildup and swelling," the NIH website says. Among the possible threats: Sometimes, a "clot can break loose and travel from one location in the body to another."
Clinton spent the holidays with her family last week after working from home.
She was scheduled to return to work at the State Department this week after being sidelined for most of the past month.
Her illness forced her to bow out of testifying on December 20 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Clinton, a one-time presidential candidate who is the source of constant speculation she might run again in 2016, plans to step down from the State Department once a replacement is confirmed by the Senate.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 09:48
Category: Breaking News Written by The Huffington Post
One of the most regrettable changes Detroit faced in the last year was a significant rise in homicides. 379 murders had taken place in the city as of Dec. 30, the Detroit News reports.
It's about a ten percent increase over the 344 murders that occurred in 2011, a milestone that had already been surpassed by Thanksgiving of 2012.
The figure brings the city's homicide rate to 53 per 100,000 residents, according to the News. That's the second highest for a city of more than 200,000 residents after New Orleans, which had a rate of 54 per 100,000 residents.
A high number of deaths involving children this year prompted local political and community leaders to pledge to curb the violence. The city's high murder rate also caused local funeral home operators to stage a hearse parade through several Detroit neighborhoods this past January.
2012 has seen a decline in some crimes, including rape, burglary and aggravated assault.
Earlier this month, Mayor Dave Bing announced the reopening of thirteen mini stations in coming months to improve policing in neighborhoods.
Still, Detroit police are struggling to get a handle on crime in an economic environment where less funds are available and precinct hours have been cut.
Concerns about reduced staff, a 10 percent pay cut and 12-hour shifts among police officers prompted some officers to hold a "enter Detroit at your own risk" rally at a downtown baseball game back in October.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 09:20
Category: Breaking News Written by Dana Bash and Holly Yan, CNN
Washington (CNN) -- After exhaustive negotiations that strained the country's patience, the House approved a bill to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff, staving off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts.
In the 257-167 vote late Tuesday, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans favored the bill; 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans opposed it.
The approved plan maintains tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and couples earning less than $450,000. It will raise tax rates for those who make more, marking the first time in two decades the rates jump for the wealthiest Americans.
The bill also extends unemployment insurance and delays for two months a series of automatic cuts in federal spending.
World markets rose after the news. U.S. stocks were poised to rise, too.
Just hours before the bill passed, House Speaker John Boehner pitched to fellow Republicans the idea of amending the Senate-approved bill to add a package of spending cuts. He cautioned about the risk in such a strategy, saying there was no guarantee the Senate would act on it.
By the end of the night, he was among the Republicans who voted for the bill as written.
President Barack Obama said he would sign the bill into law, but he did not say when. After the vote, he flew to Hawaii to rejoin his wife and daughters on their winter vacation.
Had the House not acted, and the Bush-era tax cuts expired fully, broad tax increases would have kicked in. In addition, $110 billion in automatic cuts to domestic and military spending would have taken place.
The combined effect could have dampened economic growth by 0.5%, possibly tipping the U.S. economy back into a recession and driving unemployment from its current 7.7% back over 9%, according to economists' estimates.
While the package provides some short-term certainty, it leaves a range of big issues unaddressed.
It doesn't mention the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling that the United States reached Monday.
It also puts off the so-called sequester, cuts in federal spending that would have taken effect Wednesday and reduced the budgets of most agencies and programs by 8% to 10%.
Come late February, Congress will have to tackle both those thorny issues.
Obama warned Congress that he will not tolerate another act of prolonged brinksmanship.
"While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they've passed," he said after the Tuesday night vote.
"We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred. If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills in time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic -- far worse than the impact of the fiscal cliff."
A partial victory
While the deal gives Obama bragging rights for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, it also leaves him breaking a promise.
Obama had vowed to raise tax rates for the top-earning 2% of Americans, including those with household income above $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000.
Raising the threshold for higher tax rates shrinks the number of Americans affected.
While nearly 2% of filers have adjusted gross incomes over $250,000, only 0.6% have incomes above $500,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.
Some House Republicans weren't exactly overjoyed in voting for the plan.
"I'm a very reluctant yes," said Rep. Nan Hayworth, an outgoing Republican representative from New York.
"This is the best we can do, given the Senate and the White House sentiment at this point in time, and it is at least a partial victory for the American people," she said. "I'll take that at this point."
Conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, whose Americans for Tax Reform pushes candidates to sign a pledge never to raise taxes, said the plan preserves most of the Bush tax cuts and won't violate his group's beliefs.
"The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night," Norquist tweeted Tuesday. "Every (Republican) voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge."
The timing of the vote was crucial, as a new Congress is set to be sworn in Thursday. And without a breakthrough, the entire process would have had to start over.
Specifics of the plan
The legislation will raise roughly $600 billion in new revenues over 10 years, according to various estimates.
According to the deal:
-- The tax rate for individuals making more than $400,000 and couples making more than $450,000 will rise from the current 35% to the Clinton-era rate of 39.6%.
-- Itemized deductions will be capped for individuals making $250,000 and for married couples making $300,000.
-- Taxes on inherited estates will go up to 40% from 35%.
-- Unemployment insurance will be extended for a year for 2 million people.
-- The alternative minimum tax, a perennial issue, will be permanently adjusted for inflation.
-- Child care, tuition and research and development tax credits will be renewed.
-- The "Doc Fix" -- reimbursements for doctors who take Medicare patients -- will continue, but it won't be paid for out of the Obama administration's signature health care law.
The Democratic-led Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill early Tuesday before passing it to the House.
As news about the fiscal cliff's deflection spread across the world, several markets reacted positively Wednesday.
Australia's ASX All Ordinaries index added 1.2%. South Korea's KOSPI gained 1.5%, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.9%. Tokyo's Nikkei and the Shanghai Composite remain closed for holiday celebrations but will reopen later in the week.
Payroll taxes still set to go up
Despite the last-minute fiscal cliff agreements, Americans are still likely to see their paychecks shrink somewhat because of a separate battle over payroll taxes.
The government temporarily lowered the payroll tax rate in 2011 from 6.2% to 4.2% to put more money in the pockets of Americans. That adjustment, which has cost about $120 billion each year, expired Monday.
Now, Americans earning $30,000 a year will take home $50 less per month. Those earning $113,700 will lose $189.50 a month.
With the latest battle round over, lawmakers will next set their sights on the other items on their docket of congressional squabbles over money: the debt ceiling and resolving the sequester.
Obama said he hopes leaders in Washington this year will focus on "seeing if we can put a package like this together with a little bit less drama, a little less brinksmanship (and) not scare the heck out of folks quite as much."
He thanked bipartisan House and Senate leaders for finally reaching a resolution Tuesday, but said Congress' work this year is just beginning.
"I hope that everybody now gets at least a day off I guess, or a few days off, so that people can refresh themselves, because we're going to have a lot of work to do in 2013."
Angry rhetoric flew
In the tense days leading up to the deal, heated words flew between some Democrats and Republicans.
On Friday, after Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Boehner of holding a "dictatorship" in his chamber, the House speaker responded with a profanity.
"Go f— yourself," Boehner said to Reid, according to a source with knowledge of the exchange in a White House lobby.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 09:09
Category: Breaking News Written by The Huffington Post
A number of professional male athletes have come forward on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in recent months, but it seems not everyone is comfortable with the idea of playing alongside a gay teammate.
Detroit Tigers right fielder Torri Hunter is making headlines for telling the Los Angeles Times he believes an out teammate would make him "uncomfortable."
"For me, as a Christian…I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right," the former Angels outfielder told the publication. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."
It isn't the first time the 37-year-old's remarks have sparked controversy. In 2010, he reportedly referred to dark-skinned Latino baseball players as "impostors" in a USA Today interview while discussing the changing demographics in baseball.
"People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors," he told Bob Nightengale. He went on to note, "As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us...It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?'"
Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 11:37
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday signed legislation to replace Public Act 4, an emergency manager law that was overturned by a public vote in November.
Snyder says the new law emergency manager (EM) law, Public Act 436 of 2012, is a improvement on the voter-rejected version.
The new EM legislation, much like it’s predecessor, allows the state to intervene in cities and school districts facing financial troubles.
The difference is that leaders in targeted municipalities now have a choice as to how the state gets involved.
Under the new EM law, locally elected officials in cash poor cities and school districts have four options. They can chose between a consent agreement with the state, chapter 9 bankruptcy, mediation, or an emergency manager.
"This legislation demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters," Snyder said Thursday in a statement. "It builds in local control and options while also ensuring the tools to protect communities and school districts' residents, students and taxpayers."
Because Michigan voters repealed the old EM law by rejecting Proposal 1 on the November ballot, the new law includes an appropriation making it immune to referendum, or public vote.
The new law also allows emergency managers, should a city opt for one, to break union contracts if labor negotiations fall through. The power to break union contracts is a power usually used in municipal bankruptcy proceedings.
Under current Michigan law, a city must first go under state-appointed financial control before it is eligible for bankruptcy
The new law gives local officials the option to reject an appointed EFM’s proposal on how to fix finances, but they must come up with a viable alternative. Ultimately, a state panel would have the power to decide which plan to use and an emergency manager would implement it.
One key difference between PA 4 and the new PA 436 is that local leaders now have the power to remove a state-appointed emergency manager after one year by a 2/3-majority vote.
Another significant change is that the new EM law requires the state to pay emergency manager salaries instead of requiring financially struggling municipalities and school districts to cover the costs.
Still, critics of emergency manager legislation pledge to fight the new EM law.
Greg Bowens, a spokesman for the Stand Up For Democracy coalition whose efforts led to repeal PA 4, said the new legislation is not much different.
"We think that the governor's view of what the will of the voters is is quite different from what the actual voters did,"
Bowens told MLive.com, calling the new law “The worst Christmas present that municipalities could have.”
The City of Detroit may be added to a list of cities facing state intervention. This month, Gov. Snyder commissioned a state review of the city’s finances that could result in the appointment of an EM, or other state-mandated options.
Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 11:12
Category: Breaking News Written by Perry Bacon Jr, The Grio
Rumors of the demise of the Tea Party have been greatly exaggerated.
The victory of Mitt Romney in the GOP primaries over more conservative opponents, the resounding reelection of President Obama and defeat of Tea Party favorites like Florida’s Allen West suggested that the movement was much weaker than when it rose to power in 2010.
But the fiscal cliff debated has illustrated the enduring influence of the Tea Party and more broadly, the power of very conservative members of the Republican Party. It’s generally assumed in Washington that both President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell could easily reach a deal to resolve the fiscal cliff if just the three of them were negotiating.
Instead, Boehner in particular must constantly worry about appeasing the political right. Many of the 241 Republicans in House are very worried if they vote for a tax increase, or essentially any bill President Obama also supports, they will face a primary challenge from a more conservative candidate and potentially lose. Most House districts have been drawn so that they are either heavily-Democratic or heavily-Republican, so the easiest way for a Republican to remain in office is to placate conservatives at all times, as there is little chance in many of these districts for a Democrat to win. (Here’s the New York Times’ Nate Silver explaining that of the 435 House districts, about 125 are overwhelming conservative, while 117 heavily favor Democrats.)
This dynamic was illustrated very clearly when Boehner begged and pleaded with Republicans last week, but could not persuade them to back a tax increase on family income over $1 million, far about the $250,000 threshold President Obama is pushing for.
Obama does not face such political pressures from his base. He is pushing for a broader deficit reduction deal that could increase the age that people are eligible for Medicare from 65 to 67 and gradually reduce Social Security benefits. Liberal Democrats are unhappy about both of those ideas as well as Obama’s decision to accept the withdrawal of Susan Rice as a candidate for Secretary of State amid harsh criticism of her from John McCain and other Republicans.
But Democrats in Congress don’t have to worry about primary challenges like Republicans do, as the party’s base is unlikely to punish members for backing something that the Democratic president does.
Republicans in Congress don’t feel such confidence about supporting a policy just because their leaders do. And they shouldn’t. The last three years have seen Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate cast as too moderate and lose primaries because they supported bills like the 2008 Wall Street bailout that party leaders also voted for. Boehner can’t guarantee his members won’t face primary challenges from the right, so there is little surprise they won’t follow his lead.
And the influence of conservatives and the Tea Party will endure beyond the fiscal cliff. Most Republican strategists believe the GOP needs to move to the political left on some issues, particularly immigration and gay rights. They argue the overall Republican brand is very unpopular with minority and young voters in particular, and that makes it extremely hard to win presidential elections.
But individual House Republicans are more concerned about their own reelection than the party’s prospects in 2016. So if Obama pushes for a bill that makes it easier for undocumented workers to become citizens, House Republicans will face a similar quandary to what they are dealing with on the fiscal cliff. Backing the bill would prevent the overall Republican Party from being cast as obstructionist. But for individual members, such a vote would put them in danger of facing a primary challenge from a conservative Republican who casts such legislation as “amnesty.”
Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 09:44
Category: Breaking News Written by Elise Labott,CNN
(CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hospitalized Sunday after doctors discovered a blood clot during a follow-up exam related to a concussion she suffered this month, her spokesman said.
She is expected to remain at New York Presbyterian Hospital for the next 48 hours so doctors can monitor her condition and treat her with anti-coagulants, said Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary of state.
"Her doctors will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion," Reines said. "They will determine if any further action is required."
Reines did not specify where the clot was discovered.
Clinton, 65, was suffering from a stomach virus earlier this month when she fainted due to dehydration, causing the concussion.
Clinton spent the holidays with her family last week after working from home.
She was scheduled to return to work at the State Department this week after being sidelined for the past three weeks. Her illness forced her to bow out of testifying December 20 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Deputies Thomas Nides and Bill Burns appeared in her place.
The medical setback comes as Clinton is wrapping up her busy tenure as secretary of state, during which she has logged more than 400 travel days and nearly a million miles. She plans to step down from the post if and when Sen. John Kerry -- President Barack Obama's choice to replace her -- is confirmed by the Senate.
Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 09:48
Category: Breaking News Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
During his first Meet the Press appearance since 2009, President Obama told NBC's David Gregory that Republicans in Congress are the stumbling block in the path toward resolving the fiscal cliff. Monday is the deadline for the POTUS and Congress to reach an agreement.
"They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they're behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected," Obama said. "That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme."
With a little more than one day remaining before the nation faces automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that could impact an already-wobbling American economy, the president implied that there has been little progress in recent days to justify hopes of a last-minute deal to prevent going over the fiscal cliff at year's end.
"I was modestly optimistic yesterday, but we don't yet see an agreement," he said in the interview, taped on Saturday at the White House. "And now the pressure's on Congress to produce."
Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 09:16
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