Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, disappointed and angered by the withdrawal of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from a Detroit hearing on foreclosures, will proceed with plans to co-host the May 20 event. “This was our chance for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to listen and learn about how destructive their policy of foreclosure and eviction is for metro Detroit,” says Estrada, who anticipates spirited testimony at the People’s Hearing. “They need to see and hear the evidence that their policies are hurting working families and undermining neighborhoods.”
Following two months of discussion and planning, the federal agencies have withdrawn from the hearing at the direction of legal counsel, claiming-- at the 11th hour-- that it would be “awkward” for officials to hear testimony from homeowners who are in litigation fighting eviction by Fannie or Freddie.
Throughout the planning process, organizers of the event provided full disclosure of the anticipated agenda and details of the public hearing. Officials from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the failing mortgage investors taken over by the federal government in 2008, agreed in March to come to Detroit and hear testimony from homeowners, union members, and community leaders about the foreclosure crisis. Fannie and Freddie, which own or insure more than half of all residential mortgages in the country, have foreclosed on more than 15,000 families in Wayne County since the government takeover by the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA). Thousands more have lost their homes in Oakland and Macomb.
Fannie and Freddie have declared a moratorium on foreclosures in areas stricken by Hurricane Sandy. Estrada and organizers from Detroit Eviction Defense argue that they should do the same for Metro Detroit, flattened by banking fraud, mass unemployment, and the resulting storm surge of foreclosures. They are also calling on Fannie and Freddie to reverse their current policy of refusing to lower the principal on “underwater” loans where the balance owed is higher than the plummeting market value of the home.
Testimony at the May 20 hearing will be videoed, and organizers vow to hand-deliver the recording to federal officials. “The UAW sees the fight to halt foreclosures as part of its historic commitment to social justice for all working families,” said Estrada. FHFA officials have committed to scheduling a discussion with UAW representatives, community leaders, and public officials as soon as possible to review policy alternatives specific to the Detroit area.
A new report, “A Hurricane Without Water: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Foreclosure Crisis in Metro Detroit,” will be available at the hearing and at http://www.detroitevictiondefense.com/
Last Updated on Friday, 17 May 2013 11:13
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by michigan Chronicle Staff
Funding Provided for Inspection of Aerial Ladders, Ground Ladders
DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced today that AAA Michigan will donate $23,500 to the Detroit Public Safety Foundation to pay for the inspection of 20 aerial ladders and 4,600 feet of ground ladders used by the Detroit Fire Department (DFD). The gift is the latest in a recent series of recent corporate donations in support of the City of Detroit’s public safety operations.
“Once again, one of Detroit’s corporate citizens has come forward and generously shown its support for our public safety operations, our first responders and our citizens,” Mayor Bing said. “The proper inspection of our fire department’s aerial ladders and ground ladders was a critical need that AAA Michigan has graciously met. I appreciate the leadership and continued concern for public safety that AAA has demonstrated with this gift.”
"Our history of supporting the community dates back nearly a century," said AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner. "We are very pleased to present the Detroit Fire Department with this grant, which we know will help save lives."
The ladder inspections are required to keep DFD equipment in compliance with standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an independent organization that establishes fire safety codes and regulations for various industries and the firefighting profession. Detroit Fire Commissioner Donald Austin ordered last February that until a full inspection of the entire ladder fleet is completed, DFD will not engage in manned aerial ladder operations -- unless there is an immediate threat to life. In cases where a manned ladder must be used, every effort will be made to properly support the ladder. DFD continues to use unmanned aerial ladders as “water towers” to fight large fires.
“We are grateful for AAA’s generous donation,” Commissioner Austin said. “Aerial ladders can place firefighters 100 feet above ground, often with large amounts of water flowing under high pressure. Because of the tremendous stress placed on ladders, regular testing is needed to find the smallest stress fractures and metal fatigue. Completing the testing of our aerial and ground ladders will go a long way toward ensuring the safety of Detroit’s citizens and firefighters.”
AAA Michigan, with 1.5 million members, is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services to approximately 8.8 million members. AAA Michigan partners with civic and community groups and traffic safety organizations to improve neighborhoods and promote traffic safety through such programs as the AAA School Safety Patrol.
The Detroit Public Safety Foundation was formed in 2011 to support the Detroit Police and Fire departments. Mayor Bing’s Active and Safe Campaign, launched last fall, has a similar mission of supporting Detroit’s public safety and recreational programs. In March, the corporate community pledged $8 million to the public safety component of the Active and Safe Campaign. The money is being used to acquire 23 new ambulances for the Detroit Fire Department’s EMS unit and 100 new patrol cars for the Detroit Police Department. To date, a total of $22 million has been raised toward the $60 million goal of the three-year campaign.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 12:14
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
With a little less than two weeks to go before the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix takes over the Motor City’s famed island park for three days of fun, excitement and racing, preparations for the fast and furious event are on schedule, according to Grand Prix officials. The event, which will be held from May 31– June 2, is expected to draw more than 100,000-plus fans and will garner a national television audience of millions.
Grand Prix officials are working long days to assure that the event is entertaining and memorable as some of the world’s greatest race drivers will compete in some of the world’s most powerful and fastest cars. “We are moving forward,” said Charles Burns, general manager for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. “We are getting geared up for a first-class event. Roger Penske and Bud Denker (event chairman) have set the standard for excellence, and we have a great team that really wants to perform well and showcase the Grand Prix, Belle Isle, and the city of Detroit. So we are staying on top of all the details and preparations necessary to make this event successful.”
Staying on top of details has included a recent long drive from Detroit to Birmingham, Alabama for Burns. “Two of the three racing series that will be held on Detroit’s Belle Isle will be held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham this weekend (April 5-7), said Burns, via cell phone, as he motored towards Birmingham. “So I’m going down to Birmingham to talk with officials from both series about some logistical things that we have to work through. In addition, I want to spread the good word down there about our great event on Belle Isle which is right around the corner.”
This year’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will feature the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans featuring the cars of the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200 at Belle Isle presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers with the sports cars of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, and the Cadillac V-Series Challenge presented by the Metro Detroit Cadillac Dealers featuring the cars of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series. ABC will nationally televise the IndyCar races on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to the various racing series, Grand Prix attendees will be entertained by national recording acts. On Friday, Detroit’s own Dwele will showcase his vocal talents on the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage as part of the Free Prix Day at the Grand Prix. On that Friday, everyone will be admitted to the Raceway at Belle Isle Park free of charge. “Dwele is a true Detroit success story and we’re very excited to bring his unique sound to the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage on Friday night at the Grand Prix,” said Bud Denker, chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. “With some great action on track Friday and Dwele highlighting a strong entertainment lineup, fans will have a terrific experience on Free Prix Day.” Dwele’s performance will follow a full opening day of track activity featuring practice and qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, and the Pirelli World Challenge Series on the newly-configured 2.3-mile Belle Isle street circuit.
The MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage at the Grand Prix will also welcome rock icon Bret Michaels on Saturday evening and modern-rock band Plain White T’s on Sunday afternoon. Several other local artists will also perform on the stage throughout the weekend. Burns added that there will be something at the Grand Prix for everyone, including the Meijer Family Fun Zone and the Quicken Loans Go-Kart Track. He also said there will be some events beginning the Tuesday before the Grand Prix weekend. Stay tuned!
For Burns, Detroit has made a great impression on the West Lafayette, Indiana native. “I love Detroit,” said Burns, who moved to the Motor City last year. “There are so many positive things going on that the world doesn’t know about. When Roger Penske and Bud Denker offered me the opportunity to come to Detroit as the general manager for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, it was a no brainer. I saw it as an opportunity to come to a great city and work with an outstanding company (Penske Corporation) and a team of individuals committed to not only making the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix successful, but also committed to making Detroit a better place.
“We are all working long hours, but it has been great. It will be so special and rewarding to see our fans smile and having a grand time when they get to the island and witness all of the wonderful events and activities connected to this year’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:07
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michael Cottman
Tension is mounting at Morehouse College.
As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a commencement address at Morehouse, a prominent Philadelphia minister who wrote a scathing critique of Obama now says he is been disinvited to speak at Morehouse one day before Obama is scheduled to speak on May 18.
Rev. Kevin Johnson, senior pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, is embroiled in a growing controversy following a blistering editorial he wrote in The Philadelphia Tribune titled “A President for Everyone. Except Black People.”
“Given the president’s poor record in catapulting an economic and empowerment agenda for the African-American community, we must begin asking the questions, Why are we so loyal to a president who is not loyal to us?” Johnson wrote last month.
“To my disappointment, the president has not only failed the Black community, but also has failed to surround himself with qualified African- Americans who could develop policies to help the most disenfranchised.
“Indeed, if we objectively look at Obama’s presidency, African-Americans are in a worse position than they were before he became president.”
Johnson had been invited to deliver a baccalaureate address at Morehouse one day before Obama’s address, but after reading Johnson’s editorial, Morehouse College President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. — who previously headed the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities — told Johnson that he had decided to change Johnson’s address into a “multi-speaker” event to include three speakers.
“As president, I believe this is in the best interest of the college,” Wilson wrote on the Morehouse website. “In this instance, I decided to ask this invited speaker to share the Baccalaureate stage with two other speakers so as to reflect a broader and more inclusive range of viewpoints.”
Some Black professionals say Wilson is scolding Johnson for criticizing Obama because Obama is Wilson’s former boss. But one Black minister says Johnson is entitled to free speech and should not be punished for stating his political views.
“In an academic institution, it’s the wrong message to send graduating seniors who are going out into a diverse world,” Rev. Delman Coates, a Maryland pastor, told USA Today. “If Martin Luther King Jr. could challenge Lyndon Baines Johnson on the Vietnam War after Johnson won the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act, then why should a distinguished alumnus of Morehouse College not raise pointed questions about the Obama administration?”
Johnson’s controversial editorial criticizing Obama comes as some Black Washington, D.C. residents have whispered their frustrations about a White House they consider too White. And in some Black circles, Johnson’s column has caused some Black leaders consternation over the issue of racial diversity in the White House.
“What we’re looking for is a government that, at a minimum, has been better than any other president has ever been on diversity,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told Politico. “He’s not there yet, even though he’s African-American.”
But Johnson used harsher words to make a similar point.
“For me, the absence of African-Americans in a second term is not only disrespectful to the Black community, who voted 96 percent for President Obama in 2008 and 93 percent in 2012, but also underscores a larger problem of economic and job opportunities for the Black community,” Johnson wrote.
Last week, however, Obama nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to become secretary of transportation and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Both men are African- American.
And Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser, spoke passionately earlier this year about Obama’s ambitious goal to rehabilitate 20 poor communities across the country where Black people have struggled for years.
Speaking to Black journalists in February, Jarrett said the plan to renovate some of the nation’s most devastated Black neighborhoods is part of a broad strategy to help improve the quality of life for many Black Americans and includes Obama focusing on a myriad of challenges facing young Black men as he begins his second term in the White House.
When asked about the president’s perceived reluctance to discuss race publicly, Jarrett said the White House plans to do a better job communicating its social and economic policies to the Black community.
“We’re not afraid to say this is going to help Black people,” Jarrett said during a White House interview.
Obama also traveled to the South Side of Chicago in February where he spoke to 16 Black male students at Hyde Park Academy High School who are growing up poor, troubled and some without fathers.
“This is very personal for him because he didn’t have a father,” Jarrett said of the president. “He was raised by a single mom so he knows the challenges.”
Some Morehouse alumni are calling on Wilson to honor his original terms and allow Rev. Johnson to be the only speaker during the baccalaureate event at the historically Black college in Atlanta.
“If President Wilson turns his back on one of our most distinguished alums because of an exercise of free speech and political commentary, he will have set Morehouse on a dangerous course and departed from the great tradition bequeathed to us,” Amos Brown, a Morehouse graduate and senior pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Obama’s speech at Morehouse also comes as four Morehouse College athletes were arrested in March and charged in connection with two separate sexual assaults. Three of the students – all Black men — were charged in an alleged on-campus incident prior to spring break. The fourth was charged in a different case off campus.
And while Obama is poised to speak at Morehouse, many African- Americans in Atlanta remain focused on Rev. Johnson’s blunt criticism of the president.
“When one compares the first African-American president to his recent predecessors,” Johnson wrote, “the number of African-Americans in senior Cabinet positions is very disappointing.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 02:16
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Kevyn Orr, the man charged with bringing Detroit back to financial stability said he is surprised at the numbers that will be released on Monday when the Emergency Financial Manager discloses his operating financial plan to the state and the public. The plan is coming out barely two months after Orr took over at city hall to right the financial ship of Detroit's local government whose debt obligations are in the billions.
Orr, during an exclusive interview with the Michigan Chronicle’s Bankole Thompson ahead of Monday's announcement said the city is in the first steps of a very long journey and the numbers are what they are.
“First thing you are going to see is sort of a fair snap shot of what we’ve been able to discern from sort of a document of the city as to the city’s financial status. My operating financial plan is coming out on Monday,” Orr said. “The plan is going to be sort of an analysis of the best information we have available as what the city’s condition is. I think it is fair to say at least my initial perception is that our debt service and debt obligation is probably worse than we’ve expected. To put it in a vernacular we are deeper in a hole than I thought we were.”
Since Orr took over the reigns of government in Detroit after Gov. Rick Snyder named him emergency manager, many have been waiting to see what “bold” steps would be taken to get the city on a path to financial recovery.
Even though his presence is still being protested by some who disagreed that Detroit does not need an emergency manager, a sentiment that rings true with some of the city’s civil rights activists, Orr in the interview said the numbers about the city’s situation cannot be debated.
“It just means that the numbers are going to be bigger than have previously been discussed. It means that the challenges and negotiations with the interested parties are probably going to be a little bit more intense because it’s more at stake,” Orr said. “There’s more money on the table. There is more attention. Our revenue projections are precarious.”
He said historically for instance some of the way the city has budgeted, taken on a debt to try to make a balance budget while deferring payments with some obligations to make for financial shortfalls did not help matters.
“When I say it’s worse than expected, if the city were to try to run and meet its debt obligations on an ongoing forward basis- based on what it takes in revenue fees and other incomes and balance that against what it’s obligations are paid in the in the ordinary cause that would be very challenging,” Orr said.
The million-dollar question is whether the parties tied to the financial wellbeing of the city including labor, creditors and others can negotiate a plan or reach an agreement?
Orr when he was introduced to the public during a press conference with Gov. Snyder sounded a reconciliatory note saying he believes parties of good faith can negotiate in good faith.
Asked if he still believes that after Monday’s report is announced, he said yes.
“I really do and this is why I mentioned the financial operating plan. I’m going to be fully open with everything. That includes labor, debt holders, citizens, elected officials and the press. Let’s just get it all out there the best we can,” Orr said. “Nobody really can debate the numbers. They are what they are. The math is the math. So now the next step becomes what are we going to do about it. I’m assuming rational behavior that everybody wants to get the city to a position that is both on a sustainable path, a path for growth and a healthier going forward financial practice.”
Last Updated on Monday, 13 May 2013 11:15
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by by Dion Rabouin
As the class-action lawsuit known as Floyd v. New York begins to wind down after more than 30 days of testimony, citizens throughout New York City are waiting with baited breath for the outcome. It has attracted far fewer headlines in Detroit, but the final outcome of the case could affect the way police do business in every city in the country, particularly in communities of color where departments could assert the right to search African American and Latino youth simply for being African American and Latino youth.
The plaintiffs in Floyd, known by most as simply the "Stop and Frisk trial," argue that the NYPD's policy of stopping people on the street and searching them is nothing more than racial profiling and the raw data behind the case is almost impossible to argue.
Of the 530,000 people stopped and searched in New York in 2012, only 10 percent were white, and 89 percent of the stops did not lead to an arrest or even a citation, according to the police department's own data. The New York Civil Liberties Union studied the data and found that African American and Latino men between the ages of 14 and 24 make up just 4.7 percent of the city's population, but accounted for 41 percent of stop and frisks in 2011.
The city's stop and frisk program has been in place for years, but under recently retired Police Chief Joseph Esposito, who took over the department's top post in 2000, the NYPD's stops have increased by 600 percent.
In spite of massive and ever mounting evidence, the NYPD has insisted that stop and frisk does not constitute racial profiling, because it targets communities based on where crimes are happening, not race.
"Who's doing those shootings?" said Esposito during his testimony in the Floyd trial. "It's young men of color in their late teens, early 20s."
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly took it a step further during a recent interview with ABC's "Nightline," saying that, in fact, African Americans aren't being stopped enough.
"About 70 percent to 75 percent of the people described as committing violent crimes – assault, robbery, shootings, grand larceny are described as being African American," he said. "The percentage of people who are stopped is 53 percent African American, so really, African Americans are being 'understopped.'"
Kelly, Esposito and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who are all named as defendants in the Floyd case, have argued that stop and frisk is getting guns off the streets and saving lives in the city, and they've got the numbers to back up their position.
From 2000 to 2009 New York's homicide rate went from 8.9 murders per 100,000 people to 5.8 per 100,000, and in 2012 New York recorded 414 homicides, the city's lowest murder total since 1963.
In 2011, 770 guns were recovered across the city during frisks. That amounts to a 30 percent increase over 2003, when 594 guns were recovered. Esposito has asserted during the trial that crime in New York is down 40 percent in the last 12 years and 80 percent in the last 20.
Bloomberg has also touted a murder rate that he says has been cut in half since he took over as mayor.
"I think the effectiveness of the program is shown in the fact that under the Bloomberg decade, we've had a 51 percent decrease in murders in the city," he told CBS News in March.
Those results have garnered the begrudging support of people like Rev. Vernon Williams, a 54-year-old Harlem preacher affectionately known as O.G. or Pastor On Deck (P.O.D. for short).
Williams has served as president of the Harlem Clergy Community Leaders Coalition and Perfect Peace Ministries and says he has personally turned in 12 guns to law enforcement and been responsible for a total of 26 firearms being taken off the street as well as two bulletproof vests and an assault rifle.
He admits the policy is not perfect, but in his opinion it's working.
"There are problems with [stop and frisk]," he says. "I, as a Black man, have definite problems with that, but what you got? You got something better? Because if it gets 1 percent of those guns off the street, OK that's one gun that's not gonna kill nobody."
The revered knows about the streets from his past life. He admits to being a former drug dealer and member of the Black Spades street gang in his youth, which led to 10 years in prison for various crimes. Today he's known for visiting neighborhood youth at the Ella McQueen Juvenile Detention Center and Rikers Island Correctional Facility to mentor them and try to offer a different path
"Our young people, in the black and the Latino community, are at war," he says. "That's the reality. So, uncertain times call for stringent measures."
Though the Atlanta Police Department is not required to submit records on stops or the people it detains, the arrest record of Blacks in the city speaks to much the same racial divide as New York's.
A grand total of five white children under age 16 were arrested by the Atlanta Police Department from January to March of this year. During that same period there were 209 arrests of black children in the same age group. For those over the age of 17, the pattern of arrests follows the same archetype. In the first three months of 2013, APD reported arresting 6,242 black men and women 17 or older. There were a reported 1,000 whites arrested during that time – 84 percent less.
The same trend existed throughout 2012. More than six times as many blacks (28,238) than whites (4,622) were arrested by APD, according to the department's publicly accessible arrest files. The statistic is particularly conspicuous considering African Americans make up only 54 percent of the City of Atlanta's population.
Even though the APD's manual states, "Officers must have a particularized and objective basis for suspecting [a] particular person detained of criminal activity," young Black men being stopped for something like "fitting the description" isn't uncommon, according to some of the city's activists.
"It is something that police have been doing all the time," said Mawuli Mel Davis, a criminal defense lawyer who works with young people of color in Atlanta. "They've been profiling young African-American and Hispanic males and they have found a way to pull people over and to stop them and to pat them down and try to arrest them and whatnot."
APD spokesman Carlos A. Campos would not comment on the department's stance on stop and frisk, but he says that it's the department's policy to adhere to the code of the police handbook, which state that officers may stop or detain an individual only when "they have articulable facts that lead them to believe criminal activity is occurring."
While individuals in New York City are assumed to have the same protections, under stop and frisk that has not been the case. Walking down the street has become reasonable suspicion for anyone with black or brown skin in the city. Whistleblowers from within the NYPD have even come forward to detail the racism inherent in the policy.
"I was extremely bothered with what I was seeing out there," testified Officer Adhyl Polanco. "The racial profiling, the arresting people for no reason, being called to scenes that I did not observe a violation and being forced to write a summons that I didn't observe."
Polanco and officers Adrian Schoolcraft and Pedro Serrano are all witnesses for the plaintiffs in the Floyd lawsuit.
Residents of New York City interviewed by the Daily World almost unanimously told the same story.
"Pretty much about 100 percent of my kids have been stopped and frisked, both boys and girls" says Sarah Moore, a teacher at New York's Bronx Guild High School. "The vast majority have just [said], I was walking in the subway or I was visiting my grandmother in her building."
Moore teaches in the same Bronx neighborhood where Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old unarmed black man, was shot at 41 times by police officers in front of his apartment building and killed. It's an area that is home to towering housing projects like Carol Gardens and the James Monroe Houses.
"I feel like when the cops are around, something's gonna happen," says Angel Cora, a 17 year old student in Moore's class. "When I walk by myself, it's happened once, but when I'm in a group cops always slow down their car or they'll actually come out the car and question us."
Over and over and over, residents of communities like Soundview – from East Flatbush, Brownsville and Cypress Hills in Brooklyn to Hunts Point in The Bronx to the Drew Hamilton and Harlem River Houses and Polo Grounds Towers in Harlem – echoed that story, saying that they have been stopped and frisked for doing nothing more than standing or sitting outside their homes. It happens, most say, on a regular basis.
"The public, the media, the NYPD itself makes it feel like it's plausible, like you have to take it, you have to accept it," says Michael Boone, who lives near the Drew Hamilton Housing projects in Harlem. "A lot of people in this community don't like to speak out for their rights because they're so scared, because police make you do that, they make you feel scared. It's not even about protecting the innocent anymore. They're making everybody feel like they're a target or a suspect. I can say people are kind of used to it but they're not happy with it."
While it's hardly an apples to apples comparison, reductions in crime surpassing those seen in New York were recorded in Atlanta during the same period without the stop and frisk policy.
Between 2001 and 2009 the crime rate in Atlanta dropped by 40 percent, homicide fell 57 percent, and violent rapes were down 72 percent. Violence overall decreased 55 percent, according to the FBI. Atlanta's improvement even surpassed the national trend.
There's also an unquantifiable byproduct of enhanced policing techniques like stop and frisk.
"When it first started happening, I used to get mad," says Cora. "Like, why? Cause I'm dressing a certain way or something? But then I just learned to get used to it. It don't bother me no more."
The ubiquity of police and the frequency of the stops have seemed to create a dispirited acquiescence among teenagers like Cora. But is that what New York City wants or exactly what it should be afraid of?
"A whole generation of young people are growing up believing that society believes they're criminals," says Moore, "and that's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy."
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 11:24
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
After taking a severe beating in the last presidential election, the Republican National Committee seems to be changing strategy by reaching out to constituent voters normally outside of GOP reach.
Party Chairman Reince Priebus made a recent visit to Detroit where he talked to the party leadership about the Republicans’ Growth and Opportunity Plan.
“One of the things we want to do is get far more active in Michigan on a year-round basis,” Priebus said in an interview with the Michigan Chronicle. “And that includes Detroit and a massive outreach effort in the African-American community.”
Priebus, who was a surrogate for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, acknowledged that the Republican Party has to do a better job of reaching out to Black voters.
He said the Republican Party vision is to become a national party with a six-month operation before Election Day.
“We have to be a year-round party,” he said. “I believe that if you don’t show up and ask for the order, you can’t make the sale. And our party, on the national level, has not been showing up on a year-round basis in communities across this country.”
He said that’s what it’s going to take to win.
Page four of the RNC Growth and Opportunity Book says, “Many minorities think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.”
Asked what he thinks is the main cause of this perception, Priebus said he believes it comes from a statement Mitt Romney made about “self-deportation” in one of the debates.
“I can tell you that in the Hispanic community that was a devastating remark,” he said. “And the problem is, of course, if people don’t think that you like them, they’re not going to vote for you.”
He said that wasn’t Romney’s intention, but by saying “self-deportation,” Romney created a hurdle the GOP has to overcome.
Priebus noted that if the GOP doesn’t have a ground operation in communities year-round, there’s no other narrative than that coming from either “the “Barack Obama world” or “the media world.”
“So the caricature becomes the truth, because you have nothing out there in the community defending you,” he said. “And I never want to see our party be a five-month party ever again.”
Asked what steps the GOP is taking to convince minorities to vote for Republican candidates, even if they’re not willing to join the party itself, Priebus said they can find common ground.
“I think there’s lots of common ground,” he said. “I think, obviously, jobs and the economy is common ground. But I also think things like school choice, private school choice and charter schools is common ground.”
According to Priebus, the GOP has been championing school choice across the country, and it has been very well received in the African- American community.
“But our party has to do better job of talking about it,” he said.
Priebus said it’s also important to defend the party.
“The party of equality, freedom and opportunity,” he said. “And our rich history, that we don’t tell enough, I don’t believe, to people across the country. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a flier that said ‘I’m a Republican because...?’”
He said Republicans don’t talk about their “brand,” adding that not promoting said brand on a year-round basis causes the party to suffer.
“I do believe our brand has suffered, and I believe it’s suffered because we don’t talk about it, we don’t promote it, and I don’t know if we fight for it enough,” he said. “But that’s going to change over the next several years in our party, and that’s the new plan for the Republican National Committee.”
Asked about the perception that voter ID laws target minorities, Priebus maintained that such laws don’t do that. He said the idea of ballot security is for all parts of the state.
“There’s no targeting of any community,” he said.
Priebus said the point of it is that they want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.
“I think that simply requiring photo identification has anything to do with trying to prevent anyone from voting,” he said. “It has to do with making sure the election has some level of integrity.”
He said he’s not saying the GOP is losing elections because of open voting.
“That’s not the point,” he said. “But I do think we have a responsibility to make sure an election has as much integrity as possible.”
He said the Democrats are twisting the issue around, trying to play it off as being something it’s not.
“This only has to do with making sure that elections have the integrity they deserve; and making it harder for people to cheat, but easier for everyone to vote and to have their vote counted,” Priebus said.
He pointed out that the way the GOP is assuaging concerns that minorities are being targeted is by hiring hundreds of people across the county in an off year to get in communities where the Republican Party hasn’t had enough of a presence, to talk about these issues and to have candidate forums.
This involves such things as going to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and going into Detroit with people who have been hired by the party to talk about the issues and to get to know people.
“I think that genuine, relationships that are built over time have a way of making some of these things come to light,” he said. “Truth will always prevail, but if you’re not there to communicate and set the record straight, then the record is what everybody else says it is.”
That’s his criticism of the party, and his antidote is to invest in ground operations in an off year, like they never have before.
“To talk to people, to build genuine relationships and to discuss these kinds of issues so the truth can be known,” he said.
Asked what he would have done differently with respect to reaching out to the African-American community, Priebus said he would have focused a lot more on education.
“I think there’s a lot of common ground there between our party and the African-American community,” he said, adding that the GOP didn’t focus on education issues enough during the presidential race.
He noted that those issues are important to every family in America.
“It’s important in our country to have educational choice and freedom,” Priebus said.
That is something they should have talked about but didn’t, he pointed out.
Priebus also reiterated the importance of the GOP being a year-round party in all communities.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 16:43
Musical Chairs At 1300: In midst of public safety nightmare, how long will new Detroit Police chief last?
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Detroit is in a political and public safety transfix, which has severely impacted the motion of the local government machine in delivering better and more effective city services for the more than 700,000 people who reside in this iconic city.
Public safety has been the dominant issue for most residents and businesses. And it is ridiculous that this city in the last four years has had four police chiefs, two of whom left in embarrassment after it was discovered they were having affairs with their subordinates, which became a distraction for the functioning of the number one security apparatus in the city, the Detroit Police Department.
In the next week or so, a new chief will be named to lead the men and women in blue at 1300 Beaubien. His name, widely reported, is James Craig, the current chief of police in Cincinnati.
Craig, himself a former Detroit police officer, if he accepts an offer will become the fifth police chief in Detroit in less than five years, unheard of anywhere. One would expect to have stable leadership at the most sensitive department of local government.
Chief Craig, who hails from the city, is anxious to come back and waiting for an offer. He told the Cincinnati media that Detroit is home for him. That means an offer would mean a homecoming appointment, one that would be hard to beat.
“What I did say is Detroit is home. James Craig is not running from Cincinnati because of a test he decided not to take. (Others) are saying I’m an opportunist. That’s not true,” Craig said. “Yes, it is an opportunity, but what is a major draw is it’s ... home. Hard to compete with that.”
Apparently Craig is viewed as the best candidate to lead the troubled police department, which has been dealing with morale issues along with dwindling resources to fight the mountainous crime issues plaguing the city.
It is refreshing to see someone like Craig optimistic about accepting a crucial position in Detroit. It will also be equally challenging to see how under his leadership this city can make evidence-based reforms and arrest crime.
When I heard that another chief of police was being sought, my natural reaction was, “Again! Let’s see how long this new top cop will last,” because it is damaging for a department that is struggling with morale and cuts to its resources to have another chief who might possibly only last for no more than a year.
I’m not suggesting that Craig, if appointed, will last only a year, but it is logical that a new mayor will bring in a new chief. However, if Craig does an outstanding job that lifts the department from the current tide and tackles public safety in an effective fashion, he could stay on board with a new administration to ensure a smooth transition.
Detroit’s current police chief, Chester Logan, announced he would be retiring.
Confidence in leadership at the top of the police department is important for the success of any crime fighting strategy.
Community policing should be at the top of the agenda of the new police boss because fighting crime should not be left to police officers alone. Repeatedly we’ve seen how the collaboration between law enforcement and the community not only builds trust but also enhances the work of the police in rooting out crime syndicates and averting possible crime that would have warranted massive resources to tackle.
But the Detroit Police Department is unique in that it sits at the heart of a local government that is going through transformation because of financial distress. The delicate balance for the department’s leader is to be innovative and steadfast in fighting crime and at the same time responding to the financial challenges of the city.
With only 3,000 officers, some have argued that it is hard to fight crime in a city of 700,000. But with new police cars and ambulance trucks donated recently by Detroit business leaders at the urging of Mayor Dave Bing, DPD should be equipped to more effectively respond to criminal activity.
The experience some have with DPD is that often there is a no-show when emergency calls are made to the police, because meager resources prevent them from responding to many of the calls.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 16:44
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts revealed during his retirement press conference that William Aldridge, a longstanding CPA who is currently the chief financial officer of the public school system, will be elevated to the position of chief administrative officer.
That means more responsibility for Aldridge whose portfolio will now include oversight of the district’s procurement & logistics and information technology departments.
“Detroit Public Schools has made great strides toward eliminating its deficit and balancing its budget under Bill’s financial leadership these last two years,” Roberts said. “However, in order for this forward momentum to be sustainable, the district must establish strong systems and processes and a sound operational model. Bill’s 40 years of experience in public accounting, consulting and school district management make him the absolute right person for this position.”
According to DPS, the first major systems project that Aldridge is overseeing in his new role as chief financial and administrative officer is the procurement and implementation of the district’s new human resources and finance computer system, which will provide the district with exponentially greater efficiency and effectiveness in these critical areas.
“I am confident that Bill’s extensive institutional knowledge of Detroit Public Schools, as well as his four decades of experience, will provide the District with the continuity that is critical to the turnaround of our school system and its return to local control in a timely manner,” said Roberts. A look at his biography shows that Aldridge began his professional career at the international public accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Company in 1970. He then co-founded Barrow, Aldridge & Co., a firm providing auditing, tax, consulting and other services. Within five years, the firm became one of the largest minority CPA firms in the country. He remained at Barrow, Aldridge & Co. for 13 years before joining Detroit Public Schools as its divisional director of financial planning and budget and chief accounting officer.
Aldridge remained with DPS until 1992, when he was recruited by Cleveland Public Schools to become its first African-American chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary of the Cleveland Board of Education. In 1996, he returned to Detroit Public Schools to serve as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. In early 2000, he joined Pierce, Monroe & Associates, LLC as its principal.
Before joining the staff of DPS, Aldridge’s CPA firm, along with Coopers & Lybrand, became the first African-American firm to audit a major school district. Upon joining DPS as the divisional director of financial planning and budget and chief accounting officer in 1988, he was also responsible for assisting in the elimination of DPS’ accumulated deficit of $160 million.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 16:06
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
DETROIT – Fred Durhal Jr. officially jumped into the Detroit Mayor’s race today when he filed petitions with 1000 signatures this afternoon at the Detroit City Clerk’s office.
“I am ready to share my plans to bring the great city of Detroit back to prominence,” said Durhal. “Detroit citizens have been ill-served for too long and they deserve a city that works for them and will work for their children. I am anxious to get into the neighborhoods to talk with families, and to visit Detroit businesses to listen to what the people have to say and to share my vision for Detroit’s future.”
Durhal is currently in his third term representing the 5th District in the state House of Representatives, which covers part of Detroit. He grew up in Detroit, the oldest of 12 children, and attended and graduated from Detroit Public Schools. As a public servant he has served in positions with the legislature, the Michigan Economic Development Corp, the city of Detroit, and the Virginia Park Citizens District Council. He announced in November 2012 that he would be a candidate for Mayor of Detroit.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:36
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!