Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow among honorees at this year’s dinner
The year marks 100 years since the founding of the Detroit Branch NAACP. It is a time of celebration, reflecting the victories and challenges of the organization and the people it represents. The organizations salutes its predecessors who laid the foundation for the continuous vigilance of the Detroit Branch NAACP.
“The history of our organization has been decorated by the hard work, complete dedication and commitment to the task at hand of the hundreds of volunteers, past presidents, executive directors and board members,” said Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony.
“We will always be indebted to the likes of Dr. William Osby, Rev. Robert Bradby, Sr., Rev. Charles Hill, Rev. James E. Wadsworth, Jr., Dr. Frederick Sampson, Dr. Betty Lackey, Dr. Charles G. Adams, Mr. Joe Madison, Dr. Arthur Johnson, Mr. Thomas Turner and many, many others.”
The Detroit branch also recognizes the work of Judge Damon R. Keith for his counsel and support of the branch over the years. The Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner is one of the signature events of the Detroit Branch NAACP, and it is grateful to the likes of Dr. Lionel Swan, Dr. Alfred Thomas, D.T. Burton, former Detroit Branch Treasurer M. Kelly Fritz, former Branch President Edward M. Turner and Arthur L. Johnson along with 59 members of the Detroit Medical Society who became the Freedom Fund Dinner’s first 59 subscribers.
The Detroit Branch remains the only branch in the nation to have the privilege of hosting presidents, secretaries of state, international dignitaries for Fight For Freedom Dinner.
The organization provided over $1 million dollars in food, medicine, cargo vans, and agricultural materials to the nations of Rwanda and Zaire during their tribal conflicts with the aid of John Conyers, Jr. and President Bill Clinton during their tribal conflicts.
“We believe we have a stellar record unmatched by any branch in the nation for advocacy on social justice issues and the implementation for correction on issues affecting our community. We are committed to remaining vigilant in the quest for freedom and justice as we fight for the maintenance of our democracy amidst emergency managers and consent agreements.
“We will continue to push for economic development in our community and excellent educational opportunity for our children. We know that the struggle continues.”
It is with this reality that the Detroit Branch NAACP announce its special guests and awardees for the 57th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner as it celebrates a century: the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award to Rev. Dr. Julius C. Hope, pastor of the New Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Highland Park and director of the National Religious Affairs Department of the NAACP. For over 50 years, Dr. Hope has been building bridges, working with faith-based organizations of every denomination and a leader in the civil rights/religious network communities.
The Great Expectation Award Recipient is Rhonda Walker, WDIV-TV4 news anchor. Through her Rhonda Walker Foundation, she has developed mentors and provided inspiration and scholarships for many young women throughout this community. She is a positive force, both on the camera and after she leaves the network. She is always available to work with and for young people.
The second Great Expectation Award Recipient is attorney Nabih Ayad, founder of the Arab American Civil Rights League, former commissioner of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and a prominent civil rights/social justice attorney.
The Detroit NAACP is pleased to present the Mary White Ovington Freedom and Justice Award to Maureen Taylor, president of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. She is well known throughout our state as a champion for those in need. She has been a tremendous advocate for children, for justice, for families receiving public assistance and for jobs and education throughout our community.
The Detroit NAACP has reached beyond state borders to present the Ida B. Wells Barnett Freedom and Justice Award to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. She has been a strong and effective voice in using the national news media to advocate for justice from Michigan to Mississippi, and from New York to California.
Anthony says this year’s event will welcome legendary attorney and social justice advocate Dr. Charles Ogletree of Harvard University who will provide a special word for a new initiative on the issue of the nefarious “Stand Your Ground” law.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 10:55
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
I have often been accused of not giving Democrats in Michigan a break because in the past I have labeled them as their own worst enemy either because they were too afraid to break away from tradition, or lacked political muscle compared to their Republican counterparts.
Added to that conundrum is the issue of how Detroit in every election season continues to be a ready ATM or American Express Card for Democratic votes without reciprocation from the party’s leadership.
And then there’s the often colossal blunder in terms of how the Michigan Democratic Party responds to the many loyalties the party has with institutions that have long formed the fabric of the party.
This year, I am somewhat more optimistic, and I’m hesitant to say Democrats, beware the Ides of March in the November election, because of some very interesting nominations that were made at their March endorsement conference.
Among the many candidates nominated or endorsed for office, three stand out in my estimation.
Bridget McCormack, a University of Michigan law professor who co-founded the Michigan Innocence Clinic working to address and litigate cases on behalf of those wrongfully convicted, is a breath of fresh air on the Democratic ticket. Beyond that, McCormack brings real life experience combined with scholarship to the bench that is often missing in candidates selected for top offices in the state. She is a mother of four who has worked to address matters relating to children and families and helping those who have no access to the legal system.
In a meeting with McCormack in Detroit, she expressed strong concern about the direction of the Michigan Supreme Court and why it needs to have individuals who cannot only directly interpret the law but also bring an experience that the average person can relate to.
In nominating the first Hispanic justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama called Sonia Sotomayor a person who has “walked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice.”
In selecting McCormack, Michigan Democrats are breaking away from tradition by picking someone who is not a political hack or a lousy attorney who has no business seeking the state’s high court. Instead, McCormack brings a fresh perspective to the business of interpreting the law for Michiganders.
Mark Bernstein, father of three and a lawyer who specializes in many areas of the law and notably on civil rights matters, is among the candidates endorsed to run for the University of Michigan Board of Regents.
Certainly, the name Bernstein rings a bell, because he is from the famous Bernstein legal family. Yet, Mark Bern-stein, whose brother, Richard Bernstein, could have been Michigan attorney general, is a very grounded individual who understands the role a university should play in our society. One of his main campaign thrusts is enhancing the University of Michigan’s foothold in Detroit.
It is reassuring to see a candidate run for the state’s largest educational institution on a Detroit platform, and Bernstein is among an emerging class of leaders who are not necessarily driven by tradition but transformation.
He understands the nexus between a university and its major metropolis, Detroit. Giving U-M more access to Detroit is an educational coup for any person who leads that effort.
Kim Trent, wife and mother of one who is no stranger to Detroit, was endorsed to run for the Wayne State University Board of Governors. Trent, who has worked in many fields, such as journalism and government, including serving recently as former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Southeast Michigan director, will be a strong addition to Wayne State University.
Trent understands how to relate to those who are often cut out of political and educational power. She understands the DNA of Detroit and will push Wayne State further into the larger palace of educational opportunity for Detroiters.
Trent on the Board of Governors would mean time for the university to enhance its presence in a city like Detroit, one of the largest employers of labor. She’s always been committed to diversity, helping to spearhead “One Michigan,” the organization that tried to save affirmative action in Michigan, and she makes no mistake about African American participation and inclusion.
With the calibre of candidates like these on the Democratic ticket, it’s easy to conclude that it is a winnable political package. But going by history, Democrats in Michigan are notorious for nominating candidates and then leaving them to hang and dry.
A recent case in point was the last race where Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris, who began as a social worker, the first African American to sit on the Oakland County bench, was nominated but lacked the money to run a campaign.
Despite her excellent credentials and real life experience, she and others on the various tickets were woefully defeated at the polls.
Yes, blame part of it as wrong timing for Democrats because of the rise of the Tea Party in Congress, but blame the rest on the party for not doing much to wrap its arm around those they endorse.
Endorsing a candidate is one thing, and leveraging the institutional power of the party is a totally different issue.
If Democrats want to see major change this year in which President Obama is running a very crucial campaign for a second term in the White House, they have to break away from tradition and do things differently. Just as they did selecting these non-traditional candidates and others, they need to change the game.
In 2008, Obama ran a non-traditional campaign that was not part of the presidential script that has long defined campaigns for the American presidency.
But he won because he and his team dared to do something different, to the amazement of presidential historians and pollsters, some of whom had concluded long before that he had no chance to win.
So what is stopping Michigan Democrats from evolving and responding rightly and timely to the present-day realities of the political climate?
Failure to do so would mean crying over more spilled milk while Republicans are cheering and sipping coffee at the expense of certain spineless Democrats.
Good luck, as these candidates try to write the next chapter of the Michigan Democratic Party and all of Michigan.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 10:50
Category: Top News Written by Dr. Patricia Berg and Robert Weiner
Forty years ago, the Nation Declared a War on Cancer. Now, “Funding is in crisis,” Dr. Judy Garber, outgoing President of the American Association for Cancer Research, told the 18,000 scientists gathered at their national convention in Chicago last week. Jon Retzlaff, Director of Science Policy & Government Affairs, added that the “price index places the National Cancer Institute’s budget 20% below its real dollars in 2003.” The impact: “Things are having to slow down…. We cannot support the fantastic research” that has improved survival from cancer by over 30% the last three decades.
As the government keeps funding two foreign wars and ongoing tax breaks, curing diseases like cancer is being threatened in the budget process. In both the State of the Union and Budget Message, President Obama promised investment in biomedical research. However, the House budget just passed (the Ryan-Rodgers budget endorsed by now-presumptive Presidential nominee Mitt Romney) reduces NIH research by so-called “flat funding” for three straight years. While making hard budget choices, the nation is almost schizophrenic between cuts and necessary programs. With the economy still in crisis, the private sector does not have the ability to make up the difference.
A recently published Avon Foundation-funded study by Steven Whitman, Jennifer Orsi, and Marc Hurlburt points to race and poverty as primary factors for disproportionately high cancer mortality figures, and Detroit is affected by both. Whereas the national African-American cancer mortality is 1.4 times the Caucasian rate, in Detroit, with the highest poverty among the nation’s 25 largest cities, the ratio is 1:1. The researchers said that Detroit’s median family income of $29,109 is the lowest among the 25 largest cities and that poverty and resulting “access to care” are among “likely explanations” for high cancer rates. The article, “Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Mortality in the 25 Largest Cities in the U.S.”, is in Cancer Epidemiology (April 2012).
Research cuts mean ongoing cancer deaths. One in two men and one in three women will develop cancer in their lifetime according to the National Cancer Institute. There are 1.5 million new cancer cases and 570,000 deaths annually in the U.S. There are over 200,060 new breast cancer patients and 40,000 deaths each year.
Thanks to successful laboratory research, a woman's risk of dying of breast cancer has now dropped 31 percent since 1989. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) told the National Press Club, “There is a direct line from NIH research to the life-span increases” in America. Despite these breakthroughs, the U.S. now ranks 49th in life expectancy, right above Taiwan, Kuwait, Cyprus, Cuba, Panama, and Costa Rica.
Just while such clear breakthroughs are being made—and with breast cancer still ranking as the number one fear for women – now is no time to stop the train and cut funding.
If government funding does drop or stalemate, cutting-edge researchers will have to seek even more funding from private foundations and corporations, trying to fill the void.
And they do try. The Avon Foundation has donated nearly a Billion dollars to breast cancer education, research, and prevention since 1992, and 200 million to research in the last decade. Avon expedites tests and advancement of cutting-edge discoveries with significant diagnosis and treatment potential like BP1, a gene expressed in the tumors of 80% of women with breast cancer and 70% of men with prostate cancer – and showing disproportionately high numbers for African-American women with breast cancer. Komen and the Susan Love Foundation also help make up the difference. In the world’s wealthiest nation, with hard-to-explain government funding cuts, private industries are scrambling to fund life-saving research.
Dr. William Grizzle, Professor of Pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Senior editor of Clinical Cancer Research, says that because of the recent standstill, “We are 5-8 years in arrears” in developing better therapies. “If there is less money for research, it means there are fewer cures,” Garber points out.
One of President Obama’s key lieutenants, Cong. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida’s 20th District, a breast cancer survivor, won the 2011 AACR Distinguished Public service award. However, the military’s insistence on maintaining old unending wars and the House insistence on health research budget cuts make the objectives difficult no matter how many heroic warriors research has.
The future of the new national health care law, which provides free mammograms and colonoscopies that detect cancer early when it is more curable and could catch Stage I cancers before they develop into Stage IV, is also under fire. The future is uncertain.
Regrettably, too many scientists are shy about helping their mission. Sridhar Ramaswamy, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Cancer Center, told us at the AACR convention, “Scientists think if they press for money it’s self-serving.” But not all are shy. Dr. Steven Meltzer, Professor of Medicine and Oncology at Johns Hopkins University, has led two national petition drives with thousands of signatures calling for a 10% increase in NIH funding and arguing, “Don’t let the United States fail in biomedical research.”
Under President Clinton and under the Obama stimulus, NIH’s budget doubled, but efforts to maintain the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the political insistence on tax cuts are now causing medical research to be sliced – and lives with them.
To keep the breakthroughs and research going strong, the public must support cancer research foundations -- and press Congress to halt its efforts to dry up federal research dollars. If we want to fight cancer, and win, there is no substitute for the federal catalyst.
Dr. Patricia Berg is director of a breast cancer research laboratory and Professor at George Washington University Medical Center.
Robert Weiner, is a former White House spokesman, former Chief of Staff for the House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee, and former spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee under Chairman Cong. John Conyers (Detroit).
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 15:34
Category: Top News Written by Phil Power
The idea: Transform Michigan into the Midwest’s premier inland port and transportation hub, uniquely linking air, sea, rail and road capabilities.
Create a new industry, a Great Lakes Global Gateway, forged from our existing manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
The vision: Take advantage of our geography and infrastructure to become the lowest cost transportation center for freight originating in or destined for the industrial heartland of America.
Creating such a gateway would offer the largest single economic development opportunity in Michigan. It has the potential to create tens of thousands of good jobs within a decade, while reducing supply chain cost by as much as 20 percent.
So why isn’t this happening already?
The reality: Overlapping governmental jurisdictions. Sputtering business and political leadership at both state and regional level. Dysfunctional and corrupt institutions in Southeast Michigan. Fragmented authority and no coherent structure to get things done.
The fear: A colossal missed opportunity. “Opportunity is slipping away because other railroads and ports are establishing other places outside Michigan to do this. Ohio is in the process of eating our lunch, while we’ve been embarrassing ourselves by inattention and inaction,” says Prof. Michael Belzer. He‘s a former truck driver himself who has become both an economist at Wayne State University and President and CEO of Great Lakes Global Freight Gateway, a non-profit organization promoting the idea.
The components for what you might call the Michigan logistics industry either exist already, or are within our grasp. But they have languished for years. None have been linked into a coherent business strategy. And the political institutions with jurisdiction over one part or another have largely broken down.
One big part of this is the long-planned Aerotropolis, a comprehensive airport development plan, bookended by Detroit Metropolitan Airport on the east and Willow Run Airport on the west, with 27,000 relatively undeveloped acres in between. Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has been a consistent supporter. But near-continuous scandals in his administration have disrupted focus and added to the widespread perception that the county is too corrupt to be effective.
The New International Trade Crossing (NITC) the famous proposed new bridge across the Detroit River, the costs of which would be entirely covered by the government of Canada. The advantages of the new bridge are huge, but the span has been fiercely opposed by the monopoly interests of the Moroun family, who own the Ambassador Bridge and have showered campaign cash throughout the legislature. Once built, the NITC would link truck-borne freight to 88 million people, all of whom could get delivery within 10 hours. Gov. Rick Snyder keeps vowing to build his bridge, but the Morouns continue to bombard the state with scandalously inaccurate TV ads.
Four of North America’s six Class I railroads have a presence in Michigan, including two with their North American entry point in the southeast part of our state. But we aren’t realizing our full potential, since the rail tunnel under the Detroit River is too small to move containerized freight, and business competition and political confusion have stalled efforts to widen it.
The Canadian government is in the process of renovating two deep-water ports, Halifax and Montreal. These ports could be linked to the industrial heartland of America through the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railroads. However, other deep-water ports exist on the Atlantic seaboard – Norfolk, VA and Elizabeth, NJ – and while we dither, railroads interesting in servicing freight are focusing on interchange and marshalling yards in Columbus and North Baltimore, Ohio.
The City of Detroit is smack dab in the middle of all this. But the city is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and now hobbled with a cumbersome and diffuse “consent agreement” governance system. The former Detroit City Airport, now renamed for Coleman Young, is a money-losing city “asset.” But it also lies next to expressway and railroad tracks. With hundreds of acres of open land, it could be redeveloped into a powerful marshalling yard. Sadly, the chances of that seem very remote, given Detroit’s current state of affairs.
What is needed is focus, political will and a willingness to bust heads to get stuff done. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, after months of dithering, has finally developed a “Statewide Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) Strategy Project Charter and Statement of Work.”
That’s a start, but it remains to be seen whether this goes beyond some nice words on paper. Several years ago, when I talked with then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm about the vast potential of a Great Lakes Global Gateway, she sniffed there were “too many moving parts.” Governor Snyder ought to know better by now.
He has been trying to get his new bridge for more than a year -- and as an experienced businessman, should realize the Gateway idea is the largest potential economic development project this state has seen in half a century. And this chance may never come again.
Not to seize this golden opportunity would be inexcusable.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 11:48
Category: Top News Written by Bill Johnson
Massive cutbacks and layoffs contained in Mayor Dave Bing’s proposed 2012-13 Detroit general fund budget, confirms the beleaguered city’s financial state of emergency. It may not be enough, and likely only the first wave of budget-cutting mandates that will extend well beyond next year.
As budget deliberations get underway, two things should receive the utmost priority: the decimation of the City Council budget and no reductions in the ranks of public safety personnel.
This year will be a watershed for the city mired in its worst economic predicament ever. A declining population and disappearing tax base does not bode well for the city’s future. Nor does its national reputation for uncontrolled violent crime.
Because there isn’t enough revenue coming in to feed the voracious appetite of government, the proposed $160 million budget cut may come up short. Mayor Bing may have to choose between even more draconian cuts -- or a tax hike, bitter pills that will make the city even more unattractive to investors and residents.
The bulk of anticipated savings next fiscal year seems to be based on assumptions not likely to materialize. City officials, for example, estimate a $15-million increase in dubious income tax revenue.
Failure of the city to realistically cut spending down to size means a rendezvous with more political and fiscal pain at some inescapable date. Overseers of the consent agreement are being readied to take control of financial decisions.
Outsourcing, the sale or transfer of some assets is one appealing option. City officials, intimidated by employee unions and other activist groups, have been cool to that idea.
A number of departments and programs -- from transportation to funding for the arts --could be served up. Personnel cuts are unavoidable. None, though, are more critical than police officers.
Mayor Bing’s recommended public safety staff reductions are a cause for alarm. On tap is a 10 percent pay cut for police officers, firefighters and/or EMS employees. No layoffs are anticipated. However, police ranks would shrink by 150 officers through attrition and early retirements.
By necessity the city must close the gap between budget expenditures and revenues. But police protection should be the last thing to fall to the budget ax. The very first responsibility of any government is to provide for the safety of its people.
Detroit’s survival, as bleak as that may be, depends on its ability to restore safety and security. That’s impossible in a lawless environment when there are not enough cops to deter and arrest. The prevailing violence more than justifies staffing police and fire personnel based, not on the ability to pay, but on public safety needs.
The legislative branch has never been known for its efficient monitoring of police or other essential services to determine their real value to the city. The council only has two major responsibilities — budget and contract approval. With enormous clout in these critical areas, safety needs have gone unfulfilled and resources frittered away.
The pragmatic use of taxpayer dollars has been a major council deficiency even with a sizeable research staff, an underused auditor general and an army of aides. Because the council’s bloated staff is out of sync with deteriorating services and the empty till, the first cuts should come from this budget.
It goes without saying that if the council spent as much time dealing with crime problems as it does playing the “blame game” with Gov. Rick Snyder, the whole of government would be more accountable to taxpayer interests.
Expect the City Council to look almost anywhere else —including police — rather than its own budget for ways to save. While contemptible, it would be par for the course.
Any government that cannot keep its citizens safe probably is incapable of setting good budget priorities. Put to a vote, however, there’s little doubt Detroiters would opt for more cops over a feckless council.
Last Updated on Monday, 16 April 2012 11:38
Category: Top News Written by Carol Cain: Special to the Chronicle
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make two stops in Metro Detroit April 18 for fundraisers hoping to raise over $1 million for his campaign as the contest moves into high gear with Michigan native son Mitt Romney looking like the GOP candidate to take him on in the fall election.
Obama will attend two invite-only events at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Wednesday afternoon and a dinner at the Metro Detroit home of businesswoman Denise llitch.
“I’m honored to have been asked,” by the Obama campaign to host the event, she said of the dinner she and husband, Jim Scalici, are hosting at their Oakland County home.
The money chase is on now that former Penn. Senator Rick Santorum has dropped out of the GOP race, setting a clear path for Romney to become the Republican nominee once he secures 1,144 delegates, which is likely in the next few weeks.
It will then be a money chase to raise the over $1 billion political insiders say will jointly be needed by the two candidates. There will be a flurry of dinners, receptions and meets and greets by both men in coming months.
You can count Roy Roberts, who left a comfortable retirement to take over as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools when asked by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, and appeared on “Michigan Matters” with Ilitch and Charlie Beckham, chairman of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, among those who would not miss tonight’s dinner party.
‘“I’ve known Obama for years,” said Roberts, one of the most successful African American executives in the nation who worked at General Motors and other firms. “He even introduced me to Valerie Jarrett (his senior advisor) when I was involved with a private equity company (she has background in it).”
“Obama’s done a great job and I want to see him re-elected,” said Roberts, who added it is a critical time in our country and Obama needs to continue his work in a second term.
“Do you know how much it means to be able to go into a classroom and see thousands of kids (of color) and tell them they can be anything they want to be – including president of the United States!” Roberts added with pride.
Conversation turned to Obama and his being treated differently as our first president of color.
“There’s no question about that,” said Roberts. “What the Republicans have done, or not done the past few years, is try to get him out of office. That’s tragic and doesn’t speak well for our country.”
Ilitch added, “when have you ever heard anyone question where someone was born?” referring to some who still raise doubts about Obama’s nationality despite the fact he has provided his birth certificate for public consumption.
Everyone agreed Michigan would get more attention this fall with the auto industry housed here and Romney being raised in the Motor City.
“It will be a great contest,” said Beckham. “The president will win as the GOP won’t put out a strong enough platform to beat him.”
“It won’t be a runaway but it will bring out some good issues -- like the economy and gas prices,” Beckham added.
Last Updated on Monday, 16 April 2012 20:07
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
Having traversed much of the country, I can see why Opening Day in the Motor City is a euphoric experience. First of all, it signals the change from winter to spring which is always a time to celebrate in this cold weather state.But most importantly, the Detroit Tigers have a team that many expect to compete at a very high level, and maybe even win the American League Pennant.
Every spring hope runs eternal for all teams as the new Major League Baseball season commences. This is especially true for the Detroit Tigers as they lost in six games to the Texas Rangers in the AL pennant series.
As I walked around Comerica Park and conversed with the diverse population that was making its way into the game, it became very apparent that this 2012 version of the Tigers was a team that had many giddy. It didn’t hurt that the opening game featured Justin Verlander fresh off a dominant season that saw him take home both the Cy Young and MVP honors. He was absolutely fantastic last year, as he won 24 games with a 2.40 ERA and 250 total strikeouts. His stuff was absolutely electric on a good day, and it makes him a threat to spin a no-hitter every time out.
Boston tossed out Jon Lester, one of the top left-handed hurlers in baseball. He has also thrown a no-hitter and had won at least 15 games in four straight seasons.
They did not disappoint as both were magnificent in the Tigers season opening 3-2 win. Both squads are considered World Series contenders, so the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox series was a prequel to what might be.
Woodward Avenue, Grand Circus Park and Brush Street were abuzz with tailgaters and revelers. The smells of hot dogs, hamburgers and whatever permeated the Detroit Woodward corridor.
The Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day 2012 was almost perfect — and a record season-opener crowd of 45,027 at Comerica Park in Detroit would agree.
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander was simply dominant Opening Day against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
AL batting champion Miguel Cabrera showed all that the move to third base is a work in progress, but it appears he will do the darn thing as the season progress. The “Big Fella” is an intense competitor and that will go a long way in him getting the handle on a position change.
Also, the Tigers’ newly-acquired power-hitting first baseman Prince Fielder drew a standing ovation the first time he came to bat.
“I looked around and could not believe I was in Detroit,” he said in the post game interview. “I am very excited about being, in a sense, back home. I really like the possibilities of what this team can accomplish.”
Fielder, son of former Tigers star Cecil Fielder, kicked many naysayers to the curb, showing all that he has a glove and can field his position. He made a couple short hop scoops that preserved an out.
“To Prince’s credit,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “he has worked hard all spring training and I’m sure it will pay huge dividends for us.”
Fielder said the work was the least he could do for Cabrera, who was willing to make the move from first to third to accommodate him.
“With Miguel doing all the hard work he was doing, I felt I owed it not only to the team but to him,” Fielder said, “because I couldn’t be here without him being willing to move to third base. I thought I owed it to him to work just as hard as he is at third.”
Opening Day is over and the long grind that is baseball is under way. The 2012 version of the Detroit Tigers has the entire state lightheaded about the possibilities. If all goes right this could be a special season for Detroit’s Boys of Summer.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 17:31
Category: Top News Written by G. Strand
A statewide initiative to amend the Michigan Constitution to permit adding eight casinos in the state, including one in the city of Detroit, is raising eyebrows and interest among Michigan residents desperate for the type of economic infusion casinos have proven capable of delivering.
Work is already under way to gather the required signatures to place the proposal on the November 2012 General Election ballot, according to Citizens for More Michigan Jobs (CMMJ), the statewide developer group proposing the eight casinos.
The group needs to collect 322,609 signatures by July 9 to place its proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot. For any of the individual casinos to go forward, the proposal would need to have a majority of “yes” votes in that community in addition to statewide approval.
If successful, these casino operators will join the three privately owned casinos in Detroit and the 22 Indian-run operations throughout the state.
The proposed casino locations include Detroit, Pontiac, Romulus, Macomb County’s Clinton Township, Grand Rapids, DeWitt Township (near Lansing), Birch Run Township (in southern Saginaw County) and Clam Lake Township (near Cadillac).
Detractors of the initiative are already arguing that Michigan’s casino market is saturated and that new entries would jeopardize the sizeable tax revenue generated by the existing casino operations.
Given Michigan’s languishing economic recovery, many CMMJ supporters are asking: is this the right time to hang out the “closed to new business” sign in the state?
Ballot proposal supporters hope that Michigan residents will not drive investment dollars away.
What’s at stake?
An estimated 16,000 permanent jobs will be created in the state, including approximately 4,200 high paying union jobs in Detroit comprised of 3,000 permanent full-time and 1,200 construction jobs, according to a CMMJ release.
“Detroit residents will have the first opportunity for the Detroit casino jobs and Wayne County residents outside of Detroit will have the second opportunity to be hired,” according to a CMMJ spokesperson.
New jobs and increased state and local tax revenues are the primary reasons that CMMJ submitted the Constitutional amendment petition to the Michigan Board of Canvassers. The petition was approved to allow the collection of 322,000 required signatures to place the casino initiative on the November ballot.
It is projected that the state and local tax benefits of adding the proposed eight casinos are significant. For example, in 2010 the 22 tribal casinos contributed $61 million in state and local taxes, the three Detroit casinos paid $100 million in state taxes and $164 million in taxes to the city of Detroit.
The eight new casinos estimate contributing an additional $300 million annually to state and local governments to benefit schools, police and fire protection and road repairs. Tax revenue generated in Detroit is conservatively estimated as gross taxable receipts of $226 million according to the 2010 Innovation Group’s study.
The Citizens for More Michigan Jobs proposal increases the Gaming Tax rate from 19 to 23 percent with a formula that increases Detroit’s distribution to 60% and decreases the State’s to 40%. This would mean an estimated $56 million annually for Detroit from this Fourth Casino, and as much as $50 million in additional tax revenue from the three existing casinos, all dedicated for Detroit’s police and fire. Additionally, the State taxes are now dedicated to K-12 education and road repair.
The seven casinos outside of Detroit have a different gaming tax formula for the 23 percent that includes the host city, host county, additional state wide funding for K-12 education, police and fire, and gaming addiction. With 20% of the tax going to cities like Pontiac and Romulus, these casinos would have a significant impact on their local residents.
BATTLE LINES FORM
But opponents, who say the state is already at full capacity for gaming, aren’t buying the projections math.
“We’re talking about doubling the number of casinos in this state, and we know that we’re simply beyond the ability to open another casino and see any meaningful economic growth or any real jobs that would be created,” says James Nye with Protect MI Vote, a group representing several casinos and tribes across the state.
Protect MI Vote has raised $50 million to fight the expansion effort.
With more than one-hundred local investors, Citizens for More Michigan Jobs includes the local development team for the new Detroit casino, Detroit Casino Partnership (DCP). DCP key investors are Detroit funeral director O’Neil Swanson, Four Tops singer Duke Fakir, boxing promoter Emanuel Stewart, radio personality and cable veteran Wade “Butterball Jr.” Briggs and president and CEO of the DCP, Andrew McLemore, Jr. DCP ownership is local and revenue generated stays in Detroit.
Detroit Casino Partnership’s plan will “raise the bar, creating a much broader entertainment experience for the customer,” say its members. “Tourism is Michigan’s second largest industry yet Detroit has not realized its full potential as an urban entertainment destination.
Assets like sports teams and events, our international boarder, and a long music history can be leveraged to make Detroit more of a destination. We see the job growth for Detroit extending far beyond the walls of our facility.”
The statewide signature drive is the first hurdle that organizers must clear in order to deliver the 4,200 promised jobs.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 17:10
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
In this exclusive interview, Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, the 25th president of the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), and the first African American to sit at the helm of affairs at the university, talks to Michigan Chronicle editor Bankole Thompson about why he chose to come to Detroit, his vision for the region, and the need to build a generation of critical thinkers. The former provost and chief academic officer of Howard University and president of Ganon University, also focuses on the future of young Black males and the role universities should play in our current economy.
MICHIGAN CHRONICLE: How has it been so far since you became president of the University of Detroit Mercy?
ANTOINE GARIBALDI: It’s been very productive. Though it’s ten months into the year right now, I’ll say there are a lot of things which I’ve been able to do thus far that were on my list, which includes getting out to the community and getting to know all the city and county leaders, as well as all of the education leaders. Also got around to Oak Park School District, parochial and public schools.
MC: What’s been your sense of this area?
AG: First, people have a high degree of regard and respect for the university. They are pretty knowledgeable about the quality of education we provide. They also know what we do out in the community. One of the platforms is community engagement that the university is so well known for. I’d like to start with our School of Architecture, because right now in the Detroit Collaborative Design Center much of the work those individuals are doing…working along with Detroit Works, and doing some of the focus groups that would be necessary in what the next footprint of this city would look like.
MC: What role do you see your university playing in Detroit’s transformation?
AG: Well, we’re involved in it. We’ve got all of this talent in terms of education, the school of law downtown, the school of dentistry playing important roles. I’d like to think more than anything that we have three campuses in the city of Detroit, more than 90 acres and we’re going to be here to stay. We consider ourselves a part of this community and also we want to strengthen every aspect of it. There are also some conversations I’ve been having with some neighborhood groups about how we can strengthen and expand some neighborhoods. We’re certainly looking at Livernois. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has Six Mile-Eight Mile as a target. We really want to cover Six M Roadile to the Lodge freeway as well. We’d like to expand retail, we’d like to expand the opportunities for our students and our faculty and staff to live. There are so many things that we can do and its going to require some partnerships.
MC: You are the first lay person — non-priest — to be the president of this university. That means a departure from how past administrations operated. Do you agree?
AG: Somewhat. The individuals who preceded me from Father Jerry Stackhouse to Sister Maureen Fay also had the same kinds of visions for the university. Our leadership styles might vary but we all have the same basic interests that been urban, Jesuit and Catholic, and focusing on services of social justice are all important dimensions of our mission. I might do it in a little different way but I think that any kind of way in which we can expand our involvements and opportunities we should take full advantage of. There are some other opportunities we want to build on too. We are going to host a White House town hall meeting for young people in May.
MC: Is there an expectation with you being the first African-American president of the University of Detroit?
AG: Some people may see it that way (laughs). I like to think of it more from my standpoint of being engaged, really involved in the city and I really think that the faculty and staff as well as the students have that same kind of feeling. That’s why they come here because this is the place that’s known for its active involvement in the city and in the community. We want to make a commitment here in the same way our predecessors did. The fact that I’m Black probably has something to do with it, but more so is the fact that I’ve been in urban communities for most of my life and most of my career.
MC: Given the depth of your background, what specifically motivated you to come to Detroit?
AG: Well, I really saw it as an opportunity to be a part of a renaissance, part of a city that really has a future in spite of all the economic problems and the political issues that, and the educational situation. The opportunity to make a difference is much more important than the opportunity to just have an educational institution in the city, but that educational institution has to be engaged. It’s actually been exceeded because so many people have reached out to me, and also to my wife.
MC: In this tough economy, what role should universities play?
AG: I think educational institutions should be a part of the community. We are part of this immediate area, we are a part of the city. All of the intellectual power that a university can bring as well as the interest of young people in most instances, who are very interested in staying in the community can be extremely helpful. If someone is looking for assistance in the development of leadership programs, we’ve got that here.
All of our pro bono clinics we have downtown is such a wide range. One of the items we’ve been working on this year is developing a comprehensive fundraising campaign, that we can develop the plans to raise millions of dollars so that we can build our endowment and have resources we can draw from on an annual basis to support student scholarships and special initiatives. We need to be able to support the research and the scholarship of our faculty and staff and many students are beneficiaries of that.
MC: What do you see as the biggest crisis in education today?
AG: I see the biggest crisis as the under-preparation of many of our young people. Many who are in high schools today don’t have the same level of education as some of us may have had. And this is not a criticism of teachers. I think that teachers do a great job, and I’m saying it as someone who started out as an elementary school teacher.
Also, I’ve trained teachers for seven years at Xavier in New Orleans. Teachers need financial support, support from the local community, from the state. They know how to do their job, but it’s hard to do that job if you are in a classroom or in a building that doesn’t have the same kinds of high quality and technological information that may be another more well-of school has.
The other distraction is a lot of technology for our young people today. They spend a lot more time on those smart phones than they do reading books. So we have to make sure we can help young people be good spellers, readers, writers and they can count, that they can think very well.
One of the challenges I give to students is you have to have high expectations and set goals for yourself. We’ve already reached the point where so many of those young people coming from high schools are students of color. And students of color in particular are the ones who are at many of the schools that really need that kind of assistance. It’s not just crisis in education, it’s a crisis in our future because these are the future leaders.
MC: What do you make of the debate about school choices today?
AG: It’s not about the type of school that you go into, its whether or not the school can deliver high quality education, that the students when they leave are critical thinkers, that they know how to read and write, and are also well prepared for secondary education or post-secondary education. Most communities today and in a lot of urban areas, you find yourselves in situations where you have so many public schools, so many schools that are independent and charter and the jury is still out on that.
The U.S. Department of Education I know has done some studies in the last ten years to determine what makes a good school and whether or not charter schools are better than public schools. Well, you have to start looking at the different kinds of schools on a case-by-case basis.
MC: You’ve written books and done a lot of research about the underachievement of young Black males. Will you continue that at UDM?
AG: Absolutely. There are a number of groups here in town that have spoken to me about some of the different things that they have under way. I’d like to talk with them and find what whatever it is that they are doing. The study which I did has been replicated by a number of schools around the country.
We can teach students how to act, read and write, but we really want to make sure that the students set very high goals for themselves. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. used to say that quite often. His mentor was Dr. Benjamin Mays, and Dr. Mays was always very good in communicating that to those Morehouse men and to other students.
But we have to let particularly young African- American males know that you are not going to succeed by just doing the average. You have to be twice as good. That was the message my parents and teachers gave me.
MC: Do you think there is a disconnect between today’s generation and the generation that preceded it?
AG: I’m not sure that there is a disconnect. I think that there were probably some messages that we didn’t get across nearly as strong because so many other revolutionary things occurred. I’m talking about technology as an example. I believe that there are many young people who don’t know what it was like to not use a cell phone, a smart phone. They expect that today. In my view those were things that were not in the cards. You did things manually, went to the library and took books out. That’s what enhanced your reading abilities and other skills.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 02:14
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
A license plate tab-dispensing Self-Service Station in the city of Wayne will soon be relocated in order to better serve area residents, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.
The machine at Wayne City Hall, 3355 S. Wayne Road, will be moved to the Wayne Community Center, 4635 Howe Road, on April 11. The new location will provide longer hours of availability and a more centralized location for customers in the community.
“Self-Service Stations, along with our online services at ExpressSOS.com, give customers the ability to skip any lines and save a lot of time” Johnson said. “I encourage area residents to take advantage of these options whenever they need to do business with us.”
Customers simply follow the touch-screen directions and scan the bar code on their renewal notice. Upon verifying the information and accepting the credit card, the Self-Service Station prints a vehicle tab and receipt for the customer. Single transactions usually can be accomplished in less than two minutes.
City of Wayne officials suggested that the station would be available for more hours at the Community Center, which is open from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The City Hall facility is now open only four days a week.
“The Secretary of State self-service machine has been a great convenience to the residents of Wayne,” said Wayne City Clerk Matthew Miller. “It is easy to use and the new location at the Community Center will provide many more hours of access for the public.”
The Self-Service Station was installed at City Hall in 2007 and has recorded nearly 4,000 transactions since then. Visit the Branch Office Locator at www.Michigan.gov/sos to find all Self-Service Station locations in Michigan, as well as information on other programs and services.
People renewing license plates, driver’s licenses and ID cards can do business by mail or online at www.ExpressSOS.com. Easy to follow instructions can be found with the renewal notice. Additional services can be done online as well.
Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 16:23
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!
- Detroit Begins A New Chapter as Detroit Bankruptcy is Allowed to Proceed (1)
- Joyce Hayes Giles retires after 35 years with DTE (2)
- Sarah Palin accuses Obama of Libya ‘shuck and jive’ (1)
- Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy, pension cuts (2)
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network among lowest priced health plans on Michigan’s ACA health insurance marketplace (1)