Category: Top News Written by Phil Power
Oddly, the first question the politicians asked after the Detroit
City Council finally voted to approve the consent agreement with the
State of Michigan was not “will it work,” but … “who won?”
Short Answer No. 1: Too early to tell.
Short Answer No. 2: Wrong question.
Third Answer, a little longer: Sadly, in most cases, political
culture trumps common sense and any willingness to collaborate.
One Lansing insider told me he was calling the deal between Detroit
and the state “consent agreement lite.” (Others said that an consent
agreement would be “Emergency Manager lite.“) Indeed, both Gov. Rick
Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon talked about their aim to work
out “the lightest possible touch” on the city and their joint interest
in avoiding the much-dreaded emergency manager.
Nobody doubts for a moment that this is so. But under the consent
agreement as written, there is an awful lot of diffusion of power. The
Governor, the Mayor, the City Council and the State Treasurer are all
entitled to have their hands in the pot.
So are three powerful positions yet to be created -- the Chief
Financial Officer, the Program Manager and a nine-member Financial
Advisory Board. But while the governor may have a slightly stronger
hand than anyone else, no one person is in charge of the controls.
Which brings us to Detroit’s political culture. To be sure, a lot of
the fierce rhetoric leading up to the agreement was political
grandstanding. But apart from that, the long record of bad blood
between Mayor Dave Bing and the Council doesn’t encourage optimism
that reaching agreement on anything will be easy.
When you add the racial politics that have pervaded the relationships
between Detroit, the suburbs and the state for decades, you have to
worry this whole thing could come apart at the seams.
That’s not being alarmist. Consider these potential flashpoints of
friction yet to be worked out as part of the Consent Agreement:
Appointments: Detroit has a week to create Chief Financial Officer and
Program Manager positions. Within 30 days, the Mayor must make
appointments from two lists of three names, each selected jointly by
the Mayor and State Treasurer.
Public Act 4: The Act allows the Governor to impose an Emergency
Manager on the city. Nobody wanted that. So for everybody, a Consent
Agreement was better than an EM. But without the threat of an EM, no
Consent Agreement. Yet in a new wrinkle, it now looks very likely that
enough signatures will be certified to put repeal of the act on the
November ballot. The second that happens, the law is suspended till
after the vote. No hammer, no agreement?
Unions: The consent agreement calls for city employee unions to agree
by July 16 to concessions on pay, benefits, bumping rights and work
rules that go beyond those they negotiated last month with the city.
The unions are furious, to put it mildly.
Revenue projections: Detroit’s future budgets must dovetail with
independent revenue projections. Forecasting revenue is a tricky
business, and for everybody to agree on such forecasts seems unlikely.
What is clear is that everybody – including Detroit officials
willing to be quoted – agrees that restructuring the city is going to
take a very long time. Pervasive illiteracy and poor skills mean that
only half of Detroit’s adults are even in the labor market at all --
the lowest rate of any major city in the nation. Curing those problems
won’t happen overnight, especially with the Detroit Public Schools in
such a mess.
When you combine a combative political culture, racial politics and
terrible economic problems, you get a highly combustible mix. Frankly,
I fear the most optimistic prospect is for years of quarrelling. Any
progress will be herky-jerky at best.
Critics and protesters against the Consent Agreement decried the loss
of “democracy.” Fair enough. But, as anybody who looks at the hostile
gridlock in Washington can see, democracy alone all too often isn’t a
good way to get things done.
So, back to the questions at the top of this column:
1) Nobody won, which is probably the best outcome possible.
2) Asking who won is the wrong question; the right one is how a
structure with very diffuse decision-making can be made to work.
3) And finally and sadly, political culture tends to trump almost
everything, including everybody’s very good intentions.
Editor’s Note: Former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan
Regent Phil Power is a longtime observer of Michigan politics and
economics. He is also the founder and chairman of The Center for
Michigan, a nonprofit, bipartisan centrist think-and-do tank, designed
to cure Michigan’s dysfunctional political culture. He is also on the
board of the Center’s Business Leaders for Early Education. The
opinions expressed here are Power’s own and do not represent the
official views of The Center. He welcomes your comments at
Last Updated on Monday, 09 April 2012 10:18
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
I was not surprised that Magic Johnson was part of a group that purchased the iconic baseball franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers. What I was surprised about was that it was the Dodgers instead of an NFL franchise for Los Angeles.
While in Los Angeles covering the NBA All-Star Weekend in 2011, the talk was Johnson and his group was all but assured of building a new football stadium and bring an NFL team back to the City of Angels. Yet, the big sports news of the week is Johnson and the Dodgers.
No matter. By all accounts the Johnson group, largely funded by Guggenheim Capital chief executive officer Mark Walter, agreed to purchase the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium and a 50 percent stake in the parking lots surrounding the ballpark from Frank McCourt for $2.15 billion.
Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt announced an agreement to sell the team to a group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson and former baseball executive Stan Kasten for $2 billion, the most money paid for a team in the history of professional sports.
The purchase price dwarfs the $1.1 billion Steve Ross paid for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2008, the record for a North American sports franchise, as well as the $1.47 billion Malcolm Glazer paid for Manchester United, the iconic English soccer team, in 2005.
It was the largest sell in the history of sports franchises. In fact, many prognosticators claim foul, that the Johnson group has paid too much for a franchise that is in a prolonged downturn. Baseball needs a strong and stable franchise in Chavez Ravine. Twenty-two teams have been to the World Series since the Dodgers last made it in 1988.
Dodger fans just wanting to get out from under the scandal of McCourt and his public divorce appear to simply want to move forward at any cost, to forget the past few years and start in a new direction.
Indeed, Johnson, who won five NBA titles as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and orchestrated Showtime, buying a baseball team took me by surprise. What this shows is the resilience of Johnson, who retired from the NBA after contracting HIV in 1991, but went on to become a beloved civic leader and businessman.
I guess the opportunity, especially as an African-American, to become an owner of a Dodgers franchise that broke baseball’s color barrier signing the legendary Jackie Robinson, was too enticing to pass up. Having Johnson in a position of leadership may upgrade the percentage of African-Americans playing and attending games — well, at least in L.A.
“I love baseball,” Johnson told reporters. “I’ve been to many, not just Dodger games, but baseball games around the country. I grew up a Detroit Tigers fan, of course, being from Michigan, and then became a Dodgers fan when I moved to L.A. over 30 years ago.
“But the reason I joined was because of these two guys (Stan Kasten and Walter). It was an easy decision. When I met Mark Walter he reminded me so much of (Lakers owner) Dr. Jerry Buss in terms of how he approached things, how he wants to win, family man, that whole thing.
“I still can’t believe that we’re buying the Dodgers. I can’t believe the Dodgers were on the market.”
After the sale was announced, Johnson said he received phone calls from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.
“If they invested that much money,” said Lasorda, the Dodgers’ retired Hall of Fame manager, “I’m sure they’ll invest to get us a winner. I wish them all the luck and I admire them. I know both of them. I know Magic from the day he came into Los Angeles as a basketball player for the Lakers, and there is no doubt he is a winner.”
In a statement Lakers owner Buss said, “In addition to being a phenomenal success on the court in leading the Lakers to five NBA championships, he has been a success in everything else he’s become involved with, most notably his spectacular business career and also his educational campaign on behalf of HIV awareness. I’d like to congratulate Magic and his partners on their acquisition of the Dodgers and wish them the best of luck.”
Last Updated on Monday, 09 April 2012 02:11
Category: Top News Written by Patrick Keating
On March 30, the Michigan Chronicle hosted a Women of Excellence women’s empowerment panel at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel titled “The Insiders Circle: Pathway to Obtaining Corporate Board Appointments.”
The panel was moderated by Pam McElvane, CEO and publisher of Diversity MBA magazine. The panelists were M. Alexis Scott, publisher of the Atlanta Daily World; Dr. Kimberlydawn Wisdom, vice president of Community Health Education and Wellness, Henry Ford Health System, and Michigan’s first surgeon general; Vivian Pickard, president of the General Motors Foundation and director of Corporate Relations at GM; and Faye Nelson, president and CEO of Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.
McElvane said women in the corporate boardrooms shouldn’t be a dream, but a career aspiration.
She said that in 2011, Catalyst, an organization that works to advance women in the workplace, did a survey of Fortune 500 companies.
“Only 16.9 percent of those boards have women,” McElvane said. “And of the 16.9 percent, 13.3 percent are White, and 3.3 percent are women of color. Of the 3.3 percent 11.3 percent are African-American.”
She added that 83.9 percent of board members are men, and estimated that 21 percent of them are men of color.
McElvane also said Diversity MBA benchmarks leadership.
“Our statistics for 2011 show that for our top 50 companies, 21 percent of women are on boards, and 18.8 percent of people of color are on boards.”
She noted that with the average board size of 10, that’s one woman or one male of color for each board.
For the top 10 companies, the Diversity MBA found that the average board’s pool of diversity is 47 percent.
“Then if you’re in an industry that’s traditionally women-owned, women-managed, or penetrating with women, like financial services or healthcare, you really should have a 50 to 55 percent pool of diversity.”
She pointed out that the panelists come from different industries and backgrounds, but all have made it a priority to both serve the community and position themselves on paid boards.
McElvane asked the panelists how early board service has helped them position themselves for opportunities in their professional careers.
Scott, whose paper was recently purchased by Real Times Media, the parent company of the Michigan Chronicle, said she went on boards where she cared about what they were doing, so she could bring passion and energy. She also looked at what her bosses were interested in. If she did a good job for them, she would receive professional recognition.
She currently sits on several nonprofit boards, some industry related and some community service related. She also sits on one paid board, The Atlanta Life Financial Group.
Wisdom said she decided to serve on boards that focused on areas where she had a genuine interest.
“Find something you care about, that you have some passion about,” she advised.
Earlier this year, Wisdom was appointed by President Obama to serve as a member of the advisory group on prevention, health promotion and integrated and public health.
She said the various boards she’s served on, including former U.S Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher’s Satcher Health Leadership Board; the Public Health Institute, a board in California; and a Washington, D.C., board called the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, have played a critical role in her growth and development as a professional.
“But also I think there have been great opportunities for those people and those organizations to learn from a community health perspective, from a health care equity perspective,” Wisdom said.
Pickard, who said her most significant board experience was serving on the board of National Council of Negro Women after getting a call from the late Dr. Dorothy Height, always tried to do whatever she could to make a difference when it came to her community.
Nelson agreed with the others, and said it’s important to serve community, to affiliate with boards for which you have a passion.
She serves on several large nonprofit boards, including the Henry Ford Health System, the Parade Company, Tech Town, University of Detroit Mercy and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Those experiences have helped her prepare for the for-profit board experience of serving on the board of the Compuware Corp.
She also said that being on a for-profit board has honed her skills and made her a better nonprofit executive.
As president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Nelson reports to a 44-member board of directors.
McElvane also asked the panelists how they positioned themselves to be invited to sit on boards.
Pickard said you never know when someone is watching you. Her philosophy is do your best whenever you can and make sure you’re doing the right thing at all times.
Nelson warned attendees to not underestimate the importance of experience. She noted there are a variety of area boards to consider.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 April 2012 01:13
Category: Top News Written by Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement regarding the Detroit City Council’s approval of a proposed consent agreement:
“The council has acted responsibly to put Detroit on the path to financial stability. Approval of the consent agreement is a positive opportunity for the city and our entire state. It’s a clear message that we will move forward – and win – as one Michigan. We all want Detroit to succeed. This agreement paves the way for a good-faith partnership that will restore the fiscal integrity taxpayers expect and ensure the delivery of services that families deserve.
“While the council’s action is a positive step, there’s no doubt that much work remains. The magnitude of the city’s financial challenges means that many difficult decisions lie ahead. We must build on this spirit of cooperation and be willing to act in the city’s long-term interests.
“I appreciate the countless hours that Mayor Dave Bing and his staff, the City Council, the Financial Review Team, state Treasurer Andy Dillon and the rest of my team have devoted to achieving this agreement. Because of their tireless work, Detroit is poised to move toward being a great city again with improved services for its citizens and a foundation for future growth.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 04:33
Category: Top News Written by Gary A. Brown
Hope is not a strategy. Leadership is the responsible step today.
The delays in making a decision will not repair Detroit's finances. As City Council, we must act today at the 5 p.m. special session by approving the Consent Agreement (also referred to as the Fiscal Stability Agreement).
We are burning cash and wasting vital time as you read this message. We spend $360,000 more per day than the revenue generated by the City of Detroit. At least one-third of our budget is spent on debt service and pension obligations, not needed municipal services.
Many citizens have shared with me, the fact that (they) "don't care who turns the lights on, as long as they are on and stay on."
As we move Detroit forward there are two salient points that must not be forgotten:
- This Consent Agreement is not a referendum on Public Act 4. It is a road map -- action steps to repair Detroit finances. Challenges to Public Act 4 being waged in the court system will not be affected by City Council in approving this contract between the mayor and the governor.
- The agreement before City Council for approval is not the governor's initial proposal, which I believe was draconian. The mayor rejected that document and fashioned a counter-proposal. Several Council members were invited to make changes and amendments to the mayor's version, on behalf of the City Council body. These actions resulted in the final Consent Agreement under consideration by City Council
It must be remembered, that a municipality's priority is to provide an environmentso that residents and businesses may thrive. With approval by City Council, Detroit will become the beneficiary of this mutual agreement to improve City services and "right-size" administrative operations.
Lastly, City Council will hold the pivotal special session on the 13th Floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center today at 5 p.m.
Together, we possess the power to become the best of Detroit.
Gary A. Brown
President Pro Tem
Detroit City Council
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 04:17
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
Absentee ballots available for qualified voters
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds residents that they have until Monday, April 9 to register to vote in the May 8 election.
“This is a terrific time to register if you have not yet done so,” said Johnson, Michigan’s chief election officer. “You will have a chance to make your voice heard at the polls, first by voting on local issues in May. Then later in the year you will be able to cast a ballot in elections with state- and nationwide importance, like November’s presidential election.”
The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To register, applicants must be at least 18 years old by Election Day and be U.S. citizens. Applicants must also be residents of Michigan and of the city or township in which they wish to register.
Voters may register by mail, at their county, city or township clerk’s office or by visiting any Secretary of State office. The mail-in form is available at www.Michigan.gov/elections. First-time voters who register by mail must vote in person in their first election, unless they hand-deliver the application to their local clerk, are 60 years old or older, are disabled or are eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
To check their registration status, residents may visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.Michigan.gov/vote. Residents can also find information there on absentee voting,
Michigan’s voter identification requirement, how to use voting equipment and how to contact their local clerk. In addition, they will find a map to their local polling place.
Voters who qualify may choose to cast an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are:
● age 60 or older.
● physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another.
● expecting to be absent from the community in which you are registered for the entire time the polls will be open on Election Day.
● in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.
● unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons.
● appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. on Monday, May 7. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday, May 7 must fill out the ballot in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.
As a reminder, voters will be asked to provide identification when at the polls on Election Day. They will be asked to present valid photo ID, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them to the polls can still vote. They will be required to sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.
Voters who don’t have a Michigan driver’s license or identification card can show the following forms of photo ID, as long as they are current:
· Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state.
· Federal or state government-issued photo identification.
· U.S. passport.
· Military identification card with photo.
· Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, such as a college or university.
· Tribal identification card with photo.
Additional election information can be found at www.Michigan.gov/elections.
For more information about voting and the Secretary of State’s Office, visit www.Michigan.gov/SOS. Sign up for the official Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/MichSOS and Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/MichiganSOS.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:39
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
In financial debate, RACE is an underlying element
Like the fears expressed by some members of the Tea Party Movement saying “we want our country back,” that President Barack Obama is not one of “them,” among other undignified claims to delegitimize the nation’s first Black president, so in Detroit we see another form of a rising minority who strongly believe that the city is been taken away with the current consent agreement.
Their claims that Detroit’s power is being usurped by Lansing is a sentiment deeply buried in the long political struggles that have come to define Detroit’s existence. It is a sentiment that has played out during this city’s encounter with every recent administration in Lansing (including both Democrats and Republicans).
Not everyone shares their belief, but many do understand why there is such a passion as this city battles for its financial survival. That passion is anchored around race and the fact that this city, like Livonia, is one of the most segregated in the nation.
What we have in Detroit is a mass underclass of poor people further disadvantaged by the economy and already paying taxes with their widow’s mite and not receiving virtually anything in return for it. Every day they wake up hoping that the government (mayor and city council) would represent their aspirations as they struggle to find relief for their despair and break the manacles of poverty.
And because they are Black, they believe that the notion of a financial review team or an advisory board is one that is masking as a good doctor, but in actuality they believe is a “Doctor Death” coming at the city.
They have watched some Detroit politicians in the past, like the Biblical Nicodemus, cut deals in the middle of the night on their behalf when the benefits never got to them.
They’ve watched politicians talk from both sides of their mouths and never take the bacon home. They’ve seen how city hall has literally become a casino for the well connected and the powerful, but not a jackpot for hard-pressed taxpayers and struggling senior citizens who have become prisoners in their homes because of crime.
They watched how Detroit Public Schools started with state intervention in 1999 and the arrival of Dr. Kenneth Burnley, the absolute CEO at the time, and the school boards that followed, all fighting for contracts and personal gigs instead of a curriculum for Detroit children.
DPS became a classic example of how things could go wrong when the right mechanisms are not put in place. Today the district is struggling to survive and doing all it can to be a comeback story.
So in their mind, we’ve been here before whether it was with Gov. John Engler or Gov. Jennifer Granholm, two prominent governors whose legacies are bittersweet in the mouths of many Detroiters.
Thus the opposition against an emergency manager in Detroit or a consent agreement is not necessarily an opposition to Gov. Rick Snyder although it looks that way. It is an inherent opposition to a system of “cash and carry” that Detroit politicians have long mastered with their Lansing collaborators and played well to their own personal ends without benefiting their constituents.
That is why any proposal that does not clearly stipulate how city assets or finances of Detroit will be guarded under a new agreement,will continue to face opposition.
This is part of the reason for the groundswell against an emergency manager or a consent agreement.
So let’s not be outrightly dismissive or condescending toward an opposition or any who have witnessed how this city has evolved and changed over time to the detriment of those (residents and businesses) that have remained here.
Just as some of us in the media gave members of the Tea Party Movement the benefit of the doubt, dismissing the suspicions of others that their vicious assault on Obama is racially motivated, let’s think and expand our horizons.
While the Tea Party was positioning itself to become the third rail in American politics, we encouraged them in our columns and called it democracy in action, describing them as angry voters who’ve had enough with all things Obama, despite the fact that they hurled insults at Congressman John Dingell, spat on the face of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis and rudely interrupted town hall meetings beating tables and threatening lawmakers who were determined to pass the land mark healthcare legislation.
Let’s learn from all this because it is truly a historic moment for this city. And race is what some in the negotiating room have on their mind, but cannot say because of fear of losing their position or been viewed as not getting along.
Plain and simple, the average person, Black or White, and businesses in this city want services delivered quickly and consistently. And the city has been deligent . There are people who literary live in fear that in the event there is crime at their home or they need EMS service, they have no option but to get on their knees to pray until whenever that service arrives.
There are areas in Detroit where people live that are barely livable, if that. This abject poverty has much to do with failed leadership that has long ignored those at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, dismissed because they have no power to influence or change policy. And when the economy is in bad shape, some in the middle class joined the poor and the economically subjugated.
So while part of Detroit is coming back with all the developments downtown and beyond, this city’s leadership must not ignore the neighborhoods because there are portions in this city that are danger zones.
Just as you cannot have a vibrant downtown without a thriving business district, so it is that you can’t have a city that is on the cusp of meaningful community transformation if the majority of our neighborhoods are in a declining or deplorable condition.
Detroit is Michigan’s largest city, and we do not expect the state and its chief executive, Gov. Snyder, to walk away from Detroit at this crucial time. What we expect is an honest deal on the table. Let us not repeat the past.
Because Detroit is so segregated and yet pivotal to the overall success of not only Southeast Michigan, but also the state, it is important that we approach the conversation around financial transformation with a wholistic perspective and strong sense of urgency.
That perspective should take into account this city’s past, present and future.
Race remains and will continue to be a factor in how this city functions, how it connects to everything around the state, and its future.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 19:35
Category: Top News Written by Phil Powers
Most of the sound and fury enveloping Detroit these past few
weeks has all been about the near-bankrupt city’s sheer financial
survival, whether via a consent agreement between the city and the
state or, failing that, an emergency manager.
Nobody doubts that Detroit is in terrible financial shape.
Reported annual operating deficit near $270 million. More than $10
billion in total debt and unfunded liabilities. Sometime this month,
or May at the latest, the city will run completely out of cash.
Naturally, then most of the attention is being paid to how tosalvage
the city’s finances without having to go into bankruptcy.
But suppose the city does manage to barely get through this financial
crisis. Then what? A dead city walking is hardly a recipe for
prosperity. Cities, like people, need to grow – or die.
So the question we should be asking throughout this state is: What’s
a practical strategy for Detroit’s future growth?
Here are three suggestions, designed to get folks thinking. You may
find them radical – but things are clearly radically wrong in
Michigan’s largest city. First aid is no longer enough when the
patient is mortally ill.
· First, attack the enormous amount of vacant land
in Detroit. Most experts say something like 40 square miles of vacant
land lies within the 139 square miles within the city limits. That’s
enough vacant space to contain all of Paris, with a bit left over.
These vast tracts are unproductive, and very little generates any tax
revenue. That’s not surprising. By some estimates, the owners of only
40 percent of real estate parcels in the city are paying real estate
taxes on time.
But what should Detroit do with its vacant land? Lots of smart people
are thinking about that. Some advocate large scale urban farming.
Others ask about the possibility of erecting great fields of solar
American history may offer one guide: Urban homesteading, which could
be a powerful lure indeed.
The original Homestead Act was passed in 1862. Basically, it offered
title to any person who occupied and worked a parcel of land for a
suitable period of time.
Homesteading drove the westward expansion of our country for a long,
long time. While I was sports editor in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1962, a
guy ran into the newsroom waving a piece of paper. It was title to
the 40 acres south of town he worked, and he couldn’t have been more
Right now something like half of the vacant land in Detroit is owned
by the city, county or state through tax foreclosures. Why not offer
up parcels of this land to urban homesteaders, people who could be the
new urban pioneers?
· The city could attract immigrants by offering a route to
citizenship to anybody who comes to America with, say, $500,000 in
liquid assets, moves there, starts a business and employs Detroiters.
That is precisely what worked for Vancouver, British Colombia, after
the People’s Republic of China took control of Hong Kong in 1997,
terrifying much of the local business community. Vancouver offered
them exactly that deal, and the result was a gigantic movement of
capital to Canada – and the foundation for Vancouver’s present day
Now, the changes of Washington adopting a sensible immigration
policy, especially during an election year, may be zero. But it turns
out there is a visa category already on the books, EB-5, which
establishes just such requirements. Though the program will need to
be renewed this fall, there are currently lots of unfilled slots that
could be taken by entrepreneurs heading for Detroit.
· Finally, we should recognize that big core cities are a relic
of history. Most of our big cities – Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint,
Saginaw, Kalamazoo – got started long ago as smaller towns surrounded
by mostly rural farmland organized into townships. As time went on
and these areas grew, the towns pushed against surrounding
communities, resulting in turf wars between central city and suburbs.
We’ve seen this problem time after time here in Michigan --
especially in the Detroit area. Up till now, we’ve never been able to
do anything much about it, in large part because of racial politics.
But the days when we were rigorously separated by race are going fast,
as anybody who drives through Southfield, Dearborn or West Bloomfield
can easily see. Before our eyes, the suburbs have become more and
more diverse, especially as former residents of core cities decide to
move elsewhere to lead a better life.
In the case of at least two Michigan central cities --Detroit and
Grand Rapids -- conditions are deteriorating fast enough to force a
reconsideration of the “metro government” movement that has so
successfully been applied to Indianapolis, Nashville and other places.
There, the central cities have been merged with the surrounding
suburbs, and the results have been outstanding.
In the case of Grand Rapids, such a movement – “One Kent” – was talked
about last year. Sadly, the idea turned out to be politically
premature and was soon pushed to the back burner. But the Motor City
is much further gone. In the case of Detroit, it’s hard to see how the
city – with an excess of vacant land, deteriorating infrastructure and
a history of gigantic out-migration – can ever again manage to mount a
tax base adequate to sustain a proper city.
So why not merge the tax base of Detroit with that of the surrounding
suburbs? Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign may not be going
anywhere, but why not adopt his idea of making Detroit a tax-free
Clearly, none of these ideas guarantee success. But at the very
least, they can all kick-start the very necessary process of beginning
to think how to give Detroit a future that includes growth, rather
than just emergency measures to help the current wretched model
Editor’s Note: Former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan
Regent Phil Power is a longtime observer of Michigan politics and
economics. He is also chairman of The Center for Michigan, a
nonprofit, bipartisan centrist think-and-do tank, designed to cure
Michigan’s dysfunctional political culture. He is also on the board of
the Center’s Business Leaders for Early Education.
The opinions expressed here are Power’s own and do not represent the
official views of The Center. He welcomes your comments at
Last Updated on Monday, 02 April 2012 22:52
Category: Top News Written by Larry Buford
There was a time when the ‘hoodie’ was commonly known as a ‘parka’ – a
garment mostly used by athletes and the military. The slang term
‘hoodie’ came out of the black culture, and over the years has been
widely associated with suspicion and crime. Whenever news reports show
surveillance video footage of a robbery or break-in with the
perpetrators wearing hoodies, chances are viewers reflect on images of
popular black Rappers and Hip/Hop artists who popularized the fad. As
in any generation, the youth – just like 17 year old Trayvon Martin –
want to be in (peer) style. No blame there, but unfortunately
Hollywood and the music industry have seemingly conspired to bombard
society with images of the bad boys in the ‘hood wearing hoodies.
There’s now a national – even international – outcry for justice in
the Trayvon case, but why has there been no such outcry against
foul-mouthed so-called artists and other icons who spew extreme
profanity and contempt? Where’s the outcry against the glamorization
and glorification of illicit sex, drugs and the rampant acts of
violence in the mainstream? Why can’t the organizers of these
nation-wide rallies for Trayvon, rally a product-boycott of the
unfiltered, unsanitized mockeries of ‘freedom of speech?’ Hollywood
and the music industry continue to place profit over decency and
morality, and ignore the consequences of the negative influences they
Some people are comparing the tragic killing of Trayvon to the
historic case of Emmett Till, but I think this may be a teachable
moment for a broader comparison, and I say this without speculation
and with sensitivity to Trayvon’s family as details of the incident
are still unfolding. During the Civil War when President Lincoln
signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the freed slaves (known as
Freedmen) were ill-prepared for what was beyond their familiarity on
the plantation, and there were severe consequences including murder at
the hands of white southerners who could not and would not accept the
edict. Now today, since the historic election of President Obama, the
illusion pervades that America is now post racial – that the election
of a black president is proof that America is not as prejudiced and
bigoted as in its dark past. That’s simply not so. There is still a
lot of anger, hatred, and resentment out there. What has been created
is a sense that black children can reach new heights and come and go
as they please with the perception that it’s now an even playing
field. However, many of them (if not most) are just as ill-prepared as
the post-slavery Freedmen. To say the least, some parents are not even
teaching their children the beatitudes and common courtesies like
‘please,’ ‘thank-you,’ ‘excuse me,’ and other interpersonal skills.
Lack of these attributes coupled with a sense of entitlement is a
formula for disaster. How can they feel entitled to anything? How can
they think they’re entitled to a job when they’re speaking improper
English, their bodies are pierced from head to toe, and their pants
are sagging? Our misguided youth are being shut out and excluded due
to lack of training, discipline, and humility. They may be grown in
size, but not in character, and misconstrued negative behavior could
be responded to as if they were an adult and not a mere child.
The disrespect and presupposition of the black experience is only
fueled and fostered by images of today’s self-proclaimed black ‘role
models’ whose vulgar messages devalue and denigrate women. How can
anyone respect Black America if Black Americans do not demonstrate
respect for themselves and others?
The outcry for Trayvon has reached cross-cultural and ethnic
proportions. A poster at one of the rallies read, “Trayvon today, who
tomorrow?” Speaking to a CNN reporter, one woman who appeared to be
white said, “We need to stop criminalizing black men in America.” So
while we clamor for justice in Trayvon’s case, we should also examine
ourselves to see what we can do individually first, then collectively
to help prevent such tragedies in the future. May God help us that the
outcry will echo beyond Trayvon.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 April 2012 03:15
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
The Detroit Lions recently announced signing Calvin Johnson and linebacker Stephen Tulloch. Both signings were move in the right direction that notes the Lions are getting serious about winning.
Tulloch gambled on himself by signing a one-year deal last summer with the Detroit Lions and it paid off with a five-year contract worth $25.5 million, including $11.25 million guaranteed according to a person familiar with the deal.
“I dreamed about this moment my whole life,” the 27-year-old Tulloch said at a news conference following his signing.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz were pretty fired up about it, too.
“He’s a really important part of what we’re doing,” Mayhew said. “So we’re excited to have Stephen back.”
Detroit has been able to retain all the players, other than cornerback Eric Wright, that it wanted to bring back from the franchise’s first playoff team since the 1999 season.
Tulloch made a team-high 111 tackles with the Lions when he was reunited with Schwartz, his defensive coordinator in Tennessee.
“He’s everything that is right with the NFL and the game of football,” Schwartz said. “I get a little choked up because I’ve known Stephen since he was 20 years old.”
The Lions also resigned Johnson to a new eight-year contract beginning with the 2012 season and extending through the 2019 season. No other contract terms were disclosed.
Through five NFL seasons, Johnson has established himself as one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL. The two-time Pro Bowler and 2011 All-Pro selection joined only five other players (Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Lance Alworth, Marvin Harrison and Larry Fitzgerald) in NFL history to register 45-plus touchdown catches and 5,500-plus receiving yards through their first five seasons.
Since the 2008 season, Johnson ranks first in the NFL with 45 receiving touchdowns, second in receiving yards (5,116) and third (tie) in the NFL with 49 receptions of 25+ yards. Including his 2007 rookie season, Johnson’s 49 touchdowns tie for second in the NFL over that five-year span.
Johnson’s career totals of 366 receptions for 5,872 yards and 49 touchdowns are the most by any Lions receiver through their first five seasons. He reached 5,000 career receiving yards (69 games) and 300 receptions (66 games) faster than any receiver in team history. Prior to Johnson’s arrival, no receiver in team history ever registered 1,000 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in more than one season and he accomplished that three times (2008, 2010 and 2011) in his first five seasons.
As he has ascended to the upper echelon of NFL wide receivers, 2011 was his best and the most-prolific in Lions history as he helped lead the Lions back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. He garnered career highs in receptions (96), receiving yards (1,681) and touchdowns (16). He broke the team’s single-season receiving touchdowns record that was held by E Cloyce Box (15, 1952) for the past 59 seasons. Johnson led the NFL with 1,681 receiving yards.
Yes, it appears Detroit is serious about winning, Tullock and Johnson were the key defensive and offensive players the team needed to coral to stay on the national stage as an NFL team to be dealt with.
“My heart was still here in Detroit,” Tulloch said.
Johnson said: “This is where I want to be. Detroit is a great football town and we are trying to bring a consistent winning team to these great fans.
The Lions, unlike past years, wanted to keep their best players instead of trying to upgrade talent by looking elsewhere.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 17:15
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