Category: Top News Written by Michigan
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today signed emergency legislation that lets Highland Park students finish the school year despite the district’s financial crisis.
Lawmakers on Thursday night moved swiftly to address the critical educational needs of Highland Park students by allowing them to remain in their current facilities or attend school in another district.
House Bill 4445 includes $4 million to be used as $4,000 per-pupil stipends that follow students currently enrolled in Highland Park schools. Money from the Distressed District Student Transition grants can go to another school district or a charter school that accepts Highland Park students, or if the student remains in Highland Park schools, the money must go to the operating entity that is brought in to run the school. The money will not be used for the Highland Park district itself.
“This temporary measure keeps Highland Park children in the classroom, where they deserve and need to be,” Snyder said. “While this action does not solve the school district’s financial and management situation, it does put the immediate needs of students and their families first by minimizing disruptions for the rest of this school year. There is still much work to do but this collaborative effort shows that we can rise to any challenge and find appropriate solutions. I applaud Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger for their leadership, and commend those legislators who put differences aside and acted in the best interests of Highland Park children.”
Despite repeated state advances and bailouts, including a $4 million hardship loan last summer and two advancements of state aid payments in the past month, it is expected that the school district will not be able to meet today’s payroll.
In related news, the independent review team tasked with assessing HPS’ financial situation met publicly this week and its members again solidly concluded that the district is facing a financial emergency. The governor has agreed with those findings. Additionally, the HPS Board met last evening and passed a resolution opting not to appeal the findings of the review team or governor, or the appointment of an emergency manager. Per the timeline outlined in Public Act 4, the soonest the governor can reinstate Jack Martin as emergency manager is late next week.
Snyder is committed to ensuring full and open communication with Highland Park parents, teachers and community leaders. His most recent letter sent to parents this week outlined the district’s financial challenges and ways in which state officials are working to minimize any disruptions to the education of Highland Park students. The governor also pledged that officials will conduct a public meeting to keep local residents informed. Details of the open forum will be announced.
Due to the urgency of the Highland Park schools situation, lawmakers used H.B. 4445 as a “vehicle” bill to appropriate the funding. H.B. 4445 is the school aid supplemental bill. In addition to the Highland Park student funding, it includes:
- $12.5 million to the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education for early childhood funding. Specifically, $3.25 million will go toward implementation of a statewide standard kindergarten assessment to determine a child’s readiness upon entering school. The initiative will link kindergarten readiness information with existing prenatal through age 20, or P-20, data system. The remaining $9.25 million will provide services to early learning program providers in the Tiered Quality Improvement Rating System, which identifies quality levels of early childhood providers, holds programs accountable for child outcomes and provides parents with information about the early learning settings that are available.
- $424,700 in adjustments for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) as a result of the decision by the governor and Legislature to begin prefunding state employee retiree health care in fiscal year 2011-12. The appropriation provides sufficient funds to pay for the increased cost of prefunding.
- $4.7 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund that was provided to Michigan in fiscal year 2010-11. Michigan did not spend the entire amount of the grant. The program provides $10 billion in assistance to states to save or create education jobs, including those that provide educational and related services for early childhood, elementary and secondary education.
A more detailed analysis of H.B. 4445 is at www.legislature.mi.gov.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 19:21
Category: Top News Written by Carol Cain: Special to the Chronicle
It’s a good thing Rick Santorum favors cowboy boots. He might want to add some six shooters to his arsenal as he prepares for a stepped up battle for his party’s presidential nomination with GOP contenders having him squarely in their sights.
As the Republican beauty contest to find a person to take on Barack Obama in the November general election for president descends on Michigan with its Feb. 28 primary, Santorum has been spending a lot of time in Metro Detroit.
His surprise leap-frogging from third place to running neck and neck in some polls to first place against Mass. Governor and Michigan native son Mitt Romney is downright shocking to many.
Many assumed Romney would walk away with his home state where his late father, George Romney, was once governor and also saved American Motors.
Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania, has come through the early season of this fascinating contest unscathed as Romney shouldered the brunt of attacks from former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Gov. Rick Perry and other GOP contenders.
Santorum knows the hot lights and attention will now come his way. It’s that same kind of attention that took down one time front-runners Rick Perry, Herman Cain and forced others out of the race.
In drumming up support, Santorum has been hop-scotching Michigan as he visited the Detroit Economic Club, local chambers, Lincoln dinners and cities big and small.
He stopped at the WWJ-TV CBS Detroit studio and appeared on “Michigan Matters” where I had a chance to talk with him about a variety of topics:
Q: Do you have any background in Michigan?
A: Yes, my grandfather, Pietro Santorum, came here from Italy to work in Detroit’s auto plants in 1925. He was laid off two years later and had to return to Italy. He came back to this country and worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines until he was 72 years old.
Q: How does that make you relate to people in Detroit?
A: Being the grandson of a coal miner, growing up in a steel town in Pennsylvania, helped forge me as someone who understands the greatness of our country and the importance of the industrial heartland of America.
Detroit helped build America and create wealth. I come from steel country. We feel that same pride about what we did to forge a great and powerful nation. And there’s no area of the country that can take more credit for that than you right here and therefore you hold a great degree of honor here.
Q: With your views against gay marriage, use of contraception, abortion in any case, many say you are too conservative to win a national election particularly when you will have to convince independents to vote for you. Your thoughts?
A: Some are saying, ‘Rick Santorum is so conservative that he can’t win.’ Mitt Romney is telling people I am not conservative enough. Maybe the truth is: I am just right. Someone who understands the role of government and understands things that are important like having a strong defense department.
Q: What do you think you are suddenly tied with Gov. Romney (or even ahead in some polls)?
A: I think we have been delivering a pretty positive policy perspective. I haven’t been out there attacking anyone or beating up on anyone.
During the debates, I just answered the questions and was on the sidelines as the others were involved in back and forth attacks.
I am sure that helped people watching the debates who said, ‘here is a guy who is putting forth ideas and not into all the banter.’
Q: With your new front-runner status you know that will change. How will you respond? (The next presidential debate is being held Wednesday Feb. 22 in Mesa, Arizona. That state also holds its primary on Feb. 28 as does Michigan).
A: All I can do is lay out to people what America would look like and show them how good government can work. I’m ready for what comes.
Q: Mitt Romney has taken a lot of heat for being against the government bailouts of the auto companies. Where do you stand and if you agree with him, wouldn’t the impact on Detroit have been even more devastating?
A: I was against all the bailouts – not just autos, but Wall Street too.
Yes, there might have been more disruption and GM and Chrysler might not look like they do now. There might have been a fracturing of the industry which might have been better in the long run.
Q: With no capital in the markets, how would GM, Chrysler been able to restructure? Even President George W. Bush said at the recent National Auto Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas he would have given the auto bailouts again.
A: There were people who were holding back capital knowing the government was going to provide it. There would have been money.
Q: Speaking of money, some question if you have the money and organization to bankroll a national campaign into the November election. Do you?
A: We raised $2 million all together until Iowa (Jan. 3). Then we raised $4.5 million in January and in the first two weeks of February we raised $5 million. I am not worried. We don’t have the super PACs that Romney has. But we are picking up momentum.
Q: Given you are among the front-runners, have you thought about a potential vice president candidate. Would you consider Mitt Romney?
A: I would consider someone who shares my values and will do the job I told the American public I would do.
Q: What about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush?
A: I will look at many people, but they need to share my values.
Q: How is your daughter, Bella (three years old) who suffers from Trisomy 18, a genetic disease, doing?
A: Thank you for asking. I left the campaign trail to be home to make sure she was ok. She had pneumonia but came out of it thanks to the doctors and nurses who took such good care of her.
Q: As a candidate running for office with a young family at home, it must be tough.
A: I have seven children, ages 20 to 3. My two oldest, 20 and 19, are traveling with me as they took the year off from college to do so. This is not the best time to run but I feel so strongly that we are at a critical time in our country I had to do it.
Q: Your wife, Karen, has been taking care of family. How would she juggle the demands of being First Lady and what would her focus be in that role if you were successful?
A: Karen is going to try to get on the road more often with me.
As First lady, her focus would be on children with disabilities. Unless you live with the burden and gift of a special needs child it’s hard to understand. It is tough but it is also wonderful. You learn so much from them.
Q: Your thoughts on Mitt Romney – the candidate?
A: I like Mitt and all the candidates. He has some strengths, like his business experience. But the job of president is more than being CEO. It’s about managing change. It’s about motivating America and I don’t think Romney has shown an ability to connect and get the country motivated.
I am not trying to manage; I am trying to change the country.
(Carol Cain is an Emmy winning journalist who is senior producer and host of WWJ-TV CBS Detroit “Michigan Matters.” She writes about politics and business for Sunday’s Detroit Free Press.)
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 04:03
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
Will Michigan lose Black influence in Congress?
The story that is yet to be told in the midst of what is quickly becoming a congressional rat race is the fact for the first time in decades Michigan and Detroit could lose African American influence in Congress, largely due to the Republican leadership in the state that drew the congressional district lines in a way that pitted Democratic lawmakers against each other. By doing so, Detroit and the Downriver communities that have always enjoyed African American representation in Congress for both the 14th and 13th Congressional Districts now stand to lose both.
And the Democratic leadership in the state doesn’t seem to realize the importance of at least working to ensure that one of the districts is represented by an African American. At a time when we talk so much about diversity in politics, business and other spheres of life, what would it look like if we wake up the day after the November election and find out that Michigan has no African Americans in Congress? What message does that send to the Democratic Party that claims to be the party of the big tent? It’s easy to blame it all on Republicans for snaking the two congressional districts in a way that leaves Democratic lawmakers in those districts with no option. But in reality, they do have an option.
They could have a meeting of the minds and strike a delicate compromise to ensure that one of the districts remains in the African American column. Politics is much about compromise. What is really interesting after the Republican damage caused to both districts is watching Democrats themselves duke it out with each other. Yet none has publicly and in a very forthright way raised the concern about losing African American representation in Congress. This is not about playing the race card. This is very much about civil rights and minority representation in Congress, both of which should be sacredly guarded in our democratic dispensation.
Putting raw ambition and politics aside, the Michigan Democratic Party — always found wanting for being so lackluster — should be convening a meeting with all the Democratic candidates that have declared running for Congress in both districts to sort this mess out. While those candidates reserve the right and the democratic free will to challenge each other, it is in the party’s best interest to ensure that minority representation becomes a reality in Congress for Michigan.
In the 14th Congressional District, which encompasses Bloomfield Hills, Orchard Lake, Pontiac, Southfield, Detroit and other areas, has incumbent Congressmen Gary Peters, Hansen Clarke, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence and former Democratic Floor Leader in Lansing Mary Waters running against each other.
While it’s healthy to see this kind of energized race with each of the candidates making their best pitch as to which among them is best qualified to represent the newly redrawn districts, only one will get to represent Detroit and the surrounding suburban cities in Congress.
Could it be Gary Peters who defeated the once almighty Joe Knollenberg and has been a consumer advocate? He seems to have garnered nearly all of labor’s support and other strong backers in Southeast Michigan with his fundraising prowess.
Is it Mayor Lawrence who’s been serving as mayor of Southfield for more than a decade in what her supporters attribute to a “strong crossover appeal,” running a city that is racially diverse? Additionally she was the lieutenant governatorial candidate for the Democrats in the last election.
Is it Congressman Clarke whose recent elevation to Congress has excited some because of his humble beginnings and dogged persistence to challenge the status quo? His supporters say he has much promise in politics.
Or is it Mary Waters, a former Democratic leader in the House in Lansing? Her supporters praise her legislative ability, community mindedness and ability to speak out despite her recently ended legal troubles in a federal corruption case at Detroit City Hall?
In the 13th Congressional District, which stretches from Detroit south to Ecorse and west to Westland, Wayne and Romulus, will incumbent Congressman John Con-yers, dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the first major lawmaker in the nation to throw his weight behind then Sen. Barack Obama for president win? He is facing State Sen. Bert Johnson, State Sen. Glenn Anderson, State Rep. Shanelle Jackson and attorney Godfrey J. Dillard.
The race in the 13th District ought to be the most watched congressional race in the state in August because of the attraction of challenging one of the most influential and longstanding members of Congress.
While the race remains unpredictable, Con-yers’ challengers each bring their own merit to the campaign.
Sen. Johnson has been vocal on issues, giving Highland Park and other areas he represented a strong voice. While his critics have indicated that his attempt to go to Washington could spell trouble for national Democrats because Republicans could use his past armed robbery and time in prison during his youth to smear Democratic campaigns across the country, Johnson’s supporters disagree. They insist he should not be viewed through his past, but rather through his present transformation. Like all others who have dramatically changed their lives, Johnson also deserves a second chance. Whether that chance means going to Washington remains to be seen.
Rep. Jackson has been a rising star in Democratic politics since going to Lansing. Her peers see her as an example of the emerging leaders in the state, speaking to issues concerning Detroit and pushing for legislations of various kinds. It is unclear if all of that translates to defeating Conyers.
Attorney Dillard, who has been a diplomat for the U.S. State Department with national credentials including being a lead attorney before the U.S. Supreme Court in the University of Michigan Affirmative Action case, is a respected lawyer. The million dollar question is whether he can unseat Conyers.
Sen. Anderson, is also a Democrat from Westland and the only White candidate in the race who is said to be raising thousands of dollars and could prove to be the most formidable in the 14th District race. His campaign seems well organized with a presidential type Web page where he is talking foreign policy, national security, urban policy, etc.
Congressman Con-yers has an extensive list of credentials. He has been one of the most powerful and independent voices in Congress. Perhaps the only congressman to have the guts to criticize President Obama on some of his policies, resulting in the president calling him, asking the veteran lawmaker why he was being so hard on him on certain issues.
His supporters say Conyers earned his right to challenge the president because he came out in support of Obama and campaigned for him to become president long before anyone would conceive the nation’s first African American president. And recently President Obama issued a statement endorsing Conyers’ reelection. The congressman remained unscathed by the indictment and eventually jailing of his wife, Monica Conyers, former Detroit City Council president in the federal public corruption case that engulfed city hall.
If for instance Peters wins in the 14th District, and Anderson defeats Conyers in the 13th District, that would mark the end of African Americans in Congress from Michigan.
Who’s to blame, Republicans or Democrats?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:45
Category: Top News Written by Gov. Rick Snyder
Each child in the Highland Park School District has hopes and dreams, and possesses the talent to make them come true.
But the foundation for success is a quality education, and it is painfully clear that the district is failing its students. That cannot – and will not – continue.
The fiscal and management crises plaguing the district have caused it to spiral out of control. Despite repeated state bailouts, the record of Highland Park Public Schools does not give confidence that it is capable of effective management.
Despite repeated state advances and bailouts, including a $4 million hardship loan in August 2011 and two advancements of state aid payments in the past month, the district is expected to run short of cash this week and may not be able to meet Friday’s payroll.
The district’s cumulative deficit increased by 51 percent over the past fiscal year, growing from $6.6 million to $11.3 million. Expenditures exceeded revenues by $3.8 million in fiscal year 2011. In fact, the district has incurred an operating deficit in five of the last six fiscal years.
This ongoing chaos and uncertainty takes an enormous toll on students, parents and hard-working teachers.
To help get the district on its feet, I accepted in January the recommendation of a financial review team and appointed an emergency manager to provide much-needed leadership for the schools. The appointment of an emergency manager to a troubled city or school is a last resort. In the case of Highland Park School District, it is apparent that a strong state partnership is needed.
Unfortunately, recent litigation is further complicating the district’s financial emergency. Last weeks’ court ruling invalidated actions of the Highland Park Schools review team. To ensure that the state is in full compliance with the ruling and to exercise an abundance of caution, emergency manager Jack martin is temporarily standing down and decision-making responsibilities are returning to the superintendent and school board.
Political maneuvering by opponents is limiting our options for rescuing Highland Park students. It diverts attention and resources from what should be our shared focus – the children.
But our resolve to provide Highland Park students with a solid educational experience is as strong as ever. We will not quit on them.
That’s why we are empowering Highland Park parents with educational options for their children. In partnership with the Legislature, we are pursuing solutions for parents who want their children to remain in their classrooms and buildings and for those who may want to send their kids elsewhere.
To accommodate students who want to stay in the district, we are making arrangements that will allow Highland Park schools to remain open under an operating agreement with another district or charter operator. For Highland Park families wishing to explore other districts, I am urging the Legislature to immediately consider a bill that will offer “schools of choice” opportunities. The legislation will include a stipend that follows the student.
We are launching a comprehensive informational campaign to ensure full, open communication with parents, teachers and community leaders. One vehicle for doing so will be a public meeting, details of which will be announced soon through letters and e-mails to parents. This open forum will give community residents the opportunity to get answers directly from state officials.
Parents, policymakers, educators and community leaders must put their differences aside and focus on the one thing on which we should all agree – that the well-being of Highland Park school students needs to be our overriding priority.
Michigan is on the path to economic prosperity. Our future is bright and filled with opportunities. But this is a shared journey and we will not leave anyone behind, especially our children.
Editor’s note: Rick Snyder took office as Michigan’s 48th governor on Jan. 1, 2011.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 03:27
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
When we first began hearing Whitney Houston’s megahit “You Give Good Love” in 1985 (the first of many megahits), two things were clear. One, that this was one of the most spectacular voices in the history of recorded music. And two, a major new star had arrived.
Her well-publicized personal problems notwithstanding, news of Houston’s death at the age of 48 came as a shock. So many people were hoping that the iconic songstresss would pull herself together and stay that way.
But in the greater scheme of things, that is of minimal importance. What counts most is that Whitney Houston was a great artist whose impact will be felt for decades.
No performance could be more effective than Houston’s on her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You,” a remake of the No. 1 country hit of its composer, Dolly Parton. It was No. 1 on the national charts for a remarkable 14 weeks.
There is only one word to describe Houston’s performance on this song: extraordinary. At its peak, you could “radio surf” and hear it on an array of stations, ranging from pop and urban to easy listening and current hits. It was omnipresent.
The song was from “The Bodyguard,” co-starring Kevin Costner, one of Houston’s highly successful movies that proved, unequivocally, that she was also a top-notch actress. The other two films were “Waiting to Exhale” (with Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon) and “The Preacher’s Wife” (co-starring Denzel Washington).
HOUSTON WAS in Detroit last year, filming “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 movie. When it is released this summer it will certainly be strange watching Houston on the big screen.
Whitney Houston had singing and show business in her blood. She was the daughter of R&B and gospel artist Cissy Houston, lead singer of the Sweet Inspirations, the group that did background vocals for hundreds of artists and had a big hit of their own in 1968 with the gospel- inflected “Sweet Inspiration,” and the second cousin of legendary pop songstress Dionne Warwick.
Clive Davis, then president of Arista Records, was astounded when he first heard Whitney Houston. He instinctively knew that she had everything it took for superstardom. However, he bided his time. The campaign was carefully and methodically planned, and it worked to perfection.
Houston’s debut al-bum, simply and wisely titled “Whitney Houston,” was a monster seller, producing a string of major hits, including “You Give Good Love,” “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know?” and the remake of George Benson’s “Greatest Love of All.” The follow-up, “Whitney,” was equally as successful, yielding “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All?” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”
IRONICALLY, THE pop success of these songs and others made some in the Black community skeptical. They felt that Houston (aided and abetted by her record company) was going the extra mile to appeal to the White audience. Perhaps in response to that accusation, Houston went pure R&B in 1990 with “I’m Your Baby Tonight” that powered its way into the No. 1 position on the national R&B charts and No. 1 Pop as well.
It was also during this period that Houston married Bobby Brown, whom she had met at a music awards ceremony.
To say the least, their marriage was turbulent much of the time. They were constantly in the tabloids. However, it was clear that the two had very much in common which, in fact, enabled their marriage to endure from 1992 to 2007. They have a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who is now 18.
In so many ways Brown and Houston were kindred spirits. Unfortunately, one of the things they had in common was a proclivity for drug use. Brown has reportedly cleaned up his act.
Absolutely nothing, however, can take away from the fact that Whitney Houston provided some of the greatest moments in popular music history.
SHE CAME very close to the living legend status of Aretha Franklin, with whom she recorded the hit “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It’s Never Gonna Be,” Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner and Chaka Khan, but, sadly, she got sidetracked.
Whitney Houston made a well-publicized comeback in 2009 with a very successful album titled “I Look to You.” Most people were happy for her, even though it was hard to not notice that her remarkable voice was far from being the jewel it had been. A live performance on “Good Morning America” to promote the album confirmed this new reality.
Nevertheless, her past achievements were nothing less than remarkable. According to Guinness World Records, she is the most awarded female artist of all time, including six Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmys.
Whitney Houston, “The Voice,” left us way too soon. However, she made an indelible mark on music history. The Grammy Awards tribute was 100 percent appropriate, and the music world is a better place for her having been here.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 16:50
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
With weighty issues looming on the horizon, business and community leaders across the state are seeking answers. Evidence of this was within days of announcing Gov. Rick Snyder as the keynote speaker, kicking off the seventh season of the Michigan Chronicle Pancakes & Politics speakers’ series. Tickets for the March 12 forum at the Detroit Athletic Club are sold out.
“This is a pivotal time for the state of Michigan,” said Hiram E. Jackson, interim publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. “With Pancakes & Politics it is our mission to roll up our sleeves and address the issues, dispel misconceptions, and bring together politicians, business leaders and community leaders from across Southeastern Michigan to affect change.”
It is anticipated that the governor’s remarks will follow the tone set in his explanation of the fiscal year 2013 budget and focus on health and human services, education, public safety and job “creation and connection.” However, with Pancakes & Politics being largely an audience Q&A format, any range of topics may be addressed.
Created in 2006, Pancakes & Politics has established itself as a preeminent discussion series tackling the critical issues facing the city of Detroit and the Southeastern Michigan region with the newsmakers and decision makers who shape policy, report on activities or otherwise contribute to the economic and political climate.
The four-part Michigan Chronicle 2012 Pancakes & Politics series is being presented by Buick and Comcast Business Class and moderated by Carol Cain, host of “Michigan Matters” on WWJ-TV. Strategic Staffing Solutions has signed on as a Pioneer Sponsor while HAP and Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP serve as Medallion sponsors. Corporate sponsors for the event are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, PNC and Quicken Loans, along with media partners WWJ-TV, WWJ Newsradio 950 and Crain’s Detroit Business.
Following the sold- out March 12 forum, the series will continue at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) with forum two on April 26, then move to the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham for the third forum on May 18 and return to the DAC on June 15 to close the season.
Tickets are still available for the second, third and fourth forums and can be purchased for $75. Table and event sponsorships are also available. Visit www.michronicle.com or call (313) 963-8100 to purchase tickets or for more information.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 15:55
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s office has struck down any talk about selling city of Detroit assets such as Belle Isle, City Airport, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to right the decades-long financial wrongs of the city.
Talk about Detroit being possibly forced to sell its assets has been swirling around regarding how the city can salvage itself from the financial quagmire it is currently in. And a Bing spokeswoman, Naomi Patton, said late Tuesday afternoon that selling city assets is not on the table for conversation.
That is certainly welcome news for those who are hoping that Mayor Bing, who has reported progress in negotiations with labor, would not sell Detroit’s assets, protecting them in the midst of the financial turmoil.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the state’s leading conservative think tank, has long been supporting the notion of Detroit selling its own assets to make a financial headway. The Center’s reasoning is that Detroit could make a lot of savings from such a sale.
Now that the discussion has come up again, it is being treated as more than a notion by skeptics who say under a Republican administration anything could happen, even though Gov. Rick Snyder has made it clear numerous times that he is not interested in running Detroit.
But the problem in making the case for Detroit to give away all of its jewels in exchange for “a healthy financial future” is that there is no real guarantee that selling city assets is enough to make Detroit financially solvent.
There is no precedent to show that, in fact, when city assets are sold, those cities become eternally strong financially.
The issue is not about selling the city’s jewels which have long defined the identity of Detroit, the problem is that Detroit government must cut back on spending. It must begin to prioritize how it does business, and doing so should not put Belle Isle and other institutions that have added pride to the city on the line.
Bing is right in signaling that these institutions are off limits. That is why labor has no choice now but to step up to the table (which they have been doing) and make the necessary painful cuts.
“Mayor Bing has reached tentative agreements with AFSCME and the police unions in the past three weeks. He continues to negotiate with the Fire Department union and the Amalgamated Transit Union (bus drivers and mechanics),” Patton, the spokeswoman, said.
The cuts should be such that they should not extend Detroit’s problems to 2015. Instead, the problems should be tackled and dealt with once and for all.
Detroit cannot afford to extend its problems. Along with the financial crisis are the structural issues that include city departments and the need to consolidate those departments to save the city some revenue.
But more importantly, at the end of an agreeable solution to the financial crisis must be creative ideas to bring in revenue for the city. If Detroit cannot come up with ways to generate revenue for the next decade, and keeps reinventing the wheel, it will reach a point where the city would have no choice but to sell its assets.
As Gov. Snyder’s Detroit Financial Review Team prepares to hand over a report to the governor, Detroit should prepare to have an answer that would not create the necessity for an emergency manager.
It’s interesting that it had to take a credible threat from the governor — with the appointment of the Detroit Financial Review Team — before leaders of Detroit’s government saw that an emergency manager could be eminent.
The clock is ticking and we hope that labor understands what is at stake and does the right thing, which is to prevent the sale of Belle Isle and other important jewels that give people reason to continue to stay in Detroit.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 15:47
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) broke ground recently on construction of the long-anticipated DMC Heart Hospital, during ceremonies for what officials said would mark the beginning of “a new era” in cardiac care in Michigan.
The groundbreaking event took place at the hospital construction site near the intersection of Mack and Brush Avenues in midtown Detroit, and included DMC and Vanguard officials, and community leaders and elected officials from all across Michigan.
The groundbreaking ceremonies formally launched an eagerly awaited DMC medical initiative that promises to transform cardiac care in Michigan and the Midwest – by providing a new home for the DMC’s pioneering Cardiovascular Institute (CVI).
Already acknowledged as a national leader in state-of-the-art cardiac care and heart-disease prevention, CVI and its 45 heart care physicians will manage the DMC Heart Hospital once construction is completed in early 2014.
“The establishment of the new DMC Heart Hospital will be a transformative event in cardiovascular care in Michigan,” said Theodore L. Schreiber, M.D., the president of CVI, who has spent the past five years planning for and leading the effort to build the new hospital. “With the launch of this world-class facility, formulated for and dedicated exclusively to the care of heart patients, CVI is taking another major step toward becoming an internationally recognized center of excellence in cardiovascular medicine.
“The new heart center – which will include five floors outfitted with the latest in heart-care technology and be custom-designed to best serve the needs of cardiac patients – will be unique in Michigan. It will also allow CVI to consolidate and expand its pioneering Cardio Team One program for speeding up average treatment times among heart-attack patients who come to the DMC for this vitally important cardiac care.
“CVI’s Cardio Team One started more than four years ago and has been saving lives and improving quality of life for heart patients. This nationally recognized program of innovative interventional cardiac care is only going to get better with the arrival of the new heart hospital.”
Dr. Schreiber also pointed out that the new facility will bring together a uniquely innovative combination of skilled heart clinicians who will work “under one roof” to create a cardiology treatment center with unprecedented medical resources.
“For the first time in heart care,” he said, “cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and vascular surgeons will all work together in a single dedicated place with a single goal: to provide extraordinary, immediate heart care to patients suffering from all forms of heart disease and vascular disease.”
Dr. Schreiber said he was “especially encouraged and gratified” by the fact that the brand-new hospital will be located on the DMC campus in midtown Detroit. “What’s really exciting about this new facility is that it will be built right in the middle of one of the sickest and previously most underserved populations – in terms of cardiovascular disease – that exists anywhere in the United States.
“Within two years, we’re going to have the bricks and mortar in place to house both the cardiology specialists and the intellectual resources required to take care of this vulnerable population, along with thousands of other cardiac patients from all across Southeast Michigan and the Midwest.
“For the first time ever in Michigan, we’re going to be able to bring together all the tools we need – in one shining new facility in the heart of Detroit – to give patients the world-class heart care they deserve.”
DMC President and CEO Michael Duggan described the groundbreaking as a thrilling moment in the history of Detroit Medical Center.
“This is another compelling example of our determination to provide the best medical care in the world to the residents of this city – while also making that gold-standard care available to patients from all across Michigan and the Midwest,” he said.
“In addition, we’re very pleased to be part of a major new construction initiative that will bring hundreds of well-paying construction jobs – and millions of dollars in new economic activity – to midtown Detroit,” he added.
“The groundbreaking at the new DMC Heart Hospital is a deeply gratifying moment for everyone who cares about Detroit, about Michigan . . . and about providing unsurpassed, top-of-the-line heart health care for both.”
To be located on an eight-acre site at the south end of the 60-acre DMC campus, the five-story DMC Heart Hospital will cost $78 million to build over the next two years. The new facility will be accompanied by a nine-level, $30 million parking garage designed to hold up to 1,750 automobiles. The project is expected to employ at least 250 full-time construction workers and tradesmen during the next two years.
The DMC Heart Hospital will provide all of the facilities and high-tech tools required for heart surgery, vascular surgery and the treatment of a wide variety of cardiovascular ailments. Cardiac patients will not remain overnight at the new Heart Hospital. They will be admitted to DMC Harper University Hospital and moved to the Heart Hospital as required for medical procedures.
The structure of the new hospital will allow for the following facilities:
First Floor: non-invasive cardiology procedures, tests, etc.
Second Floor: invasive cardiology procedures, catheterization labs, etc.
Third Floor: same-day surgery and out-patient surgery
Fourth and Fifth Floors: Office and clinical space and administrative headquarters
DMC Senior Vice President for Facility Engineering and Real Estate David C. Manardo described the project as a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity. “We get a chance to use our skills to help make a powerful medical vision become a reality.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2012 17:12
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
The political education of Pete Hoekstra, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum
and others like them
To understand the racist ad that former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, a darling of the Tea Party movement used against incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow on Super Bowl day is to know that there is a long history in the GOP political playbook where the race card has always been used by extreme far right candidates as a last resort to stoke the fears of White voters.
Not every Republican candidate plays the race card, but recently using it as a far right GOP strategy has led to familiar remarks like, “We want our country back,” a dominating theme of the Tea Party in their numerous protests against President Barack Obama.
Hoekstra’s ad against Stabenow showing an Asian woman speaking in broken English and thanking the Democratic senator for claims that she helped send jobs to China, is not only racially insensitive, but says a lot about the campaign of a candidate I once thought understood political decency and where to draw the line when it comes to racial and cultural sensitivity.
When Hoekstra was running for governor in the last gubernatorial election I recalled meeting with him at a downtown Detroit restaurant at which time he tried to sell me his ideas of why Detroit should support him in the race for governor.
He was decent and spoke well about how important Detroit was to the state. He specifically talked about education and repeatedly drew on his credentials of working with Democrats in Washington as well as getting the support of some in the labor movement. That, to Hoekstra, was his crossover appeal.
After that introductory meeting, I began observing Hoekstra’s campaign. Then I was surprised when he began keeping company with the Tea Party in Michigan. He thought the Tea Party would get him elected governor because it had proven to be an effective tool around the country.
But it was also clear to me that Hoekstra never denounced any of the hateful remarks and images of President Obama that some members of the Tea Party were showing during their Washington protests. Some of the images portrayed Obama as a monkey and other placards talked about “taking America back.” It was full-fledged racism in high gear.
Instead of apologizing for the Super Bowl ad, Hoekstra is defending the indefensible. He said in Birmingham Monday that he thought the ad was effective and sent a message. Another familiar theme in the GOP far right strategy — deny whenever the race card is played. Insist that liberals are being too sensitive to race and culture issues and that nothing was wrong with either their comments about racial insensitivity or as in the case with Hoekstra, the racist ad.
What world is Hoek-stra’s campaign living in?
Even a GOP consultant denounced the ad as racially insensitive.
Hoekstra sounds like Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich whose continued and blatant use of the words “Food Stamp President” to describe President Obama as a reference for Blacks on the welfare roll is mind-boggling. But it shows how desperate some GOP candidates are to unseat President Obama and every other Democrat in office this year.
Hoekstra’s ad also harkens to another Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, whose recent unexplained statement that he does not want “to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money” shows how the GOP presidential campaign is fueled with racism and what we are seeing in the senatorial campaign in Michigan is only a by-product of that larger extreme strategy on the national stage.
Santorum’s remarks forced more than 40 Catholic leaders and theologians to issue an open letter to both Gingrich and Santorum because both profess to be Catholic, warning the two candidates “to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”
Gingrich and Santorum have basically scolded President Obama and accused him for making poor people – African Americans – dependent on the government, even though research shows more Whites use food stamps than Blacks. About 41 percent of those who use food stamps live in households where family members are employed. And food stamp usage increased more under the administration of President George Bush than Obama.
In the open letter the men and women of the cloth who belong to the same faith as Gingrich and Santorum said “racist caricatures are irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.”
The letter continues, “Some presidential candidates now courting ‘values voters’ seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an ‘intrinsic evil’ and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans.”
So I expect Hoekstra to show political maturity and apologize to the Asian community for that distasteful ad. If that is all he has to offer in his bid to unseat Stabenow, he will come up short.
Honest men and women of goodwill will not pander to racism or anything of that sort that appears to stoke the fears of one community against another.
While we understand that in politics its fair game, there is no excuse for using symbols or tactics that speak directly to the sordid past. We use them to educate and help us move away from certain ugly aspects from the past, not exploit racist symbols for personal gain.
This is where we differentiate the adults in the room to the children. This is where we show the difference between the grown-ups and those learning how to crawl in the political world.
The results of the recent U.S. Census report underscores a growing and very diverse America that will be even more so in the near future. Those who call themselves leaders should be speaking about diversity and how to make it more of a reality in this age. They should not be stereotyping an innocent Asian woman who cannot speak English.
Hoekstra can do better. If he is student of history (which I suspect he is), he will learn from the Gingrich campaign and try not to become the issue in the Michigan senatorial campaign and, instead, talk about the issues that matter.
By using the now infamous Asian ad, he has shown himself to be not only a polarizing figure, but also one who will defend that title as well, much like Gingrich is doing on the campaign trail.
But I still believe Hoekstra can do better than that. Let him show Michigan that he did not drink the Tea Party Kool-Aid poison that suggests that Obama is the worst president ever and that every Democrat is evil.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2012 17:06
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
New look, stellar musical acts, family fun activities set
Family fun and exciting entertainment return when the Motown Winter Blast, presented by the Ambassador Bridge, kicks off at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, Friday, Feb. 10, and concludes Sunday, Feb. 12. Festival-goers will enjoy a lineup of favorite returning attractions and can expect a number of new activities. Making a welcome reappearance will be free snowshoeing, dogsledding and snowmaking.
“The stage is set and we are ready to deliver a high-quality show to downtown Detroit,” said Jonathan Witz, event producer. “(The) announcement speaks to the momentum behind this event. With so many community organizations and corporate citizens coming together to help put on the festival this year in spite of economic setbacks, we view our overall situation as nothing but a huge victory for the quality of life and a positive promotion for downtown Detroit and the region.”
The event hours will remain the same as last year: Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
NEW THIS YEAR: ‘READING IS A BLAST’
Literacy is not only crucial to success, but a lot of fun, too! This year, the General Motors Foundation will present “Reading is a Blast” to story lovers of all ages. The program will feature a children’s book collection drive to complement existing festival charity initiatives and will also make reading a featured event on the Winter Blast family stage.
CHARTER ONE BANK
Detroit’s signature winter festival boasts value-conscious activities for children of all ages. Festival patrons can ice skate for free at the Campus Martius Park rink for the entire festival weekend courtesy of Charter One Bank. This is the only weekend all year long that visitors can skate for free.
Beautifully carved and lighted ice sculptures again will be on display in the Greektown Casino Ice Garden.
Guests also will enjoy marshmallow roasting stations sponsored by Health Plan of Michigan. Positioned throughout the festival.
MUST GO ON!
Snowmaking also returns to Winter Blast with special snow cannons that will add to the festive, winter environment. Donated by Shanty Creek Resorts, the cannons will supplement any natural snow to guarantee snowshoeing and snowy hills for children to enjoy, as well as a snow blizzard for visitors to walk through during the event.
As part of its “Get Fit” campaign at Motown Winter Blast, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan once again will present free snowshoeing for the weekend.
AMBASSADOR BRIDGE COMFORT ZONES
Even with chilly temperatures, there is no need to feel cold as guests can find heat every 150 feet with the Ambassador Bridge Comfort Zones.
THE QUICKEN LOANS TASTE OF
Motown Winter Blast is pleased to bring back a real treat for festival attendees. The Quicken Loans Taste of Detroit will showcase the amazing array of culinary delights from around the metro area.
Motown Winter Blast is pleased to announce its best ever music lineup in the Ambassador Bridge Comfort Zones on three different stages,—all at no cost to attend. The voices and beat of music from many genres, including country, rock, blues, pop, acoustic, Americana, funk and soul, will resonate from three stages located in the Compuware Lobby and throughout the festival in the Comfort Zones, which provide a warm and cozy environment for listening enjoyment.
THE MICHIGAN LOTTERY STAGE
The Michigan Lottery Stage will showcase a high quality, eclectic lineup of performers in blues, rock, country, soul, funk and Caribbean music.
FLAGSTAR BANK STAGE
Festival patrons will enjoy pop, modern rock, acoustic, soul, indie, and Americana music by many outstanding performers.
THE WALMART STAGE
When the kids entertainment wraps up at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the Walmart Stage inside Compuware will feature folk, rock, soul and world artists.
All family fun and activities will unfold on the Walmart Stage at the festival. Kids of all ages will enjoy the high-energy comedy and magic of Chris Linn’s Cool Tricks & Funny Stuff as well as the classic hijinks of Rosco the Clown and a Punch and Judy puppet show. Ventriloquist Vikki Gasko-Green and her colorful cast of characters will take to the stage throughout the weekend and will have every member of the family laughing.
Radio Disney will return for three hours on Saturday and Sunday, lineup of family fun and adventure in the form of science themed games and cool prize giveaways. Families will take part in an exclusive pre-premiere screening of Disney XD’s Lab Rats and one lucky family will take home an electronics and gadgets package sizeable enough to build their own bionic lab valued at $500.
HELP END THE CYCLE OF POVERTY
For the third consecutive year, Motown Winter Blast will partner with Matrix Human Services and the Grosse Pointe Rotary in support of “Breaking the ICE on Poverty” program. Volunteers from each organization will help collect children’s books, nonperishable food items, or one dollar at the festival gates as part of a special Motown Winter Blast “admission fee.” All donated items will be used to support a major service project that will fight hunger in metro Detroit and continue the festival’s commitment to fostering literacy.
THE OFFICIAL WINTER BLAST AFTER PARTY
Sure to attract the 21 and older crowd after hours on Friday will be the Official Winter Blast After Party at Greektown Casino, the place to warm up after Winter Blast. Located a short walk from the Winter Blast at Monroe, Greektown Casino is Detroit’s Winning Address and your spot for post Winter Blast fun. With more than 2,500 of the most exciting slots and video poker machines, action-packed table games and a live Poker Room, Greektown Casino in Detroit is 100,000 square feet of pure gaming thrills. Visitors will enjoy the Casino, watch the game at Shotz Sports Bar & Grill or dine at Bistro555. They also can stop by the Greektown Casino-Hotel booth inside the Taste of Detroit tent during Winter Blast to receive special invitations and coupons for food and drink specials.
MOTOWN WINTER BLAST BAR BLAST
Real Detroit Weekly and Greektown Casino-Hotel help festival patrons (21 and older) heat up Saturday evening with the official Winter Blast Bar Blast. The “Snow-Torius” pub crawl will feature a dozen of downtown Detroit’s most famous and infamous drinking establishments including The Centaur, The Town Pump Tavern, The Old Shillelagh, Delux Lounge, Big City Bar and Grill, Fishbone’s Rhythm Café, Dirty Trick, Bookies Bar and Gril, The Fountain Bistro, Pulse Lounge, Cheli’s Chili Bar, Asteria, and Shotz in Greektown Casino Hotel. Shuttle service will be provided. The cost of this event is $5.
SPEND THE NIGHT IN THE CITY
With all of the excitement of Winter Blast festivities and after parties, why go home? Organizers are again offering festival patrons the opportunity to “Spend the Night in the City” at Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit at special Winter Blast discounted weekend rates.
In addition to the convenience of a mini-vacation downtown, the hotel indulges the senses with amenities such as contemporary rooms, flat screen TVs, guest room services, valet parking, indoor pool fitness center and spa. The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel is offering stays for $135, which includes complimentary overnight valet parking for one car.
The return of Winter Blast is made possible with the generous support of many corporate citizens, including The Ambassador Bridge Company, Michigan Lottery, Detroit Downtown Development Association, General Motors Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, US Bank and Greektown Casino,.
Also, Wayne County, Quicken Loans, Charter One Bank, Ilitch Holdings, Health Plan of Michigan, Marketing Associates, Walmart, Detroit Receiving Hospital, GalaxE.Solutions, MetroPCS, Brown Forman, Great Lakes Beverage and Pepsi, among others.
All weekend entertainment schedules and any additional information can be found online at www.winterblast.com. Motown Winter Blast is produced by Jonathan Witz, president of Jonathan Witz & Associates.
Originally created as the backdrop for Super Bowl XL, the festival attracted more than 75,000 people last year.
For additional public information, visit www.winterblast.com or call (313) 963-8418.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 February 2012 16:58
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