Category: News Briefs Written by The Huffington Post
Foreclosure isn't just a problem that affects struggling homeowners. Detroit's sprawling, vacant and frequently ablaze Packard Plant will be foreclosed on by Wayne County, the Detroit Free Press reports, after owner Bioresource neglected to pay $750,000 in back taxes.
Dominic Cristini is the purported owner of Bioresource, which has claim to nearly all of the 3.5 million sq. ft. of the Packard complex on East Grand Boulevard. Though he's battled in court for ownership in the past, at one point living in the plant in protest, Cristini may not fight the foreclosure.
“Do me a favor and knock the Packard down. I’m tired of it,” Cristini told Motor City Muckracker's Steve Neavling. "I don’t want to get killed over that building.”
“The city can kiss my ass,” Cristini also told the news site, stating he doesn't owe taxes since the city hadn't provided services to protect the property.
The structure is full of asbestos and though often on fire, is too dangerous for firefighters to enter. The city has previously called for its demolition. In March, Cristini said he had begun the estimated $6 million process, though evidence was hard to come by.
The county is currently in the process of notifying owners of more than 42,000 properties that are set to move into foreclosure.
If the Packard were to complete the foreclosure process, ownership would revert to the public. Detroit would be hard-pressed to come up with millions for demolition, but according to the Free Press, the city believes the owner is responsible for demolition and doesn't have current plans to do so because of the "prohibitive cost."
Designed by architect Albert Kahn in the early 1900s, the plant served as the Packard Motor Car Company until it closed in the 1950's, though other businesses used the building for decades after that. It's also a draw for vandals, artists and urban spelunkers.
See photos of the plant below, from its heyday to the buildings' current state of abandonment.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 13:41
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
LANSING (CBS Detroit) - It would no doubt be controversial, but the idea of dissolving the fiscally struggling city of Detroit and absorbing it into Wayne County is being tossed around in Lansing.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reports other Republicans are talking about giving the city the option to vote itself into bankruptcy. And mid-Michigan Senator Rick Jones said all options should be considered — including dissolving the city.
“If we have to, that is one idea we have to look at. We really have to look at everything that is on the table,” Jones said. “Again, if this goes to federal bankruptcy, every employee down there will suffer, the city will suffer and the vultures will come in and take the jewels of Detroit and they will be gone.”
Local consultant Tom Watkins has proposed this in the past, but the idea has never played well among Detroiters.
In a live interview on WWJ Newsradio 950 Wednesday morning, Gov. Rick Snyder said he wouldn’t count anything out.
“Detroit needs to solve their problems, but they need support and we’ve been very supportive partners, I believe, in terms of offering different ideas and thoughts. And I just encourage them to work harder about working better together,” Snyder said.
Talking to Talk Radio 1270 host Charlie Langton, Detroit’s ex-communications chief Karen Dumas said she would not support such a plan.
“No, I don’t think that dissolution is the solution for the city of Detroit; I don’t,” said Dumas. “I think people … with every step we get more and more fearful … and maybe at some point that’s going to make everybody wake up and realize that we need to stop playing politics and come up with a solution for progress. “I don’t know at what point that’s going to happen. “
Detroit Political Consultant Skip Mongo said the answer to Detroit’s fiscal crisis will come with fresh faces in the City Council chambers and the Mayor’s office.
“We move forward and we start looking for new leadership, and we don’t make the mistake that we made before — we certainty don’t look around and outsource the mayor’s office,” Mongo said.
Mongo, who believes Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was a poor choice to begin, said Bing doesn’t a chance if he opts to run for re-election.
“Anything short of a tidal wave and Mayor Bing getting out with his boots on, or doin’ a [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie, no — he can’t win,” Mongo said. ”I don’t think Mayor Bing could beat me and I’ve never run for anything in my life. Honestly, no. He should leave.”
Meantime, the Bing administration continues to battle with council members over a deal to handle the city’s reform plan.
Bing said the council’s rejection last week of a contract with law firm Miller Canfield means the city missed a deadline to draw down $10 million Detroit needs to stay afloat and endangers a $20 million release in December. Bing called it a huge setback for the financialrecovery of Detroit, adding that unpaid furlough days are on the way for city workers if this isn’t worked out.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 13:25
Category: Breaking News Written by Ronda Racha Penrice
Twenty five years ago 15-year-old Tawana Brawley was reportedly found dazed and confused lying in a garbage bag with torn and burned clothing, feces smeared over her body and “KKK,” “ni**er,” and “b*tch” written on her torso, in Wappingers Falls, New York and taken to the emergency room.
Eventually, Brawley, through nods, shrugs and written notes, revealed to a black officer that she had been kidnapped and raped in a wooded area by white men over a four-day period.
Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Steve Pagones was among the white men implicated in the horrendous act, as well as part-time police officer Harry Crist, Jr. who committed suicide on December 2nd, days after Tawana Brawley was found on November 28, 1987.
For nearly a year after Brawley was discovered, her story fueled New York City media coverage, even though Wappingers Falls is some 70 miles from New York City.
The story made national headlines as well, landing in People and other publications and dominating broadcast news programs thanks to Brawley’s trio of handlers that included Reverend Al Sharpton and attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox. In fact, the Brawley case propelled Sharpton to national prominence.
A grand jury investigation, with which Brawley and her team did not cooperate, dealt a crushing blow in late 1988 when it proclaimed in its findings, printed by the New York Times on October 7th, that “There was no medical or forensic evidence that a sexual assault was committed on Tawana Brawley.”
In essence, they found Brawley’s story to be untrue, a hoax even. Still, there are many who reject those conclusions and Brawley herself, even at a rare appearance in New York in December 1997 covered by the New York Times told a crowd “They write that it didn’t happen, that it’s a hoax….Then why are they here? Why are you listening to a liar, if I lie? They know something happened, and they know who did it.”
What may or may not have happened to Brawley, however, doesn’t erase the fact that black women have long been victims of sex crimes. So much so that black women activists like Rosa Parks were among the many who spoke out and fought against it. Before that fateful day in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on that bus in Montgomery, she, as Wayne State professor Danielle L. McGuire reveals in her important 2010 book, At the Dark End of the Street, documenting incidents of black women who were indeed abducted and raped in the South, had championed Recy Taylor.
Taylor, a 24-year-old mother and sharecropper, was headed home following an evening service at Rock Hill Holiness Church in Abbeville, Alabama in 1944 when seven armed white men forced her into their vehicle and took her to a deserted grove of pecan trees where six of them raped her before leaving her on the side of a road. Rosa Parks was the NAACP representative who responded to the travesty in Abbeville.
It’s the Recy Taylors that lent so much credence to Brawley’s story. What may have seemed fanciful to a lot of white Americans was completely within the realm of belief for far too many black Americans.
The long historical record of sexual assault against black women by white women dating back to slavery is one of the primary reasons E.R. Shipp, a New York Times writer at the time who covered legal and was placed on the paper’s Brawley investigative team, believes that many black people so eagerly accepted Tawana Brawley’s story and, to this day, insist on its validity despite a grand jury’s findings.
Shipp, a black woman from Georgia, says that Brawley’s story resonated with many of her black supporters “because they knew of instances themselves or they had known stories that had been passed down of such outrage. It was more easily believable because of history but Tawana turned out to have been a flawed example of what had gone on throughout history when it comes to black women’s sexual assault and the willingness of the justice system to provide justice, to allow justice.”
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 13:20
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
With the 2012 presidential race barely behind us, Detroit is entering another dizzying election season.
The list of mayoral hopefuls grew Monday afternoon when State Rep. Fred Durhal (D-Detroit) announced his candidacy for Mayor of Detroit Monday afternoon at a church on the city’s west side.
During his address, Durhal promised approximately 100 people in attendance that he would be a people’s mayor and would cultivate relationships with city council members as well as state and regional leaders.
In his announcement speech, Durhal repeatedly referred to his time serving as an assistant to former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young and took jabs at the city’s current mayor Dave Bing and prospective mayoral candidate, former Detroit Medical Center CEO, Mike Duggan.
Durhal painted Duggan as out-of-touch and pitched Bing as a poor leader. The second-term state rep. said he would run the city as Young did during his 8-year tenure and demand “excellence” from city leadership.
Despite projections that his campaign will be grossly out funded, Durhal said he plans to win. “Detroit ain’t for sale,” he told his supporters in his bid speech, asserting that without people’s support “you could spend a million dollars and lose the election.”
Duggan, who has all but officially announced his candidacy, has reportedly set up an exploratory committee to research whether he should run for mayor. Duggan, if he runs, would present a formidable candidate in terms of campaign spending, according to political analysts.
Durhal in his speech said he would not be intimidated by deep-pocketed candidates such as Duggan. “I’m your mayor. I don’t need an exploratory committee. I don’t need to figure out between now and Dec. 31st what I’m gonna do,” he said, promising to “straighten out the mess in Detroit.”
Durhal distinguished his leadership style from Bings, blasting the Mayor for a high turnover rate in his administration. “We’re going to have one police chief, not five,” Durhal said. “We’re going to have one staff, not 56 people moving in and out interchangeably. I will pick the right people.”
Bing faces a growing list of appointees who have been fired, demoted or quit during his three-year tenure.
Durhal said he would cultivate a better relationship with city council members than Bing has. “My relationship with city council is going to be real good. I won’t run any game on them, they won’t run any game on me.” He said, adding that he would not float any proposals without first securing at least six supporting votes from the council.
“Coleman Young taught us there are only six members of city council,” Durhal said adding that poor leadership is responsible for the poor living conditions of residents.”
At various points in his speech, Durhal repeatedly referred to the Coleman Young era and said he would use the former mayor as his model for leadership. “Coleman Alexander Young was the first African American mayor in the city’s history and I would take bets to say he was the best the city has ever had,” he said, touting Young’s “commitment to excellent”. “Somewhere along the line we’ve gotten away from that message and the city doesn’t work like it should,” he said.
How would a Mayor Durhal deal with the current situation in city call? The career politician said he would work to “soften” governor Rick Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon to release the $30 million in funds withheld due to failure to meet restructuring benchmarks.
“I have an excellent relationship with Snyder. One thing we always do is talk straight with each other,” he said. “We may not have met all the conditions but you can’t let people stave to death. I think the governor needs to be a little more flexible.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 12:29
Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
In reality, the die is yet to be cast for the next chapter of leadership in Detroit except in the case of State Reps. Fred Durhal and Lisa Howze who already announced they are seeking the job of mayor of Detroit.
However, the remaining possible candidates, including incumbent Mayor Dave Bing, Detroit Medical Center outgoing CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, have all but explicitly announced their run for mayor in 2013. Eventually all three men would have to make their wishes known and cast the die if they are seriously interested in the job.
In a recent interview with Crain’s Detroit Business, Mike Duggan, the only White candidate in the race and former Wayne County Prosecutor who is seen as a serious challenger to Bing, Napoleon, Howze and Durhal said all the right things that the average Detroiter wants to hear and can connect to.
Duggan said Detroit doesn’t need an emergency financial manager, something that strikes at the heart of the city’s progressive community, which has always viewed any type of outside influence or collaboration as a “takeover” because of the history of struggle in this community. The chord that Duggan struck also plays well with the labor movement in town, which has waged a statewide battle against EFM laws like the battle of Armageddon.
He goes further to dismiss Bing’s Detroit Works program, which plays to the anti-Bing sentiment and a segment of voters who believe the mayor hasn’t done much. He said what the city needs is good management, not an EFM or Detroit Works.
Duggan also opposed any more public authorities for Detroit like the one that’s been proposed through legislation in Lansing for the Public Lighting Department, again another opposition in line with the “takeover sentiment” in Detroit.
For any shrewd politician it makes sense to try to convince your critics — those who would vehemently oppose a White mayor for Detroit — before winning those who will easily agree with you.
Duggan’s task is to convince voters old and young, including those who witnessed a seismic shift when Coleman Alexander Young became the city’s first Black mayor, and how that transition led to major milestones breaking down racial barriers in several institutions in Detroit, including the police department.
Given all that the city has been through — the ineffective functioning of government including gradual erosion of the tax base — and where it was when it first elected Young as its first Black mayor, inspiring racial pride and a long line of Black elected officials with electoral power, to where it is now, is Detroit ready for Duggan?
It is a crucial question that voters will have to answer. It is a question that speaks to the essence of Detroit and whether the city is ready for another seismic shift 40 years after Young which makes the race for mayor of Detroit — with Duggan in it — a national race because of the implications the election has not only for Detroit, dubbed as the mecca for Black America, but also for others who talk about serious and meaningful transcending leadership that cuts across race.
“The mayor and the governor are going down a wrong road, and they are fragmenting the administrative responsibility in this city,” Duggan told Crain’s Detroit Business. “The next mayor is going to come in and find 14 or 15 authorities and a corporation counsel that doesn’t answer to anybody, and have to try to run government. The water department has been run by a federal judge for 30 years and the financial services under a financial advisory board. There is a pattern here,”
Napoleon is a very credible candidate with equal name recognition who poses the same threat to Duggan as Duggan does to him if both announce their decision to run at the end of the year. Napoleon, like Duggan, is armed with a law degree and is a former Detroit police chief with an understanding of municipal government as head of the most important apparatus in Detroit government.
I’ve received a lot of calls after Duggan’s interview from both supporters of Duggan and Napoleon. But one caller in particular asked why Napoleon is not out there like Duggan speaking to the issues and boldly challenging conventional wisdom that money is crucial but winning an election is also about winning the hearts and minds of voters. That is exactly what Duggan is doing through his interviews, speaking about issues that resonate with voters.
Mayor Bing seems to have the advantage because he is the incumbent, and if he decides to seek re-election the race for mayor shifts into high gear despite some of his challenges that may seem unattractive to voters. The mayor, depending on the campaign team he assembles, could make a case for re-election as any incumbent could.
Howze, a CPA by training, has long announced she was seeking the city’s top job but she has to be more aggressive and assertive on the issues if she is to be considered a serious contender.
Some in Detroit have longed for a female mayor and Howze will have to show whether her candidacy can make that dream become a reality or not.
Durhal has long been in the trenches of municipal government, from Highland Park to Detroit. But the former state representative, like Howze, will need to expand his political reach beyond his district and work to ensure his name rings a bell across the city in order to make a serious push.
Bankole Thompson is editor of the Michigan Chronicle and the author of the forthcoming book “Rising From the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future With Courage.” His book “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published in 2010, follows his recent book, “Obama and Christian Loyalty” with a foreward by Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman. Thompson is a political news analyst at WDET-101.9FM (NPR affiliate) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening roundtable on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut. E-mail
or visit his personal page at www.bankolethompson.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 12:23
Category: Breaking News Written by Patrick Keating
On Nov. 20, a collaborative called “Soulardarity” installed a solar-powered streetlight — the first of a planned 200 in the next five years — on Victor Street in Highland Park. It became officially operational on Thanksgiving Day.
The light was installed in front of Motor City Classic Auto Sales L.L.C., across Victor from the abandoned Ford Highland Park Assembly Plant.
Project manager AJ O’Neil said Highland Park is the birthplace of the community economy. “I’ve always maintained that we live in a crosscheck economy where, like Henry Ford, you pay people a good wage, they become your producers and your customers,” O’Neil said. “That’s a market economy. That got lost in this reevaluation of an investor’s mentality, a long time ago. A couple of generations ago. I think it’s just natural that I came from Ferndale into Highland Park which, incidentally, is my birthplace.”
O’Neil owned AJ’s Café in Ferndale, but didn’t re-sign the lease, saying it was cost-prohibitive. He currently owns AJ’s Coffee Works in Hazel Park and works as a roofer throughout metro Detroit. He said that just as Henry Ford’s moving assembly line helped change the world, solar street lights will help reinvigorate the economy.
Private funds helped pay for the cost of the light and its associated components. He said the name “Soulardarity” has a three-pronged meaning, referencing the soul of the community, solar power (which he described as “the new energy”) and solidarity with the community. “This will be 100 percent off-the-grid, utility bill-free,” O’Neil said of the light. Craig Brumels, the technician who helped install the light, is the engineer with Holland, Michigan-based Solar Street Lights USA. It was overcast as the light was being installed the morning of Nov. 20. Brumels said that even on such days, the light would still harvest energy. He also said the 45 watt LED lamp has a wide light distribution area.
The battery box contains four six-volt batteries which are 335 amps each.“They power the light,” he said. “So the light operates at 24 volts and the charge controller turns the light on and off.” The solar panels charge the batteries, and that each solar street light would be stand-alone, “it’s own little solar system.”
He also said a lot of Solar Street Lights USA’s products are Michigan-based.“So, when we sell a light it puts people to work,” he said. O’Neil noted that solar street lighting brings the community back, describing block associations starting battery replacement funds and other community investment endeavors.
He added that next year is the 100th anniversary of that assembly line. “We want to be here, primed and ready to make a bold statement that says ‘this is the next 100 years,’” O’Neil said.
O’Neil said there wasn’t any deliberate symbolism in installing the light across the street from the Highland Park Assembly Plant. He also pointed out that the second solar streetlight will be installed on Highland Street, in a residential area.
According to O’Neil, it’s hard to say how many jobs would be created by the installation of solar street lights, but asked what the “reverberating effect” of one job is. He also said Woodward and Wall Street need to work better with each other, saying it’s in their mutual best interests.Again for one metro Detroit community is a gain for another; likewise for losses.
Mark Hackshaw, chairman of Highland Park’s Tax Increment Finance Authority, and president of the Highland Park Business Association, said the area where the street light was being installed is part of the TIFA district.
He also said TIFA had been interested in an initiative to get lights on Victor since the DTE lights were removed.
Resident Ricardo Byers called the project wonderful, saying it’s helping the community and that everybody’s going to love it. He works for Amazon Tree Manufacturing, which supplied to hoist O’Neil and Brumels used to install the solar panel and the light. He’d like to see solar street lights installed on all the side streets. Neighborhoods are now lit by the moon and porch lights on individual homes.
Andre Foster, co-owner of Motor City Classic, described himself as blessed to have the light installed outside his business, saying it will give customers a sense of comfort. He said the only streetlights are on the corners.
Motor City Classic co-owner Andre Davis said the fact that this new light is self-sufficient can serve as a beacon for what the people of Highland Park can do for their future.
Davis believes having solar-powered street lights in Highland Park will attract more businesses. Carla Walker-Miller of Walker-Miller Energy Services, based in Tech Town, said her company is a distributor for the integrated street lighting products. They provide the pole, the battery box, the solar panel and the LED lighting. Walker-Miller noted t hat there’s no maintenance required with LED lighting or the solar panels.
She also said her company, which does energy efficiency and alternative and renewable energy projects all over the state, wants to drive energy efficient behavior, period. She pointed out that if we can learn to live more efficiently, then in cities like Highland Park, where the income is lower, fewer expenses would go toward things like electric, water and gas bills. She also said each solar street light — and all its various components — would cost about $5,500, but noted that there would be no maintenance and no utility bill.She added that the cost will come down substantially as these become more standard.
“The first of everything is more expensive,” she said. She described the light on Victor as the “flagship.”
Gerrajh Surles, director of public works with the City of Highland Park, said this project means the start of a new day. “This is the first time we actually have a physical representation of us moving forward, being more energy efficient as a city,” he said. Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, general counsel of the Detroit Branch NAACP, and close friend of O’Neil, said the street lighting campaign is about the essence of safety.
Hollowell also said Highland Park is a metaphor for the comeback of every urban area.
“So I love the fact that he (O’Neil) has got this energy and is helping to pull the community together,” Hollowell said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 12:18
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - A new study suggests that most women who chose to have a double mastectomy, may not actually need it.
Researchers at the University of Michigan say recent data shows an increase in women with cancer in one breast choosing a more aggressive surgery, called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, in which doctors also remove the unaffected breast.
Sarah Hawley, associate professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, said that raises the question of potential overtreatment among these patients.
Hawley said in 7 out of 10 cases, patients lack one of the factors that would put them at high risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast: A genetic mutation linked to the disease, or a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
“They’re chosing to get a procedure just for peace of mind or perhaps based on some inaccuracies in terms of what [a double mastectomy] is actually going to do for them,” Hawley told CBS News..
The study found that 90 percent of women who had surgery to remove both breasts reported being very worried about the cancer recurring. But, Hawley said a diagnosis of breast cancer in one breast does not increase the likelihood of breast cancer recurring in the other breast for most women.
“Women appear to be using worry over cancer recurrence to choose contralateral prophylactic mastectomy. This does not make sense, because having a non-affected breast removed will not reduce the risk of recurrence in the affected breast,” Hawley said in a statement.
The study authors looked at 1,446 women who had been treated for breast cancer and who had not had a recurrence. They found that seven percent of women had surgery to remove both breasts. Among women who had a mastectomy, nearly one in five had a double mastectomy.
In addition to asking about the type of treatment, researchers asked about clinical indications for double mastectomy, including the patients’ family history of breast and ovarian cancer and the results of any genetic testing.
Women with a family history of two or more immediate family members (mother, sister, daughter) with breast or ovarian cancer or with a positive genetic test for mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes may be advised to consider having both breasts removed, because they are at high risk of a new cancer developing in the other breast. But women without these indications are very unlikely to develop a second cancer in the healthy breast.
“For women who do not have a strong family history or a genetic finding, we would argue it’s probably not appropriate to get the unaffected breast removed,” Hawley said.
A double mastectomy is a bigger operation that is associated with more complications and a more difficult recovery, Hawley said. Women might still need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy after their surgery – treatments that are known to reduce the risk of cancer recurring – which could delay their recovery further.
The study suggests that concern about recurrence is one of the biggest factors driving the decision to have this surgery. Hawley said it’s important to educate women better that a contralateral mastectomy will not reduce the risk of recurrence.
Hawley said she and her colleagues have recently received a grant from the National Cancer Institute that she hopes will enable them to develop a tool to guide women through making breast cancer treatment choices.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:51
Category: Breaking News Written by Perry Bacon Jr., The Grio
ANALYSIS- When Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham and John McCain emerged from Tuesday meetings with Susan Rice still unsatisfied with her explanation about her initial, incorrect statements about the Sept. 11 attack of a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, it only furthered the mystery: why are Republicans so focused on preventing Susan Rice from becoming the next Secretary of State?
Rice’s initial statements about the attack that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, were not unusual. Other administration officials, including Press Secretary Jay Carney, were also hesitant at first to call it a terrorist attack. Rice, as United Nations Ambassador, had little role in determining the security of diplomatic outposts, and criticism that the four Americans were not sufficiently protected would be more appropriately directed at President Obama or Hillary Clinton, who formally runs the State Department.
But in Washington, it’s usually at least clear what the underlying motivations for opposition to a person are. In 2005, when Condoleezza Rice was nominated to be Secretary of State, Democrats listed a host of reasons to oppose her, but their clear frustration was in Condi Rice’s role in backing the Iraq War. When George W. Bush tried to appoint one of his longtime aides, Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court, Republicans claimed she was unqualified but it was also clear they did not know if was sufficiently conservative.
With Susan Rice, the true reasons for the GOP opposition are hard to discern. There are certainly other officials, including the president, who can be more directly blamed for the administration’s initial reaction to the attack in Benghazi. If Republicans are simply mad at Obama over the election and eager for revenge, they could oppose him directly on the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations. If Republicans are concerned about Obama’s overall foreign policy approach, Rice is an odd target, as she has a limited role in the administration’s decisions as the UN Ambassador.
And there is little evidence that Rice’s own foreign policy views are very unusual in their own right, justifying strong opposition to her as Secretary of State, or that distinct from John Kerry, the other leading candidate to be Secretary of State and to whom the Republicans have raised little objection. Some have suggested racial animus may be at play, but Republicans have not raised concerns about Eric Holder serving in a second term under Obama, as is now expected, even as Holder was perhaps the most vocal member of the administration in speaking on racial issues over the last four years.
It remains unclear if Obama will tap her for the post, and how much of a role this Republican opposition will affect his consideration of her candidacy. But the Tuesday meetings suggest that Republican senators, particularly McCain, will not easily acquiesce to Rice’s ascension.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:39
Category: Breaking News Written by The Huffington Post
Charter schools are about to get a reality check.
As someone who has observed the breakneck pace of the growing charter school movement up close, Greg Richmond, who leads the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), is taking a step back.
"We didn't start this movement in order to create more failing schools, but that's what we have," Richmond told The Huffington Post. "Hundreds of them."
On Wednesday morning, Richmond will join New Jersey Schools Commissioner Chris Cerf and California charter schools advocate Jed Wallace at Washington D.C.'s National Press Club to announce a new campaign, "One Million Lives," that aims to crack the whip on the duds.
The campaign will focus on getting states to adopt rules that make failing charter schools close automatically, hold charter authorizers accountable for their schools' performance, and revamp their authorizing bodies so they become more professional. Initial allies include organizations and philanthropies that have, until now, focused on growth -- rather than quality -- in the charter sector.
Charter schools are publicly funded but independently run, and often admit students via lottery. Proponents such as the Obama administration advocate for charter schools in the belief that educational opportunity should not depend on zip code, and that running schools without regulations -- without district-imposed curricula or mandatory union representation -- gives schools more room to innovate and succeed, unencumbered by bureaucracy.
But critics have long claimed that the schools siphon money away from public schools, and a steady stream of evidence has shown that, on average, charter schools do not outperform traditional public schools. NACSA found that between 900 and 1,300 charter schools are performing within the lowest 15 percent of schools within their state.
Because of results like this, some say an initiative like One Million Lives is long overdue. About a year ago, several charter school supporters told HuffPost that the movement needed to check itself, since it would be hard for politicians to continue advocating for funding these schools without definitive results, and with so many underperforming schools continuing to operate.
"We've been talking about this for a number of years and still there are hundreds of failing schools in the country," Richmond said. "We have to switch gears from the rhetoric and make it reality."
Most recently, he added, education policymakers have been concerned with low charter school closure rates. According to his organization's survey, two years ago, 12 percent of charter schools up for renewal were shuttered; the next year, that number fell to 6 percent. These numbers were particularly startling because they indicate that charter schools aren't holding up their end of the bargain: namely, increased flexibility in exchange for more accountability. New survey findings released Wednesday, it should be noted, show that the rate increased the following year.
Most notably, philanthropic groups that have attracted citicism for supporting massive charter growth -- a move that often has them accused of "destroying public education," as Richmond characterized their critics as saying -- are getting behind the cause. Richmond said the initiative has significant support from the Gates, Walton, Robertson and Dell foundations.
Other initial allies include Cerf, who, in a statement, said the focus on closures "is precisely what the exchange of autonomy for accountability means -- the core idea inherent in charter schools."
Michelle Rhee, a former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor, also praised the campaign.
"If we are going to really help kids succeed, every school entrusted with public money ... must be held accountable to the families they serve and the taxpayer for high standards and achievement," Rhee said. "We need to promote better authorizer practices and stronger state policies to achieve a higher quality of charter schools and, at the same time, set clear protocols for closing chronically failing schools."
But even as the campaign launches, some states appear to be continuing down a path that prioritizes charter school growth over quality, threatening to create legions of new underperforming schools. The Michigan state legislature is currently weighing a bill that would expand charter schools further by allowing basically anyone to start one of these schools, with few safeguards for quality or experience.
"It provides no assurance of quality," said Amber Arellano, who heads the nonpartisan advocacy group EdTrust Midwest. "This is a reckless gamble that threatens the very future of our students."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:22
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
Some of the area’s best known companies will be in Livonia today for a giant job fair. WWJ’s Rob Mason has the story.
More than 40 companies will be on hand looking for new hires including Quicken Loans, Art Van Furniture, and AFLAC.
The career fair goes from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Livonia. Over 600 jobs will be available and representatives will be there to accept resumes.
As always, you are advised to dress for success for the event.
To find more information about the Job Fair and the companies that will be there, click on here.
Tips for a successful job search, here.
The Holiday Inn Hotel
17123 North Laurel Park Dr.
Livonia, MI 48152
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:10
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