Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
The luxury of maintaining relevance over the course of a decade -- while releasing just three albums -- isn't available to the average artist. But Motown singer-songwriter Kem (né Kem Owens), has managed just that, landing a successful music career that has yielded two Grammy award nominations.
Still, putting out albums is something he plans to do more aggressively in the future. And the 41-year-old crooner's own transition from homelessness and addiction to sobriety has influenced him to organize an annual benefit concert, Mack & Third, taking place later this month.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post, the Detroit native opened up on his forthcoming 10-track Christmas album, “What Christmas Means,” his possible collaboration with Ron Isley and his acting debut in “Sparkle.”
What inspired you to record a Christmas album at this point in your career?
People in my camp have been asking me to make a Christmas album for years. It was something that I wanted to do but at the same time I didn’t want to do a Christmas album of covers. And those are wonderful songs, but I really wanted to do a Christmas album of original songs -- which, I didn’t do that either. The album is called, “What Christmas Means.” Half of the album is original compositions, and I chose the other half to be some of my favorite cover songs. But I put a different spin on the songs. I did them in ways that I haven’t heard anyone do them before. It’s not a contemporary Christmas album; it’s a classic Christmas album.
Sonically, are there any new elements that you’re planning on incorporating into some holiday favorites?
There are many dynamics to this record. There’s an original composition called “Glorify The King” and another called “That’s What Christmas Is All About.” Christmas is about Jesus, that’s the foundational aspect, but we all love getting presents, too. There’s a romantic side to Christmas, whether it’s covered up near the fireplace with your significant other or sharing those intimate moments with the person that you love. There’s songs on there where cats are going to be confused. [Laughs]
Confused in what way?
They’re going to be confused because I’m singing “Christmas Time Is Here” and it’s as sexy as “Human Touch” off of “Intimacy.” It’s a romantic spin. There is a place for romance on this album, and I think that’s one of the things that people are going to talk about. Also, Ledisi is slated to sing a duet with me called “Be Mine For Christmas.” So there’s a lot in there.
Are there any plans on releasing a new studio album following the release of “What Christmas Means”?
I should be wrapping the Christmas record within the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll take a rest from that. And then in the fall I’ll start working on the next studio album, which is already written. So it’s just a matter of laying the songs down. I’m excited about the new music as well. We have some tricks up our sleeve. And you’re not going to have to wait five years for it. [Laughs]
So we’re looking at a possible 2013 release?
In a perfect world you’ll get it next year, but the world is not perfect. But, you’ll definitely won’t have to wait five years for it. I have a few more albums with Motown, and I’m going to be very aggressive with putting my music out. But I’m from the school where I don’t think a cat should put an album out every year. I think that the audience should miss you and you should come back fresh. But definitely within the next year or year and a half I hope to have another studio album out.
Speaking of next year, this February will mark 10 years since your debut album, Kemistry, was released. Are you planning anything to commemorate the moment?
Well, I’ll look at it in a different way. It’ll be 10 years since I had a real job. [Laughs] But it definitely is a blessing to be able to have a lucrative career in this business for a decade, with only three records. It’s definitely something that I’m grateful for and hopefully I’ll be able to continue it.
As for collaborations on the next release, is there anyone who's on your radar?
I’m looking forward to doing more with Ledisi. But there’s so many names in that hat. Rachelle Ferrell, Ron Isley. We’ve been in talks to get Ron Isley on the next studio record. So there’s just so many people. I don’t seek to collaborate unless the song requires it. I’m a songwriter first. I’ve made mistakes in trying to do something just to hype a record up when the song really didn’t need it. My records are very personal and I think that my audience wants to hear from me. But when it’s right, then it’s right. “If It’s Love” was a great dynamic in having Chrisette Michele on the record.
This month marks your foray into Hollywood with your role in “Sparkle.” How does it feel to break into the acting world?
It’s an incredible thing. I had to pinch myself because I didn’t think that I would live past the age of 25 or 30 years old, living the lifestyle that I was living. So all of my problems today are gold-plated, for real. So to be in a film that’s going to be the last showcase for Whitney is amazing. Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps and Derek Luke are also in the movie. We had a fun time on the set. I wasn’t on the set long; I’m playing the role of “Buddy” who is an MC, so I have a small appearance, but it’s a good look for my first film. And I’m looking forward to doing more.
Are you currently looking at any other scripts?
No, this summer has been all about Christmas. [Laughs] But when things come in, I’ll definitely take a look at them. I do some coaching in New York, and I’ve done some workshops on the West Coast. So I’m definitely sowing the seeds to enjoy a fruitful career on the big screen or the small screen.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 August 2012 11:01
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
Detroit School Board And Detroit Public Schools Battle For Control After EM Law Suspended
The recent suspension of PA 4, Michigan's emergency manager law, has left confusion in its place.
While a referendum on the law is forthcoming, the Detroit and Highland Park School Boards wrestle for power and control with the state and its appointees.
According to the Detroit News, the Detroit Board of Education planned to meet Thursday evening to discuss the possibility of removing 15 schools from the new state-run Education Achievement Authority, though a district spokesman said revoking Public Act 4 would not affect the EAA.
This action comes after a recent ruling that suspended PA 4 until November, when voters will have the opportunity to vote to repeal the law. The school board in Detroit, which had been defunct, will regain some power under previous legislation. Detroit's Emergency Manager, Roy Roberts, is limited in his administrative and financial powers under an older law, PA 72, in his new role as the emergency financial manager of DPS.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Roberts and the state are reciprocating through legal action Roberts' attorneys filed a motion to take away the school board's decision-making power, and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told the paper he would sue the district to remove seven of 11 school board members because of declining enrollment.
Over in Highland Park, school board secretary Robert Davis sent a letter to the district's EM-turned-EFM Joyce Parker this week requesting she step down, the News reports. Parker is currently looking at a plan to partially privatize the district. Davis, who sued the state to remove emergency managers from Highland Park and DPS, was recently indicted on charges of stealing from his district
Last Updated on Friday, 10 August 2012 10:55
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
LONDON -- U.S. middleweight Claressa Shields won the Olympic gold medal Thursday, capping her swift rise to the top of women's boxing with a 19-12 victory over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova.
The 17-year-old Shields shuffled, danced and slugged her way past her 33-year-old opponent, showing off the free-spirited style and brute strength that made her unbeatable at the London Games.
Shields even stuck her tongue out at Torlopova after ducking a few punches in the final round.
The teenager won the 12-member American team's only gold medal in London. The winningest nation in Olympic boxing history got no medals from its men's team for the first time, and flyweight Marlen Esparza won a bronze.
Shields has been on the international boxing scene for less than two years, but the Flint, Mich., native is among its fastest-rising stars. She lost early in the world championships, yet still qualified for the Olympics.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 August 2012 10:50
Category: Top News Written by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil
If you’re one of the millions of viewers who watched the Olympics recently, you’re not alone. Nielsen research shows that the all-important, mega-produced opening ceremony in London garnered a stunning 40.7 million total U.S. viewers (Blacks made up 3 million of those watching), annihilating all previously held records for a Summer Olympics broadcast. Not surprisingly, Americans are far more likely to tune in when the games are happening on home turf. Until now, Atlanta’s Olympics opening ceremony in 1996, attracted the largest number of viewers with roughly 40 million. As much as we want to think of the Olympics exclusively as the world's foremost sports competition (and it is), that can catapult participants into national and even international fame (which it can), it is also a marketing bonanza for sponsors, advertisers and marketers. So, while millions of us watched with bated breath to see which of our stellar athletes or teams would ascend the podium to accept the gold, bronze or silver medals, billions of dollars were spent and/or made to capture our attention as we did all of that watching – and you thought consumerism wasn’t a professional sport!
As you might expect, ratings for the Olympics will probably dwarf the competition for its two week-plus run when the final numbers are calculated after Sunday’s closing ceremony. It’s interesting to note that NBC will probably break ratings records with its Olympic coverage even though much of it was tape-delayed to run in primetime, which some analysts believe underscores the growing power of sports programming. It’s the excitement, the feeling of power and the awe that attracts audiences to the Olympics. You can’t help but feel patriotic when you see the red, white and blue. You get to know the Olympians as if they were your best friends. So, you want to continue to tune in to cheer them on.
Let’s talk about what those numbers mean. We all know that the cost of everything continues to climb over the years. Check out the increase in a 30-second U.S. commercial spot during the opening ceremony:
- In 1988, for the Seoul Olympics, a 30-second commercial cost $155,000.
- In 2000, advertisers in the Sydney opening ceremony shelled out $275,000 for a 30-second spot.
- In 2008, the cost climbed to $320,000 a spot for Beijing’s opening ceremony.
- A spot in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony jumped up to – are you sitting down – as much as $725,000 per commercial.
Nielsen analysis shows that with some $1 billion in ad sales and another $200 million in local TV and digital ad revenue, NBC and its family of networks, the U.S. broadcaster which aired the Olympics, may actually break even with its $1.28 billion investment into the London games. For the record, NBC owns the rights to the next four Olympics, having spent $4.38 billion for a package that extends through 2020.
The televised games provide an opportunity for a parade of brands to tap into your inner most yearnings while you are feeling patriotic, or inspired or emotional, or all three. What mother among us -- who hasn’t given up our early mornings, late evenings and full weekends and holidays to drive, cheer, and coerce our own little athletes toward glory – could tear our eyes away from the commercial that celebrated mothers globally? Whew. Talk about powerful stuff. My eyes were glistening as my own memories of similar mornings flitted across my mind as I watched moms across the world jostling their little ones out of bed and getting them off to practice, returning home later, to do laundry and cook and clean with the company’s products. My 6’4” basketball-playing son looked on incredulously as the tears trickled down my cheeks as I watched the spot. His 16-year-old cynicism collapsing into three words: “Really Ma?! Really?”
But you know what? I don’t expect him to understand why that particular commercial resonated with me. Because likewise, I don’t feel any connection when my non-athletic self watches a sweaty, hoopster guzzle down energy drinks in a spot that highly resonates with him. And, that my dear fellow consumer is the true sport of advertising – connecting an audience to a product. And when a marketer does that successfully, we, as consumers, repay them with our own form of a gold medal – we purchase the product. But, just like we demand of any Olympian – be sure advertisers earn the status we give them.
Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of public affairs and government relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsenwire.com.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 August 2012 10:30
Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
A.G. takes legal action to remove seven Detroit School Board members who were elected in violation of state law, halt future board actions
DETROIT - Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that his office has filed a Complaint for Quo Warranto in Detroit’s Third Circuit Court against the 11 members of the Detroit Public Schools Board of Education seeking the removal of seven members, as well as an injunction to halt future Board action. Seven board members currently hold office illegally because they were elected in separate districts, instead of as at-large members chosen by voters across the school district, as required by state law.
“For far too long, the children of Detroit have received a second-class education,” said Schuette. “It’s time to improve their quality of education, and that starts at the top. My job as Attorney General is to ensure state law is followed and that our children get the quality education they were promised by our Michigan Constitution.”
Under Michigan’s Revised School Code, only a first class school district may elect members by districts. The Detroit Public School system ceased to be a first class school district in September of 2008, as former Attorney General Mike Cox opined in OAG No 7234, issued July 20, 2009. However, since that opinion was issued, the Detroit Board of Education has continued to operate as a first class school district, conducting its November 2011 Board elections in violation of state law. Because seven members are holding office illegally, Schuette determined it was necessary and appropriate to file the action seeking their removal from office.
Schuette noted the action is necessary to guarantee that, as our Michigan Constitution requires, “schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged” (Mich. Const, Art VIII, sec 1).
“We applaud the Attorney General for his leadership and stand with him on this critical issue,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Under Roy Roberts, DPS has made significant strides with a strong turnaround plan underway. And the Educational Achievement Authority is a groundbreaking approach to help provide the kids in these targeted, challenged schools with the educational opportunities they need and deserve. Our focus and priority must be on these kids as they prepare to start the school year in less than a month.”
According to the complaint filed by Schuette today:
In the Detroit Public School District, this has required extraordinary action by the State including the appointment of an emergency financial manager to help assure the orderly and efficient provision of quality educational services. That State initiative is in jeopardy because the locally elected School Board is illegally constituted and operating in contravention of law, as outlined below. The Attorney General brings this action to assure a good education is provided for Detroit’s student population, both in the upcoming school year soon to start and in ensuing years.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 August 2012 10:13
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
LONDON — Serena and Venus Williams have made the Wimbledon Lawn and Tennis Center their person playground. The sisters have each won five Wimbledon singles titles.
For Serena it has been an unbelievable month. First, she wins her fifth Wimbledon Grand Slam singles, then she comes right back and doubles her pleasure with two more gold medals, one in singles and her third gold medal in doubles with her sister Venus.
The Williams sisters now have won four gold medals each. They have three doubles titles together, 2000 in Sydney, 2008 in Beijing Games and now the ladies can add 2012 to their rising gold medal collection. Venus won her singles gold at the 2000 Games. The sisters have become the most decorated tennis players in the modern history of the Olympic Games.
Since Venus had already won a singles gold, Serena told me she really wanted to get it done at these Games; however, she was quick to add that the doubles was more important to her.
“It was so exciting to win singles,” Serena said following her double’s gold venture, “but like I said at the beginning of the tournament, my main gold was to get another gold medal in doubles. There’s something about standing next to Venus and holding that gold medal. Three times we have played in the Olympics together and three times we have got the gold medal. We are pretty stoked about it.”
Added Venus: “It is so exciting being in the Olympics and winning the gold with your sister. It has been amazing watching Serena, seeing her win the singles title and completing the golden slam. We have been winning the doubles title together since 2000, so we come in here as the favorites, but it’s easier said than done.
Surely Venus and Serena are not the young kids on the block anymore as each is over 30.
When Serena swept through the 2012 Wimbledon field to claim her 14th Grand Slam title, I, like many, just marveled because in the tennis world longevity is not how world-class tennis players evolve. Serena and Venus appear to be breaking the mold by managing to sustain a world-class competitive level. The sisters said they have a lot more tennis left in them.
“I think we love it more than anything,” Serena said. “We don’t do it for any other reason outside of pure joy. It is a great opportunity to do something that you love to every day. Not everyone gets to do that with their lives. So we really enjoy these moments.”
Venus stated, “I think for us, knowing that we have so much more to give, that we still have great tennis in our racquets. We want to be able when we’re done to look back and say we gave everything.”
Serena in particular has been playing spectacular tennis. She outlasted the Wimbledon women’s stellar field a month ago and came right back and overwhelmed an equally stellar Olympic field. She took Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova to task in straight sets.
On why she is playing such great tennis right now, Serena said she just gives all the glory to God for getting her healthy. Then she added with a smile: “Lately I’ve been focused only on tennis, nothing else, no distractions, no life. My life is practice in the morning, training in the afternoon. Wake up to practice in the morning and training. Definitely been spending a lot of time on the tennis court. I have a nothing-to-lose attitude. Maybe my health concerns gave me a new fire that I would not have had.”
Serena has played in 17 Grand Slam Finals, winning 14. She is No. 4 in all-time Grand Slam singles victories and Venus has made it to 14 Grand Slam Finals, winning seven times.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 22:01
Category: Breaking News Written by huffington Post
Over 32 years since launching Black Entertainment Television, Robert Johnson alongside his RLJ Companies group is planning on venturing into digital media with the announcement of his new faith-friendly channel, "Alright TV."
The channel, which will be led by Tracey Edmonds and hosted on YouTube, is said to feature inspirational programming geared towards family related issues.
“Alright TV will offer first rate buzz-worthy content in the areas of comedy, reality, self-help, music, and talk that promises to empower and entertain family audiences of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds,” Edmonds said in a press release.
“Bob and I are very excited to move forward with our vision and commitment to provide quality entertainment into the digital arena. I am delighted to work with Bob and YouTube in this innovative relationship.”
In addition to the launch of "Alright TV," Johnson--the former majority owner of the NBA franchise Charlotte Bobcats--also created one of the largest global independent distributors of digital and video content earlier this year with the formation of RLJ Entertainment. Resulting from his acquisition of Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group, Johnson believes that the channel will further extend RLJ Entertainment’s position in media.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to be in a business relationship with YouTube,” Johnson said in the release. “YouTube's commitment to providing a broad array of diversified producer-generated content on YouTube will present an exciting opportunity for consumers and advertiser sponsorship."
Johnson added, "the RLJ Companies is proud to be in association with YouTube and we look forward to expanding that relationship as we complete the acquisition of Image Entertainment, Inc. and Acorn Media Group, Inc. under RLJ Entertainment."
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 August 2012 02:24
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
WASHINGTON, August 8 (Reuters) - Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the future but voters do not seem to be holding it against Democratic President Barack Obama, who slightly expanded his lead over Republican rival Mitt Romney this month, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll says.
Three months before the Nov. 6 presidential election, nearly two-thirds of Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction. Only 31 percent say it is moving in the right direction - the lowest number since December 2011.
But Obama's lead over Romney among registered voters was 49 percent to 42 percent, up slightly from the 6-point advantage the president held a month earlier over the former Massachusetts governor.
The results of the monthly poll - in which a majority of voters agreed that the economy is the most important problem facing the United States - suggest that the Obama campaign's efforts to paint Romney as being out of touch with the concerns of middle-class Americans could be preventing the Republican from gaining momentum in the race.
"The overall 'right track, wrong track' is worse than last month - the news hasn't been great lately," said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson. "But Obama seems to be, to some extent, inoculated against some of the worst of that."
The telephone poll of 1,168 adults, including 1,014 registered voters, was taken from August 2 to August 6. During that period, the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers hired the most workers in five months but that the nation's jobless rate had risen to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent.
Even so, in a reversal from July, registered voters thought Obama was stronger than Romney in dealing with jobs and the economy, and with tax issues.
The poll indicated that 46 percent of registered voters thought Obama was stronger on jobs and the economy, compared with 44 percent for Romney. And on tax matters, 49 percent saw Obama as stronger, compared with 38 percent for Romney.
In an advertising blitz that has been focused on a dozen politically divided states, Obama and his Democratic allies have been hammering Romney's record as a private equity executive at Bain Capital, accusing him of plundering companies and shipping jobs overseas.
'KITCHEN SINK' STRATEGY
The Obama team's ads also have questioned why Romney - who has an estimated fortune of up to $250 million - will not release more than two years of tax returns, and have suggested that Romney has paid far lower tax rates than most Americans.
"The Democrats' current strategy of just pummeling Romney on Bain and on the economy has been kind of a kitchen sink thing," Jackson said. "Even if it's not necessarily hurt Romney, it's given him no opportunity to build a lead."
Obama's new lead on the issue of jobs and the economy is particularly significant, Jackson said.
"That is the key issue in this race," he said. "For Romney to be able to make a convincing argument and to win the election, he's going to have to have a fairly significant lead over Obama on that measure."
Jackson said Romney - who has based his campaign on the notion that he would be better than Obama at dealing with the economy - likely needs to have at least a 5- to 8-point lead over Obama on the jobs and economy issue to win the election.
"There's certainly no case at the moment that Romney's building some sort of momentum toward victory here," Jackson said.
The Reuters/Ipsos survey, conducted over landline and cell phones, has a margin of error of 3 percent for all adults and 3.4 percent for registered voters.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 August 2012 02:20
Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Mayor Dave Bing — Eric Hobson photos
In an exclusive interview with Bankole Thompson, editor of the Michigan Chronicle, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he is focused on the job, despite reports of underperformance and crisis of confidence in the business community. Bing said his administration, among other things, is tackling the financial crisis with the latest cuts he has imposed on public safety, his efforts that garnered $14 million to maintain recreation for the city’s youth, phasing out departments to meet the demands of the current reality, and his relationship with Gov. Rick Snyder, and the Detroit City Council whom he said has nine different agendas.
MICHIGAN CHRONICLE: What is the exact conversation between you and Gov. Snyder over the affairs of Belle Isle?
DAVE BING: None. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation got a proposal from Rodney Stokes (head of Michigan Department of Natural Resources) that they are looking at. The governor came out some time ago and said there were three areas he thought the state would help. And that would be in public safety, Belle Isle and demolition. At this point the only thing that has happened is we’ve got 14 Michigan State Police. I think Chief Ralph Godbee can say that’s helpful, but he needs more than that considering where crime is now. That’s not enough.
MC: Unions have been vehemently opposed to your cuts. Are they wrong?
DB: I can’t blame labor. I don’t blame them for their position but the reality is we can’t go forward with the structure that we have. We can’t afford it. It is unfortunate that we are where we are. Things should have happened years ago that didn’t happen. So it’s all happening at one time. We went through negotiations during the Christmas holidays with labor. But the problem was the state did not agree with the negotiations. The state didn’t feel we went far enough on work rules, so they told us they were not going to sign off on it. That’s when everything broke down. The state had the final say.
MC: So labor is shooting at the wrong person. They should blame the governor?
DB: They should blame Lansing. I won’t say just the governor because the governor personally didn’t get involved in it that much. It was the treasurer (Andy Dillon). Yes, they are shooting at the wrong person.
MC: Given the realities confronting Detroit’s road to financial recovery, what pace is the city at right now with regard to achieving that goal?
DB: We are as fast as we can be. We couldn’t do anything until the contracts expired in June. So at this point when council made the decision not to support the direction we wanted to go in, I had the authority at that point to impose and I did that. So we are moving.
MC: What about the Financial Review Board?
DB: I think they are important. There’s a lot of expertise on the board and they were supportive of my position as far as the cuts are concerned. You can’t expect people who’ve got a certain lifestyle and in some cases people are struggling even though they have jobs. When they have to take a cut and they have to go backwards its very difficult. In order for us to go from where we are to where we need to be, there is pain.
We’ve said we wanted shared pain across the board. It took me 38 months to include public safety (police and fire) because I think that’s the most important thing to support. So they were pretty much protected the first 38 months. Now we get to a point where they represent 65 percent of our costs and in order for us to meet our budget and become financially stable, they had to take a hit like everybody else.
MC: What about department consolidation, something that has been a conversation topic from one administration to the other?
DB: We have moved Workforce Development out of the city department. We are trying to do the same thing with the health department. We are going to do the same thing with human services. So we have to be strategic in terms of how much change can occur at one time. That represents somewhere around 400 people that are no longer going to be on the city’s payroll, but the services that they provide will continue because it is very important in a city like ours where so many people are dependent on those services.
MC: If you were to put a timeline on getting back to efficiency, how much time are we talking about?
DB: It’s not going to happen in this term. I think we’ll make improvements. It is unrealistic to think that the things that have been going on for 30 or 40 are going change overnight. There are a lot of things we are implementing as I speak, and things that have already happened. The problem that I have with a lot of folks, media included, is that they want to focus on things that you haven’t done. We’ve done a lot of things. Nobody wants to focus on that. We came in here and it was a mess. We had to do a lot of digging. We had to do a lot of data search.
MC: Krystal Crittendon, Detroit corporation counsel, set a historic precedent by taking the city to court. How do you deal with the reality of City of Detroit v. City of Detroit in court?
DB: I think they (the Charter Commission) went too far based on what has happened in the last administration. I don’t think anybody thought we would be where we are today as it relates to the Corporation Counsel’s authority. Corporation Counsel is not an elected position. Based on the charter changes — and it’s not about Krystal — that position has more authority than the mayor or city council. That makes no sense, so it needs to be changed. I think a lot of the changes in the charter were positive but it’s not perfect. This isn’t working and it needs to change.
MC: How soon would that change occur? Are you going to mount an effort to do that?
DB: I think there are people outside of this administration that ought to talk about initiating that change because it definitely has crippled this administration in terms of our ability to move forward.
MC: How much of an impact does the tug of war relationship between you and the city council have in addressing the city’s financial crisis?
DB: I think it sends the wrong message. You’ve got nine different agendas on city council. We’ve got one agenda here in this office and that is to make things better for the citizens of Detroit. You’ve got people that are worried about politics, people worried about getting reelected. I couldn’t care less about that. Let me fix what I can fix for whatever time I’m here.
MC: Some have concluded that the cuts to public safety contradict your administration’s touting of public safety as key to building a healthy community. What do you say to that?
DB: It would be very easy to say we can stop every other department except public safety and be able to afford that. All the salaried people took 10 percent cuts back in 2010. They (public safety) didn’t. And now we are at a point in 2012 where we are saying we have less revenue than we had in 2010. So if you guys are representing 65 percent of the budget, if I don’t touch you I’ve got to close down almost every other department, which doesn’t make sense. So if we are talking shared sacrifice they have to share the sacrifice like the rest of us. It’s unfortunate but that’s our reality.
MC: What is your relationship like now with the governor?
DB: I think I’ve got a decent relationship with the governor. We don’t always agree on everything. I represent Detroit and he represents the state of Michigan. And there are things that I’d like to see happen in Detroit and maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know, but I think our relationship is a decent one.
MC: Some have suggested a public private/partnership on public safety where businesses invested in the city provide some sort of assistance through a fund. Is that something you would push?
DB: Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing from a public/private standpoint. We had to cut recreation 43 percent (from $18 million down to $10 million). I’ve been able to go to foundations, businesses and non-profits and raised about 14 million dollars today for recreation. I don’t know how many times you can go back to the same people and ask for that kind of support.
MC: Except we are looking at two microscopic lenses. There is a report that there is a crisis of confidence in your leadership from the business community, but when you talk to them you get a different view. Comment?
DB: Nobody has come to me and said we don’t think you ought to do this. So either they’ve got no hearts or guts or they are behind your back saying something different than what they are saying in front of your face. I’m a pretty straightforward guy. I deal with criticism all the time. I’ve got relationships with the business community that I think are pretty strong. The only people that have come out and said anything has been the media.
MC: How would you grade Dave Bing?
DB: I won’t do that. History will do that for me.
MC: You did fundraising at the Detroit Athletic Club recently. Obviously you are seeking a second term.
DB: Are you asking me that as a question?
DB: I’m not thinking about that at all. I’m thinking about the next 17 months getting things done. We have done the research, collected a lot of data. Now it is time to put all of that data collection, analyses into action. And that is what I’m focused on right now. I want to make sure that I continue to support public safety.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 August 2012 12:19
Category: Top News Written by L. Monay Fort
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled on Friday, Aug. 3, that a repeal of the Public Act 4, Emergency Financial Law should be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Michigan’s highest court is controlled by Republicans, 4-3. However, GOP Justice Mary Beth Kelly broke from the majority in this case and provided the decisive vote to order the state Board of Canvassers to have the referendum put on the ballot.
Once the Board of State Canvassers meets to certify the petition on August 15 at 1:30 p.m., Public Act 4, Emergency Financial Manager Law will be suspended and the previous law, Public Act 72, will be reenacted until Nov. 6, 2012.
The revised Emergency Manager Law amended a 1990 statute that gave appointed managers the power to run cities and school districts that are in financial distress, the authority to cut spending and sell assets, and nullify labor union contracts without the approval of elected officials.
A formal opinion from Attorney General Bill Schuette was issued.
“The former Emergency Manager Law, enacted in 1990, was repealed when the Legislature approved the new and more controversial act last year,” Schuette said. “But the repeal of Public Act 72 (the old law) has been rendered ineffective unless (PA 4, the new law is) approved by the electors.”
Opponents of Public Act 4, Standup for Democracy, collected over 226,000 valid petition signatures from citizens across the state. Some citizens and local clergy expressed outrage by the stalling tactics used by the courts prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday.
“This is a question of justice, decency and honesty. We signed a petition and the petition has been violated. Let the people decide,” said Norman Thomas, pastor of Sacred Heart.
Detroit NAACP President Rev Wendell Anthony applauded the state high court, saying, “It was never the intent of the framers of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers to usurp the power of the people based on the financial distress of a local community. Less we forget the 13 colonies were in financial distress when they were compelled to come together to forge a Declaration of Independence.
“They did not petition King George III of England for an emergency manager. Their petition ultimately would lead to the creation of the United States Constitution.”
Anthony said the 226,000 people from all over the state who signed the petitions did so in good faith, “trusting their government and believing in the democratic process with the belief that their voices would be heard.”
Gov. Snyder noted he is in full support of citizens expressing their views, but suspension of the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act may make matters worse.
“One of the act’s primary goals is to identify financial emergencies before they become full-blown crises. Suspending the law limits the state’s ability to offer early intervention and assistance, and eliminates important tools that emergency managers need to address financial emergencies as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Snyder said.
So far, emergency managers have been installed in four cities (Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint and Pontiac) and three school districts (Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights).
It is believed but not confirmed that the suspension of PA 4 would make the Emergency Financial Law null and void and therefore would require the dismissal of emergency managers that are currently on the job.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 August 2012 00:00
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