Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
The mere fact that we are here today debating a clear path out of Detroit’s financial crisis without arriving at any agreeable solution as 201l is quickly sentenced to the dustbin of history, is a sign of leadership failure on everyone who claims to have a stake in the process of rebuilding this city.
The fact that we are here at the dawn of another year, without any major announcement to arrest the ballooning financial mess or a clear-cut vision about where Detroit will be in 2012 in what is quickly becoming a cataclysmic financial crisis, is a damning indictment of the lack of urgency on the part of those who have been charged with driving the future of this city forward.
Year In Review
As the city rolls into 2012 it needs to hear from the men and women who claim to derive their legitimacy to occupy the velvet cushions at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building from the people who gave them that legitimacy to public office.
What is Detroit’s leadership vision for 2012?
What direction does Detroit plan to take in the coming year?
Where is the much talked about alternative plan in place of an emergency manager?
Where is the demonstrated sacrifice that has been rattling from the mouths of those who say they were elected to serve?
The big story of 2011 is the revelations about the city’s protracted financial woes that date beyond the administration of Mayor Dave Bing.
And the challenge for the current leadership in the city is to not allow the financial troubles of the city to remain the big story of 2012.
That means something has to give. Leadership is not just about fine speeches and attending events and community forums. Being seen in the right places with the right people.
Leadership is also about making vital choices that lead to real results and consequences even when they are not popular. It is showing in concrete terms that you really care about being a caretaker of the city’s future and its jewels.
It is demonstrating that you are willing to be the front line of defense for everything that the city represents, even if you lose your job in the process of doing so. Because at the end of the day this is the business of public service, it is not your own personal property.
Writing about all things Detroit during 2011 has taken me to all kinds of events in and around the city. Some are events billed around emotional politics invoking the grand history of this city and how it has “come this far by faith.” Others are events that center on real need for answers to the failure of city hall to deliver much needed services to those who need them the most.
Because beyond the clearly scripted talking points there is a mass underclass in this city whose needs are not being tended to and, all too often, are not even heard. They live in the shadows. We don’t hear their stories.
The year 2011 has been rough for them. Their children are waking up every day without any prospective future, innocent victims caught in the middle of a grinding political gamesmanship where egos have replaced real concern for the “least of these” who will be further sentenced into oblivion when this city can no longer offer crucial services by April of 2012.
All of us invested in this city, including major businesses such as Quicken Loans and Blue Cross Blue Shield, that have recently moved thousands of their employees to Detroit and others that have long invested in Detroit as the headquarters of their businesses when they have the option to choose other attractive locations, will be affected by the lack of a real plan to solve the financial crisis of Detroit by April when the city is expected to run out of cash.
So we are all in this together.
That is why the mayor, city council and labor have no option but to give us a plan that is not only realistic but one that works and helps to revamp the archaic structures upon which the city has long operated. The old structures of operation cannot meet the new demands of the time.
This is time for Detroit to think like a 21st century renaissance city and doing so means city hall will have to alter the way it has been doing things. Business as usual won’t do.
In an age where growth represents the future, the city should not be engaging in sloppy ways of doing business. The whole government apparatus at city hall should be computerized. That cuts out bureaucracy and makes it easier for records to be traceable and for businesses and everybody who needs services from city hall to get expedited service. Detroit should be a partner in the technological evolution, not an anathema.
Governor Rick Snyder’s threat of an emergency manager has forced the mayor, city council and the unofficial third branch of local government – the unions – to come together to announce their commitment to a plan to avert the need for an emergency manager.
But beyond the announcement to oppose an emergency manager and show a unified force among the city’s leadership and some members of the faith and local business community, we want to see a plan that is workable.
It is unfortunate and bad enough that it had to take the threat of an emergency manager from a governor who made it clear that he doesn’t want to see Michigan’s largest city go under, for the city’s leadership to get their act together and sit down to talk — with a sense of urgency.
It’s almost tragic comedy.
Is Detroit’s leadership behaving like children?
Does it now mean that for every major decision concerning this city, it has to be first hashed out with the threat of an emergency manager?
But we should give them credit that at least they are willing to come to the table. The question is, what will they leave the table with?
We are all waiting for an answer.
2011 is going fast.
We need a plan that is not politically correct, but one that makes sense given the current atmosphere we are in.
Detroit needs outside-the-box thinking, and doing so will require leadership at city hall to first show an open mind and a willingness to test uncharted waters, which includes making tough decisions, even if they are not popular.
At the end of the day what should matter to all of us, including the nine members of the city council, the mayor and the unions, is the preservation of this city. And that Detroit will survive, and all of those who have invested in it will be able to tell and retell the survival story.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 December 2011 14:12
Category: News Briefs Written by Mark S. Lee
Generally, Financial Advisors (FA’s) are sought for developing personal financial plans for specific needs. However, did you know FA’s can also assist you in developing financial plans when it comes to your business?
Small Talk recently interviewed Mr. Aubrey W. Lee, Jr., Vice President, Resident Director for Merrill Lynch, in Novi. Lee provides clients with best in class service while offering customized solutions to expertly handle all of their financial needs utilizing the powerful resources available within Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
We asked for his thoughts on small business development across Southeast Michigan.
ST: How important is small business development to Detroit's economic recovery?
AWL: Small business has largely been at the crux of the country’s economic recovery, and the same holds true here in Detroit. It has served as the barometer both for economic health and recovery. We know that small businesses employ more people than large size companies, and because it is ultimately jobs that will help foster the economic recovery, small business development will be very important to Detroit’s economic recovery.
ST: What trends have you noticed across the region?
AWL: We have seen that some small business owners are cutting back on their own salaries as a savings mechanism and to retain valued employees. Regarding credit, obtaining it has emerged as a critical problem for small businesses across Southeast Michigan. At Bank of America Merrill Lynch, we partner with our clients to explore creative solutions for loans and capital.
Finally, in light of economic conditions, more businesses are looking to do more with less, at less cost. This new, more conservative approach to business operations will likely continue to be a trend as business owners navigate uncertain terrain and prepare for unforeseen circumstances.
ST: What have been the most significant contributors to small business failures?
AWL: As mentioned, since the financial crisis, it has become even more challenging for small businesses to obtain credit needed to start or grow their business. Because the crisis has made small companies more vulnerable, banks are more cautious in issuing loans. As a result, small businesses have lacked upfront capital that is necessary to succeed. Additionally, many small businesses focus solely on obtaining work versus their short and long-term visions for growth and sustaining revenue.
ST: Do most small businesses have a financial plan? If not, why?
AWL: Unfortunately, most small businesses do not have financial plans, and the ones that do have financial plans often fail to stick to them. Often they will create an initial plan for the bank in order to obtain a loan; however, they do not create a formal financial plan for the long-term.
ST: What resources are available by Merrill Lynch?
AWL: We are committed to providing small business owners with the personalized advice and resources they need to address their evolving challenges and priorities. A relationship with a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor affords small business owners and their employee’s access to a comprehensive range of financial solutions, as well as ongoing product and service innovations, backed by one of the nation’s largest lenders to small business.
Merrill Lynch Financial Advisors collaborate with business owners to ensure that their strategic business plan is locally focused and tailored to the specific needs of the business owner and his/her employees.
ST: What specific advice would you give to start ups versus those who are more established but have stalled?
AWL: It is important that startup companies carefully evaluate their business model and offerings to account for market conditions and obstacles that may hinder their business succeeding. Other key factors to evaluate are the demand for the products or services and competitors in the market place.
Before entering into the market, small business owners should establish two or three "What If" plans. (i.e., "What if things take off fast?”, "What if things start off slow?”,"What if things don't get started at all?”) This is the time for small business owners to take a rational look at the market/business, rather than waiting until they are too deep in.
I advise small business owners to focus on more than just revenue growth. It is important to pay attention to, and practice good book keeping such as the collection of receivables and timely payment for services rendered.
ST: Is it smart to mix business and personal resources for an entrepreneur?
AWL: As always, it’s important to proceed with caution when mixing business and personal resources as an entrepreneur. Though friends and family can be helpful, there should be a clearly outlined plan for how resources will be utilized. Before committing personal resources of their own, investors must first carefully consider the implications and their overall financial well-being. We encourage business owners to partner with their financial advisors to maintain accurate records reflecting personal funding. This is also a good practice for tax purposes.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 December 2011 13:54
Category: Top News Written by C. L. Price
HAP’s purchase of Midwest Health Plan is expected to pay dividends
The Medicaid HMO market is getting ready for dramatic change with the addition of more than 800,000 projected new members in 2014 when the federal government lowers Medicaid income eligibility requirements. The Michigan Chronicle Newspaper sat down with industry veteran William R. Alvin, president and CEO of Health Alliance Plan (HAP) and executive vice president of Henry Ford Health System to discuss what’s ahead for the 500,000-member health plan in the coming year.
Michigan Medicaid is expected to increase 25 to 40 percent with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014. Companies, like Health Alliance Plan, are making plans to address the complex and growing consumer needs associated with the seismic increase in eligible recipients.
The challenge according to industry insiders is to strengthen the program now so that in 2014, when up to 800,000 new enrollees join the Medicaid program, they obtain access to quality care and not just a card that does not provide access to needed care.
HAP is hoping to accelerate its readiness plans with its purchase of the 75,000-member Midwest Health Plan, recognized as one of the top Medicaid insurers nationwide.
The move will help HAP and Midwest Health Plan vie in the expanding Medicaid market.
With coming health care reforms, Medicaid will see a furious pace of growth without a lot of overhead, according to industry sources. The House Fiscal Agency reports that Medicaid spending has risen more than 125 percent since 2000.
Many insurers, facing declining enrollment created by company downsizing and business closures nationwide, are opting to increase market share by entering the flourishing Medicaid HMO market.
But there are already reported bumps in the road.
Proposed cuts in Medicaid and taxes on health care insurance claims by the Snyder administration may diminish profit projections. Notwithstanding, there’s a specific advantage to insurers operating with a pre-set rate (the state pays Medicaid plans) and automatic member assignment, notes one insider.
“Profit margins will always be a challenge,” notes William R. Alvin, president and CEO of Health Alliance Plan (HAP) and executive vice president of Henry Ford Health System. “Ever-present market pressures — from diminished government funding and employer-driven demands to decrease rates to other market-driven demands — must be offset by reduced administrative expense and improved efficiency in the delivery of care, which our company is known for. HAP is well-prepared to address these challenges,” according to Alvin.
A part of HAP’s model rests on understanding and serving the health needs of its diverse membership base, which is comprised of substantial numbers of Hispanic, Arab and African American members.
Many of its plans promote prevention and wellness through early intervention, health engagement programs and incentives to maintain healthy lifestyles.
“HAP physicians bring unique understanding of the cultural issues that often impede patient care,” according to a HAP spokesperson. “And our combined knowledge helps us place more focus on preventive efforts and chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes.
EFFICIENCY IS EVERYTHING
Michigan is moving toward more efficient health care models that increase reliance on Medicaid managed care, reducing uninsured hospital visits, moving long-term care toward community-based care models and streamlining enrollment procedures and incentive-based Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) certification and incentive programs.
HAP was rated "Highest in Member Satisfaction among Commercial Health Plans in Michigan” for the fourth consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Member Health Insurance Plan Study for its leadership in quality care and benchmark customer satisfaction. HAP also has been recognized as an industry leader for its early assimilation of more efficient administrative processes.
The expansion will allow companies, like HAP, to increase access to health services for a growing number of Medicaid-eligible Michigan residents, while providing members with easy transitions with shifts in program eligibility.
The strategic grouping of commercial, Medicare, Medicaid and individual product capabilities will become increasingly important as we move toward the major impacts of health care reform legislation in 2014.
A MARRIAGE OF INDUSTRY LEADERS
The intended purchase of Midwest Health Plan represents a forward-thinking strategic partnership between two highly-respected Michigan-based companies, according to Alvin.
“HAP is strong on the commercial, Medicare and individual markets, whereas MHP’s strength is in Medicaid, MIChild and dual eligibles who currently qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid coverage,” notes Alvin.
MHP’s experience, track record and recognition as the 14th best Medicaid Health Plan by U.S. News and World Report, makes for a well-suited marriage between the two industry leading insurers.
HAP intends to maintain MHP as a separate, wholly-owned subsidiary under the same name in its Dearborn headquarters.
“I feel a faithfulness to my employees who favored a Michigan-based partner,” says Dr. Mark Saffer, the founder and president of Midwest Health Plan. “I felt (HAP) was a great choice.”
The two companies are expected to make continued improvements aimed at stabilizing what has been a challenging path toward improved healthcare.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 14:11
Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
Detroit civil rights leader Dr. Claude Young, personal physician to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a cousin of the city’s first African American mayor, Coleman A. Young, died Tuesday at his home. Dr. Young, who had been battling cancer, was a former chairman of the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the famed civil rights organization cofounded by Dr. King. Dr. Young, who was also a power broker in Michigan politics and in the national Democratic Party. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:36
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
Dave Bing says city leaders are open-minded and a deal is in
An upbeat Mayor Dave Bing in another sit-down interview said that all parties relevant to the financial wellbeing of the city — Detroit city council and the unions — are all at the table working out a plan that will save Detroit.
After conveying an unprecedented press conference announcing opposition to an emergency manager, which drew praise in some quarters and criticism in others, Bing said Detroit government leaders understand the magnitude of the problem and are committed to an action plan.
“Everything is on the table. The unions are at this point open-minded to looking at any revenue generator, any cost cut,” Bing said. “There are very fruitful conversations and negotiations going on right now. But we have agreed that until we have a deal we don’t want to go public with anything because that probably would not help the process.”
In an earlier interview Gov. Rick Snyder, said the clock was ticking for Detroit, urging city leaders to arrive at a resolution quickly.
“We have a plan from an administrative standpoint that’s been public for the last two or three weeks,” Bing said. “We are using that plan to negotiate with council. They’ve bought into it. I think even with the unions, they too are buying into it.”
His administration is looking at some of the recommendations he received from council to increase savings or reduce spending.
The city council had proposed to layoff 2,300 workers, an exorbitant number that raised eyebrows as well as opposition from the mayor.
Asked if that proposed number of layoffs is still on the table, Bing said he may look at laying off 1000 workers, far less than city council proposed.
“A lot of the negotiations are depending on the numbers right now,” Bing said. “I’m not willing to go to 2,300 layoffs.”
Laying off that many people, he said, would “devastate services in the city.”
Bing said contrary to some negative reviews about the press conference that the city held in opposition to an emergency manager, it was held in line with what Gov. Snyder had said about city leaders getting together behind a unified plan.
“The governor has been saying consistently that in order for any plan to be accepted by Lansing, Detroiters needed to be on the same page, meaning the administration, council and labor,” Bing said. “My job is to go out and get that done. I even added the faith-based community and the small business community. I think we did what the governor was asking us to do. It was not trying to poke him in the eye. It’s not about that because nobody wins when you do that sort of thing.”
Bing said the press conference showed solidarity “and now everybody is at the table trying to work out the concessions and understand the things we need to do so that whatever plan we send up will be accepted.”
The mayor took the opportunity to talk with Snyder during their mass transit trip to Washington because “Detroit is the largest and most important city in the state,” something that stakeholders in the region recognize which underscores the importance of keeping the city financially solvent.
“I think in order for us to achieve the goal of not having a financial manager here, it was very important to let the governor know that we’re trying to figure out what the state is going to do to help the city,” Bing said. “We have not rejected anything. But nothing has come on the table.”
Bing said he has asked the state for some help in key areas in helping address the financial state of the city.
“We are asking them to collect income taxes (for the city). They are doing that for other municipalities around the state and it is working very well,” Bing said, adding that if the state is willing to collect income tax on behalf of the city, it would be $100 million in revenue alone.
Bing said his administration is not asking for a handout from the state.
On the $200 million in revenue sharing the state owes Detroit dating back to the John Engler administration, Bing says it’s a legitimate issue that should be explored.
“Whether or not we get it is not the story for me. The fact that they owe it to us is a story. The state reneged on the deal,” Bing said. “That’s the reality. Now what we do on the going forward basis is another story.”
The mayor said the state can help with the city public lighting department which is half functional as well as transportation, both of which are hot button issues in Detroit.
“There are a lot of things they can do to be be helpful,” he noted.
Where do corporate leaders in Detroit stand on the financial crisis?
“I think they want to make sure that we’ve got a stable financial situation,” Bing said. “Because as business people their long-term investments are predicated on what we do from an administrative standpoint.”
Bing said as long as the city is moving in the right direction to stabilize itself fiscally, it’s okay to disagree.
“It’s give and take in the business community. I think they understand exactly what we are going through,” Bing said. “They want this city to survive and succeed because they’ve got huge investments here. So my job is try to protect those investments as best as I can. But at the same time I’ve got to have sensitivity to the people that live and work here.”
With the dire financial crisis, the city is expected to run out of money in April of 2012.
The city council proposed cutting police and fire, a move that some in the community opposed in a city where crimes of all sorts are taking place regularly, instilling a general fear and helping to hold the city back.
In address the city’s fiscal turmoil, will Detroit officials cut police and fire?
“Nothing is off the table,” is how Bing responded.
“I’ve made it very clear from day one about how supportive I am and how important public safety is. Those (police and fire) are the last people I want to touch, and I’ve made it very clear to them,” Bing said. “So we’ve given them the same kind of proposal we gave the other unions.”
Bing said police and fire have been supportive in working out a deal, especially in the pension area.
The city has 48 bargaining units and 21 unions. All of them are at the table and Bing said discussions are ongoing.
“We are asking them to choose a leadership team that would be at the table during negotiations,” Bing said. “I’m looking favorably at this point in time that they’ve come to the table and they are negotiating in good faith.”
Bing agrees with the governor that bankruptcy is not the best route for the city.
“I think bankruptcy will be a real detrimental not only to the city but all of our surrounding counties as well as the state,” Bing said. “So I don’t think anybody wants to go that route. It’s amazing to me how many experts are coming out the woodwork right now. They know absolutely nothing about what’s going on in the city day to day.”
There is currently an informal review of the city’s finances as announced by State Treasurer Andy Dillon, the former Democratic House Speaker. The conclusion of such a review could trigger a formal review of Detroit’s books.
Bing said the plan is to get a plan to the governor before the start of any formal review of Detroit’s finances. As a result there will be no holiday vacation for the men and women involved in coming up with a plan to avert an emergency manager.
He said his administration is working from dawn to dusk to ensuring that Detroit does its part and gets a proposal to the governor’s desk.
In the midst of the upheaval over the city’s books, there has been a contention around the consent agreement.
The mayor has opposed the agreement while some council members have been pushing for it.
Bing said, “The consent agreement doesn’t give us what we need to open up or break union contracts. The consent agreement does not do that. Most of our savings has to deal with union contracts. Things like wage, health care, pension, work rules.”
Bing has been pounding the community pavement, talking to people about the tough choices the city is facing.
“I think the majority of the people were very happy to see us come together to fight against an emergency manager coming here,” the mayor said. “Nobody wants that.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:34
Category: Top News Written by Sam Logan, Chronicle Publisher
Some activists in our community, like the Rev. David Bullock, head of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in Detroit, and Rev. Charles Williams of the National Action Network, plan to demonstrate at the home of Gov. Rick Snyder on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday next month.
Their reason is the emergency manager laws that they disagree with because to their way of thinking, Snyder is attempting to “take over” a Black city.
These two young gentlemen and their followers have every right to demonstrate on issues they disagree with. That is why our democracy is so precious.
But as someone who has lived through many experiences, I have some advice for Bullock and Williams, both of whom are young enough to be my grandchildren.
The time that you would spend demonstrating at the governor’s personal residence (not his official residence), instead, you should spend that time helping Mayor Dave Bing, Detroit City Council and the labor organization come up with an alternative that will save the city financially to prevent the need for an emergency manager.
Spend that time in the service of others, and support organizations like the Neighborhood Service Organization whose funding is being slashed in this tough economy. Use your church as a place to help the needy, to raise money to feed and cloth the homeless.
Do something that will uplift the spirit of our community.
While it is politically titillating to plan to protest at the governor’s personal home because it gives these two young men much needed publicity to build their careers, it doesn’t achieve anything for Detroit, the mayor, city council or labor. In fact, it does the opposite.
Gov. Snyder is not interested in take over Detroit. That is why he has emphasized that the mayor, city council and labor work together.
For the record, Snyder is not a right-wing governor. The legislature in Lansing may be right-wing but not the governor.
Snyder is the only Republican governor in the nation who has refused to sign a letter from the GOP to repeal President Obama’s historic health care legislation.
Snyder is the only Republican governor who has publicly said he is not interested in making Michigan a right-to-work state, a proposal viewed as putting the nail in the coffin for unions. He said he does not want what happened in Wisconsin to take place here.
Snyder is the only Republican governor in the nation trying to work with a Democratic mayor to create a sensible transit system for our region.
Where else in the country do we see a Republican governor trying to work with a Democratic city like Detroit and its leaders?
I sincerely hope Bullock and Williams can honor Dr. King in a more meaningful way than to engage in political grandstanding and posturing on MLK Day.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 13:04
Category: Top News Written by Trice Edney News Wire
Ofield Dukes, the public relations mogul known as a powerful mover and shaker in Washington political circles, is remembered this week, not only as a national PR giant but as a champion for the Black press.
“He was a remarkable, extraordinary individual whose presence will be missed beyond measure. He was probably the leading advocate of the Black press and was one of the great pioneers,” said Danny Bakewell Sr., immediate past chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Black Press of America, which Dukes served faithfully for decades.
“He was always there when we asked him to do something. His legacy will be a light of truth and courage and undaunting pursuit of equality for Black people measured through the eyes of the Black press.”
Dukes died Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where he started his career as an award-winning columnist and editorial writer for the Michigan Chronicle from 1958 to 1964. He had returned to his home of Detroit in the latter part of this year, suffering with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects the bones. He was 79.
“While Ofield’s accomplishments and accolades are varied and plentiful over the past four decades, the best adjective I can bestow upon him is true and loyal friend who was like a brother to me,” said John B. Smith Sr., publisher of the Atlanta Inquirer and two-term NNPA chairman, a fete that he attributes to Dukes’ support.
“I will never be able to recount the many times we discussed various issues pertaining to the Black Press of America and his foresight and aptitude was always on point...Ofield was among the premier communications strategists.”
A Washington, D.C. memorial service is being planned for Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Richmond Free Press Editor/Publisher Raymond H. Boone Sr., who had known Dukes for 50 years, remained in touch with him during his final months.
“We remained in constant touch until the last weeks before his death. In our last telephone conversation, he remained courageously upbeat while cherishing the blessings of his life as he faced the reality of his future,” Boone said.
Boone met Dukes as a member of the Johnson-Humphrey administration, which Boone was covering as a reporter for the Washington Afro American. “We immediately struck a lasting friendship in 1964,” Boone recalled.
After Humphrey lost his presidential bid against Richard Nixon in 1968, Dukes established Ofield Dukes & Associates, beginning a stellar PR career. The first African-American recipient of both the Gold and Silver Anvils, the highest awards of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Dukes was among the most highly sought after public relations executives in Washington. Motown Record Corp. was his first client.
He remained grounded, never forsaking his passion for the progress of Black people.
Dukes organized the first Congressional Black Caucus Dinner in 1971 and worked tediously in his final years to keep the CBC and Black press connected.
“He will be sorely missed for his many years of service to the Democratic Party, the Congressional Black Caucus and The Black Press of America,” says Dorothy Leavell, former NNPA president and former chair of the NNPA Foundation of which Dukes served as a board member for six years. “He loved the Black press and served it faithfully throughout his career. We shall all miss his service to the fourth estate.”
Leavell specifically recalled Dukes’ working for Black press inclusion in briefings with President Clinton as well as the inclusion of the Black press on advertising buys with the Democratic National Committee.
Among CBC stalwarts, Dukes was especially close to U. S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).
“As a member of Congress, I have been blessed to call many wonderful people my friend, but none more than Ofield Dukes. I am extremely saddened by the passing of such a great man who had significant impact in not only my life, but that of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, dating back to its founding,” Rangel said in a statement.
Ofield Dukes was born Aug. 8, 1932, in Rutledge, Ala., served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954, earned a journalism degree at Wayne State University in 1958 and got a job at the Chronicle the same year.He left the Chronicle for Washington, D.C. in 1964 to serve as deputy director of information for the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1966, he joined the staff of Vice President Hubert Humphrey as a consultant and continued as a consultant to every Democratic presidential campaign since then.
In 2002, Radio One founder Cathy Hughes named the building that houses three of her Detroit stations the Ofield Dukes Communications Center.
Dukes taught as an adjunct professor at Howard University for l7 years and at the American University School of Communications for eight years.
He was founder of the Black Public Relations Society of Washington and was a member of the Washington, DC/National Capital Public Relations Society of America Hall of Fame and the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame.
Dukes is survived by his daughter. Roxi Victorian, a performing arts graduate from Howard University; a grandson and three sisters, Anne Harris, Betty Hayden and Lou Brock.
“His kind, there are no more Ofield Dukes,” said Sam Logan, publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. “There will not be another.”
The Chronicle honored Dukes on its 75th anniversary in November.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 01:46
Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
The Michigan Chronicle expresses its deepest sympathy to Strategic Staffing Solutions (S3) founders Paul Huxley and Cindy Pasky and the entire S3 family on the death of father and friend, Frank Huxley.
The 93 year-old trailblazer was a World War II pilot, who served as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s personal pilot following the war. The hard-working veteran later held jobs as a Detroit Public Schools science teacher and a nurse. He also served as a Scoutmaster, enriching the lives of the many young men he mentored.
Mr. Huxley is survived by his sons, Paul Huxley, former S3 CFO and current board chairman; Ken Huxley, a commissioned colonel in the Air Force who currently is a senior recruiter at S3; and Mike Huxley, vice president of Human Resources at S3; Dave Huxley and Tom Huxley.
Paul Huxley’s wife, Cindy Pasky, is president and CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 01:31
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder made it categorically clear Monday afternoon during an exclusive interview with the Michigan Chronicle that he wants to see Detroit succeed. And he said an emergency manager in the city is the last resort, so he wants to see Detroit leaders come up with a realistic plan very soon to prevent Michigan’s largest and most prominent city Detroit from collapsing financially.
Synder said Mayor Dave Bing has conveyed to him directly that the city would run out of money by April of 2012. Thus. he (Snyder) cannot stand by as governor and watch Detroit go down because that will have serious ramifications for not only the neighboring region but across the state as well.
“First, the mayor in his own words says he’s going to run out of money in April. So there is a short-term cash flow crisis,” Snyder said.
The governor noted that the structural problems in Detroit that have given rise to the financial crisis cannot be pinned on one administration because it’s been going on for decades.
“The second big question that goes with that is, isn’t it appropriate that we finally find a structural answer to the finances of the city of Detroit?” Synder said. “Because continuing this process has no value for anyone. Isn’t it appropriate to solve that as part of the short-term crisis?”
He continued, “There are a lot of good things going on in Detroit but this financial crisis is diminishing the value of those and taking away from many, many good things.”
In the wake of the state starting an informal review of the city’s finances, the first step toward deciding on an emergency manager for Detroit, Mayor Bing and the city council and labor held a press conference to oppose an emergency manager for the city. The mayor said at the press conference that he and city officials as well as labor were hard at work to arrive at a plan that prevents the city from running out of cash by April and to set the wheels of government in motion to better deliver needed and essential city services.
Snyder said he was encouraged to see officials at city hall unite to address the financial crisis. He said he hoped they are uniting to save the city from collapse and not to tell him to stay away from the situation.
“Is there a compelling vision for Detroit about how good it could be? I don’t see that clearly,” Snyder said. “That’s something I’ve been trying to espouse, that Detroit is critical to the reinvention of Michigan and its a great urban opportunity. We need to get people on board with the positive path instead of talking about how it’s negative or less negative.”
Snyder said engaging in what he calls “divisive politics” is not going to help Detroit or its residents and businesses when they call for police and fire service in April and there’s no-show because the city has run out of money.
“When you have a shrinking and contracting situation, people tend to get caught up in fighting with one another when the only true solution is you’ve got to grow the pie,” Snyder said. “We’ve got to get the city of Detroit growing because that’s an inclusive one where everybody wins. There aren’t losers if you do it in a thoughtful way.”
Snyder said the financial crisis in Detroit is a reflection of what he hopes is a linchpin that “if we can solve this problem through teamwork it really creates an environment where we can move the entire city in a more positive path.”
In dealing with the financial situation, the governor wants city leaders, residents and everyone who is invested in Detroit “to join hands and put an end to the negative and get to the positive.”
Snyder noted that “the mayor and the city council have been going back and forth for quite a while. The clock is ticking. They know April is the end of the line in terms of running out of cash under the current model.”
The informal review of the city’s finances, according to Snyder, will rap up in the next week. The conclusion of that review will trigger a formal review if no meaningful steps have been taken to combat the city’s deficit.
This review will take up to 60 days with a possible 30-day extension to determine the financial viability of the city. The outcome of the review is a possible manager or a consent agreement in the absence of a plan.
“These kinds of situations show the cultural challenges we have. If you need help in your personal life you don’t tell people to go away. You go out and solicit people to help you,” Snyder said. “And yet this is an environment where the mayor and the city council came together because they want to tell me to go away.”
Snyder said the criticism by the campaign against emergency managers that an emergency manager in Detroit is part of a larger plan to take over Black cities is not valid.
“There is no truth to that at all. I’m the governor of Michigan. I’ve got a job and running the city is not what I was elected to do,” Snyder said. “But I’m responsible for all the citizens of Michigan. I need to do my fiduciary duties to make sure they get represented. And I think I’m representing them by being involved.”
The statewide ramifications if Detroit is allowed to go under financially and can’t meet payroll, Snyder said, will send a negative message to the whole of Michigan.
“It will be a really bad thing ” Snyder said.
The governor said it is time for Detroit to deal with the costs of operating as a city with two million people when the exact population now is less than a million.
“In my view, shouldn’t Detroit redesign itself to be a city of 700,000 people and say how do we manage those longer -term cost?” Snyder said. “The best way to do that is to solve the structural problem short-term and figure out the financing, grow the city back so it has resources to pay back.”
But city leaders, he also said, must first embrace the “attitude of growing the city. The only solution long-term here is Detroit has to grow. ”
Snyder said that’s why he has been supporting whatever efforts there are to encourage people and businesses to move back to Detroit.
“We need the city, neighborhoods to participate so everybody can come together and be part of the economic revival,” Snyder said.
The financial problems facing municipalities across the country are not the responsibility of citizens, but rather political leaders who pay little or no attention to the balance sheet and the liabilities they are growing.
“They just worry about cash in and cash out,” Snyder said. “Now we’ve got to get to a situation where we look at the big picture and redesign how the city operates.”
Synder pointed out that no one, including political leaders, can deny the fact that the average person wants to have police show up when they place a call for help, have street lights on and buses showing up on time and a school their kids can walk to safely, all of which are major service issues in Detroit government.
“How many of those are been done today?” Snyder asked, adding that unresolved issues around city services should be the checklist to address the problems and clean up the financial mess the city is in.
Beyond the public show of unity by Detroit elected officials, including labor, Snyder said “That’s fabulous. I’m just waiting to see it happen. If they can work it all out, the short cash issue and the long-term structural issue, may the force be with them. I’m with them. That would be fine. But I just want to make sure it gets done.”
The governor said if the city fails to tackle the financial crisis and continues to oppose an emergency manager, which has been used by both Democratic and Republican governors, the other option would be going before a bankruptcy judge which would have far more devastating consequences. If the city was to enter into bankruptcy, a judge would have sweeping and unchallenged powers which presents a bigger threat, according to some experts.
“I’m just here to do my job and help see Detroit be successful,” Snyder said.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 01:23
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
Education Achievement System (EAS) Chancellor John Covington has scheduled nine strategic planning sessions throughout the state of Michigan starting Friday, Dec. 9, to secure public input in the design of the system that will begin operating schools next fall. Three of the meetings will be held in Detroit, with the first one taking place this Friday, Dec. 9. Additional planning meetings will be scheduled in January with a goal to involve additional areas throughout the State.
The Detroit meetings will be held at the Michigan State University – Detroit Center at 3408 Woodward this Friday, Dec. 9, 5:30-8:30 p.m., at Marygrove College at at 8425 W. McNichols; Monday, Dec. 12 from 5-8 p.m.; and at the Wayne County Community College downtown campus at 801 W. Fort St. on Monday, Dec. 19, from noon to 3 p.m.
Covington said key stakeholders that include, parents, business and community leaders, elected officials, teachers and members of the clergy are being invited to the planning sessions.
“We are on an extremely aggressive timeline to get the system operating, but we will only be successful if the community is involved in the process,” Covington said. “It is important that we gain statewide participation so that we build a new educational system for our students.”
The strategic planning meetings will be designed to seek input from members of the community and answer the following questions regarding the structure of the new system:
What should be the mission of the EAS?
What core values should drive EAS’ work throughout Michigan?
Are there particular design elements that should be included in EAS schools?
How might the EAS schools look different from a traditional school system?
“We don’t want to reproduce what is already in place,” Covington said. “We need something different for 21st century education. We need to address the needs of children who are born with a cell phone in one hand and a laptop in another.
“We also need to build a system that educates students who are prepared to compete in the global workforce, whether they attend college or not.”
The meetings will be held in Detroit, Flint, Mason, Ann Arbor, Portage and Grand Rapids, Michigan throughout the month of December and one meeting will be held Jan. 4, 2012 hosted by the Grand Rapids Public Schools at a site yet to be determined. Covington said additional meetings will be held in January and will be announced as they are scheduled.
Covington held preliminary community meetings in Grand Rapids, Flint and Detroit in October and November to introduce the Education Achievement System, answer basic questions and gauge the needs of the system.
The EAS is a new statewide system of schools that will operate the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in Michigan not achieving satisfactory results on a redesign plan or that are under an emergency manager. It is designed to provide a new, stable, financially responsible set of public schools that create the conditions, supports, tools and resources under which teachers can help students make significant academic gains. It will begin operating its initial schools in the 2012–2013 school year.
Following is a list of meeting dates, location and times for the scheduled statewide community meetings. Contact information is provided for each meeting to confirm participation.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 December 2011 15:56
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