Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
Although he is only 42 years old, and made his debut as a film director, producer, screenplay writer, actor, playwright and songwriter in 2005, Tyler Perry’s output has been so prolific — some would call it Herculean — that in several respects he seems like a veteran in the world of filmmaking and play and TV producing.
Clearly Perry, born Emmitt Perry Jr. in New Orleans, found his audience early on. It was an underserved audience, overwhelmingly Black, although he has White followers too, that had been longing for movies and plays that “keep it real” (as they perceived it).
And just as the O’Jays sang of having “a message in the music,” Perry has always made a point of having “a messages in the movie,” the stage production and the television program.
Without question, a good part of Tyler Perry’s work does not win the approval of many Black people, particularly the middle class and above. The word “ghetto” sometimes comes up.
Spike Lee, one of the few other giants in Black filmmaking, and another maverick, has been particularly critical of Tyler Perry. While acknowledging that Perry “has a large audience” and is “very smart in what he’s done,” Lee also famously noted that “some of the imagery is troubling” and “we can do better.” He even went so far as to use the words “buffoonery” and “coonery.”
Those last two words seem appropriate for the loud-talking, English-abusing, gaudy-clothes-wearing character Leroy Brown (portrayed by David Mann) on the TV show “Meet the Browns” (he was in the movie too). However, that is not to deny that he is very often funny.
LEE HAS A right to his opinion (could there be a little jealousy in there?) and in some respects he hits the mark and indeed, as he put it, “a lot of this is on us.” He pointed out that many high quality Black movies have received very little support in the Black community.
Perry was, to say the least, not pleased. He said, “It is so insulting. It’s attitudes like that, that make Hollywood think that these people (Perry’s audience) do not exist, and that is why there is no material speaking to them.” He added, “ I can slap Madea on something and talk then about God, love, faith, forgiveness, family, any of those.”
Justifiable (or not justifiable) criticism notwithstanding, few could deny the worth — in terms of entertainment and social value — of movies like “Madea’s Family Union” (with Blair Underwood, Maya Angelou, Lynn Whitfield, Cicely Tyson and Boris Kodjoe), “Meet the Browns” (starring Angela Bassett and Rick Fox), “Why Did I Get Married?” and “Why Did I Get Married Too” (featuring Janet Jackson, Louis Gossett Jr. and Jill Scott), “The Family That Preys” (with Alfre Woodward and Kathy Bates), and “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” (starring Taraji P. Henson).
Tyler has no trouble in securing the talents of major stars.
And it should be kept in mind that Tyler Perry provides work for an exceptionally large number of lesser known Black actors and actresses, as well as people working behind the camera, both of whom spend a lot of time out of work, more so that Whites, even though their unemployment is high as well. It’s the nature of the business.
IF THERE IS a female edge to much, if not most, of Perry’s work, it could have something to do with having had an abusive father. He said bluntly that his father’s “only answer to everything was to beat it out of you.”
His mother took him to church a lot which served as a kind of refuge. That is why there are so many church settings in his films, and why there are religious undertones even in the most unlikely places.
Young Tyler was so detached from and fearful of his father that when he was only 16 years of age, he had his first name changed from Emmitt to Tyler. This was one way to distance himself that much more from the man who had made his life so difficult.
Oprah Winfrey has said numerous times that as a girl, seeing the Supremes on the Ed Sullivan show made her realize that she too could “be something.” It was on her show that a guest author got his attention, explaining that writing could be therapeutic, indeed, a way to help work out personal problems.
TYLER PERRY decided then and there to launch a career in writing. Initially he wrote letters to himelf, and those letters evolved into the development of a stage musical titled “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which made its debut in a community theater in Atlanta, the city he had decided to make home two years prior.
The play was not a success, leaving Tyler disappointed but undaunted. Fueled by a need to express himself, please a largely ignored audience, and become the success he envisioned, he forged on, finding major success in a surprisingly short period of time.
His first movie was “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 2005. Certain crude elements notwithstanding, it grossed an impressive $50.6 million at the box office. His second film the following year, “Madea’s Family Reunion,” did even better, grossing $65 million.
After that, there was a long stretch of of sucessful movies, stage productions and television programs, and it shows no signs of subsiding.
DESPITE THE support he receives regularly from Oprah Winfrey and many other notables, there is still critcism, some of it exceptionally harsh. Touré, a New York based cultural critic, novelist and TV show host, once described Tyler Perry as “perhaps the worst filmmaker in Hollywood” and “the KFC of Black cinema.”
The fact is, Tyler Perry has a niche in Hollyywood and beyond, and he functions within it exceptionally well. Morever, he is a very wealthy man. He also gives back to the community, including a million dollar gift to the NAACP in 2009, and sending 65 kids from Philadelphia to Disney World.
Someone once said, “You can’t argue with success.” Well, you can, but it is essentially to of no avail if huge numbers of people are making that success possible.
It seems right to give Tyler Perry the last word:
“I work really hard. I know my audience and they’re not people the studios know anything about.”
Who could take issue with that?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 23:04
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
The NFL dead season is still the alive season. Nobody markets themselves better than the NFL with its hype machine churning constantly all year, but during late June and early July with the offseason workouts completed, the players and coaches scatter to all parts of the globe to wind down a bit before the training camps open in late July.
While the players and coaches take a break from their gladiator game, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is right in the mix of the NFL hype machine.
EA Sports recently released the official cover of its “Madden 13” football video game which featured Johnson – only the second Lions to be so honored. The cool part of the cover is that two Detroit landmarks are featured in the background, Ford Field and the Renaissance Center.
Johnson earned the honor by winning an online bracket-style voting competition, and it was a close competition. A No. 6 seed in the 64-player competition, he defeated No. 1 seed Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the finals. Johnson received 52 percent of the 651,736 votes cast in the finals to Newton’s 48 percent.
In earlier rounds, Johnson defeated Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe, Texans running back Arian Foster, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and, in the semifinals, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Wow!
In 2000 Lions Hall of Fame back Barry Sanders graced the cover of Madden, while Johnson now joins, along with Sanders, other NFL greats like Eddie George, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees, just to mention a few.
It is a great honor for Johnson gracing the cover of such a popular NFL-licensed console video game. For Johnson, the Lions and Detroit it is national recognition.
Does this put more press on the Lions and Johnson? Well, in any football season there is always pressure to meet expectations and get a playoff berth. Now Johnson falls under the so-called Madden cover hex/curse.
The Green Bay Packer fans are rejoicing that their man, quarterback Rodgers, was not on the cover. Packer fans point to the less than stellar season produced by Madden cover men Shaun Alexander, Vick, Favre and Vince Young. But the Lions faithful can point to their own Sanders and a number of others that survived the Madden cover curse.
“I am honored and humbled that fans across America have chosen me as the cover person for Madden 13,” Johnson told reporters. “I do not believe in the so-called curse. I plant to prepare and work hard in the off season like I always do and hopefully it will help us produce a season the Detroit fans will be proud of.”
Following the Madden announcement Johnson found himself named as the third best player in the NFL by his peers.
And why not?
He led the NFL in the two most important receiving categories — receiving yards and touchdowns — and didn’t even need to lead the league in receptions to do it. It was the kind of breakout season that squashed any debate about his status as elite and helped land him on the cover of the next installment of the Madden video game.
Megatron is now receiving praise from the people who can best appreciate his abilities on the football field: his NFL peers.
NFL Network has been working through the top 100 players in the NFL as voted by the players and Johnson, when all the ballots were tabulated, checked in at number three. Only Brees (second) and Rodgers (first) were ranked higher.
The Lions, recognizing that they have a special talent, recently re-signed Johnson to an eight-year contract beginning with the 2012 season and extending through the 2019 season. No other contract terms were disclosed.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 22:53
Category: Top News Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
A small business lending forum recently took place in Oak Park with U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D- Bloomfield Township) as the special guest speaker.
Peters serves on two committees relevant to small business: the Financial Services Committee and the Small Business Committee. The latter oversees the Small Business Administration. He told the business owners gathered at the Sahara Restaurant that his passion in Congress is working with small business owners.
He believes that small business owners are really the engine of growth in our economy, and added that as important as it was to make sure we continued to have an auto industry in this state, that’s not enough in the greater Detroit area.
“We need to further diversify and continue to grow, and when you talk about diversifying, and growing any jobs in that same sentence, you have to have our small business owners.”
Peters told the gathered small business owners that they’re the engine of the future for our area.
“Your success is directly tied to the success for all of us, together, so we need to be those partners,” he said.
Peters invited small business owners to contact him regarding challenges they’ve faced and experiences they’ve had so, if necessary, Congress can adjust policies.
“I can work with my banker friends as well to try to make sure you have access to the lending that you need,” he noted.
“We’ve come through a pretty tough period, as a result of what happened with the debacle on Wall Street, and the collapse of the financial markets and money freezing up everywhere,” he said. “It has been felt particularly hard on main streets. Main streets here in Oak Park and main streets across America.”
He added that local and regional banks have also been hit hard, saying those smaller banks were victims as much as anyone else.
“They weren’t the ones that caused the problems on Wall Street, and yet they found themselves in a difficult position with credit markets freezing, with real estate values dropping as dramatically as they had.”
He pointed out that it was tough to have that kind of lending ability, particularly when regulators came in and said these smaller banks had to increase their reserves.
“When they do that, it made it very difficult for them to lend,” Peters said. “And when they don’t lend to you, you don’t create jobs. And when you don’t create jobs, the economy doesn’t get stronger.”
He noted that he worked closely with President Obama on the Small Business Lending Act, which he said worked to free up more resources from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Peters encouraged business owners to reach out to SBA, and added that the Detroit area leads in number of SBA loans nationwide.
Allen Cook, assistant district director of the Lender Relations Division of the SBA’s Michigan District Office, said small business owners represent the true American economy, saying the small business community makes the community what it is.
“All that we do at SBA centers around small businesses,” Cook said. “The only reason we exist is to provide services and assistance for small businesses.”
He also said the SBA offers more than financial assistance programs. These include counseling and training programs. The counseling services are free and are “great” for any business owner.
The SBA also has Women’s Business Centers, and assists small businesses in getting their fair share of federal contracts.
Cook took a few minutes to debunk a few myths about the SBA.
“Number one, we don’t have grant programs, we’ve never had grant programs,” he said.
He also said for the vast majority of small businesses, grant programs — in general — are not available.
Second, he said the SBA does not make direct loans to businesses using federal government dollars.
Third, the SBA does not have specific programs for women and minority owned businesses. It does, however, have one for veteran-owned businesses.
The local SBA office can be reached at (313) 226-6075 or www.sba.gov.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 22:48
Category: Top News Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
Since 1976, the Payne-Pulliam School of Trade and Commerce — the old fashioned-looking two story building at 2345 Cass — has provided post-secondary education to Detroiters.
“All our students are generally past high school age,” said Freddie M. Lindsay-Payne, vice president/coordinator.
Many people may not realize the school is open because they don’t do a lot of advertising on the building itself.
“I think we’ve got more now than we’ve had in the past, with the name, and under the name the Michigan Works Affiliate,” she added.
The school, which was accredited in 1978 to offer business education and granted non-profit status in 1983, has been a Michigan Works! Affiliate since 1996.
Betty E. Pulliam, president and director, notes that Payne-Pulliam has always been a private training institution.
“While the word ‘school’ is in our name, we’re more a training institution,” she said. “We have always been funded through various governmental entities. We’ve worked with the State of Michigan and some of their funded programs. Ninety percent of our funded programs have come through the City of Detroit with their employment and training programs. And then we’ve done work with the Detroit Public Schools”
When they originally started with a focus on business education, the concept was not to have large classes. Both were products of the Detroit Public Schools where large classes were common.
“So when we did our advertising, we advertised small classes, one-on-one,” Lindsay-Payne said. “And we developed a system of taking people in, not on any semester basis, but on an open entry/open exit kind of basis. So people were able to come in and move along at the pace they were at.”
In addition, Payne-Pulliam had people who were interested in helping to build a whole person. They identified with the customers and clients.
“We know what they need, and we try to give them what they need in order to make it in this society,” Lindsay-Payne said.
They both graduated from the High School of Commerce, the sister school of Cass Tech, which was eventually torn down to make way for the Fisher Freeway.
The High School of Commerce gave graduates a strong work ethic.
“We were very professionally trained,” Pulliam said, and they were motivated to become the best they could be.
“Mrs. Lindsay-Payne and I were city employees, but we started working for three gentlemen who started this business,” Pulliam said. “The RJA Training Institute. And what they were asked to do by the State of Michigan was run a clerical program for women who were receiving social service.”
Those women were having a difficult time blending in with the regular school setting.
“Our idea was, ‘Let’s give us a chance to push Commerce High School to the adults,” she said, adding that corporations need workers with skills beyond what they were getting from DPS.”
Pulliam also said Payne-Pulliam prepares its students for the workforce by insisting that they dress appropriately for the business world.
“They don’t have to do all the things that we ask them to do,” she said. “But we know that in order for them to be successful, to be able to hold down a job and be able to get the jobs they’re looking for, they need to have a certain appearance, have work ethics and good social skills.”
The market we’re all working in today is very difficult, noted Pulliam.
“If you look at what’s going on, with people’s lack of respect for one another, it’s a hurting society,” she said. “We feel that the kind of work we do here — as Freddie said, working one-on-one with a customer, helping them with their personal skill development — is very much needed.”
She and Lindsay-Payne had a “village” when they were growing up — a reference to the aphorism that it takes a village to raise a child — but their customers today don’t have that “village.”
“They live in fear in their neighborhoods and they don’t reach out to others,” she said. “So we try very hard to continue the philosophy of one-on-one personal growth skills.”
They have crossed from being a private school where they recruit students into a skills program. They now contract with the City of Detroit.
“We have responsibility of touching 1,000 students, minimal, per year,” she said. “They’re in a four to eight week short-term program. And our responsibility is to teach them job-ready skills, help them with their résumés, help them with their interviews, help them in dressing properly, help them find jobs.”
For more information, visit www.paynepulliamschool.org or call 313-963-4710.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 22:35
Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
The United States Supreme Court took the world by surprise Thursday, June 28, in its bold 5-4 decision to validate President Barack Obama’s signature achievement — the Affordable Care Act — during his first term in the White House.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in declaring Obama’s health care law constitutional and providing the swing vote in a presidential campaign season, instantly helped to solidify President Obama’s legacy. Opponents of the health care law reminded us during debates that defeating the health legislation would mark the beginning of the end for President Obama. In the words of Republican Senator Jim DeMint, “if we defeat Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo.”
For a conservative chief justice appointed by former president George W. Bush to rise above the chasms and naked partisan politics that have shaped the court and defined it in the eyes of public opinion took a lot of nerve from Roberts.
Certainly Roberts’ decision to validate the most important domestic decision of this historic presidency is a slap in the face of those — and the extreme right — who brought the suit to the court.
The conservative Washington Times screamed in its front page headline the morning after the ruling, “Roberts Court Stuns Nation,” an affirmation of the extent to which the ruling has dealt a blow to the Republican Congressional leadership and its accompanying Tea Party.
But if the opposition and those who were skeptical were reading Roberts’ writings and paying attention to his interviews in the past, they should have seen this coming.
Because not only was Roberts, in casting the deciding vote in the Affordable Care Act tried to shape his own legacy as the administrator of the court, despite his role in the disastrous Citizens United decision, he was sending a message of deference to electoral power to which Obama is the embodiment.
In his preview interviews Roberts warned that the court should not usurp the power of elected officials and must give deference to the decisions made by
those voted into office by the people. He noted that members of the Supreme Court are not elected, thus limiting their power to sometimes override the decisions of those elected. In essence, the court cannot be an activist court as Antonio Scalia personifies in his personal, intense dislike of President Obama and his decisions.
However, what is amazing is that the discussions around opposing the law are not centering on the millions of people who will have access to affordable care.
It is disappointing to see how talking heads beating the drum of repeal are framing the ruling and not focusing on how this health law will save lives, especially those with preexisting conditions.
“The decision was good news for consumers and the health care system. The Affordable Care Act establishes comprehensive insurance market reforms that will guarantee access to health care and protect Americans from catastrophic medical costs,” said Tom Buchmueller, the Waldo O. Hildebrand professor of risk management and Insurance at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Marianne Udow-Phillips, lecturer at the U-M School of Public Health and director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the U-M Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan also applauded the Supreme Court rule.
“The Affordable Care Act is not a perfect law. But it is so much better than what we have without it. The court’s decision and careful deliberation affirms that our form of government works, balancing competing views in a fair and thoughtful manner. It is, indeed, a remarkable day in health care,” Udow-Philips said.
The impact of this new law could not be more impactful anywhere than in communities of Color, such as the African American community, where there is a health tsunami.
Clover Campbell, head of the National Newspaper Publishers of America, known as the Black Press of America, underscored the ruling.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday upholding the constitutionality of the historic Affordable Care Act is not only a victory for President Obama, but a major win for all Americans, especially African-Americans and other people of color. The uninsured rate for Blacks is 28.8 percent and 30.7 percent for Latinos, compared to only 11.7 percent for Whites. Although it’s not perfect, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the racial, ethnic and economic health disparities in the U.S. and help our country shed the shame of being the only industrialized country in the world without a national health insurance program,” Campbell said.
“The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) realizes that even with the Supreme Court ruling, this fight is not over. Our 200 publishers are prepared to remain in the fight to make sure that health care is affordable and available to everyone who needs it.”
Nancy Schlichting CEO of Henry Ford Health System, one of the largest health care systems in the country, is among health care leaders in Detroit praising the high court ruling and calling it “a win-win” for patients and the country’s health care system.
“This ruling allows health systems like ours to continue making positive reforms to the country’s health care system that was on an unsustainable track prior to the passage of the Act,” Schlichting said. “We’re thrilled for the nearly 500,000 uninsured people in Michigan who will now have access to affordable health care, many for the first time, which in turn will bring much needed economic relief to Henry Ford and other health care providers that have been coping for years with the growing cost of uncompensated care.”
Schlichting said Henry Ford’s uncompensated care has doubled in the past eight years, from $111 million in 2003 to $210 million in 2011.
Whether they accept it or not, the highest court in the land has sealed the deal, and opponents of President Obama and those rooting for him to fail need to separate their personal dislike of the man from his health policy that will help millions.
Will they also call Chief Justice Roberts a socialist for giving the ultimate blessing to the historic health care legislation that now mirrors what other European nations have done in assuring health care for their people?
Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president who championed a similar health program as governor of Massachusetts, has been forced to tip-toe around this same issue and contradict himself.
A disappointed Romney said he will repeal the law once elected.
It will be interesting to see how this law impacts the election.
Bankole Thompson is editor of the Michigan Chronicle and the author of a six-part book series on the Obama presidency. 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. His forthcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and “Obama and Business Loyalty.” 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.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 22:27
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
NEWARK, N.J. -- Eight-time Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill pleaded guilty Friday to not paying federal taxes on more than $1.5 million earned over three years.
Appearing in U.S. District Court in Newark, Hill admitted failing to file tax returns from 2005 to 2007. She faces a maximum one-year sentence on each of the three counts. She was charged three weeks ago.
Dressed in a dark jacket, white button-up shirt and a long reddish-orange skirt, Hill declined to comment after Friday's hearing. During the hearing, attorney Nathan Hochman indicated that Hill planned to pay back the taxes she owes.
U.S. Magistrate Michael Shipp initially scheduled sentencing for early October but agreed to delay it until late November to give Hill time to make repayment.
Hill admitted she didn't pay taxes on about $818,000 earned in 2005, $222,000 in 2006 and $761,000 in 2007. The money was earned by four corporations she owned.
The 37-year-old South Orange resident got her start with The Fugees and began her solo career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."
She then largely disappeared from public view to raise her six children, five of whom she had with Rohan Marley, the son of famed reggae singer Bob Marley.
After the charges were brought, Hill posted a long statement on her Tumblr page that decried pop culture's "climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism." She explained that she hasn't paid taxes since she withdrew from society to guarantee the safety and well-being of herself and her family.
Hill hinted Friday that she might expand on those comments at her sentencing. When Shipp asked her if anyone had directly or indirectly influenced her decision to plead guilty, she replied, "Indirectly, I've been advised my ability to speak out directly is for another time, at sentencing."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:31
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
SOUTHFIELD — Each of the candidates for the 14th Congressional district seat in this year's election agreed in support of federal legislation to help Detroit, except for U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, who announced Friday plans to skip ensuing debates due to "racist rhetoric."
Democrats U.S. Rep. Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, former state Rep. Mary Waters of Detroit, and retired magistrate Bob Costello of Detroit and Republican John Hauler of Grosse Pointe Woods spoke at the League of Women Voters-sponsored event Sunday at Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
Clarke, of Detroit, said in a statement Friday that he would not participate due to "racist rhetoric and race-baiting." The statement did not specify a particular incident, but comes at a time in which Clarke has come under attack for allegedly misidentifying his mother's race.
Clarke is thought of as the first Bangladeshi-American Congressman; a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who claims on his website that his mother, Thelma Hashim, is African-American.
On Saturday, the Detroit Free Press published Hashim's 1976 death certificate, identifying her as white. The Free Press reports that radio show host Mildred Gaddis said on her show last week that a robo-call to 14th district households claimed that Clarke is not black.
An empty chair sat next to Costello, who spoke in support of Clarke in a statement, calling the ancestry attacks "repugnant."
Waters, an African-American from Detroit, attacked Clarke in closing statements.
"If your ethnicity is in question, then come forward," Waters said. "You can't take your marbles and run home, ladies and gentlemen. You've got to be strong and you've got to stand up. He should be right here and he should confront me."
'Urban agenda' frames debate
Every candidate Sunday acknowledged the socioeconomic spectrum of the district — stretching from southwest Detroit to Grosse Pointe and across Southfield into Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, and Pontiac — which had come under controversy when it was implemented this year.
"Detroit needs simple things that we enjoy in the suburbs that we take for granted," Lawrence said. "There was a wonderful example of mutual partnership for the fireworks and that was to make sure it was a safe night. We're going to have to do more of that."
In front of a small, packed crowd at the Conservative synagogue, Lawrence and Peters suggested that the federal government can serve as a catalyst to improve Detroit with funds dedicated to improvements in mass transit.
"The mass transit issue is extremely important. Every city that has mass transit has a system of youth, property values go up ... we must make that a priority," Lawrence said.
Peters said, "We are the only region in the country that doesn't have mass transit ... it brings jobs, it brings people who want to live there, stores, activities."
Waters spoke in support of an "urban agenda" for single mothers including funds dedicated to education, day-care, transportation and job training. "I am truly convinced that if you have employment in a city, you don't need to worry about social services as much."
Costello, a Detroit resident, suggested that a tax credit could be used as incentive to bring suburbanites back to the city. "Detroit has been a disaster as far as getting federal help goes. It's been going on since the mid-60s. Look at it, it has not worked because people have moved. We need people there to pay the bills," he said.
Hauler suggested a federal tax-free zone for the entire city. "As opposed to the federal government giving us money, how about they stop taking it out of our checks for 10 years? You will get people in that city tomorrow."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 14:29
Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation providing an alternative to employee layoffs by creating a voluntary work-share program, an initiative he called for in his December 2011 Special Message on Talent Development.
Senate Bill 1094, sponsored by state Sen. Bruce Caswell, encourages employers to maintain a skilled and talented work force by providing partial unemployment compensation to workers with reduced hours in times of economic hardship. The bill creates a hybrid plan to benefit all parties, allowing employees to collect unemployment benefits in proportion to their reduced hours and employers to retain talent.
“This new alternative plan will enable Michigan to keep its skilled and talented work force employed,” Snyder said. “By providing partial compensation to workers with reduced hours, we can support both families and businesses as we continue rebuilding our economy.”
The bill is now Public Act 216 of 2012.
The governor also signed six other bills.
S.B. 1104, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Jansen, simplifies the charitable gift withholding process on income taxes for certain types of non-corporation businesses. The bill now is P.A. 217.
S.B. 1106, sponsored by state Sen. Bruce Caswell, permits family-owned businesses to receive greater unemployment insurance benefits. Individuals laid off from a family business now are eligible to collect 20 weeks of benefits rather than the previous seven. The bill now is P.A. 218.
S.B. 1107, sponsored by state Sen. Jack Brandenburg, avoids unintended consequences of P.A. 269 of 2011 by temporarily requiring employers to wait only eight quarters of reporting no employee payroll to the Unemployment Insurance Agency before a new 2.7 percent tax rate can be applied, rather than the 12 quarters required in last year’s law. The bill now is P.A. 219.
H.B. 5340, sponsored by state Rep. Jud Gilbert, adjusts the interest rate paid by state or local government on refunds to individuals for overpayments. The higher interest rate will encourage local boards of review to more quickly settle taxpayer complaints. The increased rate also applies to individuals who owe money to state or local government for underpayments. The bill now is P.A. 220.
H.B. 5477, sponsored by state Rep. Wayne Schmidt, strengthens the 21st Century Jobs Fund to provide easier access to micro loans and reimbursement for startup costs. The Jobs Fund promotes growth and diversity in Michigan’s economy by investing in venture firms, university research and other contributors to economic growth. The bill now is P.A. 221.
H.B. 5646, also sponsored by Schmidt, exempts certain land reverted to the state land bank from some property taxes to promote the creation of jobs, investment and economic growth. The bill now is P.A. 222.
Visit www.legislature.mi.gov for more information on the bills.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 July 2012 12:24
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
Congress may have a deal on extending the discounted interest rate on federal student loans, but there are a million people who want them to go further.
Robert Applebaum, a former assistant district attorney from New York, delivered 1 million signatures Thursday from his petition for Congress to pass H.R. 4170, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, at the House side of the Capitol. He was joined by the bill's author, Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Tony Mitchell, Jr., Congressional Liaison of the National Black Law Students Association, and Getachew Kassa, who is Legislative Director for the U.S. Student Association. About 20 students and college graduates and Occupy Colleges activists also joined the group.
Their argument: forgiving student debt would fix the economy.
"Forgiving student loan debt would have an immediate stimulating effect on the economy," Applebaum argued. "Responsible people who did nothing other than pursue a higher education would have hundreds, if not thousands of extra dollars per month to spend, fueling the economy now."
H.R. 4170 would use a 10-10 standard; If a student has made payments equal to 10 percent of his discretionary income for 10 years, remaining federal student loan debt is forgiven. It also would've made the 3.4 percent reduced interest rate on subsidized federal student loans permanent. The deal Congress reached this week only lasts one year, and as such, Clarke criticized it as a "band aid."
The petition to support it is being hosted online through a website run by MoveOn.org. The petition initially had smaller targets near 250,000, but ended up surpassing 1 million signatures earlier in June.
"More and more of us are struggling with debt we cannot pay within a reasonable amount of time," Kassa said. "This has caused us to postpone continuing our education beyond a bachelor’s degree, buying a house and even getting married."
The Washington Monthly reports Kassa graduated from the University of Oregon in 2010 with a bachelor's in political science and $30,000 in debt from student loans.
"Student loan debt is costing this country jobs and robbing many young college graduates of their future," Clarke said in a statement. "H.R. 4170 will give student loan borrowers an opportunity to pursue their dreams such as starting a business, working in public service, or buying a home."
Clarke may be right considering the multiple surveys showing millennials increasingly avoiding the housing market and choosing to rent or move in with their parents.
Although Applebaum's petition specifically supports H.R. 4170, he originally began pushing the idea of forgiving student loan debt in Jan. 2009 as an alternative to the stimulus Congress passed shortly after President Obama took office.
Yet considering the struggle it was for Congress to reach a deal just on a lower interest rate, it doesn't leave a lot of hope H.R. 4170 will gain any traction whatsoever within the two chambers in the near future.
Not to mention that the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 only deals with federal student loans. The Obama administration already offers income based repayment, meaning someone who took out loans each year and is only making, say $22,000 in their first job would only be required to make monthly payments that are less than $100 or so. And since the federal government limits how much students can borrow from them to go to college, the students who end up with upwards of $60,000 or even $100,000 in debt are making payments to banks who charged them 13 percent interest rates.
Meanwhile the extension on the discounted federal student loan rates would include a concession to Republicans, restricting the number of years part-time students can receive subsidized loans.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 July 2012 12:20
Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Detroit teachers could go out on strike this fall as the result of a new contract imposed on the union Sunday by Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts.
Although contracts are usually negotiated between DPS and the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), the emergency manager law, Public Act 4, allows Roberts to bypass the collective bargaining process, unliaterally determining the terms of employment for DPS teachers.
The union's previous contract expired at the end of June. Roberts is waiting for DFT to inform its membership before he makes details of the new contract public.
WWJ Newsradio reports that union officials will be meeting later this week to determine how to respond to the new contract -- and they haven't yet ruled out the possibility of a strike.
“Three years ago, I made a commitment that school would start on time and without interruption, and I honored that commitment,” DFT President Keith Johnson told WWJ. “This time, the only commitment I am making is that we will take the steps that are necessary to effectively address this act of tyranny.”
In a statement that appeared Monday on the DFT's website, Johnson said that his organization had not reached an agreement with the district. He added that the union would release an official statement on the matter after consulting with their legal counsel.
According to a statement from Roberts, the new contract follows a series "of meet and confer sessions" with the union that took place in June.
“This new collective bargaining agreement with our teachers provides the flexibility needed for our schools to be successful and to meet the educational needs of the children and families who come to us," Roberts said in his communication. "It also produces the savings necessary for the district to ultimately return to financial solvency and remove the debt that erodes financial resources reaching the classroom."
The relationship between the union and DPS has grown increasingly strained since last year when the district terminated all its union employees and required them to reapply for their jobs. -- a move it has repeated this year.
The DFT has also threatened to file lawsuit against DPS for allegedly violating the rights of its 4,100 teachers as established by Michigan's teacher tenure law and the union's previous collective bargaining agreement.
DPS' budget for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year is projected to be 25 percent lower than last year's -- partly due to the loss of 15 schools to the states new Educational Achievement Authority district for low-performing schools.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 July 2012 12:15
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