Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
First of all, to suggest that the failure of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is President Obama’s Katrina is a preposterous argument that is baseless at its core because the memory of Hurricane Katrina is a bad memory that would make you feel sick when you think of the woeful incompetence of former president George W. Bush when the levees broke that led to Katrina. Countless numbers of people died in the storm, prisoners drowned in their cells, families became homeless, children could not connect with their parents as many precious lives were shattered in the face of a Bush administration that did not show any sense of urgency in intervening.
The world watched in shock. Nations offered to help but an egotistical administration turned down the offers even as its people continued to suffer and die. Some are still haunted by the trauma of Katrina which chose a mass underclass of Blacks in New Orleans as its victims. So the health law cannot be compared. Katrina is only comparable to the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Out of respect for the victims of Katrina, let’s stop the foolish comparative analysis.
But the truth is that the Obama administration messed up. President Obama admitted that in his press conference last week during which he shouldered responsibility for the ACA unveiling which turned out to be a blunder. The result has been utter frustration, anxiety, nervousness and confusion among consumers now finding themselves at the mercy of insurers and the news of how high a deductible is going to be.
But what is interesting up to now is that no individual or team has taken full responsibility for what happened, except that Obama has been the one doing most of the apology and promising a new direction.
But who’s in charge, Mr. President? Who did you delegate to handle this rollout?
Yes, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to Detroit last week in a public relations move to instill confidence that the government is at work. It will take more than just a stop in Detroit to get the health website working.
Apparently, the White House and the entire might of the federal government did not do what was supposed to be done: execute a well coordinated rollout and achieve the maximum impact that the new law would have on people, just as Obama campaigned on it. Or better still, the way the Obama campaign diligently and meticulously executed a massive strategy that had technology front and center and got people listening, contributing to the campaign website and connecting with the campaign.
Even though the federal government is bogged down in bureaucracy, and is not a 24hour campaign machine, that should not have stopped the White House from planning a rollout with the same effectiveness that the Obama campaign’s technological team had.
The president should have appointed a high level panel charged with the responsibility of overseeing the rollout and introducing them to the nation as the ones responsible for the rollout.
That panel, among other things, should have ensured that the capacity of the website was such that it could meet the demands of a certain number of consumers —and that number should be in the millions — because we have 30 million uninsured.
No excuses, a presidential panel ought to have the force, might and resources to carry out the most important domestic change in the last five decades in this country. More importantly, given that this is Obama’s domestic policy legacy, much detail and focus should have been placed on ensuring that the rollout was so well executed that the president’s skeptics were proved wrong and that his campaign theme promises were met.
I am unable to understand why and how the administration failed on this. We are still yet to know who in the White House was specifically in charge of this rollout.
The preeminence of common sense beckons on us that when something of this magnitude is tied to your legacy or reputation, you want to ensure that all hands are on deck to make it right, with no room for major mistakes.
Obama has enough critics and detractors to force his administration to not give them any reason to explain why their delegitimization campaign against him should hold water.
This blunder by the administration reminds me of Obama’s first televised debate with Gov. Mitt Romney, where he appeared drained and tired and uninterested in the issues, which made supporters of his re-election extremely nervous on the night of the debate.
During last week’s sudden media briefing, the president appeared bored as if he was unfamiliar with the health law, as he struggled to explain the flaws of the rollout that is supposed to benefit millions who find themselves at the crossroads of either a better insurance or a deductible they can’t even afford.
Let’s be clear. The intention of the law is to make health care affordable. The moral ground for this is huge. No amount of criticism against the rollout or subterfuge can take that away.
But something must be done about a law that passed and mustered every legitimate test from the halls of Congress to the U.S. Supreme Court, so that it reaches its eventual goal: insuring the uninsured.
Some have said no need to make a big deal out of a website crash or the unending technical glitches the president said are being addressed. That in the words of William Shakespeare this is “much ado about nothing.”
Well, it’s easy to say that if you are not the one on the computer shopping for health insurance every day, or receiving a deductible that is several times higher than your mortgage or rent.
No matter how simple the glitches might seem, the consequences are significant. Because in addition to the propaganda machine that is against implementing the new law, the administration has helped that very machine in adding confusion to the ACA.
The Obama we know is one who executes almost flawlessly and does so for the bigger picture and for posterity. Even against the advice of some his advisors, the president pressed on the ACA and got it passed in Congress. The Supreme Court adjudicated it and Obama ran on that for his re-election and won.
The final chapter of the long struggle of this new law was the rollout, which should have marked an era in government efficiency and less bureaucracy. Instead, we were disappointed.
And with this dismal rollout, the White House subconsciously caved in to their critics, giving them more fuel for their propaganda against the law and the president.
On the merits of core competence, the new law deserved a presidential rollout, not the kind we’ve seen in recent weeks.
The president’s approval ratings are tanking in the 40s and 30s. Beyond the politics of polling must lie an Obama who must move quickly to rescue his health care legacy by appointing a team to address the existing and emerging problems, and eventually make this law successfully and lasting.
I recommend that Obama appoint a “Fix It Panel,” to further mitigate the damage of the rollout. I have no doubt anyone who receives a call from Obama to serve on such a “Fix It Panel,” would see it as an extraordinary honor to serve the nation after receiving a call from the 44th president of the United States.
For a start, here is how the president’s configuration “Fix It Panel” should look like.
Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and chair of the Democratic National Committee who is a medical doctor, should serve on this panel. Dean, who some say should have been the Health and Human Services Secretary, is an outspoken supporter of the law. A hard-nosed progressive, he has been an advocate for a single- payer health plan. He knows the politics of the issue and understands the crucial patient-doctor relationship.
Nancy Schlichting, the CEO of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, a $4 billion organization and one of the largest healthcare companies in the country with 23,000 employees, should be on this problem-solving panel.
On a panel like this it is important to have someone like Schlichting who is running a large health care system, not just technocrats, because she brings invaluable human relation experience, pragmatism and business management expertise to bear on this issue based on her knowledge of running a massive health care system. It pays to see the perspective of the institutional health care providers, not just the professionals.
Dr. Patricia Berg, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at George Washington University, where she directs the breast cancer research laboratory, would make a strong addition to the panel. In addition to developing vaccines, Berg has been a relentless advocate against government cuts in cancer research.
Dr. Berg has been pushing politicians in Washington, DC and state capitals to see and understand the importance of saving lives with research.
Nurses everywhere are on the front lines of saving lives daily. If success of the law is predicated on the need for better health outcomes, not just processes, then nurses should be at the table.
Dorothy A. Obuya, a certified, registered rehabilitation nurse in Texas, a state that has been one of the strongest resistant blocks against Obamacare, would bring the perspective of thousands of nurses across the country who interface daily with patients.
Conversations around fixing the health law needs to go beyond the Washington punditry class to involve hands-on health care professionals like nurses.
The faith community is crucial to the success of the health law, as we’ve seen the tension between Catholic institutions and the Obama administration over certain provisions of the law.
Hyepin Im, CEO of the Korean Churches for Community Development in California, who is already a presidential appointee to the Corporation for National and Community Service, should be on the panel.
Im, who was at the White House last week for a meeting of faith-based leaders with the president, stands at the intersection between faith, family, politics and community development. The panel will also require a brilliant legal mind that understands how to navigate the media landscape on the most complex legal matters relating to the various provisions of the law, and how they relate to the uninsured and under-insured.
Because, let’s face it, apart from the technical issues with the ACA website, the law suffered media appreciation deficiencies (MAD).
Robert Beatty, a Florida attorney understands what it will take to negotiate with the media porcupines. A partner at Adorno & Yoss and former general counsel of the Miami Herald, Beatty’s experience in a state like Florida, whose political leaders are indifferent to the health care law, will prove helpful to the presidential panel.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 10:08
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Democratic nominee for governor unveils minimum wage plan in Detroit
The man who wants Gov. Rick Snyder’s job has already begun flexing his political muscle by taking on an issue that has long been the bane of the struggle between liberals and conservatives: the minimum wage.
Democrat Mark Schauer, who will be the nominee for governor for Michigan Democrats in 2014, came to Detroit this week to announce a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.40 to $9.25 per hour.
This, according to Schauer, will match the purchasing power of the minimum wage during its peak in 1968.
“This is just common-sense economics. When working families have more to spend on things like gas, groceries and clothes for their kids, it creates demand,” Schauer said. “And when demand increases, small businesses grow and hire more workers. Minimum wage workers have waited long enough for a raise. It’s time to do what’s right for our families, our businesses and our economy by raising the minimum wage.”
The Schauer plan would be phased in three years and the minimum wage would increase from the current rate of $7.40 to $8.00 in year one, $8.60 in year two and $9.25 in year three.
Moving forward, the Democratic flag bearer said the minimum wage would then be tied to inflation, and said the hourly rate should be indexed to the Consumer Price Index, with adjustments taking place every two years.
Already some working people are receiving Schauer’s plan as realistic and just what the working class needs. Kim Pearce, grocery store employee in Detroit, has embraced the minimum wage proposal from the Democrat.
“Working hard is part of who we are in Michigan,” Pearce said. “But no matter how hard we work, families like mine are still struggling to get ahead. Raising the minimum wage would help lift up thousands of families across the state.”
The battle for minimum wage increase already is gaining a lot of traction with California passing minimum wage to $10. In that case the wage will be implemented in two phases: an increase to $9 per hour in July of next year, followed by a $1 increase to $10 in 2016.
“The minimum wage has not kept pace with rising costs. This legislation is overdue and will help families who are struggling in this harsh economy,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said in support of the new law.
In Seattle, Washington, voters on Nov. 5 passed Proposition 1 by 54-46 percent, which calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage for airport, hotel and restaurant workers, the highest in the nation. Called the Sea-Tac initiative, it will affect workers in and near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The current wage is $9.19.
The Michigan League for Public Policy is applauding the move by Schauer on the minimum wage.
“No one who works hard should be forced to work for poverty wages, whether they are parents supporting young kids or teenagers who are just starting their working lives,” said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “But this is exactly what we’re asking many minimum-wage workers to do — to put in their time at work and still remain poor.”
Erica Hill, Detroit political observer and campaign veteran, said while Schauer’s minimum wage announcement is a good start, the leader of the Democratic pack for 2014 cannot just rely on traditional supporters.
“He has to identify with newer, non-traditional voters, within the 18-35 demographic, utilize social media, establish a ground game in urban centers early and establish solutions that challenge Gov. Synder on issues such as emergency management, Right to Work, pension dissolution and public education,” Hill said. “He should clearly establish how democracy is currently being undermined and how he can help to restore it.”
Hill said minimum wage is not enough to reduce voter apathy and give voters a reason to show up at the polls.
“I believe it is a step in the right direction, as long as the party is prepared to take on the fight by our corporate friends,” Hill said. “We don’t want to muddy the water like we did in 2012, with an extremely crowded ballot, but taking another stab at the Emergency Manager Law may excite some voters, considering how Detroit is currently fairing under the law.”
Democrats have come under fire numerous times for not paying attention to the urban vote.
“Time after time, election year after election year, urban centers only come into play at the end of the election cycle, in both thought and financial investment,” Hill said. “The one thing that has not changed about Michigan politics is the fact that as Detroit goes, so does the region. This is the perfect opportunity to allow Detroit to work for the party. Make no assumptions.”
She said the streets of Detroit are still “simmering from the mayoral election. Don’t let the energy die. Capitalize on it by investing in a solid ground game in urban centers, now.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 10:05
Category: Breaking News Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
(CNN) -- George Zimmerman was arrested Monday afternoon in central Florida "after deputies responded to a disturbance call," the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Further details about Zimmerman's arrest in Apopka, Florida, were not immediately released. He will be booked at the county's correctional facility, the sheriff's office said.
This is one of several brushes that Zimmerman has had with law enforcement since he was acquitted this year of murder and manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.
Earlier this month, police in Lake Mary, Florida, said no charges will result from an alleged domestic dispute in September between George Zimmerman and his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman.
Shellie Zimmerman said in September that she has doubts about his innocence in the Trayvon Martin case.
Since his acquittal in the Martin case, Zimmerman also has been stopped for speeding twice. He was pulled over the first time in Forney, Texas, in July and told the police officer he had a concealed weapon permit and a gun in his glove compartment. The officer wrote on his incident report that he gave Zimmerman a verbal warning.
Zimmerman was pulled over in early September going 60 mph in a 45-mph zone in Lake Mary and received a $256 ticket. He was not carrying a weapon at the time.
His attorney in the murder trial, Mark O'Mara, no longer represents him.
CNN's Kim Segal and HLNtv.com's Graham Winch contributed to this report
Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 15:57
Category: Main News Written by CNNll Weir
Toronto (CNN) -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would have admitted to smoking crack cocaine long before his eventual , he says. It's just that no one asked him the right question.
After more than five months of denials, Ford admitted that he had indeed smoked crack in a "drunken stupor" about a year ago. Thecame amid a drug investigation that has led to charges against a friend and occasional driver, though not so far against Ford himself.
In a weekend interview with CNN, the leader of Canada's largest city repeated his insistence that he would remain in office and let voters decide his fate next year.
And he defended his earlier denials, saying he never lied to reporters who asked about his drug use.
"If someone would have said, came up to me and said, 'Have you ever smoked crack? Have you ever smoked weed? I would have said, 'Yeah, I have,' " Ford said. "But when you come and accuse me of being a crack addict and say, 'Do you smoke crack?' No I don't. Have I? Yeah, OK. Have I drank, have I acted like an idiot when I drank? Yeah, I did."
Ford said he's not a . He said his conduct was "absolutely wrong," but added, "I am moving on."
Mayor Ford's wife stands by her man
Toronto strips some power from mayor
Mayor's brother: He may need time off
Speaking at a weekend toy drive in the blue-collar City Council district that his brother Doug now represents, Ford said he was "sick and tired of all the allegations and all this bulls--t."
"Sorry, kids -- I shouldn't have sworn in front of the kids," he said. "But after a while, I know what I'm doing is right. I'm serving people. I'm saving taxpayersAnd you know what, I made mistakes, I drank too much, I smoked some crack sometime. What can I say? I made a mistake, I'm human."
The Toronto Star has reported that Ford was asked "countless times" whether he had used drugs while mayor, without an answer. Ford accused the newspaper of mounting a vendetta against him on behalf of his "rich and elitist" political opponents.
Ford was elected to a four-year term in 2010 and has touted tax cuts and streamlined government under his administration. But while he's often characterized as conservative, Doug Ford said his brother is "a huge, massive social liberal" who loves U.S. President Barack Obama.
Rob Ford added, "My specialty is taking care of people that have been totally ignored their whole life, and I'm not going to stop doing it."
Since his November 5, documents released by a court have outlined more allegations of drug use, drunkenness and alleged verbal and physical abuse of aides. In the course of answering those allegations on Thursday, he denied a female staffer's allegation that he sought to perform oral sex with graphic language of his own, stunning reporters and leading to another apology.
On Wednesday, Toronto's City Council called for him to take a leave of absence. On Friday, the council voted to strip him of his ability to govern in an emergency and to appoint and dismiss committee chairs. Monday, members are expected to take up a measure that would delegate duties not assigned by statute to the mayor, effectively stripping Ford of most of his responsibilities.
But in the northwestern neigborhood of Rexdale, a diverse community in the heart of the "Ford Nation," the mayor and his brother were met with cheers by the knot of well-wishers who joined him at the toy drive.
"The people love you," one woman told him.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 07:46
Category: Top News Written by CNN
(CNN) -- Tubes used to clear his lungs prevent Nelson Mandela from speaking, and he uses facial expressions to communicate with doctors and family, according to his former wife.
"He remains very sensitive to any germs, so he has to be kept literally sterile," Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told South Africa's Sunday Independent newspaper in an article published Sunday. "The bedroom there [at his home] is like an ICU ward."
Mandela, 95, "remains quite ill," she said, but doctors are tending to his needs at his residence in Houghton, a suburb of Johannesburg.
The tubes are used to prevent infection in Mandela, who is said to be stable.
Winnie Mandela publishes prison journal
Turning Mandela's life into a blockbuster
"He communicates with the face, you see," Madikizela-Mandela told the newspaper. "But the doctors have told us they hope to recover his voice."
On September 1, the renowned leader was discharged from a Pretoria hospital where he had been receiving treatment since June, the South African president's office said Sunday.
Mandela was hospitalized June 8 because of a lung infection.
The frail icon has not appeared in public for years, but he retains his popularity as the father of democracy and emblem of the nation's fight against apartheid.
Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country's system of racial segregation. He became the nation's first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed from prison.
His history of lung problems dates to his imprisonment on Robben Island, and he has battled respiratory infections since then.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 November 2013 07:36
Category: Top News Written by News One
Now a federal informant has stepped forward to provide details about the attempted hit on Knight, which was allegedly ordered by former music executive and now convicted drug trafficker, James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond (pictured left), according to The Smoking Gun.
The informant, who has only been identified by the moniker “CW-3” (Confidential Witness 3), reportedly told authorities that he was hired by his longtime associate Rosemond to shoot Knight. The gunman alleged that Rosemond, who was coincidentally in attendance at the party, not only paid him $10,000 but handed him a gun to use for the shooting.
The motive for the shooting is still unknown.
Last Updated on Friday, 15 November 2013 16:23
Category: News Briefs Written by News One
The family of 8-year-old Aolani Dunbar (pictured) is reportedly hurt that their community has not reached out to them after their child’s classmates allegedly bullied, then yanked off part of her sewn-in hair weave — and a piece of her scalp along with it — according to MyFox Atlanta.
The alleged bullying began three years ago, but it only intensified after Aolani got extensions put in to her hair on Saturday, September 28th. According to Aolani’s mom, Sarah Charles, as soon as her daughter went to school the following Monday, children in her third-grade class began pulling her hair and teasing her about having, what they reportedly thought, was a wig on her head.
Charles told the New York Daily News that she contacted Aolani’s Roopville Elementary School on Tuesday to complain about the hair-pulling but she didn’t receive any sympathy. For two weeks, the distraught Mom kept complaining about the escalating bullying.
Last Updated on Friday, 15 November 2013 07:02
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Aside from the buzz around Mayor-elect Mike Duggan’s historic rise to the top leadership of the city Tuesday, Nov. 5, another interesting twist to last week’s election is the number of new faces that were elected to the Detroit City Council.
For example, the council will have its first Hispanic member in Raquel Castaneda-Lopez representing Southwest Detroit, which marks a seismic shift in the political coalition of Detroit’s legislative body.
But beyond the new faces on the council that also includes Mary Sheffield, Scott Benson, Gabe Leland and George Cushingberry who is a fixture in Detroit politics, lies the question: Who will be the next council president?
Four incumbents were re- elected and one of them will emerge as head of the most talked about and controversial legislative body in Southeast Michigan.
The Rev, Andre Spivey, Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate and Brenda Jones, the highest vote getter, are returning to council but it is unclear who among the four will be chosen by the body to be its new leader.
Jenkins has been the president of the council since the sudden disappearance of Charles Pugh, and she has indicated an interest in serving in that role if her colleagues choose her.
But political observers are calling for a different council this time around, even as it seeks to install a new president, especially in the era of council-by-districts for the first time in 100 years.
“The new city council is an interesting mix of old and new. I’m interested in seeing how newcomers Sheffield, Benson and Castaneda-Lopez and seasoned newcomers like Cushingberry and Leland interact with incumbent council members,” said Erica Hill, Detroit political observer and campaign veteran who has worked on a number of elections as well as in city government. Both Cushingberry and Leland served in the Michigan legislature before their election to the city council.
Hill said district-wide council members will be held more accountable to the districts that they serve.
However, she said it is important to define what these new members can do, especially in the era of an emergency manager.
“The challenge in this is that the council members, both old and new, need to be honest with themselves and their constituents about what they can and cannot do within their districts and at-large. They are the legislative body of government in a strong executive branch-led city,” Hill said. “The council/mayor relationship is a check and balance process.”
She also noted that the council should create its own plan based on the city’s master plan.
“They are the voice of their constituents,” she said, adding that as the highest voter getter, Jones is positioned to be the leader of the council.
The president will have to be chosen by the members according to the new charter, instead of the previous practice of selecting the president based on who got the highest number of votes at the polls.
Eric Foster, political consultant who has conducted a number of polls to test the pulse of Detroit voters on a wide range of issues, said the council election is a significant shift.
Foster pointed out that there are seven members who are younger than age 44 (Benson, Jenkins, Castaneda-Lopez, Leland, Sheffield, Tate and Spivey) and five are under 40.
“This new group of younger and diverse professionals have the opportunity to craft legislative policy to fit the Detroit that we need to be, one that values seniors and those who have stayed and the families and young professionals that are needed to grow the tax base and improve the sustainability of our neighborhoods,”Foster said.
“This new group is also less connected to the traditional organizations and stakeholders than former council members. Those stakeholders will need to modernize their approach and policy initiatives to fit with the paradigm of these new councilmembers.”
Foster said staying with the theme of giving a young generation voice, the leadership of the council should remain with Jenkins and Spivey.
“They can also help shape a deeper data- driven approach to appropriations decisions and policy enactments to support making the product that is ‘Detroit’ work for residents, businesses and new customers to the city,” he said.
The Detroit City Council is one of the country’s few full time legislative bodies, and in a time when resources have been dwindling, some have called for the council to go part time.
First instituted in 1824, and once called the Common Council, the body has been at the center of some of the most interesting political turmoil in Detroit’s history which includes the constant tug of war between the council and the mayor.
For example, in 2005. at the height of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s era, four members of that council did not attend the mayor’s State of the City Address because of serious political disagreements with the mayor who is now headed to prison.
The former council president, the late Maryann Mahaffey, JoAnn Watson, Sharon McPhail and Barbara-Rose Collins all insisted that the city charter did not mandate them to attend the event.
The only members who attended Kilpatrick’s speech were Sheila Cockrel, Ken Cockrel Jr., Alberta Tinsley-Talabi and Alonzo Bates who later went to federal prison.
Mahaffey’s contention at the time was that the mayor was always seeking to tarnish the image of the council in the eyes of the public.
“During last year’s address the council heard for the first time the mayor had arranged for the purchase of the old train station in Southwest Detroit to transform it into a headquarters for the police. Council members were treated disrespectfully,” Collins said.
Kilpatrick, understanding the art of politics and persuasion, was known for presenting flowers and roses to individual council members before budget sessions began. That was his way of making amends with the body he needed to approve his proposals. The impact of those flower gestures was that the mayor received a less hostile atmosphere during the question and answer sessions and often got his proposals passed.
On the other hand, Mayor Dave Bing did not present flowers and his tenure was marked by bitter fights with the council which claimed the mayor was not communicating with them.
But in interviews, Bing has always maintained that he won’t compromise what was best for the city and in its interests.
It remains to be seen how this new council will work with Duggan, even though the former head of the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne County Prosecutor has expressed strong interest in building a solid working relationship with the city council.
Duggan cited as an example a lunch meeting he had with new member Benson during a town hall meeting where he was asked about his impression of the new city council.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 13:59
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
“This is unbearable. I feel like the radius of crime is just getting closer and closer to where I live. How long before someone I love is affected by crime? It is just a matter of time.”
That his how a colleague who walked into my office Tuesday evening before she left for the day described the current rate of executions taking place in Detroit, while our local security apparatus, the Detroit Police Department, appears helpless or begging for a plan that we are yet to see.
Almost every day, murders are taking place and the streets of Detroit have literary become a killing field from one tragedy to another.
Therefore, we must ask, Are we safe under Detroit Police Chief James Craig? That is a reasonable question to ask at this time when people are waking up every day to news of executions, gunshots and mayhem and there seems to be no realistic plan from the police department to instill confidence and a sense of security.
Well, it is bad enough that the men and women in blue are facing salary cuts when officialdom at city hall tell us that public safety is key. But the morale of the department, at an all time low, is colliding with the so-called austerity measures taking place.
Yes, Chief Craig has only been on the job a few months, say those who want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I also want to give him the benefit of the doubt because he just got here. I understand that when Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr appointed him he wasn’t naming a security magician to the post but rather an individual who is challenged like all of us.
However, it is hard to explain to the families and victims of gun violence in the last two weeks that we must wait for an answer or a plan to combat crime from the police department. It is hard to tell that to a father or mother who just lost a child or in the case of the Wayne University Law student who was shot. They can’t wait. They want answers, and they want them now.
As I’m writing this article there are families weeping because the lives of their loved ones were abruptly brought to a halt in the latest atrocity, the barbershop massacre, which Craig described as “urban terrorism.”
And if it is urban terrorism, where is the plan to fight urban terrorism that is not only destroying lives but also eating the fabric of our collective sense of security?
Where is the plan to take these criminals to task?
Where is the plan to make neighborhoods safe?
The Detroit Police Department received scout cars from the private sector to help boost its patrols and beef up resources of the department. In the past, crime was unreported or unresponded to because police vehicles weren’t available at the time crime was being committed.
The only plan that I’ve seen so far has been the decentralization of the centralized office when the chief announced a new team. But aside from that we are yet to see a plan from our public safety boss.
And his remarks to a group of seniors that he drove away from a potential carjacker didn’t help the public have confidence in the leader of public safety either.
Someone said to me inside a green room while we were waiting to go on air that in war the general is the last man to leave the battlefield, and the public perception of a chief driving away from a carjacker, while he was right in doing so, doesn’t present him as one in tune with the public safety crisis the city is facing.
Another police officer who begged anonymity was disturbed by the imagery of a chief of police running away from a carjacker. He wondered what point was Craig trying to prove when he made that revelation.
But what is most important here is not whether Craig drove away from the carjacker. What is crucial is the kind of plan that Craig has to mitigate the climate of vulnerability that we all have as a result of the spate of killings in the city.
I’ve never met Craig in person. I’ve only read him in the papers or watched his boisterous press conferences, which seek to instill confidence in the public about getting the bad guys.
But it will take more than press conferences and press releases to arrest crime. It will take more than bold descriptions like “urban terrorism” to combat the problems we are facing in public safety.
I’m not expecting the chief to perform a miracle. But what I am expecting is for him to demonstrate that he has this crisis under control. What I’m expecting is for the chief to show the public that Detroit will not be a theater for massacre and heinous crimes.
And in so doing we don’t need to be bogged down in deconstructing complicated crime numbers using metrics that are backed by all sorts of technical interpretations. The families of the barbershop victims don’t understand those metrics. What they know is that a murderer just executed their family members and they want answers.
I recognize that it will take more than the man who personifies public safety to make everyone safe in the city. That is why when Craig was named as the city’s top cop I wrote a column recommending that he engages the community in a meaningful way to allow him to get a better sense of the various perceptions about the department.
No police department can claim to have an effective crime fighting strategy without a detailed comprehensive community policing initiative that at the core places importance on its public outreach, support and partnership rather than the routine and mundane process where the men and women in uniform are talking only to each other.
A tour that earnestly seeks public input and community support will enable Craig to build a base from which the department can operate its community-policing program.
Key is getting community groups and individuals who have long been in the trenches fighting crime in an effort to create a violent-free community to have ownership in the new direction of the department as it relates to its community initiatives.
I moderated Mayor-elect Mike Duggan’s first public conversation Nov. 9 at Detroit Unity Temple sponsored by the Detroit News based on its “Six Decades in Detroit,” project, and during the conversation crime was a focal point.
Later on, I met Mushin Muhammad, a man who singlehandedly initiated neighborhood patrols, creating security networks in his community so neighbors and his family can feel safe. His presentation at the Detroit Unity Temple town hall hosted by Rev. Gregory Guice was the mark of a man who stepped out to solve a problem and make his community safe.
The police department can utilize the work and the service of individuals like Muhammad to address crime in our community.
It definitely goes beyond Craig. And it will require the support of everyone to prevent the killings that are taking place and we must support any real plan the police department comes up with.
But leadership at its core starts at the top and works its way down. And the last time I checked, our police chief was James Craig.
The ball is in your court, Chief.
We are waiting.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 13:57
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Hiram Jackson, Publisher, Michigan Chronicle
Detroit voters have spoken loud and clear, selecting Mike Duggan to serve as their next mayor. While the recent mayoral campaign was often filled with contentious twists and turns, the election is over and it’s now time for all Detroiters to stand with our new mayor.
If you were not a Duggan supporter, get over it…and quick, because he must be given a fair opportunity to lead our city out of its present state of flux — punctuated by crime, high unemployment, decaying neighborhoods, bankruptcy and a reigning emergency manager.
We have far too many problems in our city to be further hampered by political differences and petty politics. This is truly a crisis situation and we need “all hands on deck.” Duggan won’t be able to do it alone; he will need vast cooperation from all citizens, community groups, corporate entities, and other coalitions of pro-Detroiters.
As publisher of the Michigan Chronicle, I congratulate mayor-elect Duggan and offer him my support in moving Detroit forward. I also call on all Detroit media outlets to use their print and electronic platforms to help our new mayor convey to the world news stories about the many positive things that are to come — and already occurring — in our city.
Far too often, the only stories that emanate from the Motor City are ones that cast a negative light on the city.
While the historic election of Duggan has made world news — he is the first caucasian mayor to serve the Motor City in 40 years — his claim to fame must be more than a few paragraphs in history books. He must galvanize a city that has major problems, many of which have been decades in the making.
By various news reports, Duggan will soon approach Gov. Snyder and EM Kevyn Orr to discuss restoring mayoral control to the city of Detroit, making Orr’s tenure as EM short-lived. Hopefully, he will find success. But to be truly successful, Duggan must also forge an alliance with City Council.
I am hopeful that he will unveil and implement his comprehensive plan to help Detroiters find jobs —lots of them. His jobs plan would be welcomed sooner, rather than later.
I am also anxiously waiting to see his public safety plan in action so that the streets of Detroit will become safer for us all.
During a face-to-face editorial meeting at the Michigan Chronicle’s office during the campaign season, Duggan told our reporters, “I’ve worked every day in this city for the last 32 years. I’ve been honest with every group of voters that I’ve met with. I’ve asked them to see if my ties and my love for Detroit are sufficient enough for them to vote for me…because I can identify with and fix the problems of Detroiters.”
The voters have made the decision that Duggan’s ties and love for Detroit are sufficient. Like many Detroiters, and perhaps others around the world, I will be rooting for Duggan to be the change that Detroit needs.
Let’s stand with him and give him every opportunity to lead this city back to greatness now. Rooting for Mike Duggan is rooting for Detroit.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 17:32
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