Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
After a sudden city council vote that allowed Mayor Dave Bing to demote the city’s top lawyer, Bing said the city is now better poised to make necessary financial reforms and stave off a state-appointed financial manager.
But according to Bing it wasn’t him who pressed for the removal of corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon, it was members of a state-appointed team reviewing Detroit’s finances to decide whether the city needs emergency intervention.
"I think [based on] the pressure that's been applied by the review team that's in here presently, we knew that we had to make changes in order for us to move our program forward," he said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Last year Bing urged the council remove Crittendon after she raised a controversial legal challenge to the city’s consent agreement with the state. At that time, the council refused to vote on the matter, prompting Bing to abruptly leave the June city council meeting calling it a “sideshow”.
Council members voted 6-3 Tuesday to allow Bing to remove Crittendon from her post as top lawyer without cause.
Crittendon said she has not decided whether she will continue working for the city’s law department.
The results of the state review team could trigger the appointment of an emergency financial manager and may be available as soon as this Friday Bing said. The state is still operating under Public Act 72. The new emergency manager law, Public Act 436, will not go into affect until March.
Bing said he was encouraged by a growing relationship with council members after meeting with a number of them over the holiday break.
“I think we worked very well together and I think that will continue as we move through 2013,” Bing told council members at Tuesday’s meeting. “I just hope that our relationship strengthens and we do the things that are necessary to bring the city back.”
Council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones and Kwame Kenyatta where the only dissenting votes on Tuesdays decision to remove Crittendon, and calling it a “miscarriage of justice” and a “disgrace”.
Crittendon said she believed the re removal was a concealed requirement that City and State officials agreed on in order to receive bond money held in escrow.
"From what I hear, I was a secret milestone," Crittendon told The Free Press. "They don't want anyone there who's going to require them to follow the law."
Crittendon came into the spotlight last year when she filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the consent agreement. She was she was concerned that the agreement was in violation the city charter, which prohibits the city from entering contracts with entities with debt to the city. Crittendon cited millions in revenue sharing debt and unpaid water bills.
A judge ruled dismissed the charge, but the move prompted Bing to seek outside legal advice and hire law firm Miller Canfield to counsel him on legal matters.
Crittendon opposed the $300,000 miller canfield contract citing a conflict of interest. But city council eventually voted to approve the contract under pressure to receive state bond money.
Bing said he felt Crittendon’s removal was best for the city, and not a personal act of revenge.
"There is no animosity from our vantage point. There is no personal agenda for me,” Bing said. “I've got to make sure I've got the right people with me."
He said he would appoint a new corporation counsel by the end of January.
City Council on Tuesday also approved $7 million in contracts with private turnaround firms. The state has offered 1.1 million to help the city pay for turnaround costs.
Detroit Program Manager Kriss Andrews said the sums spent on financial consulting are investments in the city’s future.
"The consulting contracts are going to be to the left of the decimal compared to the things that we need to do to make this a great city again,” Andrews said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 09:00
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
CANTON (CBS Detroit) Getting in shape for the New Year? There’s plenty of support for that, including this new effort brought by Canton Leisure Services and Oakwood Healthcare System.
The two are promoting healthy living and community wellness by offering a “100 Days to Health” program. Registration for this community-wide health and wellness program is currently in progress offering plenty of opportunities to learn about health and nutrition and participate in recreational activities.
This popular fitness program will officially kickoff on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at the Summit on the Park, located at 46000 Summit Parkway, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oakwood Healthcare System staff will be on hand during the kickoff providing health screenings. Other activities planned during the kick-off include: Summit tours; Family Zumba; and snacks. Plus, participants can also enjoy a special open swim starting at 1:30 p.m.
This year’s program offers everything you need to build a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Register now for Canton’s 100 Days to Health 2013 HERE, at the Summit front desk, or at the 100 Days Kickoff Event on January 12.
Registration fees for Canton residents are: $15 for adults ages 12 and up and $5 for youth ages 11 and under. Non-resident fees are $25 for adults 12 and up and $5 for youth ages 11 and under. Youth and children must register with an adult.
Once registered, you’ll have free access to all classes and events on the 100 Days to Health calendar. Participants can register any time during the 100 Days to Health program.
This year’s participants will also receive: a punch-card for five free visits to the Summit on the Park during the program; classes and events offered at a variety of convenient times to accommodate your busy schedules; innovative new classes; and the return of some of our most popular events including Zumba, Boot Camps, and Healthy Cooking with Chef Paul. Be sure to check out these healthy offerings throughout this program, which ends in April 2013.
To learn more about 100 Days to Health program, visit Cantonfun.org or call 734-394-5460.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:49
Category: News Briefs Written by William Julius Wilson
The Root) -- Despite all the rhetoric about reclaiming the American dream for middle-class Americans in this past presidential election, Barack Obama has done more for lower-income Americans than any president since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Quite frankly, I think that Obama's programs prevented poverty -- including concentrated poverty -- from rapidly rising over the past several years, considering the terrible economy.
Obama's stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) earmarked $80 billion dollars for low-income Americans, which included an extension of unemployment benefits, a temporary increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and substantial additional funds for food stamps (what we now call the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). It also included nearly $4 billion in job training and workforce-enhancement programs, and $2 billion for neighborhood-stabilization efforts.
Moreover, I consider the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly termed Obamacare) as an antipoverty program. Over the long term, this health care legislation will significantly benefit lower-income Americans. Indeed, the share of Americans who are uninsured declined between 2010 and 2011. And this improvement was in part due to a provision of the health care bill that allows children to remain on their parents' health insurance plan until they reach age 26.
Also, Obama worked out a deal with Congress to address the impact of the recession on lower-income Americans, a negotiation that led to a 13-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for more than 7 million jobless workers, as well as the continuation of programs that benefit the poor and working classes, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the refundable component of the Child Tax Credit and the 2 percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax for one year -- all of which put more money in the hands of ordinary Americans. Finally, I should mention the $144 billion package passed in early 2012 by Congress to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment insurance, programs that Obama pushed.
Considering how these policies fit in with the broader sweep of policy changes over the last few decades, one has to acknowledge that the legislation enacted was in response to the extraordinary economic situation that now plagues this country. Taken together, they far exceed any legislation beneficial to low-income Americans passed during the Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton or George W. Bush administrations.
But much more needs to be done to address the continuing effects of fundamental changes in the economy, especially the impact of these changes on the African-American community.
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:41
Category: Breaking News Written by Jenée Desmond-Harris , The Root
Medgar Evers' widow to deliver inauguration prayer: President Obama has chosen Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation at his public swearing-in later this month, the Washington Post reports. This will be the first time a woman, and a layperson rather than a clergy member, has been chosen to perform the invocation. In other inauguration news, the committee planning the event announced today that the Rev. Louie Giglio has been selected to deliver the benediction at the inaugural swearing-in ceremony. "Vice President Biden and I are honored that Myrlie Evers-Williams and Rev. Louie Giglio will participate in the Inaugural ceremony," Obama said. "Their voices have inspired many people across this great nation within the faith community and beyond. Their careers reflect the ideals that the vice president and I continue to pursue for all Americans: justice, equality and opportunity."
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:33
Category: Breaking News Written by Matt Smith, CNN
(CNN) -- The past year saw a mild winter give way to a balmier-than-normal spring, followed by a sweltering summer and high temperatures that lingered into the fall, all punctuated by extreme drought and intense storms.
Now 2012 is officially in the books as the hottest year on record for the continental United States and the second-worst for "extreme" weather such as hurricanes, droughts or floods, the U.S. government announced Tuesday.
The year's average temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit across the Lower 48 was more than 3.2 degrees warmer than the average for the 20th century, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That topped the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree.
Every state in the contiguous United States saw above-average temperatures in 2012, with 19 of them setting annual records of their own, NOAA said. Meanwhile, the country faced 11 weather disasters that topped $1 billion in losses each, including a lingering drought that covered 61% of the country at one point.
That drought shriveled crops across the American farm belt, leading to an expected rise in food prices in 2013, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. It also turned forests of the mountain West into stands of tinder that exploded into catastrophic wildfires over the summer, scorching millions of acres and destroying hundreds of homes.
And then there was Superstorm Sandy, a late October post-tropical cyclone that killed more than 110 people in the United States and nearly 70 more in the Caribbean and Canada. Damage estimates from the storm run around $80 billion in New York and New Jersey alone.
The report is likely to fuel new concerns over a warming climate. Seven of the 10 hottest years in U.S. records, which date back to 1895, and four of the hottest five have now occurred since 1990, according to NOAA figures.
The year also saw Arctic sea ice hit a record low in more than 30 years of satellite observations and studies that found the world's major ice sheets have been shrinking at an increasing rate.
Scientists are quick to point out that no single storm can be blamed on climate change, but say a warming world raises the odds of extreme weather.
"I think unfortunately, 2012 really may well be the new normal," said Daniel Lashof, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group. "It's the kind of year we expect, given the global warming trend is ongoing."
The science of global warming is politically controversial but generally accepted as fact by most researchers, who point to heat-trapping carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as the major cause.
Lashof's group is trying to press the Obama administration to tighten limits on carbon emissions, but he said those steps "are not going to reduce the threat of extreme weather overnight."
"We need to take greater preparations, anticipating the kind of storms and droughts that we saw are going to continue to be more frequent as we go forward," he said.
Though parts of the country such as the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Coast had wetter-than-average years, average precipitation was nearly 2.6 inches below normal -- the 15th driest since records started being kept in the 1890s, according to NOAA.
The two remaining U.S. states, remote Alaska and Hawaii, saw a mixed picture in 2012.
Alaska was slightly cooler and wetter than normal, while nearly two-thirds of Hawaii's island chain faced moderate to exceptional drought conditions by December, NOAA said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:31
Category: Breaking News Written by Ashley Woods, The Huffington
What will Detroit look like tomorrow? In 10 years? Or even 50?
After more than two years of mapping, scheming, surveying and re-imagining, not to mention 30,000 conversations with residents, the Detroit Works Project Long Term Planning will unveil a city-wide framework for change and development on Wednesday morning.
This book-long body of work, and the very different city that its recommendations could shape, even comes with its own new name: Detroit Future City.
Imagine a Detroit where empty warehouses become "Live-Make" districts; hackerspace neighborhoods zoned for artisans and creatives to live in the same spaces where they create. Or a neighborhood where vacant land has been cultivated into a protected woodlands area favored by hikers. Think of a Motor City where homeowners took light rail trains or high-speed buses to work every day.
Organizers, led by NYC-based project manager Toni Griffin, are careful not to call Detroit Future City a "master plan" -- Detroit already has one of those -- but a collective resource for businesses, philanthropists, community groups and city agencies alike to consult about services and resources. It plots a rough course to re-envision and transform Detroit over the next 50 years. Local voices involved included Professor Dan Pitera of University of Detroit-Mercy, Melissa Dittmer of RogueHAA and Dan Kinkead, an architect with Hamilton Anderson Associates.
It also walks a careful path around one controversial idea proposed by Mayor Dave Bing and others in 2010. At the time, the city's mayor called for downsizing Detroit into seven to nine different population centers. As much as 45 square miles of the city, or one third of Detroit's total land, would be basically shut down, with city services cut off for any residents who remained. Planners have seemingly chosen efficiency over prodding an eminent domain fight not seen in Detroit since Poletown. The team's strategists presented ideas to continue offering city services to smaller groups of residents. They also made clear that growing newly-defined neighborhoods and residential zones were long-term, organic efforts.
"It's about creating a place for all Detroiters," said Patera at a briefing for media held on Tuesday. "It understands the assets we have, and understands the past, to create an innovative future."
While Future City does sketch out parts of the city that could eventually be rezoned as "innovation ecological" areas or carbon forests, with an emphasis on creating regionally competitive neighborhoods, there seems to be no motivation to create nine identical Midtowns throughout Detroit. The plan calls for strengthening traditional residential tracts in some sections of the city, particularly Detroit's Northwest Side. Future City also imagines "green neighborhoods" of multi-family apartment properties with more parks and open space, and calls for local arts to be integrated into Detroit's comprehensive master plan. New ponds, dubbed "blue infrastructure," could collect rainwater and runoff, giving the city's overtaxed sewage system a break.
The Future City plan is more than just a thesis on land use. The economic growth section of the framework suggests strategies that leaders hope will create equitable business development in the city and support minority business owners. Creating opportunities for work inside the city limits for residents, as well as reliable transit options for those without cars, was one major tenet. Economic sector leaders say that local business-to-business sales and services could create as many as 10,0000 new jobs, while continuing efforts to attract education, medical, tech and manufacturing jobs within the city limits. About half the city's employment is currently located on 15 percent of the city's land, Griffin said. Bolstering these "natural economic corridors" would help create urban density, make it easier to target transportation spending to high-traffic areas and raise the overall value of land in the city. Neighborhoods like Corktown, McNichols, Southwest Detroit and Midtown were among those districts cited for their economic potential.
"There are places that are probably more ripe for investment and development and we need to focus in on those and get business and business activity growing there," Griffin said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
All told, the plan is highly detailed, organized around the six sectors of economic growth, land use, city systems, neighborhood revitalization, physical assets and civic engagement. Planners say the ideas could be accommodated even if the city loses another sixth of its population, though population stabilization is their first major goal. Milestones for progress are charted for the next five years, at 2020, 2030 and an ultimately transformed Detroit that's visualized in the year 2050.
That Detroit isn't right-sized, just readjusted. Within those city limits lies room enough for organic farms and high-tech firms alike, brand-new developments and historic single-family homes and the infrastructure to support a 21st century city. As the city navigates through persistent budget shortfalls and an uncertain financial future, that future Detroit seemed a long ways away.
But organizers said they are confident that change will begin as early as Wednesday's press conference, where the project's complete framework will be unveiled to the public. They're hoping that major stakeholders like public officials, nonprofit leaders, corporations and universities will all adapt the framework as they plot their future plans for growth and investment.
And, if nothing else, they were absolutely certain that, as civic discourse continues to allow Detroiters a say in ensuring the future of their city, this framework will bend and adapt to reflect those voices.
"We hope there are better solutions out there," Griffin said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:09
Category: News Briefs Written by Tim Skubick, WWJ
According to WWJ Former Governor Jennifer Granholm could be headed to the White House.
WWJ’s Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said there are rumors surrounding a possible appointment of Jennifer Granholm.
“We’ve seen this movie before, the only question is whether it will have a different ending. Granholm, the state’s former governor, has been on the list before for joining the Obama administration. The popular wisdom is that if indeed this is going to happen, and we have no idea if it will, but the Energy Secretary position will be open and she was up for that before, but she didn’t get it,” Skubick said.
Some published reports say if Attorney General Eric Holder steps down, Granholm may be considered for that position. Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson has already announced she’s leaving soon, and Granholm could be considered for that position as well.
“There are two schools of thought. If they wanted her in the administration, she already would have been there, that’s one school of thought. The other school is ‘Look, she’s been doing other stuff, she’s available, she’s looking for work, why not pick her?’” Skubick said.
Granholm most recently said she would be leaving her job at Current TV, where she has hosted “The War Room,” a public affairs program, for the past year. She said she plans to go back to “teaching, speaking and other things.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:20
Category: News Briefs Written by Alexis Taylor, AFRO.com
A new reality television show in the works for the Oxygen cable network, home of the “Bad Girls Club” and “I’m Having Their Baby” programs, has spawned outrage in the African-American community.
The program, “All My Babies’ Mamas,” is set to follow Carlos Walker, better known by his G-Unit rap moniker “Shawty Lo,” as cameras film the day-to-day activities surrounding him, his eleven children and their ten different mothers.
Petitions protesting the show, which is set for a spring 2013 debut, have already drawn more than 18,000 thousand signatures against the hour-long series produced by DiGa Vision, a production company funded by former producers from MTV.
“It’s an abomination and it is designed to demoralize and exploit our children,” said Sabrina Lamb, author and founding chief executive officer of the youth financial education organization, WorldofMoney.org.
Lamb said the children who have no choice in having their “pain and humiliation up for sale” are the main reason why the more than 14,000 supporters of her petition are putting more focus on this program than on what she called other “minstrel shows” such as VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop.”
“These images are going around the world- and the international community is watching,” Lamb told the AFRO, angered that the antics and aggressive attitudes of the African-American women on shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta” are often automatically speaking for the entire demographic.
In an open letter posted on the web site My Brown Baby Jan. 3 to Oxygen Media CEO Jason Klarman, Lamb said, “By all accounts, Oxygen Media wants young women to be self-hating, violent and catty while using their considerable spending power to support your advertisers.”
Lamb said she is outraged because the show is propagating a lifestyle of unprotected sex and abusive relationships. She also added that televisions shows like the proposed “All My Babies’ Mamas” are an act of desperation from a Black community “starved” to see themselves glorified on the tube, regardless of the image they are propagating to the masses.
“Is this how far we’ve come?” Lamb asked, adding that Walker “doesn’t need a reality television show- he needs therapy and a few boxes of condoms.”
The Lamb petition is one of four entreaties on Change.org to protest the show.
Along with Lambs petition letter, petitions by four other people opposed to the show have also been posted to the Change.org website, all in favor of cancelling the show Oxygen Media unveiled Dec. 26.
In a press release Oxygen Media said it is hoping to draw viewers in by broadcasting the “highs and lows of this extreme 'blended family' that is anything but ordinary.”
“Oxygen will give fans an intimate look at unconventional families with larger than life personalities and real emotional stakes,” said Cori Abraham, senior vice president of development for Oxygen Media, in the statement. “‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ will be filled with outrageous and authentic over-the–top moments that our young, diverse female audience can tweet and gossip about.”
Still, not everyone is interested in seeing the company prosper by capturing the family as it grows in number and “dysfunction.”
“It degrades society and sets a bad immoral example for our younger generation along with eroding the value of commitment in a family setting,” said Harriette Watkins one petitioner from Decatur, Ga.
“Why can we never show a Black man as a positive role model?'All My Babies’ Mamas’ is a slap to the face of men taking care of their responsibilities,” said Tiffany Austin, of Spanaway, Wash., another petitioner. “It is glorifying all the wrong things.”
According to the Huffington Post, the network has pulled the 13-minute preview that was previously posted on its website, but has not announced plans to the cancel the program.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:01
Category: Breaking News Written by Karu F. Daniels , Thedailybeast
Academy Award-winner Quentin Tarantino is laughing all the way to the bank this week. The controversial film auteur and his longtime studio chief-partner Harvey Weinstein took a gamble on transforming the atrocities of American slavery into comedic, action-packed entertainment. And the new movie, Django Unchained, which opened Christmas day, bested the glitzy Les Miserables at the box office with numbers indicating that the flick could do as well as, or maybe even better than Tarantino’s top-grossers Inglourious Basterds ($120 million) and Pulp Fiction ($107 million).
And to build on the Django momentum, there’s an entire product line to compliment the Jamie Foxx-fronted spaghetti western/slave revolt/action drama/fantasy tale.
Last fall, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc. (NECA), in tandem with the Weinstein Company, announced a full line of consumer products based on characters from the movie. First up are pose-able eight-inch action figures with tailored clothing, weaponry, and accessories in the likeness of characters played by Foxx, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Remar and Christoph Waltz. The dolls are currently on sale via Amazon.com.
A press release announcing the deal stated that the line was similar to the retro toy lines that helped define the licensed action-figure market in the 1970s and that the collection will include a full apparel and accessories line. At the time of the announcement, NECA president Joel Weinshanker said the company was “very excited to bring the stellar cast of Django to life and honored to be working with another Tarantino masterpiece.”
Action figures for Tarantino films Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 may have been better suited for such commercial pursuits. But for some projects, anything goes.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:48
Category: News Briefs Written by Jarrett L. Carter, The Root
According to Jarrett L. Carter at the Huffington Post, leaders at historically black colleges and universities are at the forefront of the national discussion around gun control and violence.
… the vestiges of desegregation and the accompanying suburban black flight, a failed war on drugs, and the death of the industrial era counter the affluence with social ills that, for many, not only justify getting a gun, but pulling the trigger and going to prison as a result.
Newtown, Tucson, Blacksburg and other communities where gun violence has claimed innocent lives have recently advanced the national discussion on how to curb gun violence, but black colleges have long been the unseen, unheard advocacy institutions working to end the same blight in predominantly black metropolitan areas for generations. HBCUs have dedicated curriculum and sponsored research for entrepreneurial development, secondary educational reform, domestic violence reduction, gang intervention and serving under-represented populations in mental and public health access -- the key social elements that can lead to an awareness and conquering of gun violence.
Black colleges work to identify and end most circumstances that can push a fragile mind or heart to a weapon as a last resort, often with the smallest federal and state allocations assisting in the fight to save the most maligned racial groups. And if the work of HBCUs can make a dent in ending gun violence in black communities, imagine this blueprint in action in communities nationwide where "this kind of thing doesn't happen."
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 09:32
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