Category: Community - Original Written by Donald James
Strategies of how to best turn around, grow and rebrand the vity of Detroit have been proposed and discussed in local and regional forums over the last two decades.
With the city’s plummeting population, eroding tax base, rising crime, high unemployment and many blighted neighborhoods, thoughts on how to fix Detroit have varied in scope and boldness.
On Wednesday, March 27, Central Michigan University Global Campus in Dearborn hosted a provocative town hall debate to offer ideas on how to transform Detroit into a prosperous metropolis. Titled “Turnaround in the City of Detroit,” the event featured two panels. Panel one consisted of CMU students Brandi Crosby, Dennis Hoy, Jamal Moore and Christopher Lawrence Smith, all of whom are enrolled in the school’s Master of Science in Administration (MSA) graduate program. Panel two was comprised of representatives from Foster McCollum White (FMW), a Troy-based political, governmental affairs and organizational development consulting firm. Panelists were Eric Foster, FMW’s president, co-founder and partner, and Jason Cole, a FMW associate.
Serving as one moderator for the event was Bishop Ben Gibert, senior pastor, Detroit World Outreach Church, who has also held top leadership positions with the Big 3 automakers. Darnell D. Jackson, senior vice president and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, also served as a moderator. Jackson has had extensive success in facilitating and managing public and corporate finance projects to the tune of more than $9.5 billion.
CMU students articulated a five-year transformation plan for turning Detroit around. The students’ plan calls for the city to enter into bankruptcy, create a massive regional transit authority, implement county-wide policing, adopt cutting-edge technology, adopt an alignment of 10-city clusters, remap the distribution of city services, implement an aggressive immigration program, and launch a national and international marketing campaign. As a result, the city’s population would grow from the current figure of around 713,777 to over 850,000. Students believe that in five years, city residents will see an annual rise in household income from $28,000 to $35,000, while experiencing a decrease in violent crimes.
“We believe to grow, the city should start over,” Hoy told a packed room of CMU Global students and other stakeholders. “We should start with a clean slate from a prepackaged Chapter 9 bankruptcy. This will assist the city in restructuring its debt and would protect the city against creditors. We don’t have cash. We need some type of government assistance to simulate our local economy, similar to what was done to save the banks, GM and Chrysler. We feel that the city can’t cut its way to prosperity. We believe that key bonds should be eliminated and CBAs (collected bargaining agreements) renegotiated. We feel that improved state and regional cooperation is needed for real fiscal solutions. We also believe that having an emergency financial manager is good for the city.”
FMW’s presenters also laid out their vision based on the firm’s 17-point strategy. Some key points presented were to separate EMS from the Fire Department and implement billing model changes for service options and expand units to excess medical treatment and transport capacity; use the city’s 2012-21013 fiscal year budget — based on potential realized revenue opportunities — to yield a surplus of $369,649,387 to fund nine city departments, inclusive of police, fire, EMS, recreation, building safety and engineering, law, human resources, budget, public works; and sell off all excess physical infrastructure and land inventory for down payment on long-term debt.
“We believe that in order to make the city grow, you have to make the city work,” Foster said. “We have revenue that’s coming into the city, but we are so leveraged in negative ways. We have to free up cash. We have to reduce the number of fiduciary responsible operating departments. The city is technically trying to fund over 40 agencies and departments, similar to what we did during Mayor Young’s days in office. We don’t have the revenue now to sustain so many departments. We have to get down to a responsible number of agencies that the city can manage and let the others go to an authority.
“We have to improve funding streams to departments that impact buying decisions and what monies are left must be put into core agencies such as police, fire and recreation. We have to push for legislative changes that will support private-public partnership.”
The town hall debate was based on the “Debt and Equity Restructuring...City of Detroit Turnaround Case Study Project,” which was researched and prepared by Dr. Clarence Nixon, Jr., a CMU Global program instructor and founder and CEO of Technology Laboratory & Professional Development Center.
“It gives me great pleasure to have worked with our great group of students in writing this case study that should be near and dear to all of our hearts,” said Nixon. “Never in the history of this city has there been an opportunity like this. We now have an opportunity to put our stamp and mark on how to turn around Detroit. That was the whole idea behind writing the case study and holding this town hall debate.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 13:31
Category: Community - Original Written by RJ Barnhill
Baseball is back with a bang!
After beating the Oakland A’s in the ALDS and then sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS, the Tigers took a much needed break and did a little housekeeping. They let go of Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young, welcomed back Victor Martinez and picked up four-time All-Star Torii Hunter.
With these changes, the Tigers have one of the most potent lineups in the American League and are projected to finish first in the Central Division. The Detroit Tigers begin their 14th season at Comerica Park and their 113th year in Detroit on Friday at 1:08 p.m., hosting the New York Yankees.
With the big game right around the corner, the Tiger’s newest member, Torii Hunter, gears up to don the old English D and gives us a glimpse of what his life is like on and off the field.
Torii Hunter On The Field:
Michigan Chronicle: Welcome to Detroit! What has your experience been like with the Tigers? Have you gelled with the team?
Torii Hunter: I have gelled with the team just fine. It’s a good group of guys. You don’t know what to expect your first day, but right away they made me feel welcome. Smiling all the time, cracking jokes, they keep you involved. It’s a good mixture of guys, great character.
MC: Could you give us three words to describe Coach Leyland?
TH: Funny. Old. Man.
MC: Do you have any predictions for the season?
TH: I predict that we’ll go out and play every day and we’ll win. That’s the only way you should predict. I think any team should predict that. We’re going to take it one game at a time and go out there and try to win. If you do what you’re supposed to do and leave it all on the field, I think you’ll look up in October and be in the playoffs.
MC: What are your pre-game traditions/superstitions?
TH: When I was younger I had superstitions, but now that I’m older and wiser, smarter and really believe in God I don’t have any superstitions.
MC: At 38 you are playing great baseball. Last year you had your highest batting average and second highest on base percentage. What is your secret to staying in shape and sharpening your skills?
TH: One thing you have to do is eat right. You have to keep training and keep yourself in shape. If you get the belly and the bad obliques, that’s when you start slowing down. I think you have to try to eat right, keep your weight down and not lift the heavier weights. You can’t try to lift like a 21 year old who’s trying to get bigger. As a man you have man muscles and if you lift the heavier weights you can get slower.
MC: The Torii Hunter Project Education Initiative has provided college scholarships to students in California, Arkansas, Nevada and Minnesota. Do you plan to bring your charitable organization to Detroit?
TH: Yes, that’s definitely one of the many good reasons why I wanted to play with the Tigers. The Torii Hunter project will work just fine in Detroit.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 09:58
Category: Community - Original Written by Britney Spear, Regional Content Editor
Some might view the problem of crime in Detroit as "hopeless", but many city residents haven't given up so easily.
Detroiters are rallying together for a unified cause to curtail crime in their neighborhoods. They are selflessly giving their time and effort to engage in community policing, an initiative that aims to drive out the criminals and make the streets of Detroit safer.
The Winship Community Association is a group based in Northwest Detroit. The non-profit organization has served the nearby community by helping bring attention to and resolve it's biggest challenges.
At it's most recent meeting, members voiced pressing concerns related to dangerous activities taking place in their neighborhoods. Among influencing factors, they discussed the poor condition of nearby Peterson Park. Residents referenced recent shootings, loitering, parked cars and overall upkeep.
"We have made complaints to the recreation department, and I'm sure they have a file with my photo on it", said Dr. Arthur Divers, President of WCA.
Alicia Minter, Director of Detroit Recreation Development, says the city aims to do everything in it's power to restore beauty and safety to it's landmarks. She officially announced plans to improve Peterson Park. That includes bettering aesthetics as well as regularly monitoring it's condition.
Residents see the city's anticipated move as an opportunity to put an end to some of the troubling activity that occurs in the area.
"We are very glad to see that somebody recognizes the problem and is ready to do something about it", said Dr. Divers.
Residents recognize that finding solutions to Detroit's crime problem will require them to work along with local authorities. It's a tough job that no single entity can alone overcome.
Lieutenant Alysha Hall of Detroit's 8th Precinct officially addressed WCA members and acknowledged the work of the community in helping police Detroit's neighborhoods.
"We recognize that we can't be on every corner of every street... it takes our relationship, and working together to combat crime."
As the precinct's new acting inspector, Lt. Hall addressed a grave yet widely-held notion that the police doesn't "care" about criminal activity. She explains that challenges related to manpower make it difficult to respond to every call.
"Everything is our concern... we truly care. I care, and I'm committed to the community."
Lt. Hall referenced Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit Police Department's latest initiative "Detroit One", which aims to fight violent crime in the city.
"We're on a hunt for individuals who are causing problems in our community."
Explaining that DPD plans to work diligently to eliminate threats, Lt. Hall also suggested that improvement takes time. She cautioned against residents getting involved in potentially dangerous affairs. Lt. Hall explained that in most cases, it's best to contact the police before attempting to address a situation on one's own.
Meeting attendees also talked about quality of life concerns, and how they affect residents on a day-to-day basis. Though not related to issues like violent crime, such factors impact how Detroiters feel about the neighborhoods they live in.
"We want to reap the benefits of a happy, healthy community".
Residents simply want to better the areas in which they reside, and will step in to do what's needed to witness the realization of that goal. It's a work in progress, yet one that all parties involved must remain committed to in order to make Detroit a better place.
For more information on the Winship Community Association, click here.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @MissBritneySp
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 14:48
Category: Community - Original Written by Damon Autry
Bishop Edgar L. Vann (center) and Vanguard CDC cut the ribbon on the new Maxwell Homes on Detroit’s east side and the new West Oakland Homes in Detroit’s Northend neighborhood.
“Even though Sundays are
our preeminent focus, our work in the
community is as important a role as any. People don’t want to hear you preach and teach and shout about doing things; they want to see it actualized.”
– Bishop Edgar L. Vann, Second Ebenezer
Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III, of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit once called it “going beyond the walls” when discussing ways to touch the lives of those in the community. While speaking the word of God on Sundays is perhaps the greatest and most effective way to influence the masses, doing work outside the church also has a profound effect on the lives of others.
There are Black churches around the country — and indeed around Detroit — that are nestled in areas that have experienced a severe economic downturn. The subsequent trouble that type of environment can engender requires a concerted effort on everyone’s part to help alleviate sources of strife. Black churches have historically taken the lead and been beacons of light in our community, illuminating rays of hope to those in need. One such way that this is accomplished is by church leaders taking their influence in the pulpit and skillfully and tactfully transferring them to the boardroom. Countless church leaders in Detroit have focused part of their ministry on helping develop the city economically with business ventures that help uplift the city and its citizens.
Bishop Ellis has spread the wings of possibility by expanding his reach as an esteemed visionary whose church, Greater Grace Temple, serves the needs of the city in immeasurable ways. Part of the church’s business portfolio includes the GGT Gardens, which consists of eight duplexes located on Schaefer on Detroit’s northwest side. Each of the sixteen units contains two bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, living and dining room, basement and many other amenities. There’s also the Ellis Manor. It is a professionally managed senior community offering residents quality apartment living in a prime location near church.
Greater Grace established a non-profit venture called the Master’s Commission, which was created to provide positive programming geared toward increasing the quality of living for the urban community. Some of its activities include summer youth job training, scholarship golf outing, Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Christmas bike giveaway and so much more. And in 2004, Greater Grace purchased the historic Rogell Golf Course several blocks east of the church, immediately sprucing it up with all the updates any modern-day golf course requires. At the time, it was the only African American-owned golf course in Michigan.
Bishop Edgar Vann leads Second Ebenezer Church and all of its supplementary business initiatives. In the more than three decades that he has led the church, he has done more than $65 million worth of community and economic development work. Bishop Vann also founded the Vanguard Community Development Corporation in 1994. Through this organization, they provide housing and youth and family development programs, and have a small business incubator that helps people transition out of the manufacturing sector and into the entrepreneurial sector.
At its inception, Vanguard served as an afterschool program that assisted kids with transportation to and from school, as well as gave the kids a place to go once school was out. Oftentimes their parents were working as part of the Work-First Program and were consequently unable to pick up their kids from school within a reasonable timeframe. Therefore, the church provided a steady and safe environment for the kids. Tutors were also present to assist students with homework.
“Showing leadership in the community and making things happen for people every day is my calling, so I’m very diligent at it,” Bishop Vann says. “Even though Sundays are our preeminent focus, our work in the community is as important a role as any. People don’t want to hear you preach and teach and shout about doing things; they want to see it actualized.”
Rev. Jim Holley, pastor of the Historic Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church, views life not just as an experience to be lived but also as a problem to be solved. He cares about Detroit and its citizens with a passion. Rev. Holley is also as sharp a businessman as he is the leader of one of Detroit’s crown jewel churches. Born in Philadelphia and raised in West Virginia, Rev. Holley moved to Detroit in 1969. The ministry, he says, was not something he chose. Rather, it chose him.
“Ministry was my calling,” he says. “The holy spirit guided me to this position.” All of what Rev. Holley does is rooted in the three pillars by which he leads his ministry: salvation, education and economics. He accomplishes the salvation goal every Sunday in the pulpit; he takes on the education goal through the various educational institutions that he has founded; and he tackles the economics goal through his diverse business portfolio.
For ten years, Rev. Holley’s company, Country Preacher Foods, Inc., supplied the now-defunct Northwest Airlines with cookies and other snacks; they also provided potato chips to Kroger and Farmer Jack. He has also run a medical center, a strip mall, a convalescent home and a pharmacy, in addition to Cognos Advertising Agency, which at one time was the only full service agency located in the city of Detroit.
Bishop Wayne T. Jackson is the founder and president of The Impact Network, the only African-American founded and operated national Christian television network. He is also the senior pastor of Impact Ministries International in Detroit. A vital portion of Bishop Jackson’s ministry is to help those who cannot help themselves. When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Bishop Jackson took trained ministers with supplies for the distressed region. He brought busloads of the hurricane victims back to Detroit where the proper and essential provisions were given to them to enable them to start their lives over. In addition to his role as church leader, Bishop Jackson has tapped into his entrepreneurial savvy, having opened Wayne T’s, a shoe and clothing store, Dominques Hair & Beauty Salon, as well as many real estate endeavors.
Bishop P.A. Brooks leads New St. Paul Tabernacle C.O.G.I.C. and is the third longest serving Church of God in Christ bishop in Michigan. During his tenure, his programs and initiatives have benefitted people from every walk of life. His latest contribution is the formation of Faith Community Mortgage LLC, the first Black-owned mortgage company in the Church of God in Christ system. Bishop Brooks also established the nation’s first Blue Cross Blue Shield program for local pastors, life insurance for local pastors and a compensation program for widows of local pastors. Both are yet more examples of how he continues to work for the strength and credibility of the Church of God in Christ both regionally and nationally.
This exploding trend of church leaders looking outside the church to affect change in people’s lives in something that’s certainly not exclusive to Detroit. Others around the country are doing big things as well, perhaps most notably Dallas’ Bishop T.D. Jakes. He not only heads a 30,000 member church, he has found time to write more than two dozen books and produce feature films, including the recent “Sparkle.” The common theme woven between all of his books and movies is one of inspiration — giving people uplifting stories and affirming directives on how to live their best life.
The ongoing benevolence of these men of God is a true testament to some of the tenets of spirituality. They all give selflessly, enthusiastically, willingly, for these are leaders who exhaust seemingly every ounce of influence they have in a perpetual effort to ensure others’ lives are better today than yesterday. And for all their efforts, Detroit is a much better place.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 09:53
Category: Community - Original Written by Britney Spear, Regional Content Editor
It's no secret that minorities face unique challenges when it comes to health. A tendency to be "reactive" as opposed to "proactive" can prove deadly when it comes to tackling our biggest concerns related to wellness. Gift of Life MOTTEP aims to change that that fact.
The non-profit organization hosted its 4th annual Kountz, Callendar & Drew transplant symposium to discuss current disparities in organ donation. Physicians, professionals, medical students and members of the community came together to discuss what it will take to improve the number of minorities who participate in giving the"gift of life".
National MOTTEP Founder Clive Callendar, M.D., spoke about his experience as a pioneer in transplant surgery. Dr. Callendar expressed the importance of educating the community to get more people interested in organ donation. He also called attention to a growing trend in the medical field he expects will bring great innovation.
"The next horizon that we really need to address is stem cell transplantation."
Dr. Callendar compared the topic to the initial transplant research of the 1980's. He expressed that current developments continue to gain momentum across the globe. People are becoming increasingly interested in "stem cell" possibilities, and what that means for the future of the health care industry.
"In the next 5 to 10 years, stem cell research could be the area that dramatically lowers health care costs", said Dr. Callendar.
The sole surviving member of MOTTEP's founding trio, Dr. Callendar stated major concerns for our community also include management of Diabetes and Hypertension. He also called attention to "institutionalized racism" and how it contributes to inequalities related to minority health. Dr. Callendar expressed that certain factors continue to negatively impact wellness, and there is room for improvement. He proposed that solutions must be predicated on "the power of an educated and empowered community".
"Right now, we win the race from the cradle to the grave. That's a race we want to lose."
African Americans face overwhelming disparities, yet they are not alone. Other minority groups struggle with poor quality of health. A major culprit that keeps doctors from saving more lives is the low rate of organ donation, particularly among certain ethnicities. In fact, some cultures harbor beliefs and values that contribute to their denial of giving. Keynote speaker Isabel Yuriko Stenzel Byrnes spoke about disparities among Asian cultures. Born of mixed parentage- her mother is Japanese and her father is German- Byrnes addressed how traditional views toward spirituality, death and the human body in general influence donor rates among Asians.
An organ donor recipient, Byrnes talked about her and her twin sister's battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She told the stories of the individuals who died tragically, yet gave them the "gift of life". Over time, the siblings grew close to others fighting the disease. Through community activism, traveling the world and even writing a memoir, Byrnes continues to spread the word about an important cause she feels has yet to gain the national attention it deserves.
"The Asian American presence in the organ donation conversation is lacking."
Byrnes' spoke about an experience that is not unique to Japanese culture. It mimics a stigma witnessed among individuals of various ethnic groups. Dr. Anita Moncrease, Medical Director of Detroit Health and Wellness Promotions, discussed a widespread distrust of the health care industry that exists among African Americans. Historic events like the Tuskegee Experiment only exacerbate such concerns. Other issues that impact black households relate to overall apathy and a lack of awareness.
Following the keynote address was a physician-led panel that discussed laws related to organ donation. Panelists addressed the question of, what should be the default rule? They describes the tremendous burden placed on family members when individuals fail to make a decision with regard to donating their organs. Doctors shared stories illustrating the loopholes of current legislation. Dr. Miguel West, Clinical Chief of Transplant Services and Surgical program director at Harper Hospital, shared a heart-wrenching account of presumed consent "gone wrong". A hospital in Washington D.C. came under fire for taking organs from a Virginia resident who died shortly after being flown in for trauma he endured during a horrific car accident. State law mandated their decision, however it was vehemently opposed by the widow of the deceased. She alleged it went against her husband's wishes. In stark contrast, fellow panelist Harry Lucas gave a heartfelt testimony of his family's decision to donate the organs of his daughter April, who died after a brain aneurysm.
Both stories illustrate the tension surrounding such a controversial subject. Many individuals avoid making the decision only to leave their families in limbo. Attorney Lance Gable discussed the importance of having an "advanced directive" to take the burden off their shoulders.
The symposium covered several important subjects ranging from obesity to palliative care and Hospice. Gift of Life MOTTEP seeks to encourage awareness through promoting knowledge that helps community members achieve wellness, yet prepare for the worse. While many medical professionals were in attendance, the event served to benefit all.
Teresa Harris, a guest speaker who currently awaits a Kidney transplant, shared why she feels the symposium has something for everyone.
"I think it's a really good opportunity for patients and their families to be informed about what's going on with their health."
Spreading awareness through education is perhaps the most effective proactive measure the community as a whole can take to improve health conditions. By focusing what must be done to resolve certain challenges, members can do their best to ensure they do not reach a fatal degree.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @MissBritneySp
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 15:00
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