Minehaha Forman is a freelance writer living in Detroit. Born on a farm in Belize, Central America, she moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and a career in writing. Forman’s work has been featured in many metro Detroit publications including Dbusiness magazine, Hour magazine and Corp! magazine. She has provided event coverage for Real Times Media and The Michigan Chronicle for three years, covering the popular Pancakes and Politics speaker series and other events. Prior to working with the Chronicle, Forman was a blogger with The American Independent News Network where she covered Metro Detroit politics and the 2008 presidential election. She will continue to provide commentary and coverage of Detroit politics as a blogger and feature writer for The Michigan Chronicle’s website.
Website URL: http://truthordarestories.blogspot.com/
Last week on WDET (101.9 fm) radio, Craig Fahle made a good point. He had people call in to the Craig Fahle Show to sound off on the proposed slash of 80 percent of Detroit Water Department employees over the next five years.
Many callers were upset about the proposal and said that the city should not make these drastic cuts because people need jobs.
Then Fahle asked the million-dollar question: What is the water department’s responsibility? To employ people or to provide clean water in the most efficient way possible?
That’s a question many city departments have to ask themselves. When we talk about Detroit’s financial state, and cutting the number of employees to help curb spending, the uprising from people is that the city can’t keep cutting jobs. While unemployment is not good for the economy overall, it’s not the city’s job to keep people employed for employment's sake.
The proposals for these massive cuts came from consulting firm EMA Inc., hired by the water and sewerage department to study operations and map out a plan to cut costs. EMA conducted the study over three months. In addition to the job cuts, the plan calls for:
- Outsourcing 361 positions to low-cost contract workers in noncore functions, such as billing and mailing, grounds maintenance, office cleaning and facilities maintenance
- Outsourcing for large engineering projects and peak times
- Reducing job classifications from 257 to 31
The City of Detroit is not an employment service. It’s a service provider that should find the most efficient way to provide those services. Unfortunately that is going to mean a lot of jobs lost in the name of efficiency.
While leaders should be looking for ways to employ people to get work done, the other side to that coin is making services efficient and keeping the city afloat.
After the Detroit City Council decided not to allow a millage proposal on the November ballot that would cost property owners hundreds of dollars a year, a twitter storm broke out.
One Detroit pastor dug into City Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. after Tuesday’s vote. The twitter spat seemed ironic coming from a pastor, whose faith, above all things, commands forgiveness and non-judgment.
The background of the dispute started on Tuesday when Police Chief Ralph Godbee and the Detroit Police Commission had the city council decide whether to ask voters in November if the city should put 8 mills on property tax and that could raise enough money to put 500 police officers to the street.
For people who own houses worth $50,000 the tax would be $250 a year on top of other city taxes and millages.
Cockrel went to twitter after the council voted 7-2 to strike down the ballot proposal, saying the police department financial problems should not be on the backs of the people who are already “taxed to the max”.
Cockrel criticized Police Chief Ralph Godbee in a tweet:
"I am not convinced that our problem is a lack of manpower issue. I'm convinced that our problem is a lack of an effective management plan issue."
That’s when J.A. Williams II, senior pastor of Spirit & Truth Christian Ministries and presiding prelate of Kingdom Builders Association jumped in to defend Godbee.
The following twitter spat ensued:
Williams: @kencockreljr2, @Ralph_Godbee is a much more efficient administrator of DPD than you've been as a councilman or mayoral fill-in. #ijs
Cockrel: @BishopJawill @Ralph_Godbee Both crime stats and word on the street suggest otherwise.
Williams: @KenCockrelJr2 @ralph_godbee On the other hand sir, the City was in the black when you first took your seat.
Cockrel: @BishopJawill @ralph_godbeeUntrue. It was my admin that actually uncovered the extent to which city's budget books hadn't been maintained.
Williams didn’t stop there. He continued:
Williams:…We meant every word. We continue to pray for you, our city & other leaders - even Ken Cockrel. Lol.
Williams:Detroit City Council = cowardly. @Ralph_Godbee = courageous. I normally don't express these positions publicly but WE DESERVE SAFE STREETS!
Was Pastor Williams being fair or should he been more of a twitter diplomat?
It’s expected to be a tight race in the new 14th Congressional District primary today. Local politics got wacky when Detroit lost a congressional seat due to low census numbers and the republican legislature got to design their dream districts, consolidating densely democratic areas into the 14th and 13th and pitting good leaders—who are otherwise colleagues— against one other in the August 7 primary.
The tension between promising democratic candidates running the new 14th district has become more obvious in the weeks before Election Day. It’s been called a “two man race” between Congressman Gary Peters and Congressman Hansen Clarke who have run a civil race for the past months, that is, until now.
Clarke recently began running radio ads on local hip-hop stations targeting black voters, proclaiming to be "one of us" while insisting that Peters lives in Republican presidential candidate "Mitt Romney's old neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, Peters has accused Clarke of courting tea party members who want to impeach President Obama.
One a press release reads:
“Congressman Hansen Clarke is spending the day in Detroit with “Tea Party Hero” Congressman Tim Scott from South Carolina who suggested the possibility of impeaching President Obama during last summer’s debt ceiling debate.”
Both ridiculous claims: Peters is like Romney, Clarke is a tea party supporter… and the sky is red. The truth is, they don’t really have any real beef, just this congressional primary to get past.
But there are other contenders in the race, namely Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence and former State Rep. Mary Waters, who have both been out shadowed by the leading men.
The other Dem. contender, Bob Costello, is too far off his rocker to really take seriously. The man believes there is a government crusade against Catholicism in the form of birth control options. Please.
So in case you missed the chatter, here’s what some lesser known candidates and Facebook political enthusiasts are saying about this tightly contested race on the web:
Mary Waters decided criticize Clarke instead of Peters. In a Facebook status she wrote:
“Did Congressman Hansen Clarke just realize that there were literacy issues in Detroit, amongst African Americans and Latinos? I worked on literacy issues as a State Rep along with the Governor, a columnist for the Free Press and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. His sudden revelation has prompted him to seek support from a black tea party republican Congressman Tim Scott of South Carolina who wants to impeach President Obama. Thank you Hansen Clarke for that one. Dunno.”
In a separate status post, Waters attacked Clarke again:
“Hansen Clarke started the racial issue himself. He introduces himself as Bangladeshi at meetings outside of Detroit. Detroiters you are the ones who want him to be Black. For those concerned about voter’s rights issues, Hansen does not fit the bill and that's the record that should be checked. The issue is not race.”
But in another post, Waters protected Peter’s integrity. She wrote on her FB status:
“I am in the 14th Congressional race because I decided to run. To mention Congressman Peters "paying me to run" is an insult to his character and integrity. People stop spreading such hateful lies.”
More FB chatter:
Detroit political enthusiast David Stephen wrote in his status post:
“Gary Peters earns the endorsement of the Michigan Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus. But Hansen Clarke is Bangladeshi, right?”
Commenter response to Stephen's post:
"Ouch. The REAL shame, however, is because ppl allowed the Repubs to take over the legislature and re-district, we have to choose one over the other. We need them BOTH in Congress. Think about THAT next time you think your 1 vote doesn't count in local elections.”
Brenda Lawrence has not gone very negative in her campaign. Instead, she is counting on women voters for her support. One her radio adds and campaign literature, she promotes female power (or the lack thereof) in congress.
One of Lawrence’s FB statuses reads:
“Ladies, sorors, my sisters, as a public servant, there are so many times I look around a room and I am the only woman seated at the table. It is not a mystery why there is a 'war on women' and we find our rights to make our own health care decisions chipped away. It is because we are not there. I know there are so many of you in your careers that are fighting that glass ceiling. We balance wife, mom and caregiver with careers. I support you in your challenge and I need your support in mine. Ladies, I need you to vote on August 7 and I need you to bring as many as you can with you. We must fight for our voice!!!”
Whoever you vote for today doesn't matter. Do your own research. The important part is that you vote! Excerise your power. Remember, all these people want to work for you!
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