DPS has a history of outsourcing jobs to out-of-state companies at the expense of locally based businesses that would otherwise perform similar functions at a resaonable rate.
And whenever officials were approached either by reporters or concerned residents they would give the old tired line of, “We can’t find anyone here who could do this job,” yet their application files would reveal the credentials of the out-of-state companies were not greater than those operating locally.
Bobb said his focus would be on local businesses and helping to reduce the unemployment lines in Detroit. An estimated 11,000 jobs are expected to be created.
“We will be checking to make sure at the job sites that there are Detroit residents working there, skilled labor as well as the non-skilled trades.”
That is imporant at a time when Detroit has been the meal of the national media, whetting its appetite on the city’s economic woes for more stories.
The unemployment numbers that are coming out of Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, place the city at a 28.9 percent unemployment rate. That means there are 113,008 people in Detroit without jobs.
That number does not include those who have given up looking for employment. The economic forecast is grim for the city, but the DPS bond project can put a smile on the faces of many hard-pressed taxpayers and their families.
That is why members of the proposed oversight committee should undergo the most rigorous vetting process, because Detroit Public Schools cannot afford another replica of the past.
Anyone selected should make a financial disclosure as to what business and financial interests they have that could jeopardize their role in this process. Because members of the oversight committee will be heavily lobbied in the community by those wishing to do business with the district, it is imperative that they make certain declarations to avoid impeding the process.
Those with questionable financial backgrounds ought not to be a part of this group because when public dollars are at stake, taxpayers have a right to know who is playing at the public trough.
It should not be difficult to find individuals with stellar backgrounds who can come to the table of equity with clean hands. It should not be an uphill battle to locate candidates who have an understanding of 21st century education and a global perspective to be part of the oversight committee.
Political connections should not be a plus for sitting on this crucially important panel. Instead, it must be about possessing a vision about transforming the district into a proud educational institution.
The problem in the past is that DPS has relied too much on political expediency at the expense of our children, the city and DPS’ own well-being. And it became clear to many that only those who are most connected in the political pecking order get the contracts regardless of what qualifications they brought to the district.
No one then seemed too concerned about the standard of services that were provided to DPS and if they ought to be raised. This time around Detroit cannot settle for mediocre services that handicap the future of the children of the district.
To upgrade the standards, Bobb must begin by selecting those with outstanding backgrounds to the oversight committee, whose hands are clean and who are beyond reproach.
To make the process thorough and more probing, Bobb should strongly consider setting up a community panel that would review the background of candidates for the oversight committee.
This would not only ensure a stronger public participation in the process, it would also ensure transparency which Bobb has vowed to keep alive since his arrival at DPS.
This $500 million bond is a public partnership with a lot at stake. Thus, it is expedient to develop the most viable plan that secures the educational future of Detroit children.
“Sometimes we fail to realize that because federal money is involved in this bond, the General Accountability Office (GAO) of Congress is overseeing these federal dollars,” Bobb said.
Bobb also indicated that the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by veteran Detroit Democrat John Conyers Jr., will also have some oversight.
“I don’t want contractors lobbying me or the oversight commitee,” Bobb said.
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