Category: Prime Politics Written by Cathy Nedd
Gregory will be available to discuss details on the state budget and other community and State issues with area residents
State Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield) is inviting members of the community to join him for coffee and conversation regarding state and community issues—including the status of the state budget—onThursday, June 13, 2013, in Ferndale. This will be an excellent and convenient opportunity for Ferndale residents to meet with Senator Gregory and sit down with him to discuss these and other issues.
WHERE: Ferndale Public Library, 222 East Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, MI 48220
WHO: State Senator Vincent Gregory (D-Southfield)
WHEN: Thursday, June 13, 2013, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For more information, contact Senator Gregory’s office at 517-373-7888.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 June 2013 18:41
Category: Prime Politics Written by Bankole Thompson/Chronicle senior editor
To say Detroit’s newest police chief, James Craig, has his work cut out for him is an understatement. To even suggest that he can turn things around quickly would be exerting overconfidence on an institution whose troubles in the last four years are no secret.
To state that he can reduce crime in very little time would amount to building castles in the air.
Because it seems like the deck is stacked against Craig. He is going to be taking over at a time when morale at the department is at an all time low, crime is at its worst, and the public image of the department is reeling from past scandals involving the top brass which has made the Detroit Police Department susceptible to all kinds of ridicule, and there is a lack of public faith in the men and women in blue who are charged with making Detroit safe.
Added to this conundrum is the fact that every other chief who came before him promised a lot changes with renewed vigor and then lasted for only 12 months or less. The rotating doors, watching the coming and going of four police chiefs in four years at 1300 Beaubien has had a debilitating effect on the performance of the department and on its ability to fight crime.
So what should Chief Craig do as he officially takes over the reigns of the department in July?
First he needs to embark on a “Meet the Community Tour,” that would 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.
Operating from the ivory towers of 1300 Beaubien without any meaningful connection or contact with the community is counter-productive and will only amount to bandaging the problems instead of tackling them head on.
Detroit’s top cop has an opportunity to switch the pendulum to a better and more effective community relation project where the police can count on Detroiters as supportive partners.
The second act should be a “Stakeholders Meeting,” with the business sector whose investment in the city resulted in the donation of dozens of police cars and ambulances. The significant contribution of the business community in that regard with Mayor Dave Bing playing a crucial role sets in motion the kind of partnership that would greatly benefit the community.
Craig should follow up that gesture with a meeting with business leaders and further explore what kinds of resources — after a thorough inventory — his department would need that can be supported by corporate Detroit. The donation of new police cars and ambulances by Roger Penske and others could be a harbinger for more positive things to come if the chief of police demonstrates the kind of leadership that is innovative and community-centered.
The third act should be “Law Enforcement Collaboration,” something that Detroit One is already doing with the various security apparatus from the federal, state, county and local levels. The Detroit Police Department is not an island that can stand alone.
In this age of austerity the department, like other departments across the state and country, is facing cuts that often make it almost impossible to carry out their duties. However, teaming up with other agencies who may have more resources than the DPD, would help make the job of the new chief less difficult.
Next we need a vision from the chief, laying out how he will work to prevent and combat crime unlike some of his predecessors. It is hard to follow any leader who doesn’t have a clear-cut and realistic vision. It’s hard to respect a leader who talks a good game but seldom delivers or provides the resources to do the work.
It’s difficult to work for a leader who talks about his grand ambitions but rarely puts anything in place that would fulfill those ambitions.
Part of the problem of the past is that various police chiefs had their own plans but they were plans that never got the endorsement of the members of the police force.
Craig’s plans should have the support of his own department. No amount of genius or creativity would make him successful if his troops are not on board with his vision. The community wants to know what his vision would be because the department is mired in a number of issues that clearly warrant an objective to overcome the challenges it faces today, including the Justice Department Consent Degree.
And we need an annual report from the chief showing specifically what happened during those twelve months, to gauge his successes and failures. The State of the City delivered annually by the mayor doesn’t give enough room for detailed conversation on efforts to curtail crime, but the chief can initiate an annual gathering where he speaks to the entire city about crime prevention and what needs to be done in the coming year and beyond.
Detroit needs to hear from their chief of police and this annual “State of Public Safety” report would allow for a more thorough examination on how to ensure the safety of the city’s residents. Given what they have gone through in the last couple of years with crime and other issues, it is time to hear periodically from the chief of police about how his department is battling the problem instead of the press conferences where police are reacting to crime incidents.
And finally, Chief Craig should initiate a monthly roundtable interview with the media, laying out in exact terms what is being done from his office to address the many problems the department and city face. Those media roundtable interviews would allow for the press to put tough questions to the police chief with him responding accordingly.
A successful chief of police is one who is innovative, willing to step out of the traditional boundaries of police operation and keep an ear to the ground about what the police department needs to continually do to stay ahead of fighting crime.
With the rate at which crime has hijacked people’s lives in Detroit, can James Craig show us that he can not only perform beyond measure, but be the fulfillment of a police chief that the city has long romanticize? One who is tough but sensitive, yet understands where the city needs to be and how the police department can help take us there?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:45
Category: Prime Politics Written by News One
The “Get-That-N*gger” sect of the GOP is not bending on their talk of impeaching President Barack Obama. Yes, despite many Republican leaders urging their sillier members to slow down, lunatics, such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah, pictured) can’t stop, won’t stop. In an interview with the National Journal, Chaffetz claims, ”This is an administration embroiled in a scandal that they created. It’s a cover-up. I’m not saying impeachment is the end game, but it’s a possibility, especially if they keep doing little to help us learn more.”
If only “Grey’s Anatomy” writer and producer Shonda Rhimes were able to write the end result of this spectacle.
In her world, Chaffetz would either be transported to the afterlife or either some hole in the ground meant for suckers who don’t do as they’re told. And before you ask, no, I don’t really want Chaffetz to meet Jesus, Buddha, and Xenu. I just want him to shut the hell up.
Case in point,...
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 08:02
Category: Prime Politics Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
ANN ARBOR - Most local government leaders in Michigan believe residents should
provide input into policymaking, but relatively few think they should be
deeply involved, according to a University of Michigan survey.
Nearly two thirds (64 percent) of Michigan's local leaders said residents
should provide some input, while 17 percent say residents should simply stay
informed about policy issues, according to the poll by U-M's Ford School of
Relatively few local leaders believe residents should get deeply involved,
such as by recommending specific policy choices (9 percent), identifying
policy options from which officials would choose (7 percent) or by making
decisions on behalf of the local government (1 percent).
The poll, part of the Michigan Public Policy Survey series at the Ford
School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, reports:
* A majority of local leaders (53 percent) believe their jurisdictions offer
"a great deal of opportunities for their citizens to engage in local
* Just 10 percent of local officials say their citizens are very engaged, 55
percent say they are somewhat engaged and 34 percent say residents are not
very or at all engaged.
* About two thirds (64 percent) say their understanding of residents' views
has increased and 62 percent believe the quality of their decisions has
increased as a result of fostering engagement.
"While we found that many local government leaders don't think residents
should make decisions for the government in normal circumstances, that
changes when it comes to controversial issues," said Thomas Ivacko, CLOSUP
administrator and program manager. "When it comes to hot-button issues, the
percentage of local leaders who believe residents should make the final
decision for the government increases markedly to 24 percent."
The study, conducted October-December 2012, involved surveys sent via
hardcopy and the Internet to top elected and appointed officials in all
counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan. A total of 1,328
jurisdictions returned valid surveys, resulting in a 72-percent response
rate. The survey had a margin of error of 1.43 percentage points either way.
Follow us on Twitter: @UMNewsService
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 10:22
Category: Prime Politics Written by Patrick Keating/Chronicle Staff
If there is one issue Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel would like to see discussed at the Mackinac Policy Conference, it is regional focus.
“In other words, how do we brand the region?” he asked, saying he deals with the same question at the county level.
Macomb is comprised of 27 varying municipalities. Hackel’s job is to figure out how to brand the county — based upon the unique assets of the individual communities within it — so that people get a perspective of what the county is all about.
He believes the same concept should be expanded to the region, because Southeast Michigan is competing with other regions throughout the world for resources, assets and attractions.
“We have some unique things in this region that we don’t cross-promote as regional leaders,” Hackel said, adding that they need to figure out how to come together to get people to understand the importance of this region.
He also noted that Macomb and the region are ignoring the recreational opportunities and quality of life assets that also are economic opportunities.
“Lake St. Clair and the Clinton River,” he said. “It’s the mainstream main street.”
Hackel’s eighth floor office overlooks the Clinton River, which he said ties into Oakland County.
“How do we make that connectivity as regional partners?” he asked.
He said the Clinton River runs through Mt. Clemens, and asked why there isn’t a vibrant downtown, with investment from the private sector building on that riverfront.
“How come we don’t see canoe rentals?” he asked.
He also said the Clinton River is greater in size than “little creeks” that have been developed by other states.
Hackel said that near the mouth of the Clinton River, there are businesses, such as restaurants, where people on the river can stop.
But these are far fewer than there once were. There used to be a great boating industry, with riverboats coming up and down the Clinton River all the way into Mt. Clemens.
He asked why they don’t do that now.
“Did we ignore it? Did we not realize? Did we not capitalize on it?” he said
He also wonders why the region doesn’t play off of the “Pure Michigan” promotions, which he called great branding for the state.
“You’ve got the Detroit River, you’ve got the Clinton River, you’ve got the St. Clair River, you’ve got Lake St. Clair, which is the busiest freshwater lake in the entire country during the summer months,” he said.
He emphasized that Macomb County has 31.5 miles of a coast line and 41 miles of a river running right through the county.
He is, however, playing off the “Pure Michigan” branding in Macomb County.
“And we’re making some huge advancements with our Planning Department and our Water Resources Advisory Council, to do just that,” he said.
Many towns have riverfronts, but don’t have access by boat. On the other hand, they have huge development opportunities.
“Because people just like to locate around water,” Hackel said, adding that he’s kayaked the Clinton River from Yates Cider Mill on down.
“You’re just looking at trees,” he said. “You think you’re up north somewhere.”
Where is there development along this riverfront?
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for them to have that same kind of environment where people are saying, ‘We’re going to grab something to eat’ or ‘We’re going to go to that restaurant.’”
Hackel mentioned that Utica is probably the closest thing Macomb County has to that right now; there are restaurants, bars and trails all along the riverfront.
Hackel also said there’s more boating and fishing activity, more marinas and more sporting opportunities on Lake St. Clair than elsewhere.
“In fact, it’s been recognized as the greatest bass fishing lake on the entire planet,” he said, adding that the “Super Bowl” of fishing tournaments — the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series — is coming to Lake St. Clair.
One of the forums at the Mackinac conference will focus on is the role the private sector plays in urban development. Asked what he’d want conference attendees to know about private sector development in Macomb County, Hackel said a great example of such development is what’s happening in downtown Detroit.
He praised George Jackson and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, calling the DEGC a great example. He’d like to mirror that in Macomb County.
“How do you let the private sector come in and figure out what do we need to do to drive economic development and opportunities within the County?” Hackel asked, pointing out that all the various planning departments have their separate rules about how people get permits.
He mentioned how they “pull it together” to let the private sector have more of a say in helping to make those things happen.
Hackel said that because there’s such a hunger for new development and investment in Detroit, city leaders are accommodating the needs of the private sector developers and investors. He believes Macomb County needs to start looking at doing the same thing.
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano cited municipal finance as the main issue he’d want discussed at Mackinac. Asked if Macomb County is weathering things better than Wayne County in that respect, Hackel said it’s a balance.
He said we’re over-governed to begin with, and asked if we need all these various police departments, different dispatch centers and different school districts.
“The question becomes, is that a reason why a lot of the tax dollars are being dispersed among many entities?” he asked. “Is there a way of capturing those dollars that are out there, to consolidate, and do more with less?”
As an example, he said Macomb is creating a unique dispatch center that can take on every municipality in the county.
Asked if he’d have welcomed the county-wide dispatch center when he was sheriff, Hackel said he’d have welcomed it. It’s something they’ve been talking about for well over 20 years, he said, and that in 10 years of his talking about it as sheriff, nobody would listen.
When he became county executive in 2011, it was one of the first things he worked on.
“I pulled people together and said, ‘Let’s do it for our needs, internally,’” he said. “Because there were separate silos within county government that were doing the same darn thing.”
He said when they created it, it was with the mindset that they weren’t going to force municipalities to do it.
“But when they start realizing money is tight from the revenues and that tax structure, and they’ve got to start giving up certain things, one of those is going to be dispatch.”
He added that it’s already happening. Sterling Heights and Clinton Township are on board, and Shelby Township is talking about it.
He also said there will be a far greater level of service from this enhanced facility in dispatching alone.
Hackel was elected Macomb’s first county executive in 2010. Mayor Bing attended his first State of the County address in 2011, the first time a regional leader was in attendance at such an event.
“And the reason he came here was because he realized, early on, how much of an impact we’re trying to make in promoting the city of Detroit,” he said, adding the major sporting venues and the urban center in Detroit add tremendous value to Macomb county.
“And we want to make sure they understand how we add value to what goes on in the city of Detroit,” he said.
Last year, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano joined Bing as attendees.
“Never before have we ever had a regional leader come to State of the County address in Macomb County,” Hackel reiterated. “And within two years, we have all of them coming together as we’re cross-promoting one another.”
Hackel said he’s not interested in partisan politics, and that he doesn’t care about the bantering going on in Washington or Lansing. His job is to figure out how to succeed as a region, noting that if the region succeeds, so does the state.
But it’s not just him, he pointed out.
“Our staffs, whether it’s IT, finance departments or planning departments, are working together to try to figure out, ‘How do we lift the region up?’ So Macomb is making it regional.”
Asked what Macomb County’s best kept secret is, Hackel said they always talk about blue collar and automotive, but unique high tech jobs are being offered in the county.
“The research and development that occurs in Macomb County, particularly in that corridor or cluster that we have in the city of Sterling Heights and in the city of Warren, many people don’t realize and they don’t understand.”
He cited the defense industry as an example, saying billions of dollars are invested in the county in defense.
“I would never have guessed that as the sheriff,” he said, adding that Macomb County is the defense capital of the Midwest.
He said 600 companies that do defense work in Michigan are located in Macomb county.
He also said they sometimes lose sight of the fact that Macomb also has a huge agricultural industry, particularly on the north end.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 11:33
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