Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber Bogins
Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday will meet with small business owners to discuss the benefits of Healthy Michigan legislation for the state's jobs providers and economy. The legislation would insure nearly half a million more Michigan citizens, giving much-needed health care coverage to employees who don't have any.
The Small Business Roundtable in Lansing is one of a series of events in which Snyder has participated to make the case for the crucial health care legislation. Failure to pass the Healthy Michigan Plan could, by some estimates, cost employers in Michigan as much as $81 million annually in new federal tax penalties.
The legislation, House Bill 4714, has been approved by the Michigan House with bipartisan support. The Michigan Senate adjourned June 20 without taking action on the bill. The Senate has formed a work group on the plan. Snyder has urged Senate leaders to set a date for a vote and to pass the legislation quickly.
"Small businesses are key drivers for Michigan's come-back economy," Snyder said. "The Healthy Michigan legislation would help these businesses by providing coverage for some of their employees. We need fast action from the Michigan Senate to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to improve health coverage, save taxpayers and small businesses money and encourage healthier living,"
The state is projected to save $206 million in the 2014 fiscal year by providing Healthy Michigan plan benefits to those now receiving services paid for with general fund dollars. Healthy Michigan would alleviate most of the $880 million a year in uncompensated costs that are borne by hospitals and passed to individuals and businesses through higher health care premiums. The plan encourages healthy living by providing incentives for participants to make health-conscious choices.
Last week, Snyder signed a petition developed by the group HealthyMichiganNow.com, encouraging the state Senate to act on the legislation.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 11:30
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber Bogins
The Michigan Senate Democrats will be pushing for a vote on HB 4714 at Senate session TODAY to expand Medicaid to 470,000 low-income residents in Michigan. The Senate Republican Majority is treating the July 3rd session as a formality and plans to gavel in and out without taking any votes. Michigan Senate Democrats, Congressman John Dingell and Medicaid supporters will be on-hand to urge the Senate to take up this life-saving and time-sensitive legislation.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:41
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
Roy S. Roberts, emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools (DPS) and former high-level executive for General Motors, is not one for theatrics. During a recent editorial meeting at the office of the Michigan Chronicle, Roberts calmly discussed DPS’ strategic plans for the upcoming school year and beyond.
“We (DPS’ strategic planning team) firmly believe that we have to make bold moves and make them now,” Roberts said. “We believe that this is the most critical time in the history of Detroit Public Schools because if we don’t do it (make bold moves) and don’t do it right, Detroit Public Schools will go away.”
Roberts talked candidly about a plan to boldly move DPS forward. He revealed that over the past 10 years, the District had lost almost two-thirds of its enrollment. He also talked about the decline in state funding and shrinking annual budgets aimed at educating DPS children.
Yet, amid the painting of a gloomy picture that has negatively portrayed the school district for decades, Roberts is encouraged by how far DPS has come in the two years, and one month that he has served as the District’s EM, and he is heartened by where the District is going.
Roberts unveiled a strategic transformation plan for the upcoming school year and beyond, which was created after surveying and soliciting input from more than 600 educational stakeholders. Those surveyed included students, teachers, principals, administrators, staff members, parents, ministers, civic and community leaders and others.
The five-week planning process culminated to reflect the need to broaden services that address student needs, support parents and families, offer broad and high-quality programs, improve customer service, provide quality programs in safe learning environments, transform central and school-based services to better serve customers, improve technology, minimize the impact of change, foster school-based leadership, celebrate and promote success, ensure fiscal stability, and implement a revised student attendance and code of conduct policy.
The completed strategic plan, titled “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools,” has 36 objectives, embedded in 12 major goals. The plan’s central themes are “starting earlier and working longer, working harder and working smarter, joining together and expecting more.”
From the strategic plan, numerous deliverables are scheduled for DPS’ Sept. 3 opening, which will include the formation of 10 community schools to open in DPS buildings; the creation of 42 new Pre-K classrooms; the implementation of new art and music enrichment programs at all elementary and middle schools in partnership with city-area agencies; the re-investment in DPS career and technical centers; the expansion of “Eyes and Ears Citizen Patrols” to cover high priority zones; and the implementation of an individualized school marketing plan to attract 5,000 new students which will involve school principals and teachers marketing their respective schools.
On the innovative marketing approach, Roberts said. “Every school knows the educational best path for its students. Therefore, DPS will provide training at the school level so that principals and their staffs are better equipped to market their schools’ strengths and advantages.”
Roberts said the District’s aggressive summer-long marketing campaign is being implemented to recruit the 5,000 new students. If it is successful, the increase in the District’s enrollment will rise to approximately 51,160 students for the 2013-14 school year, an increase of 2.68% over the last year, which is a step in right direction.
Roberts talked about DPS investing in pre-school programs and other school-based resources that will prepare children for learning and the parents in better parenting skills.
“There’s a great need to educate every four-year-old in the city,” Roberts exclaimed. “All research conducted say that you have to take them (four-year-olds) because they can learn much faster. If our kids are further behind, why not take them on much earlier? So we are going to make education available to every four-year-old child in the city of Detroit.”
Part two of the Roberts interview will be published in next week’s edition.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 09:26
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Roz Edwards
Title: Senior vice president of Global Quality and Global Customer
Profile: Married, two sons
Once upon a time, in better times, there was a popular slogan frequently cited by anyone remotely connected (and in Detroit and the Midwest that was pretty much everybody), “As GM goes, so goes the nation.”
Since then, a financial crisis of phenomenal proportions nearly wrecked the auto industry, leading to U.S. government bailouts and the day the car as king came to a (pardon the pun) crashing halt.
But on Thursday, June 27, in a heavily secured, but triumphant celebration at the General Motors Tech Center in Warren, Michigan JD Powers and Associates officials had an extraordinary announcement to make. One that would make GM employees ecstatic and put industry insiders on notice. In the 2013 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, General Motors was named the best automaker in the world for initial quality and eight of its models placed first in their respective categories.
And there would be one more historic announcement that day. GM president Dan Ackerman appointed Alicia Boler-Davis — the driving force behind General Motors remarkable accomplishments and new found cache — to senior vice president of Global Quality and Global Customer. The appointment makes Boler-Davis only the second African American woman in automotive history to report directly to the office of the president, and expands her customer experience role from a U.S. position to one of oversight for GM operations worldwide. The new title is effective July 1, 2013.
Boler-Davis, previously a plant manager at Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping plants in Michigan, hardly looks the part though. As I sat across from her in her relatively sparsely decorated office with Danish furnishings and a very futuristic phone on the conference table, the relatively petite and very ladylike automotive executive made it clear while she is GM’s highest ranking African-American female executive. She is the exemplification the C’s of leadership; commanding, competent and confident. Boler-Davis is only the second African-American woman in automotive history reporting directly to an auto company president.
In 2012, Alicia Boler-Davis made history when GM combined two areas as an industry-first under her leadership.
On the challenges of
being a woman in a man’s world...
GM supports diversity and you can see that with the number of senior leaders that we have on our executive operating committee and the number of women we have on our board. It’s a company that supports diversity and supports it through talk in action. But you still have a number of people who have a more traditional view and view the auto industry as male dominated and have an opinion around what women can and cannot do. They may not just say it, so you won’t get anyone who says ‘you should not be here,’ but you see the initial surprise. There may be some condescending attitudes, but when you are capable you can change their minds. We have women every day who push through (the boundaries) and I am glad to be one of those women.
On the challenges of being a Black woman in a leadership role…
We know there are still people that have attitudes about Blacks and other minorities that are not always positive. So I believe that it adds another level of challenge, the same way I approach being a female in this position, is the same way I approach being a I Black female in this position. I don’t focus on the negative, I focus on me and what I am supposed to do every day and how can I do my job better, and guess that the rest will take care of itself. If there are issues I confront them. If you don’t like me that’s one thing, but you still have to do your job, whether you like me or not.
On the most important attributes for women in a leadership role…
You have to have the skills and the background and the capability. That’s just number one and you have to believe that you can do it. And then you have to get the results. And I have also learned over the years that it is about your team and you have to inspire your team to follow and to lead. It’s not about you. You have to be okay with taking risks. Being capable and able doesn’t mean you have to be the expert in the room.
A typical work day…
I typically start in the office at 6 a.m. I spend time looking at our current product, how are we performing, identifying the issues and analyzing our progress. I have as much interaction with the team as I can. A 12-hour work day is normal. And because I have a global team I quite often go home and have global conference calls.
I also frequently get to talk to customers about their experiences. One of the things I like best about my role is that it goes all the way from design to the product. I am a hands- on type person and I love being in the plant. I want to feel the pace and the heartbeat of the plant.
How she got there…
I have been with the company for 19 years … I worked in a number of roles in the plant and I worked in every department. I was at eight or nine plants over the years. That was a great example of the changes that we were driving at GM and how we are taking an integrated approach. The whole enterprise has to take part in order to be successful. It’s not just Alicia driving (the process). The whole enterprise has to come to the party. I have a reputation for getting results and driving change. I like to work and I like to work hard.
Our goal as a company has been to be a recognized leader when it comes to quality and customer experience, so we have a very robust goal. What has made us get better is our customers’ expectations.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 16:01
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
City engulfed in scandals, financial crisis and leadership challenges
The leadership challenges facing Detroit are begging for answers that are hard to find in this town.
Because failed political leadership, accompanied by an enabling resistant culture, is the order of the day, and people for so long have not demanded much from those who have been guardians of the status quo at city hall, it is difficult to believe that the current crop of candidates running for mayor and city council have answers for a city that is on the brink of bankruptcy and serious financial reform.
It’s problematic to even remotely suggest that those who are currently seeking to be entrusted with serving in Detroit government will offer anything different from the current political and economic turmoil that the city is faced with as a result of those in government today.
A reorganization is in order if Detroit is going to make any headway in the public interest. The present challenges are crippling the city politically as well as financially.
Let’s begin with the sweeping scandal of Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh disappearing from public sight and now under a police investigation, following allegations of inappropriate relationship with a teen. Without knowing much detail in this titillating scandal, still, Pugh, as head of the largest municipal government in this region, owes Detroiters an answer. And running away is not the answer for a man who was elected to serve on the council as well as be its president.
When former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s scandals began to unravel, he too disappeared from public sight and later surfaced at a church to render a televised apology for his misdeeds.
When the going gets tough Detroit expects its leaders to face the difficult choices head-on, not to go into hiding.
Whatever is driving the scandal is Pugh’s personal issue and the city, at a time when it is facing tough choices on reform, should not be a victim to the personal choices of its leaders.
Added to the Pugh conundrum is the resignation of his deputy president on the council, Gary Brown, who grabbed a $225,000 job on the 11th floor of the Coleman Young Municipal Building working as top deputy for emergency manager Kevyn Orr.
In this unexplained and yet to be defined position, Brown will serve as chief compliance officer for the city, leaving a city council that is already in a political transfix, further rendering the legislative body toothless even though it’s mandated to take care of much day-to-day business.
Since compliance by definition requires some regulatory certification or requirement, as former council member Sheila Cockrel rightly put it during a live broadcast of “Flashpoint,” WDIV’s Sunday morning political show, the public has yet to learn what in Brown’s background makes him the appropriate choice for compliance manager for the city.
Would it have served the public better for Brown to stay on council until the end of his term and then announce his next public venture, instead of jumping ship in the midst of a political crisis that’s already fractured the legislative body for a highly lucrative position?
In the private sector you can change positions any time and in any way without much explanation. It won’t merit a mention in the media. But in the public sector, where taxpayer dollars are on the line, there is explaining to do for these kinds of moves even if it is tactical and calculated for Brown, given his supposed relationship with State Treasurer Andy Dillon.
If and when Orr exits after 18 months as emergency manager and heads back to Jones Day law firm, is Brown being positioned or positioning himself to be the next emergency manager or de facto mayor until all of the reforms at city hall are complete?
While the motive behind the Brown decision remains unclear despite his press release sent out last week, the council took another blow in member Kwame Kenyatta’s abrupt resignation only after his unexplained absence from city council was brought to light in a newspaper column.
Kenyatta had derided the council for lack of effectiveness under an emergency manager and dismissed any kind of role it could play moving forward with Kevyn Orr pulling the strings. But he was still on the public payroll until last week.
What is happening in Detroit reads like a soap opera, so it makes us wonder what, where and when will the next shoe drop.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” is the response I’ve been getting from people across the city.
But wait, it’s not over. After been knocked off the Aug. 6 primary ballot, mayoral candidate Mike Duggan announced that he is going to mount an aggressive write-in campaign, after urging from supporters like Strategic Staffing Solutions CEO Cindy Pasky, to finish second in the primary for the general election showdown in November.
Duggan was removed from the ballot following a challenge from opponent Tom Barrow who succeeded after two courts agreed with his position that Duggan wasn’t qualified to be on the ballot.
Even though Duggan’s inclusion in the race raises the stakes because he and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon viewed in polls as the two major contenders, it still does not end the litany of legal challenges Barrow is expected to present to the Duggan campaign.
With Duggan out of the race, neither Barrow, nor any of the other candidates will present any real significant challenge to Napoleon because of name recognition and a well oiled campaign structure, and the Napoleon campaign should embrace a tough and competitive race for their candidate.
The crop of candidates outside of Napoleon and Duggan lowers the campaign bar and makes the race less competitive with no expressed stakes even though all of the candidates have a deep love for public service demonstrated by their willingness to be in the race, and having previously served the public.
I prefer a competitive race and one that forces the candidates to make serious commitments to addressing the issues facing Detroit.
We should not have a mayor by default and any serious candidate worth his or her salt shouldn’t accept the tag of being a “mayor by default,” because what makes this process healthy and productive is creating a space where there is genuine competition and we raise the stakes in the election.
That all of the problems facing this city, from abandoned neighborhoods and crime to re-energizing and bringing in new businesses, should be laid out on a competitive table that allows for debates and the candidates make public declarations they will be held to should they be elected.
Detroit should not be victimized again because of inept leadership and candidates masking as possessing real desire to serve when the goal is to look out for their own interests.
These candidates should lead by example. That not usually being the case in the past, or in the present, is the reason why the city is where it is today.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 09:23
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