Category: News Briefs - Original Written by By Bankole Thompson
By Bankole Thompson
CHRONICLE SENIOR EDITOR
U.S. Representative John Dingell, Jr., from the 12tth Congressional District, at 86 is being celebrated as the longest serving member of the U.S. Congress, a milestone not easily reached, one that climaxes Dingell's more than five decades in public service.
Elected to Congress at 29, to replace his father John Dingell, Sr., the younger Dingel, steadily built his public portfolio, becoming chairman of powerful House committees that have broad powers over the environment, energy and the auto industry.
He wielded incredible influence and for years almost single-handedly decided the fate of the American auto industry in Washington.
One of the watershed moments in Dingell's political career came when he vehemently supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act, at a time when it was very unpopular to come out unequivocally in support of legislation to challenge Jim Crow.
It was a decision that almost cost Dingell re-election to Congress. He told the Huffington Post that he "damn near lost an election over it. The Wall Street Journal gave me a 1-in-15 chance of winning that race."
The nation's first African American president, Barack Obama, acknowledged Dingell's crucial role and support for civil rights in the last 50 years.
"John has always worked tirelessly for the people of his beloved Michigan and for working families across America," Obama said. "He has helped pass some of the most important laws of the last half-century, from Medicare to the Civil Rights Act to the Clean Air Act to the Affordable Care Act, and he continues to fight for workers' rights, access to affordable healthcare, and the preservation of our environment for future generations to enjoy. Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to John and his family."
Dingell, the dean of the House, never relented in his support for legislations that have an imprint on the nation's growth.
In Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder called him a champion for the Great Lakes state.
"During his 57 years in Congress, John Dingell has been a champion for civil rights, clean air and clean water, and affordable health care. Most of all, he has been a champion for Michigan and its people. He has worked tirelessly to advance the interests of our state and all Michiganders," Snyder said. "The United States and Michigan have been truly fortunate to have John Dingell serving them. He has brought great honor to himself, our state and our nation and continues to build on his historic legacy of leadership and service."
Retiring Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin called Dingell "a remarkable figure, not primarily because of his historic length of service, but because of what he has done for America with his time in Washington. If you are a senior who depends on Medicare, a worker who punches a clock, or an American who wants clean air, water and land, you are a beneficiary of John's extraordinary legislative legacy."
Dingell and his wife of more than three decades, Debbie, are both a dynamic duo in Washington and in Michigan's political circles. Mrs. Dingell currently chairs the Board of Governors of Wayne State University and is a member of many boards of organization,s including the Democratic National Committee.
A strong ally of labor, Congressman Dingell, addressing the 35th United Auto Workers Constitutional Convention, said, "Raising the standards of living for the middle class should be something that everyone, regardless of their political beliefs or their title in the workplace, can agree on. As we continue to work towards a better living for all families, it is imperative that we do not get sidetracked by partisan bickering, and it is also imperative that both business and labor join together to come before Congress with a set of shared priorities."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 16:43
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
A decision may come as early as Tuesday to put Mike Duggan back on the ballot
The appeals court agreed Friday to give expedited consideration to Duggan's appeal of a lower court's ruling to remove his name from the ballot. Rival candidate Tom Barrow and activist Robert Davis says Duggan violated the terms of the City Charter and was not a city resident for one year before the deadline to file election petitions.
Barrow also has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on the matter.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 07:31
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Reuters
Kevyn Orr, Emergency Manager, Meets With Detroit Creditors To Avoid Bankruptcy
DETROIT, June 14 (Reuters) - Detroit's creditors will begin to learn on Friday morning what they can recover without driving the financially troubled city into bankruptcy when the city's emergency manager unveils his restructuring plan.
Manager Kevyn Orr has dropped hints that creditors would fare better by compromising now rather than in court should he opt to file what would be the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
He has begun laying a choice before creditors: Work with him by accepting cuts to what they are owed, or face the prospect of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding where they might have little influence on the outcome.
"I have a very powerful statute," Orr said at his first meeting with the public on Monday, referring to Michigan's new emergency manager law. "I have an even more powerful Chapter 9. I don't want to use it, but I am going to accomplish this job. That will happen."
Orr, the bankruptcy attorney Michigan officials tapped in March to run the city as emergency manager, has summoned public labor unions, bondholders, bond insurers and others to a Detroit airport hotel to present a 200-page restructuring plan.
With Michigan's biggest city buckling under more than $15 billion of debt, high unemployment and a sinking population base, Orr has contended Detroit is on an unsustainable path and that there is a 50/50 chance of a bankruptcy filing.
It would be a first for a major U.S. city as New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland all avoided formal bankruptcy filings, noted Jim Spiotto, a municipal bankruptcy expert at law firm Chapman and Cutler.
"The perception in the market today is that major municipalities don't file for Chapter 9," Spiotto said. "They are a safe investment and they will find a way to refinance and restructure. If that perception changes, that could increase the cost of borrowing" for Detroit.
Historically, bondholders have not lost the principal amount owed them as a result of financial restructurings of major cities.
Local media reports say that Orr will push creditors in his restructuring report to take as little as 10 cents for each dollar the city owes. Orr's spokesman declined to comment on the reports.
INSURERS LIKELY FIRST TO NEGOTIATE
Unlike in corporate Chapter 11 bankruptcies, judges have more limited powers in a municipal Chapter 9 proceeding. A judge in a Detroit bankruptcy could not replace Orr, liquidate the city, or force it to sell assets or raise taxes.
"All the protections for creditors in Chapter 11 are not applicable in Chapter 9," said Laura Bartell, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Bartell added that the Friday meeting was just round one in a process that will take weeks.
"Of course this is going to be tough," Bartell said. "This is a massive financial morass with so many people and so many different interests."
In the meantime, Detroit's emergency manager says he intends to remain current on the city's debt payments including about $34 million due to owners of pension debt on June 15.
Heightened concerns that Detroit's bondholders face payment risks due to a possible bankruptcy filing or debt restructuring led to credit rating downgrades deeper into the junk category for Detroit's bonds by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday and Moody's Investors Service on Thursday.
Much of Detroit's debt is insured, giving bondholders protection against future defaults. Two of the insurers, MBIA, Inc and Assured Guaranty, will have someone at the Friday meeting, according to their spokespersons.
James Schwartz, head of municipal credit research at BlackRock, said he expects insurers to be at the front lines in negotiations with the city. That is a role bond insurers have played in the case of Alabama's Jefferson County, which is in the midst of the current biggest-ever municipal bankruptcy.
Also listening intently for details on Friday will be the presidents of the unions that represent Detroit's workers, from civil service to firefighters to police officers.
Depending on what Orr has to say on Friday, several dozen to several hundred police and firefighters may decide to retire rather than wait for an emergency manager-imposed new contract, union leaders said this week.
"We're going to lose the institutional knowledge and much of our leadership because they will not tell us what we need to know in order to make decisions for our families," said Dan McNamara, president of the 915-member Detroit Firefighters Association.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 08:54
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Huffington Post
For entrepreneur William K. Middlebrooks, the only difference between living an ordinary life and an extraordinary one is your willingness to do the extra in everything that you do.
It's a lesson Middlebrooks says his father instilled in him growing up, and one that served as a source of inspiration for a compilation of wisdom he and marketing executive Leslie M. Gordon recently released on the role of fathers in the African-American community.
Part chapter-memoir, part call-to-action and part inspiration, the book, "Dare To Be Extraordinary: A Collection of Positive Life Lessons from African American Fathers," recognizes and honors the wisdom and teachings of African-American fathers passed down to sons and daughters, one summary reads. Continue to the Huffington Post...
Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 09:22
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
The Michigan Senate voted today to pass Senate Bill 114, legislation sponsored by Senator Vincent Gregory (D–Southfield) that would eliminate a loophole that allows building owners to use occupancy rates to avoid paying property taxes. This bill will ensure property taxes are equal for all office building and commercial park owners and maintain vital funding for public safety and other government services.
“Without the passage of this legislation, some property owners have been able to use this loophole to dramatically reduce their property taxes in lean times—and keep them low when their property values should have gone back up,” said Senator Gregory. “All building owners deserve a level playing field and should not be paying tax rates that are inconsistent with their competitors. More importantly, property taxes are a vital source of funding for our local governments, and this loophole has been allowing property owners to withhold funding that they are expected to pay for police officers, fire fighters, infrastructure and other universal community services.”
During Michigan’s economic struggles over the last few years, owners of large commercial office buildings began having their property taxes reassessed—and ultimately reduced—based on their dwindling occupancy rates. These reductions in property taxes have had an adverse effect on local governments that rely on property taxes to provide local police and fire and other vital services.
“I appreciate Senator Gregory’s efforts to address this problem and help local governments like ours recoup the money we are owed to provide the services businesses and residents alike depend on,” said Irv Lowenberg, Southfield City Treasurer. “Everyone in our community has equal access to police and fire, and everyone should be contributing equally to maintaining them.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 June 2013 17:40
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