Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
There is a dearth of political and civic leadership in this town which makes me wonder why some people choose to accept certain positions if they are not going to either speak out or act on the basic functions of those positions.
For some reason it’s fancy to be called a leader or to occupy a key position in government, but seldom do most of the people in these positions of influence really want to lead. That is why Detroit is headed towards a collision in leadership where in the last 12 months we’ve witnessed nothing but empty talk rather than real and significant changes at city hall.
In the last several weeks I’ve received calls from individuals that we call “civic leaders” upset with the state of affairs in the city and how business is being done at city hall under emergency manager Kevyn Orr. They are mostly concerned about how contracts are being dolled out to consultants who are jet- setting, taking off with millions of dollars.
The departure of the city’s procurement director Andre DuPerry made matters worse, especially given that he specifically accused the Orr administration of circumventing the city’s normal contractual process.
After listening to the complaints, I suggested to a couple of my callers that they send me editorials to register disapproval, and I would gladly publish them. Apparently my suggestion was not received well and that was the last time I heard from them.
But this is the problem. Leadership does not complain in silence or whisper, especially when the stakes are high for keeping quiet. The notion that you can disagree with the way things are in Detroit but not voice your opinions publicly for fear of some kind of retribution is not indicative of strong leadership.
Simply disagreeing with the emergency manager on some of his methods regarding the financial management of Detroit should not be seen as a stumbling block to the so-called progress. In fact, it is better to have many disagreements to show that one person does not have a monopoly over the affairs of the city and its future.
When Orr was recruited, he was brought in to restructure the finances of the city, not to become the Louis XIV of the 2013 Detroit socioeconomic and political revolution. I was among journalists that Orr met with a number of times to explain how he was ready to take on the giant political institution called “Detroit government” and conduct financial surgery.
But that does not mean that handing over the financial well-being of a city into the hands of one man should not be criticized or his actions challenged.
Orr is a smart lawyer and he understands and should appreciate the importance of diversity of thought, views and visions when it comes to tackling difficult situations.
The last time Orr was in my office for a visit was in the wake of his controversial comments about Detroit in the Wall Street Journal. He was remorseful yet upbeat and spoke at length about transparency and openness and saving the city money. Every statement he made as he sat across from my desk for an hour-long conversation was succinct and he continually reminded me that he did not create the financial crisis of Detroit.
One thing is clear now: It is no longer about who started the financial crisis, it is a question of who is in the driver’s seat now. And given that Orr is the driver, the emergency manager has an obligation, whether he laid his hands on the Bible or the Constitution, to uphold the public trust and not to send mixed signals to the community.
His spokesman Bill Nowling’s dismissal of the concerns of the procurement officer, Andre DuPerry, as a “disgruntled employee” was uncalled for and insulting to DuPerry’s professional status. I’ve never met him but have read much about his background, and you just don’t dismiss an individual who brings unrivaled credentials, including a long stint at General Motors in procurement.
That kind of attitude towards DuPerry was the same reception that greeted Detroit’s former auditor general, Joseph Harris, when he began calling the City Council on the carpet on a number of unjustifiable spendings. The council at the time called Harris all kinds of names and accused him several times of harboring political ambition, when he was simply doing his job as a professional. He was not disgruntled, he was doing what taxpayers expected him to do as the guardian of their money.
We should not seek to disgrace or destroy those who disagree with us. We should learn from the disagreement and find ways to make the situation better. Orr does not have all the answers to the financial crisis in Detroit and neither does anyone protesting Orr.
Detroit has long had a financial crisis and we really didn’t need bankruptcy to remind us of that. But I do not subscribe to the idea that those who oppose Orr do so to an extreme and counter-productive level. However, if we can’t offer realistic solutions then there is no basis for moving forward. And we can’t be disingenuous by suggesting what doesn’t exist. I don’t live on sugar candy mountain with the belief that it’s all rosy and we have no financial issues at city hall.
But that does not negate the fact that the road to financial recovery has to be a transparent one and the people that Orr is bringing on board should be individuals of integrity who operate above board. Detroit has had enough of “Humpty Dumpty leadership” in the past that threw dust in the eyes of taxpayers and expected no challenge or questioning. We can’t afford that type of leadership. Honest government with integrity is what we need and, in fact, must have.
Our civic leaders have an obligation to speak to the process, not in a “Humpty Dumpty” way but, rather, in a bold and challenging fashion with the intent of getting Detroit to financial sanity, not to score political points.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 15:57
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Donald James
Few issues and stories in the history of Detroit have garnered more local, national and international attention than the continuous saga surrounding the appointment of Detroit’s first emergency manager (EM) last March.
In an unprecedented move by Gov. Rick Snyder, Kevyn Orr was appointed to usurp the executive powers of Mayor Dave Bing, as well as the legislative powers of the city’s nine-member city council. Bing and the council had been dutifully elected by the people of Detroit to serve as their leaders in a democratic system of local government.
From day one of this historic appointment, which made the Motor City the largest municipality in America to come under the vast powers of an emergency manager, voices of protest and court challenges have been heard in what many viewed as an illegal and unconstitutional procedure against democracy. Among the most vocal has been union activist Robert Davis, who has amassed an impressive history of filing and winning lawsuits under the guise of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that have helped legally front local organizations and politicians for acts that he strongly feels impinge the rights of Detroiters, inclusive of Gov. Snyder’s appointment of the current EM.
Thus was the case recently, when news broke that Wayne County Circuit Judge Maria Oxholm had ruled that the State of Michigan must release the names and résumeés of candidates who made the final cut to become the city’s emergency manager, a job that ultimately went to Orr. Davis was elated to hear of Oxholm’s ruling. He told a local daily newspaper, “Now that we have a ruling from Judge Oxholm, the people can see exactly how involved certain individuals were in this process and who exactly were the final candidates for the position of emergency manager,” Davis said. “Today was a victory for the people.”
Davis, according to the article, wanted to get e-mails released that he believed would show that Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan had been a part of early talks with Gov. Snyder about taking Detroit’s EM job, a claim that Duggan vehemently denies. Dennis Muchmore, Snyder’s chief of staff, also denies the claim.
“Davis says that Duggan was considered for the EM job. That’s not even close to being the case,” said Muchmore. “We never considered Duggan for the city’s EM job. The only thing that we ever talked with him about was the emergency manager position for Detroit Public Schools, a position which he was not interested in. We never approached him, however, about becoming the city’s EM. Duggan has been consistent in saying that he’s not in favor of the EM law. So, we didn’t approach him and he definitely did not approach us. He was never a part of those EM discussions.”
Muchmore admitted that there were a number of candidates the governor met with for consideration, which obviously included Orr. Muchmore understands Judge Oxholm’s ruling that the names must be disclosed. However, any release of the names would come after the appeal process has been exhausted.
“We tossed a lot of names around and we had a lot of people that were recommended to us that we talked with,” Muchmore said. “There were a couple or three serious candidates. We settled on Orr because he was dynamic, had experience in highly complicated issues, was a nationally recognized expert and a lawyer of great renown. We saw him as a first-class intellect.”
Muchmore defended Gov. Snyder’s decision not to disclose the final EM candidates’ names prior to Judge Oxholm’s decision.
“I don’t understand why you can’t do something like this in confidence because you have to give the people that you talk with the security that they are not going to be exposed,” Muchmore said. “I worked for a big search company for six years before I joined the governor and you have to protect the people that you’re talking to. Oftentimes, people just don’t want their names out in the public. When you call someone up to consider a job, you have to give them time for consideration and let them know that their names will be kept in confidence. How many people that are looking for another job and have interviewed would want their names disclosed to their current employer? Not many.”
Muchmore, however, accepts the judge’s ruling and said the governor will comply by turning over names after the appeal process, if the appeal is not in his favor.
“We will see how long it takes to get the appeal process done,” Muchmore said. “If they don’t rule in our favor, we will hand over the list. We will still be a little concerned about releasing the names. However, the governor will comply with the final ruling.”
Furthermore, Muchmore said there’s no truth that taking the city into bankruptcy was the plan all along, even before Orr came on board. Last July, Orr made Detroit the largest city in American history to ever file for court protection under the auspices of bankruptcy.
“No, everybody wanted to try what was possible to stay away from bankruptcy,” Muchmore said. “That’s why we wanted to do the consent agreement. If you go back and look at the consent agreement, I believe there are 27 points that were there to avoid further problems. We did a tremendous amount of work to help the city. Bankruptcy was the last thing on anybody’s list. You don’t do anything like that until all other options have been exhausted.”
In the days ahead, Muchmore knows that beyond this current case, more court proceedings are in store as several other lawsuits have been filed, inclusive of one by the NAACP, to challenge the constitutionality of the EM law, particularly as it applies to the city of Detroit.
“We know there is outstanding litigation that is ongoing, so I probably shouldn’t comment on it at this time,” Muchmore said. “However, there is no question in my mind that we stand on solid ground as it relates to the EM law and the current role of Kevyn Orr in Detroit.”
He added that Detroit is definitely on the rebound. He points to the many new developments that are beginning to happen in Detroit.
“I think there are some great things going on in Detroit,” said Muchmore. “For Detroit to be strong, that means having a strong downtown and strong neighborhoods. I believe if we focus on what will bring us together and not focus on what will keep us apart, things will be good for all Detroiters. I think the next year or so will tell us a lot about the future of Detroit.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 15:48
Half of single young adults eligible for the Health Insurance Marketplace could get coverage for $50 or less
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that nearly half (46 percent) of single young adults who are uninsured and may be eligible for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace could get coverage for $50 or less per month.
“The health care law is making health insurance more affordable for young adults,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “With nearly half of single, Marketplace-eligible uninsured young adults able to get coverage at $50 or less per month, the health care law is delivering the quality, affordable coverage people are looking for.”
Young adults are the age group most likely to be without health insurance. But through the Health Insurance Marketplace, young adults can purchase quality, affordable coverage and get lower costs on monthly premiums through tax credits. Young adults may also be eligible for Medicaid. The amount an individual can save depends on his or her family income and size.
Today’s report examines data from the 34 Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces and finds that out of 2.9 million single young adults ages 18 to 34 who may be eligible for coverage in the Marketplace, 1.3 million (46 percent) could purchase a bronze plan for $50 per month or less after tax credits. In the 34 states, a total of 1.9 million young adults, representing nearly 7 in 10 (66 percent) of the potentially Marketplace-eligible uninsured ages 18 to 34, may be able to pay $100 or less for coverage in 2014.
According to the report, an additional 1 million eligible uninsured single young adults may qualify for Medicaid in the states that have opted to expand the program in 2014. Today’s report also shows that if each of the 34 states expanded its Medicaid program, the proportion of young adults who could obtain low-cost coverage would be even greater. If each of the 34 states expanded its Medicaid program, 4.9 million uninsured single young adults would be eligible for Medicaid.
While some states are expanding their Medicaid programs in 2014, other states are not doing so. Under the health care law, states can receive 100 percent federal funding in 2014 to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s about $15,800 a year for an individual, or about $32,500 for a family of four.
To read today’s report visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/UninsuredYoungAdults/rb_uninsuredyoungadults.pdf
To find out more about who will qualify for lower costs on monthly healthy insurance premiums, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/will-i-qualify-to-save-on-monthly-premiums/
For more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace and to sign up for coverage from now until March 31, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 November 2013 17:01
Detroit Minister Charles Adams Dismisses Jim Holley’s Race Accusation, Says Media Favors Mike Duggan
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Dr. Charles G. Adams
Dr. Charles G. Adams is pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.
In a Detroit News editorial by Rev. Dr. Jim Holley, he asserts that many Detroit pastors have denied mayoral candidate Mike Duggan the opportunity to speak in their churches, making the claim that this is based on Duggan being a White candidate opposing Benny Napoleon, a Black candidate.
I am compelled to strongly dispute this assertion. Detroit is in serious trouble and currently operating under an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr (who happens to be African American), appointed by Gov. Snyder. All Detroiters want is a positive outcome to our difficulties and leadership that is responsive to the city we live, work and pay taxes in.
To insert race into our situation is an affront to Detroiters, who have remained committed to a city conventional wisdom gave up on years ago. The Detroit Free Press published an outstanding study on the 60 years of Detroit’s fiscal decline. It was a major surprise that the most fiscal mayor during that period was none other than Coleman A. Young.
The four mayors that preceded him played major roles in the city’s financial fall. This current election is far too important to make a decision based on race. We the city residents want full scrutiny of both candidates.
For the record, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church has extended the invitation to Mike Duggan at least three times. He had accepted our invitation to attend the Annual 4th of July Picnic Celebration held on the church grounds with hundreds in attendance. As late as the Saturday evening prior to the picnic we were assured that he would appear.
The event was held but candidate Duggan chose not to come. Subsequently his operatives have asked if he could attend services at Hartford. Our answer was the same as to all other political candidates: “You are welcome to any service at our church and will be acknowledged from the pulpit.”
The offer was extended to include the breakfast hour between services where he could greet parishioners informally. For whatever reason, the candidate has declined the open invitation. Through the years Hartford has welcomed people of all faiths, creeds and colors to our services and events. Ours is a highly intelligent congregation inclusive of all persuasions. They look to Hartford for balanced information and I would not presume to dictate how they should vote.
As part of Hartford’s Social Justice Weekend we are inviting candidates Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon to participate in a forum and question and answer period on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 9:30 to 10:30 am.
This is between our early service and late service to encourage attendees from both to have full participation. Our members and friends have appreciated having clear information on candidates and issues. Many have voiced concern that the mass media has not provided balanced and fair information on both candidates. The stories have been heavily weighted in favor of Mike Duggan. Without a doubt his campaign has financial resources that allow greater exposure.
The problems of Detroit deserve and should demand factual information on the real accomplishments of both candidates, not 30 seconds spots on DMC, now under new ownership. Why is there little coverage or acknowledgement of the tether program initiated by Napoleon and the $22 million it saved the county?
Dr. Holly wants to simplify the situation to a question of race. Detroit churches and pastors want to see solutions that involve all Detroiters and look to a candidate with integrity, competence, and a passionate commitment to a better Detroit for all.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 15:44
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Real Times Media
Real Times Media (RTM), a multimedia company focused on urban marketing, media and entertainment is set to officially introduce the Real Times Media Digital Network with the launch of the first of its new Interactive One-supported websites in November. The initial sites to launch under the new Real Times Media digital platform will be the company’s www.AtlantaDailyWorld.com and www.NewPittsburghCourier.com properties.
The launch of the two sites is the first milestone of the partnership RTM developed with Interactive One Studios (iOne Studios), a division of Radio One, which assists external brands with developing highly profitable digital businesses through world-class sales, platform, content and distribution services.
“Partnering with Interactive One Studios presents a tremendous opportunity for the Real Times Media digital platform,” said Hiram E. Jackson, CEO, Real Times Media. “For the past few years our company has had a laser focus on Re-positioning our brands into Multi-media platforms With emphasis on digital content, special events and marketing services. We’ve been able to make significant headway on our own; however, this partnership with Interactive One will certainly help us to reach new levels of success.”
Under the terms of the full partnership, Real Times Media is migrating its Atlanta Daily World (www.AtlantaDailyWorld.com), Chicago Defender (www.ChicagoDefender.com), Michigan Chronicle (www.MichiganChronicle.com), and New Pittsburgh Courier (www.NewPittsburghCourier.com) websites to Interactive One's proprietary content and mobile platforms. The transition will benefit the Real Times Media brands through increased audience reach, world-class advertising, media management and operations, guaranteed uptimes and tech support, and a unique set of features and functions that have made the channels within the Interactive One network a leader in the space.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 12:14
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