Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Chuck Stokes/special to the Chronicle
Retired South African President Nelson Mandela once said, "A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger."
If these words ring true for one of the world's most respected leaders, surely they can serve as a guiding light for Detroit as it faces what many residents believe is the Motor City's most important mayoral race since Coleman A. Young narrowly defeated Sheriff John F. Nichols in November 1973.
That was a historic election as State Senator Young became Detroit's first African American mayor. Now, forty years later, the world once again watches as retired Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon compete to see who will become the next mayor of the largest municipality in U.S. history to seek bankruptcy protection.
Detroiters deserve to see these two very accomplished candidates debate the most pressing issues facing our city.
On Tuesday, October 29, beginning at 7:00 pm, they will have that opportunity. WXYZ-TV/Channel 7, in partnership with the Michigan Chronicle, News/Talk 760 WJR, Crain's Detroit Business, the Booker T. Washington Business Association and the Detroit Black Chamber, is proud to host the final Detroit Mayoral Debate where Napoleon and Duggan will face off before a studio audience of about 50 people at Channel 7 Broadcast House and 325 Detroit residents participating in the event from the General Motors auditorium inside Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Respected journalists Bankole Thompson, Carolyn Clifford, Glenda Lewis, Stephen Clark, Mary Kramer, and Lloyd Jackson will also join me in this "live" forum that will be broadcast on television and radio, and streamed on the internet.
My experience is that nothing captures the excitement like a final debate just one week before voters go to the polls to cast their ballots. I saw it 1993 when Channel 7 hosted the final debate between attorneys Dennis Archer and Sharon McPhail.
I saw it again in October 2001 when State Representative Kwame Kilpatrick and Detroit City Council President Gil Hill went toe-to-toe in our studios. And the final debates between Kilpatrick and former Detroit Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix in 2005, and Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel, Jr. and businessman Dave Bing in 2009 are extremely memorable. All of them gave viewers and voters an opportunity to size up the candidates one last time.
On Tuesday, November 5, the political future of Detroit is at stake like never before. Not only will city residents get to choose their highest elected official but for the first time in nearly 100 years, city council members will be elected from defined neighborhood districts. With so much on the line, the world will be watching who we choose to lead us into the future.
It's time to debate and vote. We hope you tune in for THE DEBATE on Tuesday, October 29.
Chuck Stokes is editorial director of WXYZ.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 10:38
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson/Senior Editor
Anyone who is rooting for a better Detroit should be concerned about transparency and openness in the next Detroit government.
The struggles of everyday people and the efforts of those with genuine interest, including individuals and businesses invested in Detroit and its future, should not be squandered on the altar of secrecy, bureacracy and ineffectiveness where the public has little or no information regarding oversight of the government that purports to represent them.
That message was made clear Monday at Wayne State University Law School auditorium during the first "Detroit Good Governance Leadership Summit" where leaders in government, business, civic, labor, media and other segments of the community gathered to discuss tools and resources to ensure that there was transparency and accountability in local government, especially in light of what has taken place in Detroit in the last decade.
The arrival of the summit could not be more timely in light of the two mayoral contenders, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan, are vying for the top leadership of Detroit in the general election on Nov. 5. These candidates have an obligation to make transparency the central focus of their administration should, whichever one wins two weeks from now.
The cross-pollination of ideas at the summit underscored the strong interest from various individuals and groups concerned about the lack of transparency when dealing with government.
An example is Gov. Rick Snyder's secret Nerd Fund which was among the questions raised at the summit by panelist and labor leader Karla Swift, the newly minted president of the Michigan AFL-CIO who spoke candidly about the contradictory messages that political leaders send to their constituents. Public pressure forced the governor's office to declare this week that the fund was being shut down.
Detroit's newly appointed inspector general, James Heath, talked about the need for new municipal government to make openness and preventing waste a key element of how it does business on behalf of taxpayers.
According to Heath, the Office of Inspector General is uniquely positioned to play a prominent role in preventing wrongdoing before it drains valuable city resources.
"Toward that end, the OIG works cooperatively with city departments and agencies to institute the type of internal controls and best practices which can greatly deter waste, abuse, fraud, and corruption," Heath said.
He has assembled an impressive team of attorneys, auditors and investigators dedicated to the mission of accountability. The office is located at 65 Cadillac Square, suite 3210.
Consistent with the best practices of other investigatory agencies, Heath decided early on to locate the office outside of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to allow city employees and the general public to feel more secure in making complaints concerning wrongdoing they have observed and to be interviewed confidentially outside of the glare of City Hall.
Politicians always have an issue coming out clear on things and it is no surprise that they end up running afoul of not only the law but the expectations of good governance they often preach on the campaign trail.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, whose office prosecuted former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick as well as many other city officials, was one of the summit organizers.
"Our city is ready to turn the page and move on from the corruption of the Kilpatrick administration, but it is important to learn from our history so that we do not repeat it. A government with integrity will ensure that the next chapter in our history is a positive one," McQuade said. "We are hopeful that rooting out public corruption will restore confidence in government and attract leaders with integrity. The city can attract businesses that were relegated to the sidelines during the days when bribery and extortion were part of our city's culture."
McQuade, who was appointed by President Obama continued, "Citizens who became cynical because of corruption can feel empowered to renew their engagement in civic life. There are many good and talented people in Detroit who are ready to step up and lead."
Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans founder and chairman, appeared for a special conversation during which he spoke at length about Detroit and the need to change the narrative of the city.
Gilbert also took time to further dismiss the "60 Minutes" presentation on Detroit which he said underestimates the growth that is taking place in the city. He said he was ready to put the searchlight on helping rebuild Detroit's neighborhoods, citing as an example his willingness to be part of a three-person committee created to address blight in Detroit.
Bertram Marks, general counsel of the Detroit Council of Baptist Pators & Vicinity, highlighted the need for public trust. Detroiters, he said, want to have faith in their government.
"Those who wish to serve in public office can only be effective when they are trusted. Once trust is established, it must be maintained. Accountability to the needs and desires of the public should be the principal measure of how we screen and elect candidates for public service," Marks said. "We have all been both witness and victim to the wounds inflicted by corruption. It has been horrendous. Equally troubling is the rising tide of mistrust concerning the perceived agendas of political parties."
Marks said Detroit's revival cannot be a Republican or Democratic tool to promote the prowess of one party over another.
"Instead, the comeback story of Detroit must be an effort free from cronyism, racism, political wrangling and labeling. As Detroit rebuilds itself, those charged with the responsibility of governing must be bipartisan, multicultural and beyond pandering to wealth and power," Marks said. "The people who are most vulnerable in our community must be our top priority. Making sure these citizens have a high quality of life is how history will measure the revitalization of Detroit."
I have long maintained that the whole notion of government accountability is rooted in the idea of strong democratic governance. That those who seek public office must bring with them accountability as a virtue and a way of life. That elected and public officials sworn to protect the public's interests must conduct themselves always in and outside of their offices in a way that shows accountability, qualities and attributes deserving of anyone who should be trusted with the public coffers.
In our current political dispensation, the most visible and important example in seeking an honest government is the saga of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted in a sweeping federal corruption trial and has now been sentenced.
TV One network aired the first national comprehensive documentary on the rise of fall of the former mayor Monday night that was very telling. The one hour film on Kilpatrick captured in details and facts the essence of that era and really put into context the temptations that accompany political office and how that leads to bad governance. It is a sad American story to come from Detroit. But the city should not be held hostage by that era.
Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, told the gathering at Wayne that it is time for Detroit to free itself from the Kilpatrick era and move on.
Federal Bar Association Chapter President Michael K. Lee applauded the summit, saying, "The power of elected officials is derived solely from the willingness of the people to agree to that governance. That willingness is contingent on the credibility of those in public office as seen through the eyes of that populace. A primary tool that a populace uses to measure that credibility is transparency, by which a populace can measure honesty and integrity."
Wayne Law Dean Jocelyn Benson also was a panelist at the summit, welcomed the opportunity for the law school to serve as the venue for the summit.
"An honest and open government is the most basic part of maintaining the public trust and reinforcing the democratic process," Benson said. "Wayne Law School is thrilled to be hosting this event focused on how the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to ensure municipal government in Detroit is transparent and accountable."
Paul Tait, head of the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC), one of the summit sponsors who deputized for MAC chairperson and also chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors Debbie Dingell, said it was timely that Detroit begins to look at public integrity in government with the next chapter of leadership.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 08:35
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce, BTWBA and WXYZ-TV will host the final debate between Detroit mayoral candidates Benny Napoleon and Mike Duggan on Tuesday, Oct. 29. The debate takes place exactly one week before Detroiters go to the polls to choose their next mayor.
The candidates will face-off at Channel 7’s Broadcast House from 7-8 p.m. in front of a live studio audience. A larger audience of Detroit voters will watch and participate in the debate from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History where Channel 7 anchor/reporter Glenda Lewis will be on hand. Channel 7 Action News anchor Stephen Clark will moderate a special post-debate webcast from 8-8:30 p.m. from the museum hosted by the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce and Booker T. Washington Business Association.
“The Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce is committed to bringing value, leadership and advocacy to its members and partnering with WXYZ-TV and BTWBA for this mayoral debate shows that by working together we can better serve the residents of Detroit. This is the final mayoral debate, I personally urge each and every Detroit voter to make your voice heard on Nov. 5th,” said Tony Stovall, president of the DBCC.
Channel 7’s editorial and public affairs director Chuck Stokes will moderate this final Detroit mayoral debate. Questions will be asked by a panel that includes Carolyn Clifford, 7 Action News anchor; Lloyd Jackson, WJR News/Talk 760 assistant news director; Bankole Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle; and Crain’s Detroit Business Publisher Mary Kramer. The Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce and Booker T. Washington Business Association are also participating sponsors of the debate.
Viewers will be able to watch the debate live on WXYZ-TV as well as on wxyz.com and the station’s mobile apps and us #7Debate.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 09:46
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by CNN News
Washington (CNN) -- The government-run health insurance exchanges have been open for business for 20 days. But a host of issues have plagued the highly anticipated launch, making it difficult for both consumers and insurance providers.
"There's no sugarcoating it," President Barack Obama said from the Rose Garden on Monday. "The problem has been that the website that's supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody."
What's not working
Error messages: HealthCare.gov is plagued with technical problems. The Obama administration hasn't completely released the cause or extent of the problems, likely because they haven't quite figured them out.
But people in all but 14 states and the District of Columbia are having trouble applying for the exchanges because the website isn't allowing them to complete the process.
"I put in my user name and password, it didn't recognize it," CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reported Monday, saying that the website gave her error messages or said "page not found" or that the system was down.
Obamacare open enrollment: Here's everything you need to know
The problems appear to have been worse for those who signed up in the first days the exchanges opened.
Spinning icon: For others, the website is extremely slow. The spinning icon that indicates that the website is working, albeit slowly, is a huge frustration in the age of (relatively) fast connection speeds.
Faulty information: It's not only consumers wanting to sign up for health insurance who are having trouble, but the insurance companies that provide coverage are experiencing difficulties with the exchanges, too.
Insurance companies say the technical problems are causing the companies to receive both incomplete customer information and duplicate applications.
Internet overload: The White House indicated that the problems are exacerbated because of the large number of people who have visited HealthCare.gov. Obama said 20 million have visited the site since the exchanges opened on October 1.
While the President said he would not excuse the problem, he said half a million people have managed to sign up.
While that's a large number, it's only a fraction of the 48 million uninsured and 20 million who have visited HealthCare.gov.
Still, as some have been able to sign up, it's not all bad:
State-run exchanges: Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are running their own exchanges. Those websites are working much better.
Many of the states refused to implement their own exchanges in large part because of ideological opposition to the health care law, forcing the federal government to fill the void.
1-800-318-2596: That's the number to call if you want to sign up for health insurance by phone; by speaking to an actual person. It works.
Obama said wait times are "less than a minute." Cohen confirmed that receiving help via phone was a cinch.
"They're terrific. They're very helpful and they answer almost instantly," she said of the call operators.
5 things that have happened since Obamacare launched
Navigators: Recent polls suggest that the majority of people don't know much about the Affordable Care Act. A nonprofit set up to help people sign up for Obamcare, Enroll America, said they are seeing changes.
Justin Nisly, spokesman for Enroll America, said they have nearly doubled the number, from 4,000 to 7,000, working to educate the uninsured about the exchanges and health insurance.
Information: Before the exchanges opened, the cost and services provided were largely unknown. But both HealthCare.gov and the state-run exchange websites are providing detailed information about what people will get and how much it will cost.
Time: While the exchanges opened on October 1, coverage doesn't begin until January 1, and the deadline for having coverage in place is March 1, so there's still time to sign up. Officials are recommending people who need to sign up do so by February 15 to ensure the coverage will take effect in time.
Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 23:38
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
The Detroit City Council voted on Monday unanimously against another deal organized by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr designed to save the city millions of dollar. A $350-million loan for bankruptcy financing secured by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, The Detroit News reports.
The state’s emergency manager law allows the City Council to accept or reject the deal. The six-member council now has seven days to propose an alternative to the state’s local emergency loan board that would reach the same financial result as Orr’s agreement or better.
It didn’t appear Monday the council would offer an alternative. Instead, it will let bankruptcy court proceedings play out.
“The reality is, it seems to me, that one could make the argument that an alternative plan is not to act on this at all, but rather to fight on this issue in bankruptcy court,” Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said, questioning the timing of Orr’s deal.
Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 22:51
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