Minni Forman (107)
With the fist day of school approaching fast, Michigan’s newest school district—the Education Achievement Authority (EAA)— is pushing to enroll as many students possible by any means necessary, or so it seems.
As the fate of Public Act 4—the legislation that made the EAA possible—now hangs in the balance of a public vote come Nov. 6, it’s crucial to keep the momentum, and enrollment, rolling at full speed according to district officials.
Despite the uncertain outcome of the Nov. 6 vote on the controversial emergency manager law, the district is charging “full steam ahead” according to Roy Roberts, emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools and director of the EAA.
In order to fill the classrooms on time and overthrow any doubts or uncertainty about the new EAA schools, The EAA, which is a public/private partnership between the State of Michigan and Eastern Mcihgian University, got popular bad boy rapper T.I. to urge youngsters via a radio advertisement on a local hip-hop station to enroll in an EAA school.
A Radio ad airing on The New Hot 107.5 FM on Sunday, dubbed the EAA “ the hottest new schools” featuring T.I’s voice asking kids to tell their parents to get them in an EAA school.
This choice of spokesperson raises the some questions: What’s the message here? Obviously kids listen to T.I., but should the EAA district be using a rapper whose reputation is smeared by frequent stints in prison for illegal gun charges as the pied piper leading students their doors?
The enrollment numbers aren’t that bad: Last week The Detroit News reported that the district had 6,660 students signed up and ready to start. The goal is 11,000 students total to fill all 15 EAA schools. That’s about more than half of the final goal and enrollment will continue through September.
While T.I. is popular, and could get student’s attention, it’s the parents who ought to be making these decisions of where to place their child, not kids who want to go to a school because their favorite rapper—who brags about shooting people in his songs—thinks it’s “hot.”
If anyone forgot why Public Act 4 (the Emergency Manager Law) was created, yesterday’s DPS ruling should jog their jog your memory.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John Murphy ruled Tuesday that the DPS School Board has control over academic decisions and Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Roy Roberts has control of the purse strings. That's until Nov. 6th, when voters get to decide the fate of PA4.
Meanwhile, the ongoing battle between DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts and the Detroit School Board is anything but over. It's a taste of things to come if PA4 is repealed in November.
People can expect lawsuits to fly like rotten tomatoes between the two camps.
According to the Detroit News, Judge Murphy said Tuesday he expects the two groups to battle it out in the courthouse quite often:
“Murphy said if the school board and Roberts can't agree on what is financial and what is academic, he will decide on a case by case basis who has authority.
'The burden of proof is on the plaintiff that his policies fit within Public Act 72,' Murphy said."
Murphy should prepare to see Roberts and the Board frequent his courtroom:
Roberts told The Detroit News:
“If we have a disagreement and I say it's financial and they say it's academics — we are back
before Judge Murphy."
But really, Who wins in a situation like this? Certainly not the kids who need leaderhsip, not lawsuits.
Last week on WDET (101.9 fm) radio, Craig Fahle made a good point. He had people call in to the Craig Fahle Show to sound off on the proposed slash of 80 percent of Detroit Water Department employees over the next five years.
Many callers were upset about the proposal and said that the city should not make these drastic cuts because people need jobs.
Then Fahle asked the million-dollar question: What is the water department’s responsibility? To employ people or to provide clean water in the most efficient way possible?
That’s a question many city departments have to ask themselves. When we talk about Detroit’s financial state, and cutting the number of employees to help curb spending, the uprising from people is that the city can’t keep cutting jobs. While unemployment is not good for the economy overall, it’s not the city’s job to keep people employed for employment's sake.
The proposals for these massive cuts came from consulting firm EMA Inc., hired by the water and sewerage department to study operations and map out a plan to cut costs. EMA conducted the study over three months. In addition to the job cuts, the plan calls for:
- Outsourcing 361 positions to low-cost contract workers in noncore functions, such as billing and mailing, grounds maintenance, office cleaning and facilities maintenance
- Outsourcing for large engineering projects and peak times
- Reducing job classifications from 257 to 31
The City of Detroit is not an employment service. It’s a service provider that should find the most efficient way to provide those services. Unfortunately that is going to mean a lot of jobs lost in the name of efficiency.
While leaders should be looking for ways to employ people to get work done, the other side to that coin is making services efficient and keeping the city afloat.
After the Detroit City Council decided not to allow a millage proposal on the November ballot that would cost property owners hundreds of dollars a year, a twitter storm broke out.
One Detroit pastor dug into City Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. after Tuesday’s vote. The twitter spat seemed ironic coming from a pastor, whose faith, above all things, commands forgiveness and non-judgment.
The background of the dispute started on Tuesday when Police Chief Ralph Godbee and the Detroit Police Commission had the city council decide whether to ask voters in November if the city should put 8 mills on property tax and that could raise enough money to put 500 police officers to the street.
For people who own houses worth $50,000 the tax would be $250 a year on top of other city taxes and millages.
Cockrel went to twitter after the council voted 7-2 to strike down the ballot proposal, saying the police department financial problems should not be on the backs of the people who are already “taxed to the max”.
Cockrel criticized Police Chief Ralph Godbee in a tweet:
"I am not convinced that our problem is a lack of manpower issue. I'm convinced that our problem is a lack of an effective management plan issue."
That’s when J.A. Williams II, senior pastor of Spirit & Truth Christian Ministries and presiding prelate of Kingdom Builders Association jumped in to defend Godbee.
The following twitter spat ensued:
Williams: @kencockreljr2, @Ralph_Godbee is a much more efficient administrator of DPD than you've been as a councilman or mayoral fill-in. #ijs
Cockrel: @BishopJawill @Ralph_Godbee Both crime stats and word on the street suggest otherwise.
Williams: @KenCockrelJr2 @ralph_godbee On the other hand sir, the City was in the black when you first took your seat.
Cockrel: @BishopJawill @ralph_godbeeUntrue. It was my admin that actually uncovered the extent to which city's budget books hadn't been maintained.
Williams didn’t stop there. He continued:
Williams:…We meant every word. We continue to pray for you, our city & other leaders - even Ken Cockrel. Lol.
Williams:Detroit City Council = cowardly. @Ralph_Godbee = courageous. I normally don't express these positions publicly but WE DESERVE SAFE STREETS!
Was Pastor Williams being fair or should he been more of a twitter diplomat?
It’s expected to be a tight race in the new 14th Congressional District primary today. Local politics got wacky when Detroit lost a congressional seat due to low census numbers and the republican legislature got to design their dream districts, consolidating densely democratic areas into the 14th and 13th and pitting good leaders—who are otherwise colleagues— against one other in the August 7 primary.
The tension between promising democratic candidates running the new 14th district has become more obvious in the weeks before Election Day. It’s been called a “two man race” between Congressman Gary Peters and Congressman Hansen Clarke who have run a civil race for the past months, that is, until now.
Clarke recently began running radio ads on local hip-hop stations targeting black voters, proclaiming to be "one of us" while insisting that Peters lives in Republican presidential candidate "Mitt Romney's old neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, Peters has accused Clarke of courting tea party members who want to impeach President Obama.
One a press release reads:
“Congressman Hansen Clarke is spending the day in Detroit with “Tea Party Hero” Congressman Tim Scott from South Carolina who suggested the possibility of impeaching President Obama during last summer’s debt ceiling debate.”
Both ridiculous claims: Peters is like Romney, Clarke is a tea party supporter… and the sky is red. The truth is, they don’t really have any real beef, just this congressional primary to get past.
But there are other contenders in the race, namely Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence and former State Rep. Mary Waters, who have both been out shadowed by the leading men.
The other Dem. contender, Bob Costello, is too far off his rocker to really take seriously. The man believes there is a government crusade against Catholicism in the form of birth control options. Please.
So in case you missed the chatter, here’s what some lesser known candidates and Facebook political enthusiasts are saying about this tightly contested race on the web:
Mary Waters decided criticize Clarke instead of Peters. In a Facebook status she wrote:
“Did Congressman Hansen Clarke just realize that there were literacy issues in Detroit, amongst African Americans and Latinos? I worked on literacy issues as a State Rep along with the Governor, a columnist for the Free Press and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. His sudden revelation has prompted him to seek support from a black tea party republican Congressman Tim Scott of South Carolina who wants to impeach President Obama. Thank you Hansen Clarke for that one. Dunno.”
In a separate status post, Waters attacked Clarke again:
“Hansen Clarke started the racial issue himself. He introduces himself as Bangladeshi at meetings outside of Detroit. Detroiters you are the ones who want him to be Black. For those concerned about voter’s rights issues, Hansen does not fit the bill and that's the record that should be checked. The issue is not race.”
But in another post, Waters protected Peter’s integrity. She wrote on her FB status:
“I am in the 14th Congressional race because I decided to run. To mention Congressman Peters "paying me to run" is an insult to his character and integrity. People stop spreading such hateful lies.”
More FB chatter:
Detroit political enthusiast David Stephen wrote in his status post:
“Gary Peters earns the endorsement of the Michigan Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus. But Hansen Clarke is Bangladeshi, right?”
Commenter response to Stephen's post:
"Ouch. The REAL shame, however, is because ppl allowed the Repubs to take over the legislature and re-district, we have to choose one over the other. We need them BOTH in Congress. Think about THAT next time you think your 1 vote doesn't count in local elections.”
Brenda Lawrence has not gone very negative in her campaign. Instead, she is counting on women voters for her support. One her radio adds and campaign literature, she promotes female power (or the lack thereof) in congress.
One of Lawrence’s FB statuses reads:
“Ladies, sorors, my sisters, as a public servant, there are so many times I look around a room and I am the only woman seated at the table. It is not a mystery why there is a 'war on women' and we find our rights to make our own health care decisions chipped away. It is because we are not there. I know there are so many of you in your careers that are fighting that glass ceiling. We balance wife, mom and caregiver with careers. I support you in your challenge and I need your support in mine. Ladies, I need you to vote on August 7 and I need you to bring as many as you can with you. We must fight for our voice!!!”
Whoever you vote for today doesn't matter. Do your own research. The important part is that you vote! Excerise your power. Remember, all these people want to work for you!
The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled that PA4, the state’s controversial emergency manager law, be put on the November ballot for Michigan voters to decide it's fate in the November election.
But now that the law has been put to a vote of the people, it is technically not a law (quite yet) anymore until the people decide. So the emergency manager law may be suspended until November, although lawsuits are set to fly on whether it should be.
Gov. Rick Snyder has said that everything done thus far under PA4 will not suddenly be erased, but no new developments cannot be made until the November vote. Current emergency managers will have to take a demotion for a few months and go back o the the powers they had under the former emergency manager law, passed in 1990.
The 1990 law does not give emergency managers as much power. One key difference is that it forbids an E.M. to shape collective bargaining agreements.
The Detroit Free Press report quoted one lawyer, John Philo, legal director of the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit saying:
“…Going forward, anything under the consent agreement that is ostensibly under Public Act 4 can’t be taken – anything that’s clearly a Public Act 4 power is suspended. It raises serious questions about any continuing powers for the Financial Advisory Board and some of the powers granted to the program management director.”
There are other lawyers like Donato Lorio, a lawyer for the Detroit Police Officers Association, who believe city’s recent pay and benefits cuts imposed on city labor unions are now “null and void.”
Whatever the case, Detroit is in for another round of turbulent debates and Michiganders will face a big decision come November. No more bickering from the sidelines, people get a chance to once and for all put this controversial law to rest.
But it does raise the question: If there's no strong emergency manager law, then what's in store for DPS and other cities facing financial crisis?
Does Benny Napoleon Want to be Sherriff or Mayor?
Wayne County Sherriff Benny Napoleon has a lot on his plate. As sheriff, he serves a county with one of the highest crime rates in the nation. Plus, in order to keep his job, he’s running for re-election in next week’s primary for a four-year term. But that’s not all. Napoleon is also considering a run for Mayor of the City of Detroit.
Has Napoleon bitten off more then he can chew?
Eyeing two public offices at once sure seems like it. How can he convince voters he’s committed to his job as sheriff if he plans to run for mayor in a matter of months after being elected?
Voters need to know that their county sheriff wants the job and isn’t distracted by another political race.
It’s not that Napoleon isn’t qualified for either job. It just seems like the honorable thing to do for voters and supporters is to stick to one goal. If he is elected as mayor next year, someone else will replace him as sheriff who was appointed and not elected into the position.
There are many who believe Napoleon could be a viable candidate in the 2013 mayoral race.
When asked who would be the next mayor of Detroit, Congressman Gary Peters had his answer ready: Benny Napoleon.
For voter’s sake, pick one public office to run for and commit to it.
What’s the big deal? If judges are going to dismiss legal challenges to the consent agreement so easily, why all the fuss?
Krystal Crittendon tried it. Then she tried it again—that is, filing a lawsuit deeming Detroit’s Financial Stability Agreement void according to her interpretation of the city charter due to some disputed revenue sharing dollars and unpaid bills.
Both times, an Ingham County judge tossed Crtittendon’s lawsuit without a blink.
But it was too late: at that point city’s top attorney’s legal argument had raised such a ruckus from the state and supporters of the agreement, that city bond ratings dipped along with other financial speculations, driving the city further into a financial hurricane.
With all that mess, it seemed like the Corporation Counsel’s lawsuit actually carried some water. Or, at very least, enough for a judge to consider it and not toss it out with the same knee-jerk revulsion reserved for rotten tomatoes.
Then three local AFSCME union leaders tried it. Detroiters Rose Roots, Yolanda King and Yvonne Ross filed a lawsuit making the same argument as Crittendon: the consent agreement is void per the City Charter due to debts the state owes the City.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Amy Hathaway swiftly ruled that the City had no proof that the State owed it any money, and that revenue sharing dollars that are not shared do not count as debts.
"'The revenue-sharing money ... is not a debt, and we all know it's not a debt because corporation counsel issued an opinion to that effect back in 2006,' Hathaway said, referring to an opinion by a former top city attorney in the administration of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick."
While the city charter has been revised since the Kilpatrick days, this ruling puts forth a solid reason not to appeal, or makes the chance of any appeal unlikely to succeed.
Crittendon still has time to appeal as well as the three AFSCME musketeers. But it would be silly to let these lawsuits send the city and it’s fragile finances into another tailspin. To supporters of the consent agreement: Don’t buy the hype and everything will be fine.
Is Mayor Dave Bing gearing up for another mayoral run? Or has Gov. Rick Snyder really crossed a line with his proposals for Detroit?
Up until now, Bing has been mostly supportive of input from the State of Michigan to support and control parts of the city that are failing under the financial crisis. He supported the consent agreement, he supported cuts proposed by the consent agreement's financial advisory board, and he condemned the city's Corporation Counsel when she tried to stall the consent agreement.
But at a meeting with Detroit NAACP members in Midtown Wednesday, Bing hotly expressed frustration with Snyder's proposals for the city using words like “hell” and “damn”, according to a report in The Detroit News.
Bing said of Governor Snyder:
“You can't come in here and think you can do any damn thing that you want.”
Bing added that he does not want the state to “impose” decision on Detroit:
"I have never in my 46 years in this city seen a governor of the state of Michigan involved in city politics like this one," he said.
But The state has been imposing a lot of things lately, so why has Bing turned on this one?
My first guess is that he’s lining up his ducks for another mayoral run and in order to get a good footing with his electorate he has to start standing up the governor.
I’m no political advisor, but I guarantee candidates who toss the term “union busting” around a few times and throw verbal zingers Snyder’s way are bound to rack up Detroit votes.
City Council President Charles Pugh, who also has expressed interest in a mayoral run, has essentially done the same thing. He supported the consent agreement up until now, when he suddenly is calling it “union busting” and blasting the state for wanting to take over Detroit.
Looks like Bing, Pugh and DMC front man Mike Duggan will be top mayoral contenders in 2013. And it’s clear that a successful run it will be a tight balancing act of who can keep in good with the State while giving Detroit voters what they want to hear.
Watch This! Why Public Education Needs Major Reform
This video is a GREAT starting point for further investigation into the bankruptcy of modern education. It’s well worth 10 minutes of your precious time.
Right not in Detroit, public education is being reformed with the new Education Achievement System (EAA) district and other measures. That’s why it’s more important now than ever for people to know what education of the future look like; and demand it.
It’s not just in Detroit that education needs reform. This is a global issue. Kids are being taught in a system that was created during the industrial revolution. All you have to do is look around to know that times have changed since then. But school systems have not.
Kenneth Robinson, an English author, speaker, and international advisor on education, argues in this video breaks down the fundamental flaws in the current global education system.
A must-watch for parents and students:
Click HERE to watch video.
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