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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Too little, too late.Tinsley-Talabi returns her city car.

In response to article in the Free Press by staff writer Naomi R. Patton

She (Alberta Tinsley-Talabi) is slipping in the polls. She has been on council for 16 years (too long for me.) and all of a sudden she doesn’t need the car. Give me a break; this is the kind BS people do during election season. She, nor anyone else on council ever gave up a perk before, so why now. This is what President Obama calls ‘Silly season’ in politics. 'I haven’t done a thing for anyone in 16 years, but because I’m slipping in the polls I’ll do this little gesture.' (Not a real quote.)
Although the car is already leased, insurance already paid, gas card already issued, what is she saving the city from really? She requested the car not be reassigned, so we are now paying for nothing. This is not a savings, this is grand standing to keep an $80,000 a year job. Were not saving $7,200 a year in gas, maintenance and additional costs. Were wasting the car, insurance, and any other cost to the car because it is not in use. Whether it is used or not, we are still paying for the vehicle and its maintenance. Don’t be fooled by this very little gesture to save the city a few pennies.
If you are really serious about saving the city money, give up the vehicles forever, or until Detroit can afford them again. Until then, drive yourselves to work, like everyone else, or take the bus. (hopefully not one of the routes that was cut.) Give yourselves a 30% reduction in salary, lead by example. Show the people you really care about Detroit, not just about keeping your job, but a genuine love for the city in which you live.
This is her (Alberta Tinsley-Talabi ) last year, incumbents beware pack your junk and say goodbye. I wish I was one of the 18 you’ll hear more than just this; you’ll hear the truth about these money hungry phonies bolognas. Detroit, don’t fall for this grand standing crap anymore. Tinsley-Talabi say goodbye to your high paying job, and go get a real job.

Goodbye and good luck.

Vote Detroit. You get what you VOTE for.

P.S. I like the move, I just don't like why it is being done, election year stunt if you ask me.

Tinsley-Talabi returns her City of Detroit car

Detroit City Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi is the city’s first elected official to return her city-issued car to the city in response to the city’s budget crisis.
In a memo sent to city General Service Department Director Terry King today, Tinsley-Talabi said she would return to the 2007 Ford Crown Victoria to the city-owned Davison Yard on Thursday.
“Given the city’s mounting deficit and increasing service cuts, I do not believe that the City of Detroit can, or should, continue to provide vehicles that are not required for essential services,” the memo read.
She also requested the car not be reassigned, if it can be used “to generate revenue for city services.”
Returning the car would generate at least an annual $7,200 savings in gas, maintenance and additional costs, according to General Services Department officials.
It is unclear if Tinsley-Talabi’s council colleagues will follow suit.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Detroit businesswoman launches write-in campaign for mayor | | The Detroit News

Detroit businesswoman launches write-in campaign for mayor | | The Detroit News

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Citizen group sues: ‘Charter revision is dangerous’

“The Charter is like our Bible, our Constitution”

By Diane Bukowski

Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — A group of citizens claim that charter revision represents an imminent danger to the human rights of Detroiters.

Joyce Moore, a former Charter Commissioner, Carl Williams, Sandra Howard, and Hassan Aleem sued to overturn the May 5 election when less than 25 percent of registered voters approved the charter revision.

The group contends that the question should not have been on the ballot according to Charter and state-law provisions.

On June 26, the plaintiffs argued before Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Virgil Smith that the Charter mandates the next Charter Commission election must be held in the gubernatorial election year of 2018 at the same time voters consider the revision question. Both city and state law allow exceptions, but state law expressly defers to the city’s charter provisions, the plaintiffs say.

“The Charter is like our Bible and our Constitution,” Williams said. “Many people are not aware of what is in it. It’s against the Charter to sell the Water Department and Transportation Department, or parts of them, without a vote of the people. The Charter says only the Council can sell other city property, like Cobo Hall. The Charter guarantees us Home Rule. Some forces want to open up the Charter now so they can get in there and strip us of our rights and our property. This is a violation not only of our legal rights, but our human rights.”

Williams is a life-long Detroiter and retiree who works with Hood Research and a watch-dog organization formed during the last charter revision process in 1994-97.

Judge Smith denied the group’s pleadings June 26 and ruled against their motion for reconsideration Aug. 7, giving no analysis of the legal issues.

Williams said, however, that the plaintiffs plan to file a motion for relief from judgment and if not successful, to appeal the case. Smith did not return a call for comment on his ruling.

The defendants are the City of Detroit, Mayor (at the time the case was filed) Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., the City Council, City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Cockrel, Jr. and Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, sponsor of the Council resolution which put the election on the ballot. None had returned calls for comment before press time.

City Clerk Janice Winfrey earlier responded to an article in The Michigan Citizen “Charter Election Illegal?” (MC 5/31/09).

“As Chair of the Detroit Election Commission, I assure your readers that we did our due diligence prior to approving the placement of this question on the ballot, thus leading to the election of candidates for the Detroit Charter Commission on August 4, 2009,” Winfrey said. She said the City Council Research and Analysis Division (RAD) and the Law Department approved language for the City Council resolution placing the issue on the ballot. The resolution passed 6-2 in February.

“Over the course of the last 12 years, the need for substantial change in several sections of the Detroit City Charter has become apparent and the nature of the concerns raised may require changes in the structure of City of Detroit government, which cannot be accomplished through amendment of the charter, but only through a revision,” the resolution said in part.

Among issues some revision proponents have raised are changes to the Council’s power to remove city officials like the Mayor, and institution of council-by-district government. Opponents have said such issues can be addressed individually through ballot amendments and ordinances.

Williams believes Smith handled the case improperly. Although the defendants’ attorneys did not appear at the June 26 hearing, Smith denied the plaintiff’s claims. The city excused their non-appearance, saying that they had been informed by the Court Clerk that the hearing was to be held in a different courtroom.

Assistant Attorney General Joseph Pittel argued on behalf of the secretary of state that the plaintiffs did not show a likelihood of prevailing or clearly state their claims, and that Land is not a proper party in the matter, among other issues

Former Charter Commissioner Joyce Moore is now a candidate for City Clerk, facing off with Winfrey in November.

“We need time to educate the people on the issues,” Moore said. “Charter Commissioners can do whatever they want to the entire government structure. That can be positive like reinstituting alley trash pick-ups, getting rid of the trash fee, and changing the deadline for property tax foreclosure from two years back to three years. They can put a stop to privatization, which provides less service for the same taxes because of company profits. But they can also damage our city through regionalization and other efforts.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Is Ken Cockrel Jr. in it for the money?

At a City Council Candidate forum last night at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, city council President Ken Cockrel Jr. said. “If you reduced my salary by 50%, I’m outta here. I can’t live off that.”
The question posed was “Do you support a 50% reduction in salary for Mayor, City Council, and City Clerk?” The question was meant to see just how far sitting and council candidates would go to save Detroit, and not themselves. Are you running for the people, or for the money? Are you for Detroit, or for personal gain? Ken Cockrel’s answer was very clear; he is in this for the money, not for the people. This job is public service. You are not suppose to get rich doing this job, you are suppose to help the citizens with this job. If you feel you can’t live off of $40,000 a year, then you should leave. Most people would to do what you do for ONLY $40,000 a year.
The mayor is asking people to reduce their salaries, but not that of his staff and other city officials such as city council, and city clerk. If you want your workers to take these cuts, you should also take a cut, a cut more than just 10%. I don’t want to hear how the Mayor is working only for a dollar, Dave Bing will not be Mayor forever and the next Mayor will receive this salary. I’m calling for a salary reduction of at least 30% for the top three offices in Detroit. Show the people you are at least willing to take a punch also, not just ask others to take a fall. Sacrifice is in order to maintain balance within the city budget. Cutting or reducing the salaries of the top offices will not balance the budget, but every cent count in these trying times and it will let others know that you stand with them and not against them.
Most of the other candidates were also against the 50% reduction, some offered other solutions to this budget problem. John Bennett said. “A 30% reduction in salary is enough.” While Fred Elliott Hall was the only candidate to out right agree with this 50% reduction in salary saying. “I have no problem with it.” Hall also goes on to say that he “would not reduce his personal budget.” as a council member, because he is for “giving jobs, not taking them away.”
As for the question “Did Mayor Bing’s cuts go to far or not far enough?” James Tate thinks Detroit need to find other way of generating revenue “instead of cutting jobs that affects families.” Tate also thinks Detroit should “offer naming rights to some of its public buildings.” much like Comerica Park. Gary Brown says “Don’t blame Dave Bing for the cuts that have to be made under his watch because of someone else’s administration.”

Attendetees for last night forum were: Jai-Lee Dearing, Gary Brown, JoAnn Watson, James Tate, Shelley Foy, John Bennett, Ken Cockrel Jr.

Late comers were: David Cross, Fred Hall, and Raphael Johnson.

No shows were: Charles Pugh, Brenda Jones, Saunteel Jenkins, Kwame Kenyatta, Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, Andre Spivey, Lisa Howze, and Mohamed Okdie. No show,no vote if you ask me.

If you couldn’t make it to the forum last night, be sure to watch the debates on WADL-TV (Channel 38) on Oct 15, 22, and 29. Vote Detroit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Candidates Forums

Two important events are coming up this week.

City Charter Candidates Forum.

Hosted by: First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit.
Where: 4605 Cass Avenue First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, Detroit, MI 48201.
When: Tuesday, August 18 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

And the Candidate Forum for City Council.

When Thursday, August 20 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm same place as above.

These two events are for the voting public to ask the candidates the important questions that plague us all. With the state Detroit is in today, we as citizens can not afford to sat this election out. For far too long we have been silent and our voices not hear because we don’t vote or get involved as we should. We as citizens for this great nation have an inalienable right to choose our leaders, if we don’t vote you’re letting someone else chose for you. Come out to the forums and ask the tough questions and pick a candidate to support and volunteer. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

Herbie Felton

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Change, what change?

Detroit, we say we want change, but will vote for incumbents. We say we won’t vote for name recognition, but we vote for Dave Bing, Charles Pugh, and Gary Brown. We say we want qualified people in council, but we vote for talking heads, ex-cops, and basketball stars. Detroit, do you want change? Do you want something different? Do you want someone in office who has paid their way in? If so, congratulations, you will get what you asked for. If, not, then I hope you voted for someone who can and will make a difference. I had been in this race for a long time, not a ‘Johnny Come Lately’, like most of the candidates. I am someone who wants Detroit to be all it can be. Not someone who wants to better himself on the cities dime. Voting for the name and not the issues is what got us here. Will we ever learn, I think not? We want change, but will not go vote. We want change, but vote for the same people who put us in the situation we are in now.
Move to Hollywood if you want to vote names and TV personalities, with the ‘Governator’.

Detroit, wake the hell up! Quit voting for people who will do nothing for you. The vain can’t serve, they want to be served. They want to be looked at, talked about, and told how pretty they are. Stop ‘Dancing in the streets’ and think. You are killing yourself by voting for these people. Hopefully in November we can reverse this, and vote the right people in.

Sunday, August 2, 2009|Detroit City Hall Insider|Michigan Chronicle editor wants Martha Reeves out now|Detroit City Hall Insider|Michigan Chronicle editor wants Martha Reeves out now

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Mayor, Council Races Lead Detroit Primary || | WXYZ-TV / Detroit | Detroit News, Weather, Sports and More

Mayor, Council Races Lead Detroit Primary || | WXYZ-TV / Detroit | Detroit News, Weather, Sports and More

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Despite guilty plea, Monica Conyers could make Detroit's Nov. 3 ballot

State law says ex-councilwoman cannot serve


Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers is awaiting sentencing by a federal judge for her role in a bribery scheme involving a $1.2-billion city contract with a sludge hauling company.
But if she is among the top 18 vote-getters on Tuesday and wins again in November, she cannot serve in office. Here's why.
QUESTION: If Conyers is among the top 18 vote-getters in Tuesday's primary, will her name appear on the general election ballot in November?
The primary is a nominating action, not an election, said Daniel Baxter, Detroit elections director.
Conyers must be elected to the council in November for the election to be voided by state law.
Q: If Conyers finishes among the top nine in November, can she serve as a council member?
A: No.
Conyers was an official candidate for a second term at the time she pleaded guilty.
Michigan Election Law states, if "any candidate for any public office at any election in this state shall be convicted of a felony, as defined in this act, the election of such candidate, if he has been elected, shall be void."
According to state law, if Conyers takes her place on the council, a person with standing, such as a resident of Detroit, can file "an information in the nature of a quo warranto" with the Michigan Supreme Court or with the proper circuit court to oust her from office.
In addition, state law grants the governor the power to remove Conyers from office: "When the governor is satisfied from sufficient evidence submitted to the governor that the officer has been guilty of official misconduct, willful neglect of duty, extortion, or habitual drunkenness, or has been convicted of being drunk, or whenever it appears by a certified copy of the judgment of a court of record of this state that a city officer, after the officer's election or appointment, has been convicted of a felony."
Q: If Conyers wins in November but is removed from office, will the 10th-place finisher assume the vacated council seat?
A: No, Baxter said. According to the charter, eight candidates would be seated, and a special election must be held in the spring to fill the ninth council seat.
Q: Council candidates Raphael Johnson served 12 years in prison for second-degree murder; Walter James Hart Jr., who ran for a council seat in 2005, served 81 months in federal prison for transporting a 16-year-old girl across state lines, and John Cromer served 12 years for retail theft. Why are convicted felons allowed to run for office?
A: According to state law, felons can run for office once they have served their sentence.
Q: When could Conyers run for office again?
A: Any elected official removed from office by the governor "shall not be eligible for election or appointment to any office for a period of 3 years from the date of the removal."

Contact NAOMI R. PATTON: 313-223-3327 or

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Amid public scrutiny, Wood hires attorney

By JOE SWICKARD • Free Press Staff Writer • August 1, 2009

Ousted Detroit police monitor Sheryl Robinson Wood has hired a former prosecutor as questions swirl around her relationship with ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, her oversight of lagging police reforms and six-figure monthly fees.
Wood, who was removed a week ago when the FBI uncovered text messages indicating undisclosed meetings and communications with Kilpatrick, chose Vincent Cohen Jr., who said Wood looks forward to quickly clearing her name.
Authorities are weighing investigations of Wood's tenure and the slow pace of reforms.
"Ms. Robinson Wood is an exemplary lawyer who conscientiously fulfilled all of her duties as the monitor of the Detroit Police Department," he said in a statement today. "Any allegations to the contrary are misguided."
Cohen is partner specializing in white collar criminal defense with the Washington, D.C.-based Schertler & Onorato, a law office that defines itself as "a premier boutique litigation firm."
Like Wood, Cohen is a former federal prosecutor. And like Mayor Dave Bing, he is a graduate of Syracuse University.
Wood was named monitor in 2003 to oversee court-ordered reforms of the Detroit Police Department. The ordered reforms came after the Free Press revealed in 2000 that police had an extraordinarily high rate of fatal shootings and that the follow-up investigations where often cursory and skewed in favor of the officers. The newspaper also found questionable homicide investigation practices, illegal detention of witnesses and mass dragnet arrests.
After six years and more than $10 million, less than 40% of the reforms are in place. Long-promised in-car video cameras and a computer system to track officers' performance are still not operational.

Edited by Andrea K. Farmer.

Council Candidates Respond - Michigan Citizen

Council Candidates Respond

By Eric T. Campbell
Michigan Citizen Newspaper

DETROIT — Almost 200 candidates are running for Detroit City Council in the Aug. 4 primary election. The Michigan Citizen published a questionnaire in June offering council and mayoral candidates an opportunity to share their vision with our readers.

We chose to focus on candidates’ and answers that seemed the most comprehensive and detailed. The responses are:

Anemashaun Bomani calls his campaign “a grassroots movement.” The current director of the Malcolm X Center, Bomani proposes the creation of a Financial Review Board to oversee and give transparency to all city contracts. Bomani also seeks to establish Neighborhood Food Banks to address Detroit’s lack of fresh food outlets.

Bomani advocates a revision of the city charter and an elected police chief as opposed to an appointed one.

“While much is made of the Cobo Hall issue and tunnel ownership, there has been no mention made by any candidate for office, (including the newly elected Mayor) of the enormous pain and suffering thousands of displaced Detroiters are experiencing as a result of the current housing and financial crisis,” Bomani said.

General Motors retiree and UAW member Chris Beatty, not to be confused with Christine Beatty, former Chief of Staff under Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, wrote that privatization of city services should be a last resort. He sees the demolition of vacant buildings in Detroit as an opportunity for job creation.

Beatty disagrees with any community control of local police but favors a community response team to deal with local police issues.

On the issue of crime, Beatty says, “I would work on an ordinance to demand surveillance and intervention of suspected drug, prostitution and after-hour locations within 72 hours.”

A city-government veteran in Detroit and Fontana, Calif., Annivory Calvert says she has a plan to implement 150,000 green jobs in conjunction with the redevelopment of Cobo Hall.

Calvert recommends a one-stop for the coordination of small business development in Detroit, providing resources for business permits, inspections, grants and financing.

As the coordinator for several large infrastructure projects in Fontana, Calvert has a particular interest in the proper use of federal stimulus funds in Detroit as a catalyst for job creation.

“The city is not effectively using the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, nor has the city properly used relationships with our U.S. Congress and Senate members to implement plans that bring stimulus funds and earmarks for major Public Works projects to put our people back to work and strengthen our economy.”

Herbie J. Felton says that his years as a mortgage officer will serve him in any role as a financial overseer. He would like to see the opening of medical and “hi-tech” training centers across the city to prepare Detroiters for a changing economy.

As for recent discussion over mayoral oversight of Detroit Public Schools, Felton writes: “If you had asked me this six months ago, I’d have said, absolutely not. Now I say I don’t care who runs the schools, as long as we have safe and good schools to send our kids to.”

Council Candidate Yolanda Jack has been a leader and supervisor at the Detroit Mosaic Youth Theater as well as the chair of the parent advisory committee at the Nsoroma Institute.

“Privatization of governmental agencies generally does not benefit society at large,” Jack writes in her email. “Government control allows transparency and intervention, and generally benefits all citizens.”

Jack sees immediate benefits from community councils and stronger community connections to the Detroit Police Department.

Her views about mayoral control of the school district were also concise and straightforward.

“The mayor should not be in control of the Detroit Public Schools. Increased parental involvement (on the Board and in the classrooms) along with equitable funding per student will improve our schools.”

In her role as Director of the Business Improvement District at the Jefferson East Business Association, candidate Sheila Jackson has worked directly with city departments. Jackson’s experience includes serving on city council-related committees, creating budgets and writing by-laws and board governance structures.

Jackson says that the city is not capitalizing on the sale of older city-owned buildings.

As for state government violating home rule, Jackson writes, “Local rule is superior to state takeover as it is apt to be in tune with the citizenry. Lansing already has its own issues to deal with.”

Darlita Jones brings a broad educational background to her candidacy, including a master’s degree in counseling and human development. She has developed and implemented million dollar budgets for the CAU International Center and UNCF Special Programs.

Jones’ email response indicates a belief in continuing the private/public relationships that have recently become a large part of local governing.

She specifically cites investment into green technologies, agriculture and our local waterways to increase job creation in the City of Detroit.

The question regarding sources of untapped funding for the city elicited this written response from Jones: “Funding is limited, the focus must be on how the city can diversify to increase revenue, not on what funding the city is not using.”

Jones also advocates a stronger web of neighborhood associations to deal with community relations with local police.

DeeAnn Mullins cites her years in leadership positions with Delta Airlines, as an independent agent and AFLAC. Mullins wishes to address the high insurance rates paid by businesses in the city of Detroit.

“I would look at the costs associated with maintaining a business within city limits and offset it accordingly for a certain number of years,” Mullins writes. “Once we get a handle on our deficit I would look at additional ways of assisting our small business owners.”

Regarding the reduction in crime, Mullins says, specifically, that she would look to coordinate with the U.S. Attorney’s office “on making it a federal crime to carry a concealed weapon.”

Current councilmember JoAnn Watson has served the city for six years. She was previously a staffer for U.S. Congressman John Conyers. Watson, in her email response, says that she has been an advocate for small business through her efforts to increase grants from the Small Business Association and the Detroit Economic Growth Association.

Regarding the reduction in crime in Detroit, Watson says that, “The best crime prevention is full employment, so I’m aggressively promoting more employment constantly.”

As co-founder of Keep the Vote No Takeover, Watson is firm in her position, no mayoral control of educational institutions.

“I oppose Mayoral control of the schools,” Watson writes. “I believe the elected school board should govern as voted on by the citizens.”

Watson has sponsored laws limiting privatization as mandated by Charter and strongly supports the reopening of police precincts.

D. Etta Wilcoxon’s resume reaches into both the private and public sectors. She ran for mayor of Detroit in the most recent primary election and is currently the publisher of the Renaissance Observer.

Wilcoxon supports a more aggressive stance towards federal stimulus funds.

“The seemingly obvious source of funding that the city is not using appears to be the full scope of the federal stimulus money. Stimulus monies should have been put aside for the job creating factories that I have argued should be located in the city of Detroit. These include wind farm factories and lithium-ion battery factories.”

Wilcoxon does not support the mayor’s takeover of Detroit’s public schools. “The people of this city have spoken loudly and clearly in saying that they want control of their schools.”