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How Global Economic Policies Work For And Against Us In Detroit

How Global Economic Policies Work For And Against Us In Detroit

If Detroit is in the midst of a recovery then why aren’t more Detroiters moving out of poverty?

Learn more about the invisible economic policies driving the reality of life for the average Detroiter.

Lack of Affordable Housing
Escalating Water Rates
Low-Wage Employment
Poor Public Transportation

What are the tools we need to organize and educate with our community to fight inequality and poverty in our city?

Presented by
Radhika Balakrishnan
Faculty Director
Center for Women’s Global Leadership Professor
Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University

Radhika is the co-author of Rethinking Economic Policy for Social Justice: The radical potential of human rights with James Heintz and Diane Elson. She is the co-editor with Diane Elson of Economic Policy and Human Rights: Holding Governments to Account

Join us as we map global economic policies and trends that show up in the lives of everyday Detroiters.

Dinner and Conversation
Wednesday, March 27
5:30 – 8:00pm
Dinner provided.

Interactive Training Day
Thursday, March 28
9:00am – 3:00pm
Lunch provided.

Both days at The Wellness Plan Building 7700 Second Ave. @Pallister

This training is free but seating is limited. Please RSVP: call 313.338.9396 or join@detroitpeoplesplatform.org

If Detroit is in the midst of a recovery then why aren’t more Detroiters moving out of poverty?

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MLK Day 2019 – A New Social Contract for Detroiters

MLK Day 2019 – A New Social Contract for Detroiters

In 1967, Dr. King spoke; There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racism is still alive all over America. Racial injustice is still the Negro’s burden and America’s shame. And we must face the hard fact that many Americans would like to have a nation which is a democracy for white Americans but simultaneously a dictatorship over black Americans. We must face the fact that we still have much to do in the area of race relations. Dr. King shared these words as part of his explanation of what he called “the three evils”; racism, poverty and war in ‘America’s Chief Moral Dilemma’. 

In 2019, in the majority black city of Detroit, as we read Dr. King’s words it is obvious that, even with the great changes 50 years has wrought, many things remain problematic for African Americans. Dr. King calls out many American’s desire for a race-based selective “democratic” process, wherein whites have decision making power, while the black vote and voice is suppressed, silenced or supplanted. 

Today, as we survey the economic and political landscape of Detroit we bear witness to the evolution of the racist desire Dr. King addressed.  Emergency Management and the Bankruptcy, as intended, dismantled a great deal of black political and economic power. 

Now, those power structures have been divided and their control and management distributed to white-led or corporate-influenced authorities, boards and organizations. 

Now, vast amounts of public resources have been stripped from the commons in the form of huge tax abatements and redistributed to wealthy white billionaires. 

Now, money that could have been used to address human rights issues like water shutoffs and affordable housing will be given away for decades to ease the financial burdens developers. 

Dr. King stated that in order to address the issues of racism, poverty and war a redistribution of wealth and power is required, but we are moving in the wrong direction.

The data indicates that significant and persistent inequities exist in Detroit’s majority black population.  Until we implement public policies that reflect an intentional strategy to achieve racial equity  across all social and economic indicators, the inequities will continue. 

To that end, this year and moving forward, we will organize and advocate for A New Social Contract for Detroiters.

In May of 2018, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative NESRI (www.nesri.org), launched a campaign for A New Social Contract. Their intersectional approach to address inequity and injustice offers community-centered solutions and tools, many advanced by DPP and our allies

NESRI’s A New Social Contract integrates:

PUBLIC GOODS FOR ALL Tools/Solutions: Universal Social Insurance and Free Public Services and a Just Tax Policy

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH LANDTools/Solutions: Green Energy Democracy and Community Control of Land and Housing 

HOW WE LABOR Tools/Solutions: Worker-Driven Enforcement Models and Cooperatives 

FINANCING DIGNITY Tools/Solutions: Finance for Social Change and Public and Postal Banking 

FROM EXCLUSION TO EQUITY AND PARTICIPATION Tools/Solutions: Restorative Justice and People-Centered Democracy

In 2019, Detroit People’s Platform will also integrate the Just Transition Principles into our Housing and Equitable Development work:

Climate Justice Alliance – Just Transition Principles 

A Just Transition moves us toward Buen Vivir – Buen Vivir means that we can live well without living better at the expense of others. 

A Just Transition creates Meaningful Work 

A Just Transition upholds Self Determination 

A Just Transition equitably redistributes Resources and Power 

A Just Transition requires Regenerative Ecological Economics

A Just Transition retains Culture and Tradition 

A Just Transition embodies Local, Regional, National and International Solidarity 

A Just Transition must be liberatory and transformative.

A Just Transition builds What We Need Now

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What to watch for at Detroit City Charter Commission meetings

What to watch for at Detroit City Charter Commission meetings

There have been two public meetings of the new Detroit City Charter Commission. The meetings have been well attended by community members who have been vocal about their concern over external influence on the commission. The commission is currently determining how to organize themselves and developing the process to go about the important work of revising our city’s “constitution.”

  • Watch for preference for proposals from corporate interest. 
  • Watch the process for submitting proposals. Demand transparency!
  • Watch for efforts to thwart the commissions independence.
  • Watch for efforts to muzzle the voice of community through paternalistic rules and sanctions.

The next Detroit Charter Commission Meeting will be Saturday, January 26 at 12pmS

SAMARITAN CENTER
5555 CONNER
DETROIT, MI 48213
Lower Level Kilpatrick Room

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Profiles in Corporate Welfare

Profiles in Corporate Welfare

Bedrock/Gilbert

Gilbert’s Net Worth is $6.5 billion. (1)

Synonymous with Corporate Welfare, Dan Gilbert’s portfolio and influence in Detroit continues to grow.  In late. 2017 Bedrock broke ground on the “Q-Scraper”, a high-end, high-rise on the old Hudson’s site that will benefit from tax incentives and tax capture for 30 years.  Gilbert received nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars in tax subsidies for this project alone!

Ford Motor Co.

Ford’s Global Revenues in 2017 were $156.7 billion. (2)

Ford Motor Co. promotes their reputation as a socially responsible corporation. They claim they want to be a good corporate neighbor but they only agreed to invest $10 Million in community. Ford can voluntarily enter into a REAL community benefit agreement with the community at any time.

The Platform

The Platform has hundreds of millions of dollars in projects in varying stages of completion. (3)

“The Platform” is a multi-site development project with locations across the city. They are also grabbing a great deal of public tax incentives to subsidize high-end housing that most Detroiters can’t afford, like their “Cass and York” project.

Olympia/Ilitch

Public financing for LCA totaled $324.1 million. (4)

For the amount of tax incentives that went into Little Caesars Arena one would think that Olympia would improve nearby  neighborhoods, but they have turned it into a large parking lot for people who don’t live in the city. 

Profiles in Corporate Welfare, sources:
1. Gilbert: forbes.com/profile/daniel-gilbert/#d6dc7d571283 
2. Ford: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Motor_Company
3. Platform: crainsdetråçoit.com/article/20160521/NEWS/160529957/owners-of-fisher-kahn-buildings-look-to-develop-underserved-areas?fbclid=IwAR2bIPxhoaLdVQKAitn0NkA6sodF8Vbnzb05i9B0aLYEgfuY4WAbnQ3bkzU 
4. LCA: crainsdetroit.com/article/20170523/news/629041/latest-little-caesars-arena-construction-cost-8629-million   

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Infosheet: Why the Ford Deal Matters, What’s the Big Deal

Infosheet: Why the Ford Deal Matters, What’s the Big Deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equitable Detroit Coalition and Detroit People’s Platform

Infosheet: Why the Ford Deal Matters
What’s the Big Deal?

In October, Detroit City Council approved the Community Benefits Agreement struck between the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) and Ford Motor Co. around their new project in Corktown. Ford only offered 10 Million in community investment on their $740 million project. The NAC voted 9-0 to approve the Ford CBA offer. This in spite of urgings from community members to fight for a better deal.

The current Ford deal is a Bad Deal

We are giving away WAY TOO much, getting too little in return, and the “too little” we’re getting is based upon projections and intentions rather than facts and details about the process for claw-backs.

Here’s what ford gets

These incentives are made possible by:

Michigan Renaissance Zone Act
$208,796,791
in tax abatements for the Renaissance Zone, coming from a combination of city, county and state money. This is an abatement of real and personal property taxes, city corporate income tax, and utility users tax. This would occur over 30 years. Nearly $90 million would come from the City of Detroit.

Commercial Rehabilitation Act

$8,056,085
under the Commercial Rehabilitation Act (P.A. 210). Nearly $4 million in tax incentives would come from the City of Detroit. This would occur over 10 years.

Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA)

$18,763,677
under the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA). This act allows the taxable value of a property to be frozen at its pre-improvement value with some exceptions. It would last 12 years and nearly $9 million would come from the City of Detroit. 

Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act
$2,933,944 under the Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Act. This law allows taxable values of property to be frozen at their pre-improved value. This incentive lasts 17 years (it reduces at 15 years) and just over $1 million would come from the City of Detroit.
(Final Decision Pending)

source: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/10/16/ford-michigan-central-station-tax/1651079002/

What’s the community’s Return on investment? 

We know what Ford’s Return on Investment (ROI) is going to be, but what is the community’s ROI? 

“BUT IT’S A DONE DEAL. COUNCIL ALREADY GAVE IT AWAY. WHY DOES IT MATTER?”

Three Reasons why the Ford Deal Matters:

1. WE WANT DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT!

We’re not opposed to development, but this goes too far.

2. INSTEAD OF BECOMING AN EXAMPLE CBA, FORD JOINS the ranks of Gilbert and the Ilitches as a bad corporate player.

This is beyond corporate welfare, this is a straight up gift to a $17 billion dollar global corporation.  For all the sentimentality around Ford Motor Company, they still roll like a corporation; driving the hardest bargain for the best deal they can get.

3. The process “gaslights” community by inviting them in and then dismissing them for already done deals.

A quick definition of gas-lighting is making people experience self-doubt or self-criticism by acting welcoming but being disrespectful. In short, saying one thing while doing another. 

Here’s what the community gets

Whatever the city collects in income tax over next 30 years.  That number will be based  on how many workers are employed and local business activity.

Ford Commits to 2,500 jobs. DEGC* says there will be 5,000 jobs. The other 2,500 jobs are just DEGC projections.  Since we know these numbers usually don’t come out as planned we’re not sure we can trust them. *Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) manages business retention, attraction, and economic development for the city.

Ford has committed 2,500 jobs even though we are hearing about job reductions and retiree buy-outs in the media. 

What would a real CBA with Ford look like?

Every CBA is different, but REAL CBAs are community driven, meet community defined needs and are legally binding and enforceable.

A recent REAL CBA in Nashville included, setting aside affordable housing, providing child care and community services, and raised low wage jobs to $15.50 an hour.
source: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/08/02/nashville-soccer-stadium-mls-fairgrounds/11150930027

What can I do? How can we get ford back to the table?

Continue to call for the NAC to push for a better CBA deal based on the original recommendations they submitted to Ford.  ie fund the Housing Trust Fund, which supports affordable housing options for Detroiters most in need.

Attend future meetings of the NAC, Ford and city representatives and let them know how you feel. 

Support the call for the CBO amendments that are currently before City Council.

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Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates demand Development without Displacement

Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates demand Development without Displacement

#DevelopmentWithoutDisplacement

Detroit – Today the Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates visited Detroit City Council to present signatures from over 300 households from their ongoing “Development without Displacement” campaign. The petition is in support of 12 demands that have been put together based on citizen led organizing and surveying.

In December 2017, a group of long time residents in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood came together to discuss the plans the city is making for redevelopment in their neighborhood. Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates began to engage residents in face to face conversations about community needs while at the same time collecting important survey data.

The group has been focused on responding to the Strategic Framework Plan that the city is currently hosting community engagement meetings on. They have also met with their Council representative, Council Member André L. Spivey. Due to lack of adequate response the city Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates have prepared, collected and are now presenting these petitions.

Petition by the People of Jefferson Chalmers

We, the undersigned residents acknowledge that the Declaration of Rights included in the Charter of the City of Detroit states “The people have a right to expect city government to provide for its residents, decent housing; job opportunities; reliable, convenient and comfortable transportation; recreational facilities and activities; cultural enrichment, including libraries and art and historical museums; clean air and waterways, safe drinking water and a sanitary, environmentally sound city.” Therefore, as residents we demand a more equitable and inclusive planning and economic development process that prioritizes the voice and recommendations of our residents and honors the community’s historical and current priorities as cited:

  • Provide home repair grants for fixed low-income residents (owner occupied) who have been residing in the home for 1 year or more.
  • Retain property tax levels at current rates for the life of the homeowner and any surviving heirs who remain in the home.
  • Ensure that only homes that cannot be rehabbed will be demolished after assessment is made by a third party not affiliated with the Land Bank.
  • Assure that once a home has been demolished a comparable home is built in its place within a 12-24 month period.
  • Community Residents will be given first priority to purchase Land Bank owned property.
  • Offer incentives to reopen a mixed-use community center, specifically Maheras-Gentry.
  • All waterfront parks will remain public.
  • Make sure there are separate buildings for elementary and middle schools for students in the Jeff Chalmers area.
  • The city office of General Services will create jobs for community residents to perform park maintenance and park patrols.
  • Upon the recommendation of an independent party demolish all Land Bank/city-owned buildings along the Jefferson Corridor that cannot be rehabbed. Offer incentives to have the demolished buildings replaced with businesses needed in the community as noted in the community survey.
  • Create an enterprise zone within the Jefferson Chalmers Community and a  Workforce Development Office.
  • Remove bike lanes from main thoroughfares, i.e. Jefferson Avenue.
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Charter Revision Candidate Night – Thursday, October 25 6 pm – 7:30 pm

Charter Revision Candidate Night – Thursday, October 25 6 pm – 7:30 pm

Election 2018 – Vote November 6th

CHARTER REVISION COMMISSION CANDIDATE NIGHT

In the August Primary Detroiters voted on whether or not to “open” and revise the City Charter. The City Charter can be likened to the U.S. or Michigan Constitution. Proposal R was successful by only a slight margin of 184 votes. Since it passed, Charter Revision Commission Candidates will be on the ballot in November. There will be 16 candidates on the ballot for this 9 seat commission.

Learning as much a possible about these candidates before the election is important because they will shape the 3 year revision process. 

Thursday, October 25
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm – FREE! 

Wellness Plan Building
First Floor Cafeteria
7700 Second Ave @ Pallister
Detroit, 48202

A light dinner will be served at 6:00 and the forum will start at 6:30 pm.

Charter Revision Commission Candidate Night Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/737546463257396/

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Civility Detroit Style

Civility Detroit Style

“Civil discussions with people who themselves may have already breached the bounds of civility are difficult.”(1)
– Vann R. Newkirk II

This started out as a response to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s tone-deaf call to “Create a Culture of Civility” earlier in the year.  Since that time, calls for civility have been issued from the national stage. Those in power and those in denial have called for civility in answer to righteous outrage over the upsurge of white policing of black living, of court decisions that uphold racist immigration policy and legitimize  bigotry, and over kids in cages. These offensive and strategic calls for civility resonate with Detroiters because they have heard them  repeatedly since Emergency Management and for decades prior. ~ ed.

Last year, we recognized the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion and many in the city dove deep into discussions of its meaning and impact. This year, we continue to recognize 50th anniversaries associated with the civil rights movement, most recently Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination and the passage of the Fair Housing Act. Here at Detroit People’s Platform our attention also shifts to the fact that 2018 marks the 5th anniversary of Emergency Management and Bankruptcy in Detroit.

These anniversaries also remind us that transformational changes were not easily won and certainly not won by being polite or civil. These anniversaries are also important and vital to Detroiters as they represent touchstones of our history that denote the emergence of Black political, economic and cultural power in the largest majority-black city in the US. The changes that came from movement work in our city and across the country were in part sparked by the interruption of civility, most famously and powerfully, through nonviolent direct action. 

Nationally, there has been a renewed interest in improving civil discourse due to the Trump presidency and the complete breakdown of bipartisanship in our political and civic life. However, we must not confuse the legitimate push back against the President’s divisive rhetoric with the growing chorus of Detroiters demanding our equity stake in the city’s current revitalization. 

In March, the Detroit Regional Chamber hosted it’s 2018 Detroit Policy Conference. This year’s focus was on “Creating a Culture of Civility.”  The conference referenced the widely heralded example of the relationship between Mayor Duggan and members of City Council. In the Mayor’s recent State of the City he touted the difference in their relationship between now and the past. Perhaps he, and the Chamber fail to recognize the historically oppositional stance by some Council Members in the past was due to their protection and defense of their constituents. Some council members could be counted on to challenge the administration. While a new age of civility at CAYMC bodes well for the administration and corporate interests, it does NOT for everyday Detroiters. 

Let’s Count some of the ways government and corporate leadership have targeted Detroiters:

1. Public School Takeover by the State of Michigan

2. Consent Agreement/Emergency Management

3. Municipal Bankruptcy

4. Hijacking of Worker Pension and Healthcare

5. Privatization of Services like Lights and Trash Removal

6. Loss of governance of the Water System

7. Taking public funds and using them for private projects like the Qline and LCA (Little Caesars Arena) 

8. Creating legislation and a well funded campaign to defeat a  community-led CBA ballot  initiative 

9. Refusal to stop Water Shutoffs that harm Detroit children and senior citizens. 

10. Calling housing “affordable” when it isn’t affordable to the majority of Detroiters.

11. Using hardest hit funds intended to keep Detroiters in their homes to demolish homes.

12. Threatening and inappropriate physical handling of citizens in meetings by city appointees, staff and designees. 

13. Huge transfers of public funds and resources to wealthy white billionaires.

The list goes on.

It is an insult that in an 80+% majority-black city, both corporate and government representatives feel completely comfortable disrespecting community members. When leaders and their representatives are allowed to roll their eyes, make racist and condescending comments and negate the ability of Detroiters to engage in serious and thoughtful discussions they are replicating tactics used to silence opposition.  The levels disrespect shown when Detroiters speak out or show up and protest peacefully against injustices creates a culture of incivility across all of our institutions.

Don’t lecture Detroiters on Civility. The solution is to actually listen to Detroiters and meet us where we are, whether we fit into the plans or not.

(1) www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/
     2016/12/discussing-racism-white-voters/509528/

 

 

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Detroit: High Concentrated Poverty and High Corporate Tax Incentives

Detroit: High Concentrated Poverty and High Corporate Tax Incentives

The Free Press covered a damning new report on poverty in Detroit and across the US.  “Metro Detroit’s poverty gets worse despite city’s comeback”.

“A new look at the poorest urban areas in America, despite economic growth and increasing prosperity, puts metro Detroit near the top of the list. The report ranks the Detroit area at No. 5 in a list of impoverished communities.” Read More: https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/04/26/detroit-poverty-getting-worse/553439002/

“A study by the Brookings Institution in 2016 found metro Detroit — which was defined in that report as a six-county region: including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, St. Clair, Lapeer — to have the highest rate of concentrated poverty among the most populous metro areas in America”. Read More: https://www.brookings.edu/research/u-s-concentrated-poverty-in-the-wake-of-the-great-recession/

[bctt tweet=”Our majority-black neighborhoods have the highest concentrated poverty of any large city in the US while millions in tax incentives have been given away to wealthy white developers Downtown. #Detroit” via=”no”]

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Update: Rental Regulation Ordinance

Update: Rental Regulation Ordinance

In October of 2017, Detroit City Council voted unanimously on an ordinance to toughen rental regulations. The ordinance could greatly impact many renters and increase displacement. The city is implementing the ordinance through the neighborhoods by zip code. They  started with 48215 on the East Side February 1st. 

Downtown, Midtown and New Center are changing rapidly. While many have called for equal investment and treatment in our neighborhoods, as the city’s develops policy to focus on  neighborhoods are they doing enough to protect those who are already living there? 

[bctt tweet=”In order to shift investment into more that just greater downtown and historic neighborhoods of affluence, areas of the city have been and are being “cleaned up” so that they are more appealing to investors and new settlers. #Detroit ” via=”no”]

The policies being developed are double-edged. The RRO process will successfully bring rentals up to code, but at what cost? The ordinance is written in such a way that it’s success could reduce already hard to find low income housing. 

Download the full pdf