Category Archives

68 Articles

Posted on

Community Benefits Movement and Lansing Watch Updates

Community Benefits Movement and Lansing Watch Updates

Last November Detroiters voted for Proposal B and, while not legally binding like Proposal A would have been, Detroit has become the first city in the nation with a city-wide Community Benefit Ordinance.

Proposal A would have created a mandatory process, triggered for any proposed development above $15 Million dollars, between developers and community members ending in a legally enforceable agreement between the parties. Proposal B is a community benefits ordinance in name only. Proposal B, triggered at proposed developments above $75 Million dollars, contained no required outcome of a legally binding agreement or true engagement.

Backed by corporate interest, opponents of Proposal A spent what is believed to be upwards of $1.5 Million dollars on a campaign based on manufactured economic fears. Those opposed to Proposal A also succeeded in alienating us from some of our traditional allies and trade and labor groups.

Despite this on November 8th, close to 100,000 Detroit Voters came out in support of Proposal A (46% total yes votes), and more than 114,000 Detroit Voters came out in support of Proposal B. Detroit voters clearly stated their desire for some kind of community benefits ordinance.

Detroiters deserve accountability, inclusion & transparency around changes in our infrastructure and development projects in our communities. We will continue to organize and fight for strong community benefits.

Lansing Watch!

In Lansing: Dan Gilbert making public comment in support of a bill that will allow employers to deduct and keep employees payroll taxes

The end of the year session, between the November election and the holiday break, or lame duck session, is a period where legislators attempt to push through bills quickly.

Last year during lame duck, the so-called “Transformational” Brownfields Plan bills died in committee.

“This legislation would allow a business that creates jobs to keep the taxes it withholds from employees’ paychecks. The taxes employees pay to fund government services like roads, schools, public safety and social services would be diverted directly into their employer’s pocket.”

Platform members and supporters shared these bills with friends, family and community across Michigan and made calls to Lansing.

We will continue to watch Lansing this year and anticipate that these or similar bills will be reintroduced. Please stay in touch with Detroit People’s Platform for continued updates. The Detroit Peoples Platform App is available in the app store and google play.

Posted on

What’s ahead for Detroit Transit in 2017 – Transit Gentrification

What’s ahead for Detroit Transit in 2017 – Transit Gentrification

TransitUpdate2017Header

After the November 8th elections, many Detroit voters, especially bus riders, are probably wondering about the future of public transit in Detroit after the failed Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) ballot proposal for regional transit.  Despite the failed ballot proposal, 2017 will bring a few changes to public transit in Detroit, with the opening of the QLine in Spring 2017 (most likely April) and DDOT’s largest service expansion taking place in late January 2017.

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) is still in existence and will continue to have its own funding despite the failed RTA ballot proposal. The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan will also remain in existence, only with enough funding to manage its operations, staff, but not to implement those new services that was proposed in the “Regional Master Transit Plan.” Now, the RTA will have to wait until the next general election, either in the 2018 midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections, or the 2020 presidential election, to place a proposal on the ballot.

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan will also remain in existence, only with enough funding to manage its operations, staff, but not to implement those new services that was proposed in the “Regional Master Transit Plan.”

Currently, DDOT is in the process of expanding service with new express routes, increasing late-night and weekend service on certain routes, reduced wait times, and expanding 24-hr service to three (3) additional routes, to the current six (6) routes that have 24-hr service (Grand River #21, Gratiot #34, Woodward #53, Crosstown #14, Dexter #16 and Seven Mile #45). After January 23rd, there will be three new 24hr routes: Jefferson #25, Michigan #37, and Van-Dyke-Lafayette #48. This will make a total of 9 bus routes with 24-hour service. How well the service will be implemented is a question of accountability. The Detroit People’s Platform will continue to monitor and assess the benefits of this expanded service expansion in regards to our base of over 600 Detroiters that rely on DDOT.

In the months leading up to the November 8th election day, we’ve spoken to a few bus riders on the Woodward #53 bus line, and at the Rosa Parks Transit Center to get a general idea of what transit riders thought about the M1-Rail streetcar project and the upcoming RTA vote. Many bus riders associated the streetcar project directly to the RTA ballot proposal. If they didn’t know what the RTA was proposing to build in the city, they definitely were aware of a connection between the QLine and the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. The RTA was slated to take over the QLine in 2027, according to their finalized Regional Master Transit Plan.  Further, bus riders along Woodward #53 route complained about long bus waits, constantly moving bus stops, lack of public notice regarding any changes with bus service along Woodward, elderly and individuals with disabilities being passed up, overcrowded buses, and the fact that what many describe incorrectly as a “streetcar” does not cross 8 Mile Road into Oakland County, and will only travel along a 3.3-mile route.

The bus riders we’ve spoken to view the QLine as a “streetcar to nowhere” or “another People Mover.” These comments speak to the increasing transit divide, driven by economic gain for the “few” vs the transit needs of the many. This transit divide is also accompanying the gentrification and displacement occurring in midtown/downtown. You do not need to be a transit expert to see that the QLine does not represent public transit, nor does it benefit the majority of the bus riders living in Detroit. The QLine project is a prime example of “transit gentrification” and highlights the growing disparity in mobility options in Detroit.

You do not need to be a transit expert to see that the QLine does not represent public transit, nor does it benefit the majority of the bus riders living in Detroit. The QLine project is a prime example of “transit gentrification” and highlights the growing disparity in mobility options in Detroit.

There is a growing emphasis on public-private partnerships that over-promise and often under deliver in terms of addressing the needs of community and the QLine represents such an effort. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the QLine used $74.2 million of public funding from local, state, and federal sources . Additionally, $52.9 million from the US Dept. of Transportation and Michigan Dept. of Transportation was used for reconstruction of Woodward for the purpose of building the QLine . This is public funding that could have addressed the 30 minute to 1hr wait times that are common on many of the bus routes that travel into Detroit neighborhoods where transit options are limited.

Yet our public funds have been invested in the “modern streetcars” that will travel along the QLine route. The cars will have heated stops with corporate branding; rails that are snow plowed; Wi-Fi internet in the cars, and more bike racks than are typically offered on DDOT buses. This situation goes well beyond an example of transit gentrification, in 2017, this is transit injustice!  Many who are not part of the new Detroit demographic are likely to disappear from Woodward Ave below the Boulevard.  North End residents got a maintenance station for the Q Line in their neighborhood but not a Q Line stop.  You cannot board the streetcar in the North End.

We believe the future of the Woodward #53 bus route is in jeopardy for several reasons. With the QLine slated to be in operation in Spring 2017, the Woodward #53 bus will compete for curb space and customers, so it may be diverted to Cass St. or John R., to be rerouted back to Woodward north of Warren or the Boulevard. Even transit decision-makers at the RTA/DDOT are unclear about the future of the Woodward #53, but they believe that the re-routing of the Woodward line is necessary. Any parking along Woodward, curbside and along the QLine track is illegal and car drivers could be ticketed up to $650 for parking along the route. Increasingly, the future of Woodward is being transformed from Detroit’s main thoroughfare to a pedestrian/walkable/bike route that will disrupt public transit for a majority of bus riders in the city. Bus riders living in the North End neighborhood (north of West Grand Boulevard) are either forced to walk past the Boulevard to board the QLine, or will be “encouraged” to ride the re-routed Woodward 53.

The conclusion is that in 2017 public transit in Detroit is likely to be more segregated by race and class. How long will riders have to wait for their route become a priority for improvements? We are cautious to celebrate any expansion or so called transit improvements, if it does not include the majority of Detroiters that use public transit for school, work, recreation, shopping, or medical needs – then we will delay the celebration until ALL Detroiters have access to a fair and just public transit system.

Transit Update, Jan 2017 – Transit Gentrification

 

UpdateFooter

Posted on

Red Alert – Detroit’s Housing Crisis

Red Alert – Detroit’s Housing Crisis

HousingCrisisHeader

 

The Problem

City government is executing a “revitalization” of Detroit that is actually based on mass removal of existing residents and incentivizing new residents and businesses to move in. This revitalization plan is based on selective investment and disinvestment. Specifically, the city has determined that most neighborhoods are no longer “viable” which is to say that these neighborhoods and the people who live there cannot be saved—the city government has said it cannot afford to meet their needs/fulfill its role.

Instead, several areas—mostly along key commercial corridors such as East Jefferson, Livernois & 6 Mile, West Grand Boulevard, Woodward, and Vernor—have been identified as “strategic areas” that will receive the bulk of new investment and improved city services (see “Toward Inclusive Growth,” Detroit Corridor Initiative, 2015).

These strategic areas happen to be, on average, wealthier and whiter than those areas of Detroit that Detroit city government has decided to withhold investment in services from.  We are, once again, being asked to accept that there will be neighborhoods and residents that will win at the expense of the others, who will lose. We must tell our elected officials, at City Council sessions, in the mayor’s office, and in special committee hearings, as well as at the DEGC and Detroit Future City that this is neither necessary nor acceptable.

We must tell our elected officials, at City Council sessions, in the mayor’s office, and in special committee hearings, as well as at the DEGC and Detroit Future City that this is neither necessary nor acceptable.

Our Commitment

We are asked to believe that there are no alternatives, and that the present prioritization of wealthy developers’ ability to make profit over residents’ ability to remain in Detroit, participate in governance, and receive decent services is not only inevitable but correct. We assert, however, that there are many alternatives, that we have the resources we need to see them succeed, and that we must protect and maintain current Detroiters’ rights to remain, reclaim, and rebuild Detroit in our own image and according to our neighborhoods’ needs. We will continue to organize for a Detroit that remains majority African American; that practices development without displacement; that facilitates community control of land and permanently affordable housing; and that is governed by its people and for the benefit of all of its people, especially those with the greatest need. Detroit is not a merely a geopolitical entity—it is a people, a culture, and a history. It cannot and does not deserve to move forward without those who have labored and planted our lives here.

A Solution – Housing Trust Fund

Create a fully funded housing trust fund with dedicated revenue for the creation, preservation, or operations of permanently affordable housing for those making 30% AMI or below ($20,070 or less for a family of four). Why that income bracket? Because one in three (33% of) Detroiters are members of households who make $20,070 or less each year and because this group has fewer affordable housing options than any other group in Detroit, and is also larger than any other group (representing 40,000 households) in Detroit (See Detroit Inclusionary Housing Plan & Market Study: Preliminary Inclusionary Housing Feasibility Study, August 2016, HR&A).

Create a fully funded HOUSING TRUST FUND with dedicated revenue for the creation, preservation, or operations of permanently affordable housing.

While we are committed to improving all Detroiters’ economic situation through equitable employment and redistribution of wealth, we know that for the time being, there are 40,000 families who cannot wait for city leaders to create a better economic situation, and many of those families need affordable housing right now. We want this new housing to be permanently affordable because we know that there will be a need for affordable housing many years to come, and that neither the public nor affordable housing residents benefit from a dwindling affordable housing stock, or the flipping of affordable housing units to market-rate units.

DPP sees the housing trust fund as being a mechanism to grow the pie for everyone’s benefit, so the city gets more revenue (perhaps through a real estate transfer tax) and can better address the affordable housing crisis that threatens thousands of women and children who have made their lives and laid their roots in Detroit. It is the city’s responsibility to find more revenue for Detroit’s most housing-insecure residents and we have the tool that they need and will be spending the next few months working with a broad coalition to put together an ordinance that is ready for the city to implement.

We believe that each and every Detroiter has a voice in deciding the future of the city.
Join us, visit detroitpeoplesplatform.org
or call 313.338.9396

Download, Print and Share with your neighbors

Red Alert, Detroit’s Housing Crisis – Jan 2017

 

UpdateFooter

Posted on

Detroit Community Benefits Update, January 2017

Detroit Community Benefits Update, January 2017

DPPCBAupdate

In 2012, North End residents met with Council member Brenda Jones and then council member Joann Watson about the creation of a CBA ordinance. The original draft of the ordinance was created in partnership between the North End community and Stephanie Baught from Sugar Law Center for Social Justice. Once complete, the community began the process of moving the ordinance through city council.

In early 2014 community residents began educating the broader community, utilizing door-to-door canvassing, speaking with over 4000 Detroiters about the CBA proposed ordinance. In summer 2014 the collected non-binding advisory petitions were presented to then Council President.  Representatives of the CBA citywide coalition were invited to join a CBA workgroup by Council member Gabe Leland, chair of Planning and Economic Development Committee.

Members of the coalition attended many meetings over a three-month period in Summer 2014. There were multiple failed attempts to move the proposed CBA ordinance through City Council, including 6 different attempted votes, and despite working with City Council in good faith no progress was made. In March 2016 the city-wide CBA coalition formed the campaign coalition Rise Together Detroit to conduct a citizen ballot initiative in time to be placed on the November 2016 ballot. The citywide coalition collected 5,400 signatures in 8 weeks and submitted to city clerk for certification for the November 2016 ballot.

From September 2016 through Election Day November 8th 2016, Rise Together Detroit Coalition anchored by Detroit People’s Platform, canvassed doors, lead community presentations and trainings, phone banked, and conducted social media outreach. Opponents of what became known as Proposal A, sponsored and supported a competing community benefits engagement ordinance, Proposal B.

While Proposal A would have created a mandatory process, triggered for any proposed development above $15 Million dollars, between developers and community members ending in a legally enforceable agreement between the parties, Proposal B was a community benefits ordinance in name only. Proposal B, triggered at proposed developments above $75 Million dollars, contained no required outcome of a legally binding agreement or true engagement of impacted communities. Backed by massive corporate developers, opponents of Proposal A, spent upwards of $1.5 Million dollars in an organized smear campaign to defeat the 26 Rise Together Detroit Coalition Members and our respective member bases.

Despite this on November 8th 2016, close to 100,000 Detroit Voters came out in support of Proposal A (46% total yes votes), and more than 114,000 Detroit Voters came out in support of Proposal B. Detroit voters clearly stated their desire for some kind of community benefits ordinance. While the ultimate defeat of Proposal A was a blow to the fight against gentrification in Detroit, many positive lessons were learned, and the clear next steps identified.

  • There is a critical need for voter education and civic engagement training, many voters were confused about what proposal would truly serve the community.
  • Despite being outspent during the campaign, voters ultimately decided to create the first of its kind in the nation community benefit agreement ordinance.
  • Although Proposal A was defeated, Detroit People’s Platform and the Rise Together Detroit Coalition will continue to provide support for community groups attempting to negotiate community benefits with developers.
  • Through the work of the campaign, new alliances were formed, communities empowered, and a resurgence of grassroots organizing has transpired in Detroit. The “scrappy little ordinance” unified close to 100,000 voters.
  • The lessons of the campaign and the spirit of Proposal A have been used to create a tool kit and provide training materials for cites looking to duplicate the efforts to create community benefits ordinances and fight broad scale gentrification and push out of marginalized communities.

As part of the continued work of the Detroit People’s Platform on Economic Justice and Equable Development, we are happy to share lessons and best practices with community groups in need. If you have interest in training or volunteering, please contact us. visit detroitpeoplesplatform.org
or call 313.338.9396

Detroit Community Benefits Update – Jan, 2017

Posted on

Detroit ’67, Remembering the Rebellion – “The police were the riot, the people were rebelling.” George Gaines

Detroit ’67, Remembering the Rebellion – “The police were the riot, the people were rebelling.” George Gaines

RTRGeorgeGaines

Detroit ’67, Remembering the Rebellion – “The police were the riot, the people were rebelling.” George Gaines

1967 – “The police were the riot, the people were rebelling against a long tortured history of racial segregation in our neighborhoods, against Mayor Cavanagh, who we helped elect, because he didn’t address housing and police violence; and against de-industrialization as manufacturing plants moved to the suburbs without the transit needed for Detroiters to get to jobs. Those were the undercurrents.”

2017 – “Now we have massive water shut offs. In addition to the foreclosure crisis and the impact of emergency management and bankruptcy, the undercurrents in 2017 include hostility within the black community over water shut offs and the inequity in water rates between the city and suburbs with a 40% rate increase in Detroit over 4 years. These are some of the undercurrents not being addressed today.“

by George Gaines
Lifelong Detroiter, Former Deputy Director, Detroit Health Department, Founding Member of the Detroit People’s Platform Action Council.

#Remember67
#DetroitPeoples

Remembering the Rebellion – “The police were the riot, the people were rebelling.” George Gaines

Posted on

People’s Platform Transit News – November 2016

People’s Platform Transit News – November 2016

rtaelectionresults2016

Suburban opposition to the RTA

During a vote to adopt the Regional Master Transit Plan, the RTA’s 20 year vision for regional transit, representatives from Macomb and Oakland county, that sit on the RTA Board of Directors, voted against the plan. They did this to increase decision-making power for their counties over funding DDOT/SMART and changes to the plan. They advocated for the creation of a “Financial Allocation Committee” which would pull 1 member from the Board of Directors from each county and Detroit’s sole representative. This 5-member body would have say over transit funding split for DDOT and SMART and would make the final decision to changes in routes or other aspects of the Regional Master Transit Plan. The catch is that they would have to vote unanimously on any decision that is presented to this committee, and with Detroit only having 1 representative, this further shifts power to suburbanites, to make decisions that will affect the majority of bus riders that reside in Detroit.

Reasons we remained neutral on the RTA

● Detroiters, especially bus riders, did not have a sufficient voice in the planning process.
● Governance: Detroit only has one representative on the board, we don’t have control over the DDOT/SMART funding split. (Very little say in governance and lack of financial control)
● Based on the changes to the Regional Master Transit Plan, the creation of the “Financial Allocation Committee” gave us enough concern about the lack of control and inadequate representation.
● Concern that the RTA wants to act as a competing service provider instead of a transit coordinating authority. Though DDOT would continue to exist as it’s own entity, many Detroiters we’ve spoken to, expressed concern about the elimination of the department and routes that Detroiters use for their daily commute.
● Concern that Detroit’s share of taxes raised through the millage would support the QLine (M1-Rail) in 2027 and after.

What are the next steps from the Transit Justice Team?

If the RTA’s Regional Master Transit Plan is up for reconsideration, we will advocate that any plan must include Detroiters having a greater say. That means the RTA must offer more opportunities for Detroiters to provide input and foster participation in the planning process. Most importantly, the RTA must make an effort to include improving DDOT service as a main priority, and we seek the elimination of the financial allocation committee – which takes funding power away from Detroit and leave it to the mercy of suburbanite decision-makers.

The lack of adequate public transit in Detroit is a civil rights issue that has been ongoing for far too long. We will continue to organize bus riders around achieving transit justice, to ensure not only Detroiters have a greater say in the Regional Master Transit Plan, but that DDOT must continue to expand and improve service for ALL bus riders in the city, especially for individuals with disabilities and the elderly.

We will advocate to build more bus shelters, and upgrade facilities that service bus riders, and to continue to increase frequency, reduce commute times, and to provide better customer service for passengers. With winter on the way, NO bus rider in Detroit should have to endure long waits and long commute times. Transit justice is ensuring that Detroiters can access the vital institutions and be able to move freely around the city and the region.

“All neighborhoods deserve access and quality public transit!”
Join our Movement for Transit Justice!
transit@detroitpeoplesplatform.org
313.398.9396

People’s Platform Transit news – November 2016 – More: detroitpeoplesplatform.org

Posted on

Prop “A” Supporters Remain Committed to Economic and Social Justice

Prop “A” Supporters Remain Committed to Economic and Social Justice

Nearly 100,000 voters stepped up to support real community benefits

DETROIT – The grassroots community coalition Rise Together Detroit, managed to get almost 100,000 Detroiters to defend their right to negotiate community benefits when billionaires get massive public subsidies.

“We are emboldened knowing that more than 96,000 people said ‘yes’ to real community benefits and by the fact that we made community benefits part of the public conversation,” said Linda Campbell of Rise Together Detroit. “By definition, real community benefits means the community that is affected by a development project and that helps subsidize the developers has right to be at the table to negotiate a legal agreement for community benefits, a fair exchange.”

With few resources, the coalition relied on volunteers going door-to-door, social media and Election Day poll work to spread the message: “If we have to pay, we get a say. Vote yes on Proposal ‘A’.” There was no Proposal ‘B’ opposition ballot measure until the community gathered more than 5,000 signatures to an authentic community benefits measure on the ballot. It was then that Councilmember Scott Benson drafted an opposition proposal which required no vetting by Detroit voters. What Benson’s proposal did attract was corporate dark money.

“Our corporate opposition had deep pockets and used dark money to a fund signature challenges and expensive TV ads. But, we have deep and serious support in the community,” said Nicole Small of Rise Together Detroit. “Even though Prop A didn’t receive the majority votes to pass, our 46% share of the vote still represents a win. Our win was voter engagement and mobilization which is at the heart of the issue of community benefits. We look forward to working with Detroit City Council and our allies at UAW Region 1 and 1A and AFSCME Council 25 on supporting the needs of Detroiters and we will engage developers more determined to ensure that there is accountability and access.”

i-voted-cba

Posted on

Vote SI a la Propuesta A y NO a la Propuesta B, Vote Yes on Proposal A and No on B

Vote SI a la Propuesta A y NO a la Propuesta B, Vote Yes on Proposal A and No on B

Vote SI a la Propuesta A y NO a la Propuesta B

Gloria Rivera

La ciudad de Detroit es el epicentro de desarrollo urbano y nuestros ciudadanos merecen ejercitar su voz referente a la manera como este desarrollo los impacta y como se beneficia por medio de los dólares de nuestros impuestos. Ya hay planes de construir un puente a Canadá que costara 2 billones. Ahorita una nueva arena de hockey está en construcción. Además se están desarrollando 157 acres en la zona de Michigan State Fairgrounds, y el hospital Henry Ford tiene un plan de expansión para desarrollar 300 acres a un costo de $500 millones. Desde luego que le damos la bienvenida al desarrollo, sabiendo que Detroit no se recuperará de la banca rota si nuestros vecindarios no se desarrollan también.

Por primera vez los ciudadanos de Detroit están participando en proyectos de desarrollo en sus vecindarios que incluyen un subsidio de impuestos. Queremos un lugar en la mesa de planeación de estos proyectos y al mismo tiempo pedimos que se hagan por medio de un acuerdo legal. Tenemos experiencias de muchas promesas que no se cumplieron cuando los que estaban a cargo de los proyectos no cumplieron con darnos trabajos, mejorar nuestros vecindarios u otros beneficios críticos. Por esto queremos un procesos de beneficios comunitarios legal.

Recaudamos las firmas requeridas para poner la Propuesta A en las próximas elecciones en Noviembre. Pedimos a los grupos comunitarios locales, los trabajadores y otras instituciones que voten SI a la Propuesta A porque será un beneficio para nuestra comunidad y que voten NO a la otra propuesta B que no resultará en beneficios para el pueblo.

YES on Proposal A, N0 on Proposal B

Detroit is the epicenter for development and neighborhoods deserve to have a say in how it will impact their community if their tax dollars are being used. There are already plans to build a new $2 billion bridge to Canada. A new $650 million entertainment complex and hockey stadium is under construction. In addition plans are on the way for development of 157-acre Michigan State Fairgrounds, and Henry Ford Health Systems’ $500 million/300-acre expansion. Although land development is welcomed, Detroit will not truly recover from bankruptcy if its neighborhoods are not thriving.

For the first time, Detroiters are more engaged on future development projects in their neighborhoods that include a tax subsidy. We are advocating for a real seat at the table and a legally binding agreement that ensures accountability on processes made in exchange for the tax break. Too many broken promises by developers of promised jobs, neighborhood improvements and other critical benefits, has led us to require a community benefits process.

After collecting the required signatures to place Proposal A on the November ballot, we are asking local community groups, labor and other institutions to VOTE YES on PROPOSAL A, the People’s community benefits version, and vote no on the fake CBA proposal that does not result in any accountability.

For REAL Community Benefits vote YES on A and NO on B.
“If we have to pay we get a say!”

Read both proposals:
http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org/2016/08/read-the-competing-ordinances-that-will-be-on-the-nov-ballot/

Learn more – volunteer – donate
http://risetogetherdetroit.com/

#YESonA #NOonB #Detroit

lawnsigns

Posted on

Who Benefits? Proposal A will give Detroiters a seat at the table

Who Benefits? Proposal A will give Detroiters a seat at the table

Thinking for ourselves
By Shea Howell

from the http://boggscenter.org/ newsletter

Who benefits?

October 16, 2016
As Election Day approaches Detroiters are being flooded with high priced, deceptive appeals for our vote.  Expensive TV and radio commercials, slick flyers, and glossy mailers are all urging us to vote against the one proposal that could actually make a difference in how development happens in our city.  Proposition A holds the real promise of equitable, thoughtful, and neighborhood based development.  It is this possibility that is driving the business community and its friends in the Mayor’s office to near panic.
Developers, the Mayor and their shadow surrogates have pulled every trick they could think of to stop this proposal. They tried to bury it in committees. They tried to prevent an open City Council vote. They tried to block the petitions to have this put before the public. Then they introduced a competing watered down version of the bill to confuse voters. Now they have launched an expensive campaign to tell us “A is Awful.” Yes awful for the business interest that have been making millions off Detroiters, pulling in lucrative tax breaks for themselves, and getting cheap land, without giving anything back to the community.
If the stakes were not so serious, the effort to attack Proposal A would border on the comic. A newly formed “dark money” group calling itself Detroit Jobs First, held a press conference at the site of the new Red Wings/Ilitch stadium to launch its slogan Proposal A is awful.  Awful for whom seems a good question.
Just days after the launch of the attack on A, news accounts surfaced that the Red Wings/Ilitch gang are facing $500,000 in fines because they have not been able to uphold their promise of hiring 51% of Detroiters for construction jobs.  This deal, usually touted by the Mayor as an example of his successful negotiating skills, is exactly why we need a strong community benefits agreement.
Billionaire Mike Ilitch received more than $250 million in tax-backed bonds to build this stadium. He has received breaks in land acquisition around the stadium and displaced hundreds of local residents, many of them elders who had lived in the Cass Corridor for years. In exchange, he promised 51% of the jobs would go to Detroiters.  Thus far we are at 40%. Not only is the percentage less than what he promised, the actual number of people involved is minimal. Currently, we are talking about work for 300 people. Ilitch has the money, the land, the tax breaks and will soon have the stadium. Forever.
Community groups, progressive labor leaders, and Council President Brenda Jones have fought for Proposal A for years.  They had done this openly, publicly and on the record. They have argued Proposal A would require developers of projects costing $15 million or more or with more than $300,000 in public subsidies to enter into legally enforceable agreements with communities most affected by the development.
Those against A, and backing B are hiding in the shadows. Maybe they are embarrassed by the failure of the Ilitch deal. Maybe they are embarrassed by the Marathon Petroleum deal.  In 2014 Marathon got a $175 million tax break, expanded it refinery to further pollute our air and Detroit got 15 jobs.
For far too long s developers have said, support us and we will give you jobs.  Repeating the lie on glossy paper does not make it true.
Detroiters have long experience with where the interests of developers really are. It’s time to put an end to the exploitation of our people, our resources, and our city by those who promise jobs, pocket tax money and don’t have the courage to publicly stand for their convictions. Enough is enough.  Spread the word to vote Yes on A and No on Business Backed B.

Proposal A Will Give Detroiters a Seat at the Table
Cindy Estrada


In November, Detroit voters will decide whether to give themselves a seat at the community benefits bargaining table when they choose between Proposals A and B: competing community benefits agreement ordinances.

For those who haven’t followed the story, Proposal A is on Detroit’s ballot because community members and grassroots organizations mobilized a successful petition signature drive. They were motivated by the chance to create a structure that would allow developers seeking public assets for major construction projects to sit with impacted communities and negotiate an enforceable agreement that could include jobs, affordable housing, educational opportunities and community programs.

Proposal B does not give the community a seat at the table. Nor does it allow communities and developers to negotiate an enforceable agreement. Instead, it calls for a toothless process that the city can already authorize. Proposal B got on the ballot in a last minute maneuver by those who fear that Proposal A will win in November. It’s widely understood that Proposal B is on the same ballot as Proposal A to confuse voters.

The debate over Proposals A and B reminds me of what happens during a typical workplace organizing campaign. Detroit voters are now going through the same challenges.

Workers organize when management ignores or dismisses their demands for workplace fairness. Community members organized to put Proposal A on the ballot because they were tired of seeing major publicly funded developers build in their neighborhood, create adverse conditions, promise to address community concerns and renege, or take taxpayer resources without a requirement to discuss giving back to the impacted community in a meaningful way.

Workers face swift backlash when they successfully join together to demand union representation. A classic way to erode union support is for the employer and its allies to tell workers that if they form a union, the business will suffer or close. Immediately after Proposal A’s ballot signatures were certified, anti-Proposal A interests framed Proposal A as dangerous to Detroit’s financial stability and scary for developers – contrary to the community benefits agreement experience in other communities.

Workers fighting for a voice in their workplace are often vilified for being selfish, reckless and even un-American for inviting a ‘third party” into the employer-employee relationship. Proposal A’s backers were accused of seeking “entitlements” by Gov. Rick Snyder’s senior advisor for economic growth, and adding a layer of “bureaucracy” to Detroit’s property development process by the president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

Workers win their union rights when they stand together against the inevitable fierce backlash by their employer and its allies. It will be the same with Proposal A. In November, Detroit voters will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win a seat at the community benefits bargaining table and try to negotiate good things for their community with developers who are benefiting from valuable public assets. That’s not selfish. That’s not reckless. That’s not un-American. That’s what democracy should look like.

proposalarackcardpg2