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AMAZON HQ2 UPDATE: Beware Robber Barons Bearing Gifts

AMAZON HQ2 UPDATE: Beware Robber Barons Bearing Gifts

The Amazon pull-out from New York City reminds us to beware of 21st Century Robber Barons bearing gifts. 

What they Promise:
– Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs!
– Opportunities for Community
– Support for Local Business
– The Sun, Moon, Stars and Tree Farms!

Not as much as we deserve, let alone need. Basketball Courts and game tickets are not the benefits Detroiters are looking for. 

AMAZON HQ2 UPDATE: Beware Robber Barons Bearing Gifts

DPP is a part of the national coalition to demand good jobs and community benefits from Amazon no matter where they land. We celebrate the efforts of activist and communities across the country who organized  around Amazon’s HQ2 competition.  

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos abruptly announced that they would be pulling out of their proposed new headquarters in NYC. The company created a national competition between locations for their “HQ2” project last year. In the past, Bezos threatened to move jobs out of Seattle when their council voted on a corporate tax policy to ease their housing crisis. (

Here in Detroit, Dan Gilbert led the proposal for Amazon HQ2 with a pitch of $4 billion in public subsidies. At the same time, the Mayor and majority of City Council have resisted a real Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance while facilitating the transfer of public resources to wealthy corporations.

The perspective being pushed in Detroit is that if we don’t give huge tax abatements, or if community asks for too much, developers will go elsewhere. Amazon’s pull-out in NYC came amidst resistance from groups and public officials concerned about workers rights, resident displacement, and the strain on existing infrastructure. The organized resistance in NYC reflects a level of compassion and commitment to real progress instead of corporate interest. 

Duggan says that if he told developers they had to negotiate with community they would “take their money to the suburbs.” (Visit our YouTube channel) It’s a disrespectful narrative that recasts racist stereotypes and undermines potential power from community.

Myths of corporate fragility and resource scarcity are perpetuated and create a fear of economic loss. This fear keeps residents complacent and complicit in the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and public subsidies to white billionaires. All this in the nation’s largest majority black city, with some of the highest poverty rates anywhere.

This strategy for economic development perpetuates the superiority of the Mayor and his administration’s policy above the community’s needs and values, ignores calls for racial equity and inclusion, and justifies putting potential profits over people. 

AMAZON HQ2 UPDATE: Beware Robber Barons Bearing Gifts
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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 (, 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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Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates demand Development without Displacement

Jefferson Chalmers Community Advocates demand Development without Displacement


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


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:

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City Council LPD Report on Community Benefits Ordinance Amendments

City Council LPD Report on Community Benefits Ordinance Amendments

Below is an excerpt from the full LPD report that includes the Equitable Detroit Coalitions Recommendation for Amendments. Download the full report.

City of Detroit
208 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center Detroit, Michigan 48226
Phone : (313) 224-4946 Fax: (313) 224-4336

To: The Honorable Detroit City Council
From: David Whittaker Legislative Policy Division (LPD) Staff
Date: July 23, 2018
RE: Community Benefits Ordinance Amendments

As Council Members know, Detroit voters approved a ballot measure designated Proposition B, as the attached alternative “Community Benefits Ordinance” in the November 8, 2016 election. Pursuant to Section 12-109 of the City Charter, such an ordinance adopted through initiative proceedings may be amended or repealed by the City, after a period of twelve (12) months after the date of the election at which it was adopted. Therefore, if Council wishes to amend the existing “Community Benefits Ordinance”, it is free to do so at this time.

The City’s limited experience to date with implementation of the ordinance designated as Proposition B has generated calls for further reforms. In LPD’s judgment, the community engagement procedures specified in this ordinance would benefit from amendments intended, in general, to provide more time for Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NAC) established by the ordinance to become informed about the development proposals at issue and formulate their proposals on behalf of the community, and to require that more useful, relevant, timely and comprehensive information be provided to the NAC throughout the development project. Also, the name of the ordinance should be changed to reflect its actual terms as a local law requiring community engagement in the course of large developments that are supported by public money, in order to avoid misleading the public regarding the scope and purpose of this ordinance. 1

1 Other, more substantive changes – such as the threshold amounts for public support of private investment, or even the addition of required benefits via enforceable contracts with community advocates, as originally proposed in Proposition A – beyond the community engagement procedures called for in the instant ordinance, would of course be within Council’s authority. Although LPD believes that a full discussion of “community benefits” in connection with the ordinance adopted by the voters as Proposition B would be beyond the scope of this referral, it should be noted that to date the procedures adopted as a result  of  this ballot initiative and the ordinance have not resulted in any substantial  community  benefits,  if indeed  they can be credited with generating any community benefits at all. This evaluation, based on LPD staffs ordinance-mandated participation in the community engagement processes established by the ordinance to date, in tum leads to the question of whether or not the significant staff time and other resources devoted to these procedures can be justified, for a process that effectively produces little or no benefit. In addition to improving the accuracy of the ordinance’s title, substituting the word ··engagement” for “benefits” in the name of the ordinance would therefore be expected to result in substantial savings of staff time and other resources that could be devoted to adequate public community engagement, rather than a fruit less, hollow and impractical discussion of nonexistent bene fits.

LPD recommends the following changes to the current so-called “Community Benefits Ordinance”:

1) That the title be amended to “Community Engagement Ordinance” (Change the word “Benefits” under Article XII to the word “Engagement”. In Section 14-12-1 (b), change the language to “This article shall be known as the Detroit Community Engagement Ordinance”.) The administration has indicated that the benefits to the community from development deals arise from the deals themselves, as negotiated by the administration. On the other hand, the American Planning Association and others in the national community benefits movement define “Community Benefits Agreements” as enforceable legal contracts, between developers who receive tax support for their investments, and affected community representatives. Changing the name of the ordinance would reflect its actual terms, which do not call for legally enforceable “Community Benefits Agreements” in the accepted sense of the term.

2) That the number of community meetings be amended from stating “at least one” to ”no fewer than five.” (In Section l 4–l 2-3(a)( l ), change “at least one” to “no fewer than five, unless a majority of the NAC deems otherwise”.)

3) That the procedures for the selection of the NAC be revised, so that at the inaugural meeting an overview of the process and presentation from the developer are given, and that community members nominated to the NAC present at the second meeting, prior to a vote on the members of the NAC, rather than at the conclusion of the first meeting. (Change the entire subsection 14-12-3(c)(l) to read as follows: “At the first meeting of the NAC, the developer shall provide an overview of the community engagement process, and the details of the proposed development. At the second meeting of the NAC, any proposed NAC member(s) nominated by residents shall be permitted to present their ideas and suggestions regarding the community engagement process and the proposed development, before the members of the NAC are elected”.)

4) That a list of alternate NAC members be generated and maintained by the Planning and Development Department, in the event that an elected or appointed NAC member is unable to fulfill their duties. (Add a new subsection l4-l2-3(b)(6) to read as follows: “The Planning and Development Department shall maintain a list of  alternate NAC members to be appointed in the event that an elected or appointed NAC member is, for whatever reason, unable to serve on the NAC”.)

5) That attendance at NAC meetings for all elected and appointed NAC members is mandatory. Should a member fall to attend an alternate may be selected. (Add the following language to subsection 14-12-3(b)(5): “Attendance at all NAC meetings by all elected and appointed NAC members shall be mandatory. If a member fails to attend an NAC meeting, an alternate may be appointed by the NAC as a permanent replacement member”.)

6) That at the inaugural meeting that the developer present “how” their development qualified with specificity, i.e., total investment amount, and which tax incentives arc being sought. (Change the entire subsection l4-l2-3(c)(2) to read as follows: “At the first meeting of the NAC, the developer shall provide a specific explanation of how the proposed development qualifies for public support of investment, the total amount of private investment involved, and the statutory authorizations and amounts of all tax abatements or incentives sought for the proposed development”.)

7) If the proposed development includes residential housing, that at least 20% affordability at 80% Area Median Income (AMI) be incorporated into a single-site development. (Add a new section 14-12-3(7): “If the proposed development includes residential housing, then at least 20% of the units for a single site shall be designated as affordable housing, defined as affordable by those earning at least 80% of Area Median Income (AMI)”.)

8) That at the second meeting of the NAC, the NAC members are provided with an informational package from the developer detailing the level of environmental remediation the site may need, including but not limited to: Phase I and Phase II environmental studies (if available), Commercial Rehabilitation Facility District application (if applicable), Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District application (if applicable), and Brownfield Redevelopment District application (if applicable). (Add a new section 14-12-3(c)(4): “At the second meeting of the NAC, the developer  shall provide NAC members with an informational package detailing the level of environmental remediation the site may need, including but not limited to: Phase [ and Phase lI environmental studies (if available), Commercial  Rehabilitation  Facility  District application (if applicable), Obsolete Property Rehabilitation District application (if applicable), and Brownfield Redevelopment District application (if applicable)”.

9) That a webpage be created and maintained detailing the specifics of the development along with a projected timeline on the Planning and Development Departments website for each development project subject to the ordinance, which also contains the contact information for the POD project manager and general contact information for the developer. (Add a new section 14-12-3(c)(S): “The Planning and Development Department shall create and maintain a page on the City’s web site detailing the specifics of the development, along with a projected timeline, for each development project subject to this article. The web page shall also contain the contact information for the PDD project manager and general contact information for the developer”.)

The Equitable Detroit Coalition, sponsors of the original Proposition A Community Benefits Ordinance that was defeated by Proposition B, has provided the attached critical report regarding their observations of the first six projects subjected to the ordinance. Based on these experiences, they propose 12 amendments that would, in effect, convert the Proposition B community engagement ordinance into a “true” community benefits ordinance, featuring reforms like enforceable community benefits agreements and independent community participation without mediation by City government. As noted in footnote l, LPD understands these substantive transformations of the Proposition A community engagement policy to be beyond the scope of this particular referral. However, such further reaching amendments would be within Council’s authority, and if Council Members seek any particular amendments, whether suggested by the Equitable Detroit Coalition or anyone else, they could be drafted in response to specific referral of those items to the Law Department and/or LPD.

If Council has any other questions or concerns regarding this subject, LPD will be happy to provide further research and analysis upon request.

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Vote No on Proposal R

Vote No on Proposal R

On Tuesday, August 7 2018 there will be one proposal on your primary ballot. Proposal R asks Detroiters if they favor a “general revision” of the City Charter. If opened, the Charter could be changed in many ways. Proposal R, if passed, could; restrict community power and oversight, reduce government accountability and ruin our chances to fully restore democracy in Detroit.

Detroit People’s Platform encourages our members, supporters and all Detroiters to Vote NO on Proposal R!

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City of Detroit Report: Dan’s Dreams on our Dime

City of Detroit Report: Dan’s Dreams on our Dime

Detroit – On May 21st the city of Detroit’s Legislative Policy Division released their “Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report”. This report finally puts a total dollar amount on the tax abatements and tax capture our public officials have given away to Dan Gilbert’s companies. All without a real Community Benefits Agreement. Though this report hasn’t been covered in the media, it is important information that Detroiters need to know about.

READ, download, print and share the city’s Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report

Contact Detroit City Council!

Detroit City Council Contact Info 2017

At Large – Council President Brenda Jones
(313) 224-1245

At Large – Janee Ayers
(313) 224-4248

District 2 – Roy McCalister Jr.
(313) 224-4535

District 1 – James Tate
(313) 224-1027

District 3 – Scott Benson
(313) 224-1198

District 4 – Andre L. Spivey
(313) 224-4841

District 5 – Council President Pro Tempore Mary Sheffield
(313) 224-4505

District 6 – Raquel Castaneda-Lopez
(313) 224-2450

District 7 – Gabe Leland
(313) 224-2151

[bctt tweet=”On May 21st the city of Detroit’s Legislative Policy Division released their “Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report” #Detroit Read the report.” username=””]

“In a memo to the Legislative Policy Division (LPD), Council member Castaneda-Lopez requested that LPD provide a report to Council which compiles all tax credits, tax abatements and other public subsidies sought and received by the Quicken Family of Companies from the City of Detroit. In addition, LPD was also requested provide inormation on each subsidiary and building/project, as well as the aggregate totals for each subsidy type and the total value of public support. This report is our response to this inquiry.”

“Overall, our research has revealed that under the umbrella of the Quicken Family of Companies,’ There are fifteen (15) projects that have received or Quicken is requesting tax abatements or incentives from the City of Detroit. The overall number of tax abatements or incentives Quicken has received or reguested from the City of Detroit is 27, as detailed below:”

READ, download, print and share the city’s Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report

Dan's Dreams on our Dine

Dan’s Dreams on our Dine

READ, download, print and share the city’s Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report

READ, download, print and share the city’s Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report

READ, download, print and share the city’s Quicken Loans/Bedrock Subsidiary Public Subsidies Report


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Register Today! Detroit People’s Platform 2018 Summit

Register Today! Detroit People’s Platform 2018 Summit


Detroit People’s Platform 2018 Summit
Saturday, September 8, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (EDT)
SEIU Local 1
2211 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, MI 48207
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Five years ago, in 2013, 250 Detroiters gathered at Marygrove College to create the Detroit People’s Platform. This year we will come together again for the Detroit People’s Platform’s 2018 Summit.

Majority-Black Detroit Matters

Please save the date and plan to join us on September 8th at SEIU Local 1 at 2211 East Jefferson Avenue from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided. The event is free, but registration is limited.

More details about the event will be shared soon.


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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:

“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:

[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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The QLine failure isn’t technical

The QLine failure isn’t technical

An article on the QLine’s low numbers by Chastity Pratt Dawsey from the Detroit Journalism Cooperative and Bridge Magazine sparked a great deal of discussion.

“After a year of constant problems, the shiny electric streetcar that hums down Detroit’s main thoroughfare has proven more troubled than trusty.

The QLine, the privately operated streetcar that launched along 3.3 miles of Woodward Avenue last May, attracted less than half of its projected riders for several months its first year, as it was beset by traffic snarls and dwindling popularity.

The train that reaches top speeds of 30 mph averaged more than five stoppages a week, a total of 267, and was frequently operating behind schedule due to parked cars on its tracks and traffic jams near the Little Caesars Arena. 

Records obtained by Bridge Magazine show the streetcar fell well short of expectations of 5,000 to 8,000 riders per day.” Read More

[bctt tweet=”The failure of the QLine isn’t technical. Most Detroiters didn’t want it in the first place and don’t use it. #Detroit ” via=”no”]