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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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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!

What they ACTUALLY DO FOR US:
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 http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org/2019/02/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.http://ourhq2wishlist.org  

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. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/may/15/amazon-threatens-to-move-jobs-out-of-seattle-tax-council-vote-homelessness)

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 http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org/2019/02/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 (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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City Charter Revision Commission Candidate Night

City 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. Vote Tuesday, Nov 6, 2018!

All Charter Revision Candidates were invited to attend.
We were joined by 7 candidates:
Chase Cantrell, Cindy Darrah (write-in),  Karissa Holmes,  Denzel  McCampbell,  Tracy Peters,  Nicole Small, and Joanna Underwood.

The Detroit People’s Platform does not endorse candidates.

Please note that the video was captured from the live stream of the event and is not production-quality. Drops in the signal are noted.
The video is intended for election education purposes only and is part of DPP public education work.

 

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Homes for All! Support the Housing Trust Fund

Homes for All! Support the Housing Trust Fund

Detroit is enjoying national attention for its revitalization efforts, but not everyone is benefitting equally. Corporations and investors from around the world have shifted enormous amounts of investment into Detroit.

Detroit is experiencing an explosion of investment. Investors are purchasing land and buildings from the City, the City is investing money in infrastructure improvements in selected neighborhoods, and developers are investing money in rehabilitating buildings for trendy new restaurants, luxurious apartments, hotels, condos, and upscale boutiques. The revitalization of Detroit’s housing market includes building and renovating mostly market-rate housing that the average long-time Detroiter can’t afford to live in.

However, the one thing that Detroit has not been willing to invest in is permanently affordable housing for current residents to continue living in their neighborhoods as housing costs begin rise. 

Right now, the average Detroiter spends 60% of their monthly income on housing. This is one of the highest rental burdens in the country. One in five Detroit renters face eviction every year. That makes Detroit one of the top 10 cities for annual evictions. In order to reverse these trends that threaten to displace long-term Detroiters the City must commit to protecting and creating quality permanent affordable homes and apartments for the Detroit families who need them most.

The Mayor of Detroit has created many talking points about affordable housing. These include statements such as: “We will not support development that moves Detroiters out so others can move in” and “Every area of Detroit will have a place for people of all incomes.”

To honor these commitments the City of Detroit must take action by creating and funding a housing plan for constructing and protecting a substantial amount of high-quality affordable homes for the Detroit families who need them most. This must be done simultaneously with the city’s redevelopment efforts. This is the only way to reduce the threat of displacement.

For these reasons, Detroit People’s Platform is joining with allies across the country to launch the Homes for All Campaign here in Detroit to demand the following:

• Commitment to fund the creation and protection of permanent and deeply affordable housing 

• Increased renter protections

• Sufficient revenue stream to support the Housing Trust Fund

Detroit People’s Platform will be meeting with residents and renters across the city to make sure our voices are heard around this critical policy issue. 

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Fare Justice Not Fare Increases

Fare Justice Not Fare Increases

DDOT Undergoes Major Changes in September: Restored Access to Woodward in downtown Detroit and Proposed Fare Increases

Keep Woodward on Woodward Campaign a success! 

On September 5th, the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) restored the Woodward #53 now referred to as #4 to its direct route on Woodward Ave all the way through downtown Detroit. The Detroit People’s Platform Transit Justice Team organized the “Keep Woodward on Woodward” campaign collecting signatures from DDOT bus riders 

The campaign demanded the restoration of the Woodward bus through downtown Detroit. This is a major win for residents, restaurant workers, security guards, custodians, and others who work, shop, and access social and government services in downtown Detroit.

We thank the petition signers for their support and the volunteers of the Transit Justice Team for making this win possible!

Fare Justice Not Fare Increases

In early September, DDOT proposed a new fare structure. This proposed fare restructuring will increase the base fare by 33% from $1.50 to $2.00 and will increase the prices of bus passes compared to the current system. The new fare structure will eliminate transfers and replace it with a 4-hour pass for access to any DDOT and SMART bus. It also eliminates the $0.50 fee when a DDOT bus rider transfers to the SMART bus system. Most importantly, all passes under this new proposed fare structure will be rolling passes which can be bought at any time and are only valid once activated. For example, if one purchases a 7-day pass on Tuesday and uses it that day, it will expire 7 days from Tuesday. 

Bus riders still cannot count on DDOT bus service for on-time and reliable access to work, school, medical appointments and worship. In Detroit, families and individuals are facing high rents, losing their homes to tax foreclosures, and experiencing water-shutoffs across the city at an alarming rate.

This is not the time to raise bus fares.  

Detroit Peoples Platform Calls for DDOT bus riders to take the following actions:  

• Call your city councilmember and demand that council vote down the proposed bus fare increases. Urge council to adopt a low-income fare policy instead. This low income fare policy would allow low-income Detroit residents to pay the same reduced fares that seniors, students, and persons with disabilities currently pay. 
• Attend city council meetings and offer public comment. Plan to arrive by 9:30am on Mondays and Tuesdays on the 13th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center at 2 Woodward Ave. DPP urges bus riders to leave comments with DDOT regarding the proposed fare increase.  

Detroit City Council main line: (313) 224-3443
Detroit Department of Transportation: (313) 933-1300 or email at: ddotcomment@detroitmi.gov