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People’s Platform NEWS Five – Democracy by Authority

The latest edition of the Detroit People’s Platform News hit the streets on January 26th. Proudly printed in a union shop, 5,000 copies will be distributed through Platform members in their neighborhoods and through community hubs city-wide.

This edition features:

  • Update: CBA Ordinance
  • Announcing WNUC 96.7 FM
  • Right to the City
  • Special Report: The Restructuring of Detroit, Democracy by Authority
    • Join the People’s Platform Authority Watch
    • Changes in City Governance
    • The Anatomy of an Authority
  • People’s Platform Report-Out 2014

Download the pdf!

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Special Report: The Restructuring of Detroit, Democracy by Authority


The Plan of Adjustment and Financial Oversight
On Monday, November 10th, 2014 Judge Stephen Rhodes approved the eighth version of the Plan of Adjustment. This brought Detroit’s bankruptcy to a close and ended Emergency Management of our municipal government. Detroit Public Schools remain under Emergency Management and have been since 2009. The Plan of Adjustment is intended to prevent Detroit from going into bankruptcy again and to establish the means for Detroit to continue to provide basic city services.

While some power has been returned to the city’s Mayor and Council with Kevyn Orr’s exit, state oversight continues through the Detroit Financial Review Commission that will handle the city’s books and large contracts for at least the next 13 years. The 9-member commission was established by the “Grand Bargain” that brought law makers, private investors, and foundations together to “rescue” the Detroit Institute of Arts from the threat of liquidation to cover pension obligations and that removed it from municipal ownership.DetroitTimeLine

The Rise of Authorities
The Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency in Detroit in 2013 and use of Emergency Management to facilitate the city’s Bankruptcy has greatly changed the structure of our municipal government. These changes were accomplished through many means, three being:

  •     Executive Orders from Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr that altered aspects of the recently ratified Detroit City Charter. The dissolution of the CDCs being one example.
  •     Legislation from Lansing signed by Governor Snyder that created or made way for the creation of authorities like the Regional Transit Authority and the Great Lakes Water Authority.
  •     Changes in executive administration made by both Mayors Bing and Duggan shifted power and responsibility from city departments to Authorities that have little or no such accountability.

Authorities are used to:

  •     Transfer  public assets into corporate profits
  •     Work around local power by inserting regional and state oversight
  •     Shift policy from the “common good” to what’s good for business
  •     Shift public dollars and resources to for profit entities through operations and management contracts; often displacing public workers and union contracts in the process
  •      Acquire investment and funds through the writing of bonds unavailable to municipal departments due to negative credit ratings.
  •      Overcome ethical or moral issues, like mass water shut-offs by replacing the social contract with the bottom line.

Anatomy of an AUTHORITY


In-depth information on 4 of the many Authorities that have been created or empowered during Detroit’s restructuring.

Great Lakes Water AUTHORITY
The Great Lakes Water Authority will be funded by a $50 million annual lease for 40 years. Detroit will continue to own and control its local water mains and sewer system. Roughly $20 million will come from Detroit.

The regional authority will be governed by a board made up of two members appointed by the Mayor of Detroit and one appointed from each from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties and the Governor.  Major decisions, such as rate increases, will require five of the six votes to be approved.

The authority will provide public disclosure of all contracts on the authority’s website as well as competitive bidding on contracts.

There is not currently a way for citizens to file complaints. The authority does not currently have a website or contact information posted.

Public Lighting AUTHORITY of Detroit
The legislation that created the authority allocated $12.5 million annually from the City’s Utility Users Tax, which originally was levied to pay for public safety activities. That source was chosen because the marketability of the bonds required a secured revenue stream and public lighting is clearly an important part of insuring public safety. The law also allocated a portion of the City income tax to public safety to ensure that funding for the Police Department remains whole.

This dedicated revenue stream and its independent status enabled the PLA to sell $185 million in bonds to fund the relighting of the city. The original goal was to sell $160 million worth of bonds, but a very favorable interest rate of 4.53 percent enabled the authority to sell $185 million in bonds, providing funds for an additional 10,000 lights, meaning a total of 65,000 lights will be installed.

The PLA is run by a five-member board, all of whom are Detroit residents. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council each appointed two board members and the fifth member was picked by council from a list of candidates provided by the mayor. Current members of the PLA board are Dr. Lorna Thomas, who serves as chair; Eva Garza Dewaelsche, vice chair; David Jones, secretary and Nicole Spieles. The CEO is Odis Jones, a Detroit native who has extensive experience in managing urban initiatives.

The PLA website ( has the 2013-2014 audit as well as the 2014-2015 annual budget. They also have their construction schedule through 2015 available via a map of Detroit and a legal description of the work.

Under the contact us portion of their website, visitors can report a street light outage via phone, email, or online form. They provide a PDF that informs visitors whether or not they should contact them or DTE.

The PLA can be reached at, by calling (313) 324-8290, on , and on

The board published their meeting minutes on their website in PDF format. They also post meeting times and locations updating the website with cancellations and location/time changes. There is a community meetings tab on the website with no upcoming events.

Detroit Land Bank AUTHORITY
The Detroit Land Bank Authority is financed through property sales, government grants, philanthropic support, donations, and fees for service.

The Detroit Land Bank is governed by a board of five directors. Four are appointed by the Mayor of Detroit and approved by Detroit City Council, and one is appointed by the Executive Director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The current board members include Erica Ward Gerson (Chair), Marsha Bruhn (Vice Chair) Richard Hosey (Treasurer), Patricia Pernell Shelton, and Larry Lipa.

The Detroit Land Bank publishes meeting times and locations on their website along with some meeting minutes. Though they meet every month (subject to cancellation) they provide minutes from only 3, non consecutive,  months. Additionally, they publish quarterly reports as well as all contract and auction information.

There is no way to file a formal complaint. You can fill out an inquiry/question form on their website, call 1-844-buy-dlba, or email or

Regional Transit AUTHORITY
The RTA funding includes State Revenue, Charitable Contributions, seven percent of administrative fees from a Federal Transit Administrative Planning Grant, and State Match funding to support the FTA grant.

Its 10-member board is appointed for three year terms by the county executives of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, the chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, the Mayor of Detroit, and the Governor of Michigan. The Governor’s appointee serves as chair and without a vote.

The RTA seems to be the most transparent of all four authorities. They have all of their policies published online as well as meeting information.

The RTA can be contacted by filling out a form on their website (, by phone (313) 402-1020, and by email

The RTA provides access to all of their information on This includes fiscal budgets, bylaws, expense policies, and information regarding meetings.


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NEW! People’s Platform News, Election 2014

5,000 copies of the special ‘Election 2014’ issue of the People’s Platform News are hitting the streets this week. In addition to ‘getting out the vote’ and providing a breakdown of what is on the ballot in Detroit November 4th, there are also updates from the Detroit Community Land Trust Coalition, on the Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance, Good Jobs and more.

Copies of the People’s Platform News are distributed by People’s Platform Members and Allies in Detroit’s 7 Districts. If you would like to distribute papers please get in touch.

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People’s Platform Update – July 10, 2013

Welcome to the first People’s Platform Update. Twice a month we will post to the blog and send out an email with events, announcements and tools to assist in sharing the People’s Platform with your neighbors.

Keeping in Touch

The People’s Platform website is being updated frequently and will soon include an events calendar and District-specific pages that share information and resources on District-specific issues. Events are also posted through the People’s Platform facebook page.


Each People’s Platform Update will focus on one of the ‘planks’ or issues that were ratified at the Convention on June 1st; Land, Food, Transit, Good Jobs, Governance and, the Environment. Please visit the Food Justice page for links and other resources.

FOOD JUSTICE: We seek a food system that ensures access to healthy, quality food for all Detroiters. We believe in the importance of creating our own food networks to support the health and power of our community and our natural environment.

New Tool!
Video: Food and Healthy, Vibrant Communities presented by Shane Bernardo
Recorded April 29, 2013
St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Church in Detroit’s North End



The People’s Platform District Caucus Leaders have requested that we share these upcoming opportunities to participate.

Thursday, July 11, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Gratiot Ave Business Assn Mayoral Forum 
1000 Eliot St.

Friday, July 12, 10am – 4pm
Tri-County Political Information Awareness Forum
First Baptist World Changers
22575 W. 8 Mile Road
Detroit, MI 48221

Friday, July 12, 2pm
Solidarity with AFSCME Rally
AFSCME International Next Wave Conference (members 35 and younger) and there will be a demonstration at 2 PM in Hart Plaza – Press Conference.  Following the Press Conference, the group will walk to CAYMC for a demonstration on the 1st floor against the Emergency Manager.

Thursday, July 18, 6-8 pm
Creating Good Governance for People and the Planet
Carolyn Raffensperger, Director, Science & environmental Health NetworkDenk Chapman Hall, Madame Cadillac Bldg, Marygrove College, Free open to public, light refreshments
Info  313-927-1321

Tuesday, July 30, 6-8pm
DHDC Candidate Forum
Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
1211 Trumbull (near 12th)

Saturday, August 3rd, 1-3pm
Uprooting Racism Planting Justice gathers monthly on the first Saturday from 1-3p at the MSU Detroit Center, 3408 Woodward, 48201. This gathering is a monthly convening (since 2009) of individuals desiring to participate as change agents in addressing the injustice of racism in the Detroit Food System.

Public Lighting Authority Public Meetings
The state-created Public Lighting Authority is holding public meetings to gather community input as it develops a three-year improvement plan for the city’s lighting system. Each two-hour session will include a presentation by the authority about its role and an an overview of Detroit’s lighting system. The sessions will also offer residents an opportunity to offer feedback and their own ideas. Meeting locations will be held in each of the city’s new voting districts.

July 15, 6-8 pm Coleman A. Young Community Center, 2451 Robert Bradby Dr.
July 17, 6-8 pm Perfecting Church Cathedral, 7616 E. Nevada Street


The People’s Platform is a broad network of Detroit-based social justice organizations, activists, and residents committed to bringing about just transformation in politics, economics and social dynamics through popular education, celebration, and political activism. We use data, analysis, advocacy and community organizing to protect and increase participation in the democratic process and to demand that state and local decision makers consider race and economic justice in their planning, funding, and policymaking decisions.

We believe:
Detroit is not a blank slate. It is not abandoned. It is full of vibrant, resilient people who look out for each other and are committed to protecting the public assets and resources we share as a community. As neighbors and residents, both new and long-term, we know what our districts need and we are working together to ensure that all of us—regardless of race, class, or neighborhood—have a meaningful say in re-building our city.

Detroit People’s Platform