The State of the City 2020: UNJUST

People’s Response to the State of the City

On February 25, 2020, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan presented his yearly State of the City address. This year he presented to a select, invite only crowd at Flex N Gate. Many in attendance work for the administration. The speech was broadcast live on local news and streamed on the city’s website.

Those who gathered for Detroit People’s Platform’s People’s Response to the State of the City event played Bingo ‘called’ by the Mayor himself. Akin to some drinking games, Bingo Cards were marked when the Mayor said certain words. Close attention was paid to what the Mayor said. The mayor talked about some things but failed to mention others.

The Mayor has historically left out issues and concerns that greatly impact Black Detroiters. In addition to his failure to adequately answer concerns and demands about the $600 million over-taxation or address water shutoffs he failed to mention these important issues: 

The Mayor talked about Community Benefits but failed to mention the need for Amendments to the Community Benefits Ordinance because they would shift power from corporations and developers to neighborhoods and people and he would have to recognize that many of the projects receiving millions of dollars in public tax abatements have been downsized, stalled or scrapped.

The Mayor talked about Affordable Housing failed to mention the Housing Trust Fund because the majority of the money in the fund supports housing options for families that earn $24,000 or less who are threatened by displacement.

The Mayor talked about the need for Regional Transit but didn’t mention our need for a Low-Income Fare because it would force him to recognize the disparity in transportation outside of midtown and downtown.

The Mayor talked about how much Family Matters in Detroit but didn’t talk about funding Head Start because doing so would mean all low income and working black families in Detroit would have access to quality early education.

The Mayor did reveal what we consider a “win” by actually mentioning Black/African American People more than he has ever done in the last 7 years. Typically, the Mayor will talk about One Detroit and opportunity and all but won’t mention race because he would have to address racial equity and economic justice. It’s unfortunate and insulting that in the process of learning how to say the word BLACK, Duggan has also expanded his effort to tokenize black leaders and entrepreneurs while implementing policies that damage the majority of people in the largest Black city in the nation. 

Due to these and other issues that demand justice one again this year the state of the city is UNJUST.

The State of the City 2020: UNJUST

 

 

 

Fiat Chrysler and the City Announce Detroit’s “Largest Art Project”

Fiat Chrysler and the City Announce Detroit’s “Largest Art Project”

Local artists have released a strong statement in response to today’s launch of the City of Detroit and Fiat Chrysler’s (FCA) global call for artists to paint “the largest municipal art installation in the city’s history.” The statement, which has quickly gained supporting signatures from prominent Detroit artists, charges that the city and FCA are using art to cover up the negative impacts of Fiat Chrysler’s Eastside expansion.

The artist statement reads; “Fiat Chrysler and The City of Detroit (City Walls and Arts and Culture Office) are attempting to use murals and artists to artwash and cover up the destruction of a neighborhood on the Eastside by the expansion of the Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) Facility.”

What is there to cover-up? The FCA Community Benefits Agreement is a monumental failure that is NOT benefiting many neighbors. 

Economic Injustice

This is a public funded project The most recent dollar amount of public funding and tax incentives requested by FCA are now up to $400 million.  $8.8 Million IN Community benefits is not enough from a global corporation that earned $4.1 billion in 2018.

Land Swaps The FCA project’s associated land “swaps”, like the full extent of public investment, were not revealed until after the NAC signed off on the deal.

Tax Capture/School Funds After completion of the project FCA will pay themselves back for the cost of redeveloping the site by pocketing $93 Million from their employees’ paychecks over 30 years. $34 Million of that would have gone to school funding*.
* https://www.freep.com/story/money/business/2019/07/23/fiat-chrysler-mack-avenue-plant-detroit/1803696001/ 

Environmental Injustice

Environmental Racism We are in what the Environmental Protection Agency calls a “non-attainment” area for certain pollutants. That means our air is so toxic that FCA has to reduce emissions elsewhere to increase them here. FCA will be increasing emissions in our 94% black community with high poverty and asthma rates while reducing emissions at a suburban plant in Warren.

Volatile Organic Compounds: The new assembly plant would have the potential to emit 382.5 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per year. VOCs are a class of chemicals, and are one of the ingredients for the formation of ozone, or “smog.” The VOC emissions from

the new assembly plant would be caused by the new paint shop proposed by Fiat Chrysler.

State Regulator Says Fiat Chrysler Air Quality Plans ‘Fall Short,’ Are ‘Not Acceptable’

WDET – “Fiat Chrysler needed to submit two plans for the upgrades at its Mack Avenue and Jefferson North plants to state regulators by November 30. The plans concern what projects the automaker will initiate to address community concerns related to air quality and air monitoring around the Mack Avenue Assembly Plant. The company’s proposals were deemed “lacking” and “not acceptable,” respectively.”

https://wdet.org/posts/2020/01/28/89149-state-regulator-says-fiat-chrysler-air-quality-plans-fall-short-are-not-acceptable/?fbclid=IwAR2bgK_qAVhyof1kQ2tAGRw2AeanyZaq2ipbrWwGWzGbEKs9aJflIH63LIw

‘Just Beniteau Residents’ fight
for real community benefits

Detroit People’s Platform supports and recognizes the hard work of ‘Just Beniteau Residents’. The group has been meeting frequently since last year to address their unanswered concerns and demands around the public funded Fiat Chrysler expansion.

Many of the residents in the group have lived there since the 1960s. Some are third generation residents. Some have lived there their whole life. They all have a real love for their homes and incredible love for their community. They have been disrespected and dismissed by Mayor Duggan and Fiat Chrysler. 

Just Beniteau Residents have:

  • Held five meetings and meet frequently.
  • Supported Press Conferences on the street with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Senator Stephanie Chang.
  • Supported surveys and petitions on air quality sent to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE)
  • Met with Mayor Duggan on Jan 6, 2020. The Mayor was dismissive and disrespectful. 
  • Created a Statement and Demands. 
  • Presented Demands to the Legislative Policy Division on Jan 30, 2020.

The Just Beniteau Residents group represents the majority of people who live on our street. We believe that Beniteau Residents have been violated by the City and Fiat Chrysler through the Community Benefits process.

  • The Neighborhood Advisory Council did not represent us or respond to our needs.
  • The projects impact on our health and quality of life were not given priority.
  • It’s worse than they said it would be and getting even worse every day.
  • We need More Money. 
  • We want the program expanded to reflect number of units in multifamily buildings.
  • We want to be treated with respect.
  • We want the city and FCA to Fix Beniteau First!

For Beniteau residents this process has been nothing but legal trickery used by people who think we can be walked over and dismissed. The Fiat Chrysler Community Benefits ­not benefiting in any way. Just Beniteau Residents demand that Detroit City Council work to change this for us and to stop this from happening to other Detroiters.

Read the full list of demands with details.

 

Download and print the “Artists Stand With Residents” Info-Poster
ARTwashPoster

 

Press Release: Artists Demand Neighborhood Concerns be Addressed not Painted Over by Fiat Chrysler “Art Project”

For Immediate Release
Feb. 18, 2020

Artist Contact:
Halima Cassells
queen.afi@gmail.com
313-801-5628

Resident Contact:
Gregg Newsom
gregg@detroitpeoplesplatform.org
313-338-9396

Artists Demand Neighborhood Concerns be Addressed not Painted Over by Fiat Chrysler “Art Project”
Funding needed for home repair, not for artists who aren’t necessarily residents

DETROIT— Local artists have released a strong statement in response to the launch of the City of Detroit and Fiat Chrysler’s (FCA) global call for artists to paint “the largest municipal art installation in the city’s history.” The statement, which has quickly gained supporting signatures from prominent Detroit artists, charges that the city and FCA are using art to cover up the negative impacts of Fiat Chrysler’s Eastside expansion.

The artist statementreads; “Fiat Chrysler and The City of Detroit (City Walls and Arts and Culture Office) are attempting to use murals and artists to artwash and cover up the destruction of a neighborhood on the Eastside by the expansion of the Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) Facility.”

Sydney G. James, an international fine art muralist from Detroit’s Conant Gardens, said she signed the statement because, “I recognize that muralists and street artists are often used as weapons of mass gentrification. I make it a point to truly engage community wherever I work. And my work is reflective of community. Corporations and developers need to be conscious of the people, and these neighbors deserve to be treated with respect and have their voices heard, and needs met.”

In February of 2019, FCA announced the expansion of the Mack Ave. and Jefferson North plants. This privately-owned mega-project will receive over $400 million in public funds and incentives over the next 30 years. The scale of public investment in the project triggered the city’s Community Benefits Ordinance.

As part of the FCA CBA the residents who live closest to FCA’s new assembly line and paint plant have been given priority to apply for $15,000 in home repair grants, which residents have found is not enough to cover the repairs needed or additional damage to homes from nearby construction.

“I just had new windows installed and now, after all the pounding from the construction they no longer seal up” shared Victoria Thomas, who now lives in the morning shadow of the plant.

Last month, on January 30, 2020, at a meeting on the Community Benefits Ordinance hosted by the Legislative Policy Division (LPD), residents from the street closest to the project presented a list of demands. The “Just Beniteau Residents” demands call on the city and FCA to do what it will take to make residents homes safe to breathe and live in and to address the extensive damage being done to homes during construction.

“This process has been nothing but legal trickery used by people who think we can be walked over and dismissed” said Robert Shobe who has lived on the street for 24 years and wants to stay. He and other Beniteau residents demanded a meeting with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “The Mayor made us feel as though we didn’t matter and didn’t hear us or our legitimate concerns. We appreciate artists supporting us in the fight to be heard by the Mayor and FCA and for this to be made right.”

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Just Beniteau Residents Statement and Demands

Detroit People’s Platform supports the hard work of the Just Beniteau Residents. The group has been meeting frequently since last year to address their unanswered concerns and demands around the public funded Fiat Chrysler expansion.

Many of the residents in the group have lived there since the 1960s. Some are third generation residents. Some have lived there their whole life. They all have a real love for their homes and incredible love for their community. They have been disrespected and dismissed by Mayor Duggan and Fiat Chrysler. 

On January 30, 2020 residents presented these demands through public comment at a meeting hosted by the Legislative Policy Division(LPD) on amendments to the Community Benefits Ordinance. 

‘Just Beniteau Residents’
Statement and Demands, January 28, 2020

The Just Beniteau Residents group represents the majority of people who live on our street. We believe that Beniteau Residents have been violated by the City and Fiat Chrysler through the Community Benefits process.

The Neighborhood Advisory Council did not represent us or respond to our needs. To many of us they seemed to just take what was offered and said it was what we wanted. No one seems to know how they decided on $15,000 a house.

The projects impact on our health and quality of life were not given priority. Even though the city has, and had at the time, a program for Southwest Detroit to fix up homes to make them safe to live in, none of this information was presented to us.

It’s worse than they said it would be and getting even worse every day. Our foundations are being further damaged by the vibrations from construction and increased truck traffic. Windows that were solid before construction are now damaged and won’t seal. The dust is horrible and all this before the new paint plant is putting out increased pollution. It’s bad and these are the things we want to make this right:

We need More Money for Repair or Relocation. $15,000 is not enough to make the repairs to our homes that are needed to make them safe. We want our foundations repaired, new roofs and windows, central air and furnaces, all certified for air quality. There are a few who would consider relocation, if provided enough money to do so successfully, but the great majority of us want to stay.

We want the program expanded to reflect number of units in multifamily buildings. There are multi-family structures, duplexes, on the street and we want resources for repairs in each unit.

We want to be treated with respect. In the past, people in our area have been bought out and relocated respectfully. We have not been heard and the city and FCA have disrespected us by disregarding our legitimate concerns, saying their hands are tied while giving more tax incentives to Chrysler and others.

We want the city and FCA to Fix Beniteau First! Before this flawed home repair program is opened up to the residents in the rest of the impact area the residents on Beniteau need this to be fixed and made right by the city and Fiat Chrysler.

For Beniteau residents this process has been nothing but legal trickery used by people who think we can be walked over and dismissed. The Fiat Chrysler Community Benefits ­not benefiting in any way. Just Beniteau Residents demand that Detroit City Council work to change this for us and to stop this from happening to other Detroiters.

FOR MORE CONTEXT: