Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Detroit Must Halt the Imposition of a Consent Agreement and Emergency Management

Detroit Must Halt the Imposition of a Consent Agreement and Emergency Management

PANW Editor: The people of Detroit have resoundly rejected the proposed consent agreement that would in effect impose corporate dictatorship on the majority African American municipality. The banks and corporations are at the root cause of the current crisis in the city and throughout the country and the world.

It was the capitalist system that created this crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, and it is these same financial interests that must pay for it, not the workers and the nationally oppressed.

People in Detroit who have through lawsuits, mass actions and petitions, rejected these fascists moves by Gov. Snyder and the bankers, must now be prepared to take mass actions in the streets. The masses must be willing to create a political crisis for the ruling class in order to raise the contradictions to a higher level and force the retreat of the bosses and their agents in government.

These two articles reprinted below from the corporate newspapers, who have been the major proponents of Emergency Management, illustrate that the politicians are feeling the pulse of the people of the city. The people have a right to determine their own destiny.

The bankers and their surrogates have no solution to the current crisis other than more austerity and abrogation of democratic practice. The people must put forward a program of action and a series of political demands that identify the root cause of the destruciton of Detroit, the state of Michigan and the working and oppressed people throughout the United States and the entire capitalist world.

What is needed is a complete halt to all lay-offs and other austerity measures, a moratorium on debt-service payments to the banks as well as a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions, and the reimbursement of all funds owed by the state to the city of Detorit, some $550 million.

Detroit must demand money from both the state and the federal government to stave off further cuts and to begin a process of renewal and reconstruction. It is through the independent actions of the people that this crisis will be resolved.

Abayomi Azikiwe,
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
March 14, 2012

Bing: Proposed consent agreement ‘basically an EM’

Karen Bouffard Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Detroit— Mayor Dave Bing continued his assault Wednesday on Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed consent agreement, forcefully challenging the state's proposal as a sham to fix the city's finances by sidelining him and the City Council.

During a forum at the city's downtown Wayne County Community College campus, Bing used words like "hell no" and other strident language, saying he was "absolutely 100 percent" against the consent agreement and the appointment of a nine-member financial advisory board with unchecked power.

"This consent agreement is basically an emergency manager," Bing said.

Responding to Snyder's comments Wednesday that Detroit has a "cultural problem" accepting help from outsiders, Bing said to reporters that "I don't know what he's talking about."

"I'm receptive to help," he said. "But you're not going to just jam something down my throat and expect me if I don't like it that it's going be OK."

During the forum, Bing said he felt disrespected by Snyder and his administration when he was given the proposed consent agreement in his office last week and given one hour to review it.

"When I looked at that 21-page document and I had an hour to kind of thumb through and something that I think is the most significant thing in the history of this city…if you expect me to go through a 21-page document in an hour and come to agreement, then you're nuts," Bing said.

"My goal is to work with people. I don't intend to work for somebody. I won't work for the governor. I won't work from that financial team of nine people," he continued. "I'll work for the people of the city of Detroit because they voted me in to do this. I won't work for anybody else."

Although not naming the governor directly in a question on whether he trusts Snyder, Bing said: "When somebody lies to you, you can't trust them."

The mayor said the proposed consent agreement — which outlines a series of benchmarks for steep budget cuts — takes away his and council's elected responsibilities. State Treasurer Andy Dillon says the document is a draft that's still subject to changes.

The mayor said he plans to confer with council members this week to present a united alternative agreement to the state because the current plan is not something he can live with.

Bing scoffed at the notion that he's asking for a bailout. The city is owed nearly $220 million in unpaid revenue-sharing funds and the state has not lived up to that agreement, he said.

"If in fact the city is as important to the state that he says he thinks, then they need to tell me what they're going to do to help," Bing said. "You can't take the authority away from the elected officials at this time."

Earlier Wednesday, Snyder fended off criticism from Bing that he is "disingenuous," saying the city has a cultural problem accepting outside help.

"You have a community that has been struggling for decades, a community that clearly needs help in terms of resources and support, so isn't the right answer that they partner with people who want to help?" Snyder asked during a conference of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

"If you have a problem, is the answer to say 'Go away,' or is it to hold up your hand and say 'We need help'? That's a cultural problem they have there," Snyder said. "The inclination so far has been to say 'go away.' I don't believe that's a good answer, and there are good people there, so it's a cultural challenge to get over that boundary."

In remarks to media following his speech, the governor appeared frustrated with Bing's reaction to his proposal.

"I view it as just unfortunate to make a personal attack out of this," Snyder said. "If you look up 'disingenuous' it's 'not sincere or candid,' and I think my track record will speak for itself.

"I want to move beyond that; that's not relevant. The real question is 'How do we solve the problem?' And the issue is how do we get better services to Detroiters — better lighting, jobs, other opportunities — and how do we get to financial stability."

Asked if he would consider revenue options, such as an income tax increase to bolster the city's coffers, Snyder said the state has already made income tax and utility tax changes and any additional adjustments would have to be part of a plan for long-term structural change.

Snyder said the idea that the nine-member board would usurp control from Detroit's elected officials is "not true at all."

"If you look at the agreement, it talks about the mayor still running the executive branch, the legislative body still being the City Council," Snyder said. "It brings in this advisory board to help with financial stability, and these are financial experts."

Asked if race plays a part in the backlash, Snyder said Detroit's problems have nothing to do with race.

"Detroit got into this issue not because of race but because of population decline," Snyder said. "You've got a city that's less than half the size it was less than 50 years ago, and its cost structures need to adjust, its service has to adjust."

Snyder said there is room for negotiation on the plan, which he presented to spur public discussion after weeks of stalled behind-the-scenes negotiations.

"One of the reasons I put this out is I just didn't see progress and the clock is still ticking," Snyder said. "Let's just be proactive and get the agreement out there in a very public way, because this gives everyone an opportunity.

"It's not behind closed doors. The council can see it, the review team can see it, the mayor can see it, the citizens of Detroit can see it."

The proposal was presented as the Michigan Secretary of State is in the process of validating more than 230,000 signatures turned in by opponents who want Public Act 4, the emergency manager law, overturned by voters in the November election. If the needed 161,304 signatures are validated, the law will be immediately suspended until voters decide the issue.

Snyder's plan includes a provision that the consent agreement would stand even if the law is overturned, further rankling critics.

Also underway is a petition drive by labor unions, who are asking for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing citizens' right to join and form labor unions in public and private employment. If approved by voters, the measure could possibly nullify allegedly anti-union measures adopted by Republicans over the past year, and make it harder for cities — including Detroit — to trim labor costs.

Asked if he intends to ask labor leaders to abandon their ballot initiative, Snyder said he would like to discuss it with the unions — but such discussions should be limited because of the potential to further enflame labor tensions.

"I wouldn't ask them to stop it but to reconsider and to have a dialog on it. I think people are open to that," Snyder said. "My concern is not just the issue of collective bargaining; my concern is to start a whole divisive atmosphere where other people try to put right-to-work on the ballot and other things."

Staff writer Darren A. Nichols contributed.
(517) 371-3660

Bing on consent agreement: 'Why the hell would I sign it?'

1:33 PM, March 14, 2012

Mayor Dave Bing answered questions posed to him by Bankole Thompson, the senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle during the Global Conversations Speakers Series at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. A packed room of more than 300 came to listen to the hour-long event.

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing lashed out at Gov. Rick Snyder this afternoon in an uncharacteristically combative tone, saying the state’s proposed consent agreement to fix the city’s deficit is unconstitutional and will undermine progress being made by his administration.

“I was not voted as mayor of this city to have to report to the governor,” Bing told a standing-room crowd of more than 300 students and other residents at the Wayne County Community College Downtown Campus. "The governor doesn't run me or the people of Detroit."

Bing likened the state consent agreement to an unlawful takeover that puts Detroiters at risk of losing critical services and pledged to come up with his own budget-cutting plan – or consent agreement – with council. He said the nine-member, unelected group of nine official to be appointed to handle the city's finances under a the consent agreement won’t have to answer to residents who rely on services such as buses and police and fire protection.

"Why the hell would I sign it?" Bing said of the consent agreement.

“I represent the people in this city, and every decision I make, I have to have that at the forefront of my thoughts,” Bing said, as part of an occasional WCCC series, “Global Conversations,” hosted by moderator by Bankole Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle. “What is Lansing bringing to the table?”

Bing’s decision to openly criticize the governor and the consent agreement is risky. Snyder this morning expressed disappointment with similar comments the mayor made Tuesday.

Under the consent agreement, the state would appoint an emergency manager if the mayor and council fight the pact.

An emergency manager would likely entirely strip the council and mayor of authority over the budget, giving a select person control of the city’s assets and services.

"I think the consent agreement is an emergency manager, but instead of one, we have nine," Bing told reporters after the event.

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