Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, covering the first demonstration in the aftermath of the Detroit City Council's approval of the Consent Agreement. The action took place at the Rosa Parks Transit Center. (Photo: Jennifer Teed), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Stage Set For Further Exploitation and Repression in Detroit
The dreaded Financial Stability Agreement was passed by a narrow 5-4 vote by the Detroit City Council today. This vote provides a green light for greater privatization and the busting of the unions.
It appears that the only recourse people have is to take to the streets in protest actions aimed at disrupting business as usual in the city and the state.
This process is totally undemocratic and even violates bourgois democratic law. The members of the Detroit City Council who voted in favor of the agreement will face the political disfavor of the people.
Over 100 people protested several hours later at the Rosa Parks Transit Center against drastic cutbacks in bus services. Further public hearing will be held today, April 5.
Wednesday represented the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis. He was murdered while supporting a sanitation workers strike that had paralyzed Memphis.
Detroit City Council approves consent agreement in 5-4 vote
7:17 PM, April 4, 2012
Detroit Free Press
After weeks of meetings, rallies, and court battles, the Detroit City Council voted this evening to approve a consent agreement with the State of Michigan, thus potentially warding off the threat of an emergency manager to oversee the city's finances.
Under the consent agreement, a financial advisory board whose members would be appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council would advise and review all fiscal matters. The governor would appoint three members, the state treasurer would appoint one, the mayor would appoint two and the City Council would appoint two.
The 5-4 vote today came just 24 hours before Snyder’s deadline for appointing an emergency manager, who would have broad powers to cut union contracts, oversee budgets and cancel contracts with city vendors, among other powers.
•Council members who voted against the agreement: Andre Spivey, Brenda Jones, JoAnn Watson and Kwame Kenyatta.
•Council members who voted in favor of it: James Tate, Saunteel Jenkins, Ken Cockrel Jr., Gary Brown and council President Charles Pugh.
Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement shortly after the council vote.
“The council has acted responsibly to put Detroit on the path to financial stability. Approval of the consent agreement is a positive opportunity for the city and our entire state. It’s a clear message that we will move forward – and win – as one Michigan. We all want Detroit to succeed. This agreement paves the way for a good-faith partnership that will restore the fiscal integrity taxpayers expect and ensure the delivery of services that families deserve.
“While the council’s action is a positive step, there’s no doubt that much work remains. The magnitude of the city’s financial challenges means that many difficult decisions lie ahead. We must build on this spirit of cooperation and be willing to act in the city’s long-term interests.
“I appreciate the countless hours that Mayor Dave Bing and his staff, the City Council, the Financial Review Team, state Treasurer Andy Dillon and the rest of my team have devoted to achieving this agreement. Because of their tireless work, Detroit is poised to move toward being a great city again with improved services for its citizens and a foundation for future growth.”
Calling the debate on the consent agreement one of the most crucial decisions in the city's history, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said Tuesday that if the process isn't completed soon, "Mayor Bing and the administration believe Gov. Snyder will act on Thursday, April 5, according to law, regardless of any related, current legal challenges to the process."
The council opted to not vote on the proposed deal Tuesday as questions swirled about legalities and challenges from the city's powerful unions, delaying again an agreement that could keep an emergency manager out of the debt-riddled city.
Earlier today, the state-appointed financial review team, which declared the city to be in a severe financial emergency, voted to accept the Snyder-proposed agreement. The review team is part of the process of allowing state intervention in to the city's finances.
And just minutes after the review team approved the consent agreement, a federal judge in Detroit denied a request by unions representing Detroit city workers to block the implementation of a city-state consent agreement to restructure the city's finances an agreement that would effectively nullify concessionary contracts the unions negotiated earlier with Bing.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow said in his four-page ruling that court intervention would be an extraordinary and unwarranted intervention given that the contracts remain unratified by the City Council.
The agreement approved by the council was the third version. The first was delivered to Bing by Snyder on March 9. Bing said he and his executives immediately rejected that version and on March 13, a revised version was delivered with the most noted change being the removal of specific language regarding future action involving the Department of Transportation, the Lighting Department and other city assets.
The vote came after two hours of impassioned pleas from Detroiters who wanted the council to reject the consent agreement. Many of them noted the debate was happening on the anniversary of the date when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
"Do not support your own demise,” said a resident.
"If this passes, don't pay another property tax, a parking ticket or any income taxes. Don't pay nothing that is going to support this nonsense.”
Community activist the Rev. Malik Shabazz said that anyone who voted for the agreement was either "too stupid, retarded or traitorous for the people to allow you to stay in office.”
But the sentiment was not unanimous. The influential Council of Baptist Pastors said they favored the consent agreement rather than the appointment of an emergency manager who would be able to run the city without any oversight.
"Our support for an agreement is not to be construed as support for of Public Act 4,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Andrew Owens, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, East and president of Council of Baptist Pastors, referring to the state law that created the emergency managers.
But an agreement than contains cash from the state, an orderly exit plan of the financial advisory board and the continued involvement of the mayor and City Council in the city's business was preferable, he added.
Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said she was "stunned and shocked" by their endorsement of a consent agreement, adding they were being hypocritical by opposing Public Act 4 while still supporting a consent agreement.