Apr 26

NO SURRENDER TO THE BANKS-BACKED COUP FOR CITYWIDE FORECLOSURE!

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detriseup1Socialist Party USA Metro Detroit Local Statement on the “Emergency Manager” Takeover of Detroit.

The Socialist Party of Metro Detroit expresses its staunchest opposition to the state-imposed suspension of elected governance of the city of Detroit, and likewise reaffirms its demand for the immediate restoration of elective home rule to each of the numerous other cities and school districts within and beyond Metro Detroit now operating under the unilaterally-held control of state-installed “Emergency Manager” fiefdoms.
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Mar 17

Kilpatrick Conviction: A Reminder Of Neoliberal Corruption

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On March 11, 20kwamecuffed13, Detroit offered a not so subtle peek into a future that should be avoided at all costs. Former Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted on multiple charges of fraud and racketeering for doling out no-bid contracts in exchange for kickbacks. This is not just a moral failing of Kilpatrick nor just business as usual in Detroit, a city that has been circling the drain for decades nor is it a powerful message that will curtail future corruption. Shakedowns, racketeering and extortion are standard practice in a neoliberal state.
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Nov 07

City of Detroit:
Vote Tues. Nov. 8th
Reject the Proposed City Charter Revisions!
Vote NO on Proposal C!

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Detroit Socialist Party Position Statement on City of Detroit 2011 Ballot Proposal C

The Detroit Socialist Party calls upon all city voters to cast a NO vote in the citywide municipal referendum being held on November 8, 2011 on approval or rejection of the Detroit City Charter amendments proposed by the City Charter Revision Commission.

While incorporating a partial and significantly modified version of the city voter-approved 2009 ballot proposal establishing for election of City Council by district, the currently proposed Charter revisions would further extend such legislative district divisions to the composition of virtually all of the city’s (predominately mayoral-appointed) boards and commissions. The true aim of such extensive regional partitioning of the city’s executive branch is to facilitate the (Democratic Party-based) Bing mayoral regime’s overarching “Detroit Works Project” objectives, geared toward sub-dividing different sections of the city between those targeted for city-service-concentrated gentrification efforts and those targeted for further city-service diminution and neglect.

Another equally insidious element of the proposed charter revisions is the addition of an entirely new section to the Charter titled “Elimination of Redundancy in Government.” In addition to requiring the City’s Legislative and Executive branches and City Clerk to publish comprehensive reports each election cycle on all efforts being undertaken to reduce and eliminate redundancy in services, programs, activities, and processes; the proposed new section would additionally stipulate that: “As much as practicable attempts shall be made to realign ser­vice delivery systems and eliminate operational duplication and inefficiency, which may include cooperative agreements with other government entities as allowed by law [italics added].”

Particularly when examined in light of the recently stripped away removal of municipal control over Detroit’s water department last September, as well as the recently renewed efforts of the Bing regime to establish full-scale privatization of the city lighting department by state region-wide electric power provider DTE Energy (on whose corporate board Bing long personally served), one can clearly discern that the overarching purpose of this new section is to provide greater backing and citable cover for the further expanded dispossession of Detroit city residents’ control over Detroit’s most valuable public assets and resources still remaining under municipal control.

In equally parallel relation to both the recently accelerated efforts to strip municipal control of the city’s most important public resources, and the newly proposed City Charter language oriented to directly accommodating such city resource abnegation, the state of Michigan’s newly expanded “Emergency Manger” law, enacted last March, directly provides for a state-appointed Financial Manager’s power to “enter into agreements with other local governments, public bodies, or entities for the provision of services, the joint exercise of powers, or the transfer of functions and responsibilities; enter into agreements with other units of government to transfer property of the municipal government…. [and] enter into agreements with other local governments, or with private entities to the extent provided by law, for the provision of services [italics added].”

Given Bing’s repeated proclamations, during only the past week, on both the probable inevitability of Detroit’s impending placement under Emergency Manager rule by the state, and his own personally willing desire to accept the position of Detroit’s Emergency Manger if appointed (as earlier leaked reports suggest has already been pre-arranged between Bing and the Republican Snyder regime in Lansing), one can also quite reasonably infer that such proposed Charter revisions are intended to provide for some token pretext of continuity between the dictatorial actions imposed by Detroit’s likely forthcoming Emergency Manager and the directly preceding City Charter revisions approved by the people before the termination of elected municipal governance.

In addition to the above new provisions proposed to be added to the City Charter, Proposal C also asks voters to approve the establishment of a new system of city-district elected “Community Advisory Councils” (CAC’s) to directly supplant the long-established duties and role of city-district elected Citizens’ District Councils (CDC’s) (to which the Socialist Party fielded an elected candidate in the most recently held election) and resultantly marginalize and inhibit their operational effectiveness.

In spite of assigning all of the same functions held by CDC’s to the new CAC bodies, the proposed new Charter provisions contrastingly bar CAC’s from ever receiving any municipal funding, prescribe for CAC elections to take place at the same time that City Council elections are held, and further leave out the limited watchdog and community defense powers of the CDC’s, as established under state law (1945 P.A.344), including the right to delay implementation of proposed development projects, require information from any city department, and require City Council hearings to be held on proposed development projects of concern.

The Proposal C charter revisions also remove the 2009 voter-approved change to allow for office-specific city wide election of the City Council President and Council President Pro-Tempore, and instead prescribe for the nine elected City Council members (composed of seven members elected by district and two elected at large) to select the holders of those two specified Council offices from among themselves. Since the City Council President temporarily assumes the office of city Mayor in the event of vacancy, this change would remove the 2009 ballot-approved right of city voters to determine which candidate shall stand eligible for mayoral succession.

Other amending changes within Proposal C include eliminating the Charter’s formerly contained residency requirement for appointed city officers, as well as new amendments to the Planning and Development Department section of the Charter, geared toward redirecting the Department’s main objectives so as to: “provide the sup­port, assistance and conditions necessary to retain businesses,” “develop and implement a strategic plan and program focused on recruiting and supporting emerging in­dustries” (read further widening expansion of the city’s massive corporate welfare subsidies to big business) and further to: “create con­ditions supportive of global trade” (read race to the bottom for cheap labor and corporate deregulation) [emphasis added].

Taken together, Proposal C is simply the latest maneuver by the Bing-Snyder alliance to further sweep away all remaining obstacles standing in the way of the ongoing raid on Detroit’s public resources by both corporate party politicians’ true political constituency. Detroit’s working class population has nothing substantively beneficial to gain from this proposal and should resoundingly reject it at the polls on Tuesday November 8th.

Apr 16

Erard elected to Citizens’ District Council

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For Immediate Release
April 16th, 2011

DETROIT – Socialist Party candidate Matt Erard was among five candidates elected to a three year term on the city of Detroit’s Downtown District Citizens’ District Council in the municipal election held for that office on Tuesday April 5th. Erard and other successful candidates in last week’s citizens’ district council elections gained their first opportunity to learn of their elected status this week, due to the unavailability of any unofficial results from the city’s election department prior to the release of its official post-election canvass. In particularly notable congruity with Erard’s election this year, all candidates elected in Detroit’s April 5th citizens’ district council elections will formally begin their terms of office on this year’s international labor holiday of Sunday May 1st.

Though Detroit’s city charter rules prohibit any candidate for city office from being listed with a party label on the ballot, Erard entered the 2011 race for Downtown District Citizens District Council (“CDC”) upon receiving the Socialist Party’s official nomination for that office at the February monthly membership meeting of the Party’s Detroit Socialist Party local and correspondingly centered his campaign materials around both the platform and banner of the Party. Erard’s election on April 5th marks the first time since 1976 that a Socialist Party candidate has been elected to public office in the state of Michigan….

While each of the candidates who submitted the requisite number of valid district-voter signatures to qualify for 2011 Downtown District CDC election ballot were ultimately successful in winning election to office in this year’s race, the city elections department’s rules and procedures also provide voters in each CDC election with the option of casting valid write-in votes for any other registered voters who reside within their districts, rather than limiting voters’ choices to only those candidates whose names are printed on the ballot.

Notwithstanding such exceptionally wide-ranging voting options afforded to city voters who do cast ballots in CDC elections, however, Erard also expressed significant concern over the greatly limited voter turnout in each of the nineteen CDC elections held last week, following the apparent absence of any city advertised or website-published information concerning the election date, candidates, or irregularly designated polling places. Accordingly, Erard strongly suggested that an effort to initiate the development of new department of elections polices, aimed at making CDC elections far more reasonably transparent and accessible to city voters, should be among the top priorities of the all-CDC representative Coordinating Council on Community Redevelopment (“CCCR”) during the coming year, pursuant to the specific authorization given to the CCCR in this context by the Detroit City code.

Each of Detroit’s nineteen citizens’ district councils is composed of twenty-four members, with six members annually elected to three year terms and the remaining six members appointed by Detroit’s mayor. As mandated under both state law and Detroit city ordinance, the Detroit City Council and Detroit Planning & Development Department are required to continuously consult with, and seek approval from, each applicable CDC prior to the implementation of any proposed development project, ranging from sidewalk construction to residential re-locations, intended to take place within a given CDC’s jurisdiction; and to incorporate CDC recommendations to the full extent feasible. Each CDC is correspondingly empowered to delay implementation of such projects through a vote of disapproval, and to request and obtain information from any city department on matters of concern to district residents.

While pointing to the present city administration’s principal development goals of residential “urban downsizing” and accelerated downtown gentrification, Erard argues that low income residents of the city now face a greater threat to their well being from “urban renewal” policies than at any time since the mass displacements of poor and minority residents imposed during the city’s first major wave of “urban renewal” projects during the 1950s. While committed to staunchly opposing any proposed measure serving to inhibit poor and working class residents’ access to affordable living spaces or city services, Erard has also centered his campaign around a myriad of proposed new measures aimed at fundamentally shifting the city’s present priorities away from the interests of the city’ downtown “partnership” of local aristocrats and Wall Street firms, and toward those of the city’s oppressed and working class majority.

Included among such urgently needed measures, Erard contends, are universal downtown and city-wide rent control, city termination and reversal of all residential utility shutoffs, mandatory hiring of under/unemployed city residents for all Detroit Land Bank Commission housing rehabilitation and neighborhood revitalization projects, and elimination of the city’s nearly $137 million annual handout to corporations in city grants and tax breaks.

At the same time, Erard hopes to use his elected seat on the city’s downtown citizens district council to help actively support all measures, grass roots organizing campaigns, mobilizations, and mass actions, that can help lead the way to Detroit’s working class majority, and that of other struggling cities, taking control of its own political system and economic institutions.

“Rather than continuing to subordinate the political will of the people of Detroit to the economic will of our city’s Wall Street- and Grosse Pointe Shores-dwelling overlords, the working class population of Detroit now stands exceptionally primed to lead the way in demonstrating what it means to bring the economy under the political will and democratic control of the people,” Erard said.

Erard for CDC campaign site: http://erard2011.spmichigan.org/

Apr 06

Matt Erard for Detroit Downtown Citizens’ District Council

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Matt ErardDetroit Socialist Party member and current SPMI State Secretary-Elect Matt Erard has officially qualified for the ballot in the upcoming April 5th, 2011 election for the city of Detroit’s Downtown Citizens’ District Council, following his receipt of the Detroit Socialist Party’s nomination for that office at its February 2011 local membership meeting, and subsequent submission of the requisite number of valid signatures by the petition deadline earlier this month.

Since their initial establishment in the late 1960s, Detroit’s citizens district councils have been charged with the task of representing the interests of poor and working class city residents within each district of the city where “urban renewal” development and rehabilitation projects are intended to be slated. As mandated under both state law and the Detroit City Charter, the Detroit City Council and Detroit Planning & Development Department are required to maintain continuous consultation with each applicable citizens’ district council on all aspects of the planning process for each proposed development project prior to its approval, and to incorporate all citizens’ district council recommendations to the maximum extent feasible. Likewise, Michigan state law further empowers each citizens district council with the ability to delay the implementation of any proposed project that it votes to disapprove, and to additionally call upon any city department for information it seeks to obtain on behalf of its district residents….

Each of Detroit’s citizens’ district councils is composed of twenty-four members, with six members annually elected to three year terms and the remaining six members appointed by Detroit’s mayor. The Downtown Citizens District Council represents all residents living within Detroit’s central business district, bounded by the Fisher Freeway (I-75) to the north, the Chrysler Freeway (I-375) to the East, the Detroit River to the south, and the Lodge Freeway (M-10) to the west (except for the portion of the area lying south of Michigan Ave., which additionally extends a few blocks west of the Lodge.) [district map].

Detroit’s Chrysler Elementary School Church, located at 1445 E. Lafayette St. [map], will serve as the sole polling location for Detroit’s downtown district during the city’s upcoming Citizens District Council election on Tuesday April 5th, and polls will be open from 7:00AM-8:00PM on that date for all eligible voters who have not voted by absentee ballot. Although Matt Erard is running as the Socialist Party’s nominated candidate in the April 5th Citizens’ District Council election, neither he, nor any other candidates in the race, will have a party affiliation listed with their names on the election ballot itself.

The official website for Matt Erard’s 2011 Downtown Detroit Citizens’ District Council campaign can be found at: http://erard2011.spmichigan.org