Former EM compares Detroit Bankruptcy to Civil Rights #ReclaimMLK


Former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr compares Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit’s bankruptcy to Rev. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. #ReclaimMLK



Excerpts from the article on Kevyn Orr’s speech at the Grand Rapids Economic Clubs gathering on January 26th:

“While his plan to restructure the city’s pension obligations and its debts was greeted with almost universal hostility, Orr said it was a call from his mother that was among the most difficult. She called after hearing from an elderly friend whose pension was threatened by the bankruptcy petition.

“When your momma calls you crying about the job you’re doing, it’s a little disconcerting,” said Orr.

Orr compared Snyder’s decision to “bet the farm” and seek bankruptcy in his first term in office as a great act of political courage on par with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s D-Day Invasion and the Rev. Martin Luther King’s civil rights crusade.”

Read the full article:



Comparing Snyder’s actions to those of MLK’s during the Civil Rights Movement is an offensive attempt to recast the horrendous impact of Gov. Snyder’s legislation and policy on the state’s black population. It is a mockery of Rev. Martin Luther King’s legacy.

During Snyder’s tenure as Governor residents have experienced:



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!

Detroit People's Platform News Five
Detroit People's Platform News Five
Version: January 26, 2015
682.4 KiB

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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.

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.


Action Alert: Foreclosure Emergency – Help keep people in their homes

Correction: The wrong dates for the Show Cause Hearings were shared in the earlier Action Update. Please take a moment to forward these correct dates. The Tax Foreclosure Show Cause Hearings will be held at Cobo Hall, 9am-5pm, Thursday, January 29th, Friday, January 30th and Monday, February 2nd through Thursday, February 5th. The last day of Show Cause hearings for Detroiters is Thursday, Feb 5th and it is the 9 am session only. There is no afternoon hearing on that day for Detroit property owners. Wayne County’s notice posted in the Legal News states that they will see any tax payer at any time during these specific days.


1 in 7 Detroiters could lose their homes in the fall 2015 Tax Foreclosure Auction if they do not take action by March 31st!

Detroit People’s Platform

Action Alert Update: January 26th, 2015“Nearly one is seven Detroit homeowners could see their homes auctioned off in the fall… 80,000 PROPERTIES IN FORECLOSURES, 45,000 OF THEM OCCUPIED HOMES” detroit/30504228

The Tax Foreclosure Show Cause Hearings will be held at Cobo Hall, 9am-5pm, Thursday, January 29th, Friday, January 30th and Monday, February 2nd through Thursday, February 5th. The last day of Show Cause hearings for Detroiters is Thursday, Feb 5th and it is the 9 am session only. There is no afternoon hearing on that day for Detroit property owners. Wayne County’s notice posted in the Legal News states that they will see any tax payer at any time during those specific days. For further information, please send an email to or call the Wayne County Taxpayer Assistance Department at (313) 224-6105

CONCERNED NEIGHBORS & People’s Platform Members
Take Action!
Attend this training to support the Show Cause events above and future Tax Foreclosure Information Sessions with People’s Platform partner organizations throughout the city.

About the Training
Those attending the training with Ted Phillips and United Community Housing Coalition will learn more about the recent state legislation that made changes to the tax law, how to read a tax bill, how to screen folks to determine what kind of assistance they qualify for and also how to help somebody with a simple tax delinquency fill out the forms needed to enter into a payment agreement. 
5:30 – 8:30pm, food at 5 with the training at 6pm 
at Repair the World Workshop, 2701 Bagley Ave in Southwest Detroit, 48216
Please RSVP to

Advisory Alert: EJAM Council Candidate Survey, Right To The City, EDC Call to Action.

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Advisory Alert, January 12, 2014

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EJAM Prospective Candidate Survey presented to Council Members

The Detroit People’s Platform is an active member of the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, EJAM. As part of the alliance we have supported the development and distribution of a survey to support Detroit City Council Members as they consider candidates for the open seat. There is no election to fill the council seat for the At-large position vacated by Saunteel Jenkins in early November. The appointment will be made by council.
Detroit City Council has received 135 applications and 17 have been selected for final interview. The appointment of the seat will go to the candidate who receives the support of city council. (Breaking link:
We are distributing the survey to as many potential candidates as we can contact and will publish responses from all who complete the survey.  The nine question ‘survey’ is being presented to Council with a request to use them in their evaluation process and  has been made available online so candidates can easily respond. The survey included questions about the candidates priorities, their position on the CBA Ordinance, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) and education, their strategies for improving public transportation and other issues that are important to Detroiters.Update: THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION!
HB5977, the Anti-CBA bill died on the house floor.

Equitable Detroit Coalition partners and Detroit People’s Platform members engaged strategically to help stop the bill. By visiting Lansing to speak to lawmakers, working closely with with elected officials in both Detroit and Lansing, reaching out to statewide allies, contacting legislators and the governor’s office we were able to stop the egregious assault on home rule that it was. We will  continue to closely monitor Lansing.

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Detroit People’s Platform joins the Right To The City Alliance.

The Detroit People’s Platform is honored to have been accepted as a member organization of Right To The City Alliance. RTTC is a national alliance of racial, economic and environmental justice organizations.

RTTC seeks to create regional and national impacts in the fields of housing, human rights, urban land, community development, civic engagement, criminal justice, environmental justice, and more. Look for more about Right To The City throughout 2015.

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January 12, 2015

Please read the Free Press article, the response from EDC member William Hickey sent to the editor and contact the Governor 517.335.7858 to demand an apology from Mr. Finney. We need to let them know that we will respond to these unwarranted attacks on Detroiters as it relates to our right to be included in the economic resurgence in this community.

    “It’s hard to be shocked by anything that comes out of Governor Snyder’s administration regarding Detroit, but it’s the only word I can think of after reading comments made by Michael Finney, his economic growth adviser, to a recent meeting of the Detroit Economic Club. John Gallagher reported that Mr. Finney dismissed community benefits agreements (the subject of an ordinance proposed by Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones) by asserting, “We need to be capitalists.  Entitlements hurt us.”  Really?  Have the tax credits, zoning changes, real estate fire sales, access to power, set asides, and other development tools that I’m sure Mr. Finney would say big business is “entitled” to hurt the capitalists he refers to?  Not at all.  It’s only when those citizen-neighbors who have been trying to hold together their communities in Detroit for decades have the nerve to think they might be entitled to a say in what kind of development comes into their neighborhoods, and to negotiate (not demand or impose) some tangible benefits from developers (jobs for the community, no damage to the environment, mitigation of negative impact on local small businesses, etc.), that “entitlement” becomes a dirty word.  There is more than irony here.  There is also an ugly attempt to divide our city and state along racial and economic lines with code words like “entitlements.””

Excerpts from ‘Finney, Miller call for economic reforms’
By John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, January 8, 2015
Both men said they opposed a proposal to require community benefits agreements in Detroit.

“Michael Finney, senior adviser on economic growth for Gov. Rick Snyder, and Rodrick Miller, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., kicked off the 2015 season of the Detroit Economic Club with remarks before a crowd of several hundred at MotorCity Casino.

Both men opposed a proposal, now being studied by Detroit City Council, to require developers who receive incentives for projects to negotiate community benefits agreements with residential groups. Miller said it would add a layer of bureaucracy to an already complex development process, requiring developers to deal with “autonomous groups not responsible to anybody.”

Finney agreed, saying it would be more productive to look for ways to generate economic development in the neighborhoods rather than forcing developers to deliver “entitlements.”

“We need to be capitalists,” he said. “Entitlements hurt us.”

Common Sense for Detroit: Why the Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance Will Spur Inclusive Development

Common Sense for Detroit: Why the Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance Will Spur Inclusive Development

Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

Economic growth and equity and inclusion can go hand in hand. With Detroit’s proposed Community Benefits Agreement ordinance, the city has the chance to join the ranks of other municipalities that have embraced this effective tool to improve the well-being of both its businesses and residents. Large developments inevitably affect their communities. It’s simply common sense to ensure that those effects are positive.


Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) successfully address a very real, endemic problem by making sure that economic growth is shared and that communities hosting large developments have a seat at the negotiating table.


While traditional development projects almost always generate benefits, benefits are too often neither inclusive nor fairly distributed, which means development cannot enrich an entire region. Such policies are a result of a lack of proactive thinking about equity, not malicious intent. Many development plans inadvertently favor larger, better resourced firms and communities. For instance, research I conducted on the distribution of Recovery Act funding revealed that, despite its intent to boost economies across the country, African American firms and workers were disproportionately left out. This had much to do with the fact that African American communities had fewer “shovel-ready” projects. Additionally, during the recession, more small and minority-owned firms went out of business, lost bonding, or lost insurance. These additional barriers hindered their ability to compete.


The economic benefits of CBAs are well-documented. Developers operating with CBAs make major investments in workforce training, affordable housing, and other invaluable community assets that increase local tax revenue while decreasing strain on taxpayer-funded programs. CBAs integrate substantially higher percentages of local and disadvantaged workers, underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, microenterprises, and small businesses. This can reduce gaps in income and wealth and increase the likelihood that a rise in the cost of living is accompanied by greater income, which reduces displacement in communities. In addition, CBAs that reflect the vision of a broad set of community stakeholders reassure developers, investors, and officials that projects will be supported and obtain timely approvals. This saves money and fosters trust by clarifying the metrics by which development projects will be judged.


Community benefits policies are especially essential for older industrial cities. For instance, Milwaukee standardized its requests for proposal process so it favors bidders who create construction training and apprenticeship opportunities, hire local residents, use green building principles, include affordable housing, and put disadvantaged businesses to work.


Reducing inequality isn’t simply about morality and social inclusion. It is essential for economic growth. As researchers at the International Monetary Fund put it, “it would still be a mistake to focus on growth and let inequality take care of itself, not only because inequality may be ethically undesirable but also because the resulting growth may be low and unsustainable.”


Around 80 cities have included CBAs in major developments, and some 50 more are in the works across the country. Detroit’s unique Community Benefits Agreement ordinance, however, would make history. It has the potential to set Detroit on a path not just to recovery, but to renaissance. We strongly encourage the city council to adopt this legislation.


Professor john powell
Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
University of California at Berkeley

Julie Nelson
Director of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society

Anti-Community Benefits Bill UPDATE: House Session ends without vote on HB5977

HB 5977, the Anti-Community Benefits Bill UPDATE



Yesterday, the House ended their last session of the year without voting on HB 5977. Equitable Detroit Coalition partners and Detroit People’s Platform members, who have been active in the struggle for a CBA Ordinance in Detroit, engaged strategically to help stop the bill from moving forward. By visiting Lansing to speak to lawmakers, working closely with with elected officials in both Detroit and Lansing, reaching out to statewide allies, contacting legislators and the governor’s office we were able to overcome this unexpected attack by exposing HB 5977 as the egregious assault on home rule that it was.


While this legislation would have effected municipalities across the state, we know that this effort was aimed squarely at Detroit and our work on securing a Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance. We anticipate more to come next year in Lansing and as we continue our fight here for City Council to pass a Detroit Community Benefits Ordinance.


Thank you all for the hard work in responding to this attack.  The many calls to the legislators, the governor, and to allies, friends, and family members made a difference!

NEW at the Equitable Detroit Coalition page: Common Sense for Detroit: Why the Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance Will Spur Inclusive Development by Professor john powell and Julie Nelson from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society


“Economic growth and equity and inclusion can go hand in hand. With Detroit’s proposed Community Benefits Agreement ordinance, the city has the chance to join the ranks of other municipalities that have embraced this effective tool to improve the well-being of both its businesses and residents. Large developments inevitably affect their communities. It’s simply common sense to ensure that those effects are positive.” read the full post

Action Alert: Amended HB5977 on House Floor TODAY!

“They have moved to Plan B and are trying to Amend HB5977 to vote on House Floor TODAY.  Unknown amendments are being worked on now behind closed doors so they get to something that will pass.  They are talking about setting thresholds for CBAs to apply to certain levels of developments.”

Here is a copy of the substitute HB5977

Substitute HB-5977
Substitute HB-5977
Substitute HB-5977.pdf
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Kill the Bill HB5977

Call Michigan House Republican Reps
Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison) 517-373-0113 
Frank Foster (R-Pellston,) 517-373-0133 
Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) 517-373-3816 
Mike Callton (R-Nashville) 517-373-0842
Hugh D. Crawford (R-Novi) 517-373-0827
Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake) 517-373-2616
Gail Hanes (R-Waterford) 517-373-0615
Matt Lori (517) 373-0832 (St. Joseph and Cass Counties);
Al Pscholka (517) 373-1403 (Benton Harbor);
John Bumstead 517-373-7317 (Nowego);
Kurt Heise from Plymouth 517-373-3816;
Marty Howrylak from Troy 517-373-1783

Anti-Community Benefits Bill passed to House, Take Action: Call Gov. Snyder

Action Alert and Update
December 9th, 2014.

This morning the Michigan Competitiveness Committee passed HB5977, the “Local Government Employer Mandate Prohibition Act”, to the House. It is anticipated that the bill will move to the House floor this Thursday, December 11th. Please take action now! The bill was introduced by State Representative Earl Poleski (R) from Jackson County. The Detroit Regional Chamber spoke in support of the bill in a committee meeting last week. Yesterday, Monday, Dec 8th, Detroit City Council passed a resolution in opposition to the bill and this morning we received letters from Mayor Duggan and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, also in opposition to HB5977.

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Please note: While the Mayor and the DEGC have expressed their opposition to this state bill, prior to the bill being introduced both were outspoken AGAINST the DETROIT Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance.

What HB 5977 Really Does:  This law will interfere with local governments’ ability to strengthen state laws to meet the needs of its citizens by specifically preventing these ordinances:

·         Paid Sick Days:  Sets a minimum standard for employer-provided leave time; protects public health by assuring sick adults and kids are able to stay home. These laws keeps people connected to the workforce even in times of personal or family illness—ensuring all jobs boost local economies.

·         Prevailing Wage:  Local Prevailing Wage ordinances work to ensure skilled and experienced trade workers remain in their field—providing higher quality and more cost efficiencies. These laws also help ensure local jobs go to local workers, who support local economies.

·         Community Benefits Agreements: Allows local units of government to enter in agreements, or pass ordinances, that require large, publicly-funded projects to ensure that the surrounding community benefits by giving residents the opportunity to compete for jobs and giving local small businesses the right to bid to do work on the project. These agreements ensure that those most affected by new projects have a seat at the table and a voice in the process.

For more information visit


Talking points:

  • Detroiters deserve the right to fully participate in the economic rebound that is happening in the city.
  • Detroiters deserve the right to negotiate CBAs at the local level when tax dollars and public resources are used for private development.
  • We urge the Governor to veto any bill that takes these rights away from Detroiters.

Press Link: Anti-Community Benefits Agreement bill heads to Michigan House


Updated HB5977 ACTION: Contact Mayor Duggan 313.224.3400 @MayorMikeDuggan

TAKE ACTION: Contact Mayor Duggan 313.224.3400 – @MayorMikeDuggan

In a recent publication Mayor Duggan stated the following:

” My dream for Detroit is to  make sure long time Detroiters have access to the new opportunities being created in their city.”

We believe the Detroit community benefit agreement ordinance is designed to accomplish just that.  Yet, we are aware that the Mayor does not support the Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance for Detroiters.

We do not know where the Mayor stands on the Anti Community Benefit House Bill 5977 that bans local elected officials from passing community benefit agreements or community benefit agreement ordinance like what city council is considering for Detroiters.

Detroiters need to know where ALL of our elected official stand on this critical issue.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Mayor Duggan 313.224.3400 – @MayorMikeDuggan

Contact the Mayor’s office, ask the Mayor where he stands on House Bill 5977.

Tell the Mayor’s office that Detroiters deserve elected officials that will stand with the people in demanding economic opportunity that is provided by a Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance.


Summary/Media Round-Up

This morning, Monday Dec 8th, Detroit City Council President Jones called a special session to discuss the bill. Below are clips from the public comments. The Council passed a resolution in opposition to HB5977. We will post the full resolution as soon as it becomes available.


1. Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President of Government Relations Brad Williams speaking in support of the bill and against the CBA Ordinance that is gaining momentum in Detroit.
2. Rep Santana calling the bill out as a block to community negotiating with developers. The CBA Ordinance will only apply to large-scale projects that use public funds (our tax $$) or resources, like land.

House bill would ban Detroit from enacting Community Benefits Agreement ordinance

“Detroit City Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López, an avid proponent of the ordinance who could not be immediately reached for comment, wrote on Facebook that the bill would “restrict cities from having a community benefits ordinance.” “Whether you supported the Community Benefits Agreement ordinance or not, what the state govt is trying to run thru today during lame duck continues to strip power & the ability to self-govern from local municipalities,” she wrote.”

NEW! Lansing to dictate how cities do their business?