Detroit

Battles of the Lower Depths in Detroit

Davis et al v. Detroit Downtown Development Authority et al; U.S Eastern District of Michigan Case Number: 2:17-cv-11742

Eastern District of Michigan U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith ruled on June 19th that Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority can issue $34.5 million in bonds to pay for the relocation of the Detroit Pistons basketball team to the new Little Caesar’s Arena. The Judge’s ruling rejected arguments that the eventual use of school tax money to repay these tax increment finance bonds violates Detroit residents’ constitutional and statutory right to vote on a school tax money diversions.

Judge Goldsmith’s ruling denied Robert Davis‘ and D. Etta Wilcoxon’s motion for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order in their lawsuit against the Detroit Downtown Development Authority. The Judge said the plaintiffs did not establish the need for an emergency injunction. The Judge politely neglected to mention that Robert Davis was sentenced in the very same Eastern District U.S. District Court to an 18 month Club Fed vacation for stealing $ 200,000 from the Highland Park School District in 2014. Mr. Davis should still be on probation for this minor peccadillo.

One complication here is that the tax monies being diverted are not those of the current Detroit Community Public School District, but rather those of the legacy Detroit Public School District which was reduced to zombie status last year in the DPS bailout. Is the old DPS really a school district today, or just a financial entity? The Detroit Community Public School District is a near bankrupt ward of the State of Michigan that won’t receive any Detroit property tax revenues until the legacy DPS district debts are paid off. No one alive today will live to see that.

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Not Any Time Soon

Will common sense ever return to our state?

I believe the power of stupid people in large numbers is reaching a climax.

Michigan has its share of both (people and numbers) in all corners of the state.  In Traverse City, it might be the new cause-du-jour ‘sanctuary city’ effort, gender fluid/creative/neutral bathrooms‘ or our political class simply not seeing the forest for the trees.

Funny thing about that last.  One of the commissioners cannot accept a sale of county property for an amount less than it is worth. But as things always seem to bear out, political classic and commissioner Cheryl Gore Follette was for itbefore she was against it.

“There is frustration, but as I’m learning, it’s government,” says Clous. “Government can’t make a decision and stay with a decision and live with it.” He says he’s at “a loss for words” over Gore Follette’s “making an issue out of selling property for less than market value, or making the assumption that we are” after the board accepted a below-market bid for 160 acres of Whitewater Township property last week.

Yes, ‘cognitive dissonance’ is a real thing.

But the hinterlands is not alone in such net-less mental acrobatics. On the opposite corner of the mitten, we have even more willful ignorance.  MI Dems were introducing bills to make the world safe for ISIS terrorists last week, the feds arrested a naturalized resident of Dearbornistan for:

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Does Detroit need a lesson on the Fourth?

And no. I don’t mean that thing where we exercise out "right" to set off large quantities of fireworks next month.

Last weekend, I spent some time with some friends who now live out of town.

We did the “usual touristy” things like Greektown and the Casinos.

They wanted me to go with them to the Grand Prix, but I’m more of a NASCAR Guy than IndyCar.

Afterwards, I insisted on changing things up and that we go down to Lafayette to eat.

I told them that it was part of the “Authentic Detroit” dining experience and that sort of thing.

They had never been down there and after initially scarring the hell out of them (along with equally confusing them with how the food was ordered/delivered), they settled down a bit and we started to catch up on things. They began to comment on local stuff, basically regurgitating what people like Gov. Snyder, et al, were shoveling to the rest of the country about how things have turned around since the bankruptcy.

I laughed at their comments and replied to the effect that, “Yeah! They wish!”

“Look at all of this new stuff downtown? How can you argue that things aren’t better?”, they replied.

I told them that “Yes”, the Downtown Area has improved. Large amounts of government money tends to eventually do that. “Yes” places like the Riverfront have gotten nicer.

But then I added, the same cannot be said for the rest of the city.

They didn’t believe me.

They couldn’t accept the fact that everything was as bad as I told them it was.

I told them, “Fine, want to go on a little trip?”

They were a little apprehensious to say the least, but we loaded up into their car and we went happy motoring…away from the freeways.

I took them in places where even Crowder wouldn’t dare to venture!

We went up and down places like Jefferson, and then Warren and Mack where it didn’t take that long to notice the large swaths of bombed out/burned out neighborhoods (at least I think they were neighborhoods at one time), large piles of trash and abandoned/stolen vehicles (along with boats…yes boats) strewn about, pretty much every other building covered with graffiti, I told my now visibly scared “driver” that I wanted to stop at the next party store because I wanted to get something to drink.

Yes, I did that on purpose.

So, while we parked across the street and started walking towards the party store, I got bombarded with a ton of questions (besides is this really safe) like why that particular store had a chain-link fence around the roof topped with razor wire, why there were thick metal plate doors next to the entrance and why was there a flashing green light on the sign outside of the building. When we went inside, they did a double-take at the walkway surrounding most of the perimeter of the inside of the building separated by 1-inch thick Lexan.

I casually grabbed a 2-liter of Rock N’ Rye, they didn’t get anything (I cannot imagine why) and we went back to their car. I still had more to show them.

Continuing our “tour”, they still couldn’t get over the flashing strobe light on the sign.

“Oh that? That’s Green Light.”

And here is where out story turns to next…

{More after the fold}

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State of the (19th Century) Art

"And it will benefit dozens of Detroiters..."

As if last year’s defeat of the RTA tax hasn’t discouraged Penske and the rest of the pro RTA tax crowd (not to fear…it’ll be back on the ballot in less than two years), they now find themselves in the sights of the (Not So) Pure Michigan crowd!

Hmmmmm, WHY hasn’t the republican legislature repealed the law authorizing this shakedown yet?

Anyway…just a little something to bring a smile to you this afternoon.

Submitted w/o any further comment

Some of the language isn’t exactly SFW, so turn down your speakers for about a minute.

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Corruption or Incompetence?

Oakland Macomb Sewer Interceptor Costs Now At $ 335 Million And Climbing, Cue The Lawsuits

The City of Sterling Heights announced on their FakeBook page Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against Macomb County over their $ 22.2 million portion of the cost for reconstructing the collapsed Oakland Macomb sewer interceptor (OMI), as apportioned by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (MIDDD). Sterling Heights believes that the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) “did nothing to abate the conditions that likely caused the December [24th] 2016 collapse”. Sterling Heights believes their contract with the MCWDD covers the operation and maintenance of the OMI interceptor.  This may be a little tricky to prove, since the OMI is actually run by the Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (OMIDDD), an entity independent of and superior to the MCWDD.

Sterling Heights’ contention is that proper maintenance on the OMI by the MCWDD would have prevented its collapse. Maybe. The OMIDDD has already spent $ 170 million on rehabilitation of the OMI since they bought it in 2009. Supposedly the entire 21 mile length was examined and rehabilitated. That rehabilitation effort ended just months before its December 2016 collapse. That collapse suggests that the OMIDDD rehabilitation didn’t do much good. Anyone care to speculate why? Your choices are corruption or incompetence, or both.

This is now a Michigan wide story because our state government will be providing at least $ 5 million of the $ 75 million repair costs for the December OMI collapse. The much debated $ 3 million legislative grant and another $ 2 million from MDEQ.  That $ 75 million is just the current estimate, for the currently acknowledged deterioration of the OMI. Given the Granholm Administration’s role in suckering Oakland and Macomb counties into the OMI purchase, the State of Michigan probably has a lot more responsibility.

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Score another win for crony capitalism.

When will you little people ever learn! I GET want I want to get. Thanks to the Michigan republicans…

 

And we cannot get broad-based tax relief…why?

Submitted without further comment.

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Rip Off

Weaver/McCormick Flint-GLWA Deal Transforms Water From Obscene Tax To Outright Theft

Flint Mayor Karen I Love Rizzo Weaver and Great Lakes Water Authority CEO Sue McCormick have reached a 30 year deal for Flint to purchase water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The City of Flint had signed up to purchase its water from the nascent Karegnondi Water Authority in March 2013 and the State of Michigan concurred in April. Everyone in Flint City government, save one councilman, has agreed to source Flint’s water from the KWA. Even Mayor Weaver. Until this week.

The Weaver/McCormick deal has GLWA paying Flint at least $ 7 million a year to cover Flint’s share of the bonds issued to finance the KWA. A total of $ 210 million over the 30 year contact period.

Where will that $ 210 million come from?  GLWA is not the Federal Reserve, they cannot just create money out of thin air. GLWA will extract the money from the victims ratepayers in the other communities it ‘serves’.

Mayor Weaver and CEO McCormick will transform GLWA water rates into yet another exaction imposed upon most of Southeastern Michigan to subsidize Flint. Without any input from those victims ratepayers. A blatant fee as tax evasion of Headlee. Governor Snyder, of course, approves wholeheartedly.

This is government theft, Headlee evasion, and a rich fount of future corruption.

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Michigan Gun Owners Beware!

Big Brother Is Watching

There has been an interesting development in the case of two individuals who were arrested for open carry in the anteroom of the Dearborn, Michigan Police Department Headquarters. Two men from central Michigan were arrested for entering the anteroom of the Dearborn Police Department Headquarters building while carrying, and filming themselves while doing so. They were reportedly using open carry to protest what they believed was a bogus traffic stop which they were subjected to earlier in Dearborn.

James Baker and Brandon Vreeland have been abandoned by Michigan’s open carry movement, probably due to the allegation that they were using open carry to protest something entirely unrelated to Second Amendment rights, but it does not appear that their actions actually violated any Michigan law. At least one of the two was wearing ‘body armor’, which added to the provocative nature of their actions. Carry in police stations is actually not prohibited by Michigan law, and it is a violation of Michigan law to prohibit firearms in a police station outside of secured areas.

Fun side note: When I was a kid in the 1960’s, I used to shoot small bore rifle matches in the basement shooting range of this very building, which was even then the DPD police station. How times have changed!

Now we have a remarkable discovery from Nicholas Somberg (P80416), the defense attorney for Brandon Vreeland of Jackson: The Dearborn Police secretly monitored the two ‘Second Amendment activists’ and essentially ambushed both men as they were filming themselves walking into the Dearborn Police headquarters.

Here is the interesting development, as reported by the Detroit Free Press:

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So Why The Change Of Heart?

Judge Out-Of-The-Blue Change of heart raises eyebrows.

I cannot stand DDAs.

They operate surreptitiously, are usually populated with egotistical good-of-the-community jerks, and have little regard for process or the rights of taxpayers. I know, its just my opinion.  I just don’t think its too much to ask for some better accountability.

One Judge pretty much agreed .. Until he didn’t.   Nothing to see here:

“Exactly why Gillis changed his mind was not clear today. Paperwork filed Monday cancelling last week’s order cited “reasons state on the record” at a hearing on Friday. The hearing was about the DDA’s objection to Davis’ latest complaint. Davis said neither he nor his attorney were notified of the hearing and, therefore, didn’t know Gillis’ reasons. A receptionist for Gillis said the judge was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Davis wasn’t even invited to a hearing about his complaint?

H/T Sue Schwartz

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The Price of Political Failure

The Detroit News launched a hit piece on Michael G. Ford, the CEO of the Regional Transportation Authority of Southeastern Michigan this morning. Reporters Robert Snell and Christine MacDonald breathlessly review Mr. Ford’s expense accounting and employment contract details over the 33 months since he was appointed CEO of the RTA.

The closest they get to finding any real improprieties is Mr. Ford’s car allowance and mileage reimbursement, but that does not stop them from reporting salacious details of hotel room charges and his very generous employment contract. No illegality or budget overruns are found, but the tone of the article is supremely negative. Mr. Ford’s contract happens to be up for renewal and the RTA Board tabled a $ 16,300 raise for him two weeks ago.

A special meeting of the RTA Board of Directors was held this morning, including a closed session. Public bodies operating under the Open Meetings Act are only allowed to close meetings when deliberating personnel matters and contracts. It is not much of a leap to speculate that Mr. Ford is today’s main course at the RTA Board meeting.

The Detroit News duo filed an FOIA request for Mr. Ford’s contract details and expense reimbursements shortly after Paul Hillegonds, Governor Rick Snyder’s appointee to the RTA Board, began reviewing Mr. Ford’s expenses. Coincidence? Hardly.

What is going on here?

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