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2014: New year

As we begin a new year, we hope for growth — economic, moral and political — and new opportunity in Detroit. We welcomed a new mayor, Mike Duggan, who began his tenure with not just a financial storm, but a weather emergency — a polar vortex, no less. A record snowfall and cold temperatures made for an icy, cold Detroit. City buses were more than two hours late on the mayor’s first day.

The new mayor quickly fired the head of the Detroit Department of Transportation only to be told, “I work for the emergency manager.”

Hello 2014.

In an upset, Brenda Jones and George Cushingberry pulled off a coup, winning roles to lead Detroit’s city council. The duo beat out Saunteel Jenkins and Andre Spivey to become council president and pro tem, respectively. New council members and Jones (voting for herself) ushered in the new leadership. Raquel Castaneda-Lopez was the only new member to support Jenkins.

The Detroit News reacted quickly to the vote, dogging the Jones/Cushingberry ticket as the same ole union-loving, bad Detroit politics and a “disastrous” decision. In response, many criticized the Detroit News stance as typically anti-Detroit.

Cushingberry promptly told the Detroit News to “go to hell,” echoing Jones’ “hell no!” when voting against the consent agreement.

A political veteran, Cushingberry, brings some know-how to city politics. The onetime Wayne County commissioner and longtime state legislator, who even chaired the hard-won Appropriations Committee, displayed political skills and panache. In his first week, his remarks released a veritable social media hooray from Detroiters and, more importantly, he came out of nowhere to secure the number two leadership spot. The Cush — one to watch in 2014.

Gov. Rick Snyder, in the week between Christmas and the New Year’s holiday, approved a new campaign finance law. Michigan raised the individual limits for campaign and committee contributions. That means more money for campaigns — just in time for the governor’s run.

Republicans, in the biggest public relations-spin-and-twisted-logic-fantasy, said, for the sake of freedom of speech, they actually want to give donors the ability to speak out in campaign ads — privately. Which, if you value transparency in government and want to know what deep pockets back which candidate, you wouldn’t support. The new law makes it possible for unidentified interests and motivations to steer Michigan’s political culture, policy and laws. After the Emergency Manager Law, this is another move away from the values of democracy.

Gov. Snyder, in what mimics a corporate severance package, has kept Andy Dillon in the treasurer’s office at more than $174,000 a year. After announcing his resignation — following media reports of him physically shaking his wife but avoiding charges from the prosecutor’s office, avoiding punishments for campaign finances violations, admitting to substance abuse issues and putting Detroit among other mostly Black cities under emergency management — Dillon kept his full Treasurer’s salary. This good ole boys move was initially not made public. It is not clear if he has to work in the office or what exactly he does in his new role, but this is neither a responsible nor a transparent use of public funds.

Gov. Snyder. May he be exposed — and dumped — in 2014.

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