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Court turns control of the Detroit Public Library to ‘emergency’ manager

Third Judicial Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry issued a decision that turns control of the Detroit Public Library over to the “emergency” manager by allowing the EM unprecedented authority “to remove, replace, appoint or confirm appointments to the Library Commission.” The Detroit Library Commission is the governing body over the Detroit Public Library, an independent municipal corporation. It is, or was, ...

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From Mexico to Detroit: Austerity, its victims and its patrons

While traveling in Mexico during the political moment of the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, I was swept up in the national protests. There were millions of people protesting daily, shutting down intersections and living in encampments in the Zocalo, the plaza in the center of Mexico City. PEMEX workers of the national oil companies (petroleros) were waging a hunger strike in the plaza. T ...

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Detroit is better than that

The recent comments made by Detroit’s Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr in an interview with the Wall Street Journal strike at the very heart and soul of that which clearly demonstrates two different world views of the same condition. Orr’s comments were callous, insensitive, disrespectful, stereotypical and most disdainful of not only the African American citizens in the city of Detroit, but in particular, those ...

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Labor unions at another crossroad

Next month, the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, will hold its convention in Los Angeles. Breaking with tradition, the AFL-CIO will be opening its doors to community-based organizations, limiting the number of plenary speakers and seeking to focus its resolutions on “action items” such as proposals that aim to produce a specific outcome rather than general statements. ...

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What is a living wage?

Workers at fast food restaurants recently demonstrated outside their places of work, highlighting the low wages they receive and demanding more. They say twice as much, or $15 an hour, will provide them with a living wage. In Washington, D.C., the City Council has sent legislation to Mayor Vincent Gray, requiring “big box” stores like Walmart and Best Buy to pay $12.50, more than the D.C. minimum wage of $8 ...

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Student loan resolution: Better than nothing?

The United States Senate finally stepped up to ensure that student loan rates would not double, as might have happened. There have been weeks of back and forth, but now the Senate says they will tie student loan rates to the federal funds rate, which means in the short run — until next year — the lowest student loan rates will be 3.86 percent; this will be up slightly from 3.4 percent. ...

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The profit of protest: Definitely in the black

Overruling myself, I am now doing what I said I would not; I am writing a column in which I mention two items: Skittles and iced tea. I cringed every time I heard those words during the pursuit of justice for Trayvon Martin and his family and throughout the trial of George Zimmerman. They became synonymous with Trayvon himself and were mentioned just as much as his name was mentioned. ...

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One city pensioner’s perspective

As a retired city worker receiving a pension after 32 years of dedicated service, I am filled with trepidation about the much talked about reduction or elimination of retirement benefits that the bankruptcy may demand. Twenty thousand city workers played by the rules throughout their careers, with the expectation that their pension would be fully honored upon retirement. ...

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Put the blame on me

Jefferson County, where I was born in 1938, filed for bankruptcy two years ago. Last week, Detroit, the city where I was raised, filed for bankruptcy, though that situation remains up in the air after a judge stepped in and said such action was unconstitutional. I left the Motor City, which is now running on fumes, in 1985 for the greener and certainly much more promising precincts of Harlem. And while bank ...

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