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Detroit: Matters of the heart

Sherry Gay-DagnogoBy Sherry Gay-Dagnogo

During an interview with radio talk show host Mildred Gaddis, WCHB 1200 AM, at the 14th Annual Rainbow Push Global Automotive Summit, Rev. Jesse Jackson called the EM Law and Kevyn Orr’s blatant disrespect for Democracy “Plantation Politics”.  So we ask again, how and why did we get here?  What helped to foster this red herring of distrust and blame for African American leadership.

Pastor Tellis Chapman, Galilee M.B.C., joined Gaddis’ Ecumenical Leadership Discussion Series recently, highlighting the absence of our story being told as the root cause of this fallacy.  He added that the abandonment of the struggle, contributions and victories of great African American leadership have been left out of the narrative, quoting the late Rev. C.L. Franklin “People believe what they hear; when they don’t hear anything else.”

WXYZ hosted a 2020 Special Q & A Discussion with EM Kevyn Orr, during which he addressed concerns about his overreaching decision on Belle Isle’s 30 year lease to the State of Michigan, and the lack of revenue that will be returned to the city of Detroit; the reduction of retirees pensions, and the DIA  to offset Detroit’s financial deficit, on the backdrop of the Jones Day No Bid Contracts and perks from Snyder’s Slush Fund, all of which he denied.

There’s just one problem, it was clearly highlighted in Bomey & Gallagher’s “How Detroit Went Broke” that much of his actions were avoidable.

Detroit is the heartbeat of Michigan

No one will deny Belle Isle isn’t in need of a plan to restore this jewel to its rightful state of flora and fauna; however, the land grab strategy helps to foster more distrust with Snyder, Orr, Dillon and Duggan.  Was this their plan all along?  If the state is to show good faith in assisting Michigan’s largest municipality regain economic stability, partnership, transparency and equity must be revisited.

The Michigan Citizen highlights that the Detroit City Council frowns on Orr’s Belle Isle deal. Councilmember Jenkins referenced Section 19-1 of P.A. 436 which states the legislative body has 10 days to review the deal and offer economically equal alternatives to any proposal from the EM that exceeds $50,000. It is this same provision the Detroit School Board is entitled to, that were continuously overstepped by former EM Roy Roberts, and are hard to unravel with the new EM Jack Martin.

The Detroit School Board met October 3, to reaffirm my nomination and appointment to fill the vacancy on the Detroit School Board. State Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Brian Banks have  asked for written clarification from Attorney General William Schuette on the constitutionality of P.A. 436 as it relates to any EM being able to appoint or remove elected officials; such as the mayor, city council, school board members etc.  This clarification is critical to democracy and the constitutionality of the egregious actions taken against both our school system and our city.

Stephen Bankicki, Detroit Business Owner, Leelanau Capital, Originate and place commercial real estate loans and former Bank CEO, Regency Savings Bank, sites the following as the root cause of mistrust of the state by the citizens of Detroit as it relates to the emergency manager law and its application to the city:

“…After the hearing or the expiration of the 10 days in the case of no hearing, the governor confirms or revokes his determination. A confirmation will assign management of Detroit’s fiscal emergency to a Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board composed of three state officials, including the treasurer, who are all Snyder appointees….” NBC News, March 1, 2013

He adds, “This mistrust is exasperated when the Financial Assistance Loan Board is making decisions where both the state and the city have a direct and competing financial interest. The word “Local” is misleading. How can state officials look out for the best interest of the city and the state at the same time when the interest of the two entities may be in conflict?”

The shutdown of our government illustrates this is a national trend.  If it can happen in Washington and Detroit, it can happen anywhere.  Standing on the sidelines allowing the takeover of our schools, city, retirees pensions and city assets is unAmerican!  If we love our country, and the freedom we enjoy as a nation, we must coalesce as one and demand accountability, transparency and the protections afforded all citizens in the U.S. Constitution.

I still believe together we can transform the city of Detroit, and that includes you, one square mile at a time!

 Sherry Gay-Dagnogo is an education activist.  Follow her on Twitter @DetroitEducator

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