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Policy makers fail the people

Lack of accountability, transparency and little respect for democracy has won the day in Michigan.

Right-to-Work for Less was signed into Michigan law. The Detroit City Council approved the Miller Canfield contract and Detroit gave more than 140 acres to a developer without a plan.

Right-to-Work for Less won’t just weaken unions in the state of Michigan. Michiganders will, over time, work for less and the voice and perspective of working people could be diminished. Unions add much to the political and policy dialogue in the state.

Unlike the Republican Party, which is largely funded by big business such as the Koch brothers, and has never typically had too difficult a time fundraising, the Democratic Party is different. Unions are the most meaningful fundraising apparatus for Democrats. Without their resources, imagine how differently elections can go in Michigan.

We hope this is a serious wake up call for the Michigan Democratic Party. The party has lacked the vision and strategy to beat back the right-wing policies in play. Instead of fighting for potential House seats during this last presidential election, the Democratic “strategists” led an effort to unsuccessfully unseat Speaker of the House Jase Bolger. Democrats could have used the help on this battle and must build coalitions and fundraising sources beyond labor. These are coalitions that can help but the party is currently small and incestuous.

This is the same Democratic leadership that brought us State Treasurer Andy Dillon as a candidate for governor. Dillon is now planning the takeover of Detroit.

The lack of leadership and vision inside the Democratic Party is breathtaking.

The usual suspects were touting the Hantz land deal as progress. The media and few others besides the hundreds of residents were asking the Council to think critically of their decision. There are few strong leaders or advocates for Detroit — no mayor, few City Council people.

However, Malik Yakini, a father of urban agriculture, masterfully articulated the reasons why a Hantz deal didn’t make sense.

The fact is Council members who supported this decision are relying on the goodwill of Hantz farm — a weakened foolish position to take. City Council and thousands of residents are left literally hoping he won’t turn that 140 acres he bought for less than $600,000 into a space of polluting pesticides and inorganic run off contaminating our water and soil. There are no protections against this.

The Hantz Woodlands deal has set a dangerous land-use precedent in Detroit.

No other company or large corporation could have gotten a deal such as this approved without the appropriate questions, transparency and accountability the Hantz plan lacked.

This deal also further perpetuates the narrative that Detroit land isn’t valuable and outsiders need to rescue it.

Lastly, the Council approved the Miller Canfield contract. The Miller Canfield contract was born in the context of the state’s financial stability agreement. The state wanted a lawyer for the mayor and the mayor wanted Miler Canfield.

Lack of accountability, transparency and little respect for democracy has won the day in Michigan.

The people of Michigan have suffered a blow that will take time, organization and unrelenting determination to fight.

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