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|Living for Change News May 8th – May 15th|
|AN OPEN LETTER TO JUDGE STEVEN RHODES, LAST EMERGENCY MANAGER OF DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOLS (DPS)Judge Rhodes:
On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, you will hold the one public meeting required by Governor Snyder’s “emergency management” statute. This is an inadequate forum for any meaningful standards of democracy, transparency, accountability and public input at a time of crisis. It speaks directly to the fatal flaws of “emergency management”, and of your illegitimacy.
Eloquent and informed commentators from our community, and from the national human rights movement, have summarized the key issues facing DPS today under your fundamentally lawless and white supremacist power grab. More broadly, we have recently published “Detroit 2016” linking Detroit’s struggles for racial and economic justice, including education, water, housing, development and democracy. You cannot evade the basic contradiction in your role by preferring to change your title. We need an honest public discussion.
You freely admitted at the time of your appointment that you have no relevant experience or qualifications to run a public school district, or to run an education system. You have stated that you bring only one tool to this situation: the possibility of state appropriations; with this tool, you in effect seek to continue the state’s racist policies of corporate child abuse that have destroyed public education in Detroit over the last 17 years.
The very idea that there a meaningful top-down “solution” can be imposed by the state is absurd. This state legislature will use any financial excuse to further attack our children and their teachers.
A real solution must, at an absolute minimum: 1) come from Detroiters; 2) emphasize education over finance; 3) embrace democracy; and 4) reject structural racism, which has contaminated both Detroit’s bitter experiences with educational “reform”, and the state’s “emergency managed” debacles in predominantly African-American urban communities.
Your role as presiding bankruptcy judge in Detroit’s Chapter 9 case ratified the abuses of “emergency management”, and eviscerated local government accountability. Now, in spite of your admitted lack of knowledge or experience, you come out of retirement to claim the role of education czar, providing cover for the state’s failed policies.
Your current drive to impose a state- driven, top-down, designed-to-fail “solution” on Detroit destroys your credibility.
Unless you change course immediately and use your “emergency management” powers to help facilitate community-driven, democratic and educationally sound solutions, you betray yourself and basic principles of justice you’re sworn to uphold. Your judicial robe cannot cover up these crimes against our children, our city and our hopes for the future.-Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management (D-REM) May 9, 2016http://www.d-rem.org/Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo‘s floor speech on the Detroit Public Schools package of legislation that passed last night deserves to be heard. As a former DPS teacher herself, she is passionate about doing what’s right for Detroit’s kids. That’s why she’s so disappointed that House Republicans passed this legislation in the early hours of the morning by a razor-thin margin over strenuous objections.
WATCH IT HEREThis amazing portrait of Grace Lee Boggs by artist Shizu Saldamando is currently on display in the White House for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Commissioned by the Sons and Brothers campaign and pictured with “Fresh Off the Boat” actor, Hudson YangThinking for Ourselves Fair Waters Shea Howell
This week Director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Gary Brown announced that water shut offs would accelerate in Detroit. He is threatening to shut off as many as 20,000 homes as quickly as he can. In preparation for these shut offs Brown announced a Water Assistance Fair. The Fair was surrounded with publicity touting the innovative Assistance Plan (WRAP), pushed by the Mayor. Brown said the WRAP is “the most robust, compassionate and comprehensive program of its kind to help low income customers keep their water service.” He said, “We have a responsibility to our customers and citizens of the City of Detroit to make water affordable.”
I went to the Fair. There was nothing “fair” about it. Nor was there any compassion or comprehensive effort to help residents. Here is what I saw.
People were lined up around the block. The first woman I met coming out the door was upset. Her bill was coming to “resident,” as most of our bills do. The worker inside told her that she needed to pay $150 to get the bill in her own name before they would consider a payment plan. She didn’t have $150 dollars. So she left, still facing a shut off.
The next woman I met had recently had a new meter installed. She has always paid her bill on time. Her last bill was $4,966 dollars. She was told that her bills had been estimated for the last 7 years and she now owed the full amount.
A bit further back in the line was a young woman in similar situation. Her January bill showed a $250 credit. In February she got a bill for $3,400.
Of the 22 people I spoke with directly, more than half had bills of over $1000, in some cases even after they had turned off water in part of their home to save money. Everyone had experienced increases in their bill of between $100 and $400.
Most people got little or no help from the city.
Moreover there was no compassion from the city. It was a cold morning, with small children bundled up against the wind. Elders leaned on walkers. The only chairs were those the more experienced in dealing with the city brought with him. People stood in line for over three hours. One young, pregnant woman brought her two small children to the front of line, asking to use the bathroom. Her littlest child needed to go. Too bad. She was turned away, as was everyone else.
This is what compassion looks like from Gary Brown and the Mayor. Almost everyone I talked to said the same thing, “The city doesn’t care about us. They want us out of here.”
Brown re-enforced this antagonism when he once again tried to pit one person against another. In perverse logic, Brown repeated those who don’t pay, cost the rest of us more money. “Customers pay an average of $10 more on their bill each month to cover the cost of uncollectible accounts,” he said.
A more truthful statement would be that until the city adopts a water affordability plan based on income, its shut off policy will continue to drive prices up. Every time someone is shut off, fewer people have to pay the fixed costs of the system, so prices go up. Every time prices go up, more people are shut off. This is an unsustainable downward spiral.
There is a robust, compassionate way for us to ensure Water is Human Right. But it wont be found coming from the Mayor or his henchman, Gary Brown.
This weekend, in the face of hysterical times Stadtkuratorin Hamburg is asking What Time Is It on the Clock of the World with a performance festival and symposium.
The lead question of the festival goes back to an expression of the US human rights activist, philosopher, and feminist Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015), who campaigned for social change, for the workers movement, and for the rights of the Afro-American population. She connects the awareness of the historical placing of current developments with the activist moment toward changing the current conditions: What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?* This expression points at the simultaneity of social transformations worldwide and artistic-social movements not conceived from a Western hegemonic center.
Syracuse University teaching assistant lives his life to advocate for disability rights Claire Ramirez
Great Political Texts #1 Eurocentrism by Samir Amin Reviewed by Will Copeland
UNTIL LIONS WRITE THEIR OWN HISTORY, THE TALE OF THE HUNT WILL ALWAYS GLORIFY THE HUNTER ~Afrikan Proverb
Friends in Resistance,
Giving Voice (for Daniel Berrigan) the heart dares the word dares the page lest love stick in the throat of this pen, and go untold i remember my name in your voice echoing down the underground hall beneath niebuhr place: come, crack a jar of scotch come for talk and a minted brew of tea come to life. wake. arise. (an ascent follows, sweet and rash) somehow that calling pipes through the kentucky hills retreat. while i practiced sport, before smoke rose from detroit your prayer with louis and circle breached the walls to fall also on me. summoning unbeknownst an answer. (later, in a season of crushing dark you opened for me the gatehouse door there to walk and breathe and eat the psaltery to face dread dreams and heal) confess a thing: even on this island now the tabletalk of poet and keeper hatches the seminary renegade. that heady charismatic anarchy revives as we speak and our once fresh formation turns, can it be, to eldering. as toward the body politic flesh of word presented, burning with truth the charnel house lies, this blood on pillars gashing gold vermillion, or hammer nailing it to the door of church and state. in consequence, this bravery with a difference the holy ghost gone militant free in the cuff, in the dock, in the yard for all for missives kited in and out for the discipline of hope for drinking the moon underground for writing on the wall, against it for bread in lotus fingers all echoes in the heart at dusk footfalls on the way beloved this thanks untellable Bill Wylie-Kellermann, a United Methodist pastor who serves St Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, was mentored as a seminarian by Daniel Berrigan.