Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Covenant For Detroit by Akindele Akinyemi

Detroit is a sinking ship with a dead captain running the show. If we are going to be serious about reforming Detroit and how it is connected to Southeastern Michigan then perhaps we need to take a look at how we need to create a covenant with the people.
A Covenant For Detroit.
We have to start promising to help transform our family structure here in Detroit as well as our educational system. This year's state elections offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control, to bring Detroit a new reality that will transform the way government works. This historic change would be the end of stale government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money. It can be the beginning of a new leadership that respects the values and shares the faith of many families in Detroit.
In a rapidly changing world with new threats and new competitors, we must implement policies that will ensure Detroit’s leadership, safety, and prosperity. And we must reinvigorate the core values that have made an exceptional city.
We should not believe the traditional instruments of government will reform themselves fast enough and thoroughly enough for the twenty-first century.
The entrenched lobbyists and entrenched bureaucracies in both Detroit and Lansing will do all they can to minimize the changes no matter how vital those changes are to Detroit’s future. Self interest will dominate city interest if the normal political system operates with business as usual. The pressure of daily events will keep both the news media and most politicians focused on the immediate and the trivial rather than the long-term and the profoundly important.
Only a grassroots citizens’ movement can insist on the level of change that is needed for our children and grandchildren to have a successful future. Such a citizens’ movement would have to be focused on goals rather than on interest groups. The goals define the Detroit we want our children and grandchildren to have. This is why we must support a Covenant For Detroit. If we are serious about moving Detroit away from a manufacturing base to a financial market then this Covenant is what we need.
To create a Covenant For Detroit means several things:
FIRST, require all laws or city ordinances apply equally to both the Mayor and City Council; SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Both the Mayor's office,Detroit City Council, all departments of government in Detroit for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of City Council staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all Detroit City Council and Mayor's office;
FIFTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax decrease;
SIXTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our city budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
The points of the Covenant:
1. Fiscal Responsibility: A balanced budget/tax limitation proposal and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Mayor/City Council, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
2. Reclaiming Our Streets: A REAL anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, good faith exclusionary rule exemptions, and cuts in wasteful spending to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.
3. Encourage Personal Responsibility: Work with state lawmakers to discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased benefits for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs to promote individual responsibility.
4. Real Family Preservation: Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in the City of Detroit, shared equal parenting rights which equals to children needing both parents.
5. Educational Reform: Repeal the tax credit in the Michigan Constitution to allow Universal Tax Credits for parents and children in Detroit, expansion of theme based charter schools, private scholarships for children in failing public schools, prayer in schools, replace multiculturalism with patriotic education, encourage private sector participation in math and science education, fighting adult illiteracy with private based programs that will create job readiness.
6. Detroit Restoration : A S500 per child tax credit and creation of Detroit Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief.
7. Job Creation: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages.
8. Citizen Legislature: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators in Detroit. Also, vote City Council by districts and place term limits on each council member. Mayor of Detroit should have term limits.
9. Senior Citizens: Provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let the elderly in Detroit keep more of what they have earned over the years.
We have state representatives running for office this year as well as candidates for City Council running for office next year. They might want to embrace this Covenant For Detroit to create a new form of government that will be effective and honest. The Covenant asks for the change the mindset of big government in Detroit by replacing large bureaucratic redtape with entrepreneurial public management so city government can operate with the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of the information age.
If we insist on these goals and insist on electing leaders at all levels dedicated to these goals, we will be able to leave our children and grandchildren a Detroit of safety, health, prosperity, and freedom that would make our parents and grandparents proud. We too will have done our duty to our city and our achievements as citizens will be worthy of the Michigan we inherited.

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