Sunday, August 10, 2008

Detroit Cannot Take Another Democratic Tsunami by Akindele Akinyemi

Detroit can be brought back to life only if we begin to address the adult illiteracy issues in our community. This crisis is so severe that it has caused a tremendous ripple effect in our family, economical and political spectrum in our city.

For example how come I am speaking to people off the street and they are telling me that they would vote for Mayor Kilpatrick AGAIN regardless of him going to jail?

How come we are voting for Sen. Obama when he is against drilling offshore for oil in the United States? Gas prices are at $3.80 right now. In Nigeria gas is $0.38 cents a gallon. Go figure.

How come we keep telling lies to ourselves about changing Detroit when we enjoy watching the Mayor live on TV being booked? Plus, we re-elected his mother for another two terms to Congress. So all I have to do is bring in my colleagues from DC and tell them how much money we are going to lose if Carolyn Kilpatrick is not re-elected. Got it.

The reality is our city's leadership is flatlined and needs revitalization. Some of you have been asking me to run for City Council in Detroit. Again, I would not waste my time on such a race for I will be setting myself up for failure. What I am realizing in our city is that people do not want change. If they did then the results on Tuesday would have been a lot different.

To be honest with you I do not know if Detroit is even ready to step into the 21st century. We have no mass transit system, our public schools are being investigated by the FBI, our Mayor is a immoral joke, our city council is being investigated by the FBI, and yet we will re-elect these same people back in office.

Listen, if we are going to be serious about Detroit and helping those in Detroit then we need to stop being angry for a second and look at things for what they are. It is one thing to get on community access television and vent and protest in front of people's homes but its another thing to actually do something about the problem. Part of the main factor that is always missing from Black folks in this city is the economic justice that is sorely lacking to move Detroit forward.

Detroit has to become a global financial market like New York City or London. Our educational system must be congruent to what you see in Great Britain. That is called TRUE educational reform not shuffling children from one school to another with false educational programs. If a child is not learning metric in the 21st century then how are we supposed to compete with China and Nigeria? We are more concerned about the Basic Skills Test and who is certified to teach than being about the business of global education in the inner city.

To further prove to you that our leadership is flatlined not one candidate who ran for state representative in Detroit (except those who I supported in the primaries) discussed economic globalization. I found that to be interesting since Detroit sits on an international waterway. More shockingly almost none of these same candidates discussed any family policies and stressed the importance of family relationships. Is our community so fractured to the extent of where we do not discuss relationship building outside of corporate America? Nationally 71% of African-American children are growing up in a single parent household. This number is much higher in Detroit.

An educated populace is the key for Detroit to get out of poverty. You can eradicate poverty with education. Families must begin to think economically and think conservatively if they want their community to survive. You can raise a poor person from the dead if you TEACH a poor person how to fish. We have to be in the business of giving a handup and not a handout. This welfare mentality in our city has decimated us for over 40 years.

My vision for the City of Detroit is the Covenant for Detroit. As I mentioned before the Covenant for Detroit are based on nine steps to improve city government.

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 $500 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.

What I am realizing though is if people cannot read and comprehend this covenant then it is a waste of time. In other words, if the Black middle class keeps moving out of Detroit (this is called Black Flight) we will be left with poor leadership that does not work for the people.

Generally, families choose to live by quality schools. Recent decades have seen an exodus of hundreds of thousands of residents away from Detroit. The poor quality of traditional public schools in these cities hinders attempts at revitalization.

Working and middle class families with kids are vital to neighborhood- and city-building since they tend to have higher incomes and are more stable, economically and socially. These are the families, however, that Detroit is losing. Attracting (and retaining) this important demographic will help integrate Detroit, economically and racially, resulting in higher average incomes and neighborhoods that are more vibrant. There are simply too few empty nesters, DINKs (Double Income, No Kids), and young single professionals to revitalize an entire major city.

Look at this from this angle.

When people purchase a more expensive home in a suburb, they are not only purchasing a newer home. They are also purchasing the government services that go with that home. For many home shoppers, the number-one government service they care about is the quality of the local public schools. The problem for those interested in revitalizing Detroit by stemming the emigration of residents to outlying suburbs is that the public school systems improve dramatically the farther someone moves from downtown.

Research suggests that parental perceptions of school quality can have important effects on the decision of families and households to move to one area over another. The effects of school quality on location decisions can best be understood by imagining two identical homes one with good schools and the other with bad schools. Assuming the two neighborhoods were identical in every other way, the home in the area with good schools would be worth more because more parents would want to live there, therefore bidding up prices.

The issue of school quality lies heaviest on parents because parents are most willing to pay more (in both housing price and taxes) for the assurance of quality schools for their children. Parents are the customers who will shop elsewhere if they cannot find what they desire in a school. Widespread revitalization of Detroit neighborhoods will not occur without making good schools available to all city residents.

There are some things about Detroit we must take a look at if the city wants to come back.

Older industrial cities need a new strategy—one that moves beyond policies and programs aimed at managing fiscal distress and urban decline and instead includes integrated policies and practices aimed at improving city-wide market performance. Local leaders need to articulate their own vision of success and a strategy by which to achieve it. But they can't go it alone: To truly catalyze city revitalization, state governments need to engage on multiple fronts.

Did I say state government? Our Detroit delegation in state government is something else. Now you add in Jimmy Womack to the growing list of chicanery and we have a serious joke of a lawmaker. If we had elected a SERIOUS delegation to Lansing this past Tuesday we could have seriously gotten to work. Once again, absentee voter fraud, illiteracy and lack of respect for the voting process dooms us each time. Do you think Bettie Cook Scott, Coleman Young, Jimmy Womack or David Nathan are talking about economics and globalization as it pertains to transforming Detroit into a financial market? The closet person who should discuss this is Rashida Tlaib and she will not because she is supporting the policies of Obama.

On the past several years, the State of Michigan has begun to make reinvestment in the state's cities and towns a priority. But more needs to be done. Detroit and other urban centers must continue to lean on state leaders to enact a true reform agenda for urban areas and to insist on more support in their efforts to develop innovative, competitive economies that are attractive to new firms and workers.

In Detroit, the priorities should be pretty clear. Lansing needs to work with local governments and civic and business leaders to build on Detroit's existing economic strengths—by investing in Downtown and fueling innovative economic growth, particularly through the region's remarkable concentration of academic institutions and cutting-edge research centers.

It's time to realize the potential of a state-of-the-art mass transit system. Transit has become a competitive necessity for American metro areas, a generator of smart development and a vehicle to achieve important environmental and social objectives. I talked about the creation of the Michigan High Speed Authority a while ago to create high speed rail across the region while others work to create the Interstate Traveller a reality. The state also should expand incentives for redeveloping and revitalizing communities around existing transit facilities.

We must begin to elect both Democrats, Independents and Republicans in Detroit to political offices. That is the ONLY way we are going to make it. It is absolutely ridiculous to have the Democratic Party keep a monopoly on Detroit when the Democratic Party has not changed our city at all. In fact, it is getting worse. Now we are happy to see Obama running for President but if you look at the area he represented in Chicago as a State Senator it looks like hell. Do Black people want a President whose area he represented to look like a social wasteland? Think about what I am saying here for a moment.

The Democratic Party has done Detroit a disservice to our city. The Michigan Democratic Party is ran by Mark Brewer. This is the same Mark Brewer who endorsed the Reform Michigan Government Now platform. This is a radical platform to reform Michigan's government. Even people in his own party is not supporting this crap.

The Democratic Party has crippled Detroit and we keep electing people who are talking the same mess as their predecessors before them with a liberal platform that simply does not work. Our Detroit delegation has moved further to the left of the political spectrum. Who will fight for educational choice now? Our children are suffering.

So now let's see who is serious about change. Would you vote for a Republican to office in Detroit like myself? What about an Black female independent candidate running for Congress in the 14th District in 2010? If we do not begin to break this monopoly then our city is finished. We do not need another Democratic Tsunami in our city. We need a moral and spiritual revitalization with urban conservative values that makes sense to help our city.


Paul Kersey said...

Frankly, I think we need to go even deeper if we are ever going to turn Detroit around. Back of everything else that motivates Detroit's voters is a bone-deep sense of alienation from the reat of Michigan and the country, combined with a sense of self loathing.

There isn't a thing that government can do about that mindset. The only way to put a dent in it is for the civil society to embrace Detroit. That means churches in particular should partner across the city's borders, and help and expertise should flow into Detroit from private citizens, white and black.

In the process, Detroit residents will hopefully come to understand that they are part of something larger and that they do in fact have friends aside from the politicians who fleece them.

Of course, that assumes that folks outside of Detroit can be made to care about Detroit itself -- something that has yet to be seen.

One thing I feel pretty sure about: we won't find an answer to the political problems until we at least begin to deal with the social and spiritual problems.

Paul Kersey

Andy Mutavdzija said...

Good comments, Paul. Many people love the Pistons and Red Wings and Greektown Casino, etc, but I'd say 99% of those same people don't care at all about the rest of the city or its residents.

I wonder if people in, say, Gary, IN would care more or if they would show the same antipathy if Indianapolis was facing such hard times? Same goes for other major cities and their respective out-state areas.