Showing posts from March, 2014

What To Save: DIA or Detroit

I profess not to know the value of all the art held at the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA). Further, I do not know how much of the art is owned by the city of Detroit. I think we should find out and use it in the best way possible to save Detroit and its citizens. I commend all the foundations and the state of Michigan who have stepped up with hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed contributions to save the DIA and the art work that it holds. Is the plan presented to the creditors concerning these donations and the leveraging of the art the best way to save Detroit and its citizens? Is saving the artwork more important than saving the city and its citizens? Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press made a valid point with his editorial titled " Detroit's Rebirth Must Include More Than Downtown, Midtown ". Detroit will not succeed if it does not cultivate a middle class and we cannot wait decades from now to complete the task. Wouldn't it be a better idea f

DIA Art:: Who Owns It and What is Value

I am taken back by the fact that creditors, including pensioners, are about to be asked to vote on Detroit's bankruptcy plan when no one has clarified how much of the art work at the DIA is owned by the city and how much it is worth. Further, no one has put a value on the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and there is no resolution as to who will be operating the DWSD. It is like buying a pig in a poke. Who should be blamed for this? This really messes up the report card on how the bankruptcy has been handled.....

Education Is Not Free!

"A new report released by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights , examining the disciplinary practices of the country’s 97,000 public schools, shows that excessively punitive policies are being used at every level of the public school system — even against 4-year-olds in preschool."  Giving Up on 4-Year-Olds , NYTimes, March 27, 2014 What is the cause? Is it really a black or white issue or is it green? It is green. It happens to be that more minorities are poor than are white children. Shrinking the size of classrooms and giving access to mental health consultants and therapy cost money and the nation must be ready to pay for it. The nation should be ready to make this a priority but the question is where does the money come from. Those of us who have Democratic leanings say raise the taxes on the rich. Republicans will say the nation taxes enough lets find the money needed from within our national budget by cutting other programs. The answer may be b

Ukraine: War is Hell

Keynes said, "In the long run we are all dead." There is not enough discussion that Putin's adventures are going to have an affect on our lives even if not militarily. This country will experience economic consequences by imposing sanctions on Russia. The affects will be twofold. For our "consequences" to work against Russia we must be prepared to become the energy provider to Europe. Presently Europe gets 60% of its natural gas supplies from Russia and that is expected to rise to 80% by 2035. We must increase our delivery to Europe as soon as possible and this means domestic prices will rise. War is hell whether it is militarily or economic.There is a price to be paid, however the price will be much higher the longer we wait. Our leaders must talk about this with our citizens. More

Latest Headlines About Detroit

THe links below were taken from an email from the Manhattan Institute. How can Orr tell creditors to get serious when he has no proposal on the table concerning Detroit Water and Sewer Department that is crumbling and difficult to value? This could be thw white elephant in the room. Detroit Seeks To Privatize Its Water System ,  The Wall Street Journal , 3-25-14 EM Kevyn Orr Says Creditors Need To 'Get Serious' ,  Detroit Free-Press , 3-25-14 Orr Says Time For Bankruptcy Talks Running Out , Bloomberg News, 3-24-14 Snyder, Orr Upbeat About Detroit At NYC Policy Forum ,  Detroit News , 3-25-14 $120 Million Detroit Financing Plan Going To Vote , Associated Press, 3-24-14 Detroit EM Wants Bankruptcy Plan Confirmed By Fall , Reuters, 3-24-14 Detroit EM Says Creditor Support Is Mounting ,, 3-24-14 Snyder, Orr To Discuss Detroit's Future At NYC Policy Forum ,  Detroit News , 3-22-14

World War Three?

Whether we come out on the right side of this struggle depends on whether Europe and ourselves can pull together. Putin is counting on that not happening and he may be right. The United States must recognize there will be cost associated with this quiet war. America must open up its natural gas resources to Europe. This in turn will result in higher energy cost to U.S. consumers who are voters. This will play against the personal objective of our politicians to remain in office.The oligarchs in this country are aggressively taking over just as in Russia. The major difference is in Russia it is more apparent. Europe must also recognize that this conflict will also affect them economically. Because of the close proximity to Russia they are in greater physical danger than we are.. This is not the time to repeat the mistakes made by the free world with Adolf Hitler in the 1930's. Don't think if we just slap Putin's wrists he will repent and not do anything further. We

Report Card on Detroit Bankrupcy

"A year into his tenure as emergency manager of the largest American city to go bust, Kevyn Orr says he’s still confident that a post-bankruptcy Detroit will rebound from some of its gloomiest times.", Kevyn Orr confident of Detroit rebound from bankruptcy ,  Detroit Free Press, March 23, 2014 Orr is getting paid $250,000 per year. Do you expect him to say that Detroit is doomed after his contract is up? He is handling the bankruptcy well and handled the operation of the city poorly. Much of the failure on the operations side is Governor Snyder's fault. The structure of reorganizing the city was faulty from the beginning. You do not put an an outside consultant/attorney with expertise in bankruptcy law in charge of the city. You put an expert in operating a city in charge and hire a bankruptcy attorney reporting to him to assist in addressing the problem. The city's operation was neglected for at least six months. Further, Kevin Orr is a contractor of the city wi

Middle Class and Saving Detroit

Middle/working class families are the key to success for Detroit. Attracting them will not be solved overnight. It requires incentives and taking care of BLIGHT, CRIME, STREET LIGHTS and SCHOOLS now. The first three are getting lip service with some plans in place, but Detroit is failing at even addressing its education deficit. Families with children are aware that education is a key to their children's success. This problem does not get enough press and certainly action. The Education Achievement Authority (EAA) is not doing good enough and as it expands beyond Detroit they will be less focused on the city. The EAA is using some new teaching techniques that are worth trying, but these are no substitute for an experienced hands on teacher to providing guidance and direction. Many teachers and their unions attack the EAA and call for its disbandment rather working with it to improve results. Historically there is a short link between a child's education and parental involv

Russia Ukraine and U.S. Corruption

Obama deserves credit for holding off the gun slingers who wanted to take military action. The problem is we should not let one corrupt economy cuddle up with a second, much larger, economy. The west made two big mistakes with how the Ukraine fiasco was handled. First we did nothing about Ukrainian corruption. We did not condemn it and then when the revolt against the pro Russian leader broke out we fueled it throwing out the possibility of Ukraine joining the Eurozone. Putin was sitting at the Olympics and secretly fuming at the west. The west leaped to the conclusion that he was helpless and would do nothing. Did we ever miscalculate. The west's error actually fueled the flames. Secondly, while Obama was speaking of sanctions Putin was taking action. Soon after Russia crossed the border with troops we should have stopped our threats and took economic action by suspending Russia's membership in the G-8, imposing economic sanctions on the country and on its Oligarchs a

When Free Trade Does Not Work

Free trade does not work if you are dealing with a country that uses slave labor or sacrifices other important issues like the environment or safety. Improving the environment does not happen without costs. The United States invests in technology to help improve our air quality and purity of our drinking water. Saving our forest land comes with a price. Investing in solar energy helps future generations to live in a better environment but presently it is expensive compared to fossil fuels. "Trickle-down economics is a myth. Enriching corporations — as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) would — will not necessarily help those in the middle, let alone those at the bottom." On the Wrong Side of Globalization , New York Times, March 15, 2014 From Above NYTimes Article Slavery was banned 150 years ago, even though treating the future generations of the slaves equally is still a work in progress. If other countries pay their unskilled workforce like slaves, we effectively

Ukraine Russia and Using Patience

To prevent war quick sanctions must kick into high gear. Rhetoric is a useless weapon against a tyrant named Putin. We are taught reason will win out over tyranny. Putin has been trained to use reason and negotiations as a means of gaining advantage and delaying your opponent from taking action. Obama was outsmarted. A person of reason tends to believe everyone is trying to be reasonable. His opponent, Putin, used this to his advantage. The West was outsmarted as everyone enjoyed the Olympics in Russia. Putin's closest allies in Russia are the Oligarch billionaires who got rich in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. We need to remove our natural gas spigots to the Eurozone. Delaying tough actions sends the wrong tone to Putin. The bad news is Russia is use to more pain then we are. More

Russia China Japan and Ukraine

The President has handled the Ukrainian crisis just right with one exception. In addition we should all be cautious about China abstaining from the condemnation of Russia. Time is long past when President Obama and the Eurozone should have begun to enact "consequences" against Russia's aggressive actions. We see negotiations as a means to resolve conflicts without military action. Russia sees negotiations as a delay tactic used to buy time to solidify their aggressive actions. Until Putin feels pain he will not stop. We should be enacting economic sanctions now and announce we will be delivering natural gas to Europe ASAP. Remember, China has existed as a nation before Christ was on this earth. They are patient with long memories with no love lost towards Russia. Chairman Mao's negotiations with the United States in the 1970's had as much to do with building an alliance with the United States to protect itself from Russian aggression as it did with becomi

Fighting Inequality in the Long Term

No one is really attacking the problem including liberals. The focus is on increasing social programs like food stamps, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, aide for dependent children, etc. These are short term solutions that become long term costs if nothing else changes. If we want sustainable equality we must fix our capitalistic system and we must do a better job of improving education levels of the impoverished. These are long term objectives and the above short term programs are needed in order to buy time to fix the real problem. Fixing capitalism helps the 99% because competition will lower prices to consumers and create more competition for workers and thus raise wages. Capitalism is broken. Many markets are no longer free. They are controlled by oligarchs who shut out competition. Simultaneously our government no longer performs one of its most critical roles concerning our economy; being a referee to assure there is fair competition in every industry. The regulator

Michigan School Districts Ranked By Number Of Pupils

Below is an incomplete list of Michigan's school districts starting with the largest district, Diderot, plus the next 17 largest districts by number of students. The next largest district is Utica and it is 43% the size of Detroit. If I was on the DPS Board I would be visiting Utica, Dearborn, Plymouth, Walled Lake and Livonia to find out why they are doing so much better on the MEAP scores than DPS. If you want to improve you need to understand your competition.** This information was extracted from reports created by

Detroit Pensioners and Selling Art From DIA

I have to defend Mark White. He advocated using DIA art long before the rest of us realized its potential. I applaud him for that. There is a question in my mind as to whether there is significant value in the art to be able to sell it all with a result that pensioners are better off than with the current proposal on the table of getting almost $1 billion from foundations and the state and allocating all of those funds to help the retirees. Further remember the state portion of the $1 billion is a loan to the city to be paid back over time. If instead the decision is made to sell all of the art the proceeds from that sale would be distributed to all creditors and would the retirees share be greater than $1 billion? This is why a second appraisal is needed.

Bloomfield Hills Versus Detroit Public Schools

Click On Image To Enlarge It is worthwhile to compare Detroit Public Schools to Bloomfield Hills Public Schools, which according to had the 6th highest MEAP scores for the 2013 school year in Michigan. Here are some observations. >> There is 55,000 more students attending DPS schools than at BHPS. >> The local community spent $6,300 more per pupil in Bloomfield Hills than Detroit >> The state spent $240 more per pupil in Detroit versus Bloomfield Hills >> The federal government spent $4,312 more per pupil in Detroit versus Bloomfield Hills. Here are some thoughts I have not validated but worth pondering. 1. Like other things in life, perhaps size matters. Detroit should consider breaking down its school system in smaller pieces in order to have better local control. 2. The more money the state has invested in a school system the more they feel the need to maintain some influence and control. 3. The more the Federal Government ha

Detroit Public Schools Fall Further Behind

For the school year ending in the summer of 2013 Detroit Public Schools fell further behind the rest of its peers throughout the state of Michigan. This information was gathered from School  as summarized by the chart below. The decline at the Detroit Public Schools has not stopped and if Detroit is going to become a top city again it must consider drastic change as suggested in S hadow Detroit Public School Board . The proposal is far from perfect however it is a starting point. It is good that Michigan, through the EAA, is interested in improving the schools, but it is a big mistake to not have local individuals, parents and teachers, a say in what is being done. After all, sooner or later the EAA is leaving Detroit and it is still the parents and students who have the most to gain or lose. The chart below summarizes the decline.

A Vote In Ukraine?

Sergey V. Lavrov, John Kerry's counterpart in Russia said, "The statement added that the “threats and ultimatums” made it difficult to reach “honest arrangements” that would help stabilize the situation in Ukraine, apparently referring to blistering statements by Mr. Kerry and other officials." As E.U. Meets, Crimea Moves to Hold Vote on Joining Russia , New York Times, March 6, 2013 Someone needs to remind Russia their occupation of Ukraine makes it impossible to reach "honest arrangements". There is some sense to having the eastern region voting on whether it wants to become part of Russia. The key will be the vote must not be influenced by outside forces including Russia and the west. The only way to do this is by vote of the regions citizens that is closely monitored by the U.N.. The vote also needs to occur without Russian occupation. Russia must withdraw all of its troops to remove the intimidation factor. A Russian solider on guard with a military r

Putin McCain and Graham

Remember the last time we rushed into war? In 2003 we invaded Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction. Almost 10 years later we withdrew from that country that had no WMD's with thousands of our solders maimed and killed. The war also led to the deaths of 100's of thousands of Iraqis. We expended billions of dollars that could have either helped us balance our budget, repair our infrastructure or improve education and given more citizens the opportunity to pursue the American Dream. Over the last several days two war hawks, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator John McCain have pounded the drum to do something more than talk concerning Ukraine. Mr. Graham is demanding the President support the removal of Russia from the G-8. while Senator McCain is clamoring Obama needs to take action. The problems in Ukraine unfolded less than three weeks ago and so much for supporting our Commander and Chief. it is important to remember the background of these two senators. Se

Ukraine And Some Views From Russia

Here is a very good discussion of the Ukraine crisis including some perspective from the Russian side. A case is made that the President was improperly removed.

The 99% and Anger

Democracy seems to work best when its citizenry gets angry. It is a slow burn but when the flame strikes the gun powder there is a big explosion. We are getting closer. Being a politician is not an advocation; rather it is an lucrative vocation. Today's politician gets paid a decent wage as we allow them to spend a great deal of time raising campaign funds. It is the only job where you are allowed to seek your next job, getting reelected, while still on the payroll of your existing job. Citizen United needs to be overturned and the process can start from congress or there can be grass roots movements to get it on the ballot. Don't expect congress or the president to do it. They are on the gravy train. Corporations and the wealthy are not going to institute a movement. The press is not anxious either. They are the recipient of the campaign funds. Let's not forget the attorneys, accountants, video production professionals and speech writers that eat at the trough. T

Putin Russia: What Next With Ukraine

One of the most militarily powerful nations is headed up by Vladimir Putin who for 16 years served as an officer in the KGB. He is 5'5" tall and an expert in martial arts. Both domestically and internationally many of his actions are considered as nondemocratic. He has a PhD from Leningrad University. He is acting like a man with an inferiority complex. Perhaps it is his height or seeing the perceived power of his country diminish as the Soviet Union collapsed on the world stage. In the west success of a country is defined by how well its citizens are doing economically, the amount of opportunity they have and how much freedom they have to pursue their hopes and dreams. The military is only present to protect these dreams and aspirations. Putin's focus is not on improving the daily lives of Russians. His focus is on bringing back the world glory to the Russian nation. In the United States we see the military as necessary in order to protect our citizens in their pursu