Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Financial Capital, the Empire itself, is taking over Detroit and the people of this over 80% African American City are all the losers.

Kevyn Orr began the first day of his eighteen-month tenure as the state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) of Detroit Monday, three days before the new emergency manager law goes into effect. Detroit is now the largest US city to be under the control of an unelected official with sweeping powers to gut public services and the wages and pensions of city workers.  - African Globe

Did you know that Detroit is the world's largest majority black city outside of Africa.  

Kevin Orr is black.  Kevyn Orr is a prominent partner at Jones Day, an international law firm of over 2500 attorneys in 37 offices worldwide.  Black Agenda Report adds:

Kevyn Orr, anointed by Michigan’s Republican governor, is a bankruptcy specialist whose mission is to liquidate the assets of the 82 percent Black city, especially the revenue-producing Water and Sewerage Department. Orr’s firm’s clients – which, according to their website, include “more than half of the Fortune 500 companies” – have plenty of experience at liquidating in Detroit. Butch Hollowell, general counsel for the local NAACP, says Wells Fargo has “done more foreclosures in Detroit and the state of Michigan than any other firm,” and is Detroit’s number one property tax scofflaw. Jones Day also represents Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and CitiGroup.

I'm just saying, sounds like Greece to me, shades of Cyprus.

 During a rally on March 6th one resident demanded:

“If an emergency manager comes to town, arrest him and put him in the Wayne County Jail with the rest of the fellows.” 

As Diane Bukowski writes in the Voice of Detroit:

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, and State Treasurer Andy Dillon, in collusion with Detroit city officials, are racing to put the city under the direct control of Wall Street banks and disenfranchise its residents, before over 226,000 signatures for a referendum to repeal Public Act 4 are validated.

The African American people of  Detroit are literally fighting for their lives and for their right to have some say, at least, some say in what happens in their world. 

While it is not as if any city in America is really in control of the working people, the poor people, the real people of that city, but still...this plan for Detroit is a bit blatant, don't you think?

Me thinks it will take more than a call for a referendum to beat back this takeover.

Sandra Hines, a long time community activist in the city sure sounds like she gets it.  She told the state appointed financial review team at its meeting last week,

“This is war!  We are not going to let you come in and take our city.  This whole process is built on racism. It’s white supremacy at its best. House Negroes still exist. You don’t live in Detroit, and all you want to do is close, shut down, take everything we have away, our city, our schools, our homes, our libraries!” 

She has got that right.  This IS war...and it isn't just a war for Detroit.  It's much more than that.

PR Watch writes:

As early as 2005, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, an influential right-wing think tank in Michigan has called for emergency managers as a way of breaking public employee contracts and lowering wages for public workers. The Mackinac Center is a member of the State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and has been funded by a number of right-wing foundations including the Dow Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the DeVos Foundation, and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

Louis Schimmel, a former Mackinac employee who penned reports and articles on EFMs, was appointed the EFM of Pontiac, Michigan by the Governor Snyder in 2011.  Schimmel "pursued the most aggressive turnaround plan in the state,"according to Mother Jones. Schimmel proposed putting nearly every city property up for sale, "including city hall, the police station, fire stations, water-pumping stations, the library, the golf course, and two cemeteries," but Pontiac still faced a huge shortfall in 2012.

If they get away with this crap in Detroit, they can get away with it anywhere. 

 No one says Detroit doesn't need something help.  No one claims Detroit is in great shape.  No one says Detroit today is what we want Detroit to be in the future.   What I am saying is what it doesn't need is the masters of Finance Capital.  It needs, well you know what I am going to say, the multitude.  Only the working people of Detroit can free themselves from yet another desperate attempt to detroy their lives.  Capital always destroys the lives of working people.  Sometimes it is just more blatant than at other times.  When they start brining in the Masters of the Universe, you know they are getting serious and you know we need to get serious, too.   I mean finance capital is not going to save working people.  It exists to exploit them.  The State (or the state) isn't going to save working people, it exists to control them for finance capital.

The following is from Black Agenda Report.

The Lords of Capital Seize Detroit

Corporate conspirators have Detroit in their clutches. “Lawyers for Jones Day will be handling the sale of Detroit’s property and the cancelling of its contracts as ordered by another Jones Day lawyer, Kevyn Orr” – which means that “the same law firm is effectively serving as attorney, client, and local government in Detroit.” Democracy abolished, corporate rule installed.

The Lords of Capital Seize Detroit
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Financial manager Kevyn Orr may answer to the state of Michigan, but he represents the corporate class.”

Detroit’s state-appointed emergency financial manager promised that he won’t cut the salaries of the City Council or the mayor – at least not for the time being. On Thursday, under the law that makes corporate lawyer Kevyn Orr the dictator of the 82 percent Black city, the mayor and city council’s salaries will automatically be set at zero. Which is what their powers will amount to – and what the vote of Detroit’s 700,000 people will be worth – under the new regime: zero.

Demonstrators have been protesting the disenfranchisement of what now comprises more than half of Michigan’s Black population. Rev. David Bullock says, “This is about the state taking over cities and school districts.” Technically, he’s right. But the state is only acting as a bully for the real usurpers of political power: corporate America. Financial manager Kevyn Orr may answer to the state of Michigan, but he represents the corporate class, mainly finance capital. His law firm, Jones Day, from which he has technically – and, no doubt, temporarily – resigned, brags that it represent more than half the Fortune 500 companies in the United States. On top of that, while Orr sits in the Detroit dictator’s seat, his law firm is taking over as restructuring counsel for the city. This means that lawyers for Jones Day will be handling the sale of Detroit’s property and the cancelling of its contracts as ordered by another Jones Day lawyer, Kevyn Orr. As Atty. Tom Stephens points out, under this incestuous arrangement, “the same law firm is effectively serving as attorney, client, and local government” in Detroit – a concentration of power that would be unthinkable in a majority white metropolis.

Kevyn Orr will be making decisions on how Detroit will deal with creditors that include his former firm’s Wall Street client, Merrill Lynch.”

But it gets worse. Jones Day also represents many of the banks that were primarily responsible for rendering Detroit’s tax base untenable, through devastating home foreclosures. One of them is Bank of America, the parent company of Merrill Lynch, which is a counter party to Detroit’s derivative interest rate swaps. As Tom Stephens explains, that means Merrill Lynch “is one of the city’s key creditors.” So, financial dictator Kevyn Orr will be making decisions on how Detroit will deal with creditors that include his former firm’s Wall Street client, Merrill Lynch. What Kevyn Orr calls his job description would be grounds for an indictment for criminal conspiracy in any society under the rule of law.

But, that’s the point: the corporate rulers of America have discarded the rule of law – certainly, as it affects Black people, who are targeted for disenfranchisement and outright removal from the nation’s cities. Yes, the corporate henchman Kevyn Orr is Black, which only goes to show that the Lords of Capital have enlisted a class of Black folks who will enthusiastically assist in the liquidation of African American political, civil, economic and human rights.

One of them now sits in the White House. Barack Obama is the biggest privatizer of public schools in history, far more effective than George Bush. The massive assault on local elected authority over the public schools, mainly targeting Black school districts, paved the way for privatization through charters. It was only a matter of time before Black city governments were also neutralized. President Obama has been indispensable to this whole process, as has Detroit mayor Dave Bing. So, it is true that the siege of Detroit is largely racial. It is also true that more than a few Black folks are working for the other side.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

No comments: