Archive for "Rep. John Conyers"

Council Candidates Woo Cops in Detroit

Published by Pamela Gentry on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 10:15 am.

By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst

Oct. 13, 2009 – The Motor City could have nine new members on city council on Election Day. I was in Detroit this past weekend to serve as Mistress of Ceremonies for Midwest Coalition of African American Police Officers (MCAAPO) annual awards dinner.

 The event was honoring law enforcement officers with careers spanning up to 30 years in crime fighting in the metropolitan area.

Detroit once the Mecca for the automotive industry and the Motown sound is now plagued with double digit unemployment [estimated to be at 17 percent] abandon homes, and the highest rates of city flight in country. 

But none of these negatives have discouraged the five top law enforcement officers honored Saturday evening by their peers for the tough jobs they perform daily. 

The  MCAAPO honored top law enforcement  officers ; Darryl Boykin, Chief of Police in South Bend, Ind., Gregory Gaskin, Chief of Police for Inkster, MI, Theodore G. Caldwell, Chief of Police for Highland Park, MI, Benny Napoleon, Wayne County Sheriff and Warren C. Evan, Chief of Police for Detroit.

The awards event was also a magnet for political hopefuls wanting the support with this important constituency less than a month before Election Day.   I acknowledged several candidates in attendance with hopes of filling the vacant seats on the embattled Detroit City Council.  Gary_Brown

Former Detroit City Police officer Gary Brown is one of those candidates.  Brown is one of the candidates who received a sizeable percentage of the vote during the primary.   He’s also one of the two officers who was fired by former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick following the scandal that led to mayor’s  trial and conviction.   Brown sued the city and reached a million dollar settlement and now hopes to start a new career in politics.

Brown spoke passionately about what he would like to see in the city’s future – but told me expectations need to realistic.  “We can still have a great city, it might not ever get back to a population of 2 million, but we can have a smaller successful city.”

Detroit City Council President Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., is also on the ballot in November.  He was acting mayor during the turmoil with former mayor Kilpatrick, but lost in the special election to former MBA basketball player and businessman Dave Bing. Bing is also running for re-election.

Cockrel thanked the organization for hosting the conference in the city of Detroit saying he was fully aware they could have select other  “Midwest” towns.

The wooing of these officers also brought Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to the dinner to offer his well wishes to the men and women in blue.  Conyers has had his own political battles this year in light of his wife’s guilty plea to bribery charges.  If former city councilwoman Monica Conyers is convicted she could face up to five years in prison. 

As a native Detroiter I hope to see things improve for the city and for the people whose lively hood depend on it bouncing back. Election Day could be is a fresh start the city needs to make it happen.

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The Big Three Want Big Bucks from Congress

Published by Pamela Gentry on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at 2:19 pm.

By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Producer

Dec. 3, 2008 – The plight of the U.S. automakers could be left to Congress.  Not the best scenario for the American ideals of free enterprise and capitalism, but the big three automakers are now in the need of a bailout, which appears to be the only option for survival.

But a bailout won’t be easy.  President Bush and Democratic Party leaders are in a stalemate over what should be done.  Republicans believe the automakers should file bankruptcy and reorganize, while Democrats think tax dollars can should only be used as bridge loans while companies reorganize under bankruptcy laws, cut costs and re-tool plants to build more fuel-efficient cars.

But lofty ideals require time the automakers don’t have.

One Black lawmaker from the Motor City, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), weighed in following the presentations of options by the automakers that appeared to be filled with gloom and doom.

Conyers wants the new administration to elevate United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger into the position of “auto czar.”   

“Over the last month, there has been much discussion about the need for a strong central figure to oversee the dramatic changes being undertaken by the auto industry.  It is my belief that a Cabinet-level ‘auto czar’ would provide this type of leadership and help President Obama successfully coordinate his administration’s efforts on behalf of the industry,” Conyers said.

I’m not sure a czar is what’s needed, but it’s clear the industry needs some un-divided attention to get back in gear. As for czars, they usually make headlines, and not policy, so how do they really help?

“If the Congress and auto industry strike a ‘grand bargain’ aimed at improving the industry’s efficiency and innovative capacity, America’s public and private sectors will have to work together on a variety of fronts.  The complexity inherent in reforming firms with extensive and interconnected labor, legal, and financial agreements will most certainly be daunting,” Conyers contends.

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi agrees with the severity of the issues facing the industry, but she told reporters on Tuesday, “I think it’s pretty clear that bankruptcy is not an option,”  and that she may call for another lame-duck session to deal with the crisis.

 “I believe that an intervention will happen, either legislatively or by the administration,” Pelosi said.

The automakers made their case to Congress while in Washington.  General Motors Corp. asked for $18 billion along with $12 billion in loans and a $6 billion line of credit.  Chrysler asked for $7 billion before the end of 2008 and Ford Motor Company  requested a  $9 billion line of credit.

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D)  said he thinks things can come together to get a deal on paper for the automakers.  “If this thing is going to happen next week, it’s going to happen with the support and assistance of the current president and the president-elect,” Levin said.

With the number of jobs on the line throughout the United States and the number of small businesses depending on the successes of the automotive industry, Congress will have to do something.  We’ll just have to wait and see what they decide to do.

Do you think tax dollars should be used to help the struggling automakers? 

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