It’s wet out here, and the water is deep.
Sharks the size of Cadillacs, eating entire SUVs!
The Great Detroit Flood
It’s wet out here, and the water is deep.
In downtown Detroit, at the headquarters of the online-mortgage company Quicken Loans, there stands another downtown Detroit in miniature. The diorama, made of laser-cut acrylic and stretching out over 19 feet in length, is a riot of color and light: Every structure belonging to Quicken’s billionaire owner, Dan Gilbert, is topped in orange and illuminated from within, and Gilbert currently owns 60 of them, a lordly nine million square feet of real estate in all. He began picking up skyscrapers just three and a half years ago, one after another, paying as little as $8 a square foot. He bought five buildings surrounding Capitol Park, the seat of government when Michigan became a state in 1837. He snapped up the site of the old Hudson’s department store, where 12,000 employees catered to 100,000 customers daily in the 1950s. Many of Gilbert’s purchases are 20th-century architectural treasures, built when Detroit served as a hub of world industry. He bought a Daniel Burnham, a few Albert Kahns, a Minoru Yamasaki masterwork with a soaring glass atrium. “They’re like old-school sports cars,” said Dan Mullen, one of the executives who took over Quicken’s newly formed real estate arm. “These were buildings with so much character, so much history. They don’t exist anywhere else. And it was like, ‘Buy this parking garage, and we’ll throw in a skyscraper with it.’ “
One of Gilbert’s new downtown properties is an iconic Kahn creation from 1959 called Chase Tower, previously the National Bank of Detroit Building, which spans a full city block. Now nicknamed the Qube, the building houses hundreds of Quicken loan officers who sit or stand at small desks, working their phones. Employees are encouraged to write on the walls, which also display the latest tallied results in competitions between internal sales teams. Stenciled on the walls as well are the Quicken credos, 19 bits of pithy wisdom the company calls its “Isms.” (“The inches we need are everywhere around us.” “Numbers and money follow; they do not lead.”) Above the workers hover decorative, spacecraft-like orbs, in peach and pink and aquamarine, matching the colors of the cabinetry and carpeting. The overall atmosphere resembles “The Wolf of Wall Street” as art-directed by Dr. Seuss. When a loan officer closes a deal, the resulting mortgage contract is printed out in the nearby basement of the old Federal Reserve, another Gilbert holding. In rooms where armored cars once deposited bags of money, rows of printers run hot, spitting out tens of thousands of contracts a month, a total of $80 billion in residential mortgages last year.
I have received a number of calls from recruiters for job openings at Quicken Loans. A co-worker actually did quit to go work for them.
The whole idea of an elite few buying up and owning the entire city is kind of, well, nauseating.
Days after a coalition of welfare rights organizations appealed to the United Nations for relief with Detroit water shutoffs, U.S. Rep. John Conyers today condemned the practice by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
Conyers said he plans to develop a range of solutions to address the crisis, including requesting federal emergency relief.
“Detroit’s water crisis did not happen in a vacuum,” Conyers said in a statement this evening. “Over the past decade, Detroiters have seen their water rates increase by 119%. Over this same period, forces beyond city residents’ control — including a global financial crisis that left one in five local residences in foreclosure and sent local unemployment rates skyrocketing — severely undercut Detroiters’ ability to pay.”
Conyers called the shutoffs inhumane and “economically short-sighted.” He said he plans to introduce legislation to protect access to water during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings and he will be working with members of Congress, state and federal officials in the coming days.
The department announced in March that it was resuming efforts to shut off water service to more than 150,000 delinquent customers in order to collect nearly $118 million in outstanding bills. The department said it would target customers whose bills are more than two months late and would shut off about 3,000 customers a week.
Department officials repeated their defense of the practice today, saying many customers avoided shutoffs by paying their bills, and the department is working to limit shutoffs.
A coalition of welfare rights organizations — including the Detroit People’s Water Board — appealed to the United Nations to have service restored to customers and to prevent more shutoffs.
A right-wing state and corporate push to cut off water is economic shock therapy at its most ruthless and racist, but resistance is growing
It was six in the morning when city contractors showed up unannounced at Charity Hicks’ house.
Since spring, up to 3000 Detroit households per week have been getting their water shut-off – for owing as little as $150 or two months in bills. Now it was the turn of Charity’s block – and the contractor wouldn’t stand to wait an hour for her pregnant neighbour to fill up some jugs.
“Where’s your water termination notice?” Charity demanded, after staggering to the contractor’s truck. A widely-respected African-American community leader, she has been at the forefront of campaigns to ensure Detroiters’ right to public, accessible water.
The contractor’s answer was to drive away, knocking Charity over and injuring her leg. Two white policemen soon arrived – not to take her report, but to arrest her. Mocking Charity for questioning the water shut-offs, they brought her to jail, where she spent two days before being released without charge.
Welcome to Detroit’s water war – in which upward of 150,000 customers, late on bills that have increased 119 percent in the last decade, are now threatened with shut-offs. Local activists estimate this could impact nearly half of Detroit’s mostly poor and black population – between 200,000 and 300,000 people.
As the Michigan Citizen reported, residents with delinquent water bills are losing their water while prominent Detroit corporations with much larger delinquent water bills are being left alone. The Palmer Park Golf Club owes $200,000. Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, owes DWSD $80,000. Ford Field owes $55,000. Kevyn Orr is arguing that the shutoffs are necessary to pay for the DWSD infrastructure - yet when Detroit raised $1 billion in bonds to pay for new infrastructure, $537 million of it went to banks like JPMorgan Chase, UBS and Morgan Stanley to pay off interest instead.
- See more at: occupy.com
Detroit is not “Run By Liberals” as the wingnut meme goes, it is being run by dictatorial fiat of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who answers only to Republican Gov. Snyder.
Here are some “helpful” suggestions from wingnuts:
Brian H. • 17 hours ago
How about all those Democrat leaders you elected?? Still trying to find a way to blame your parched throats on George W?? Yes, you have a basic right to water, but how do you expect free water, running to your homes, through pipes that someone else paid for and to be installed?? You live next to a BIG freaking lake… Guess what? That’s water- go grab a bucket and work for what you need.
Keninmo ellid • 8 days ago
LOL — Pay your bills, and you get water.
What else do you call a “basic human right”? Food, housing, cars, cell phones, comfy shoes, air conditioning?
Progressives — spouting mush since 1900.
Keninmo sameeker • 12 hours ago
Why? Why should a provider of goods or services take a loss just because the person consuming those goods or services is a deadbeat, and goes looking for a handout?
Let’s put it in a context an Occupy Spacer can understand.
Occupy Space Hipster living in his mom’s basement bums money off mom every month and promises to “pay her back”. Hipster gets $800 in the hole to mom. Dad finds out, and says “Hipster, pay up the money or get the h@ll out of my basement.”. Hipster hits up his deadbeat hipster friend, who we’ll call Hipster 2, to borrow $600 off his mom, who we’ll call mom2. Hipster 2 gets $600 from mom2, and gives it to Hipster, who gives it to his mom. Dad confronts Hipster and says “You paid $600, not $800. Where’s the other $200?” Hipster says “Hey, dude, it got paid by charitable contributions. You should give me a reduced rate.” Dad kicks Hipster in the azz and puts him to the curb.
And GOOD LORD, you idjit — Detroit Water and Sewer Department is….ready for it? Owned, operated and run by….the CITY OF DETROIT! AS A NON-PROFIT!
Now do you see why your post has no merit? Well, given your post in the first place, probably not….
There are MOAR HORRIBLE COMMENTS at the linked articles.
First you will need 183,000 people. Then add 111 years’ experience. And finally reduce to 2 minutes 44 seconds. Now repeat. Welcome to 24 hours in the life of Planet Ford.
Over the last five months, a deal has come together that would solve some of the most contentious issues in Detroit’s bankruptcy. It would minimize the pension cuts for 30,000 retirees and city workers, save the city’s art collection and give a reasonable amount of money to the city’s bondholders.
As expected, there were some objections from a few big insurance companies that stood to lose heavily. But with the support of Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, the deal seemed to have a shot in the state legislature, which would be required to spend about $195 million of tobacco-settlement money on behalf of Detroit’s pensioners.
And then, a few days ago, a loud and depressingly familiar voice rose in protest. The Koch brothers, through the screeching megaphone they built known as Americans for Prosperity, condemned the deal and announced plans to contact 90,000 conservatives around the state to build up pressure against it. The Associated Press reported that the group threatened to run ads against any Republicans in the legislature who voted for the deal in the coming days.
AFP has already set up a website — “No more bailouts for Detroit!” — that plays on the long-running, sometimes racially inflected resentment of Detroit around Michigan.
“Michigan has rewritten its laws numerous times to give Detroit special treatment and more financial assistance,” the website says. “Unfortunately, all this help has encouraged, rather than corrected, bad behavior. Years of fiscal mismanagement, corruption and cronyism resulted in Detroit’s staggering $18 billion of debt. Yet its leaders continue to blame the State for Detroit’s problems.”
The poor management of the city by its own officials is well-known and stretches back decades, but the state and its residents bear a huge responsibility for Detroit’s plight. State officials allowed fleeing white residents to hide behind suburban boundaries that depleted the city’s tax base while cutting revenue sharing. The think tank Demos found that revenue sharing cuts amounted to a third of the city’s revenue losses between 2011 and 2013.
The Koch’s use Detroit as a dumping ground for poisonous refinery waste, using a riverfront dump site provided by their fellow pirate Matty “The Bridge Troll” Moroun.
Conservatives reward success. Liberals reward failure. MI to give Detroit $200m for its ineptitude. http://t.co/n8c8yM12nT
DETROIT - Electric car maker Tesla Motors (TSLA) lost $49.8 million in the first quarter as it accelerated the development of its new crossover.
Tesla’s loss of 40 cents per share compared with a profit of 10 cents per share in the January-March period last year. Last year’s first-quarter profit was the decade-old company’s first ever profitable quarter.
Revenue grew 10 percent to $620.5 million in the latest quarter. Tesla said it produced a record 7,535 Model S sedans during the period and delivered 6,457 to customers.
GM (GM, Fortune 500) has teamed up with a sustainable agriculture group to build what it calls “the first shipping container homestead” in Detroit, complete with a working farm.
But it’s far from a “Little House on the Prairie.”
This home is made from a shipping container donated by the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, GM’s partner in the project, while the bulk of the building supplies will be supplied by the automaker.
In fact, 85% of the home’s materials will come from scraps collected at GM plants. For instance, it will be insulated with sound-proof car insulation, while plywood from large shipping crates will be used on the interior walls and Chevrolet battery cases will be repurposed as bird houses and planter boxes.
I have a friend who has made his office out of a shipping container, they are basically free, so many goods coming IN to this country, and so little going out….
Marathon Petroleum, which received a $175-million tax break from the City of Detroit in a mammoth expansion project, is coming under fire from City Council for failing to hire enough Detroiters.
When Marathon asked the city for the tax break as part of the company’s plan to expand its operations in southeast Detroit in 2007, with the appeal came a pledge to recruit Detroiters for new jobs at the refinery.
The City Council granted the company the personal property tax abatement, forgoing millions in tax revenue. Even with the tax break, a city analysis estimated the expansion would generate $181 million in income taxes, real property taxes and other fees for the city over two decades.
“As we discuss job creation, please understand that we will do what we can to hire qualified Detroit residents,” then-Marathon Senior Vice President Garry Peiffer wrote to City Council in 2007. “It is our intention to work closely with the Detroit Workforce Development Department and a local institution of higher education to develop curriculum and offer training for interested Detroit residents.”
But the vision to hire more Detroiters never materialized. Now city officials will more closely monitor Marathon’s hiring practices to ensure the company is making an effort to hire Detroit residents.
“In a city with double-digit unemployment, any company that’s receiving a tax abatement of nearly $180 million should be giving more back, including hiring residents,” Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins said in an interview.
Marathon employs 514 full-time workers at its refinery, thanks to the $2.2-billion expansion. That’s up from about 320 employees in 2007, when the city approved the personal property tax abatement, the largest of its kind in Detroit history.
Of the 514 employees, 30 are listed as Detroit residents as of January. In 2007, before the expansion, the company employed 15 Detroit residents. That means fewer than 6% of Marathon’s workers at the refinery live in the city, according to the company’s employment records, which must be submitted to the city annually under terms of its abatement agreement.
Susan Tompor reports: Susan Tompor: Bankruptcy Ruling Shocks, Disappoints Detroit Retirees
Darwina Wallace, 69, first heard that her city pension was a step closer to being cut when a friend who also retired from the city called her “up in arms” and demanded that she turn on the TV.
Wallace, who lives in Detroit, discovered that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ruled Tuesday morning that yes, Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9. The shocker for retirees — Rhodes also ruled that city pension benefits won’t receive heightened protection in bankruptcy and may be cut.
“It makes me sick,” said Wallace, who is single and receives a pension that’s less than $2,600 a month after taxes in addition to Social Security. She started working for the city in 1977 as a 911 operator and last worked in the water department as an analyst gathering data for capital improvement programs. She retired in 2006 after 31 years on the job.
“It’s definitely going to affect me. These people, the karma is going to get them. They don’t seem to care about people,” she said.
After Detroit filed for Chapter 9 in July, many City of Detroit retirees closed their eyes and crossed their fingers that city pensions would be sacred and protected by the state constitution. Now, there’s no doubt that retiree health care and pensions are at risk. A change to health care coverage is planned for March, but cuts in pensions remain unknown and painfully uncertain.
What is even more sickening is the cheering and ululating from the wingnuts that elderly retirees won’t be receiving their meager pittance. HURR HURR GREEDY YOONYUNZ!!!!11!!!
Look #UniteBlue communist union thugs threatens judge in detroit ruling. Who's that idiot woman who told me lack of civility taints convo?
.Relax Detroit union members, Obama will eventually fund your bloated pensions with taxpayer money. #UniteBlue
Washington — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who previously said Detroit would receive a taxpayer bailout “over my dead body,” will travel to the Motor City next month to offer his fix for the struggling city.
Paul, the Kentucky Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate, will deliver his plan at the Detroit Economic Club on Dec. 6.
Paul last traveled to Michigan in September for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, where he said he regretted his previous comments about Detroit made after the city’s July 18 municipal bankruptcy filing. At the GOP confab, Paul won the presidential straw poll and urged the Republican Party to be more inclusive.
In an interview in September with The Detroit News, Paul highlighted legislation he plans to introduce to help Detroit by forgiving federal personal income and corporate taxes as well as potentially payroll taxes in distressed cities to spur more hiring and attract new jobs. He said he intended to package the legislation as an effort with states that also forgive their taxes in targeted areas with high unemployment and poverty.
“Right now I think Detroit is in a downward spiral and something’s got to be done,” Paul said of his legislative effort in the September interview.
Paul will travel to Detroit to unveil the final touches on that legislative effort — further demonstrating his insistence Republicans need to build support by traveling to all neighborhoods — even those like Detroit that have been Democratic strongholds.
From The Detroit News: detroitnews.com
Yeah let’s eliminate all sources of municipal and state revenue! That should work!
What an asshat.