Tag Archives: Detroit

Rachel and Chariot

Meet Rachel Beech, a 90-year-old gun-totin’ great grandma.
She’s survived 3 husbands.
Her constant companion is Chariot, the first and only car she’s ever bought.
Chariot’s out-lived 7 lifetime mufflers, 17 lifetime guaranteed batteries and, like Rachel, is still going strong — at 557,000 miles and running….

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Agenda 21: Lifestyle of the Green Economy


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Most Dangerous Cities in America

We have good news and bad news.

The good news is that, according to FBI statistics, crime is down in the United States for the 5th year in a row. The statistics for 2010 show a 5.5% drop in violent crimes compared to last year. An example is St. Louis, Mo. — last year’s most violent city — saw an impressive 18% decrease in violent crime.

The bad news is that in certain parts of the country, things are getting much worse.

For example, Flint, Michigan — which has the dubious distinction of being the most violent city in America in 2010 — saw a 10% increase in violent crime over last year, with 2,208 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

Here are the 25 most violent cities in America, ranked by the number of violent crimes (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault) per 100,000 people. The source of this list is an article by Leah Goldman in the Business Insider, May 23, 2011. But the article leaves out an interesting fact.

On average, blacks make up 12.9% of the overall U.S. population. On a hunch I looked up each of the 25 cities on Wikipedia, to find out the racial demographics of each. I found that, with the exception of Miami and Stockton, the percentage of blacks is above the national average in every one of the remaining 23 most violent cities.

AMERICA’S 25 most violent cities:

25. Elizabeth, N.J.: 1,100 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Pop. 120,568 (2000): 55.78% White, 19.98% Black, 49.46% Hispanic or Latino of any race.

24. Lansing, Michigan: 1,101 per 100,000. Pop. 119,128 (2000): 65.28%W, 21.91%B, 10% Hispanic or Latino of any race.

23. Miami, Florida: 1,108 per 100,000. Pop. 362,470 (2000): 34.1% Cuban, 5.6% Nicaraguan, 5.5% Haitian, 3.3% Honduran, 1.7% Dominican, 1.6% Columbian.

22. Kansas City, Missouri: 1,126 per 100,000. 62.8%W, 28.6%B, 9.2% Hispanic/Latino of any race.

21. Nashville, Tennessee: 1,128 per 100,000. 65.9%W, 27.1%B, 7.5% H/L.

20. St. Petersburg, Florida: 1,132 per 100,000. Pop. 244,769 (2010): 68.7%W, 23.9%B, 6.6% H/L.

19. Richmond, Calif.: 1,134 per 100,000. Pop. 103,701 (2010): 17.1%W, 25.9%B, 39.5% H/L.

18. Lowell, Mass.: 1,156 per 100,000. Pop 105,167 (2000): 68.6%W, 16.52% , 4.21%B.

17. Philadelphia, Penn.: 1,189 per 100,000. 43.6%W, 42.5%B, 11.4% H/L.

16. Springfield, Illinois: 1,237 per 100,000. Pop 111,454 (2000): 81.01%W, 15.34%B, 1.2% H/L.

15. Washington, D.C.: 1,242 per 100,000. Pop. 601,657 (2010): 38.5%W, 50.7%B, 9.1% H.

14. Hartford, Conn.: 1,293 per 100,000. Pop. 121,578 (2000): 27.72%W, 38.5%B, 40.52% H/L 9mainly Puerto Rico).

13. Cleveland, Ohio: 1,296 per 100,000. 52.5%B, 40.5%W, 9%H/L.

12. Springfield, Mass.: 1,354 per 100,000. Pop 153,170 (2010): 56.11%W, 21.01%B, 27.18%H.

11. Buffalo, NY: 1,357 per 100,000. 53.8%W, 41.1%B, 8.3%H/L.

10. Stockton, Ca: 1,381 per 100,000. Pop. 291,707 (2010): 37%W, 12.2%B, 40.3%H/L.

9. Rockford, Ill.: 1,453 per 100,000. 150,115 (2000): 72.81%W, 17.37%B, 10.18%H/L.

8. Baltimore, Maryland: 1,455 per 100,000. 33.1%W, 63.2%B, 3%H/L.

7. Little Rock, Arkansas: 1,522 per 100,000. 52.7%W, 42.1%B, 4.7%H/L.

6. Oakland, Ca: 1,530 per 100,000. 25.9%W, 27.3%B, 25.4%H/L.

5. Memphis, Tenn.: 1,539 per 100,000. 31.7%W, 62.6%B, 5% H/L.

4. New Haven, Conn.: 1,584 per 100,000. Pop. 129,779 (2010): 43.46%W, 37.36%B, 9.39% H/L.

3. St. Louis, Mo.: 1,747 per 100,000. Pop. 348,189 (2000): 43.9%W, 49.2%B, 3.5%H/L

2. Detroit, Michigan: 1,887 per 100,000. Pop. 713,777 (2010): 10.6%W, 82.7%B, 6.8% H/L.

1. Flint, Michigan: 2,208 violent crimes per 100,000. Pop. 124,943 (2000): 41.39%W, 53.27%B, 2.99% H/L.

Blacks are the primary victims of black criminals. Blacks and all Americans ignore this stark reality, at our own peril.


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Food Stamps Used to Buy Lobsters and Steaks

America is broke. 1 of every 4 homes are underwater. 1 of every 8 Americans are on food stamps.
But Americans are a generous people. We help fellow Americans who are in need. But we deeply resent those who take advantage of our generosity by abusing government welfare, such as the food stamp program.
Every year, taxpayers spent $40 billion on those food stamps that are intended for the poor. Every one of those food stamps are paid for by you and me and the 53% of Americans who still pay income taxes.
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, food stamp fraud totaled nearly $100 million since 2007. Abuse of the food stamp program accelerated when debit-style cards replaced paper coupons in the 1990s.  Examples of fraud and abuse include:

  • People hungry for cash ask the store to ring up a small food sale or a phony one. An employee agrees to hand over money, maybe $50, but takes a larger amount off the card for a nice profit, sometimes as high as 100%.
  • A store west of downtown Detroit sold bags of the exotic chewy drug khat in exchange for food-stamp benefits. The cash was then wired to Somalia and other countries.
  • The owner of Ann’s Market in Detroit, Wasfi Shalhout of Dearborn, Michigan, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010 for $1.2 million of food stamp fraud. Shalhout would write dollar amounts on old lottery tickets and tell customers to present them at the counter. Customers waited in line 10-deep to trade food-stamp benefits for cash. Shalhout used the funds to pay off his mortgage, purchase property in Israel, and leased three vehicles.
  • A recent example of food stamp abuse is Leroy Fick of Auburn, Michigan, who won $2 million in a state lottery game nearly a year ago but is still getting food stamps.

Below is evidence of someone abusing the food stamp program. The evidence is a grocery store receipt, dated February 8, 2011, from the Angeli’s County Market in Menominee, Michigan. My brother sent this to me in an E-mail. Please help this go viral!

I’m among the 53% of Americans who pay income taxes. I don’t buy cold water lobster or Porterhouse steak, but go to the discount Grocery Outlet.
But this individual in Michigan whose food stamp debit card account ends in 5865 bought cold water lobsters, Porterhouse steaks, and Diet Mountain Dew because someone else is paying the $141.78 bill. That someone else is you, me, and other taxpayers.
When do we say “ENOUGH! We’re sick of it and we won’t put up with it any longer”?
One good way to say “ENOUGH!” is to report fraud when you see it. Here’s how, from the U.S. Department of Human Services website:

If you know of, and wish to report fraud or abuse of the cash assistance, food stamp, Medicaid or any other benefit program provided by the Department of Human Services, call the 24-hour hotline for fraud at (202) 673-4464 in the Office of Program Review, Monitoring and Investigation (OPRMI). Anonymous calls are accepted. Callers who give their names can request confidentiality at (202) 671-4496.

UPDATE: A few hours after I published this post, Fellowship of the Minds received an e-mail from David DiCrescenzo of AmericanPatriotsPress.com, informing us that he wrote on exactly this same food stamp abuse about 10 days ago. Mr. DiCrescenzo called Angeli’s County Market and spoke tothe manager, Dan Bursik, who confirmed the purchase. Read DiCrescenzo’s blog here!
UPDATE (June 5, 2011): Sharp-eyed reader Patti found this news on Fox11 WLUK-TV, June 3, 2011:
Louis Cuff, 33, was arrested Wednesday and charged with welfare fraud for misusing hundreds of dollars of state-issued food stamps. Authorities say Cuff used a Michigan-issued food stamp card to buy and then sell food items for about 50 cents-on-the-dollar. One of the receipts from February includes six lobster tails, two porterhouse steaks and soda, totaling $141.78. The Menominee County Sheriff’s Department says anonymous tips led to a month-long joint investigation with the Michigan Department of Human Services. Lt. Greg Nast with the Menominee County Sheriff’s Department says he was told someone found the receipt near the grocery store. Authorities say Cuff admitted to selling items purchased with food stamps on three occasions. If convicted, Cuff faces up to a five year prison sentence.

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Will Detroit Become the Next Battle?

Detriot teachers rally to save their jobs

Michigan orders DPS to make huge cuts
Jennifer Chambers / The Detroit News
Via Detroit News,  swift and severe changes are coming to Detroit Public Schools. State education officials have ordered Robert Bobb, the District’s Emergency Financial Planner, to immediately implement a financial restructuring plan that balances the district’s books by closing half of its schools, swelling high school class sizes to 60 students and consolidating operations.  In a letter, Mike Flanagan, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the Michigan Department of Education gave preliminary approval to Bobb’s plan to bring the 74,000-student district out of its financial emergency. As a condition of approval, Flanagan said Bobb cannot declare the district in bankruptcy during the remainder of his contract.

Bobb, appointed emergency financial manager in March 2009, filed his deficit elimination plan with the state in January, saying it would wipe out the district’s $327 million deficit by 2014.  Bobb confirmed he is working to implement the plan that will shrink the district to 72 schools for a projected 58,570 students in 2014.
State Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, said, “I don’t feel the taxpayers of Michigan are willing to become liable for that money with all the structural and institutional problems that exist.  We need a long-term solution for public schools…we just don’t have the solution right now.”
Back in 2009, the DPS cut 1,700 employees.  This was necessary to deal with a projected $408 million shortfall. Of course, the Socialist Equality Party opposed the school closures. They stated, “Detroit—already devastated by decades of spending cuts and job destruction—is being turned into an economic wasteland. Bobb, who is paid some $260,000 a year for his services, is firing principals if he determines they will be insufficiently aggressive in carrying out his right-wing demands. This past week, Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, visited Detroit to demand ‘an absolutely fundamental overhaul’ in the education system, by which he means: closing schools, laying off teachers and staff, and implementing a series of right-wing measures previously demanded by the Bush administration. These include the expansion of charter schools, increased testing, and the introduction of merit pay for teachers. If we are to defend our communities and our livelihoods, workers must strike back through class struggle, including demonstrations, occupations, and strikes.”

The Socialist Equality Party also stated, “To fight for its interests, including the defense and expansion of public education, workers throughout the city, across the country and around the world must unite on the basis of their independent class interests.”
Notice how it’s all for the children, I mean class interests.  Both Wisconsin and Detroit (as well as many other districts across the US) need a major financial overhaul to be sustainable in the long run. I pray Governor Walker can lead the fight to help change the system throughout the Country.  Otherwise, we are bound to continue clashing and living beyond our means.

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16 Cities Face Bankruptcy 2011

Design by BKeyser

How better than to end 2010 with this cheerful story? LOL
California and New Jersey each has 3 cities on this list. It is also no accident that these are cities and states that vote Democrat (blue).
The 16 cities are arranged in ascending order, ranked not according to how large their deficits are, but how large the annualized gap is between a city’s budget and its deficit. Paterson, NJ, has the dubious distinction of ranking No. 1, with a gap of 24%. Yikes!
Note also that the cities here are BIG cities. There must be countless medium and small cities that are also near bankruptcy or already bankrupt.  Two years ago, Vallejo, CA, declared bankruptcy. Recently, the town of Prichard in Alabama stopped paying its public employee pensions.

16 U.S. Cities That Could Face Bankruptcy in 2011
By Gus Lubin and Leah Goldman – Business Insider – Dec 21, 2010
2011 will be the year of the municipal default. At least that’s what analysts like Meredith Whitney predict, as do bond investors that have been fleeing the muni market.
There are many reasons to be worried. First, the expiration of Build America Bonds will make it harder for cities to raise funds. Second, city revenues are crashing and keep getting worse. Property taxes haven’t reflected the total damage from the housing crash. High joblessness is cutting into city revenues, while increasing costs for services.
The next default could be a major city like Detroit, or it could be one of hundreds of small cities that are on the brink. Did we leave off your ailing city? Let us know in the comments.
#16: San Diego, Ca.
Deficit through June 2012 : $73 million
Budget in FY2011: $2.85 billion
Annualized gap: 1.7%
The city’s official have tried curbing the deficit by increasing sales taxes, but residents of the city strongly oppose this and have voted it down. San Diego already cut over $200 million over the past two years, so these cuts won’t come easy.
#15: New York, NY
Deficit through June 2012: $2 billion
Budget in FY2010: $63.1 billion
Annualized gap: 2.1%
Estimates of the NYC deficit range from $3.6 billion according to Comptroller John Liu to around $2 billion according to the Independent Budget Office. Everyone agrees that the deficit will be worse if New York state cuts aid as part of its own deficit reduction plan. Mayor Bloomberg has already started to address the FY2012 deficit, calling for layoffs in all city agencies, closing 20 fire departments at night, and reducing services for seniors, libraries and cultural centers.
#14: San Jose, Ca.
Deficit through June 2012: $90 million
Budget in FY2010: $2.7 billion
Annualized gap: 2.2%
After an audit of the San Jose police department, city officials found it to have too many high paid supervisors, costing the city too much money. The answer to this is converting some of those upper ranked officers to patrol positions. This could reduce the city’s debt by $33 million. Last year’s deficit was $116 million, leading to brutal cuts including nearly 900 layoffs.
#13: Cincinnati, Oh.
Deficit through December 2012: $60 million
Biennial budget FY2009/2010: $2.5 billion
Annualized gap: 2.4%
Helping the budget in Cincinnati depends largely on changes in the police and fire departments. The city can either get $20 million in concessions from the two unions, lay off 216 firefighters, or outsource the police force to neighboring city, Hamilton.
#12: Honolulu, Hi.
Deficit through June 2012: $100 million
Budget in FY2011: $1.8 billion
Annualized gap: 3.7%
Mayor Peter Carlisle said police officers and fire fighters will be asked to make concessions in the upcoming budget and he will also end furloughs of two days per month for public workers. This will require the 2,900 officers to give back their 6% pay raises they have received in each of the past four years. Last year Honolulu raised some property taxes to fill a huge $140 million deficit.
#11: San Francisco, Ca.
Deficit through June 2012: $380 million
Budget in FY2011: $6.55 billion
Annualized gap: 3.9%
Mayor Gavin Newsom says this year’s deficit is completely manageable. Last year’s deficit approached $500 million and the city did not need to lay off any police or firemen. While Newsom’s term is coming to an end, he says he and his colleagues will leave detailed options for the incoming mayor. Last year’s cuts were even larger, eliminating a $438 million deficit. The city is down to the bone.
#10: Los Angeles, Ca.
Deficit through June 2012: $438 million
Budget in FY2011: $6.7 billion
Annualized gap: 4.4%
The Los Angeles City Administration Office plans to cut 225 civilian positions in the LAPD, reduce firefighting staffing, and eliminate a dozen positions in the City Attorney’s Office and General Service Department. The deficit will only get worse unless an effort to privatize parking garages is approved. If not, the city will require more layoffs, furloughs, and curtailed hiring. Last year’s deficit was even larger, totalling nearly $700,000.
#9: Washington, D.C.
Deficit through September 2012: $688 million
Budget in FY2011: $8.89 billion
Annualized gap: 4.4%
Council member Tommy Wells proposed tax rate increases which were voted down, but Wells says he will continue to push his proposal.  Wells’ proposal seems reasonable as residents making $100,000 a year would only pay $63 more in taxes per year. This is a small price to pay that would benefit the city immensely.
#8: Newark, NJ
Deficit through December 2011: $30.5 million
Budget in FY2010: $677 million
Annualized gap: 4.5%
Newark’s deficit was $83 million before Mayor Cory Booker initiated a plan to sell city-owned buildings, raise property taxes to 16 percent and decimate the police force. Nontheless, Moody’s cut Newark’s rating to A3 citing its $30.5 million remaining deficit.
#7: Detroit, Mi
Deficit through June 2011: $85 million
Budget in FY2011: $3.1 billion
Annualized gap: 5.5%
Detroit’s city government has cut costs with layoffs and by leaving currently vacant positions open. Mayor Bing’s emergency fiscal plan includes demolishing houses and cutting police and trash services to 20% of the city. Last year the city council pushed through severe cuts to fill an over $700 million deficit.
#6: Reading, Pa
Deficit through December 2011: $7.5 million
Budget in FY2010: $120 million
Annualized gap: 6.3%
One of Pennsylvania’s several distressed municipalities, which receive state aid, Reading has been running an operating deficit for years. In September the city council said their deficit was bigger than expected, soaring to $7.5 million for the current year, which means they will have to borrow around $17 million from the state to pay off total debts.
#5: Joliet, Il
Deficit through December 2011: $21 million
Budget in FY2010: $274 million
Annualized gap: 7.7%
Last year, the city increased property tax by over 12 percent and hiked water and sewer rates by 45 percent over three years to help with the deficit. The city council also cut police and public sector jobs.
#4: Camden, NJ
Deficit through December 2011: $26.5 million
Budget in FY2010: $178 million
Annualized gap: 15%
Despite holding title of second most dangerous city in America, Camden recently received approval to lay off half of its police force.
#3: Hamtramck, Mi
Deficit through June 2012: $4.7 million
Budget in FY2011: $18 million
Annualized gap: 17%
City manager Bill Cooper was denied permission to declare bankruptcy. He says the city is owed millions of dollars in tax dollars from Detroit from a shared facility. The state offered the city a loan to stave off bankruptcy. Cooper says he has already cut almost everything possible, going so far as to lay off the city’s five crossing guards. Hamtramck might avoid bankruptcy, but also-broke Michigan can’t afford many of these deals. That’s why Gov. Rick Snyder predicts “hundreds of jurisdictions” going bankrupt in the next four years.
#2: Central Falls, RI
Deficit through June 2012: $7 million
Budget in FY2011: $21 million
Annualized gap: 22%
Central Falls has been put in state receivership due to critical budget problems. State-appointed receiver Mark Pfeiffer thinks the best solution is for Central Falls to be annexed by its neighboring city, Pawtucket.
#1: Paterson, N.J.
Deficit through December 2011: $54 million
Budget for FY2010: $225 million
Annualized gap: 24%
As a “last resort,” Paterson is considering laying off 30 percent of its police force, said councilman Steve Olimpio. This will put 150 police officers out of work.
BONUS: Chicago, Il
Deficit through December 2011: $654 million Closed
Budget in FY2010: $6.8 billion
Annualized gap: 9.6%
Mayor Richard Daley has balanced the budget, but absolutely ruined Chicago finances from here on. His FY2011 plan uses up nearly the entire revenue from a long-term lease of the local parking system and airport, which he passed in 2008. The multi-billion lease deal was supposed to last for decades, but it only lasted two years. The best hope for the future is building a city-owned casino.

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Most Dangerous US Cities

The Associated Press reports on November 22, 2010, that St. Louis, Missouri, is America’s most dangerous city in 2009, according to a study by CQ Press, using population figures and crime data compiled by the FBI. Crime data include the rates of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.
The top five most dangerous cities are:

  1. St. Louis, Missouri, which had 2,070.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared with a national average of 429.4.
  2. Camden, New Jersey, which was the most dangerous U.S. city in 2008, 2004, and 2003.
  3. Detroit, Michigan.
  4. Flint, Michigan.
  5. Oakland, California.

Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area will be happy to know that you are living in or near America’s 5th (Oakland) and 6th (Richmond) most dangerous cities.
For the second straight year, the safest city with more than 75,000 residents was Colonie, N.Y.
You can look up the crime index of your city by CLICKING HERE. The lower your crime index, the better. 😉

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