THE BLOG
07/09/2013 03:39 pm ET Updated Sep 08, 2013

What Would Thomas Jefferson Say About Detroit?

"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." -Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801

This holiday morning I sat and talked to Sam Riddle the political director of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network. Going over the depressing news about the Supreme Court's slash and dash of the Voting Rights Act, I began to lament further about the Emergency Management appointments in Michigan. Suddenly, I became even more energized to work harder to build the movement to Washington D.C. After the family visits and BBQ was eaten.

While, all of the attention has been on Detroit being the largest city under management of the state thus nullifying local government and its charter. There's so much more to this law called Public Act 436, I'm sure Nelson Mandela and Thomas Jefferson would cringe at the sad facts of today's Detroit. Detroit's 36th district chief judge was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court not by Detroit's democratically elected judges. The Detroit Public School Board has been ousted and rendered useless by the emergency manager assigned by the Governor of Michigan, and of course, the City of Detroit is now under control of the State of Michigan by way of the appointment of Kevyn Orr.

All this done, with the murmur from those who are in Lansing that Detroiters don't have the ability to govern themselves. Last week, The EM of Detroit ordered the Detroit City Council President to work, robbing him of his ability to use sick leave or Family Medical Leave Act. The EM used his powers to nullify his vote on council and eliminate his pay and benefits. Obviously, the councilman is in turmoil with looming allegations of some type of misconduct as a local high school mentor. Some are claiming this instance to be a victory for the EM. Why? Well he gets to justify the means for existence. But not really. We have a charter and we have a state constitution, and both have democratic processes that will allow for the removal of elected officials. However, the law that empowers the EM to make these swift and Anti-democratic moves lacks the empowerment of Democracy. The state legislature controlled by one party and the governors office controlled by one party enshrined a statue so controversial that the former law Public Act 4 which birthed Public Act 436 was overturned and repealed by the voters in the 2012 election. The governor and legislature so bent on continuing this practice created the new law Public Act 436 and attached it to an appropriation thus making it difficult or what some consider repeal proof. So the obvious question is why go thru all that trouble? Is it about Detroit? Is it about deficits? Is it about crime? Is it about education? Nope. It's about control. Politics is simply about who gets what and how much. Detroit is a city like many others that's under emergency management in is filled with assets and opportunity. Detroit statistics say that 80 percent of the electorate are African American. They also say that 90 percent always vote Democrat. Therefore those of the opposite party who have great relationships with big business and banks would never have the opportunity to direct resources or control budgets, because the local electorate would not allow it. Meanwhile, average Detroiters plagued with the divestment of manufacturing and international trade policy that ship jobs oversees just want street lights, safety, and education.

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson The "Federal Edition" of Jefferson's works in 12 volumes edited by Paul Leicester Ford in 1904-05.

This week Detroit's EM will take bondholders and bankers on a tour of Detroit. The EM office proclaims that the goal is to show them the deprivation and decay of Detroit, with hopes that they will take a loss on their Investment by accepting pennies on the dollar. I'm suspicious. Why wouldn't I, the EM for Detroit is a former partner of the firm Jones day which represents Detroit and the same banks and bondholders that he will cart around Detroit on the bus.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. - Thomas Jefferson The "Federal Edition" of Jefferson's works in 12 volumes edited by Paul Leicester Ford in 1904-05.

Democracy is a messy process, I don't think the founders ever thought it to be perfect. But it works. As we celebrate with ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, bake beans, and firecrackers let us remember that even those who framed and formed this Democracy, saw much past their present and gave us a road map that works.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. -Thomas Jefferson The "Federal Edition" of Jefferson's works in 12 volumes edited by Paul Leicester Ford in 1904-05.

I'm headed to Washington, D.C. on August 24th, 2013 to march with the National Action Network as we continue the movement of those who have come before us. When we get there we will march in the shadows of Lincoln and Jefferson, we will gather and make speeches in the shadows of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, but we will leave with the energy fired up and ready to go. This work requires our energy, to not allow the moment to end in Washington, but continue on and create a movement to protect Democracy not just across the world but right here in our own backyard!

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then." - Thomas Jefferson The "Federal Edition" of Jefferson's works in 12 volumes edited by Paul Leicester Ford in 1904-05.


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