Boggs Center Living for Change News – August 28th – September 4th
Living for Change News
August 28th – September 4th
Thinking for Ourselves
Detroit has an historic opportunity to establish a new set of values for how development will take place in our city. By voting for the People’s Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance, Proposal A, we will set in places processes to ensure developers give something back to the community in exchange for tax breaks and use of public funds.
This proposal has a long history. Beginning in 2012 with the resistance to the efforts by John Hantz to secure 10,000 acres on the East Side for pennies on the dollar, community members have been actively seeking ways to have a greater say over what happens to land in our neighborhoods. Over the next 4 years we witnessed developer after developer making claims about why they need tax breaks. Marathon Oil got a $175 million tax abatement, and provided less than 25 jobs. During the bankruptcy process we watched the transfer of land to billionaire Ilitch for $1. This was after the decision to provide the majority of the $650 million for his new hockey stadium from public funds.
These are just a few examples of a long line of deals that have benefited private corporations and cost the public.
Proposal A would put an end to these kinds of “give- aways.” It would provide a framework for thoughtful discussion within a community about what impact a development might have on the quality of life. It provides the opportunity to systematically ask how to better support the whole community.
In a recent article in the Detroit News, Councilman Scott Benson argued that Detroit would be better served if we voted for his “enhanced” Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance. Mr. Benson says it is important to separate “fact from fiction” and that “despite some rhetoric” his proposal is really not “anti-community. Mr. Benson then goes on to provide some fantasies of his own. Most importantly he does not explain his own history in attempting to make sure developers are held accountable to the community.
Benson did everything he could to keep a real community benefit agreement from coming to the Council. When faced with the citizen’s ballot initiative, he quickly crafted his own proposal. The only purpose of this proposal is to confuse voters. It is based on the tired recycling of arguments that are inherently “anti-community.” They rest on the fear that people cannot be trusted to act openly, honestly, and with integrity as they consider the impact of large scale business developments in their neighborhood.
Moreover Benson, like all those who support his version, likes to reduce a CBA to the question of jobs for construction and contracts with local firms. Our history tells us that construction jobs rarely meet the “target goals” negotiated by officials. And the demand to use “ Detroit based businesses” is open to corruption and misrepresentation. More importantly, construction jobs are a minor part of multi-million dollar enterprises. Focusing only on construction jobs narrows the thinking of all involved.
Proposal A has a process that encourages community people and businesses together to think more broadly about what benefits a community receives over time. It looks to the broader questions of quality of life and ecological sustainability.
More than 5000 Detroiters petitioned to put Proposal A on the ballot. Now we need to organize to make sure a real community supported ordinance passes.
The People’s CBO was designated as Proposal A and the ‘Enhanced’ Ordinance will appear as Proposal B.
GET YOUR COPY OF MAPPING THE WATER CRISIS!!!!!!
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Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality
evolution in the 21st Century Anthology
…or the classic, Conversations in Maine