Border Reopening a ‘Big Relief’ Says Detroit Regional Chamber VP

iHeartRadio
Oct. 14, 2021
Rusty Thomson 

The Detroit Regional Chamber is ready to welcome Canadians back once the border reopens to non-essential travel.

The U.S. land border is set to reopen to fully vaccinated Canadians in early November, although a firm start date has not been released.

Glenn Stevens, vice president of the Detroit Regional Chamber, says it’s a big relief.

He says this is about friends and family interactions, tourism and commerce, interactions businesses can have in person and people who have property in Michigan. He describes it as a “big pressure relief valve on all four of those things.”

Stevens says Michigan has a $26-billion annual tourism business but so many businesses have not been able to depend on that revenue.

“We have over a million visitors per year who come over not only on a daily basis, but on a tourism trip standpoint.”

He says it comes at a good time as the Christmas shopping season is approaching.

“We can fell that all the way from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula. There’s 19 crossings between Ontario and Michigan and that’s a pretty substantial percentage of the U.S. border crossings with Canada, which is Think is 119. So this is a really good time for this to be happening.”

Stevens says the reopening is about four things, but most importantly, it’s about friends and family interactions.

“It’s tourism and commerce, third it’s the interactions businesses can have in person and there’s also property owners on both sides that visit different places, to access their property or check on their property. It’ got a big pressure relief valve on all four of those things now.”

Fully vaccinated Americans have been allowed back into Canada since August, provided they can show proof of a recent negative COVID test.

View the original article.

Murray re-appointed board member of Mackinac Island Community Foundation

James J. Murray, the managing partner of the Petoskey office of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, was recently re-appointed as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Mackinac Island Community Foundation.

“It’s such an honor to help the Mackinac Island community,” said Murray. “Continuing my service on the Board, and particularly as its Chair, provides me the opportunity to help focus the Foundation’s resources to promote the safety, health, strength and success of the Mackinac Island community.”

The Mackinac Island Community Foundation serves the general well-being of Mackinac Island residents and visitors. Its purpose is to raise permanent endowment and special-purpose funds, manage them and distribute the earnings for charitable purposes and to stimulate community-wide initiatives. For example, according to Murray, the Foundation responded to the impact of COVID-19 by establishing the Island Essential Needs fund for the benefit of Island residents and nonprofit organizations that were adversely impacted by the pandemic. In addition, recently the Foundation, in partnership with the City of Mackinac Island and others, helped develop and construct additional workforce housing. Murray credited the generosity and dedication of many to accomplish these goals.

As a member of the Mackinac Island Community Foundation, Murray works with his colleagues to advance the organization’s goals, which include assisting in raising and managing endowment assets and determining how to spend funds to best benefit Mackinac Island’s residents, visitors and the Island unique natural resources.

Since 1998, Murray has been a partner with Plunkett Cooney. His northern Michigan practice includes extensive experience in the areas of business law, real estate, banking, and estate planning. Murray serves as city attorney for the city of Petoskey.

Murray is a member of the American Bar Association and the State Bar of Michigan, as well as a former Board member of the Michigan Legal Defense Fund and the Association of Municipal Attorneys. He is a past President of the Emmet-Charlevoix Bar Association and serves as a member of the grievance panel for the State Bar of Michigan.

Murray received his law degree, magna cum laude, and undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1987 and 1982, respectively.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of business and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in seven Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms.

For more information about James Murray’s reappointment to the Mackinac Island Community Foundation board, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008; jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

– End –

Walsh College announces DeRoy Scholarship recipients

TROY, Mich., Sept. 13, 2021 — Walsh has announced the 2021 recipients of the DeRoy Testamentary Scholarship, Cameron Anderson of Macomb and Julia Cousino of Waterford. The full academic scholarship is funded by the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation, named for its founder, renowned philanthropist, automotive businessperson and community leader Helen L. DeRoy.

Anderson is a Macomb Community College transfer student working towards a bachelor of business administration in marketing. Cousino, an aspiring CPA, transferred from Oakland Community College and is pursuing a bachelor of accountancy at Walsh.

“Earning the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation scholarship means the world to me. Words cannot describe how appreciative and thankful I am to have been selected,” said Anderson.

“My parents warned me about the dangers of student loans from a young age. Because of them, I’ve been determined to earn my degree with as little debt as possible. With this scholarship, the financial burden is lifted, and I can be assured I’ll achieve my goals debt-free,” said Cousino.

The DeRoy Testamentary Foundation provides funding support for programs and projects that improve the quality of life and well-being of individuals in metro Detroit.

For more information about Walsh, visit www.walshcollege.edu.

# # #

ABOUT WALSH
Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of Southeast Michigan’s largest graduate business schools, offering classes in several locations and online. Our internationally and nationally-ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, data analytics, finance, information technology, human resources, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

Walsh College’s annual Leadership Awards Dinner returns Oct. 21

TROY, Mich., Oct. 13, 2021 — Walsh College will hold its annual Leadership Awards Dinner to honor metro Detroit business leaders and raise student scholarship funds on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 at 7 p.m. at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mich.

Honorees will be recognized for their service to Walsh and in the community in the name of education and include Alan J. Kaufman, Chairman, president and CEO of H.W. Kaufman Group, Mark Albrecht, MSSL, owner of MJA HR Consulting, Jackie Buchanan, president and CEO of Genisys Credit Union and UHY LLP Certified Public Accountants.

All proceeds from the evening benefit the Jeffery W. Barry Endowed Scholarship and the Leadership Awards Scholarship. Since its inception in 2000, the Leadership Awards Dinner has raised more than $3 million in scholarship funds.

The Leadership Awards Dinner is made possible in part by presenting sponsors H.W. Kaufman Group and Burns & Wilcox, and UHY LLP and platinum sponsors Ernst & Young LLP, Genisys Credit Union and Gerald and Brenda Schafer.

For more information about Walsh’s Leadership Awards Dinner, contact Jacqueline Garner at jgarner@walshcollege.edu.

# # #

ABOUT WALSH
Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of Southeast Michigan’s largest graduate business schools, offering classes in several locations and online. Our internationally and nationally-ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, data analytics, finance, information technology, human resources, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

Stellantis adds Detroit firm led by Archer Jr. to its marketing roster

The Detroit News
Oct. 14, 2021
Jordyn Grzelewski

Stellantis NV on Thursday announced it has added Ignition Media Group, a Detroit-based boutique marketing and consulting firm led by Dennis Archer Jr., to its roster of outside marketing agencies.

The transatlantic automaker will work with Ignition’s Soundcheck practice, which will “serve as a sounding board and multicultural thought partner, to assist in shaping and fortifying Stellantis’ media and marketing strategies,” according to a news release. Ignition’s work will focus on Stellantis’ North American brands, including Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Ram.

Dennis Archer Jr edited photo“The addition of Ignition Media Group to our strategic marketing partner roster will help us provide a smarter, more comprehensive and cohesive approach to our media and marketing strategies, providing us with more candid assessments to consumer facing work overall,” Marissa Hunter, vice president of marketing for Stellantis North America, said in a statement.

“Through this newly formed alliance with Ignition Media Group,” she added, “our commitment to minority-owned economic empowerment also continues to evolve and take shape, ensuring that we are both audience aware and culturally inclusive across our multi-brand portfolio.”

In a statement, Archer Jr., the son of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, said his team is “ecstatic to be working with Stellantis and to join them on their path toward ensuring their marketing messaging is representative of their current and desired consumer base.”

The partnership between Stellantis and Ignition grew out of a long-standing relationship between the two companies, Archer told The Detroit News. Ignition had worked with Stellantis’ predecessors over the years, and the marketing firm most recently helped the automaker on its DEI strategies and messaging.

“Stellantis, like many companies around the country, began to take a closer look at how they were addressing or managing through their DEI efforts as a result of being triggered in large part by George Floyd,” Archer said, referring to the 2020 murder of an unarmed Black man by a Minneapolis police officer. “Stellantis, like others, had efforts in place, but they wanted to take another look at it.”

Ignition provided feedback on the automaker’s internal and external messaging, hiring efforts and advertising campaigns, Archer said.

Now, under a longer-term agreement, “We’re there to make sure … that the messages resonate with as broad of audiences as possible and that consumers feel welcome to the Stellantis brands,” he said. “Our role is to support the internal infrastructure that they have and to work alongside their external agencies to collectively ensure the messaging is inclusive, effective and still impactful.”

Stellantis recently has bolstered some of its other DEI initiatives. Earlier this year, for example, the automaker announced it was partnering with the National Business League to create a one-stop solution for Black suppliers across industries to obtain training and access to capital and contracts with Fortune 500 companies and the federal government.

Development of that program came as executives from several Black-owned media companies launched a campaign criticizing corporations, including some in the automotive industry. The executives, including Bryon Allen, owner of The Weather Channel and other outlets, took out prominently-placed newspaper ads claiming General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra refused to meet with them. In response, GM said it would double its commitment for spending with Black-owned media to 4% by 2022, with a goal of reaching 8% by 2025.

In addition to serving as CEO of Ignition Media Group, Archer is the president and founding partner of Archer Corporate Services. He also has a hospitality holding company, works in real estate development and has served on the boards of numerous civic, philanthropic and business organizations. He was appointed by Barra to serve on GM’s Inclusion Advisory Board.

View the original article.

Gilbert, DTE Energy, trade groups back plan to put $3B of federal stimulus in infrastructure

Crain’s Detroit Business
Oct. 14, 2021
Chad Livengood

Rocket Companies Chairman Dan Gilbert, DTE Energy Co. and several business trade groups are backing a new lobbying effort to get the Michigan Legislature to spend $2.5 billion of federal stimulus funds on modernizing water infrastructure and $500 million on expanding access to broadband internet.

Gilbert’s top lobbyist, Jared Fleisher, is part of a newly formed Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan that rolled out a detailed plan Thursday for spending $6 billion from the American Rescue Plan, the federal government’s massive spending program to counter the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic.

Fleisher said Thursday the $10 billion Michigan has to spend from the federal stimulus legislation could be “truly transformational” for the state’s economy.

“What you see in this plan is extremely important to bridging us to that future,” Fleisher said during a virtual press conference on Zoom.

Rocket Companies as a business backs the plan, Fleisher said.

“We think it’s incredibly important to put before policymakers a comprehensive framework that we think will help the process and get legislators to see what the whole picture looks like,” Fleisher said.

The new coalition includes the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, the Home Builders Association of Michigan, the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, retired Ford Land Development CEO Donna Inch and Michael McGee, past CEO and senior principal of the Miller Canfield law firm.

Some of the coalition’s proposals mirror other plans for how to spend federal stimulus funds that have been floated by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and members of the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The coalition is calling for lawmakers to earmark $250 million in federal stimulus for a new economic incentives program to lure new companies to Michigan.

The plan also calls for $100 million investment in preparing sites for redevelopment, which has been a topic of discussion within the state’s business community since Ford passed over its home state for $11.4 billion of new investments in electric vehicle and battery assembly plants destined for Tennessee and Kentucky.

“If we don’t have sites, they’re not going to attract development,” Fleisher said.

Asked in a Zoom chat whether Gilbert’s real estate company would benefit from new economic development incentives, Fleisher replied: “God’s honest truth is we have no plans for this. This is about what our state needs.”

The economic incentives and site-prep funding are part of a $910 million tranche of federal stimulus funds that the coalition wants lawmakers to spend on economic development, talent, workforce skills training and direct grants to businesses.

The coalition’s other spending proposals include:

  • $350 million for Michigan’s Unemployment Trust Fund, which was mostly drained during a massive spike in unemployment claims from mass pandemic-induced layoffs in March and April 2020. Lawmakers recently deposited $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds into the unemployment fund to shore it up.
  • $365 million for the creation of a revenue-sharing trust fund to address what municipal leaders consider chronic underfunding of cities, villages and counties by the Legislature over the past two decades.
  • $805 million for affordable housing and community development, including training funds for getting more workers into construction jobs.
  • $500 million for “strengthening Michigan’s health and safety infrastructure,” including addressing gaps in access to care for mental health and substance abuse disorders in rural and underserved areas of the state.

The plan calls for a $2.5 billion investment in water infrastructure, including capital improvements to water systems, removing lead water service lines in older cities such as Detroit, repairing dams and mitigating the spread of PFAS chemicals that have contaminated underground drinking water sources in several areas of the state.

A 2016 report from former Gov. Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission said the state needs to be investing an additional $800 million a year in water infrastructure in order to modernize aging systems.

Five years ago, replacing all lead pipes in water service lines in Detroit, Benton Harbor and other older cities was estimated at $2.5 billion, said John LaMacchia, assistant director of state and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League.

The coalition’s proposal will “make a dent” in those long-term costs — the plan calls for $250 million to be dedicated to replacing lead service lines — but further investments by the Legislature would still be needed, LaMacchia said.

“We know that this proposal is not getting to that overall number,” LaMacchia said.

The coalition’s plan does not include funding for roads and bridges because the federal government has not allowed those expenses with the one-time federal stimulus funds, LaMacchia said.

“We didn’t want to suggest things that we thought at the end of the day might not be included,” LaMacchia said.

View the original article.

Oct. 15 | This Week In Government: Redistricting Commission OKs 10 Maps For Public Hearings; MDE Nets $1.2B In ESSER Funding From Feds To Address School Needs

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Redistricting Commission OKs 10 Maps For Public Hearings
  2. MDE Nets $1.2B In ESSER Funding From Feds To Address School Needs
  3. Hollier Warns Redistricting Plans Disenfranchise Detroit
  4. House OKs Lifting Sales Tax On Tampons
  5. Hundreds Rally To Demand 2020 Election Audit, Again

Redistricting Commission OKs 10 Maps For Public Hearings

Ten total redistricting plans for the Michigan House, Senate and U.S. House were approved Monday following months of public input, mapmaking and handwringing by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The body voted Monday to approve each of the maps for publication, working ahead of a vote originally scheduled for Tuesday. It also marked the end of the body’s primary mapping phase, which has taken longer than expected due to several setbacks, the among them an initial lack of timely census data and the struggle for a group of citizens to take on a complex task they had never previously handled.

As significant a hurdle as Monday’s action was, the commission’s approved draft maps are far from final and already are facing scrutiny from residents once they are published later next week. Republicans are targeting the maps from all angles. Detroiters are unhappy at the possibility of most of the city being represented by suburbanites. Democrats and Republicans have said the commission’s decision not to use 50 percent as the threshold for minority voters in a district to meet U.S. Voting Rights Act requirements is a fundamental error that will likely require wholesale revisions in the Detroit area.

Now the commission will move its maps to five scheduled hearings. The first of those hearings was set to begin Monday in Grand Rapids, but that date was scrapped in favor of October 22. Now, the first meeting is scheduled October 20 at the TCF Center in Detroit.

On Monday, commissioners voted to approve all three of their completed draft Senate plans, all three of the completed draft House plans and four of its five U.S. House plans. A sixth U.S. House plan initially slated for consideration was removed because it was found to be a duplicate of an approved plan.

The commission assigned codes to each of its approved maps for tracking on its map portal and collecting public comment based on the date it was presented and the commissioner who offered it.

U.S. HOUSE: The commission approved four congressional map plans: 10-05-21 v1 CD DW, 10-08-21 v1 CD RAS, 10-07-21 v1 CD DC and 10-07-21 v1 CD AE.

On the October 5 map brought forward by Commission Dustin Witjes (D-Ypsilanti), the proposed 9th U.S. House District in southwest Michigan would stretch east from New Buffalo to Niles and upward through Van Buren County to most of Muskegon County, which is separated from Newaygo and Oceana counties. That could spell trouble for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga as his hometown of Zeeland is now squarely in U.S. Rep. Fred Upton’s territory, if Upton sought reelection.

This iteration would also put Grand Rapids together with city of Kalamazoo, which would give U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) a much tougher district that would lean Democratic.

The October 5 version also has the Midland – Republican U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar’s hometown – drawn away from the sprawling 13th District and into the 11th District, which contains Flint, most of Saginaw County and all of Tuscola County and is U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) territory.

In the October 8 map alternate proposed by Chair Rebecca Szetela (I-Canton Township), the 9th District stretches further east to include Kalamazoo and Barry counties, while Grand Rapids stands alone in the 4th District including all of Kent County, the western half of Ionia County (excluding the city) and the furthest east portion of Ottawa County – which is also split three ways between the 4th, 9th and 13th districts. This map also has Midland drawn into the 11th District.

A second October 8 alternate, created by Commissioner Doug Clark (R-Rochester Hills), includes many of the same boundaries displayed on Szetela’s version but makes some key changes to the 3rd, 6th and 10th U.S. House districts across Oakland and Macomb counties.

Szetela’s version has the 3rd containing almost all of Oakland minus Clarkston, Brandon Township and Oakland Township to the north (drawn into the 10th District with large parts of Macomb and much of the Thumb), and without Troy, Royal Oak, Ferndale and Oak Park and the Rochesters (drawn into the 6th District with Sterling Heights, Fraser, St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe). Warren and Center Line in Macomb have also been drawn into the eastern Detroit-centric 1st District.

Clark’s version has the 10th District consuming much of Oakland County, the 3rd District containing the West Bloomfield Township, Farmington Hills, Novi and others east to Royal Oak, but minus Troy, Birmingham and the Rochesters (drawn in with the 6th District). The 1st District also contains Warren and Center Line and brings in Madison Heights.

The October 7 iteration proposed by Commissioner Anthony Eid (I-Orchard Lake) differs in its Downriver districts in southeast Michigan.

Each of the other three maps contain the same groupings with Taylor, River Rouge, Melvindale and Allen Park drawn into the 1st District and the community’s southern counterparts in Woodhaven, Wyandotte, Southgate, Trenton, Gross Ilse, Flat Rock, Rockwood and Gibraltar drawn into the Ann Arbor-centric 7th District. Romulus is drawn into the 2nd District with Dearborn.

Eid’s has Allen Park, Taylor, Southgate and Romulus drawn into the 1st District and its southern counterparts in Grosse Ilse, Flat Rock and Brownstown Township drawn into the 1st District.

Three of the maps draw U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) into the same district as U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield). However, the Eid map puts Lawrence in the same district as U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).

All four maps would shift U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) to a heavily Macomb County-based district compared to her current Oakland/Wayne configuration.

SENATE: The maps approved for the Senate, 10-04-21 v2 SD, 10-07-21 SD RAS BK and 10-08-21 v1 SD, have less pronounced differences.

The October 4 and October 8 maps differ largely in their treatment of Southeast Michigan. The latter map has a proposed 14th District that stretches into Farmington Hills, which is split between two districts on the October 4 version and between three districts on the October 8 map. The 5th District in metro Detroit on the October 8 map splits Chesterfield in half with the 7th District but the October 4 plan keeps it intact in the 7th District.

Another difference is that the October 8 plan puts Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood in with 7th District, which stretches to the southern half of St. Clair County.

Comparing the October 4 map with Szetela’s October 7 alternate, the chair’s map has Manistee County split between the 34th and 36th districts. It also has the 33rd District rising up into Lake County and splitting it with the 35th District. All of Saginaw County minus the city of Saginaw (drawn in with Midland and Bay City) is in the 15th District on the October 4 map, while Szetela drew a Saginaw County split that put its western portion into the 35th District.

At the intersection of Oakland, Genesee and Lapeer counties, the October 4 map has the 2nd District taking up portions of northern Macomb and Oakland counties while the Szetela map has the 2nd District stretching into southern Lapeer and a small southeast portion of Genesee near Grand Blanc.

Kalamazoo County is kept whole in the 27th District in the October 4 plan, while Szetela’s cuts into the eastern portion of the county with the 3rd District stretching around and into Kalamazoo County. The Szetela map also keeps Macomb and St. Clair counties separated between the 7th District and 25th District along their borders save for Armada Township to the north of Macomb, which is drawn into the latter district. The October 4 map has the 7th stretching into the lower half of St. Clair.

Highland Park was also drawn into 17th District on the October 4 map but is drawn into the 8th District on the Szetela alternate. Similarly, Grosse Point Park is split east to west on the October 4 map between the 6th and 7th districts, while Grosse Pointe is split east to west along the same lines.

HOUSE: The House maps are 10-06-21 v1 HD, 10-08-21 v2 HD and 10-08-21 v1 HD RAS.

The October 6 iteration keeps Midland County intact and separated from the city of Saginaw, as well as away from Bay City, which is separated from its southeastern counterparts in Bay County.

The configuration also partitions Grand Rapids across four districts, with the 76th House District taking up the city’s downtown core and its western neighborhoods and Walker; the 75th District gobbling up East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Township and some of the city’s northeastern neighborhoods; and the 78th District containing the Ridgemore, Garfield Park and East Beltline neighborhood in the city’s southern area. The adjacent 86th District to the east would contain the East Paris neighborhood.

Kalamazoo is kept mostly whole in the 73rd district, with Kalamazoo Township drawn in. The South Westnedge neighborhood of the city is now drawn into the 80th District to the south.

Ann Arbor is split in half north to south with a majority of the city’s urban core in the 69th District, its southern neighborhoods included with Pittsfield Township in the 68th District and all of Ypsilanti drawn in with its adjacent township and Superior Township in the 67th District.

The commission’s October 8 configuration eschews the October 6 version in that it keeps Midland separate from its namesake county and connected to Bay City in a proposed 53rd House District. Saginaw is still pushed off by its lonesome in the adjacent 30th District. Its configurations for the Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids area are the same.

Another noticeable difference between the October 6 and October 8 plans is the creation of a step-ladder-style southwestern Michigan shoreline 87th House District stretching from New Buffalo in Berrien County to near Fennville in Allegan County. It also contains an upside-down U shaped 74th District connecting Battle Creek to Albion.

A third plan known as the October 8 alternate initially proposed by Chair Rebecca Szetela closely resembles its October 8 base map but with changes to the Ann Arbor area (the city is with Hudson Mills and a northeastern portion of Jackson County, and Ypsilanti is with Ypsilanti Township in the 67th District).

All three maps contain the same configuration for the Lansing area, with the city’s core in the proposed 91st House District, its lower half in the 90th District to the south and almost all of East Lansing in the 89th District with Meridian Township to the east.

There were also no major differences in the Detroit area except for its Downriver configurations. The October 6 map has Taylor drawn in with Woodhaven in the 40th House District and Flat Rock, Rockwood and Brownstown Township drawn in with most of Monroe County, including Monroe proper, in the 60th District. Its 22nd District contain Wyandotte, Grosse Ilse, Trenton and Gibraltar.

In the October 8 plan, Gibraltar is halved north to south, with its remaining portion in the 60th District that also contains Woodhaven and Flat Rock just before Taylor, which drew in New Boston, Carleton and Steiner. The city of Monroe is in the 61st District on this one.

Szetela’s alternate has the same Downriver configuration as the October 8 base map.

PARTISAN FAIRNESS: Between the House plans, Szetela’s map appears to score the best comparatively with a margin of 5.8 percent, a mean-median score of 2.7 percent and an efficiency gap of 5.7 percent – leading to a map that has the potential for 56 Democratic seats and 54 Republican seats. Still, the map leans Republican and disfavors Democratic candidates by 1.4 percent.

Among the Senate plans, Szetela’s plan also scored well compared to the other plans, with a margin of 4.5 percent, a mean-media score of 2.2 percent and an efficiency gap of 3.4 percent – leading to a map that has the potential to elect 20 Democrats and 18 Republicans. This map leans Democratic and disfavors Republicans by 0.3 percent.

The U.S. House maps have near identical scores, but Eid’s version was hailed by his colleagues has having some of the best partisan fairness scores among the various plans. The Eid map had a lopsided margin of 4 percent, a mean-median score of 2.2 percent and an efficiency gap of 0.8 percent – leading to a map that could elect seven Democrats and six Republicans in a map that leans Democratic, disfavoring Republicans by 1.5 percent.


MDE Nets $1.2B In ESSER Funding From Feds To Address School Needs

Michigan has been awarded more than $1.2 billion for the safe reopening of schools and to address the impact of lost instructional time due to the COVID-19 pandemic after seeing a green light from the federal government over the state’s submitted plan for the funding.

To date, Michigan has received more than $3.7 billion through the federal American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. This most recent allocation will largely be used to support improving the health, safety and wellness of all learners; improving early literacy achievement; and expanding early childhood learning opportunities.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a statement with Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Rice, praised the funding as an investment in students as they recovered from the effects of the pandemic.

“This investment in Michigan’s schools will help our kids thrive and ensure teachers and staff have the resources and support they need,” Ms. Whitmer said, also touting the recently signed education funding bill which invested the most amount of funding into K-12 education in state history. “That bill closed the funding gap between schools in Michigan and delivered critical mental health resources. Together, we can continue putting Michiganders first and get things done that make a real difference in their lives.”

School districts will have until December 14 to submit to the state Department of Education plans using the funds, which would have to be spent by 2024.

The money will be used to reimburse school districts to support safe, in-person instruction and meet the social, emotional, mental health and academic needs of students with a specified focus on those hit hardest by the pandemic, the department said.

“Our state ARP plan will help Michigan students better rebound from the disrupted learning that they experienced during the past year,” Rice said. “I am very pleased that Secretary Cardona and the U.S. Department of Education approved our state plan and released the remaining $1.24 billion in federal funds for Michigan schools to improve our schools in myriad ways for children.”

Approval of the plan releases $363 million in state equalization payments appropriated to districts that did not receive $1,093 per pupil in their ARP ESSER formula allocation. That formula allocates 90 percent of the ARP ESSER funds based on federal Title I requirements.

“We appreciate Secretary Cardona and his team for supporting the work taking place in classrooms across Michigan,” Kenneth Gutman, superintendent of Walled Lake Consolidated School District and President of the K-12 Alliance, said in a statement. “The ESSER III Equalization Fund was included in Michigan’s bi-partisan budget deal to ensure that every school district has the resources necessary to help their students overcome the unique challenges they have faced over the past year. Today’s approval of that plan is a welcome step forward and gives our schools the assurance that they can continue providing their students with the support and top-notch educational experience they both need and deserve.”


Hollier Warns Redistricting Plans Disenfranchise Detroit

With the Detroit poised to host the first public hearing for maps proposed by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) on Monday announced a news conference at the Spirit of Detroit statute in the city at 1 p.m. Tuesday to discuss how the maps would treat the city.

Several residents have lodged criticisms at the commission for its handling of districts throughout Detroit. Hollier in a news release issued Monday noted there are currently 17 majority black districts in the state and the commission has drawn zero in its maps that will see public hearings start October 20 (see separate story).

Of note, the commission’s consultants have said the 2011 reapportionment plan contained heavily packed Democratic and Black districts in Detroit, which was clearly done to segregate the Black Detroit vote. The commission was therefore tasked to spread out the Black vote across several districts instead of concentrating minority voters in the city to better comply with the Voting Rights Act while also ensuring their vote power to elect a Black candidate of choice.

Much of the criticism leveled against the commission thus far has focused on the advice of the body’s VRA consultant, Bruce Adelson. Some have said on social media and in public comment that Adelson he has given the commission questionable advice.

Hollier said in his statement that the districts are drawn in a way that will not ensure Black Detroiters equal access to the ballot and elected office.

“They drew districts that are not indicative of Black communities and Detroit,” Hollier said. “They drew the City of Detroit into districts that Detroiters will not win, and Black people will not win because a majority of the voter base are in suburban communities particularly in primaries where Democratic races are decided. … The commissioners have been very responsive to communities that have testified. I think the commissioners want to draw good maps they just need Detroiters to participate.”


House OKs Lifting Sales Tax On Tampons

Ending taxation on feminine hygiene products took a big step toward reality Thursday after both pieces of legislation in a two-bill package passed the House, the first time the bills have cleared a legislative house after years of effort.

Two bills, HB 5267 and HB 4270, both passed by 94-13 votes. Working in tandem, the two bills would exempt feminine hygiene products from the state’s 6 percent sales and use tax by rewriting Michigan’s Use Tax and General Sales Tax acts.

Only a smattering Republicans voted against the package with the caucus overall voting 43-13. Those voting no were Rep. Sarah Lightner of Springport, Rep. Pam Hornberger of Chesterfield Township, Rep. Matt Maddock of Milford, Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City, Rep. Andrew Fink of Hillsdale, Rep. Steve Carra of Three Rivers, Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan, Rep. Sue Allor of Wolverine, Rep. Steve Johnson of Wayland, Rep. John Reilly of Oakland Township, Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton, Rep. Luke Meerman of Coopersville and Rep. Julie Alexander of Hanover.

“I am proud that our tireless work has finally paid off,” Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) said in a statement. “With these bills making it through the House, we are that much closer as a state to eliminating this unjust tax, helping those struggling with period poverty and creating a more equitable world for women and girls. Now it’s time to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure this essential legislation becomes law.”

Kuppa testified in support of the bills before the Tax Policy Committee in August and championed the policy this term with her own bill.

Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Township), sponsor of HB 5267, in a speech on the floor said it was time that taxes were cut for average persons and done so in a way that had a real impact on a person’s health.

“Today we have an opportunity to directly cut taxes for families and individuals by simply eliminating unnecessary taxes on these very necessary items,” he said. “We can make a big difference toward improving public health and putting money in the pockets of our constituents. This is a small step that will make a big impact.”

The bills now move to the Senate for consideration.

Also passing the House Thursday was SB 25, sponsored by Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), which saw overwhelming support in a 105-2 vote. The bill provides for student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans under the total and permanent disability discharge program.

It passed the Senate in March unanimously.


Hundreds Rally To Demand 2020 Election Audit, Again

Several hundred supporters of former President Donald Trump, nearly a year after his loss in Michigan and the 2020 election overall, gathered on the Capitol grounds Tuesday to demand a forensic audit of those election results.

A crowd, many with signs and flags in support of the former president as well as various slogans demanding “fair and accurate” elections and a new audit of the results – despite more than 200 audits in the state following November 2020 showing no evidence of widespread voter fraud. A handful of criminal charges have been brought in relation to the election involving less than 100 votes.

A group of called Election Integrity Fund and Force organized the noon rally at the Capitol, the latest chapter in a nearly year-long push by supporters of Trump disputing and questioning the 2020 election results. Dozens of lawsuits across the country in the months following the election were all unsuccessful regarding allegations of voter fraud, and various claims of fraud circulating among supporters have long since been debunked.

Nonetheless, Tuesday’s speakers thrilled the crowd with a string of speeches containing many of the debunked claims.

Receiving some of the biggest cheers was attorney Matthew DePerno, a Republican candidate for attorney general, who was also endorsed by Trump last month.

“Today is about protecting individual constitutional rights of every registered voter in the state of Michigan, whether Democrat or Republican. This should be a nonpartisan issue,” DePerno said. “If we allow the manipulation of ballots during and after they are processed, then the government cannot guarantee that the fundamental constitutional right of our citizenry is protected, and that’s what we’re seeing today.”

DePerno has spent most of the last year seeking to prove that Trump won the 2020 election. However, the claims he has repeatedly made in these efforts were highlighted and debunked in a Senate Oversight Committee report on the 2020 elections, which found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The Senate report recommended that the Department of Attorney General investigate those who have raised funds off of the inaccurate election clai

There is an ongoing probe into individuals who have been pushing election misinformation for alleged financial gain. The Senate report did not suggest DePerno specifically for investigation, but he might be among those whose activities may be under review. Attorney General Dana Nessel said an isolation wall was put in place when the investigation was launched to avoid any conflict of interest between her and DePerno, who could end up being her Republican opponent in 2022.

Rep. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) told attendees her gut told her something was amiss after the November 2020 election and that “we were being fed a line,” prompting her to work to protest the results.

“They’re telling us that there was nothing wrong with the election, that we all saw had our candidate way ahead the night of the election. Come on, we’re not that stupid,” Rendon said. “We know better, and now we’ve seen the evidence. Evidence from Maricopa County (Arizona), evidence from Antrim County.”

What evidence Rendon was citing in Antrim County is unclear but it has long since been proven that the error on election night that showed Biden winning the strongly Republican county, was a human error regarding software uploading, and one that was quickly corrected during the canvassing process. The review of Maricopa County, Arizona, ballots – ordered by that state’s Senate – was widely criticized as unscientific and not done according to proper protocols and even still found Biden’s margin not statistically different than the certified results.

Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), who has begun a primary bid against U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Saint Joseph), was also endorsed by Trump and spoke Tuesday. It’s not clear whether Carra will actually run against Upton, however, because he has been drawn into a district where the incumbent is U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton).

“Why have we passed dozens of election integrity bills if there was no problem with the last election?” Carra said. “We have major issues from the last election, and if we want to have fair, honest and transparent elections, we need to demand a full forensic audit.”

The Senate committee’s 2020 election report slapped down numerous claims made by those speaking at the event.

Allegations of voting machines and equipment being connected to the internet on Election Day have also long been debunked, as have claims of fraud in Antrim County, where human error in handling a software update has long been established as the real reason for initially incorrect vote tallies. The count in Antrim County was quickly corrected and has been explained at length yet rally attendees, and other supporters of Trump, continue to point to the county as alleged evidence of wrongdoing.

Michigan Sites Significant to Black History Given More than $1 Million in Restoration Grants

Michigan has a rich heritage when it comes to the Civil Rights movement and Black history, and current efforts are being made to ensure that it’s not forgotten.

Five Michigan projects were recently awarded over $1.4 million in federal grants through the National Park Service 2020 African American Civil Rights program to help restore sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality. Three of those projects are based in Detroit, the state’s majority black city.

“It’s a wonderful place to live with just so much history that people have so much pride and people know a lot about it,” said Melanie Markowicz, a preservationist and executive director of the Greektown Neighborhood Partnership. “We want to make sure that we have a lot more understanding, not only in our community but for everybody else, too.”

One of the preservation projects includes $425,959 awarded to the Second Baptist Church of Detroit. It was the final stop for many slaves and Black southerners on the underground railroad seeking refuge in Detroit before crossing the border to Canada, according to Markowicz.

“It certainly has this rich, rich heritage and legacy in this area,” Markowicz said.

The congregation at Second Baptist Church was formed in 1836. The original one-story structure was completed in 1851, an additional two-story structure in the 1880s and two more structures were added in 1926 and 1968.

In 2021, the building needs many repairs. It has a falling roof, leaks throughout the third floor, the stained glass has to be stabilized and congregation members currently have no access to hot water.

“There’s this threat to its existence, so this money was absolutely essential for the survival of Second Baptist Church,” Markowicz said.

The same can be said for the home of Albert Kahn, which is currently owned and operated by the Urban League of Detroit. The non-profit, which provides services and advocacy for communities of color, received $500,000 in grant funding.

“The biggest challenge we have right now is to use the grant to do roof restoration,” said N. Charles Anderson, president and CEO of the Urban League of Detroit.

Albert Kahn was a prolific architect known throughout Michigan and the country for his work. Aside from his home, a few notable buildings designed by Kahn include the Belle Isle Aquarium and Conservatory, the Addison Hotel and the Dodge Truck Plant.

Kahn passed away in December 1942. After being taken over by the Urban League of Detroit shortly thereafter, his home became significant in the community for hosting thousands of events in the home’s ballroom, according to Anderson.

However, the vibrant life that was once seen in the home has declined in recent years because of its worsening condition.

“We’ve tried to maintain it all these years and our goal is to restore it and the ongoing life as a resource for the Detroit Urban League and the community,” Anderson said.

The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the Michigan Strategic Fund was another grant recipient, with a $50,000 grant to document the history of Black housing in the city of Inkster from 1920-1970.

SHPO will conduct a survey of the following sites to determine eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places: the Ford-Inkster homes, the George Washington Carver Homes public housing complex, the LeMoyne Gardens public housing complex and the subdivision of homes built east of Inkster Road on Lehigh and Hopkins Streets.

Listing in the National Register of Historic Places would qualify these properties for participation in historic preservation incentive programs, including the state’s new historic preservation state tax credit. This project will provide the necessary background information needed to complete National Register nominations.

The Ford-Inkster homes will be majority of the SHPO project, said Amy Arnold, a preservation planner with SHPO.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Inkster was home to African Americans working at the Ford River Rouge Plant. Unable to find housing in Detroit, Dearborn and other communities with discriminatory housing policies, they settled in a segregated area in southwest Inkster, living in overcrowded conditions.

In 1938, Henry Ford authorized the Ford-Inkster project to improve housing for Ford’s Black workers by building 500 homes, two schools and a medical center.

Ford stopped the aid in 1941 when Black workers supported the unionization of the Willow Run Bomber plant. The United Auto Workers (UAW) union then lobbied for the construction of a federal public housing complex in Inkster for Black defense workers, which was built in 1943. By 1957, Inkster had an all-Black housing commission.

Segregated housing was one of the main issues facing the Black population at this time. Segregated housing meant having to create businesses, public accommodations, restaurants, schools and more with not many resources available.

“They pretty much had to deal with things on their own,” Arnold said. “What we have to do is bring some reality to this, people always think of Black housing as the ghetto.”

The other two Michigan projects who received NPS grants were: Russell Woods – Sullivan Neighborhood in Detroit and the Malcolm X House in Inkster.

Arnold said it’s important for grants such as the ones from NPS to aid in completing these five projects.

“These are the kinds of programs that preservation can help support these black history resources,” Arnold said.

In 2020, the Second Baptist Church had a partial structural collapse of the modernist portion of the building. Markowicz said it was challenging for them to scrape together the money necessary to restore the damage on their own.

“Like so many nonprofits and places of worship, funding for capital improvements is very, very difficult,” Markowicz said.

The rise of gentrification has threatened the existence of sites meaningful to the Black community.

Albert Kahn’s home, located on the corner of Mack Ave. and John R. St., is walking distance to Tiger’s Stadium, Ford Field and Little Caesar’s Arena. A Whole Foods Market can be seen across the street and it was recently announced a Target will be built a short distance away.

“The goal is to maintain African American owned properties in midtown area that’s being redeveloped, just to help us maintain a presence being part of the visibility of this area,” Anderson said.

Markowicz believes that these projects will help highlight not only the Civil Rights movement but the issues the Black community continues to face.

“We intend to explore difficult histories because these histories are extremely difficult and the struggle for equality still continues today,” Markowicz said.

View the original article here, written by Alyssa Burr. 

Former Nike designer plans to reopen Michigan’s only HBCU

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have seen a steady increase in interest and enrollment since 2017, which many have directly correlated with the state of politics and the election of President Donald Trump.

Detroit once was home to its own HBCU, located on Detroit’s west side.

The Lewis College of Business was founded in 1928 by Violet T. Lewis in Indiana as a secretarial school for Black women. The school relocated to Detroit in 1939, and operated in the city for nearly 75 years before it shuttered its doors in 2013.

Now, former Nike and Air Jordan designer Dr. D’Wayne Edwards seeks to reopen the historic university, and has found support from retailers like Target and the Gilbert Family Foundation.

“82 years later, and 14 years since it lost its accreditation as HBCU, I am honored to be resurrecting Violet T. Lewis’s legacy in Detroit,” Dr. Edwards said in a press release.

Edwards is the founder of PENSOLE, a footwear design academy based in Portland, Oregon. The resurrection of the Lewis College of Business will change the name to PENSOLE Lewis College of Business and Design (or PLC). The school is also partnering with the College of Creative Studies (CCS).

In order to fully open and operate as an education facility, PLC has to request approval from the Michigan Department of Education, and the state legislature has to approve the school’s request to be recognized as an HBCU in the state of Michigan.

The reopening of the school has the full support of Mayor Mike Duggan as he says the lack of an HBCU in the city has left a void in the city’s collegiate educational landscape.

“As a predominantly Black city, Detroit should have an operating Historically Black College. Not having one has been a hole in our educational landscape for too long,” said Mayor Mike Duggan in a statement. “To have the first HBCU anywhere to reopen happen in Detroit would be a tremendous demonstration of how our city is coming back as a city of opportunity for people of color.”

As it stands, PLC will not be located in the Lewis College building on Meyers, but inside CCS’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education until a permanent Detroit location has been decided.

Earlier this year, plans to convert the original Lewis College building (which does have a state historical marker) into a low-income senior housing unit were announced as part of a $150 million housing project.

Enrollment for PLC is expected to open in December.

View the original article here.