NPR Audio: Commuters Suffer As Detroit Cuts Bus Service
March 8, 2012 by Quinn Klinefelter of NPR
TONI COLEMAN: Now, I’m having to get off work almost an hour earlier because I can’t get on a bus at five o’clock. The buses are too crowded and they don’t stop. Hour’s worth of pay because of the changes in the bus system.
KLINEFELTER: Coleman’s one of the more than 100,000 Detroiters who depend on buses for daily travel, but there’s been fewer travel options of late after the city cut overnight bus service and eliminated several routes.
About four miles from Detroit’s city limits, Carlette Nicole Ingram settles into a SMART bus seat and prepares for a trip that used to take two hours and now takes four.
City of Detroit and Transit perspectives 1 year later
by Stephen Boyle
Projected progress on mass transit for Detroit in Winter 2012-13 remains dismal. Increasing transit service is not expected any time soon. The most significant change looming is phase I of constructing the M-1 Light Rail project since it has private backing and federal funding support. However the M-1 project is seen as a “bigger People Mover” project by a large number of people who continue to be underserviced with basic transportation throughout the city.
Public outcry is apparent but how the city is running evades being transparent.
The Bing administration continues to surprise the public through short notices on meetings, unannounced land development deals, and side-room arrangements to bring consultants in rather than working in-house and restructuring City of Detroit staff. The audience is selected to discuss his Transforming Detroit initiatives as the interest moves forward in attracting new Detroit residents rather than dealing with those that continue to reside in the city.
City residents are the target of reduced services such as parks going without maintenance, public lighting entrusted to a new municipal authority, and property given away to reduce the burden of maintenance costs. Public meetings following Michigan’s Open Meetings Act are required to allow public comment. The public of Detroit has been escalating attendance and voice with each opportunity given by the Mayor or City Council.
However we have learned after so many attempts that we have to escalate the situation higher than the city or the state. A petition to the White House and Department of Justice has been created - we need people to sign [link is http://wh.gov/wGJK, this link is case sensitive]. Michigan is loosing any sense of democracy for the poor. Communities are being bought out, torn apart, citizens ignored all for the sake of privatized corporate interests intent on acquiring bargain pricing on what many perceive as a diamond in the rough. Dictators are being brought in to arrest the powers of elected officials and hold the public as servants - collecting taxes without voting rights or participation in governance.
City Concerns - Budget Woes Lead to Consent Agreement
At the end of 2011 a Detroit Review Team was formed with representatives from State of Michigan, City administration, and corporate leaders. The review team held a number of closed meetings from January through March 2012. The results of those meetings was presented in a report to Governor Rick Snyder on March 26 2012. The team had found the following:
- City violated Uniform Budgeting & Accounting Act (PA 2, 1968), section 17. Line items in the CAFR ending June 30, 2010 exceeded budget amounts by nearly $58 million. Unaudited 2011 line items amounting to $97 million exceeded budget. A point of clarity and weakness in the law indicating that City Council shall amend the general appropriations was found inappropriate. City Council is unable to initiate budget amendments. It became apparent the chief administrative officer or fiscal officer shall present to City Council recommendations, which if adopted, would prevent expenditures from exceeding available revenues for the fiscal year.
The city is under a Consent Agreement (in brief | in full) protracted with the State of Michigan whereby the Chief Financial Officer (Jack Martin) working with a Programs Management Director (Kriss Andrews) have created a Milestone Agreement with progress reports delivered to a nine member Financial Advisory Board. The State is on the line issuing bonds on behalf of Detroit and provide proceeds to the city as it meets milestones. However the interest on those bonds is being paid by the City even while bond funds are held waiting for delivered results. During several meetings City Council woman JoAnn Watson has stated the State is extorting the City. The group Free Detroit No Consent questions when extortion became legal in the State of Michigan. It appears the Governor, State Treasurer, and Attorney General have in essence indicated “it is better this way”, when referring to Detroit under a Consent Agreement rather than with an Emergency Manager. Meaning the arrangement of paying over $1 million for these added positions is better than the State assigning an Emergency Manager. That Emergency Manager law was successfully repealed by voters across Michigan during the election on November 6, 2012.
City of Detroit officials have been meeting the demands with difficulty on consensus. Council has been openly ridiculed for opposition in the press by journalists, and officials from the State and City. Court cases brought forward to halt the Consent Agreement or slow it down have met resistance from the chairperson of the State Board of Ethics, John Pirich and lawyers principally from the firm Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone.
Free Detroit No Consent has been working on ethics complaints against a dozen elected and appointed city officials have over 300 complaints on file with the Detroit Board of Ethics requesting investigation and removal from office. Additionally a recall campaign of Mayor Dave Bing was launched October 2012. Neither of these efforts was able to remove the mayor.
MAYOR ABDICATES DUTY TO STATE
March 7, 2013 while a Quality of Life Town Hall was being held with the public, the mayor was making a statement to the press that he was resigned to allow the State of Michigan to impose an Emergency Manager. Thus he is abdicating his duty as mayor by transferring authority trusted to him through the City Charter, which he is once again violating. City Council Pro-Tem Gary Brown has also conceded his position by aligning with granting the State dictatorial control over the city through an emergency manager.
Neither believes they have resigned from office in making their statement that they will not defend the city from takeover.
An opportunity to speak with State Treasurer Andy Dillon was offered to Council woman JoAnn Watson and a guest. She brought Tom Barrow, CPA with her and the findings in the ensuing conversation lead to the conclusion that the financial emergency is contrived by the state. Read more through this linked post at Free Detroit.
Buses runs were cut March 4, 2012. No night bus service prevents Detroiters from accessing jobs during off-shifts or early morning start times. The impact is most difficult for those that have to transfer between buses to reach their destination. The majority of basic wage earning jobs are available outside core business hours, and the bus service hours have been narrowed to serve those core hours as best possible.
Scheduling an extra hour before your day begins cuts into many lives in ways that for many are unimaginable.
Consider the stress in these situations…
- Being a care giver for an elder that can’t be transferred until day service opens
- Parents with children that are headed to school and need supervision until their school day begins
- Potentially full buses translate to waiting for the next bus and the wait between buses has increased from 5-30 minutes between
- Service begin times on some routes simply don’t work for a start time before 8:30-9:00 am when you factor in a transfer along the way and delays or missed transfer points encountered
The War on Poverty has become a War on the Poor due to misguided decisions. When people can’t get to work and loose their jobs it translates into loss of homes and increasing the number of families sliding from poor to extremely poor.
According to Kids Count 2012 Detroit statistics our children are suffering as much or more than their parents.
- 64% of children are in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment.
- 22% of children are in families with no adults working.
Poverty for our children combined with insufficient transportation means families stuck on food assistance programs. Shopping trips are more frequent and carry fewer items if you are carrying bags rather than tossing them into a vehicle.
The numbers above don’t take into account this change in transportation occurring in 2012, which will result in a significant increase. A more recent statistic is that 57.3% of families with children under 18 are below poverty income for a family of four. Female head of household with 3 children are 66% of the time below poverty.
The demand from the public is that legislators and officials ensure there is a future of hope for our youth in the Metro Detroit area. We are seeing a School-To-Prison Pipeline becoming increasingly evident as the state is pulling public education funding into privately managed charter schools and establishing the EAA state-wide school district for low-achieving schools. These schools will emphasize using online learning, and have uncertified teaching staff and administrators that are coming in from assignments overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other territories the US has installed military “assistance” / coup.
The war is being brought home - it is THE WAR ON THE POOR