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Detroit: The City vs The State – Another Round

Written by Frances Kunreuther

Residents must be gaining some power in Detroit. Because each time they start to organize something, the state tries to intervene to usurp their gains. This time it is the Community Benefits Agreement ordinance.

The Detroit People’s Platform introduced the need for a Community Benefits Agreement ordinance to ensure that developers – who are quickly taking over parts of the City – are required to hire local residents as part of their work team as part of a plan for equitable development. Sounds reasonable, right?  Several City Council members agree this makes sense. But in the ongoing battle for democracy, the state legislature seems ready to dictate to cities what they can and cannot do.

A Michigan state lawmaker introduced a bill that would bar cities in the state from adopting community benefits ordinances or pay more than the federal minimum wage, and other draconian measures. The bill has been voted out of committee and now goes to the Michigan House of Representatives. It is opposed by Detroit’s Mayor who actually agrees that there should be no ordinance, but wants to keep local rule.

We see across the country people rising up against our compromised democracy. This is another example of the importance of our work for justice and change. See Reverend Joan Ross and Linda Campbell testifying at the City Council in this clip.

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