Viewing entries tagged
Detroit

Today we cut more than just a ribbon #DETROITPROUD

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Today we cut more than just a ribbon #DETROITPROUD

Today we cut a ribbon officially opening the Little Caesars Arena, the new home to the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons and the hub of Detroit's new entertainment district -- District Detroit. But today's ribbon cutting is more than just a chance to bring together the city leaders who helped bring this project together, it is our chance to celebrate Detroit. 

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Disrupting Retail: America’s obsession with subscription boxes comes to Detroit

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Disrupting Retail: America’s obsession with subscription boxes comes to Detroit

Hundreds of entrepreneurs are expected to converge in Detroit for the first ever subscription box summit, scheduled for September 21-22, at the Atheneum Hotel in Detroit. 

Subscription Box companies are disrupting traditional retail by leveraging existing technology to bypass traditional marketing channels, reaching consumers with more convenient ways to shop and try new products. Hundreds will gather in Detroit for the first Subscription Box Summit starting September 21, 2016. 

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Life is a Sprint, Not a Marathon

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Life is a Sprint, Not a Marathon

In today's economic and political climate, companies need to work hard to gain or build trust, especially if it is a company that impacts the environment. While companies do have politically outspoken CEOs or active corporate social responsibility programs they need to find ways to meaningfully engage the community.  This includes understanding the personalities and politics of the issues, familiarizing oneself with the influential community groups, knowing the political leaders in the community and finding ways to build trust and valued relationships to show that your company wants to make a meaningful impact in their community and that you are willing to work with them, no matter what their concerns are. By doing so, you can advance your agenda while respecting local concerns and end up with mutual gains. 

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Michigan Is Pure Despite The Water

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Michigan Is Pure Despite The Water

As Michiganders we should be proud of who were are, were we come from and where we make our home. It is something to not only celebrate, it is something we should brag about. I am proud to be Michigan born and bred and make Detroit my home.

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We started rebuilding Detroit as soon as it came toppling down

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We started rebuilding Detroit as soon as it came toppling down

Seven years ago today, a Detroit City Council President stepped up and stepped in to a role he did not seek at the time -- Mayor of Detroit.  Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr. was sworn in as Mayor on September 19, 2008 and began to rebuild a city left in shambles from its' previous mayor who was taken away in shackles.

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One Tip For Elected Officials -- DON'T AVOID THE MEDIA!

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One Tip For Elected Officials -- DON'T AVOID THE MEDIA!

It is the role of media, to investigate, to inform and to drive change in the public arena. Many reporters have a lot invested in developing these stories. Chances are, by the time they get to you, their stories have already been written and produced. They are simply looking for a quick visual and a soundbite. 

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All Great Cities Begin With A Vision

Sustainable leadership starts with a vision. That vision may be from a great mind or a great listener.  The State of the Union, State of the State and State of the City is the prime opportunity of the Chief Executive to celebrate their achievements, communicate their vision for what they want to happen before they leave office and their lay out their agenda for how they will achieve that vision.

As the former Communications Director for the City of Detroit, I have drafted a State of the City and worked to communicate a vision for Detroit. In our case, that vision was a dose of reality, following the previous mayors incarceration, the city's true financial situation exposed and a US economy on the verge of one of the worst recessions in decades. 

"We have a choice," Mayor Cockrel said in 2009. "We can continue to do business as usual and fail to live within our means as a city government, but doing so means that someone else will likely be appointed to come and make the hard choices for us."

At the time, the people of  Detroit did not want to hear or believe that message, but it was our warning that the previous Mayor left us in a very difficult position. As a result, we used that speech and that opportunity to lay out all the cards and give a realistic picture of Detroit's financial situation as we knew it at that time. 

It was also our opportunity to assure the people of Detroit and the entire state of Michigan, in addition to the bond holders that we had a handle on the situation and they they could be assured we were setting the city back on the right path. 

Today, the person appointed to fix Detroit's financial situation came and left. Crane's clutter Detroit's skyline and there is progress in the city. Lots of work however remains. Public safety remains an issue, obesity is a problem and illiteracy continues to plague Detroit. With the city's financial situation being taken care of, it is now time to focus on the people. We need to find a way to break the cycle of poverty in the city, find a way to ensure Detroit schoolchildren start school ready to learn and that a job awaits the people who seek them. 

The Mayor must now work at breaking the cycle of poverty and find a way for everyone to buy into the same vision. 

 

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If I were the Mayor of Detroit

Detroit in Transition – A plan to move Detroit Forward (Part 8 of 8)

If I were the mayor of Detroit, I would take every day to highlight a city department or agency, celebrate a city employee, eat in a Detroit restaurant and shop locally. Every day is a day to celebrate what works in Detroit, while drawing the public’s attention to what can work better.

Our new mayor has his challenges. But with the support of the people of Detroit, the State of Michigan and Michigan’s Congressional delegation behind his vision, than we can get it down together.

*This concludes our series on Detroit in Transition and a roadmap for moving Detroit Forward.

 

Detroit Skyline from Windsor, Ont.

Detroit Skyline from Windsor, Ont.

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Detroit’s Workforce

Detroit in Transition – A plan to move Detroit Forward (Part 4 of 8)

The city also eliminated its workforce department, which is now the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), a non-profit focused on retraining the city's unemployed.  However, the mayor should identify and advocate for the resources to support workforce development and perhaps create both temporary and permanent outplacement centers for those who are laid off and can be triaged into areas such as health care and other emerging industries.

Detroit's skyline and SW Detroit, from the MGM Parking Garage

Detroit's skyline and SW Detroit, from the MGM Parking Garage

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The Public’s Health

Detroit in Transition – A plan to move Detroit Forward (Part 3 of 8)

While it is no longer a city department, the health of Detroiters is very much a city problem.  High unemployment brings more than just economic consequences - it has a deep psychological impact. Eighteen percent of Detroiters are unemployed and nearly half of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate

 

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The State of the City, the Fate of the Nation

While incoming Mayor, Mike Duggan will have his challenges, perhaps he can work to build a bridge that cannot only change the culture within the City of Detroit, but one that will unify a region to help us all move forward.

In moving forward, it is important to focus on our strengths.  Manufacturing and trade have always been the center of Detroit’s economy.  From furs to steam engines, pharmaceuticals and cars, Detroit has long been the center of commerce -- Yet, Detroit has always been a fractured city. In fact, the reason why the world’s eyes are on Detroit today is because our region sets the mood for the world’s economy and the tone for how companies conduct their business in the future.

The world is watching us and we will not let them down.  Today’s economic environment and the new political change that has swept this region, provides us with the hope and opportunity that while we remain true to our manufacturing core, there are opportunities for us to seize and build upon -- This includes the surplus of people who are brilliant with their minds and their hands, such as engineers, line-workers and artists.  In addition to our access to our nation's critical infrastructure, such as plants that just need retooling or upgrades, access to the largest fresh water system on the planet, and access to major airports, rail and freeways.

To unify our region and to help Michigan move forward it will take leadership. In recent years, our business, political and community leaders have worked in a vacuum.  There are so many people and organizations that have the plans to make positive changes in this region - But no one is working together. It is time to work together and create one strategic plan that we can all work off of. One plan with one set of messages and one master "to do" list of what we need to, to move forward.

Despite these difficult times and differing agendas, we are not without a road map to how we should move forward.  Years ago, the French landed on the banks of our city and started to trade fur. Our port quickly became the center of commerce. Our city evolved and quickly became the path for freedom with the Underground Railroad, the Arsenal of Democracy and the Music of Motown. From the moment Cadillac stepped on our shores, the world’s eyes have always been on Detroit.

In 1890 Detroit had 205,876 people living in the city, double from the previous decade. In 1893 our Nation faced economic hardships with the Great Panic of 1893 and our city officials were faced with grand jury investigations into fraudulent contracting and bribery charges connected with various public works projects with a constant stream of indictments against certain alderman. It was the Great Panic of 1893 that basically shuttered Detroit’s industry, which at the time were steam engines.  Hazen Pingree was Mayor at the time that went on to become Governor, but it was Mayor Pingree who was elected on a platform of exposing and ending corruption in the city.  As Mayor Pingree expanded the public welfare programs, initiated public works for the unemployed, built new schools, parks, and public baths. He gained national recognition through his "potato patch plan," a systematic use of vacant city land for gardens, which would produce food for the city's poor.

In 1900 our populations grew to 285,704, in 1910 we numbered 465,766 and in 1920 we passed the million mark. From its very beginning, Detroit has been a manufacturing town.  Although industries have come and gone, we have been tied to manufacturing from sawmills, iron furnaces and copper smelting to steel and cars.  For years Detroit was at the center of the railway car industry, which paved the way for the automobile. Pharmaceuticals and stove manufacturing soon followed.  As the business leaders of Detroit today it is now our turn to shape Detroit’s future once again.

We are all in this together

We fail as a region when we fail to work together.  For example, although Oakland County and the city of Detroit are separate governments, Oakland County’s bond rating is directly tied to Detroit, so we all have a stake in seeing each other succeed. So let’s invest in each other.

As our local governments see declining revenue from the state, we must support each other and work with them to create public private partnerships and otherwise help identify alternative sources of revenue that will help maintain a certain quality of life. Our region will become a more business friendly region, if business and government work closer together.

Other cities have been down this road before, including San Diego, Miami, New Orleans and others. And each has reemerged stronger. Perhaps a bit leaner but also much stronger, and more efficient. That is what we need to work towards.

Collaboration

Given the state of our economy, we need to throw out the playbook and chart a new course for leveraging our region’s assets to create new industry, invest in our existing business and creative ways to foster a new generation of entrepreneurs and business. This means that organizations within the region should consider pooling resources to build and market a regional economy.

We are in a competitive struggle and as businesses continue to fail, the stakes could not be higher. We need to step out of our box as a community and do so as a single community.

This year will again be a year of tremendous challenge. Our city and our region will continue to face scrutiny and blame. But the scandals are behind us.  That was Detroit then.  And this is Detroit now.  A city still challenged.  Challenged to help its brothers and sisters in the automotive industry. A city challenged by a struggling economy and a city focused on helping its people find hope and opportunity.  We as a city are challenged to provide the basic city services that we all expect.

In a city like Detroit there will always be room for improvement. No matter what our future holds, we are ready to face the next challenge and the next opportunity. There is no doubt, however, that the year ahead of us will be one of challenge perhaps even continued uncertainty. And we as a city should be preparing for whatever may come our way.

In 1805 Detroit burned to the ground and Father Gabriel Richard, then pastor of Ste. Anne’s uttered what would become our city’s motto, “We hope for better things; it shall arise again from the ashes” Today, our city again faces a challenge, but with your help, we have the opportunity to rebuild.  Just as Judge Augustus Woodward help rebuild our city then, we have an opportunity to do it now.

From the Paris of the Midwest, the City of Churches and Trees, the Motor City, Detroit Rock City, Motown, Hockeytown and the City of Champions. Detroit is our town and it is time to reclaim it as our town. It is time to regroup, rebuild and re-brand this city as a new city and shining example of seizing a challenge and turning it into an opportunity.

*Portions of this post appeared in the 2008 State of the City Address, Detroit, Michigan.

The City of Detroit, from Eastern Market.

The City of Detroit, from Eastern Market.

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Detroit is Loonie for ignoring Canada

With Black Friday behind us and Cyber Monday behind us, retailers in Michigan, New York, Vermont, Washington and other border states are missing a huge opportunity to woo Canadian's across the border to shop in their stores for the holidays.

It seems these days, Canadians are watching the exchange rates more than ever as the slightest increase will create a more powerful Loonie, luring Canadian's to cross the border to do their holiday shopping.

However, US retailers, at least those in the Detroit-area, fail to market their products in Windsor and Southwest Ontario.  Not only do they fail to advertise or otherwise promote their products in Canada, they don't accept Canadian currency. On the other hand, travel to Windsor, not only will downtown merchants or those at Devonshire Mall and other local outlets, accept the American Greenback, but the parking meters accept US currency as well.

Unlike other bordering states, Detroit is the only metropolitan region that borders another Canadian metro region, and yet, businesses in Detroit fail to see the opportunities that exist on the other side of the river.

While those in Windsor travel more frequently to Detroit to eat, play and enjoy what the region has to offer, they are often left to themselves to figure out where to shop or eat. While Windsor has its own media, The A Channel, CTV, CBC, The Windsor Star, The Globe and Mail and The National Post, among others, we share media as well such as WDIV, WXYZ, FOX Detroit (WJBK) and others. However, through targeted mail or placing ads in Canadian media we are missing a chance to take your product directly to a new market and bring Windsor-Essex 216,000 + residents into your store.

Detroit needs to think regionally and bring Windsor into the discussion.It is time Detroit gets to know its neighbors. While the Detroit Regional Chamber and Windsor Essex Chamber may have a special relationship to help members with cross-border business it is not enough to bring our communities together. While the Canadian US Business Association recently re-established itself, it is not enough to know how to effectively market our business in both regions. And yet, thousands of people travel across the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, Blue Water Bridge and Ambassador Bridge to go to work, to meet family, to go to the doctor and to shop.

Well Detroit, you missed your chance on Black Friday, but now you have a few weeks to prepare for Boxing Day.

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In this election, the Jewish vote doesn’t really matter

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*An edited version of this article by Daniel Cherrin first appeared in the October 17, 2013 issue of The Detroit Jewish News.

Despite Detroit’s bankruptcy, this November 538,000 registered voters in Detroit will have the opportunity to select a new mayor and nine City Council members.  Each one of these individuals will have an important role in rebuilding and rebranding Detroit while guiding the city beyond bankruptcy.

“Detroit is at a crossroads,” Benny Napoleon, Wayne County’s Sheriff who wants to become Mayor, recently told the Jewish News, “and where we go from here will determine the future of the city for generations to come.“

However, in this election, the Jewish vote won’t make a difference in electing Detroit’s next mayor.  Although more members of the Jewish Community may work in Detroit or attend services at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue than in years past, of the 72,000 Jews living in Southeastern Michigan, according to the 2005 demographic study, there are only 1,000 Jews actually living south of Eight Mile in the city of Detroit itself – and that is a rough estimate.   With only 18 percent of the registered voters in the city of Detroit voting in the August primary, Detroit’s future rests with just a handful of voters.

Although many people in Detroit’s Jewish Community cannot vote, it does not mean the next mayor is not important to Detroit’s Jewish Community. "For the past 30 years, Detroit's leaders have largely failed their constituents," said Gabe Neistein, Alumni Relations Director for Tamarack Camps and a Detroit resident, who lives in Midtown. "Living in Detroit, I take a lot of pride in not only living in the city during a time of resurgence, but also in having a say as to which leaders will help keep us moving forward."

Moving forward and beyond an emergency manager is what each candidate wants. “I understand that we succeed and fail as a region,” said Napoleon. “Right now, Detroit is failing, which is one of the reasons our region is divided. We will work to transform Detroit so we can come to the table as equal partners with the region and seek regional solutions to our issues, together.”

Mike Duggan, former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center and former Wayne County Prosecutor who is also running for Mayor, told the Jewish News, “We all saw how our region can work together when communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb rallied to save the SMART bus system during the time I was General Manager of SMART in the 1990’s. As Mayor, I will work with people of good will across this region to build coalitions that support our mutual interests.”

Despite not living within Detroit’s city limits there are a variety of ways the Jewish Community can still get involved.  “The buy-in to Detroit’s future is key,” according to Napoleon. “Once we begin to market our area as a region, southeast Michigan will be well on its way. The Jewish community has both influence and resources to shape and move this type of discussion.”

According to Napoleon, “in our region, the roots of the Jewish community in Detroit run deep.”  After all, Detroit is a city that the Jewish Community helped build, starting with Chapman Abraham who landed in Detroit in 1762 as a fur trader, followed by Sarah and Isaac Couzens a century later. Fred Butzel former Detroit city councilman David W. Simons and Albert Kahn further made the city stronger. Carl Levin, Mel Ravitz, Norman Drachler, Max Fisher and others helped rebuild Detroit after a turbulent time.  Today, the Jewish Community has new urban pioneers such as former State Representative Steve Tobocman, Summer and the City Founder, Ben Falik, D-hive executive Jeff Aronoff, Vice President of Business Development at Eastern Market Corporation Randall Fogelman, Detroit Farm and Garden founder Jeff Klein, Quicken CEO Dan Gilbert, Isaac Downtown Synagogue President and attorney Leor Barak, not to mention well established community leaders such as Gene and Elaine Driker, and Kathleen Strauss and others who are equally committed to seeing Detroit thrive.

With Detroit’s Jewish Community centered in Oakland County, a majority of our community still identifies as Detroiters with the City of Detroit sitting at the core.  There is no doubt that whoever gets elected will work with regional leaders on regional problems, such as the M1-Rail, a new regional water authority, the future of the DIA, the development of a new arena for the Red Wings and a new international gateway between Canada and the United States.

While others work on protecting Detroit’s assets, some candidates, such as Adam Hollier a candidate for City Council in District 5, will seek private funding for other important initiatives such as creating safe bus shelters for children and seniors.

However, there are other issues that those who are elected in November will tackle. Issues such as public safety, neighborhood growth and jobs through economic expansion in our neighborhoods, which are the top three issues of which Napoleon is concerned. When asked about public safety and the need to feel safe in the city, Napoleon, current Sheriff for Wayne County and former Detroit Police Chief said, “Detroit’s downtown continues to be one of the safest in America, and it is obvious that our visitors know that as evidenced on any given weekend in downtown Detroit where people from all over coverage to go to dinner, sporting events, concerts and theatre events.”

“The issues that I am most interested in and am hoping the candidates address,” said Neistein, “are education and the public school system, blight removal, improved public transportation and business development. I'm also very interested in the future of Belle Isle.”

Mike Duggan agrees with Neistein and other Detroiters as to where his focus will be as Mayor.  “Detroit should be a city that is safe, is growing, and has strong and vibrant neighborhoods and commercial centers,” Duggan said.  “Our citizens should be able to call the police and know they’ll come promptly, should expect timely repairs of the streetlights, a reliable bus system, and a commitment to rebuild the neighborhoods by moving families into vacant homes as soon as they become abandoned.”

Duggan also said, “we need to get back to where we can feel safe in Detroit by returning to the strategy of cooperation that existed when I was Wayne County Prosecutor,” he said.  “We had a partnership with the U.S. Attorney, the DEA, the ATF, the Detroit Police, and the Prosecutor that resulted in 2003 in Detroit experiencing the fewest murders in 30 years.  Lately we have had 5 police chiefs in 5 years, leaving Detroit with no consistent crime fighting strategy.  With no leadership and rebuilt partnerships we can make this city safe again.”

Literacy also will be a big issue for the next mayor to consider. According to the Detroit Literacy Coalition, 47% of adult Detroiters are functional illiterate.  “Illiteracy is critical. It has become an impediment to our children’s education when parents aren’t able to provide their children with the assistance they need at home,” according to Napoleon.

The Detroit JCRC has made this one of their focal points and has three initiatives to address illiteracy in Detroit, through Detroit Jewish Coalition for Literacy (DJCL), Team Lamed and Reading Works.  Bookstock also supports efforts to reduce illiteracy and donates proceeds from the sale to support education and literacy projects in the Detroit metropolitan area.

“DJCL’s roster of volunteer tutors has increased from 300 to 800 Jewish community members serving in almost 60 schools in Detroit and Oakland County. DJCL partners with Repair the World, Beyond Basics and other pro-literacy organizations, expanding each other’s reach and effectiveness and sharing expertise,” Robert Cohen, President of the Detroit JCRC said.

Beyond the JCRC and Bookstock, there are other ways the Jewish Community can reconnect with the city.   “Truly transforming our city requires working in our neighborhoods and healing our communities,” Napoleon said. However, a lack of transportation options limits the ability for Detroiters to access needed services. “Because our regional transit system is inadequate, we need to bring services to those who need it, but volunteers and workers from JVS and other services need to feel safe in our city,” Napoleon said. “I would integrate organizations like JVS into my "One Square Mile Initiative,” where they become a neighborhood asset and work closely within that structure. My One Square Mile Initiative places a police officer in each square mile of the city to partner with residents, businesses, community groups, places of worship and others to address crime and quality of life issues in that square mile. It truly looks at our city from the micro level in transforming the neighborhoods.”

“JVS has maintained a presence in the City of Detroit since opening our doors in 1941, and we are committed to assist in its revitalization.   By developing a partnership with business, schools and job seekers, JVS is preparing the workforce to meet the needs of Detroit’s economic development.  As evidenced throughout the Metro Detroit region, transportation remains a significant challenge in matching our workforce with business, “ said Leah Rosenbaum, JVS interim president and CEO.

With regards to how the candidates can serve as a bridge between Detroit and Detroit’s Jewish Community, Napoleon said, “The African American community and the Jewish people have a unique understanding of one another and deep respect for our respective faiths. Napoleon said he would serve as a trusted link between Detroit’s grassroots community and Detroit’s Jewish community.”

However, Napoleon said that despite a shared history of oppression and discrimination, there are many children living in the city of Detroit who have never met or know any Jewish children, or, according to Napoleon, “know much about the rich traditions and deep faith of the Jewish people.” “From the lessons of oppression, discrimination and contemporary issues like self-governance and determination,” Napoleon said, “our children are the future to a more just world. I can envision working closely with The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to build bridges and relationships in our respective civil rights communities as well, perhaps, a more robust youth exchange program.”

While there are many in this community that long for the days of riding the bus or trolley to Hudson’s along Woodward, or even summer nights along the shores of Lake Francis in Palmer Park, there are still many of us who fear travelling into Detroit, albeit for a guided tour from an air conditioned bus taking us to Old Jewish Detroit or to a sporting event. Both Duggan and Napoleon want everyone in the region to not only feel safe in the city, but for others in the region to know who Detroiters are.  “Detroiters are very loving, passionate and compassionate people who have largely been ignored by previous administrations as it relates to their neighborhoods, Napoleon said. “They want the same things out of life as anyone else: safe and livable communities; quality education for their children; and economic opportunities.”

There are many examples where companies emerge from bankruptcy stronger and more efficient. While cities will not disappear despite how they are run, this is Detroit’s opportunity. With a new international airport, new life in the downtown, a world-class cultural scene and a new entrepreneurial culture now occupying Detroit – Detroit is back.  In fact, each of the candidates expressed messages of hope, optimism and the ability to seek help from those wanting to lend a hand.

Mary Sheffield, a minister and candidate for Detroit City Council in District 5, which includes the areas between Midtown and Belle Isle, wants the Jewish Community to stay committed to the rebuilding of Detroit and use its influence to convince others to do the same, whether it is through synagogues, businesses or personal relationships.  “Detroit’s Jewish Community is an integral part of the future of the city, in my opinion,” said Sheffield, “and as such, in an effort to achieve our vision it would require this community to continue to embrace Detroit and choose to live, work, own businesses and enjoy all that Detroit has to offer.

Richard Bowers, an attorney who has worked for a number of City Council members in addition to Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr. and now a candidate for Detroit City Council in District 2, which includes Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest and the University District, suggested ways that the organized Jewish community could stay connected. “I would like to work with ADL to make sure we have the most up to date ordinances and laws in the City of Detroit to protect citizens from bigotry,” Bowers said.  (In full disclosure, I worked with Richard when I worked for Cockrel).

According to Bowers, “The vast, vast majority of Detroiters want the same thing- clean, safe, well kept neighborhoods where everyone lives in harmony no matter what religion, race, or background and they are able to have a good paying job and top of the line retail.  In other words, the majority of Detroiters want Detroit back, and they need the help of Jewish people to share it with them.”

There was a time in Detroit’s history when the Jewish vote did mater, but that was when Albert Cobo, Louis Miriani and Jerome Cavanaugh were mayor.  Over the past few years, Detroit’s Jewish Community has not been as politically engaged as previous generations.  Although many of us cannot vote this November and help elect a new generation of leadership to help move Detroit forward, we have the opportunity to develop new relationships, build coalitions and create a bridge between our community and our city.

“Jewish people have always had a sense of social action and philanthropy,” Gabe Leland, a candidate for Detroit City Council in District 7 that includes Dexter/Davison and Russell Woods, and the only Jewish candidate in the race said. “It’s apparent with the many contributions to our education and civic institutions that we are small in numbers yet strong in philanthropy. Its hidden in the remembrance of where we came from and what this city meant to our families.  It’s apparent that keeping this connection to our roots is so important to the Jewish community, no matter the state of the city.”

Although the Jewish Community cannot vote for the next mayor of Detroit or for City Council, it is never too late to become involved and continue to have influence on rebuilding and rebranding Detroit.

Daniel Cherrin is the founder of North Coast Strategies, a public relations + affairs firm in Royal Oak. He is the former Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary to Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr. 

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Chaos in Congress as the U.S. Government Shuts Down

In Detroit, we can live with a municipal bankruptcy as the government continues to function -- albeit not at an optimum level, the government still works. However, when Congress focuses on politics rather than sound public policy, it is the American people who suffer, and it is "Brand America" that gets its reputation damaged across the globe. And at such a crucial time as we become more involved in international disputes. Congress has had ample opportunity and time to work out their differences, even with complex policy disputes mired in politics and controversy. When it would have been clear that the House could not reach a consensus among themselves they should should have tapped trained non-partisan facilitators, including those from the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service, a federally funded agency,  to provide a forum for resolving the toughest public policy disputes and create a process by which to bring the stakeholders together.

Consensus building is a process by which the parties seek unanimous agreement.  It involves a good-faith effort by each stakeholder to meet the interests of each other. In today’s legislative environment, politics often trumps policy and public policy dispute resolution can assist lawmakers and regulators in reaching consensus and bring closure to a number of issues that have long been unresolved, while overcoming outside political pressure.

However, in this situation chaos trumped consensus because not all the stakeholders sought an equitable solution in good faith.  It is time politics takes a back seat to agree on a vision for this country. Once our elected members of Congress can agree on a vision, we can then work to re-establish trust and begin to engage in civil and productive discourse leading to resolving complex policy disputes for the sake of moving our Nation forward.

However, this takes leadership and I am not sure we have that today in Congress.

 

 

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