Before relinquishing control of Detroit, EM Kevyn Orr abolished Citizens’ District Councils

Corktown_0301

Before Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr relinquished control of city government last week, he quietly signed an order abolishing citizen groups that have long played a role in the direction of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Kevyn Orr
Kevyn Orr

Orr eliminated Citizens’ District Councils, which are made up of elected and appointed residents who live in areas “where rehabilitation and redevelopment activities are proposed to take place.”

CDC members expressed shock and said the councils are an important link between residents and government.

“Our city has lost a quality instrument for ensuring residents have a voice of any kind regarding development in their neighborhoods,” said Rev. Dean P. Simmer, vice-chairman of Corktown Citizens’ District Council. 

Simmer said Corktown CDC “has been very active in responding to zoning and planning requests in our neighborhood. We have had the privilege of hearing from many recent new business owners in the neighborhood, considered their proposals, and provided a neighborhood voice to the Board of Zoning Appeals in each of these cases.”

Orr spokesman Bill Nowling said the CDCs hampered growth.

“It was felt that the CDCs created an unnecessary level of bureaucracy that was hindering future development and revitalization efforts,” Nowling said.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office declined to comment.

For a more in-depth look at CDCs, check out this WDET segment.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Hurlco • 5 minutes ago

    So let’s get this straight Steve.

    You’ll check A.L. to “take his immature insults elsewhere”… But won’t say one word about “a city run by a tiny, inbred cluster of ruling elites” repeated as a mantra like a 10 year old who thinks they’ve discovered something unique in the King’s language. He didn’t…it was just another lame twist on “The Man” keeping his boot on the neck of the peeples.

    Apparently, you have no problem with this immature insult thrown into the mix without any proof to back it up.
    “naturally all done at Synder’s behest”

    David Silverman hit the nail on the head by pointing out how one-sided you and your writing is, motivated by a need to root out imaginary misdeeds by Kevin Orr. I made an attempt earlier today to open your eyes about that in a writer to writer way, on your Facebook Page. But Noooooooooo
    After tap dancing around the issue of how your personal prejudice & bias dilute the impact, and neuter the efficacy of your “investigative journalism”…you picked up your marbles and pouted;

    “I’LL SAY WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO SAY. IT’S MY PAGE”

    Before that, you made a sophomoric attempt at evading the truth by playing the worn out, overplayed in Wayne County PC card. Shortly thereafter, you blocked me. My educated guess is you took umbrage at my tactful attempt to point out that pandering to a devoted readership of fawning sycophants, while giving a pass on their ignorant prejudice, doesn’t make for very good journalism.

    He’ll hath no fury like one entrusted with a talent, to lose perspective and being called out on their shit.

    I still think you’re a better man than taking a topic…say, in this article, and filling it with hot hubris in making much ado about nothing. After no time at all, whatever credibility you came into this with, will have been spent and drained because of being too proud to humble down and perhaps consider, you were wrong. Instead, I suspect, the bebows will continue to run rampant, unfettered by any modicum of balance or sense of fair play, and this will be deleted as though you never heard it… But we know different brother.

    Emerson once wrote;
    “Learning men are alive…learned men are dead”
    Choose life Steve.
    Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
    Freedom is always predicated on rigorous honesty…
    even if it stings a bit. It matters not what the other side is doing…whoever they are…what matters is what we think, say, and do when no one is looking, and we’re free from having to live up to, or down to, the ruthless expectations of others.
    Try it out. It’s a great ride my man.

    • bebow

      Since you object to my statement, why don’t you explain why we had to import a mayor from Livonia?

  • So let’s get this straight Steve.

    You’ll check A.L. to “take his immature insults elsewhere”… But won’t say one word about “a city run by a tiny, inbred cluster of ruling elites” repeated as a mantra like a 10 year old who thinks they’ve discovered something unique in the King’s language. He didn’t…it was just another lame twist on “The Man” keeping his boot on the neck of the peeples.

    Apparently, you have no problem with this immature insult thrown into the mix without any proof to back it up.
    “naturally all done at Synder’s behest”

    David Silverman hit the nail on the head by pointing out how one-sided you your writing is, motivated by a need to root out imaginary misdeeds by Kevin Orr. I made an attempt earlier today to open your eyes about that in a writer to writer way, on your Facebook Page. But Noooooooooo
    After tap dancing around the issue of how your personal prejudice & bias dilute the impact, and neuter the efficacy of your “investigative journalism”…you picked up your marbles and pouted;

    “I’LL SAY WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO SAY. IT’S MY PAGE”

    Before that, you made a sophomoric attempt at evadingthe truth by playing the worn out, overplayed in Wayne County PC card. Shortly thereafter, you blocked me. My educated guess is you took umbrage at my tactful attempt to point out that pandering to a devoted readership of fawning sychophants, while giving a pass on their ignorant prejudice, doesn’t make for very good journalism.

    He’ll hath no fury like one entrusted with a talent, to lose perspective and being called out on their shit.

    I still think you’re a better man than taking a topic…say, in this article, and filling it with hot hubris in making much ado about nothing. After no time at all, whatever credibility you came into this with, will have been spent and drained because of being too proud to humble down and perhaps consider, you were wrong. Instead, I suspect, the bebows will continue to run rampant, unfettered by any modicum of balance or sense of fair play, and this will be deleted as though you never heard it… But we know different brother.

    Emerson once wrote;
    “Learning men are alive…learned men are dead”
    Choose life Steve.
    Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
    Freedom is always predicated on rigorous honesty…
    even if it stings a bit. It matters not what the other side is doing…whoever they are…what matters is what we think, say, and do when no one is looking, and we’re free from having to live upto, or down to, the ruthless expectations of others.
    Try it out. It’s a great ride my man.

  • David Silverman

    If Mr. Neavling is an investigative journalist, he didn’t do a very good job here. His article is woefully one sided and does not look at the full CDC picture. It seems that Mr. Neavling was more interested in exposing a supposedly anti-democratic, dastardly last deed by Emergency Manager Kevin Orr. In fact, what Mr. Orr did was long overdue.

    The city set up the CDC system as a way to provide community input for the city’s various urban renewal programs, including those funded through CDBG and Neighborhood Opportunity Funds. In theory, the model was a great exercise in participatory democracy, with the residents given opportunities to vote on the use of federal and state funds in their communities. In reality, most CDCs did very little to effect positive change or promote democratic principles. Where the CDCs did have some say, such as Medical Center CDC, the results were completely disastrous, with large areas of MCCDC’s area scaled and developed like Novi with the urban grid pattern completely destroyed.

    Many CDCs became political patronage shops, particularly during the Young Administration, with politically connected individuals taking leadership roles in the CDCs and serving the political goals of the administration in the neighborhoods. For their loyalty, they were lavished with millions in CDBG and NOF funds to pay for staff and operate various programs, but little in the way of significant physical change.

    In fairness, the CDCs effectiveness was hampered by the City’s abandonment of urban planning and politicalization during the Young Administration. It was only when Archer became mayor that CDCs began to get technical assistance from City planning staff to prepare area plans that would be used to direct federal resources. In other instances, like the CDC I worked at, the CDC directly hired an administrator and staff planner to prepare area plans that would be used to direct resources.

    Archer had no loyalty to the CDC system and determined that the best way to establish their value was to provide them with assistance necessary to create new or updated neighborhood area plans. Many CDCs failed to accomplish this task and instead insisted on continued, undirected CDBG and NOF allocations. It was during this time that many CDCs went defunct.

    The City’s move to district elections for council members does away with the need for these citizen groups. The CDC service areas are now within districts where the council ember is directly elected and where other, more effective and independent neighborhood organizations operate.

    The majority of CDCs and the programs they were supposed to participate in were some of the worst examples of federal and City urban policy. Orr’s action simply was the final and appropriate action for a failed program that was long overdue to go away.

  • OneCanOnlyHope

    CDC’s aren’t necessary you have city council by district; complain to them when you don’t like proposed development; make them accountable or don’t re-elect them…. This is much-to-do about nothing…..

  • jesssoul

    I’m suffering from crossed eyes at this alphabet soup and lack of clarification as to which type of CDC is being affected. The opportunity for confusion on this is huge. We have Community Development Corporations, Citizens’ District Councils and the newly created Community Advisory Councils (which are based on districts after the last council elections … I think, but it’s hard to keep track since everything shared essentially the same name), all of which appear to have overlapping purposes. I’m sure Mike Duggan is just fine with it, since he was instrumental in creating the CACs most recently. Something had to go, no?

  • Hayley

    It seems to me that the CDCs are being replaced the Community Advisory Councils, which are actually better because everyone in the city has a chance be represented. (CDCs are only in state-designated “urban renewal” zones from like the mid-1900s.) Since CACs fall along council district lines, they might also be resourced and members might have more access to decision-makers. The CACs were established in the new city charter a few years ago. If this is the case, i don’t mind the CDCs going away.

    • PublicPolicyPro

      CACs are advisory in nature, whereas the CDCs had lawful input into the development of their neighborhood. In addition, because of the language of the CAC ordinance they arent in place and wont be until at least 2016. Until then, the city can give developers permission to do as they please.

      • Hayley

        “Lawful input” just means that the city was legally required to listen to the CDC’s opinion, though, not that they had to act accordingly. From a colleague’s research on the Public Act 344 (emphasis mine):

        “The act further states that District Councils shall advise local units of government on issues relating to development, and that local officials shall, to the extent feasible, incorporate District Council recommendations.”

        It is troubling that there won’t be formalized CACs in place until 2016. And it’s true that they’re different, I just don’t see how CDCs are inherently better–especially because only certain parts of the city are eligible to have one.

        • PublicPolicyPro

          Im not saying CDCs are better, mainly because not all areas are eligible, just as you mentioned. But now youre going to have a much smaller elected group representing an even larger area; whole districts. As we’ve experienced, those that arent directly affected (residents) are not as passionate as they are when it comes to when they are affected. I prefer a clos-knit representation.

          Theres a District 4 meeting with CDAD tomorrow.

          Nowling isnt known for his way of words when it comes to people of the community, thats why hes a sought after conservative communications adviser.

      • Hayley

        Also I would like to add that I absolutely think Nowling’s comment is all kinds of awful. Public engagement should not be considered a burden by Detroit’s decision-makers.

      • Judith Christensen

        Except that Federal laws require Community Advisory Groups since 1980, & it’s why CDCs started. Does any City get to ignore Feds or its community to let developers do as they want because an EM claims magic powers? Oz left belief in magic powers of a Wizard, not an EM!

  • Sizz

    Naturally, all done at Snyder’s behest.

  • CommonSenseInTheD

    Screw Kevin Orr and his recent action! Though it’s troubling because I do not believe that Orr has acted alone on this action even though some may wish you to think so. We, the People need our legal beagles to reverse this bull!!! The People of any neighborhood have to right to review, speak-up, discuss, and guide their own destiny and support or not support a proposed redevelopment within the place they live!

    • bebow

      This wasn’t Kevyn Orr’s idea. He’s concluding the bankruptcy and heading out. It wasn’t done because the ruling elites intend to do something beneficial for neighborhood residents and just know everyone’s going to love it. A steamroller is about to flatten some people who thought they were “selected” until this point. The very mention of a “selection” should have raised the hair on everyone’s heads.

  • bebow

    It was only a matter of time before the “unselected” status spread. What in hell have you all been thinking it means when a city run by a tiny, inbred cluster of ruling elites levies abusively, dishonestly inflated taxes upon the population and then declares the majority unworthy of receiving services in return? How’s that smug, puffed up thing working for you now? Wake up. You’re next. Don’t ignore this signal and buy property in Detroit. Keep all options open. Be ready to pack up and leave immediately. Nothing good ever follows morally depraved behavior – 100% guaranteed – and what’s still happening here in the neighborhoods fits the description. The unchecked ruling elites now feel as emboldened as the criminals.

    • A.L. Cadillac

      Now go flap your arms and run throught the streets screeching at fire hydrants. That’ll show all those inbred elites!

      • bebow

        ???

      • muckraker_steve

        Please take the immature insults elsewhere, AL Cadillac.

        • A.L. Cadillac

          Yep, Steve. Gotcha. Crazy trolling: good. Sarcasm: bad.

          • bebow

            Yep, what’s happened to “unselected” neighborhood residents over the last decade has been “crazy,” as you say. Why do you think people come from all over the world to photograph the situation? If I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t believe it. If anyone specifically attempted to warn me off in advance, I would have doubted their sanity or motives. There is a surreal quality to this whole bad scene, no question, and the cray-cray is far from over. Now, in the case at hand, the EM, on the eve of his departure with no apparent dog in the race, signed an order on the sneak to stifle a “selected” segment of the population by removing its established input mechanism. On the sneak. No warning. No explanation. Rather like law enforcement simply vanished in the neighborhoods back in 2006. “Crazy,” right? Who would believe that really happened and still happens? (“There is no one to respond. Everyone is downtown for the game.” 2014. No shit. Wrap your head around that one.) I paid my taxes, over quadruple what was legitimately owed for years, as Dan Gilbert correctly stated, and the deal is, everywhere else in the U.S.A., I’m supposed to get service in exchange. Equal service. Is that expectation “crazy,”
            or is the “crazy” part that a small, inbred cluster of ruling elites decided to go rogue and stay rogue? It isn’t trolling to tell uncomfortable truth and to warn. The minute people purchase property in Detroit, the ruling elites add items in the captive audience column. Wake up.

  • Elena Herrada

    Even Orr’s and Duggan’s friends are shocked.

  • This is horrifying. Can City Council reinstate them? If so, how do we push for that?

  • Frank Nemecek

    Which EM order was this?

    (All of the Kevyn Orr’s orders are numbered and posted on-line. I ready through his most recent ones and didn’t see any mention of CDCs.)

    http://www.detroitmi.gov/EmergencyManager.aspx

    • Bob Connely

      Well, this was just something I heard in the Men’s Room from a street-dude who was chatting it up with the voices in his head.

    • daroofa

      It’s order #36.

      • Frank Nemecek

        Thanks for sharing.