Thursday, April 10, 2014
I am very concerned about what is going on nationally about public pensions and how it may, in my opinion, be connected to the Detroit bankruptcy. On March 24 Governor Snyder and Kevyn Orr, Emergency Manager, went to speak at the Manhattan Institute about Detroit's bankruptcy. http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140324/METRO01/303240067
The Manhattan Institute has worked with the John Arnold Foundation to implement pension reform which is highly questionable. Jones Day is suggesting that a person from the Manhattan Institute lead the bankruptcy experts in the trial in Detroit! This should not be allowed. http://www.freep.com/article/20140331/NEWS01/303310064/Detroit-bankruptcy-expert-witness-Edward-Glaeser.
The Detroit bankruptcy should be put on hold until this national pension issue is thoroughly investigated. Below are articles to educate you about the wide scope of what is going on with public pension "reform" in the United States.
Detroit is pension reform's whipping boy Commentary: Clawbacks on earned benefits is
the equivalent of a poll tax - Wall Street Journal Marketwatch
Rhode Island's Pension Pirates
Rhode Island Public Pension Reform: Wall Street's License to Steal - Forbes
Looting the Pension Funds - Rolling Stone
Rhode Island Drops Hedge Fund Criticized by Unionized Teachers
Jacksonville Buyers Beware: Pew Partners with the Arnold Foundation to Bring a Crippling Plan for Public Pensions to Jacksonville - the National Public Pension Coalition
New Reports Reveal Depth of Corporate Collusion in Pension Attacks - the Public Pension Institute http://www.publicpensioninstitute.org/public/10450.cfm
Promise Breakers: How Pew Trust Is Helping to Gut Public Employee Pensions - California
Federation http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/site/page /promise_breakers_how_pew_trust_is_helping_to_gut_public_employee_pensions
Arnold Foundation Mess Has Gray In A Tizzy - Page One Kentucky
Report: Pew and Arnold Working Together to Slash Pensions - Rhode Island Future
ALEC and TIAA-CREF Join the Assault on Public Pensions
Slash and Burn: California Pension War
These two articles are from the groups who are acting, in my opinion, questionably:
This one shares info from the John Arnold Foundation - Pension Reform: Litigate, Negotiate or Go Bankrupt
Why Detroit Needs Bankruptcy - from the Manhattan Institute
Sunday, February 2, 2014
They told the people that they could give them a lot of money if they signed a paper about their castles and they would ask for a little money each month in return. They all signed. The king of the land didn't stop the trolls. The trolls were giving him money to let them have the people sign the papers about their castles.
The trolls came by for their money each month. But each month, the trolls told the people they owed more and more money, their light eyes glistening with greed. Many people couldn't pay. So the trolls took their castles, forcing the people to move in with other people in their families or to leave the town. The trolls wanted ALL the castles, so the town could become a place just for the trolls and all their money.
The town used to help people pay to heat their homes or help you pay for their castle. The trolls made sure the king did what he was told and took away all the help. The trolls made sure all the laws put many of the townspeople in jail, especially dads. When trolls got old, they were sent to castles full of old people until they died. The townspeople tried to keep their old people at home with their children. The trolls gated their castles off from each other. They lived in fear. The townspeople all knew each others' families and watched out for each other.
The trolls would meet on the outskirts of the town and plot and scheme. Their hearts were black. Trolls never laugh, except to laugh AT other people. Trolls never have a happy day. They want everyone to be unhappy like them. They take more and more money, but never can be happy.
Trolls blamed the townspeople for their own stealing. Now how was that? The town newspaper always blamed the people, while the trolls set them up and stole from them. The people themselves began to believe these lies. When in truth, the trolls had been stealing for years and no one from the faraway kingdom who watched over all the towns stopped them. The townspeople are kind and don't understand that it was never them. We are good people who have slowly, quietly had everything taken from us."
And the grandma looked at the little boy. She said, "That is why your mother and father are not home today. They want their castles back, the land, the water, the island, the seniors' money and the art. Denzell, they went off to fight today. They went to fight for you and your brothers' and sisters' and cousins' futures. The children in the surrounding towns have started to ask their parents these same questions you asked. They used to believe the trolls...until the trolls started to steal from them. The trolls must be taken down, by any means necessary, so children from this town and the surrounding towns may live in peace and equality. This town's values of sharing, caring, and taking care of each other are so much better than the empty greed of the trolls. Your mom and dad and I hope your children will never know what it was like to live like Charlie."
Monday, January 13, 2014
At the recount, challengers started to take photographs of the write-in ballots. A write-in’s lawyer asked if it was allowed. There was no rule saying that we couldn’t. So the county started to make up rules. We had 30 seconds to photograph a batch for so many seconds a ballot etc. In one of the hearings, someone asked the Wayne County Board of Canvassers (WCBC), “They are allowed to take photographs of the ballots?”. A board member said, “Yes, we might want to look into changing that.” To me, it is imperative that that right is preserved.
Challenges of individual and groups of ballots were written down and were logged on a spreadsheet by the county’s lawyers. At one of the investigative meetings the WCBC missed including me in a challenge which I had also made. So later back in the ballot recount, I went to photograph the paper the challenge was written on as a record. One of the county’s lawyers ripped the challenge from my hand and said, “Oh no, you’re not going to get me like that!”.
There were no meeting notices sent out by email after the first or second meeting and I have never seen any minutes. I don’t believe minutes were taken when they opened the ballot boxes, but I cannot know for sure since I was not privy to the minutes. You just had to find out yourself. This was a lot about shaking people off, frustrating them and making them miserable. To watch some of it, visit www.detroitrecount.blogspot.com The challengers were treated as annoyances by many of the people running the WCBC meetings, judging from their eye rolling and the tone of voice they used which was insulting.
All the recount candidates and their supporters signed up as challengers for each others’ campaigns. These people, many unemployed and fixed income seniors, spent weeks as volunteers and spent a fortune on parking.
During the recount I saw many ballots across precincts in the same handwriting. So I made a list of similar letter styles that many challengers agreed on. Please see some samples of matching ballots here for yourself http://detroitrecount.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-handwriting.html The most interesting specimen would be the one that has two of the write-in’s name on the same ballot, which are then similar to writing on two different ballots in different precincts. I had seen both styles of writing across the city. Once you have seen this sample and understand that the challengers saw thousands of them, you might understand how this is a cloud of injustice that we live with every day.
How the samples were chosen for the handwriting expert to analyze was illogical. One can conclude nothing from the “investigation” the WCBC did. At first a member of the WCBC told us that they had never agreed to bring in a handwriting expert – until I did not back down and she looked at the minutes from a previous meeting. The handwriting expert was then scheduled. This was the first in an array of red flags throughout the investigation.
The WCBC had Tom Barrow, Mr. Cole and I go over to the table where they opened ballot boxes one at a time, laid some on the table and told us to go to the table and choose the ballots we thought were fraudulent. Randomly. We were allowed to spend about 15 minutes on this.
--Pause here and consider that this is a city of 700,000 people with a billion dollar budget – we are alleging fraud about the position that controls that and we are being asked to randomly do what might take the FBI a very long time. At this point, it is clear that fraud investigations should be in the hands of specially trained law enforcement from day one.--
We were expressly forbidden from comparing sets of ballots that fit on the tables from the same precinct and between precincts.” No commingling of ballots,” one board member said, again and again. The board members took each stack of ballots from us as we picked them. We did the best we could, choosing writing styles we had seen over and over in the process as samples. It was too soon in the recount for us to be able to clearly identify them and without being able to compare precincts and stacks of ballots it was impossible to get a set in this ludicrous game of memory, which we expressed to no avail.
About 100 dedicated volunteer Detroiters took photos of the ballots during the recount. They were printed out and matched. In about two days we had developed a methodology and matched about 40 sets of ballots with similar and near exact handwriting. We already had an alphabet of the styles of individual letters used when we started. Its not so hard when you can compare and stack them into piles with similarities. Children could probably match them it was so obvious. Its just a huge job. When Tom Barrow gave the envelope of copies of about 40 matched ballots to the board, she said it was too late – the handwriting expert was already there and she didn’t have enough people to vote to have him look at them. The handwriting expert from the write-in used the light from his phone and a magnifying glass to examine the ballots. No photography was allowed. At another meeting during the investigation I identified new sets matching ballots right in front of the WCBC and they quietly put them back in the case. Actually when the ballots were laid out and I continued to match, even being able to match to ones that were already put away, they went and sat down and looked in the distance while I pointed to matches. When they passed the matched ballots from Tom’s envelope around, they looked at them and put them back in the envelope. The end. In the envelope from a ballot box that says “originals from which copies are made” in an absentee case, the ballots which were supposedly originals were in the same handwriting I had seen over and over. I also realized that one poll book I had seen had on the last day had the familiar handwriting. There is a possibility that there were more questionable poll books but we had not been trying to match them.
Additionally, the amount of the sample – 19 – was a ridiculously low percentage of the write in ballots. If we were to ballpark it at 40,000 ballots that were a write-in (the number of actual votes changed through each count so I am not even trying to give an exact number), 400 ballots would have been just 1%. I believe 19 ballots would be considered negligible.
On the ballots with the write-in familiar handwriting was also a similar slate of people chosen for clerk and city council. There were also ballots where the grey boxes were dark and some were light.
When the WCBC opened the case with MORE ballots in the box than in the poll book, the WCBC went and had a meeting in the corner and decided to address it another day. There were also missing blank ballots. The City explained that some ballots are just on a counter and not given out in order. There were so many issues with the absentee ballots (everything from who is verifying the signatures when the ballots come in to how the blank ballots are given out…) that it should be an investigation unto itself.
The list from the printer showing how many ballots printed was supposed to be in each ballot box. They were in none that I saw. When the WCBC produced a list from the City Clerk, it was simply a spreadsheet. When that was not accepted, the next list produced was some sheet from the printer interspersed with spreadsheets. The spreadsheet also had the wrong year on it at the top center. Having been a graphic designer and worked with a printer, I had never seen a bill like that. Bills came on the printer’s letterhead with very detailed explanations of what was printed.
The election was sent to the prosecutor for fraud because of 9 computer generated ballots all misspelled (not by the Automark for people with disabilities). It was NOT sent for the glaringly obvious handwriting or absentee issues. Red flag. As I understand it, sending it to the prosecutor opens the whole election up for investigation, not just those 9 ballots.
I understand that other candidates have taken this to Wayne County court and received little justice. The write-in candidate was the Wayne County Prosecutor in the past. Perhaps the county should have recused itself as a whole. When the WCBC was served notice that they had been called to court by many of the candidates, a lawyer from the county literally ran to the other part of the conference room with the write-in’s lawyer to speak to each other. I sat through one case where the judge openly admitted he had contributed $1000 to the write-in candidate and had been to a fundraiser and did not recuse himself. The group tried to change judges - it was sent to the chief judge, then sent back to the original judge to be heard. They lost. He was the judge in two of the cases. At the trial about the very oddly printed absentee ballots for the general election, a judge basically argued the case for the lawyers from the write-in.
The investigations so far have circumvented any real methodology to find out if what the challengers saw was true. That in itself is telling. I had never understood what it meant in legal terms “to be made whole” until this experience. During this entire process I felt my human rights were taken away, seen a justice system that was nothing I had even imagined from bad TV, and suffer every single day knowing what was done to me, a third generation Detroiter and former citizen of the year, and to my neighbors, friends, and all the good people I met while campaigning across the city.
Whose job is it to investigate this? I sent an email on September 30, 2013 to the Michigan Attorney General about my handwriting similarity concern and got my reply on January 2, 2014 simply to refer to the election law statute. I have contacted the Wayne County Prosecutor at least twice. I know from an October letter to WCBC from the Michigan AG Criminal Division that Wayne County Prosecutor sent it to the Michigan AG, where it sat for a month and was sent back to the WCBC saying they had not done their job properly. The link the Michigan AG office provided me in the January email is no answer to my serious concerns that have not been addressed fully and justly by any entity that should be taking care of this.
Currently, I have an October 2013 FOIA request out for all the ballots and ballot materials to photograph them and save them from being destroyed. The city originally told me they would charge me about $7,000 for me to look at them. I cited case law that disputes the charges. It should be free for me to do it. These ballots are the key, the answer to why Detroit never reflects the voice of the people who live here. I am still waiting for their response.
This made me curious about past elections. I did an analysis for 2 campaign reporting periods for Dave Bing. It showed that less than 10% of donations and less than 10% of individual contributors were from Detroit. I suggest further study go into this. I would also be interested to see which individuals have given the most money over the past 30 years.
There is something malicious about this election. Blatant fraud is disturbing to everyone who saw it. Even as we have told every authority we can, every person getting paid in this country to watch over democracy as Detroiters do their jobs for free, all recount candidates and citizens have heard from day one was crickets chirping.
What would make us whole again as a city? To redress our grievances and make us whole:
1. A full real investigation into the primary election
2. If wrongdoing is found:
- prosecutions to all involved and a public apology by all involved
- repayment of funds to all campaign contributors to all campaign funds who ran except those guilty of involvement
- repayment to the city for the primary election and general election and all time spent of the election dept on the election
- repayment to the county and the state for all time spent concerning this election
- repayment to the candidates for their recount fees, repayment of any legal fees in pursuing justice
- repayment for a special election to elect a real mayor of Detroit
- repayment, hourly, to all the candidates for their time spent campaigning and for the recount and for any paid staff and volunteers
- full prosecution for each and every ballot which was not filled in by an individual real Detroit voter
- full prosecution of any involvement of the press
- an investigation into involvement in previous election debacles in Detroit
- and further corrections of the entire election system below:
It should be government financed, with all candidates getting a strict amount of money, TV, online and newspaper time. It should be a short period of time and should be when the weather is not vicious. When I ran, I had little money so was relegated to the outdoors. I understand that they just increased the amount of money that campaign contributors can give individually. This just makes it worse. Also, campaign reports are not fully checked. For Detroit, some people are giving their business address instead of their home address on the finance reports and some are giving no address at all. It would be easier if there were some campaign finance accountant from the government who just kept track of all candidates’ finances. It is a difficult process that should be made easier for average people to run without a support staff. If there was just in-kind TV, flyers, and Ads paid for by the gov’t and a decrease in the amount of cash going into political campaigns, it would clean up a lot. I believe there are models in Europe and Canada.
2. Corporate Contributions
A white woman appeared at the recount with a name tag from a VERY large Detroit business on her purse, that contributed to one or more candidates. She greeted the Wayne County election worker and said “if 2009 didn’t make me crazy this one will”. She looked around the room crazily.
3. Emergency Manager
I did not vote for the emergency manager. I don’t have to explain all the arguments against it. I would like to add that you should see the book Law in Times of Crisis: Emergency Management http://books.google.com/books?id=XgbEUxcKBgAC&pg=PA237&lpg=PA237&dq=article+48+weimar+republic&source=bl&ots=1ucqixHgbm&sig=5l9PXLxM_hbgNW1g6SIcWfS1DMQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=VpO_UabSB6rsigK5gIGIBA&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBDgo#v=onepage&q=article%2048%20weimar%20republic&f=false and understand how the Second Reich used Emergency Management and that is partly why much of what Hitler did was legal. The emergency manager law seems to legalize also much of what would normally be prosecuted under RICO. There needs to be some new super sized version of RICO to enable prosecution of everything that is happening to Detroit. It should be looked into to see if the EM, bankruptcy and election are connected.
4. Fraud vs. Recount
If fraud is alleged, investigation into the fraud should be first before there is a recount. It should be done by trained professionals from the FBI from far outside of the area of the election. This would save money on using staff for recounting if fraud is found. Using specially trained professionals that can move from city to city is cost effective. I am sure the cheaters have them, so why don’t the American people?
5. Voting Machines: Old school is better
I understand that before I was born, votes used to be counted by hand in each precinct with the public watching. I think this should be done again. I am also against absentee voting as there is a huge latitude for fraud. For the homebound, sets of three people would go out on election day to get their vote. I am also against voting on any other day but election day. If it is important to you, you will be there, end of story, in the effort to prevent fraud. The more electronic it gets the more chance there is for fraud to go undetected by the average voter. It may be interesting to try instant run off voting. There should be no expense spared when protecting voters from fraud.
6. Transportation to the polls
In my neighborhood, I vote so far away from home it would take me about twenty minutes to walk there. The public transportation in Detroit is abysmal and makes it impossible for many of the neediest people here to vote. It should not be left up to churches and other groups because I suspect some of them are bought to bring groups to vote for certain people. People who live outside of a short walking distance (I would say about 8 blocks) from a polling place should be provided with government door to door transportation that day.
7. The press
They were AWFUL during the mayoral race. A full page announcing the write-in ( a red flag) and a small article after the debate calling most of the other candidates crazy? A PhD, three had masters, two had law degrees, two state reps and the man who cried – he was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. I suspect that an analysis of all major AND alternative newspapers will show a wildly unequal distribution of press. Again, a regulated race without ads, with gov’t paid for debate time, time to present your ideas, would be great.
The media was only there for the write-in candidate and once in awhile for the sheriff. As I understand, for the televised debate Tom Barrow got all the candidates on – the station had originally only wanted the top few. Then when the day came they split us up, putting most of the “trailing” candidates in a room with no TV while the top candidates went on first. Quickly we dispersed into the overflow audience to watch. Weren’t they surprised to see us, all made up and fixed up! The questions by the crooked mainstream media were meant to make the write-in look good and the rest of us look bad. When Tom mentioned ALEC and walked right up them and said the press were the problem, I busted out laughing. After that the editor of the Detroit News referred to me as “the crazy white lady”. I realized that they may have been purposefully making bad press for Tom Barrow for the exact reason that he knows the truth about the core of Detroit’s problems – the election system.
8. Getting on the ballot
It should be NOT allowed to pay people to get signatures to put you on the ballot nor pay people to sign. If you can’t find volunteers or do it yourself, too bad so sad. I did it with help from my friends. It was a great opportunity to speak with people and campaign. I suspect there is something going on with shelters here and paying homeless people for the signatures, but I had no time or energy to investigate. The amount of signatures required actually went up while I was gathering the signatures. I think it is too many. The old amount was fair.
9. Endorsements/slates should be illegal
They are riddled with corruption. A union, church or other organization has only a responsibility to democracy and presenting all choices to their groups in a thoughtful/fair manner. Slates etc. are just as corrupt. None of it. Stand on your own, speak your mind and if people like you, fine. At forums I suspect people pay to speak first or to be invited. This is another form of corruption from the community side. Everyone or no one.
10. Unrecountable precincts
If the numbers on the poll book DO NOT match the number of votes on the tape from the voting machine, a ballot box is NOT recountable. That is counter to common sense.
11. Recount cost
Purposefully the State passed a bill making the recount impossibly expensive for large cities and impossible for trailing candidates who believe there was fraud. As if we don’t know that is aimed at Detroit. The elections have been corrupt for possibly my whole life. They want to maintain that and so are making it out of regular folks’ price range. Unjust, uncalled for. As well, if they checked for fraud first, they would not have to recount anything. Not in Detroit at least.
I live in the 14th district for congressional representative. It has been gerrymandered. Look at it on the map. It is shaped like Maryland.
13. No transfer stations for ballots
There should be no transfer stations. No place in Detroit is more than 20 minutes from downtown. Transfer stations here are more than likely used for fraud.
14. Door knocking
It was unfortunate when people lived in gated/enclosed areas and apartments. It was not possible to knock on their doors.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Friday, January 3, 2014
Just came back from a little looksy at the bankruptcy trial. If you haven't gone, you should. Detroiters are paying this bizarre circus of wealthy lawyers from Jones Day to spin yarns and tell tall tales. Why not go watch the storytelling festival? The lawyers for the union and retirees (Detroit's real side) are on point. Too bad its all a sham. They would probably have won by now if they even had a chance from the get-go.
The legion, army, gaggle, cacophony, herd of rich white lawyers plus Orr is an astounding sight. All of them ridiculously unhappy in their ill gotten gains, their faces showing a life down the wrong road. I imagine a group in an unfriendly trailer park would be their equivalent.
I was surprised at how sheepish Orr is acting. Perhaps he sees his future. People like the ones spearheading this sham bankruptcy will throw anyone to the dogs. He knows he might be next at any time. When he started, he acted like he was king of the world, all talking junk about the patrons of the city (who are a big part of why we are being bankrupted - scrooges of the city would be a better description) and his threats. Now he sits sheepishly off to the side. Scared to face us Mr. Orr? Turn your chair around. Detroiters like to look people in the eye.
Sitting in the back of the courtroom is a wonderful group of souls who are the guardians of Detroit. At most protests and bankruptcy hearings you will see many of them, faithfully in pursuit of the truth. It is unfortunate that they are not the group governing. Everything seems to be flipside upside down in Detroit. They are incredible researchers, organizers and caregivers for humanity. When I am with them, I am proud to live here, proud to live in this time and place. I feel pity for all the expensive suits and shoes on the other side. They and their overlords want to just make money to go back to their gated communities and do something. What do people do in gated communities? That's like a different country from Detroit. Detroit love is something they will never know.
So today at the bankruptcy hearing, your blood can just boil sitting a few feet from these robber barons, these representatives of scardy-cat bankers and superrich who would never show their faces in this whole scandal. We realize they are just their paid servants. Their clothes are entitlements - a gift Detroiters didn't want to give, welfare we did not vote for, but somehow they are getting their government assistance checks from us. Only without our consent, Jones Day pays their lawyers $800 per hour instead of using our tax money to give jobs, food and heat to Detroit families who live in desperate poverty.
Suddenly from the pews across the way, in the midst of the judge talking, I hear the awesome Pastor Bill Wylie Kellerman bellow out that Jones Day doesn't represent Detroit. They represent Bank of America. Indeed, as the pastor was wrestled out of the courtroom, the judge ran off to his chambers. You can say that was procedure or you can see there is some deep symbolism of a judge fleeing a pastor speaking the truth about Detroit.
Monday, August 5, 2013
To find your voting spot, visit https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/mivote/
This is a low budget campaign. Telling friends & family, sharing this blog or my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Vortkamp/557606727590273 are the best ways you can help me get elected. Thank you for your support.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Oddly & suspiciously the garbage has been being picked up late for the past few weeks all over this city at the same time the move for privatization of garbage pick up is being floated in the now stinky Detroit air. Perhaps it is purposeful to make people THINK we have bad service so they will support this trashy SnydOrr plan? I am 100% SURE there is more to this story. Please clue me in to what you know - about recycling as well. Detroit has no secrets (which is just another reason to love it).
Here is an article that explains it in depth and another. The RFP is even out there.
For this one, the company may even have a good chance of being from out of state. This plan is especially hideous in its organization, having four sections for a possible four different companies to pick up trash. That is a steaming load of compost waiting to happen! The plan says they are not required to hire city workers. More filthy trash from SnydOrr. Orr even says they aren't saving that much money.
Privatization in general encourages bad service and corruption. Giving out huge contracts opens the door for unparalleled corruption - oftentimes elected officials/appointees are paid off to get the contract. Money is taken from the hands of the unionized workers and put into the hands of the contractor company owners and non-union workers who are usually paid less and get less benefits. Citizens get worse service because of the layers and lack of accountability. Every time privatization is proposed, just say no.