Photo credit: adrienne c
Blackhawks fans who can’t touch the Stanley Cup, let alone place their newborn babies in it, can now own the next best thing—some of the United Center home ice.
The Blackhawks announced earlier this week they would be selling a limited number of souvenir packages containing melted home ice from the United Center floor to commemorate the 2013 Stanley Cup champs and their record setting start to the lockout-shortened season.
That’s right, Blackhawks fans, the team is selling you water.
It’s for a good cause, mind you. The money raised from this will support Chicago Blackhawks Charities. If you’re interested (and we know many of you are) you can follow the Hawks on Twitter or submit your email address here for more information.
A good job with benefits and a pension are hard to find and if any American is fortunate enough to have a job, it is unlikely they would resign unless circumstances made remaining on the job intolerable. There are, however, occasions when a compassionate employer finds it necessary to force an employee to resign for bad behavior instead of terminating their employment. Members of Congress are unlikely to ever resign unless there is an impending ethics investigation or morality issues that are egregious enough to spark an investigation and subsequent trial to expel the offender from the House or Senate. Newt Gingrich was forced to resign his position as Speaker of the House in 1999 after being fined and reprimanded for ethics violations, but it was pressure from Republicans that forced his eventual resignation.
The current House Speaker, John Boehner, has demonstrated that he, like Gingrich, is averse to ethical behavior and it is time for him to resign his position or face an ethics investigation and eventual expulsion from Congress. There is precedent in calling for Boehner’s resignation or expulsion, and ironically, it involved another representative from Ohio. James A. Traficant Jr. of Ohio was expelled in July 2002 after he was convicted of receiving favors, gifts and money in return for performing official acts on behalf of the donors. John Boehner’s case is similar to Traficant’s in that he is performing official acts on behalf of the oil industry and seven Canadian tar sands companies that stand to benefit if the Keystone XL pipeline is built between Canada and the Gulf Coast. Boehner’s official acts on behalf of Canada’s tar sands industry are scandalous because he owns stock in the aforementioned seven companies, and he is using his financial gain as impetus to hold 160 million Americans’ tax cuts hostage in return for immediate approval of the Keystone pipeline.
On Sunday, Boehner told “Fox News Sunday” that Republicans may tie approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to the next payroll tax cut extension to force President Obama to give his backing to the project. Boehner said, “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this Keystone pipeline project is approved,” and as Republicans have shown with the debt ceiling, holding the payroll tax cut hostage is not out of the realm of possibilities. The only beneficiaries of the Keystone pipeline are Canada’s tar sands companies, the oil industry, and John Boehner.
Boehner’s 2010 financial disclosure form reveals his investment of $15,001 to $50,000 in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, and they are in the business of tar sands oil and are just one of seven companies Boehner bought stocks in. His 2009 disclosure shows no stocks in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd leading any semi-intelligent American to believe Boehner bought stock in Canada’s tar sands just in time to reap financial benefits if and when the pipeline was completed and carrying Canadian oil to Texas for refinement and sale on the foreign market. Boehner’s push, as Speaker of the House, to build the pipeline is beyond simple conflict of interest; he is performing official acts for favors (campaign contributions) and money in the form of dividends from his oil sands stocks. Boehner’s gifts in exchange for performing official acts for the oil industry are $144,150 in the form of campaign contributions in 2010 alone. Boehner must resign or face an ethics investigation that may result in his expulsion from the House.
Boehner makes his unethical activity worse by lying to the American people about the number of jobs the pipeline will create and his assertions have been disproven time and time again. The fact that Boehner lies to the American people for pure personal financial gain and future oil industry campaign contributions is a matter for a House Ethics panel investigation. If Boehner wants to avoid a campaign to remove him from office, he must resign voluntarily to save himself and his family the embarrassment of a protracted ethics investigation.
As Speaker of the House, Boehner could have bought stock in Canada’s tar sands oil companies and let the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency conduct studies to grant a permit for the Keystone pipeline without pushing the project by lying and now, potentially holding 160 million Americans’ payroll tax cut extension hostage. However, the lure of personal financial gain was too enticing to Boehner and he took the only path available to an unethical congressman who stands to profit from performing official acts for money and gifts. Boehner must resign.
Boehner has obstructed, lied, and cheated the American people long enough. He is a hypocrite for calling for Anthony Weiner’s resignation for sending sexually charged pictures over his phone at the same time Boehner bought stocks in Canadian tar sands companies. Pushing the pipeline that only benefits the Canadian companies Boehner invested in, foreign oil markets, and the oil industry while jeopardizing prime agricultural land and critical aquifer is unethical at least and inherently despicable. John Boehner can resign and go to work as a lobbyist for Canada’s tar sands industry, but he cannot be their lobbyist and Speaker of the House at the same time. When Boehner was caught handing out payments for the tobacco industry, he promised he would desist from any act that appeared unethical, but his arrogance and love of oil money proved too tempting and drove him to perform official acts for gifts and money, and if it was enough to expel another Ohio congressman, then it is good enough for Speaker Boehner. Mr. Speaker, it is time for you to go.
Detroit, long known as one of the country’s most economically dire major cities, has filed bankruptcy. TV news is full of pictures of what an outsider might think is a war zone. Buildings are abandoned. Plywood boards are hanging off the windows and doors. Detroit is presented as so crime-ridden that law abiding citizens feel compelled to drive around Detroit rather than risking driving through it.
If courts allow the bankruptcy to go through (there are state constitutional questions), it could be devastating news for Detroit’s public employees and retirees. It’s true that the city of Detroit has been broke for a long time. The collapse of the manufacturing base has had a dramatic impact on tax collection for the city. There’s little hope that the city will pull out of its situation – at least without some serious intervention – or is that true?
The more there is to learn about Detroit’s bankruptcy, the more convincing it becomes that this last-straw legal maneuver is anything but necessary. Here are eight reasons that Detroit doesn’t need to and really shouldn’t go bankrupt:
1. Detroit (or any Michigan city) should never have been put in this position. Detroit was one of several Michigan cities that were deemed so mismanaged that the state’s Republican governor took all control out of the hands of the citizens of Detroit and gave it to a single city manager. The voters rejected the emergency manager idea and Governor Rick Snyder did it anyway. As Mother Jones writes, it was a hostile takeover.
2. Detroit’s city manager, Kevyn Orr, is a bankruptcy attorney. The first bill paid during the drawdown to the bankruptcy process is $1.4 million to Orr’s former law firm.
3. The emergency manager program is designed to keep cities out of bankruptcy, but emails have confirmed that Snyder may have planned bankruptcy all along.
4. Detroit’s unions have been in negotiation to help pull the city out of bankruptcy. Their efforts were snubbed.
“From the beginning, we have attempted to participate in discussions and offer a restructuring plan,” Dan McNamara, the president of IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) Local 344 of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association told The Detroit Free Press. “It is a shame that now we will have to be in front of a bankruptcy judge when all along we have been expecting to have meaningful meetings with emergency manager Kevyn Orr. These meetings never occurred.”
Ed McNeil, a special assistant to the president of Detroit’s largest union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 25, called the bankruptcy filing premature. He doubts that the city will have an easy time proving that it is eligible for bankruptcy. During negotiations, McNeil noted, “We’ve asked them for information, and they’ve never given it to us.”
Source: The International.org
5. Detroit’s economy may not be as dire as we are made to believe. The hotel industry is booming. In fact the Motor City’s occupancy rate is about 70%, which is higher than the national average:
Detroit might be in bankruptcy, but its hotel industry is on an upward trajectory. Three casino hotels have opened in recent years. A new Starwood Aloft hotel is set to open next year in a landmark building in Grand Circus Park downtown. And developers have proposed turning a historic firehouse across from the Cobo Convention Center into a boutique hotel.
The Cobo Center itself, home to the annual North American International Auto Show, is undergoing a $290 million renovation, which tourism officials hope will attract more conferences and business travelers when completed at the end of 2014.
Other private investment in downtown and midtown Detroit by such business leaders as Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert is also revitalizing those areas. Gilbert has snagged more than 7 million square feet of property downtown, with plans to develop cafes and other attractions. And through a public-private partnership, a new 18,000-seat arena for the Detroit Red Wings has gotten the green light in midtown, with an accompanying entertainment district.
Source: USA Today
“Spirit of Detroit” statue in downtown Detroit. (AP Photo)
The headline juxtaposition boggles the mind. You have, on one day, “Detroit Files Largest Municipal Bankruptcy in History.” Then on the next, you have “Detroit Plans to Pay For New Red Wings Hockey Arena Despite Bankruptcy.”
Yes, the very week Michigan Governor Rick Snyder granted a state-appointed emergency manager’s request to declare the Motor City bankrupt, the Tea Party governor gave a big thumbs-up to a plan for a new $650 million Detroit Red Wings hockey arena. Almost half of that $650 million will be paid with public funds.
This is actually happening. City services are being cut to the bone. Fighting fires, emergency medical care and trash collection are now precarious operations. Retired municipal workers will have their $19,000 in annual pensions dramatically slashed. Even the artwork in the city art museum will be sold off piece by piece. This will include a mural by the great radical artist Diego Rivera that’s a celebration of what the auto industry would look like in a socialist future. As Stephen Colbert said, the leading bidder will be “the museum of irony.”
They don’t have money to keep the art on the walls. They do have $283 million to subsidize a new arena for Red Wings owner and founder of America’s worst pizza-pizza chain, Little Caesar’s, Mike Ilitch, whose family is worth $2.7 billion dollars. (“Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your pensions!”)
How did Governor Snyder possibly summon the shamelessness to justify this?
Here’s how. He said, “This is part of investing in Detroit’s future, That’s the message we need to get across.… As we stabilize the city government’s finances, as we address those issues and improve services, Detroit moves from a place where people might have had a negative impression…to being a place that will be recognized across the world as a place of great value and a place to invest.”
Where, oh where have we heard this argument before? What city has heard the false promise that stadium construction on the public dime would be a postindustrial life raft? There are actually many, but none have heard it more and paid the cost quite like Detroit. A new Red Wings arena would be the city’s third publicly funded major sports stadium, joining the Tigers’ Comerica Stadium and the Lions’ Ford Field. Each of these was billed as a “remedy” to save the city. Each of these has obviously failed. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Try to fool us three times? Go to hell.
I spoke with Marvin Surkin, co-author of the classic book Detroit I Do Mind Dying. He said, “These are more than just remedies that didn’t work. They are part of the problem because stadiums don’t address the central issues of falling population, falling tax base, declining wages, unemployment and the underfunding of schools.”