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Running to be Detroit’s Mayor - Against Democratic Party Machine

Anthony Adams is running for mayor of Detroit on a progressive platform. He’s being marginalized by local media and opposed by the Democratic Party, including President Biden. Anthony Adams joins Paul Jay on theAnalysis.news.

TRANSCRIPT

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to theAnalysis.News I’m Paul Jay. And please don’t forget the donate button, subscribe button, and the email list buttons, all the buttons because without your donations, we can’t do this. Be back in a few seconds to talk about the race for Mayor in Detroit with one of the gentlemen running for Mayor.

Today, we’re looking at the upcoming election for the Mayor of Detroit. The race has national significance, I think, because it pits a progressive candidate, Anthony Adams, against the current Mayor who’s backed by the Democratic Party establishment, including President Biden. The media has already decided that the current Mayor Duggan will win after he overwhelmingly beat Adams in the Democratic primary in August under Detroit law, the top two winners of the open primary square off in the November election. In that primary, one of the key issues was Proposition P, a list of reforms to the city charter that could have made life better for working families. These include developing free public broadband Internet, providing reparations to black residents, changing police practices, policies, and training requirements, giving residents amnesty for water and sewage fees; and granting tax credits for residents who show proof of over-assessed property taxes.

Duggan vehemently opposed Proposition P, and Adams was all for it. The vote was 46,711 votes, which is 67% against and 22,696 votes, that is 32.7% for it. But here’s the rub, there are approximately 500,000 registered voters in Detroit, and only 69,000 or so voted; that’s around 14%. This city is where most of the population are workers, and the city is almost 80% black. Why didn’t more people vote for Proposition B? This challenge for Anthony Adams in the November 2 election. Can he get black workers to tune in and vote for him, or will people tune out and allow Duggan to be reelected by the Democratic Party machine.

I’ve invited Anthony today not only because this is an important race but also because Mayor Duggan has refused to debate Adams, and the Detroit media doesn’t think there’s a race left to cover. Of course, the media helped make it so, as proposition P was wildly unpopular with the elites of Detroit. So now joining me is Anthony Adams. He was the Deputy Mayor for the city of Detroit. He is executive assistant to Mayor Coleman Young; he was elected Detroit Public Schools board education member, he was DPS board President, interim director of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and general counsel for Detroit Public Schools. He’s also a principal in the Marine Adams law firm that he runs with his wife, attorney Lynn Marie Adams. And he’s got three kids. So thanks for joining me, Anthony.

Anthony Adams

Thanks for having me.

Paul Jay

So just a couple of days ago, I guess it was, you actually, I guess, protested or marched outside the governor’s house demanding he debates you. So why did you feel it necessary to do that?

Anthony Adams

Because the issues facing Detroit deserve a debate, Here we have a two-term incumbent who runs himself as the guy that fixes problems. Yet, he won’t stand on the stage and defend his record of hurting working-class people in the city of Detroit of not providing relief with respect to taxes, and we’ve had more than 150,000 people lose their homes as a result of tax foreclosures. Who has a policy of shutting the water off, who has a policy of providing tax captures and tax abatements for corporations that do not do what they claim they are going to do. And so here he is, not debating. So what we do in the old days, when you went in to find someone, you went to the house, you’re not going to do it, say, hey, come out and let’s have a debate. But obviously, he didn’t come outside.

Paul Jay

Now, I think also, kind of obviously, you did it partly because you’re not getting that much media attention, and that is a way to get some media attention, which this did. But why does it take a piece of theatre to get media attention?

Anthony Adams

Because, like you said, the corporate elite, the ruling class, the people who run Detroit, through their dark money packs, which are financing attack ads against me, which helped defeat a Proposal P with lies and distortions of the truth. They don’t want a public debate on the issues, and they certainly want to keep information suppressed. It’s a high-level form of voter suppression and that you don’t report on something. So if you don’t report on it, people tend not to know it’s happening. And so we’ve been using going through mainstream media, small Internet providers, a lot of podcasts, whatever we need to do in order to get our message out, that their victory is right within hand, given the level of turnout that existing more than I think 40,000 people at this time have not turned in their absentee ballots. And we believe they haven’t turned them in because they want additional information about my candidacy. And so we are very aggressive in getting the information out, going door to door phone banking, doing mailers, and using the Internet platforms to get our message out that there is a need for a serious change in the city of Detroit.

Paul Jay

As I said, Detroit is 80% black, and most of that black population are workers, working families. The proposition P proposals would have helped these people quite a bit, not just free Internet, but reparations and the other measures, you would think that it would be a no-brainer and the other thing is that to be blunt about it, you’re a black candidate, Duggan is a white candidate. And typically, black candidates at least do well. I lived in Baltimore for, like, almost 9-10 years, and it’s an anomaly that a white guy gets elected Mayor. It happened once with O’Malley, but that’s because several black candidates were very strong, and they split the vote in the primary. You did kind of get trounced. So what’s going on?

Anthony Adams

Yeah, but like you said, you’re only talking about 14% of the people. And the reality is that he is a two-turn incumbent; this guy is extremely well-financed; he has a lot of black ministers supporting him. He tries out a lot of black people who endorse him and make him legitimate. And so part of what I’m fighting through is, I think, a recognition that black people need to understand that we can actually represent ourselves with the problems that we had in the past, with black leadership, with the contrived bankruptcy, which stripped away political control from the city to the governor and her emergency manager, there was a toxic mix, I think, of diminishing and black value, and really people just being fed up and tired.

Plus, we also have to realize that this is still a COVID environment, and people in the city of Detroit are simply trying to survive. And so when you’re talking high-level issues that really can impact their lives, they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to keep the lights on, how they’re going to pay their water bill, how are they going to pay their taxes, how are they going to stay in their house? How are they going to drive without insurance? All these are bread and butter issues which drag people’s, I think, interest in elections down.

But I think we’re doing a great job of motivating the people we need to motivate to come out to vote. The very people that you talk about, working-class black women who make up the predominant voting block in the city. Those are the folks we’re speaking to; we’re speaking to the issues about the proposal P approach. How do we have an affordable water policy? How do we have an affordable housing policy? How do we provide reparations? How do we deal with over-taxation? These are issues. How do we provide child care? These are issues that the working class, in particular, working-class women, need to hear. And I think our message is starting to resonate.

Paul Jay

I think something you just mentioned is probably really the key to the whole thing: black churches, and especially if you’re targeting black women, a large proportion of black women are involved in Church life. And if you’re going to really break through again, I know from Baltimore; you got to break through to the black clergy. And at least in the primaries, so far, it doesn’t seem you’ve been able to, and the Democratic Party machine is usually very strong there. Biden won his nomination because of the strength of the Democratic Party and the black churches. So how are you going to buck this?

Anthony Adams

Well, they’re going to really be in for a rude awakening because there’s a lot of discontent in the ranks with respect to the Democratic Party and Democratic policies. People are really very frustrated with our governor, her inability to somehow or another address major issues impacting the people who live in the city of Detroit. There really is a lot of frustration with respect to Joe Biden and his policies, his inability to really adopt a very progressive agenda; it seems to be stalled in Congress, and they don’t get any movement there.

And part of what they don’t understand is that you can’t turn the machinery on and off when you want to. And so when it was a presidential election, obviously, people showed out to vote not because of the Democratic Party, but because Trump was such a horrible person that people clearly understood that and needed to come out to vote, and they did in record numbers. And now we’re faced with a different, more subtle type of Trump attitude and approach. And you’ve got to begin to dissect that clearly working through the churches. And I do have some support in churches. I visited a ton of churches in the city of Detroit. I know a lot of pastors, but when you’re dealing with a cycle of fear in the community, the fact that the city was awarded more than $850,000,000 in federal money and he’s been promising, promising, promising pastors any and everything. And I told them if they add up the level of the promises that he made them, what they’ll figure out is that there just simply isn’t enough money to go around to meet and honour the commitments that he’s making.

And so he’s really playing a shell game, a very sophisticated shell game. But we’re going to break through that because our message is right. What we’re talking about is good for the people who actually live in the city of Detroit. And I’m confident that on November 2 at 11:00, when they announce the result of this race, that a great political victory will be one for the people.

Paul Jay

You mentioned, the governor actually tried to keep Proposition P, if I understand it correctly off the bat, just to make it clear that the vote for Proposition P was on the same ballot as the primary in August. But the governor tried to keep it off the ballot, and it took the Michigan Supreme Court to put it on. What happened there?

Anthony Adams

Well, what happened was that there was again, after you had more than 500 organizations citywide that participated in a charter amendment process going over a two-year period, the charter commissioners voted out a charter, which the Mayor’s office didn’t even participate in the process. And so when you talk about a level of arrogance of who we’re dealing with here, this is what you’re dealing with, a high-handed, arrogant Democrat who doesn’t think that the people’s word means a damn thing. You coupled that with the governor, who was afraid of the Mayor. And so she blocked the move, even though by law, she really couldn’t block it. And they took an act of the Supreme Court, which is a four to three Democratic majority, to overrule the governor’s refusal to put this simple measure on the ballot. And then, obviously, with their dark money packs, well funded by the corporate interest in our community, they were able to trot out some black folks to say this is bad for the city of Detroit. And if you tell a lie long enough, people will actually believe it, and that’s exactly what happened here.

But the truth of the matter is that the people who we really need to reach, the people who are being impacted by the policies proposal piece, sought to remedy. Those are the people that we need to speak to; those are the people that we need to get out to vote. And those are the people that are going to lead me to victory in this upcoming race.

Paul Jay

And during that fight over Proposition P, that was the threat. I guess that it would put Detroit back into bankruptcy. And I guess that would scare people some. But do you have any idea who is the dark money?

Anthony Adams

Well, there’s been some inkling that has been financed in part by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. Dan Gilbert has been a favourite financer of a lot of the dark pack monies. Dan Gilbert, who’s got more than two and a half-billion dollars in public subsidies to practically acquire all the property in downtown Detroit.

Paul Jay

This is the guy who owns Quicken Loans.

Anthony Adams

Is that right, quick. He’s the big Kahuna.

Paul Jay

But he’s normally a Trump supporter. Is that correct?

Anthony Adams

He is a Trump supporter, the irony here is that he’s a Trump supporter, but he’s also supporting Mike Duggan. And so you go figure. And then you have a Mayor who surrounded himself with Republicans recently appointed a high-level Republican to his staff, and so the question is, who’s a real Democrat here? And his father was also appointed as a federal judge by Ronald Reagan, so when you look at his roots, they’re deep in the Republican Party. And so he plays this chameleon game because obviously, in Wayne County, you can’t get elected to anything. If you’re a Republican, you have to be a Democrat. So he plays the shell game and changes his skin. But he can’t change his tune. The reality is that his policies are ineffective in attacking systemic racism, unlining and dealing with the issues of crime. He never speaks to these issues because he’s very uncomfortable in the culture that he’s seeking to govern.

Paul Jay

Now you’ve got a history of having various offices. As I outlined in the introduction, are you at all seen by ordinary black workers as somewhat part of the machine yourself?

Anthony Adams

I think there could be some perception like that. But when you look at my record of commitment to working on progressive issues, whether it’s working with Michigan welfare rights and landlord, tenant protection, protecting tenants from being evicted from their homes, whether it’s working with the ACLU[American Civil Liberties Union], and issues of water rights and water affordability, whether it’s very active in my Church and my social Justice Ministry aimed at providing expungement fairs, job fairs and job trainers. I have a very progressive background in the things that I’ve actually worked on.

And I think if that background is really starting to come through and those organizations which I’ve worked with are starting to stand up and speak out about my progressive bonafide, I’m the most progressive candidate that probably ever run for the city of Detroit. When you talk about the need to create an affordable housing policy, how do we do that? How do we restrict the award of tax captures and tax abatements to large corporations to strip money away from our community? How do we create the immigrant bill of rights in our city to make sure that we aren’t participating with ICE with respect to deporting people back to their countries?

Very progressive policies, very progressive views about life. And so, I am progressive. Even though I’ve worked in government, my policies and ideas clearly reflect, and you can look at my platform. It talks about the policies that I really support and want to promote, when I become Mayor of the city of Detroit.

Paul Jay

So I guess part of what you’re up against is in the community in general, but as I said, 80% of the city is black. The Mayor, as you kind of inferred, he gets to give away a lot of money, and if you want some, you don’t want to piss that guy off.

Anthony Adams

No.

Paul Jay

And if you run an NGO[Non-Governmental Organisation] or even in the churches and all kinds of organizations want to tap into that municipal money, so that’s a bit of a juggernaut to take on.

Anthony Adams

Yeah, but the question is, how much have they gotten? I’m a realist, and I like to speak to real issues. And so when they tell me that they’re afraid, I say, you’re afraid of what? You haven’t gotten anything with respect to his promises over the last eight years. What’s to lead you to believe that another four years of his administration is going to give you anything different other than what you got? And oftentimes, people want to fool themselves into believing something that’s going to be good. It’s sort of like being in a bad marriage with an abusive spouse. You kind of want it to work, but it’s not going to work. And so you need to go ahead; you don’t have to be a Raw Raw Sis Boom Bah cheer-me-on-type person. But clearly, you need to be talking with your parishioners about issues and impacting them and how they can see a better life for themselves.

I’m the only candidate that just talked about how we can help young men and young women who are at risk and improve the quality of their life, the types of programs that are much more proactive in policing versus reactive. We have a reactive police force; they react to things. I’m saying that’s old school; we have to be much more progressive and going out and intervening and bringing these young men and women in and sitting down, talking with them, not in a confrontational manner, but how can we actually help you get your life together? The root cause of crime is clearly tied to poverty and lack of education opportunities.

And so when I talk about people and I talk about this, they say, but how you’re going to do it? I said, well, we got to do it this way because we spent more than $3 billion in the city that’s cash strapped fighting crime over the last eight years. And we still have the highest crime rate that we’ve ever had. And so this requires a radical transformation of how we think, how we act, what we do, and how we spend our resources because I believe in the goodness of man that people want to change their lives, sometimes they just need some assistance in doing that. If we commit to that, to a very aggressive program of intervention, job training, educational training, providing a stipend if need be in order to help people get through the transition period from living a life of crime to being a productive citizen, I think we can do great things in transforming our city.

Paul Jay

Again, from having lived in Baltimore, I learned that at least I thought that there’s kind of two parts of this is reforming the police and then, of course, the economic issues of chronic poverty. Certainly, chronic poverty is there because it’s actually profitable; there’s a lot of businesses that benefit from people desperate to work and willing to work at the lowest possible wage. It’s not an accident that there is chronic poverty; the system actually benefits from it, I should say, the elites benefit from it.

There’s a set of economic issues, but when you get to the policing issue, one of the demands I know that’s been talked to in a lot of cities. And in fact, I think at one point, Detroit even had a model for this, which is community control of the police. What’s the history of that in Detroit, and what’s your position on it?

Anthony Adams

So obviously, with the charter that we operate on now, we have was supposed to be an independent elected police Commission, but they seem to be nothing more than a rubber stamp of the Mayor because they appear to have been co-opted by the past chief of police, who is now running as a Republican for governor, I might add, which is an interesting dichotomy there. And so they really lost a level of independence that they need in order to do what they need to do, which provides civilian oversight of the Police Department. And that’s a charter–

Paul Jay

Let me interrupt for a second. Wasn’t it previously, even originally, more than oversight. Didn’t it actually have some kind of management like it actually had some control features to it, not just oversight?

Anthony Adams

Not really. I mean, when you look at how the Detroit border Police commissions have been established, they have not had direct management oversight responsibility. This is not similar to what, for example, you have in Chicago, where you have sort of an independent apparatus that can actually order corrective action within the police Department. By charter, they have some level of authority, but they’ve chosen not to exercise that. And in fact, they begin to see more and more authority back to the Mayor’s office for control because they simply are tools and pawns of the Mayor’s administration.

Paul Jay

So how would you change that?

Anthony Adams

Well, I think one is you’ve got to have people on that Commission who actually understand that their role is to be an independent voice in the community. We don’t need people rubber-stamping decisions from me; we actually need a check and balance in the process. I think we need to devote resources in order to support those types of programs and that type of thinking. I think we also have to embed within the Police Department itself, I think, a certain level of respect for independent thought.

The Police Department is a paramilitary organization, and people tend to stick together. And if you try to operate outside those constraints, then there is no pathway for you to move up in the hierarchy. So how do we identify at very young stages in their career, people who have the level of independence with the level of independence in order to help assist in moving an agency forward? Which is why I advocated for the Black Lives Matter movement.

I said in order to really transform the police Department, some young people actually need to go inside and become police officers, and you got to change things from within. You can’t get the level of change that you want by protesting outside the Police Department, you’ve got to go inside the Department, you’ve got to become police officers, and then you’ve got to have somebody, on the other end, who is supportive of your policies and empowers people to do what they need to do.

Paul Jay

Would you support the civilian Commission, if that’s what it’s called, actually having the power to hire and fire the police chief?

Anthony Adams

I think that the chief of police needs to somehow or another be tied to the Mayor because the Mayor often will be blamed for crime in this community. And so I think they need to have a good relationship and understanding as to what my desires are, how I like the police. For example, I’m not one to want to spend any time on low-level drug crimes, drug possession, things of that nature. I think it’s a waste of resources. I think a lot of that could be handled sort of administratively with tickets or referrals for treatment. I don’t think we need to spend time doing that. Conversely, things like sex, prostitution, street prostitution. How do we help women change and transform their life to move away from that? Because it becomes a neighbourhood quality of life issue in certain communities. How do we change our approach to that?

But when we talk about major crimes, rape, robbery, murder, we have to be about the business of solving those crimes because they impact the safety of our community. And I think the chief and the Mayor need to be aligned on policy because, at the end of the day, the Mayor is going to be responsible for what goes on in the city.

Paul Jay

But the problem with that is, let’s assume you win on November 17 for the sake of argument. You might not win four years, eight years, you might have another Duggan. So then you’re going to get a police chief that another Duggan likes. Whereas if you have an elective civilian board that gets to hire the police chief and fire if necessary, at least that gives some protection to the community, regardless of who Mayor is.

Anthony Adams

Well, I think the protection of the community obviously isn’t electing a Mayor who is supportive of their policies and makes sure that things are done in the right way. I mean, we’re not going to necessarily agree on every facet of how the city should operate, but I think that particular aspect of operation, there needs to be a connection between the Mayor and the chief of police because he’s taking direction and orders from the city with respect to how he should do his job.

Paul Jay

Okay, so in terms of the economic policies, chronic poverty is not going to be solved by job training alone. And there’s been lots of attempts in job training, and it doesn’t go very far.

Anthony Adams

I agree.

Paul Jay

And certainly, there needs to be something very seriously done about public schools because in all the American inner cities, public schools, particularly in poor black areas, are awful. And it’s to do with, I know in Baltimore I assume it’s the same in Detroit, is that not only are they underresourced, but because of the consequences of poverty, they get a much higher percentage of students that have special needs, which is expensive. And so the resources go to that wherein the wealthier neighbourhoods, they don’t have to spend the same kind of money on special needs students. To what extent is the Mayor able to deal with that?

Anthony Adams

Well, I think, first of all, you got to understand the structure of educational financing in the city of Detroit. We have a foundation allowance that the state grants each district. So each district, at least at one level, was treated the same because they all received the same Foundation Alliance. But when they attacked the unconstitutionality of how education was funded in Michigan, there’s a little glitch there, which allows richer districts to still capture some level of property tax that they can apply to their school systems in order to provide additional services.

And the theory is that with the foundation allowances and with categorical grants that the school district received, that the imbalance between what school districts like Detroit get in terms of their special needs population should be able to get more, but they don’t. They don’t get what they need in the foundation allowance approach. While it appears to be equal across the board, the needs of each district are not equal, and that’s a funding formula that really needs to be adjusted, not being waited to address the issues that impact the children in the city of Detroit. And so that–

Paul Jay

Just let me get clear. You’re saying that some neighbourhoods can get some of the property tax, but Detroit intercity Detroit cannot.

Anthony Adams

Well, when you look at the percentage of what Detroit can collect from its property taxes versus other districts with the low evaluations and assessments and the property, it doesn’t yield a lot of money. And so it looks on paper that everybody is being treated equally in the same, but the reality is that the numbers simply don’t work out. So if you got a city like Birmingham, Michigan, which has very high property tax assessments, if the average home in Birmingham is $450,000, if they’re taking one or two meals of their 450, it’s a big hit. But in Detroit, the average value is $40,000-$50,000; one meal/two meals isn’t going to generate what we need to generate in order to address those issues.

And so, I have worked with some organizations that really try to attack the educational funding issue because we understand that crime is a direct product in many parts of not having an adequate education. And then when you coupled that with high levels of lead, high levels of air pollution in the community and issues that are impacting health, stress, and living in the urban area. All these things make it, from my perspective, a public health issue, and we should be treated as such with the wraparound services that we need in the schools as well as in the house with the parents.

We can’t attack poverty by simply educating the children. We also have to deal with the inadequacy of the income of the parents. If we have parents, the average income is $27,000-$28,000, and they have to catch a bus to work, that means they’re leaving the house sometimes at 4:00 in the morning. Who’s watching the children, who make sure that the children get to school on time. All these things intersect and need to be talked about and addressed because if we don’t talk about them, then there’s no way in the world we’re ever going to come up with a solution to attack the underlying issue.

The major issue of structural racism, the deindustrialization of Detroit, was not caused by the people who lived in the city; it was caused by the corporate leadership of the state, which severely felt the people who live in our state. And so we’ve seen the impact of that because, at one time, Detroit had 700,000 manufacturing jobs; it might have 10,000.

You’re talking about a huge gap between the loss of the industrialization of the city, of the loss of population, greatest population loss of any city in America. We lost more than a million people. And so when you start staggering these things, bad old housing, bad infrastructure, poor economic policy, which is not designed to enhance the community and the people, but the corporate interest, you end up with what we have here in our city.

Paul Jay

Do you have any ability to raise more revenue through some forms of taxation, either on corporate or wealthy individuals?

Anthony Adams

I think no, because the way that is set up in Michigan, the income, the majority of the income and the generating state of Michigan actually flows up to the state, and then they return back to cities by the way, a formula approach to make it appear fair. There are some revenue, additional issues. For example, people can’t actually vote additional taxes on themselves, but we’re over-taxed right now. We need to be trying to reduce the level of taxation in our city. Obviously–

Paul Jay

But wait a second, on everybody or on working families because you might want to be looking at raising the taxes on people that can afford it.

Anthony Adams

They don’t allow for differentiation; unlike the federal tax code, we can’t differentiate. I mean, there is a percentage that is set on what the city can collect from people that actually earn wages, and we don’t have any ability that will require a change in state law.

Paul Jay

No, I’m talking about property taxes. Can’t you increase–

Anthony Adams

No

Paul Jay

Like in San Francisco, they had a special hike on land transfer taxes.

Anthony Adams

Right

Paul Jay

And they used that to help pay for free college education. I believe it was. Do you control the land transfer tax?

Anthony Adams

No, it’s controlled by the state. They actually set those rates. So when we talk about what the city doesn’t have, every opportunity for the city to raise revenue is captured at the state level.

Paul Jay

It sounds like you should be running for governor then, or somebody should be because there’s such control; for example, I know one of the ideas that’s been floated, which always made sense to me, is that there should be direct hiring by the city in poor neighbourhoods. Train people to renovate and refurbish houses, the housing values go up, people learn to trade, and you create employment. But you, of course, would need some funding to create such a program.

Anthony Adams

Well, see, I can maintain the argument that there’s money there that when you look at the allocation of affordable housing dollars in the city of Detroit when you look at the fact that the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which is supposed to be largest affordable housing lender in the state, and they do very little lending in the city of Detroit. And they’re sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves that can be used to fix up housing in the city of Detroit. But because it’s being controlled by Lansing, those dollars will never seem to be freed up to do what they need to do in the city.

And then when you have a Mayor whose policy is to take the affordable housing dollars, put them in mixed-income developments downtown and then use an average median income to claim that these units are affordable and yet people in the city of Detroit, most people need a three or four-bedroom. They’re not trying to live in a studio or one or two-bedroom apartment in downtown Detroit, where the average rent might be $1,400-$1,500. If you’re only making $27,000, you can’t afford to pay more than 50% of your income for housing. But yet that’s what’s happening in our city.

We have people that are working poor stress. They stress because their rent is high because we have the lowest level of homeownership. We have 47% homeownership, but we used to be at 85%. More than 150,000 people have lost their homes as a result of tax foreclosure. We have 40,000 people on the list today who are subject to tax foreclosure. And many of those people shouldn’t even be paying taxes, to begin with, because of exemptions or exclusions that exist under state law.

So when you’re talking about helping working-class people, we need to be trying to figure out how we can change the tax structure to reduce the property tax burden that clearly needs to be reduced. But also the income tax burden, those things have generated some income for the city, but we need to take a look at those things.

Paul Jay

I got two questions here; let me think, which one I should do first. Let’s just a quick question. So all these foreclosures who are buying up all these properties once they’re foreclosed?

Anthony Adams

Foreign investors from China, Singapore, the Middle East, you name it, they’re coming in, and they’re snatching a property in Detroit sight unseen. They’re buying 100, 200, 300 blocks of houses, that’s what does. And so the irony of it is the city benefits from those taxes being paid because when it’s foreclosed, the taxes have to be paid. The city then gets the revenue for the foreclosed houses that they are foregone because they couldn’t collect it as a result of the regular process.

My position is I don’t care. If we have people losing their homes, losing their homes and becoming renters. To me, it’s a much better policy to stop transferring property to the Wayne County Treasurer for tax foreclosure, manage that process with our taxpayers ourselves so that we are creating and allowing people to lose generational wealth that they’ve built up over 30, 40 years. The people to be harmed by these policies are people who’ve been in their homes, they’ve lived in their homes, they fall on hard times, they can’t pay their taxes. And yet, there’s no consideration for them to how we figure out how we keep you in your home. The best blight removal strategy that we have is to keep people in their homes, but they don’t seem to understand that.

Paul Jay

Well, I think if you combine that with an employment program based on renovating and retrofitting, that would keep people in their homes and in much better homes. The other thing, with all this property being bought by offshore money, one should look at how many of those transactions are essentially cash transactions, because I know in Toronto a lot of this property purchasing is money laundering, and it wouldn’t surprise me that’s the same thing going on in Detroit.

Anthony Adams

Well, that’s like a whole other level of analysis, and all that money comes through the Wayne County Treasurer. We really aren’t privy to who the investors are; we found out anecdotally when we look at the property tax records and see that there are foreign investors with shell corporations, and the money changes and quickly and the wide transfer. It’s a very sophisticated process of exploitation of people, especially working-class people. And that–

Paul Jay

But it’s also maybe a kind of collaboration between the state and money laundering.

Anthony Adams

Yes. I would agree with you on that point.

Paul Jay

It’s worth looking into. Let me get back to my next question then, are you in favour of taking a chunk of the police budget and then putting it into, for example, a direct employment program?

Anthony Adams

Yes.

Paul Jay

How would you do it?

Anthony Adams

Well, again, when I talked about some of the things that I talked about earlier about my community intervention force, that is exactly what that means; it entails that we hire. For example, when we talk about gang intervention specialists, the only person who talks to a gang person is a former gang person. And so how do we then put those types of folks on the payroll, provide with the income to provide the level of outreach and input and contact with the people that we need to reach? That is a reasonable use of dollars that are allocated to the police budget in order to help us do what we need to do.

How do we program and then provide training? I think because we have a separate entity that handles job training, which gets to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. We have the resources available. It doesn’t necessarily all have to come out of the police budget. I think a portion of the services do directly come from the Police Department, and we need to use those dollars in a manner that’s going to put people on the payroll who can help us reduce the level of crime in our city.

Paul Jay

So where is UAW[United Auto Workers] in this election? You would think the UAW should be supporting you, in theory, support some of most of the demands you’re talking about, are they?

Anthony Adams

Well, no, they’re not. But what we have to understand is the history of the UAW; they used to really stand for a lot more than they do now, I think. And when you look at the leadership and the issues they’ve had themselves, they were under federal indictment, federal investigation, the President, pledged guilty, multiple officers pledged guilty, they’ve now been effectively being supervised by someone outside of their leadership structure. They have a monitor who watches their every move, and there’s a move now to sort of democratizing the UAW having direct election of the President and their offices, versus disproportional Union agent representative structure. I think if we had a different structure, they would be supporting me wholeheartedly. But given the old structure and the fact that they had their own legal issues and they needed certain, I think, relief from Joe Biden, they’re playing ball, no doubt about it.

Paul Jay

So what do you make of Joe Biden and his support of Duggan? Biden was promising to be the most progressive President since FDR[Franklin D. Roosevelt]. And he can claim to some extent truthfully that it’s not so difficult to pass everything in D.C. and with Joe Manchin from West Virginia and so on and so on. But that doesn’t explain supporting such status quo in Detroit. 

Anthony Adams

Everybody wants to blame Joe Manchin and the Senator from Arizona, but the reality is we all understand politics in D.C., you only get so many cracks at the Apple in terms of your ability to transform things. And so, from my perspective, what he should have done was figure out exactly what was the most important thing that needed to be passed and spend his political capital on that. And I think he kind of missed the mark; he went off on some other tangents and did some other things. And now, the more money you spend, obviously, the more obstructionist that the Republicans are going to be, even though they gave away billions of dollars in tax cuts, which they shouldn’t have, which could have been used to fuel our economy.

Biden is out of touch with what’s going on in Detroit. No question about it, because if he understood the real impact of his endorsements policies. I think he would have run like the plague away from him. But they’re all Democratic guys, they are really cut from the same cloth, and I expected that. It’s not going to deter me, and the people who are going to vote for me aren’t going to be deterred because Joe Biden says that he’s supporting my opponent.

Paul Jay

So Detroit is a Democratic party, but people have to come out to vote. But Detroit is surrounded by a lot of Michigan that voted for Trump and might, well, again, what’s your take on where sort of Michigan is, outside of Detroit and what might be coming in 2022 and 2024 and what should be done about it?

Anthony Adams

2024 is going to be a very difficult race in Michigan and Detroit; the influence and I fear the control that Trump has over the party, and he still exercises a considerable amount of control. People are fatigued by COVID restrictions. They’re just tired of it. They’re tired of the government telling them what to do. Now I have to get a vaccine, even though, when you and I were growing up, vaccines were mandatory, and we didn’t have this anti-vaxxer movement. We probably had some of it, but not as prevalent today. And so we’re currently going through a redistricting phase where there was a vote of the people to take the redistricting away from the state legislature. Something that I never thought would pass, and now it’s in the hands of an independent redistricting commission.

But now you have black politicians in the state complaining that the maps were not drawn properly to ensure a black representation in the city. And I found that ironic. And I actually sent out a tweet. I said I found it ironic that you would complain about black people voting when you’ve done absolutely nothing to promote a marrow election in the city of Detroit. There’s kind of one hand can’t be the other, which is my point. We can’t turn this button on and off to get people motivated. If you’re going to be progressive and effective, you have to keep people motivated and keep them engaged in the process.

The other irony of Detroit being depopulated is the fact that now we have cities that where there was never a large presence of black people. And so when you look at Harper Woods or East Point Westland cities where black folks never live, they now live. And they’re changing the face of the electoral politics of these cities. And so you’ve got, for example, the first black Mayor of Beach Point ever, you’ve got a black judge that was appointed out in Harperwood. So you see the impact of black people moving out of the city and impacting the politics in the region.

But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a tough race because people are fragmented, and people are disappointed. They are disappointed that we can’t push through the types of real progressive legislation that we need that we have with FDR for him to compare itself to FDR; that’s a stretch. But FDR’s battles didn’t all come at one time. The guy was elected four times. I think so. He was able to create a progressive record, and it wasn’t without a fight, fighting the Supreme Court and the court-packing cases. I mean, there’s a lot of dynamics that the people need to understand from a historical perspective.

Paul Jay

What happens in Michigan in terms of the 2024 election, whether it’s Trump or somebody like Trump, because it’s going to be one or the other on the Republican side. What Progressives do in Michigan, and I don’t mean just Detroit, it’s going to be very significant nationally. Are progressives getting organized to actually go and talk to and organize amongst the white working-class of rural Michigan?

Anthony Adams

No, they’ve been really sitting on the hand; when you have a guy like me who has a very progressive agenda, most of the progressive organizations have chosen not to take a position on the Mayor’s race. In part because a lot of leadership of some of the progressive organizations actually come out of the Democratic Party machinery. And so, understanding how the old boy network works, they’re simply not getting engaged in this process. And I think it’s hurting their credibility, first and foremost, I think you have some organizations that are trying to do the leg work, but this is work that requires a commitment of resources and dollars on the ground.

Everybody likes to rave about what happened in Georgia, but when you listen to Stacey Abrams should tell you that was a ten-year process. It didn’t just happen overnight. And if you don’t do the leg work, you don’t spend the money. The one thing I give the Republicans credit for is that they continuously push their issues and their agendas and their candidates. They’re creating candidates. They have a candidate form. They do what they need to do in order to keep a lot of fresh blood in the process.

The Democrats don’t do as good of a job. I think they need to reform how they approach politics, and they need to be much more directed to grassroots empowerment. But then, when you’re looking at a Democratic structure, you’re looking at a top-down approach. And what we’re talking about is how do you govern from the bottom up? How do you empower the people who you need to when you need them to vote, to get out and do what they need to do? A top-down philosophy is risky from my perspective.

Paul Jay

Well, you can’t, I think, expect anything else from corporate Democrats because that’s who they are. But progressives better get organized to do what you’re saying and not just in the city but across the state. Otherwise, who knows, Michigan could wind up really, a real Trump state.

Anthony Adams

Well, we have a big test, obviously, next year with the governor’s race. You have a governor who is well funded, well-financed; you have Republican challenges, particularly; the former black chief police of Detroit is running as a Trump Republican, just recently went to visit Trump. And so, I always have historically huge militia movement in the state of Michigan far right-wing groups that agitate and will believe in showing force. They marched on the capital with arms and made a big show of it. So we got to understand we’re in the balance here. We’re in the balance politically. We’re in the balance socially. And we certainly, the progressives, need to be much more engaged in getting to the people who they need to get to because the irony of it is poor working-class people are being crushed in the same policies as poor black people. We’re all in the same boat. We’re all getting crushed the grapes, and they’re drinking the wine from that process.

Paul Jay

All right, well, November 2. Good luck, Anthony Adams running for Mayor. Let me extend an invitation to Mayor Duggan if you’d like to come on and be interviewed or preferably actually have a debate with Anthony. Be happy to host it; of course, I won’t hold my breath. Thanks again, Anthony.

Anthony Adams

Thank you, Paul. I appreciate the time.

Paul Jay

And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis.news. Again, please don’t forget the donate button and subscribe and share all the buttons. Thanks again.

END

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3 Comments

  1. Perhaps I’m a bit delusional, but I wonder if there is a more interesting story here…
    I actually skimmed through this interview a second time to see if former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was mentioned even once, he was not. Former Mayor Kilpatrick was granted clemency by Donald Trump in some of Trump’s last actions in office. Former Mayor Kilpatrick had some drama.
    Candidate Adams’ connections w/ Kilpatrick might not necessarily mean he is a bad candidate, but he might remind one of the Kilpatrick days.
    The mayor of Milwaukee, WI was recently nominated by Pres. Biden to become the ambassador to Luxembourg. Wisconsin is apparently a swing-state, as is Michigan. Certainly in WI and likely in Michigan, statewide Dem. (progressive?) candidates likely have a harder time gaining traction when the problems in their respective largest cities can be easily tied to failing Dem. leadership. If this is true, it might make a lot of sense to “Gulag” problematic candidates in view of future statewide races. It’s not democracy, but “Detroit” really is a -nationwide- meme of “Big D” urban failure. “Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett” is a statewide meme of “Big D” failure. Failures that might not even really be their respective faults, but what if it merely looks like it? What if candidates merely look like the past?
    What if politics IS actually local, and The Democratic Party is considering previously “flown over” states?
    Lots of large city mayors getting nominated for ambassador.

  2. Hello:
    There is no easy way out of capitalist mess.
    We need to change the system, a mayor , few representetives and senators will not solve our problems.
    Chances are that you all have heard of colonialism. Today capitalism is colonizing it’s own population.
    United States preventing its population from getting educated, The health system is not available for general public, Housing is a dream, employment does not pay living wage, and you think by electing a mayor in Baltimore will get us closer to what we need?? please think again. We need systemic change. Long live Revolution.

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