Good Monday Moanin’ – Oct. 19, 2015
GUEST MOAN by LaMar Lemmons III, Detroit Public Schools Trustee
Something new this week… for those of you who follow my weekly “Good Monday Moanin'” column… I made a promise to my friend Lamar Lemmons III to step down off my Internet Soapbox and make room for his “Righteous Rant” regarding the injustices being done (since at least 1999) to the parents, students, educators and citizens of the City of Detroit as it pertains to the unelected dictators, i.e. series of Governor-appointed (Engler, Granholm, Snyder) Emergency Financial Managers.
In 1999, Republican Gov. John Engler signed PA 10 into law, abolishing Detroit Public School’s elected school board and replacing it with a board he and then-Mayor Dennis Archer, which had no operational power except to hire a DPS CEO. At the time, DPS had a $93-million surplus, rising enrollment and improving test scores. Critics then and now believe that the purpose of the takeover was to control the recent bond program, which in 1999 still had $1.2 billion remaining to be spent. A lawsuit and protests followed to no avail. Emergency Financial Managers have continued to operate the Detroit Public Schools going on 16 years now and with each successive manager the district’s finances have only gotten more and more dire with each plunging the district further into debt and prohibited the elected school board from making an substantive operational decisions so much so that some members of the current board euphemistically refer to themselves as “school board EXILES” instead of school board trustees.
- The FBI has launched a corruption investigation involving Gov. Rick Snyder’s K-12 reform district known as the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) a separate entity within the Detroit Public Schools
- Former DPS auditor Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s Detroit contracts are under federal investigation; Byrd-Bennett recently plead guilty to bribery and kickback charges in her role as superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools
- A former principal at Detroit’s Mumford High School recently cut a deal to plead guilty to bribery and tax evasion for her role in a wide-ranging and on-going FBI investigation of corruption and kickbacks in schools run by the EAA. Principal Kenyetta (K.C.) Wilbourn-Snap, who was known for carrying a baseball bat and driving a Maserati will plead guilty to accepting a $58,000 bribe and to federal charges of tax evasion.
ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST:
In the midst of this mess along with other DPS school board “exiles” steps forward LaMar Lemmons III who is a lifelong resident of the City of Detroit, former president and current member of the DPS Board of Education and like most of the other “exiles” is a passionate defender of returning democratic, local control to the Detroit Public Schools and the City of Detroit as well as all those schools and communities across the state now under control of non-elected Emergency Financial Managers. Lemmons has also been actively involved in providing community service, working as a youth director at the Inner City Community Center and a homeless counselor for Operation Get-Down. Lemmons was also a drill-team instructor and a basketball coach. He was also founder of the Eastside Community Center and a member of the Michigan Community Reinvestment Coalition. Lemmons is the former Director of Evangelism at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Presbyterian Church and a former missionary. He also had the distinction of being one of the few father (Lamar Lemmons Jr.) and son teams to ever serve in the Michigan House of Representatives during the same session.
TO DETROIT & ALL OF MICHIGAN’S FRIENDS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION: HERE COMES A RANT!
By Lamar Lemmons III
A noble lady Simone Lightfoot pulled me to the side some weeks ago and told me the truth about myself. I am brutish, a bull in a China shop, a big wild stallion – okay she didn’t use those words, but in a gentle and professional manner, she informed me that I can be a JERK.
Jeffrey L Salisbury calls my anger, righteous indignation.
But, I only got that “righteous anger” label now that the rats are running for cover.
As long as they were riding around in their Mazeratis with GUCCI1 license plate on the back, I was, I admit, REALLY PISSED OFF. And so today, I am going to open up and share a secret I have never admitted as a politician, less admit as a man. In the dog eat dog world of politics, some things you can’t tell the world.
If you show a weakness, the hyenas will go for your throat.
So here goes: 1, 2, 3…
I have a heart. I care. I am not just the biggest a**hole Detroit has ever seen. I have 192 children related to me in Detroit. Some I have taught to read. Some I cry for in the worst situations, some who I see shined up at family dinners, but all that I worry about.
And when someone is riding around in a Maserati because a Mercedes won’t do, to walk into a building to see the poorest children in our country, and lock them out of Mumford when they are late – knowing they came on the city BUS, maybe two buses, which are not reliable, knowing they may have been beat up along the way, or who knows what they run from at home and knowing that the food at school is all they have – I got a heart.
I GOT A HEART DETROIT. I feel some anger. So when you talk to me and I SEE what I see, and I KNOW what I know and MY friends cross sides because MY side doesn’t have it together, MY side is weak, MY side is broke, the kids can’t pay for a Maserati in your driveway principal.
Is your salary not enough, principal? I’m sorry, these poor kids can’t pay for you a trip to Punta Cana, they can’t pay you – Barbara Bennett to blow money at the casino, so since they can’t pay you – YOU GONNA STEAL!??? Ooh LAWD righteous indignation.
I’m on a Board with no power and the intercom is going off over the meeting I’m in, and the intercom is announcing that the students should leave class because Charles Pugh is in the building and I might just go off on you.
It’s been building for a while now. My SICK-OF-BULLSH*T meter is off the chain. THE BULLSH*T METER IF OFF THE CHAIN IN MICHIGAN when the Flint City Council can vote to put Flint back on City water and the EM says no, then that mother****** comes to Detroit and openly declares that God told him on I-96 he is the prophet Jeremiah and that he will send a principal around to your church if you need some $pecial encouragement. Yes, I have a problem with anger management, because I do feel things inside my body. Yes, I have tried to tear some folks up for the 3 S’s, Stupidity, Silence, and selling out.
Yes, I have. Yes, I have. Yes, God Almighty, yes I have.
They try to push me to go off. Too often a verbal assault leaves my mouth. Words like “coup d’etat”, because that is what Emergency Management is. That’s when I hear, “Whatchu call me? You callin’ me a cun* de twat? Oh, no he didn’t. Cuz I will hit a man,” they scream. Before anyone takes off their earrings, on me, I thank Simone for pulling me to the side as a friend and saying, essentially, “Brother, you are getting a reputation for your verbally blowing up on people.”
So I was feeling a little down.
To make myself feel better, I’ve been dreaming of sitting in the courthouse on November 3, 2015 watching Roy Roberts and Robert Bobb explain their side of the story.
So, this man who went into Lansing politics before I was 25 years old has had 33 years to think about all I’ve seen. Four years to reflect on the takeover of democracy called Emergency Management which I have seen here lately.
Months to understand why Detroit lost Flint as a water customer and why Flint had sludge coming from their tap. While I wonder, did you know that because my father ran for office after me that I’ve been told that I “played with democracy”? Forget the Kennedy’s who have great GRAND children in office, or Romney, the Bushes and other dynasties in Detroit – Kwame and Carolyn, Thomas and Keith, whoever, how many other same names have you heard? No offense intended to any. Because no no nooooo, when the folks dolling out cash and Maseratis and trips to Punta Cana can slide a dig in on me, “Ooh, don’t mind him, he is ruining American democracy!” Perhaps it makes folk feel better to allow themselves to be convinced by the shade that stealing from children is okay, because a man like me, stripped of everything but his pride, is “playing with democracy”. No, who is playing with democracy are those who the Feds are interviewing now. Not me and not the 192 kids who I give EVERYTHING I have to save! Enjoy your meetings with the Feds ya B******! Oh I let one out, sorry but I feel oh so much better now.
Thank you for being patient as I do my best to keep up the good fight.
I am fighting for what is right.
The Bible has something to say about those who steal from children.
I just can’t say it as nicely as Jesus can.