In 2017, I declared my candidacy for mayor of Detroit, MI. Below is my Plan of Action first presented in August of 2017 just before the primary.
PLAN OF ACTION
Our current economy is based on exploitation and extraction of talent, skills, and labor. Detroit is in need of a new economy that uplifts a new value system. The current economic and government systems are outdated ways of operating and uphold beliefs and values misaligned with the citizens of Detroit. We are in need of true democratic governance and community ownership. By focusing on the root cause of systematic oppression we can end the cycle of poverty, create a future where wealth creation is a tool of the people. A new system—a new economy—that meets human needs, enhances the quality of life and allows us to live in balance with nature. The responsibility of the mayor is to protect and serve Detroit citizens and this is what this plan of action aims to do.
Vision: Detroit as a global leader operating as an efficient human-centered ecosystem.
Reinstill trust in city government
Empower Detroit citizens
Innovate the future
Strengthen local economy
City revitalization requires the following elements:
-an efficient government with full transparency and accountability
-eradication of poverty at the root
-proactive participation in emerging industries and innovative proficiency in future technologies
-a strong local economy that grows small businesses
-a quality of life that encourages and supports the personal and communal pursuit of happiness
-active civic engagement by its residents
In order to manifest true revitalization, we must consider the histories and oppressions of the majority Black American population of Detroit. The foundation of every institution--government, police, education, the museum-- was built to silence, disallow, displace, and render powerless Black Americans. These institutions were never created for Black Americans to truly prosper. It’s time for a new plan and new systems that are healthy and prosperous for Black Americans, and as a result for all Detroiters. It is for this reason I propose a universal basic income. This will help alleviate poverty, increase financial stability and inspire innovation.
In order to get on a new path, Detroit must become a digital society. By using blockchain technology city government can dramatically increase transparency, efficiency, and accountability. A blockchain is a ledger of transactions that is secure and can never be manipulated. The use of blockchain technology can eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy. Contracts (between citizen and government; government and corporations) created using blockchain technology can reduce the time necessary to process administrative work, increase efficiency and accuracy of applications and documents, and allow for anyone to access the contract in real time. By securely creating a citizen ID using blockchain technology it would allow for instant transactions such as in the case of procurement of licenses, ability to vote online, accessibility to medical records, parking payments, development of land contracts and more.
Blockchain technology is also the foundation of cryptocurrency, a digital currency. The local economy can further be strengthened by creating Detroit’s own local cryptocurrency called the D-coin.
Universal Basic Income (UBI)
In 15 years 38% of jobs will be lost to automation and it will only increase. To mitigate this loss Detroit must:
- Create a universal basic income structure where every citizen receives the equivalent of $2000 a month, age 18 and older.
- One-half of the currency received for the UBI would be in D-coin and can only be used inside of Detroit for goods and services provided by local businesses.
- Detroit would process, or mine, each transaction of the D-coin. A portion of the generated revenue would go back into the UBI and the rest would be invested in youth education.
- The other half would be $1000 in fiat currency
- E-residency would allow for a visitor to enter the system and buy up to $1000 of D-coins.
- D-coins would be accepted for city services such as transportation and taxes.
- D-coins can be converted into larger cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum
- Detroit residents include those that are incarcerated. The UBI funds would accrue while being incarcerated and released once the citizen is released.
- A Detroit resident must have lived in Detroit for at least three years before receiving UBI
- Additional D-coins can be received for volunteering time at a Detroit organization or program in need of assistance. A municipal time banking system.
Detroit citizens must obtain a high level of competency of digital technologies in order to not only participate in a digital society but also innovate.
- Youth education: Mandatory coding and programming classes in schools; internships with companies working in these areas.
- City-wide internet is necessary. Begin by expanding the mesh networks in neighborhoods so that all households have access to the internet.
- Training for adults within cryptography, coding, programming, and robotics.
Thousands are living without water in Detroit because of unpaid water bills. The sewage fee has become prohibitive and as a result citizens are unable to pay their water bills, one of the highest in the nation. Water shut-offs are causing a public health risk. A moratorium on the shut-offs is absolutely necessary. As well as:
- Redesign and implementation of water infrastructure to properly handle combined sewage overflow
- Disconnecting water bills from property taxes.
- Rainwater collection sites within neighborhoods
- Adoption of the Water Affordability Plan where water bills only account for 2% of the income.
It has been predicted, because of Detroit’s proximity to fresh water and fertile farm land we will see a growth in population because of climate changes. In order to prepare Detroit needs:
- A climate plan where Detroit is running completely on renewable resources by 2025.
- Create a city-wide solar power cooperative. The money generated will be directed into neighborhood councils and block clubs. Funds would help maintain beauty and cleanliness in the neighborhood as well as fund community land trusts and mini-grants for businesses.
- A campaign to educate about climate change and energy usage.
Further incarceration only exacerbates the poverty cycle. By training police officers and instituting restorative justice practices, Detroit can reduce the incarceration rates and thereby increase the talent pool.
- Entrepreneurship programs for returning citizens
- Increase mental health services for citizens and those returning from incarceration
- Training programs in cannabis, robotics, and programming for returning citizens
- Make affordable housing accessible to returning citizens
- Access to public assistance
- Create hyper-local peace-making centers to resolve non-violent crimes
- Work with the Detroit Public Schools Community District board to train teachers and school administrators in restorative justice practices
Create a municipal credit union that can process money from the cannabis industry as well as the D-coin.
1. Block clubs and neighborhood organizations will receive their funds through an account with the municipal bank.
Detroit has one of the highest property tax foreclosure rates since the Great Depression. More than 100,000 homes between 2011 and 2015 have been foreclosed upon and approximately 85% of those homes were improperly assessed at more than 50 percent of their market value. The improper assessment has resulted in many of Detroit citizens losing their homes. To rectify this crime and to ensure it doesn’t happen again, Detroit can:
- Work with Wayne County to use their surplus to give restitution for those who lost their home due to improper property tax assessment. They would receive a home in good repair and won’t pay taxes for 5 years.
- Expand efforts to keep people in their homes and create a grant program for home repair
- Help neighborhood organizations create community land trusts
- Use blockchain technology to record and make easily accessible land contracts, deeds and titles.
- Produce more affordable housing
- Create a system where renters can gain ownership over time.
To ensure constant access to city government and increase trust in government, a dashboard can be created using blockchain technology that holds all the information in relation to government.
- Participatory budgeting process to allow citizens full access to the budget and vote on budget allocations.
- Monitor water and energy usage in homes and businesses
- See changes in taxes based on market values
- Easily follow items that are up for a vote by the council, share data and voice opinions.
- Pay parking with D-coins that transact without the pressure of penalty
- Easy access to health documents, deeds, licenses, birth and death certificates
Cultural Affairs Department
In order to stimulate growth in the creative sector, a cultural affairs department is necessary.
- Begin with the creation of an arts commission--volunteer board made up of members of the local creative community
- End the Graffiti Task Force and use funds to commission murals and fund the cultural affairs department
- Change ordinance on graffiti/street art. Private homes and businesses can authorize any tags made on their property
- Increase avenues for cultural exchanges and export of cultural production
- Youth internship program--pair youth with working art professionals for exposure, strengthening of skills and development of business acumen
- Use buildings owned by the city to create an artist residency and neighborhood art galleries, small film and black box theaters, all administered by youth
- Instate a Night Mayor who will oversee transportation, the extension of club and restaurant hours, safety, and create a comprehensive plan for developing the night economy
- Increase accessibility to the arts and culture events in the city by creating a tourism office, website, and app that gives up-to-date information on events in the city
- Create an orientation on Detroit citizenry for those new to the city to better understand Detroit’s history and culture.
- Streamline the permitting process and re-evaluate zoning.
The diversity of Detroit is what makes it a global city on the rise. In order to maintain this global ecosystem, Detroit must be a sanctuary city where immigrants are protected by city policies and law.
- Create a skill sharing network to exchange knowledge and best practices
- Expand support to organizations working with immigrant and refugee populations
Cannabis is a fast growing industry. It is predicted by 2021 the industry will reach 50 billion dollars. Detroit must be strategic with this lucrative industry as it grows within the city. Detroit must advocate for the full legalization of cannabis and hemp.
- The city must adopt the Michigan state’s license structure and allow for other businesses to be created in the city such as transportation, cultivation, processing, and safety and compliance.
- Use tax revenue to create education programs about how to use medical marijuana, laws about legalization, and business training. After two years of education, the funds will go into city services and schools.
- Grow hemp on city-owned vacant land and manufacture and export the goods nation-wide
- Produce hempcrete and use it to help repair our roads and other infrastructure needs
- Immediately work to release all those incarcerated because of marijuana possession and the intent to sell
- Ensure those formerly incarcerated can participate and own a business
- Free law and accounting services for women and Black owned businesses
- Create Green Zones where Detroiters and visitors can enjoy cannabis friendly businesses and parks in a various sections of Detroit.
- Legalize public use of vaporizers. License coffee shops to allow for smoking.
The path Detroit is currently on is leading citizens deeper into poverty, and further disempowering our citizens. A shift in direction can create a new trajectory, a new narrative where every Detroit citizen is empowered and on a path to prosperity.