BlackBox Radio

January 10, 2006

Blackbox Radio for Jan 10th, 2006

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 4:25 pm

Listen to the show: lower quality | high quality

On this week’s show: UAW Delphi workers and supporters form a picket line outside the Detroit auto show and discuss the Delphi bankruptcy and workers’ rights. Plus, the following local, national, and international headlines:

Local Headlines:
Ann Arbor mayor favors wind power
Black businesses left out of Super Bowl benefits
GM to cut more jobs
Wal-Mart superstore for Grand Rapids

National and International Headlines:
New Orleans police shoot mentally-disabled man
DNA test ordered for executed man
New Medicaid ID requirements


Local Headlines

According to, Ann Arbor’s Mayor is looking to meet the city’s electricity needs with wind power from Michigan’s Thumb:

Mayor John Hieftje, who has said he would like to see city government using 20 percent renewable energy by 2010, wants to add wind power to the city’s energy portfolio.

The city’s energy commission will discuss how realistic those goals
are and how the city might meet them during a working session of the City Council on Feb. 13.

The Noble Environmental Power company is now building 32 windmills in Michigan’s Thumb, with plans to build 218 more. Energy from those first 32 will be purchased by Consumers’ Energy as part of its renewable energy program.


Detroit business owners were promised that hosting the Superbowl would bring lots of money into the city in the form of contracts with the NFL, but so far black business owners are being left out of the deal.

They argue that the Superbowl Host Committee, the official liason
between the NFL and metro Detroit, has denied millions of dollars
worth of contracts to even very prominent black businesses, sometimes preferring to bring in businesses from out of town to render services. The Host Committee created a subcomittee for Emerging Businesses, which was supposed to help minority and women-owned businesses get contracts.

The Michigan Citizen reports, however, that many, who have now been denied contracts, claim that the committee is a charade and a waste of time. Though the Host Committee refuses to divulge how much money has been awarded to different businesses, they claim that 30% of their total contracts have been awarded to Black businesses, and that African American businesses in Detroit have gotten a lot of special attention. Valenca Cade, who runs Big Fellows restaurant, won a catering contract but turned it down when she realized how low her profit margins would be, calling the offer “insulting.”


Despite having already announced 30,000 job cuts, General Motors Corporation Chairman, Rick Wagoner, says the slumping automaker will cut even more jobs, possibly starting this year.

Wagoner declined to give any numbers during an interview on Friday. But he didn’t rule out more plant closings if GM continues to shed market share in 2006.

GM said in November that it would eliminate manufacturing jobs, close 12 plants and parts facilities, and trim health care benefits for hourly workers and retirees. The automaker said those moves will cut its structural costs by $6 billion this year.

GM’s U.S. sales fell 4 percent in 2005 as sales of its
large sport-utilities plunged in the wake of higher gasoline prices.

Ironically, GM is counting on a revamped lineup of full-size SUVs to
help it restore profitability.


Media Mouse reports that Wal-Mart is planning to build a new store in the Grand Rapids area.

The new store will be located directly behind the existing Wal-Mart on Alpine Avenue. In order to build the new larger Supercenter, which will replace the current one once construction is completed, Wal-Mart will first buy the property behind the current store and get the property rezoned from agricultural to commercial use.

Last month, the first national poll on the public’s view of Wal-Mart
found that 56% of respondents agreed that while Wal-Mart does provide low prices, it is ultimately bad for America due to the high moral and economic cost associated with the company.

Despite substantial holiday sales, there has been a considerable amount of negative press for Wal-Mart over the past few weeks with the company being ordered to pay $172 million for violating California labor laws, a criminal investigation of how it handled merchandise classified as hazardous waste, and its destruction of a turtle habitat in south Florida.

Locally, the community group Pittsfield First has called on Wal-Mart to make a new year’s resolution not to build any more stores next to schools. Pittsfield Township residents continue their fight to keep a Wal-Mart from being constructed next to Harvest Elementary School.



National and International Headlines:

New Orleans Indymedia reports that a man known to be a friendly, mentally-disabled individual was shot last Monday afternoon by Sixth District New Orleans Police. Witnesses reported at least ten bullet casings on the ground after police opened fire on the man. Although the police spokesman said that the man lunged at a police officer with a [three inch] knife before he was shot, witnesses all say that the man was backing up when he was shot numerous times by police. Staff at the Burger King nearby say that the victim was a daily customer there, and had never hurt or threatened anyone.

Onlookers expressed anger at the police for responding with excessive force to the situation, and for taking this man’s life unnecessarily. One shouted at police, “Are your officers not trained to disarm a man with a knife without using lethal force?”

Sixth District officers are already under fire for their excessive behavior in several incidents, including harassment of relief volunteers and unlawful search of peoples’ homes. This incident calls into question the legitimacy of a police force known both historically and recently for corruption and brutality.


Virginia Governor Mark Warner ordered a post-execution DNA testing be performed to determine once and for all the guilt or innocence of Roger Coleman, a Virginia coal miner convicted of the rape and murder of Wanda McCoy in 1981. Coleman, who was executed by electric chair in 1992, maintained his innocence until the end, and gained the support of New Jersey-based non-profit Centurion Ministries, an investigative agency that works to overturn wrongful convictions. Governor Warner was prompted to reverse the state’s long-term opposition after a series of appeals from Centurion Ministries.

If Coleman is in fact exonerated of the crimes for which he was put to death, it will be the first time that anyone in the United States has been proven innocent after they have been executed.

Ira Robbins, a criminal law professor at American University predicts that the test’s outcome could be the point in death penalty abolition. Robbins said, “Let’s assume it comes back that he was proved innocent. Here is the case that the death penalty opponents have been looking for for a long time–that we have executed an innocent person.”

The results of the tests are expected sometime this week before Governor Warner leaves office.


The New Standard reports on a new trend toward citizen identification requirements. A new budget bill coming up for vote in February would require Medicaid beneficiaries to show two different forms of official identification before receiving any benefits. This is a requirement that opponents of the measure say will likely affect minorities and people with low incomes disproportionately.

According to language approved for the budget, beginning July 1, all Medicaid recipients, whether they are applying for the first time or reapplying for continued benefits, would have to show a passport or Birth Certificate as proof of citizenship, in addition to presenting a driver’s license or other proof of identity.

The new rule, which is buried in the bill’s 800-plus pages, purports to prevent ineligible immigrants from gaining access to Medicaid benefits reserved for citizens and certain categories of immigrants. But the progressive think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) warns that the rule could deny or seriously delay healthcare coverage for millions of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

CBPP said that because poor, homeless and mentally ill people are the least likely to possess or have easy access to passports and birth certificates, they are in danger of missing out on coverage. Additionally, the new barrier could prove insurmountable to people born outside of a hospital, those in nursing homes and victims of natural disasters, the report found.

Most likely to be affected of all groups are blacks, CBPP said, citing a half-century-old study that found that as many as 20 percent of black women born between 1939 and 1940 lack a birth certificate because they “were born in a time when racial discrimination in hospital admissions, especially in the South, as well as poverty, kept their mothers from giving birth at a hospital.”





  1. the story on the delphi workers was excellent. it is refreshing to hear the voices of real workers on the radio without having to hear an anti-union, corporate spin.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 12, 2006 @ 11:44 am

  2. Thanks for your post, i am doing a study on this and you have gibven me some great info



    Comment by Jackie — December 30, 2006 @ 6:31 am

  3. Your blog is informative and has people divided and is there really a right and wrong. Is there a scare tactic involved that has everyone feeling this is a bad ideal.

    Comment by gjmcrae — March 21, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

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