|Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 12:21 am:
This was touched upon for a few moments at the last FOBIA meeting but with only a few days of life left (possibly) I feel it is important to look at the WORST CASE SCENARIO and how it affects the future of the Aquarium so come April 4th, we REALLY SHOULD HAVE a plan to keep the momentum going.
I hoping Kwame comes in at the last minute as a POLITICAL STATEMENT and extends the life of the Aquarium, but if that doesn't happen, what do we do?
Long range, I have heard rumors that the current Mayoral candidates have made re-opening the Aquarium a priority on their agenda but the time between April and November/January is a long time for this organization to sit idle.
As I stated at the FOBIA meeting, people are reluctant to give support, money, time and effort for a LOST CAUSE.
So after the smoke clears from the Dinner and The Rally, what do we as an organization do next?
PS. The new Website LOOKS GREAT, a HUGE IMPROVEMENT but the one thing we need a "IN YOUR FACE" Donate button. (maybe at the bottom of the current news column on the left). The small link at the top will lose people. Makes it too hard to donate to the cause.
|Posted on Friday, April 01, 2005 - 3:07 am:
Thanks For the suggestions, I totally agree with your statements! I will have to call to get that link moved for the donation button. We will post our post closure mission if it closes, so we bring hope. That's why I changed the site, for hope our its many sad guests. Thanks again.
|Posted on Saturday, April 02, 2005 - 9:50 pm:
BY MARISOL BELLO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
April 1, 2005
"....The more than 4,000 fish and critters that make up the collection will be sent to the Toledo Zoo and other facilities. But the mayor said the creatures are on loan and would be retrieved if the city builds a new aquarium...."
This is a lie. The fish are beginning to be shipped out again starting April 5th. This is without city council approval and NOT on loan, but gratis which means they cannot be retreived if the city builds a new aquarium or a new mayor wishes to reopen Belle Isle Aquarium.
|Posted on Monday, April 04, 2005 - 10:22 am:
I heard that Toledo is also takin the building also besides the fish. In one way that would be good, because at least they would appreciate it! The Toledo Zoo is way better then Detroit.I love their wolf exhibiet.I would drive all the way there for that. At least it is safer.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 3:43 am:
REGARDING AFTER APRIL 3RD:
First, a procedural-communication matter which could have legal ramifications. As I understand it, SaneDetroit.com is the website of SaneDetroit-the Belle Isle Aquarium Political Action Committee. If this is the case, it seems to me that "Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium" should not appear accross the top of its home page, its forum should not be titled the "FOBIA" forum, etc.
Is this an oversight, or things that simply have not been renamed yet. if they remain they may confuse people and, by blurring the distinction between the two groups, may negatively affect the 501(c)3 application of the Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium.
Additionally, it seems that each website should have a conspicuous link (button) to the other on their respective home pages. A visitor to the Friends of the Belle Isle site should not have to sift thru "more news" to stumble onto the SaneDetroit PAC site, or vice versa.
Regarding after April 3rd, of course we should not sit idle. Not until November-January as mentioned by Art P., or even until June thru August, when the mayoral primary will heat up.
First, this is not a lost cause. Reopening the Belle Isle Aquarium is possible so long as the building has not been demolished or seriously damaqed.
Second, it may be possible to reopen the Aquarium before the mayoral election.
Many thousands of people visted the Aquarium in recent weeks. They uniformly want the Aquarium to stay open or reopen if it is closed. Many, many people, especially people from Detroit, but also people from outside Detroit are boiling mad. If this righteous anger can be transformed into action, reopening the Aquarium before or after the mayoral campaign is very likely.
I have heard that a rally-picnic is being planned for April 24, as near to the Aquarium as possible. This is an excellent idea. As a matter of fact, a number of the most angry, most politically conscious people I spoke to at the Aquarium recently suggested this. I think April 24 is a good date, because it is close enough to take advantage of recent fresh memories of the huge crowds and their strong passions, but far enough into the future to do widespread publicity.
Additionally, it was stated at the City Council meeting today that the fish will be shipped on April 26th. This should be confirmed with people who work at the Aquarium. it may or may not be true.
More importantly, hundreds of names, phone numbers and/or emails were collected at the Aquarium recently. These are people who were asked to give their information if they wanted to help. It was presented as a contact list people should sign if they wanted to take part in further efforts, not a petition to merely sign. Many people added written or verbal comments about the Aquarium indicating their seriousness, or said or wrote things like "call me," or "please call me," or "don't hesitate to call."
It is now our task to quickly plan the basics of the rally, divide up these names and numbers and enlist the support of as many of these people as possible as soon as possible to make it a success.
I think that the rally should include music, speakers, food (the Detroit Grill King has already agreed to participate---see www.detroitgrillking.com---games and art (such as a big community banner for people to sign/decorate; drawing pads for the same, and a raffle, which can be used to help publicize the event by having the drawing at the rally with all pertinent information on the ticket.
Other means of publicity should of course be used also. such as as many public service announcements as possible, newspaper ads in at least the low cost Detroit focused papers like the Chronicle, the Michigan Citizen, the Monitor, and Metro Times. We may also want to advertise in the more expensive Free Press, News, and Oakland and Macomb papers.
we should pass out flyers at some critical places like WSU, King HS, Cass Tech HS, and get them to as many high school students as possible. We should post them as many high volume places like large churches, the apts/condos on the E. Jefferson strip, and other public places like groceries and coffee houses. and we should enlist the people who signed to help to as much of this as possible, in addition to reminding them to tell their friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
We should design and print some signs asap and put them up in high traffic areas. In Detroit it is common to post such signs on light poles with a staple gun, or glue them to abandoned buildings or the sides of trash cans with pet milk.
Obviously, our ad budget is not unlimited, but we may also consider one or two billboards at key places like somewhere on East Jefferson near I-75 where people heading to the east side, Belle Isle and the Pointes would see it. of course there are various other fine places, but we only have so much money.
April 24 is also good, because there is a high probability of nice weather that day. we should have signs on Belle Isle itself, because this time of year, thousands of people, mainly Detroiters, go there every day, especially on the weekends when the weather is good.
If we can get upwards of a thousand or people to a Belle Isle Rally-Picnic to Save the Aquarium, we should announce to the crowd that we want as many people as possible to go to the Detroit City Council meeting the next day, if the Council is in session. we should probably try to get an "update on the Aquarium" on that day's agenda in advance, although if need be, we could insist on speaking on some other agenda item related to finance, and say that we think funding the Belle Isle Aquarium is more important. (there's always something on the agenda that is less important) But it would be better to have an AQ update on the agenda.
A member of the city council told me that it is possible that, if the Mayor vetoes the Aquarium open thru June 30 resolution that passed 5 to 3 recently, and a substantial group of vocal, articulate, and angry people, mostly Detroiters, say upwards of 30 (not counting prior FOBIApeople) came to council and spoke out, it might just be possible to get a sixth vote for a new motion to open the Aq thru June 30.
By June 30, the mayoral primary will be hot. Note that the Mayor is announcing his proposed budget April 12th and city workers are already planning a picket and demonstration at the City County Building that day. Well over 100 of them picketed Orchestra Hall. WE SHOULD JOIN THEM AND ENCOURAGE ALL OF THE FRIENDS OF THE AQ INCLUDING OUR PHONE CONTACTS TO DO SO ALSO.
Saving the Aquarium is about saving an essential city service---quality low-cost recreation---and about saving productive city workers' jobs (as opposed to excess supervisor, overpaid consultants, and padded contracts) IT IS PART OF A LARGER STRUGGLE TO SAVE THE CITY FOR THE PEOPLE, NOT JUST BIG BUSINESS and to BALANCE THE BUDGET BY MAKING THE PRIVILEGED PAY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND THE UNDERPRIVILEGED AS LITTEL AS POSSIBLE. IT REALLY IS AND THAT IS HOW WE SHOULD APPROACH IT.
THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE THE AQUARIUM SHOULD BE SEEN AND RAISED IN THIS CONTEXT. IT IS NOT A FRILL OR A LUXURY OR SOMETHING THAT BENEFITS ONLY THE RELATIVELY WELL TO DO (LIKE AN EXPENSIVE DOWNTOWN AQUARIUM COSTING $20 TO $25 DOLLARS FOR ONE ADULT ADMISSION). IT IS, AS ONE VISITOR WHO SIGNED UP SAID, QUALITY AFFORDABLE FAMILY RECREATION FOR THE WORKING CLASS AND MIDDLE CLASS.
THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE THE AQUARIUM IS ALSO A STRUGGLE AGAINST THE INSTITUTIONAL RACISM PRACTICED BY ZOO DIRECTOR KAGAN AND THE "DETROIT" ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY WHICH HAVE, FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS OR SO (I DONT KNOW KAGAN'S TENURE, BUT THIS STUFF MAY HAVE BEEN GOING ON WAY BEFORE HE GOT HERE) WHICH HAS RESULTED IN SPENDING ALMOST ALL CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT MONEY AND ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AND PROGRAMMING MONEY AT THE ZOO IN ROYAL OAK.
THE PEOPLE OF DETROIT AND THE METRO AREA LOVE THE BELLE ISLE AQUARIUM, THE PEOPLE OF DETROIT THE MOST OF ALL, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE OF DETROIT, IN GENERAL, GO TO BELLE ISLE FAR MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE. CLOSING THE AQUARIUYM HAS MADE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FURIOUS AT THE MAYOR. AND BELIEVE ME, DETROITERS AND FORMER DETROITERS ARE GENERALLY THE MADDEST OF ALL.
THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE IT IS IMPORTANT IN ITSELF AND IS PART OF AND SYMBOLIC OF A MUCH LARGER STRUGGLE BETWEEN THE INTERESTS OF THE WORKING AND MIDDLE CLASSES ON THE ONE HAND, AND THOSED REPRESENTING CONTEMPORARY DEGENERATE CAPITALIST BIG BUSINESS, WHO UNLIKE THEIR FORERUNNERS WHO BUILT THE AQUARIUM AND PLANNED BELLE ISLE (AND THE NATIONAL PARKS, ETC.) SEEM TODAY TO HAVE COMPLETELY LOST ALL SANITY AND HEALTHY CULTURAL OUTLOOK AND WANT ONLY TO BUILD CASINOS, AND OTHER OVERPRICED ENTERPRISES AS REMOVED FROM NATURE AS POSSIBLE. IT IS ALSO A STRUGGLE AGAINST INTITUTIONAL RACISM WHICH AFFECTS THE BLACK PEOPLE REMAINING IN THE CITY THE MOST OF ALL.
IT IS ALSO A STRUGGLE OF ALL PEOPLE, AT LEAST ALL OF THE SANE AND CULTURED PEOPLE WHO LOVE THE AQUARIUM AND NATURAL AND GENUINE MAN MADE BEAUTY. THERE ARE STILL MORE THAN A FEW LEFT WHOSE MINDS HAVE NOT BEEN ADLED BY THE FLASHING LIGHTS AND CONSTANT DIN OF THE CASINOS' MANIC SLOT MACHINES.
There may be many large protests and strikes in Detroit this summer. City workers' contracts (at least many of them) are up in June. Kilpatrick is trying to get them to agree to an accross the board 10% wage cut AND thousands of layoffs. Perhaps upwards of 2000. While protecting as many of his cronies in soft supervisory jobs, and those receiving fat contracts, consulting jobs, tax breaks, etc.
Both mayoral challengers have promised to reopen the Aquarium if elected. If we manage to reopen it thru June 30, it will be hard to close in the heat of the mayoral primary campaign. And it is just possible that the Mayor may finish third.
But we should do a lot more than just vote. We should RUTHLESSLY EXPOSE the Mayor as the liar, conciliator to or partner with institutional racism that he is, as well as the tool of big business. Who do you think an expensive downtown aquarium would be for? "Tourists, mainly" as many people have replied to me while engaging them in this conversation. And who do you think wants to bring more tourists to downtown the most of all? the casinos of course and the hotel interests. That's why he wants 7 million for the People Mover while closing the Aquarium and cutting city bus service. he thinks that a gaudy downtown aquarium will better serve the downtown casino interests, as well as making big campaign contribs for himself.
The Mayor may be so out of touch, or so meglomanical that he fails to realize how much closing the Aquarium could hurt him. he has hurt many, many people deeply. the people of Detroit the most of all. he has hurt them to their hearts, as the saying goes. we should do all we can to make this hurt him as much as possible. and to show just how scandalous, dirty, and outrageous it really is, how the closing of the Aquarium is part and parcel of catering to intitutional racism and catering to the interests of big business to the extreme detriment of the overwhelming majority of the people of Detroit and the suburbs. and guess what? the easy part is that all we have to do is tell the truth. the hard part is that we lack the money, media, and organization of the mayor and the interests he represents.
The struggle to save the Aquarium is not over. It's not a lost cause by any means. that will only be true with at least a fair degree of finality (at least four years) if the Mayor is re-elected. However, there is a very good chance that he won't be. He's a liar and a bungler. For crying out loud, for almost a year, his administration reported that it's first budget was balanced when it turned out it was 93 million in the red. Either they were lying, or they just didn't know. Now the city is on the verge of receivership and he has ripped a beautiful little 101 year old piece of Detroit out of its heart. "because of its deficit," he claims. Right, to bail a thimblefull of water out of an overflowing bathtub of debt acumulated under his administration.
It is not all his fault. City tax receipts (income) are down because of 14% unemployment and continued out migration of middle class and better off working class peoplel, a trend that began long before he took office. and the federal govt under Bush has cut aid to Detroit about (thru the state and directly) about 50 million. and, Detroit does have certain infrastructures built for a city of 2,000,000, in a city now about 900,000, (sewer and water lines, streets, lighting) (although they may get somewhat less wear and tear, all the miles are still there, and they aint getting any newer) And the practice of massive giveaways to capital (like to compuware, the lions and the tigers) in the form of infrastructure building and $1 land parcels (corporate welfare) and tax abatement are not new.
BUT while all these problems are not his fault, in fact it would be fair to say that some very old chickens are coming home to roost, he has done NOTHING to minimize the ill effects of these long term trends. Rather, he has simply gorged on the feast as much as he could too. Essentially, he's a Bush Democrat with a quasi-gangsta hip hop style.
I wouldn't underestimate him. he's bright, articulate, energetic, and dynamic and has tons of conncections and tons of campaign dough. and he's good at playing the role of the put-upon one. and he's big businesses' stooge. so he gets pretty good press, all things considered.
still, if the people coming to the aquarium are right, he's probably on his way out. if SM and FH don't stab or spend each other to death, one or both of them should beat KK. Although it is possible that the challengers will exhaust each other politically and financially in the primary and KK will drastically outspend the one left standing and use all the mud SM and FH throw at each other in the primary (if they do) against them later and sneak out a re-election. One good thing. The Aquarium people, while obviously among the more cultured and conscious of the people in general (both the Detroiters and the suburbanites by the way) (did you know that a gentleman from Livonia came up to me and said he was glad I called Kagan a racist and shook my hand?) (WISH I'D PUT THAT SIGN UP WEEKS BEFORE) , so they are not entirely representative, the Aquarium people are also MORE LIKELY TO VOTE than many of those who could care less about anything but casinos or nightclubs or the street. (ie. many of those who identify with KK culturally))
so the big guy is in trouble. we should do all we can to try to convince people he really should be their third choice.
So------to repeat------it's not over. Let's prepare for a rally-picnic.
AND Go to the City workers picket demo at the city county bldg (Young bldg) TUESDAY, APRIL 12TH 4:00 PM. AND BRING YOUR SIGNS. AND REMEMBER, WE'RE NOT JUST TRYING TO SAVE THE FISH (ALTHOUGH THE BIA'S COLLECTION IS UNIQUE AND IT BELONGS ON BELLE ISLE). WE ARE TRYING TO SAVE AFFORDABLE, BEAUTIFUL, QUALITY RECREATION AND EDUCATION FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE (WHEREVER THEY ARE FROM) RIGHT HERE IN THE CITY OF DETROIT.
AND THE JOBS OF PRODUCTIVE CITY OF DETROIT WORKERS (AND SUPERVISOR(S)) AT THE AQUARIUM. (AT THE AQ. THE SUPERVISOR(S) ARE ALSO REAL SCIENTIFIC AND ARTISTIC WORKERS, NOT LIKE THE EXCESS, EASY JOB SUPERS AT SOME CITY DEPTS.)
And this time, I will be prepared to hand them all flyers....not just carry my SAVE THE AQUARIUM sign. I think i'll staple the maor and dr. kagan sign to it. or make another one-----kilpatrick and kagan, partners in the krime...........of killing the Aquarium..............
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 10:04 am:
Another good spot would be on I-94.Alot of people from Jackson and Ann Arbor use that freeway to go downtown or other areas west for buisness or pleasure.I am glad that the fight is not over.I say that the next time that the Mayor is somwhere we show up with our signs.Is jennifer still involed? I need new flyers from her.downriver
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 7:27 pm:
Another great post Marty. Right on about KK. I like the thimbleful analogy, very apt. I don't understand how the mayor has the power to override the council vote. Can you explain? I still believe this can be done also!
|Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 1:51 am:
Good post above Marty, clears up a few things, but leaves me with more questions.
I received two phone calls today at work (Exotic Aquarium) regarding support for the BIA. Both reps (All Glass Aquariums & San Francisco Bay Foods) were on extended vacation when I originally made the support calls (one was in England) and were just now getting back with me. They expressed how sorry they were about not being able to donate goodies for the Silent auction and other LOCAL support for the cause. I did open the door for some extended local support down the road once the smoke clears and some CONCRETE GAME PLAN can be made to Re-Open the Aquarium.
I had a special fundraising plan in effect via our Pet Store if the Aquarium was given an extension, but I put it on hold until that Concrete Info shows up. I was hoping to turn that into a lead to some Corporate Sponsorship if it went well via the Local Reps.
What is the status of the Fundraising at this point?
Do we keep donation bowls in place?
When people ask...
It's closed, why are you still collecting money?
...what should be our unified answer?
If the Fish go to Toledo on the 26th of April, where does that leave us?
Just thinking out loud (mostly),,,
|Posted on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 1:53 am:
We are still working on all areas of fund raising.
Donations can be mailed to
FRIENDS OF BELLE ISLE
DETROIT, MI. 48214