2:00PM Water Cooler 4/17/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Lambert here: As others have noted, headlines like “Top Republicans, Democrats agree to fast-track trade deals” are deceptive, in that they imply Fast Track is a done deal. In fact, no vote has taken place, so there’s still time to call your Congress critter or write a Letter to the Editor. I just wrote one, based on the idea that TPP over-rides local zoning. That could go over big in Maine, where so many have come and still come to own land.

“Obama said in a statement he was pleased with the [Wyden-Hatch fast track] legislation” [Bloomberg]. All you need to know, right?

“Obama is willing to make concessions. For instance, he is visibly working to ensure that labor advocates receive allowances within a legislative end product” [The Hill]. Oh, please. After card check? How stupid do these people think we are?

As does Ryan, Rubio supports TPP, Brown, Warren, and Sanders are against it, but Clinton “keeps quiet” [Time]. That’s not exactly a profile in courage, is it?

As few as 15 House Democrats might vote for fast-track, “according to dozens of Democratic lawmakers, business group representatives and activists on both sides of the trade fight interviewed by The Hill,” far fewer than the 50 Democrats Boehner has asked the White House to deliver [The Hill]. Of course, the sausage-making has hardly begun… 

Lori Wallach: “[E]very person should find out where their member in the House of Representatives stands on fast track, and just ask them directly. Call the office over the weekend, your member of Congress’s home. Look in the blue pages. Get the local address. Just stop by. A lot of them have office hours” [Democracy Now!]. Again, ISDS, because it’s an outright surrender of sovereignty, works across the political spectrum, left and right.

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) comes out against TPP: “pave the way for another NAFTA-style deal that costs jobs and hurts Pennsylvania’s economy” [Robert P. Casey, Jr.].

“Japan-U.S. trade talks reach ministerial level after ‘fast track’ push in U.S.” [Japan Times]. But it looks like the leadership’s “deal” was part of the skin in the game Japan wanted.

“However, the United States did not manage to ratify NAFTA for almost a full year, delaying implementation to 1994 after passage by the thinnest of margins – three votes in the House of Representatives” [Globe and Mail]. In other words, the idea that passing Fast Track means passing TPP is untrue. And in passing NAFTA, people had not experienced the concrete effects of such deals. Now they have.

“The intellectual property provision of the TPP is essentially a global version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act” [International Business Times].

“We expect the laws that govern our economic lives will be made in a transparent, representative, and accountable fashion. The TPP negotiation process is none of these — it’s secretive, it’s dominated by powerful insiders, and it provides little opportunity for public input” [Vox]. The TPP is not only undemocratic in process, it’s anti-democratic in essence, as a policy goal.

“The deal appears to give high-powered corporate interests the right to edit the American social contract” [Think Progress]. Powerful words, but how much china are “progressives” prepared to break?

350.org comes out against TPP [350.org].

This bill is a climate disaster, and amounts to nothing more than a taxpayer-funded handout to corporations. We’ve seen leaked text showing that TPP would allow fossil fuel companies like Exxon to sue any member country that dares to act on climate, and hold up any law or regulation that hurts their bottom line. That’s an irresponsible giveaway that lets Big Oil handcuff our political systems even more, and would be a giant step backwards in the fight against climate change. Throw in TPP’s total disregard for workers’ rights, health, and safety, and this one’s a no-brainer — it’s a corporate power giveaway that our movement will rise up to stop.

Well, again, how much china will 350.org break?

“The Office of the United States Trade Representative, the agency responsible for negotiating two massive upcoming trade deals, is being led by former lobbyists for corporations that stand to benefit from the deals” [The Intercept]. Shocker! 


“O’Malley is treating the progressive priorities as a road map for his potential challenge to Clinton” [WaPo].

The S.S. Clinton

“Cable television has not been able to get enough of Mrs. Clinton this week, treating her pit stops and political events in the Midwest like breaking news that requires hours of after-action analysis” [New York Times]. As long as they spell the name right…

Republican Establishment

“Far from running from or playing down the views once expressed by his brother George W. Bush, Jeb Bush is embracing them — and emphasizing them” [WaPo]. Which makes sense; nobody ever said W. wasn’t a fine Republican politician, and a two-term President.

Jebbie says he would have done nothing different in the Schiavo case [Politico].

Republican Principled Insurgents

Cruz raises a $1 million in his first week [HuffPo]. Yeah, but from one guy!

Rand Paul on Clinton oppo: “There’s going to be stuff coming out about the Clinton Foundation and their donations from different companies that get special approval from the Secretary of State. Coming out in the next couple of weeks” [Bloomberg]. Anything that Gensler can’t deal with? I guess we’ll see.

“Using exit poll data, the white evangelical vote actually grew slightly as a percentage of the electorate between 2004 (the last Republican presidential win) and 2012” [Wall Street Journal]. In other words, the evangelicals didn’t sit those elections out.

“[T]he voting industry, with an occasional boost from the Pentagon, is succeeding in selling state and local officials on the new technology, despite predictions of likely security breaches” [McClatchy]. Paper ballots, hand-counted in public. That’s the standard.

Stats Watch

Leading indicators, March 2015: “Tepid.”  “The leading strength for March, the jobless claims component, may already be evaporating” [Bloomberg]. “[D]efinitely soft and will not move expectations forward for a Federal Reserve rate hike.”

Consumer sentiment, April 2015: Very strong. Current conditions and expectations both up [Bloomberg]. “Low inflation expectations pose the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy, that consumers will refrain from spending in anticipation that prices will move lower.”

Consumer price index, March 2015: “Higher energy prices coming up from low levels boosted the CPI. But the trend is still soft.” Actual is consensus [Bloomberg]. “Within the core, along with the shelter index, a broad array of indexes rose in March, including medical care, used cars and trucks, apparel, new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and recreation.”


“To shield tech executives, California’s biggest water users are secret” [Reveal]. Thanks, Palo Alto!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“FBI investigating death of teen shot 16 times by Chicago cop” [Chicago Sun-Times].

“Analyzing the Timeline of #Ferguson Campaign Manager & Treasurer, Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious” [@lizzzbrown]. Good intentions are not enough. Lots of lessons to learn here.

Pasadena police arrested [#BlackLivesMatter Jasmine] Richards on Monday for two outstanding warrants for terrorist threats, assault, trespassing, failure to comply with orders of peace officers, disturbing the peace, not having a permit for amplified sound and petty theft” [Pasadena Star-News]. “Terroristic threats”?

Police State

CNN: “Missouri National Guard’s term for Ferguson protesters: ‘Enemy forces'” [CNN].

91 per cent of volunteer or part-time deputies have the authority to be armed [Independent].

“JPay and other prison bankers collect tens of millions of dollars every year from inmates’ families in fees for basic financial services” [Center for Public Integrity]. Feedom. It’s the American way.


“A Seattle grand jury issued a 10-count indictment on Thursday of Washington State Auditor Troy X. Kelley over alleged tax evasion and other crimes [WaPo]. A Democrat.

“De Blasio’s Trojan Horse of Affordable Housing Imposes a Future of ‘Hyper-density'” [Tribeca Trust]. Filing this one under corruption because New York real estate.

Class Warfare

Gawker writers in union drive [Capital New York].

“In summation, indigent protesters must stop dissolving this great city’s ethos by putting their needs for a living wage ahead of Alec Baldwin, whose life is hard enough” [Gothamist].

Texas woman may be fined for feeding the homeless [News.Mic].

News of the Wired

  • Mailman who landed gyrocopter at Capitol sent back to Florida, barred from D.C. [WaPo].
  • How a Malaysian Playboy Controlled the Most Powerful Naval Force on the Planet [Medium]. The U.S. Seventh Fleet.
  • Google to change ranking algorithm on mobile [Tan Gram Media].
  • “[D]irect contributions are a potential source of support for the creation of journalistic enterprises as well as their ongoing operation” [Medium].
  • “The phone companies and automakers realized they were leaving money on the table. Observing the new technology, it simultaneously dawned on the two great industries that the last frontier, the last place you might be safe from invitations to shop or social network, is in your car while driving, listening to your own music, the sound of your loved ones, or perhaps a mellifluous exhaust note. Hundreds of billions of hours wasted, from their point of view” [Automobile]. Jill Berkana: “From a place I never expected to find social commentary.”

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the fifth of “I Wish It Were Spring!” week five (Nippersdad):


I’m so envious! Bees! We are very far from that up here in Zone 5b!

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the heating season!

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. Peter Pan

        This may prove excessive (so you may wish to delete) but I had a good laugh reading his bright shiny bio from the voter’s guide. Especially the part about having worked for the SEC and Department of Justice. I regret having voted for this man as much as I did in voting for Obama in 2008.

        Elected Experience: State Representative. Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee, Past Chairman. Washington Economic Development Association’s Leader Award. Washington Council Police and Sheriffs Legislator of the Year. Endorsed by Realtors, teachers, firefighters, nurses, retirees.

        Other Professional Experience: Business Owner, 1999-present; Lieutenant Colonel, Washington National Guard; Instructor, Army JAG School; Past President, Fortune 500 Company; Regulatory Audits, SEC; Department of Justice.

        Education: BA, University of California, Berkeley; JD, MBA, State University of New York, Buffalo.

        Community Service: Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, Tacoma PTA, VFW, United Way. Youth football and baseball coach. Met wife Diane in 1990. They live in Tacoma with their two sons and attend St. Leo’s Church.

        Statement: Retiring State Auditor Brian Sonntag says, “Troy gets it! He’s the independent voice we need to ensure state dollars are focused on the right priorities. He’s unwavering in his work eliminating waste and holding government accountable, ensuring we have transparent government. We need his kind of leadership.”

        Troy believes in fiscal integrity. Leading by example, he was the first of 147 legislators to voluntarily cut his pay in the economic downturn. Troy is the only candidate in this race to cut his pay and refuse all special session reimbursement payments.

        Troy believes our ability to focus on top priorities like education depends on our ability to manage budgets responsibly. That’s why he voted to uphold the will of the people ensuring lower class sizes, and uphold voter-approved initiatives fighting unfair tax increases. The News Tribune says, “The state needs more of his fiscal prudence. Kelley brings a welcome voice and small business perspective to the House and is strong on veterans issues.” The Moderate Washingtonian said Troy supports “fiscal responsibility but doesn’t waffle and has stood up for basic fairness on issues that matter.”

        Hire Troy Kelley as your next State Auditor. Ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely.

        1. different clue

          As much as I have said against Obama in general, I don’t regret having voted for him in 2008, because I wanted to vote most effectively against a President McCain for 4 or 8 years and then a President Palin for 8 years after that.

          My vote for Obama helped spare us the war with Iran which McCain desperately wanted . . . to whatever extent that matters. Plus Palin doing her Agnew-style part to get student demos started on hundreds of campuses so they could be Tien An Menned. ” Two, three, many Kent States”.

          1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

            Libya still got screwed, though.

            The Bush-Cheney war criminals got away free, and whistle-blowers were prosecuted instead.

            The banksters were showered with money, while huge Democratic majorities were blown to bits.

            Frankly, the rich white guys who own this country got more from Obama than they could have gotten from McCain-Mooselini. And that’s why Wall St. backed Obama in 2008. Goldman Sachs and friends are evil f*ckers, but they’re also shrewd investors.

            1. different clue

              You are correct. But we don’t know if Libya would have gotten any less destroyed under a President Romney. And I didn’t vote for Obama in 2012, I voted for him in 2008, and here it is 2015 and we are still not at war with Iran.
              So I don’t regret that vote for that ( and other McCain/Palin ) reason(s).

            2. different clue

              And as I said, McCain/Palin would have done their best to trigger student riots and Tien An Men suppressions of them all over Campus America. And that’s what I was voting against.

              1. different clue

                And also, plus too anyway besides which . . . I voted for Kucinich in the Michigan primary anyway.

  1. mike

    “Terroristic threats” can just mean saying you’re going to do harm to someone. Assumed new interpretation after 9/11.

      1. hunkerdown

        Actually, “property” is officially on par with “life” as concerns national security issues. Let the American tar baby go. It’s incorrigible.

  2. djrichard


    A statement from the footwear industry, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, hailed the legislation moments after it was announced. In a statement, the group said a Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement had the potential to “save the footwear industry and American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in costs.”

    Yay consumers! So much for labor.

    1. different clue

      Except of course under this law, the disemployed ex-shoemakers won’t be making any money any more for the shoes they don’t make anymore. Which means that they won’t be consumers at all anymore, which means the money they don’t have anymore won’t be spent anywhere anymore, which means it will be deducted from whatever money the people the money would have been spent with would have made, which means those people too will now be that-much-less consumers.

      The money value “stores” lies in the exchanges it is able to mediate.

  3. ginnie nyc

    Thanks, Lambert, for the link to the Tribeca Trust article re: hyperdensity and ‘affordable housing’. The program that finances these frauds, the 421a (80/20, or now 80/30), is indeed temporary and the subsidies begin to erode midway, from year 7-12, depending on the way an individual agreement is written. The social (and structural) divide between subsidized and ‘market’ tenants is severe, and subsidized tenants are bullied and treated with disrespect on a very regular basis by management and building staff. It’s like living in an isolation booth. I recently participated in a city survey on the program, which was clearly aimed at applying a dried-out bandage to inherent corruption. True to form, the payment we were to receive still cannot be accessed 3 months later because Citibank will not fix the problematic debit cards.

      1. ginnie nyc

        Survey participants were told they would receive payment of $60 for their time, in the form of a debit card issued through Citibank. When mailed, they were supposed to be already activated, except they weren’t. A phone call to activate required a zip code; their system didn’t accept any I was instructed to enter by the city. So people have pieces of plastic and no payment-city claims Cbank is still trying to figure out what is wrong.

  4. Ron

    To shield tech executives, California’s biggest water users are secret” [Reveal]. Thanks, Palo Alto!

    Largest industrial waster users is the oil industry primary refineries pumping groundwater both in the East side of San Francisco Bay and LA along the 190

      1. Ron

        My wife works for a major environmental engineering firm that monitors water waste and usage, I know! Water is a major component in oil refining the East side of San Francisco Bay is ringed with refineries and they all pump ground water. High Tech manufacturing not much state side rather its R&D, marketing and software that provide most of the state side tech jobs.

    1. jrs

      Cities are claiming they are protesting the water restriction because water should be served at restaurants and so on. Oh you have got to be kidding me, that is NOT the real reason. That is not a significant use of water even in urban areas. They’re covering for heavier industry with that excuse, for sure.

      And cities are protesting. But if there’s no consensus on water reduction and no water, that’s a problem. It is possible to make a credible case for shared sacrifice, but not if you are meanwhile handing out loopholes for frackers and the like. I know they think they can have their cake and eat it too, push sacrifice on the average urban user while big money donors have none. But that may not work so well. And so no one sacrifices and water is run out of that much faster. Has selling your soul been worth it Jerry Brown?

  5. Foppe

    Yves and others might like this piece by Sady Doyle:

    “I believe men of talent have a part to play,” explains the kindly-slash-murderous eunuch Lord Varys in Sunday night’s premiere. “Any fool with a bit of luck can find himself born into power. But earning it for yourself? That takes work.”

    The language here is more or less indistinguishable from a Tony Robbins seminar. And that’s not an accident. Every character in Game of Thrones lives in an environment of brutal, amoral, unceasing competition, where anyone can and will betray anyone else, where values and ideals are worthless because they prevent one from cultivating a properly sociopathic ambition, and where the audience’s focus and sympathy is encouraged to stay with the most effective sociopaths, who stand around in nice outfits plotting to attain more power and/or complaining that they don’t have enough of it, all while the vast, anonymous masses suffer and starve in filthy, background-filling anonymity.

    Fantasy? Hell: this is corporate America in a codpiece.

    1. TruthAddict

      I was speaking with my wife about this last night. About Game of Thrones specifically, it depicts these Kings and Queens as “Gods among men”, such clever and interesting people. So cunning and crafty (random gay sex scene) they need a thousand slaves to wipe their nose. Such grand schemes they weave (orgy scene turned to massacre). While the servants love their masters unabashedly, often sacrificing (demon clawing its way from mystical vagina) their own lives for the sake of such noble masters.
      Generally, I despise television. I have come to believe that television=brainwashing. All those constant flashes of light, alerting noises, random T&A moments keeping the nervous system off balance and confused. I strongly suspect that we perceive what we watch to be a reality unto itself. A kind of forced collective imagination.
      Might explain why, after years of tv prohibition, I find it so hard to relate to most, of course I am just plain weird too.

      1. ambrit

        “..after years of TV prohibition…”
        You have finally entered the outer fringes of sanity. Weird is just a social control mechanism. One of the better aspects of being English is/was the perception that we tolerated “eccentrics.” Whether true or not, the perception is/was important. It engendered an acceptance of tolerance. In cases like this, the ideal has a superior value to the real. Using things like talk radio and television to define the public discourse gives the purveyors of these media a power far in excess of their actual contributions to the social matrix. Print, though also susceptible to propagandistic machinations, involves the readers judgment to a far greater extent than radio, and especially television. One has to imagine much to construct a print universe. Most TV requires little or no imagination. As most filmmakers know, the best productions show almost nothing of the menace upon which the plot is premised. Everything else is a splatterfest.
        We too got rid of TV years ago, and haven’t looked back.

      2. Jagger


        Absolutely. Social control through brainwashing. And it is easy to point out to almost anyone. So open some eyes.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Or Game of Thrones might be a dramatic retelling of Norse mythology, and most of the characters are gods with invented names. Ned, Robb, and Robert are dead. Jaimie besides strongly resembling Sigmund, the hero of Ragnarok, rejects his family and doesnt have a non-traditional English sounding name. Jon Snow isn’t his birth name. Jeffrey is dead. His brother Tom the man is a powerless, child king. Man of the other characters have names that mean godly in cultures away from the reach of the Vikings. George RR Martin has said people won’t like the end for a reason. I would say enjoy the ride instead of worrying about brainwashing. It’s way better than a retelling of the Bible.

        On the plus side, the BBC is all set to make Bernard Cornwell’s Viking books.

        1. ambrit

          BBC is!? I immediately started wondering how they would stage a ‘shield wall’ battle scene. Life was bloody and grim back then. No wonder the Vikings had a bunch of bloody minded murderers for gods.
          As for a ‘retelling of the bible,’ I just finished rereading Steinbecks’ “East of Eden.” There’s what a good retelling of the Bible can look like.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The Sharpe series used reenactors. The battles weren’t grand affairs, but for the time they were made and budget, I liked them. At least in the last Uthred story I read, I’m pretty certain it was raining during the big brouhaha. Like Sharpe, I never read them in order so I can’t order the battles in my head particularly well, but there were only 300 or so men at another big battle in another book. Uthred can be kept away from the main host easily enough.

            Sharpie was written out of order. I loved the bbc version of Sharpe’s Tiger. The big battle occurs offscreen, and we follow Sharp. The BBC even managed to get Sergeant Harper to India with a few creative changes.

            “East of Eden” is good, so the Bible can be entertaining. Unfortunately, “Plan 9 from Outer Space” is the rule not the exception when you keep going to the same well.

            1. ambrit

              I take your point about the “up close and personal” nature of most battles. (I distinctly remember the raw fear I felt when I realized during a schoolyard brawl that there were some people in this world who were conscienceless b——s.)
              As far as “Plan Nine From Outer Space” is concerned, if you have not seen it yet, do watch Tim Burtons’ “Ed Wood.” Truth is stranger than fiction.
              As for “..keep[ing] going to the same well..”, well, how about our present economic management? That well has run dry, and our “Masters of the Universe” tell us to drink Kool Aid! Tom Woolfe would be proud.

              1. skippy

                Sociopolitical advocacy… dressed up as an ideology… and comported to academic status w/ the term science whacked on for good measure… is what you call “Economic Management”.

                Skippy… yet there are those – that still labour – to understand economic theory and sound quantification, the difference seems to be a funding issue over some decades….

      4. Demeter

        I have the same problem..cut the cable back in 2004 or so and never went back. If there’s something worth watching (or suitable for the Kid) it comes out on DVD eventually, and with no commercial interruptions!

        Not only am I totally cut off from popular culture (only listen to classical music, by choice), I don’t even know who most of the GOP politicians are…and the Democrats are so good at keeping their light under a bushel…I might as well be a hermit!

  6. words


    Thanks Palo Alto

    You ,might want to add that same shout out to Federal House Representative, Anna Eshoo – 1993 to current – (with no break in between), as a Palo Alto/Mountain View area, GUT of Silicon Valley House Rep.

    Anna’s office (last I knew, as I tried to force myself into believing Dems might be at least a tad less evil) was (and likely still is) a quick walk from Thiel’s Horrid Palantir/NSA/CIA,MIC, et al Offices, on 100 Alma, Suite 300, at the corner of Alma (parallel, and between, El Camino Real and Middlefield road/Highway 101) and Hamilton, in Palo Alto, California. (Alma, becomes Central Expressway once entering Mountain View and heading towards San Jose).

  7. Greenbacker

    fwiw, the true ‘credit bubble’ is building again. Another boom/bust cycle is beginning in the US. seeing it RE big time in Arizona again. Lenders are pushing sales and reducing requirements for a loan. Capital fled commodities in October helping spur lenders to get back at it again.

    I suspect a nice surge in sales this year with construction taking a pretty big leap(there is always a lag). Won’t probably look size wise, as impressive as 2001-6 or 1983-89, but demographically adjusted, just as large. Forget Greece.

  8. LifelongLib

    Quote of (at least) the day:

    “…Science will really impress me when they do something about the tragically short lifespans of dogs and cats. …The fact that we’re not seeing biotech doubling our beloved companions’ lifespans is a pretty strong indicator they’re nowhere near doing anything about our own.

    It just feels like more empty Tomorrowland promises, meant to take our attention away from an increasingly turbulent geopolitical reality.”


    1. Demeter

      Aren’t there at least 20 more important things to worry about? Issues and conditions that are universal, life-threatening, and endangering the species and the planet?

  9. Pepsi

    The “it’s all over now, tpp is happening, lalala” is a standard propaganda ploy. You tell people that something is inevitable to interrupt their objections. “It’s happening, time to move on, *in a menacing voice* folks.

  10. Demeter

    Hantz Woodlands to plant 5,000 more trees on once-blighted lots in Detroit


    More than 1,400 volunteers last May planted 15,000 saplings in a desolate section of Detroit once consumed with blight. This year, the future inner-city forest will expand to include 5,000 more.

    The land, nearly 180 acres, is a collection of abandoned lots last owned by the city of Detroit following years of foreclosure. Hantz Woodlands, with the blessing of Gov. Rick Snyder, purchased the land, about 1,300 parcels, for just over $500,000 in 2013. Hantz Woodlands cleared the lots, removed debris, overgrowth, trash, tires, more than 50 rotting homes and is now planting trees…

    “Join us on May 9 as we continue to transform blight to beauty on Detroit’s lower east side with the planting of 5,000 tulip poplar trees,” the Facebook page says. “In addition to tree planting, there will be live music, equipment demonstrations, face painting, educational tours and complimentary food.”

    Volunteers planted about 20 acres in 2014 and will plant another five this year, says Hantz Farms President Mike Score. Hantz Woodlands is the brainchild of business mogul John Hantz, a Detroit resident and the CEO of Hantz Financial in Southfield who said he was sick of looking all of the blight driving to and from his home in Indian Village. The project faced some adversity early on from opponents who saw it as a speculative land grab, but seems to have won over many, including Mayor Mike Duggan and, perhaps most importantly, numerous residents who have told MLive over the last two years their neighborhoods look better than they have in a long time.

    Score said the for-profit company plans to sell the lumber produced in a couple decades to offset maintenance costs. It will also likely benefit in the long term from increasing land values.

    The company mows 180 acres bi-weekly and has about 80 acres left to totally clear in preparation for planting, Score said Friday. He said the plan is to grow the trees for about 10 years in tight rows,causing them to grow taller and straighter, and then “thin” them by transplanting some to other open lots. Score believes community support will continue with the second annual planting event.

    “We don’t have any goals, we just want people to come out and have a good time,” he said. “I think we’ll have more than we had last year.

    “It wouldn’t surprise me if we had about 2,000.”


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