We Must Have Fewer Disposable Neighborhoods, More Good Green Jobs

By Ben Jealous
Nicknames like the Motor City and Motown make clear that the auto industry built Detroit. Cars did a lot to give the neighborhoods in and around the 48217 zip code on the city’s southwest side their nickname too — Michigan’s most polluted zip code.
A Ford plant, a U.S. Steel mill and, most prominently, a Marathon Oil refinery that’s the only one in the state and one of the nation’s largest have fouled the air for decades in what locals call the Tri-Cities. In all, the Environmental Protection Agency monitors more than four dozen polluters in the area that’s home to poor Blacks and Hispanics.
In the mid-1960s, Interstate 75 dissected what was a vibrant neighborhood and added the fumes of 100,000 cars and trucks a day. Many trace their roots to the 13 original families that settled there in the Great Migration, and houses are a big part of neighborhood families’ wealth.
Residents of the 48217 have fought for years to slow the pollution, protesting, and appearing at public hearings for decades. The corporate interests have won more often than not.
The city historically traded the promise of jobs for residents’ interests. Marathon promised 51 percent of jobs at the refinery would go to city residents when it won a $175 million tax abatement for an expansion in 2007; a decade later 6 percent of the workforce was from Detroit.
We’re at a moment when we can change these patterns, when places across the country like the Tri-Cities can get relief and we can stop creating them in the first place. The hundreds of billions that the federal government has committed to infrastructure and clean energy – more money than we spent sending astronauts to the moon – can do that.
For example, there’s $3 billion alone set aside for communities like 48217 that have felt the most environmental and climate harm. It’s not enough, but it’s a significant start.
When it comes to the auto industry, our country is spending heavily to speed the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), from a $9.2 billion loan the Energy Department gave Ford and its South Korean partner this summer to build battery plants to $7,500 tax credits for car buyers who choose new EVs. We’re lowering the cost of supplying the bigger demand for EVs that we are building for automakers at the same time.
It begs the question why Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis are trying to make the work to build EVs less desirable for their 150,000 employees represented by the United Auto Workers. Their contract expires in less than two weeks.
A critical part of the negotiations underway is the question of how workers in plants making EVs will be treated. It’s a question not just for this contract, but for years to come as EVs become the standard for U.S. car buyers.
The automakers are forming joint ventures to open battery plants where they don’t have to pay the wages that they do at vehicle assembly plants. The union points to the starting pay at an Ohio battery plant that’s half the top pay at gas powered car plants. The companies also are placing new plants in Southern states with right-to-work laws to avoid unions.
The people who make cars shouldn’t have to choose between a green, sustainable job and one that pays good wages they’ve negotiated. That’s not what American taxpayers expect in return for the incentives flowing to the auto industry.
Ben Jealous is executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. He is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Never Forget Our People Were Always Free,” published in January.

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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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