Wednesday, August 22, 2007

As of the census² of 2000, there were 61,799 people, 23,182 households, and 15,114 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,368.2/km² (3,542.9/mi²). There were 25,639 housing units at an average density of 567.6/km² (1,469.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 47.02% White, 43.26% African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 5.86% from other races, and 3.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.75% of the population.
There were 23,182 households out of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.9% were married couples living together, 27.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the city the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 87.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,485, and the median income for a family was $29,945. Males had a median income of $31,614 versus $22,714 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,816. About 24.7% of families and 28.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.2% of those under age 18 and 16.3% of those age 65 or over.


Main article: History of Saginaw, Michigan History
Saginaw is classified as a Home Rule City under the Michigan Home Rule Cities Act which permits cities to exercise "Home Rule" powers, among which is the power to frame and adopt its own City Charter which serves as the fundamental law of the city, in a manner similar to a Constitution for a national or state government. The present Charter was adopted in 1935 and took effect on January 6, 1936.

Government and politics

Council-Manager form of government
Pursuant to the City Charter, Saginaw is governed by a nine member elected at-large Council. The term of office for a member of the City Council is four years commencing with the first meeting following a regular municipal election. The terms of Council members are staggered so that the entire Council is not subject to re-election at the same time; alternatively either four or five members are elected in each odd-numbered year.
In July of 2007, Councilperson Willie Haynes pleaded guilty in Federal Court to one count of filing false labor union financial statements in excess of five thousand and less than ten thousand dollars. The crime occurred between 2001 and 2003, while he was treasurer of the UAW local at the General Motors Powertrain plant in Bay City, Michigan.
Councilperson Haynes has decided to remain in office. While he pled guilty to filing false information, a media report in the Saginaw News stated that he actually embezzled between ten thousand and twenty thousand dollars from the Union. However, a conviction for his actual crime would have removed him from office under the terms of the City Charter.
See also: List of City Council members

City Council
The members of the Council select one of its own members to serve as Mayor for a two year term. The Mayor is chosen at the first meeting following a regular municipal election and a Mayor pro-tempore (usually simply called "Mayor pro-tem") at the same time. The Mayor's principal function is to preside at meetings of the City Council. The Mayor has the prerogative to make some appointments to various boards and commissions, and otherwise serves in a ceremonial role. The current Mayor is Carol B. Cottrell and the Mayor pro-tempore is Wilmer Jones Ham.
Mayor pro-tem Ham has currently (as of 2007) been charged with two felonies for her role in an unusual fire situation. The county prosecutor for a nearby county has been asked to assume authority over the matter to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Mayor pro-tem Ham has refused to step down during the criminal case. In an April, 2007 media report it was reported that Ham's charges had been increased from a five year felony to a ten year felony at a preliminary hearing.
Originally Ham's landscaper was blamed for the alleged arson. As of June 2007, the landscaper has been arrested at the request of Ham's attorney while dining at the local Old Country Buffet, and he has been ordered to remain in jail until Ham can use his testimony at her felony trial.
If Ham is convicted of the charge before her term of office ends in November she will be removed from office.
See also: List of Mayors of Saginaw

Mayor and Mayor Pro-tempore
Actual executive power is vested in a city manager, who is a city employee appointed by the City Council. The position of city manager has been, at times, caught up in an ongoing, sometimes racial, fight for city control. Many of the employees filling the position have been fired after short periods of time in office. The present city manager is Darnell Earley who was selected by the City Council at its June 5, 2006 meeting. Prior to his appointment, Earley had been serving as interim city manager since September, 2005 after the previous officeholder, Cecil Collins, was removed from office by the City Council.
See also: List of city managers

City Manager
A Charter Revision Commission is undertaking a process of drafting and proposing for voter approval a new city charter for the City of Saginaw.

City Charter revision
Under the provisions of the Home Rule Cities Act, the voters of the city elected a nine member Charter Revision Commission on November 2, 2004. The Commissioners begun their three-year term of office on November 16, 2004. If the body fails to complete its task during this time it will automatically dissolve. This Commission has the power to frame a new city charter and submit it for adoption or rejection by the voters. During the campaign for electing the Commission, the major issues included the stability of the City Manager form of government for the City. Earlier in the same year, City Manager Deborah Kimble had been removed from office by the City Council under contentious circumstances after having only served for 18 months. Ethnic and Racial division on the City Council that led to the office of Mayor having been held for eight years by Gary L. Loster, an African-American, followed by Wilmer Jones Ham, also an African-American, for four years fueled a push by the main proponents for Charter Revision for having the Mayor of Saginaw directly elected by the voters rather than the City Council. Other prominent issues were a desire to have the council elected by wards rather than from the city at-large and increased efficiency and accountability in city government. Much of the latter issue was prompted by well-publicized reports of mismanagement of money by certain city officials. The leading proponents of charter revision in the election were the father and son duo of Allen C. Schmid and Gregory C. Schmid, both attorneys.

The Commission's Chairwoman is Susan Carter who previously had served as a member of the City Council and Mayor pro tempore. A majority of the Commission consists of members who strongly favor a revision of a charter rather than a more conservative process of amending the current charter.

Michigan's Governor Jennifer M. Granholm reviewed the proposed charter upon having received a report from the Attorney General and returned it to the Charter Commission with her approval for being submitted to a vote of the City's electors. The proposal to be submitted to the voters is the second version presented for review by the Attorney General, the first version was reviewed by the Attorney General's staff and given a recommendation to reject. The Charter Commission subsequently revised the Charter draft. If the Charter proposal is rejected by the voters at the August 7, 2007 election, the Commission would only have one remaining available election date (November 6, 2007) at which to submitted another proposal before it's term ends on November 16, 2007.

Current Status
The Commission's proposal calls for combining the police and fire departments into a single Public Safety Department. Under this plan, by the year 2020 all police officers will become fully trained and certified fire fighters and all fire fighters will become fully trained and certified police officers. All police and fire stations in the city will function as dual-purpose public safety stations. The proposal also limits the ability for disciplined or terminated city employees to sue the city. The districts for the election of city council members each stretch across the city from the west to the east city limits containing territory of both the west side and east side. Because of the historical trend of lower voter turnout on the east side, it is argued by some that the districts could limit the representation for east side by ensuring the election of a council consisting of nearly all west side residents. The revised charter proposal would pay the Mayor a full-time salary and the Council members would be paid more. The plan has been criticized because of the City's present financial distress. The plan would consolidate the city's operations into seven departments. A controversial provision of the proposed charter is the creation of an office of Ombudsman. According to the document, the ombudsman would have broad investigative powers. The review by the Attorney General found some powers of the office to be illegal. Once such example is the power to compel affidavits from those who aren't city employees. The ombudsman's office was especially criticized by the Police Officers Association of Michigan whose affiliate represents the police officers of the City of Saginaw.

The city itself is in an extreme budget crisis. A "cap" on property taxes was imposed in 1978 by means of an amendment to the City Charter adopted by the voters, on both the method of imposing the tax and on the total amount that can be collected. The city, formerly having a population of approximately 100,000 in the 1960s, is trying to support itself with an income tax imposed on those businesses which still remain within city limits — and those persons still employed who reside within the city. However, the many retired city employees require a large amount of the city's budget, and police, fire, and recreation have all suffered. Saginaw owns a large and very popular water park, but it has been closed for three years (as of 2006).

Budget and finance
The City levies a rubbish collection millage and charges a $50 special assessment to each household. These collected fees will raise $3.1 million of the $3.6 million budgeted (for 2007) for the Rubbish Collection Fund.
From this fund, the City pays Waste Management $3.59 per house per month for rubbish collection and $1.62 per house per month (for eight months only) for yard waste collection. The 2007 budget is calculated on 23,258 households, for a total of $1.303 million.
This fund also covers landfill tipping fees paid to Waste Management, totaling just under $604,000 for 2007, for a total contract with the company for $1.9 million.
This has led some to believe and report that the City is illegally using the remaining $1.7 million. But the Rubbish Collection fund also includes related services such as environmental improvement and enforcement, brush collection and the operation of a large composting facility.
Despite the outsourcing of collection and removal, the City still has staff in place to oversee various aspects of the rubbish collection process, as well as legacy costs such as pensions and retiree health care. Additionally, like most cities, Saginaw practices cost allocation accounting, in which general administrative salaries and other services funded from the General Fund that are directed toward the rubbish and composting operations be charged back to that account.
Misuse of funds collected through a special assessment is a violation of state law. Some have questioned the City's adherence to this law. State law enforcement officials are not among them, and those who question it appear to not be familiar with the entire fund budget or the budgeting process.

Trash assessment issues
To quote from the April 17, 2007 Saginaw News:
Two Saginaw City Council members are calling for Saginaw Housing Commissioners Frederick D. Ford and Al Holiday to quit in the wake of a series of missteps at the public housing agency. City Councilmen Andrew Wendt and William Federspiel made the demand after they and their colleagues grilled Commission Executive Director Duane L. Walker for 90 minutes Monday night. "Right now, Fred Ford and Al Holiday are putting a dark cloud over the city," Wendt said. "I asked them to step down for the betterment of the residents they serve." Ford, who was present when Wendt called for his ouster, said after the meeting he would "absolutely not" comment. The Saginaw News could not reach Holiday. Housing leaders ran afoul of federal regulators with an improper half-million-dollar real estate deal and tried to bail themselves out by entering into a failed deal with self-styled Bishop Frumentius, who is four-time fraud convict Daniel E. Phelps. Not only are council members struggling with how much oversight to exert, but housing officials are awaiting a judgment on sanctions they face for their mistakes. Officials from both sides say they are in limbo awaiting the government's next move. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development enforcement officials have not responded to a U.S. inspector general's September finding that the commission misspent more than $570,000. The inspector general recommended sanctions that include a range of punishments from suspension up to firing. Ford, Holiday and Commission President Parrish Anderson face sanctions.
Other media reports indicite that Housing money was also spent on a social event held by Mayor Jones-Ham during her term at Mayor. To quote the September 28, 2006, Executive Summary of a US Dept of Housing Inspector General Report on the issue:
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Inspector General audited the Saginaw Housing Commission's (Commission) Public Housing Operating Fund program (program). We initiated the audit based on a request from the Detroit Office of Public Housing for HUD. The audit was also part of the activities in our fiscal year 2006 annual audit plan. Our objective was to determine whether the Commission properly used its program funds subject to its annual contributions contract, other agreements, or federal regulations for the benefit of its program residents. The Commission improperly acquired the Saginaw County Fairgrounds property (property), which included a harness raceway, using its program funds. Without required HUD approval, the Commission used nearly $536,000 in program funds to pay for the property's acquisition costs. Because of the Commission's improper use of these funds, its program also lost more than $25,000 in interest income that would have been realized if the funds had been invested. The Commission failed to file a required declaration of trust to evidence its covenant not to convey or encumber the property and to protect HUD's rights and interests. Further, the Commission entered into eight rooftop lease agreements without required HUD approval and did not restrict more than $12,000 in revenue to pay for program expenses. Instead, the revenue paid for inappropriate expenses such as meals and refreshments for its board meetings, appraisal services related to the purchase of the property, and contributions to the mayor of the City of Saginaw's (City) college scholarship fund and other events honoring the City's mayors. We recommend that the director of HUD's Detroit Office of Public Housing require the Commission to (1) reimburse its program for the inappropriate use of funds and lost interest income cited in this report, (2) file a declaration of trust on the property if it has not been sold, (3) submit its current rooftop lease agreements to HUD for approval, and (4) implement adequate procedures and controls to address the findings contained in this report. We also recommend that the director of HUD's Departmental Enforcement Center pursue administrative sanctions against the Commission's former executive director and its board members involved in the improper purchase of the property.
Complete report at HUD Website: link

Saginaw Housing Commission Issues
As of 2006, the City has seen a very large increase in criminal shootings and armed robberies. The city has also seen an increase in arson, which claimed about 60 abandoned homes in the ten days following Halloween 2006 alone. A look at Saginaw's violent crime rates revealed the following:
Murder, 3.47 times the national average.
Rape, 3.38 times the national average.
Robbery, 1.31 times the national average.
Aggravated assault, 6.30 times the national average.
Arson, 4.92 times the national average.
Overall violent crime, 4.55 times the national average.
The city's budget woes and a dysfunctional city council, plus a dysfunctional police/union and police racial/political relationship are widely blamed. A proposal has been placed on the county ballot to tax the entire county as an additional public safety tax, with the money to be given to the non-Saginaw City major police departments in the county, who would hire officers using that money and be responsible for the retirement and health benefits of those officers.
The officers would then be assigned to a task force, sworn as deputies by the sheriff to gain county wide powers, and would function as a second police force for the City. It is thought that as they will be outside the current political and union problems they will be able to effectively patrol and arrest criminals.
During the August 8, 2006 election the proposal was soundly defeated by a 20% margin. Local democratic leaders are publicly pondering whether to seek a scaled back version of the plan, seek slightly more taxes to increase the number of regular deputies, or lay off some existing deputies to allow crime to increase in the county outlying areas and thereby make the voters more supportive of additional police.
An additional internal City ballot proposal was proposed and placed for vote at a special election held on May 2, 2006 to seek additional taxes, up to 6 mills on the taxable value of property, within the City to maintain the current level of officers. This authorization passed with a vote of 7758 in favor and 3417 against, despite a strong expectation that it would fail by many among the local news media and general public. A prior attempt to seek additional funding by means of a special tax levy, proposed at a special election failed a year earlier in May 2005.

Crime and Law Enforcement Issues
Saginaw does own a water treatment system which supplies drinking and industrial water to most of the surrounding areas within the county. Recently, the city has forbidden any new residents or employers from moving into the county unless their neighboring governments agree to "425 Agreements," which are state-permitted agreements under which the city can impose its property and income taxes on residents or employers moving into the county.
The City of Saginaw, along with the City of Midland, constructed a 65 mile long pipeline in 1948 to supply water from Lake Huron at White Stone Point, north of Au Gres, Michigan. Midland and Saginaw jointly own and operate this water supply system. A criticism of Saginaw's policies with regard to providing water to adjacent suburbs is that the City greatly enabled commercial, residential and industrial growth to take place outside of the city limits which led to the decline of the tax base inside the city limits. Some argue that had the city required that developers wishing to receive city water and sewer services petition to be annexed to the city, the city would have thereby expanded its boundaries and continued to incorporate the growing tax base that now is present in such areas as Saginaw Charter Township and Kochville Township.

Municipal water supply
Saginaw, as well as Saginaw County as a whole, has long been a bastion for the Democratic party. During the 2006 midterm election, Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm received 49,556 (61%) votes to opponent Dick DeVos' 30,684 (38%) votes in Saginaw County. Saginaw is located within Michigan's 5th congressional district and is represented in the 110th United States Congress by Dale E. Kildee, (D). In the State Legislature, the City of Saginaw is in the 32nd State Senate District represented by Roger Kahn, a Republican, and in the 95th State Representative District represented by Andrew Coulouris, a Democrat.


The Saginaw Public Schools District (SPSD) is the school district that controls 26 public elementary, middle and high schools in Saginaw and 1 elementary school in the nearby City of Zilwaukee. The service area comprising the district includes the City of Saginaw, City of Zilwaukee and Kochville Township, all within Saginaw County. The district is governed by a seven member elected board of education. The board selects a superintendent for the district. The current superintendent is Dr. Gerald D. Dawkins.
Like many urban U.S. school districts, SPSD suffered with a number of problems throughout the latter half of the 20th century, including overcrowding, underfunding, mismanagement and a high dropout rate. A number of school reform initiatives have since been undertaken to improve the system's performance.

Public education
Neighboring Area Public High Schools

Arthur Hill High School
Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy
Saginaw High School
Carrollton High School
Heritage High School
Buena Vista High School
Bridgeport High School
Swan Valley High School Public high schools
Saginaw is home to a number of private elementary and secondary school programs, some of which are located within the City itself, and others which include the City of Saginaw within their areas of service.

Private education

St. Josaphat (Closed)
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Stephen
St. Helen
Sts. Peter and Paul
Peace Lutheran School
Bethlehem Lutheran School
Holy Cross Lutheran School Private grade schools
Private High Schools

Michigan Lutheran Seminary
Community Baptist Christian School
Valley Lutheran High School (Michigan) — Located in Saginaw Township
Grace Christian School
Nouvel Catholic Central High School — Located in Saginaw Township Private schools
The City of Saginaw is located within the community college district of Delta College. Although not located within the city, Saginaw Valley State University located in nearby Kochville Township enrolls and employs a substantial number of city residents. Central Michigan University, Off-Campus Programs, offers Bachelor's and Master's degree programs to working adults in an accelerated format in Kochville Township. Davenport University, a private academic institution which formerly occupied a campus in downtown Saginaw that relocated to Kochville Township in 2002, also enrolls a large number of city residents.
See also: List of schools in Saginaw, Michigan

Higher education

Local Media

WNEM-TV (Channel 5), CBS
WJRT-TV (Channel 12), ABC (Flint)
WDCP-TV (Channel 19), PBS (Bay City-University Center)
WEYI-TV (Channel 25), NBC
WBSF-TV (Channel 46), CW
WAQP-TV (Channel 49), Tri-State Christian TV/TBN
WSMH-TV (Channel 66), Fox (Flint) TV stations
Radio stations licensed within the immediate Saginaw area (Saginaw County) are listed. See also Bay City, Midland, and Flint.

790 AM WSGW - News/Talk Newsradio 790
1250 AM WNEM - All News
1400 AM WSAM - Light Adult Contemporary The Bay 1400AM
90.9 FM WTRK - Contemporary Christian Air 1
93.3 FM WKQZ - Modern Rock The Rock Station – licensed to Midland, although studios are in Saginaw.
93.7 FM WRCL - Rhythmic Contemporary Hits Club 93-7
94.5 FM WCEN - Country 94.5 The Moose
96.1 FM WHNN - Classic Hits 96 WHNN
97.3 FM WMJO - 80's/90's Rock/Alternative 97.3 JOE FM
98.1 FM WKCQ - Country 98FM KCQ
100.5 FM WSGW - News/Talk (not complete simulcast of AM 790)
102.5 FM WIOG - Top 40
104.1 FM WSAG - Simulcast of 1400 AM The Bay
104.5 FM WILZ - Classic Rock Wheelz 104.5 & 101
106.3 FM WGER - Bright Adult Contemporary Magic 106.3
107.1 FM WTLZ - Mainstream Urban Hot 107.1 Radio stations
Charter Communications operates a cable television network servicing the City of Saginaw under a franchise agreement.

Saginaw, Michigan Cable Television

The Saginaw News — Daily — estimated circulation near 50,000 daily
Review Magazine — Bi-Weekly
The Saginaw Press — Weekly Newspapers

There is a memorable reference to Saginaw in Paul Simon's song "America" which was written at the Saginaw YMCA after a concert.
Country music singer Lefty Frizzell recorded a hit song entitled "Saginaw, Michigan". It was later discovered that Lefty was actually singing about Saginaw Bay, not the city of Saginaw. He had apparently gone on a fishing trip on the bay with a relative, which prompted the song.
On a two part episode of Seinfeld (The Bottle Deposit, Part 1 and Part 2), characters Newman and Cosmo Kramer conduct a plan to drive empty soda pop cans to Saginaw to receive Michigan's ten cents-per-can deposit while transporting mail from New York City to the regional mail sorting facility.
Tin Pan Alley artist Isham Jones was raised in Saginaw. It was while he was working in a coal mine and daydreaming about being a musician that he crashed his mule train. Even though no one was injured, it scared him so much that he left and never came back.
The city is mentioned in numerous episodes of the TV show, Home Improvement, which was set in Michigan.
During the first week of October 2006, "Saginaw" was the bonus puzzle on the game show Wheel of Fortune. Pat Sajak asked co-host Vanna White if she had ever been to Saginaw, to which she responded that she had, and it was a very nice city.
An episode ("Nightmare") of the TV show Supernatural was set in Saginaw.
As a part of his 50 States project, on the album Michigan Sufjan Stevens sings "Saginaw Saginaw".
The Marx Brothers performed their vaudville act for an entire week at the Jeffers Theatre in Saginaw, Michigan starting June, 18th 1911. The price of admission was $0.10. This was 2 decades before they achieved worldwide fame.
In "The Big Chill," Harold Cooper (Kevin Kline) and Nick Carlton (William Hurt) discuss almost buying some land near Saginaw when they were in college. Saginaw in entertainment

Notable natives

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