Carol O’Cleireacain: Why is a Marxist Running Detroit’s Economic Recovery?
By: Trevor Loudon
In October of 2014, new Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan appointed Dr. Carol O’Cleireacain as Deputy Mayor for Economic Policy, Planning & Strategy.
According to Mayor Duggan, O’Cleireacain would be responsible for identifying “outside sources of funding” for the city so that it becomes financially stable outside of bankruptcy.
“Our ability to live within the Plan of Adjustment once it is approved can’t rely solely on traditional revenue sources because they can fluctuate based on conditions we can’t control,” Duggan said in a statement. “I’ve charged Dr. O’Cleireacain with identifying new funding sources to help insulate ourselves against these unknowns so the city can provide a consistent level of service.”
Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr had hired O’Cleireacain before the Mayor and Detroit City Council legally revoked his powers. Duggan, however, continued the appointment when he retook full control of the city.
“Mayor Duggan is setting a strong tone of fiscal accountability with his administration and I’m thrilled to have been asked to play a role,” O’Cleireacain said in a statement. “The mayor is building a great team that is going to transform the way Detroit meets the needs of its residents for years to come.”
Sounds great – except that Carol O’Cleireacain has been a card-carrying Marxist, who presided over New York City’s finances during one of the Big Apple’s most depressed periods, the 1990-93 Dinkins’ mayoralty.
O’Cleireacain came to Detroit from New York City, where she is a nonresident senior fellow at the leftist Brookings Institute, a think tank that is based in Washington, DC and an adjunct faculty in management and urban policy at the even more leftist New School. She is also a member of the “nonprofit, nonpartisan” Council on Foreign Relations.
O’Cleireacain moved to New York City in 1976 at the height of that city’s fiscal crisis and served 13 years as chief economist at District Council 37 AFSCME, a union notoriously controlled by Marxists led by the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. DSOC, would in 1982, merge with the New American Movement (an amalgam of mainly former Students for a Democratic Society and Communist Party USA members) to form Democratic Socialists of America.
O’Cleireacain was first identified as a Democratic Socialists of America member in DSA’s Democratic Left, Sep./Oct. 1987, page 9, while she was serving as assistant to the executive director of AFSCME, District Council 37, Stanley Hill – another DSAer.
In 1990, another DSA comrade, David Dinkins, was elected mayor of New York on the back of a big campaign mounted by DSA, organized labor and the Communist Party.
Dinkins immediately appointed several Marxists to key positions in his administration (including current Mayor Bill de Blasio and Carol O’Cleireacain.
DSA’s Democratic Left, May/June 1990, page 8, proudly noted that their member, Carol O’Cleireacain, had been appointed Commissioner of Finance for New York City.
The same year, Democratic Socialists of America sent a delegation to the October 1990 Socialist International meeting in New York, which included DSA’s permanent representative to the SI, Bogdan Denitch; DSA Honorary Chair, Cornel West; Pat Belcon, a DSA NPC member; Motl Zelmanowicz, a “DSAer active in the Jewish Labor Bund;” Jo-Ann Mort, a DSA NPC member; Jack Sheinkman, president of ACTWU; Terri Burgess, chair of the DSA youth Section; Skip Roberts, Chair of DSA’s Socialist International Committee; and NYC Commissioner of Finance, Carol O’Cleireacain. She had briefly became NYC budget director in the last days of the Dinkins’ administration.
The Center for Democratic Values, a “progressive think-tank” developed with Democratic Socialists of America sponsorship, made its first public appearance at the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York, on April 12-14. 1996. CDV cosponsored two panels at the conference and held a reception to introduce the Center to the assembled socialist scholars and activists.
The first panel dealt with rethinking the role of government. The discussion centered around a paper authored by DSA member and CDV organizer David Belkin (a policy and budget analyst in the office of the Manhattan Borough President), which “challenged the left to seriously reopen the issue of the role of government in a democratic society.” Carol O’Cleireacain, former New York City Budget Director, another member of the panel, “stressed the need for the left to pay more attention to organization and management as well as policy and structure, the traditional focuses of socialist theories.”
Here is a photo from the late 1980s of Carol O’Cleireacain wearing the badge of DSA’s Institute for Democratic Socialism. DSA’s “rose and fist” symbol can be clearly seen.
As late as 2009, O’Cleireacain was still serving on the Editorial Board of Dissent Magazine, alongside well known DSA comrades Joanne Barkan, Paul Berman, Mitchell Cohen, Bogdan Denitch, Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Todd Gitlin, Michael Kazin, Deborah Meier, Harold Meyerson, Jo-Ann Mort, Patricia Cayo Sexton and Cornel West.
Detroiters are wise to remember that DSA played a big role in wrecking Detroit in the first place. After socialists seized control of the United Auto Workers, they used union muscle and money to elect Marxist politicians all over the state – including to the Detroit City Council.
One of their greatest victories was the election in 1973 of Coleman Young, a bona fide Communist Party member posing as a Democrat, to the Detroit mayoralty.
Young presided over a Council, stacked with socialists, whose cronyism, corruption and over-regulation drove an already teetering city off the financial cliff. Socialist influence on the Council continued until recent times under DSA aligned Councillors Maryann Mahaffey, and JoAnn Watson, revolutionary Marxist Ken Cockrel, Sr., and Communist Party supporters Erma Henderson and Clyde Cleveland.
While in charge of New York City’s finances, Carol O’Cleireacain computerized the city’s tax system, massively increasing revenues. Sound fiscal policy perhaps, but not the kind of shock Detroit’s very fragile business community could easily handle today.
But Carol O’Cleireacain may not actually care that much about private businesses anyway.
In an article in DSA’s Democratic Left, Spring 2007, DSA National Political Committee member and Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America Chairman David Green, wrote in support of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) – or “card check”.
What distinguishes socialists from other progressives is the theory of surplus value. According to Marx, the secret of surplus value is that workers are a source of more value than they receive in wages. The capitalist is able to capture surplus value through his ownership of the means of production, his right to purchase labor as a commodity, his control over the production process, and his ownership of the final product. Surplus value is the measure of capital’s exploitation of labor…
Green went on to write:
Our goal as socialists is to abolish private ownership of the means of production. Our immediate task is to limit the capitalist class’s prerogatives in the workplace…
In the short run we must at least minimize the degree of exploitation of workers by capitalists. We can accomplish this by promoting full employment policies, passing local living wage laws, but most of all by increasing the union movement’s power…
Will this be Carol O’Cleireacain’s strategy for “saving” Detroit? More taxes, more regulations, stronger unions? Where will the “outsourced” revenue come from? What happens when American businesses and taxpayers are bled dry? Chinese interests?
Hasn’t America’s once greatest city suffered enough from socialists?
Trevor Loudon is an author, activist and political researcher from Christchurch New Zealand.
He is best known for exposing the ties between a young Barack Obama and Hawaiian Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis, as well as exposing the communist background of former Obama “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones. Loudon’s latest book, The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress, is designed to expose the comprehensive communist, socialist and extreme progressive infiltration of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.