Saturday, July 12, 2008

The More Things Change....

Detroit has become a national laughingstock of late, what with the mayoral scandal, school board scandal and city council scandal. Or....has Detroit long been a laughingstock? Seriously. Consider this:
..Most people simply take the black complexion of the administration for granted. After all, [he] is not exactly the first big-city mayor to provide patronage and power to his own supporters. But [he] has done more than broaden access to the pork barrel. Under him, Detroit has ... all the trappings of a third-world city - showcase projects, an external enemy and the cult of personality....''
or this
"The bitter controversy over who is to blame for Detroit's problems may be insoluble, but to my mind, blame is largely beside the point. Detroit will either be helped or it won't." *

Then again, perhaps this is more telling:
I think it was Barbara Rose Collins, the esteemed, tiara-wearing member of Detroit City Council, [and former member of Congress! -ed] who once said she resented the implication (by whom I don't recall) that Detroit can't govern itself.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick & Councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins

Judging by council's on-again, off-again battle with the embattled mayor and, this weekend, a new scandal swirling around council chambers, I'd say the implicators got it just about right.
Embarrassment is not sufficient to describe the city's two pre-eminent elected bodies. They dither, the city crumbles, the creaking schools stumble toward a shutdown, Metro Detroiters groan at the spectacle and Detroiters reap the pathetic rewards." **
or, is this Black journalist correct?
"Black people of Detroit have made themselves the laughingstock of the world because of their irrational 75-year love affair with liberalism and the Democrat Party, which forbids ideological or public policy competition. Moreover, Detroit has made every closet racist self-righteously say inwardly, "See, I told you Negroes can't govern themselves!" This state of affairs vexes me to no end, for I was born and raised in Detroit. I was educated here, and my family and I presently worship in this city."***
It pains me to admit the first two comments, published 18 years ago and referencing then-mayor Coleman Young, are still as relevant today as then. The scandal-ridden, hip-hop, booty-call Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has done nothing to improve the city's image.

On the contrary, it gets worse. Both the Mayor and the City Council are so embroiled in scandal that the City of Windsor (Ontario, Canada) has put the brakes on a proposal to sell Detroit's half of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Detroit, you see, is mired in debt. The city is nearly half it's former size, but maintains the same level of employees - most of whom, apparently, do very little. In an effort to avoid laying off these unnecessary employees, the city has been selling it's assets. This allows the city 'leaders' to claim they have balanced the budget. One has to wonder what will happen when there is nothing left to sell. Will anyone step up and make the hard decisions?

Perhaps. Rumors are swirling that former Pistons star and businessman extraordinaire Dave Bing is considering a run in 2009. That is very good news, indeed. Mr. Bing has proven himself to be a man of character, intelligence, capability and dedication. Hope springs eternal. Detroit may not deserve someone like him, but she certainly needs someone like him.

*ZE'EV CHAFETS, New York Times Magazine, July 29, 1990

**Daniel Howes' Blog, The Detroit News, on Mon, Jun 30, 2008

***Ellis Washington, WorldNetDaily, March 27, 2008

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