Elect a Crazy Council, Get Crazy Results

Nolan Finley, Detroit News, March 1, 2009

Nowhere is Michigan’s brain drain on greater display than in the Detroit City Council chambers.

My hopes for Detroit’s future faded as I watched the tape of last Tuesday’s council meeting, the one that considered the Cobo Center expansion deal.

It was a tragic circus, a festival of ignorance that confirmed the No. 1 obstacle to Detroit’s progress is the bargain basement leaders that city voters elect. The black nationalism that is now the dominant ideology of the council was on proud display, both at the table and in the audience.

Speakers advocating for the deal were taunted by the crowd and cut short by Council President Monica Conyers, who presided over the hearing like an angry bulldog; whites were advised by the citizens to, “Go home.”

Opponents were allowed to rant and ramble on uninterrupted about “those people” who want to steal Detroit’s assets and profit from the city’s labors.

A pitiful Teamster official who practically crawled to the table on his knees expressing profuse respect for this disrespectful body was battered by both the crowd and the council.

When he dared suggest that an improved Cobo Center would create more good-paying jobs for union workers, Conyers reminded him, “Those workers look like you; they don’t look like me.”

Desperate, he invoked President Barack Obama’s message of unity and was angrily warned, “Don’t you say his name here.”

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But in Detroit, dealing with the council’s bigotry is part of the cost of doing business. As is dealing with its incompetence. (I’ll pause here and excuse from that indictment Sheila Cockrel and Brenda Jones, who supported the Cobo deal, as did Kwame Kenyatta, who although he’s an avowed nationalist, most often votes in the city’s best interests.)

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Nobody can help Detroit if voters again elect a City Council composed of separatists, clueless dowagers and the apparently insane.

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