Dear Detroit Council President Charles Pugh,
When your constituents feel under siege by the state takeover and the rapid loss of services, it’s time to stop locking the door on Detroiters.
As president of the Detroit City Council, you were elected to hear from your constituents, no matter how much you dislike their message.
Once again today, many Detroiters were locked out of the small space in which you decide to hold public meetings, despite the option of hosting sessions in the large, adjacent auditorium like you had for so long in the past.
One of your staff members dismissed the decision to hold the meetings in a small room as “crowd control.”
You should be ashamed.
People are afraid. They are losing bus routes, public lighting and police protection. Their neighborhoods, unlike yours downtown, are rampant with crime, blight and poverty. Now, more than ever, they want strong, open leadership.
So it was no surprise today when anger boiled over and residents shouted at you from inside and outside the meeting.
You threw out at least one resident.
But you did something more egregious: You denied Detroiters a voice when they feel increasingly voiceless.
Listen to some of your colleagues, like Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, and open up the doors to democracy by holding meetings in the large auditorium.
Remember, part of your job is to listen.
Steve Neavling, Detroit Resident
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.