Greg Murray, Editorial columnist
Around this time several years ago, a group of so-called captains of industry (see former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick separation fund managers) gathered at an annual organizational meeting – or what some would call a strategy meeting – to determine who would run Detroit. Their champion then was a “transitional” figure with a façade that would sell well to a business community that felt the time was ripe to flex its municipal muscle onto the locals inhabitants too tired from scandal-fatigue to catch a breath.
It really didn’t matter that the anointed one – Dave Bing – was actually a genuinely failed “businessman” (see opportunist minority business supplier); what mattered most was the allure of his past on-court glory days and the opportunities he may present for business big fellas who realized that 2009 was a golden opportunity – following the scandal-plagued Kilpatrick administration – to regain their foothold, perhaps stranglehold, on a city many walked away from when Detroit turned into “chocolate city” lite (see the life and politics of Coleman A. Young, Jr.).
At the same time his suppliers were left to silently suck faint financial fumes left over from the abandonment of his corporate fiscal obligations, this so-called superstar promised to bring a business-like approach to municipal government, or so “they” said. “They” are the same business giants, philanthropists, venture capitalists, and moneybags who were up at the 2012 Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference grumbling about their bad call and the failed three-point shot attempts of their 2009 political draft pick (give Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley a call – he has a direct line to the “key business community” sentiment).
Their “go to” guy has failed miserably to execute the play plan, and the hapless stakeholder-stockholder community (think new-school investment community, joined by the outside policy gods in Lansing and the Detroit-based bureaucratic bobble-heads) allegedly now wants a new franchise player. By now, they know their old draft pick has managed Detroit into the ground. It appears that he was and is out of his league, so another savior must be drafted.
The business community feels it has found the right formula: Import (Bing and Mike Duggin both moved into Detroit just ahead of residency requirements), exhort the competencies (through an all-too willing fourth estate) and then extort Detroiters with gloom-and-doom pablum served with a side of candidate altruism (I will serve only one term, I will serve for one dollar, I will not move into the Manoogian, blah, bah, blah).
Remember now, sometimes making it worse is a great strategy for making it easier to promote a savior who can “come to the rescue.” Detroiters now will be assaulted by a year-plus-long media blitz campaign that implies that spoiled chocolate pudding (Bing) must be replaced by a creamy coconut cake (Duggin). One lacks consistency within while the other comes with frightful frills on the outside.
Regardless of whoever ends up anointed by the business community and the media, the big cheeses in the faith-based community will probably once again buy in to sell out to the enticements of grants, contracts, and other access to government seductions.
Those doing business with the city will be persuaded that supporting the presumptive, media-sanctioned nominee will be good for them, too, and thus, follow the failed trickle-down folly of the last three years – business people know how to run government.
The scaled-down Detroit, ghetto version of “Pure Michigan” will be heavily marketed as good for the welfare everyone in the tri-county area, including for those Detroiters who have not yet realized the opportunity to flee elsewhere. Check out that “Make Macomb Your Home” campaign when you get a chance.
Speaking of residency, the push will be on to accelerate the importing or bribing of as many persons as possible into certain geographical (or should I say certain council) district areas. Everyone knows Detroiters have one of the worst documented voting turnout of any city in the nation. So, stimulating residency into the more affluent areas of New Center, Midtown, the sports, culture and entertainment district, Campus Martius area, and the “Rail Line” community will assure a new voting block that will actually cast a , and thus potentially determine the outcome of Detroit elections for years to come, much like it almost did for the Detroit charter vote.
A blind-folded voter could see this on display at the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference, where the elite are running the show in Southeast Michigan. In my mind, the only hope for the everyday Detroiter is a possible draft of Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy to serve as a much-needed, nurturing and integrity-oriented mayoral alternative to the usual suspects secretly selected by a statewide political machine that has fed off of Detroiters over the last four elections.
That cycle must be broken, and we need a mayor Worthy of the challenge.
Greg Murray is a civil rights activist, former school board member as well as the vice president and administrative representative for the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraiser’s Association, a labor union for city of Detroit workers.
Greg Murray is a civil rights activist, former school board president, as well as the vice president and administrative representative for the Senior Accountants, Analysts and Appraiser’s Association, a labor union for city of Detroit workers