First, Monica Conyers–Detroit City Council’s newly annointed president–led the opposition to a regional board investing $288 million in the Cobo Hall convention center. The venue has served Detroit well, but needs renovation and expansion. With all the lawsuits the city incurs, not to mention dwindling population, the city can’t afford to do the work itself. Never mind the scandals surrounding former mayor and convicted felon Kwami Kilpatrick, son of amazingly overwhelmingly re-elected US Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the Feds are still investigating some Council members and city officials about some questionable contracts.
Conyers has been confrontational throughout. Her attitude and language clearly demonstrates a desire for the good old days of Coleman Young and a city surrounded by “hostile suburbs“. Clearly Young did some good things for Detroit as mayor, but make no mistake, he was running a political machine no less than the Daley machine in Chicago. But Young’s political capital was built on the premise of devisiveness. To put things in perspective, Young took office just 7 years after the 1967 Detroit riots. But 35 years later, the region is still divided into city and suburbs and east and west. There are two bus systems, D-DOT, and SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Rapit Transit), both of which go downtown, but only one of which leaves the city. It’s not uncommon to see one following the other on major streets like Woodward Ave. Makes no sense to me. But I digress.
I’m not a fan of L. Brooks Paterson, either. The Oakland County Executive’s attitude gives credence to Coleman Young’s hostile suburbs concept. And money is as big a barrier as 8 Mile Road. Either the city doesn’t want to share an asset or the suburban communities or counties don’t want to put money into the region if they think Detroit will unfairly benefit. Like Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along?” Southeast Michigan needs to pull together as a region if it truly hopes to survive today’s economic reality. There’s no more time for “we-they” between city and suburbs or suburbs and city.
After the Council voted 5-3 to turn down the Cobo authority deal, at least in part because Conyers claimed the Arena could get Stimulus money, the City Council president claimed a leaking roof was a conspiracy. That was after Michigan’s Gov. Granholm said there’s no Stimulus money for Cobo. And this follows on the heals of Mayor Cockrel’s veto of Council’s turning down the transfer of Cobo to the regional authority, which Conyers had launched a lawsuit over. The mayor’s veto raised such bile to result in the infamous “Onward Christian Soldiers” council meeting. So, let’s see if I’ve got this straight. No money for Cobo. No expansion. No fixing the roof. City of Detroit suing itself and defending itself from its own lawsuit. Detroit and the region suffer from reduced convention business. Begins to make the Wall Street bailout look like a good investment.
Throughout, Conyers has been confrontational with any not marching in lock-step with her. It’s real easy to make this into a race issue or a city vs. suburbs issue, but it’s really about Monica Conyers making a name for herself. She could care less about citizens of Detroit or the region. Make no mistake. Just take a look at the “At Home with Monica Conyers” to see if her lifestyle matches yours.
Unfortunately, the rest of the country doesn’t get that “Detroit” refers to a much larger geographic area when it comes to the automotive industry. The Big 3 need to wear sackcloth and ashes to get a mere $30 billion in loans, but AIG and the rest of the banks and Wall Street have access to $700 billion or more on a whim and a fancy. Southeast Michigan’s economy is heavily invested in automotive. Michigan’s unemployment leads the nation. So, when comedian Jay Leno offerred to do a free show for our laid off workers, Conyers and Co. were upset it wasn’t being held in Detroit. And, despite the imbecility of Detroit Council members like Martha Reeves, Leno has added a second free show.
What we need to do is thank Jay Leno for caring about Michigan when no one else does. And next election, vote out all the politicians that let us down, including at the local, state, and federal levels. Our representatives need to understand they represent us, not themselves or special interests.