Cynical Synapse

Fri, 22 May 2009

City Council Wants to Dump Cobo Jobs, Too!

Filed under: Behavior, Cars, Detroit, Economy, Michigan, Politics, Racism, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 5:37 pm

On May 19th, the Michigan Senate introduced Senate Bill 585 for another opportunity to keep Cobo Hall viable. In particular, the intent is to keep the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I don’t live in Detroit, but I seriously want the Auto Show to be in Detroit. That means Cobo Hall needs repairs and improvements the City of Detroit can’t afford.

Since the Auto Show represents about $500 million to the local economy, we’ve got to have it. This is particularly important in view of the loss of automotive jobs, production, and shuttered suppliers and dealerships in the southeast Michigan region. To some, it doesn’t matter whether the show is in Detroit or a suburb. I admit either is good, but it’s a matter of pride to me that the show be at Cobo in Detroit. The D is Motown! It’s not time to ignore what made Detroit great like some disused neighborhood because of mistrust or myopic pomposity.

Considering the Detroit City Council rejected the last Cobo fix-up deal, the current bill, sponsored by 4 Republican Senators, hopes to at least keep the Auto Show in Michigan. The primary sponsor, Sen. Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac), and co-sponsor Jason Allen (R-Traverse City) aren’t from southeast Michigan. While the other co-sponsors (Sen. Michael Bishop, R-Rochester, and Nancy Cassis, R-Novi) are, it should be apparent this is not the hostile suburbs attempting to steal Detroit’s assets. Here’s the kicker from a Free Press editorial after Council’s blatant racial bigotry and spiteful short-sightedness:

Emmet Moten, the developer who just opened the Fort Shelby Hotel downtown, was at the meeting and found it appalling. Moten went to Lansing in 1983 on behalf of Mayor Coleman Young to successfully lobby for a regional tax to support Cobo.

“And now we’re saying, ‘We don’t want your money,'” Moten says. “If Coleman were alive today, he’d be outraged. It hurts, it really hurts.”

Coleman A. Young was Detroit’s first black mayor, elected in 1974 in the wake of the ’67 Riots which are still a sore spot for Detroiters. Early in his tenure, he remarked that Detroiters “are surrounded by hostile suburbs.”

I don’t keep track of events at Cobo Center, but I’m sure the Auto Show is not the only event held there. If the Auto Show moves to the suburbs to an improved facility, how many other events will follow? The potential loss to the city has got to be in the billions! Despite his flaws, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was stewarding investment in Detroit, efforts started under Dennis Archer. If Cobo becomes a disused shell at the heart of Detroit, the new hotels and other downtown businesses will shrivel up. Unemployment, already at 20% or higher in Detroit, will jump even higher. The city will lose revenue from precipitous drops in hotel stays and even the casinos will be impacted.

Today, I discovered Detroit wants to host the 2020 Olympiad. What do you suppose the chances will be if Cobo goes under, taking Detroit hotels with it? The 2020 Olympiad may be 11 years away, but the decision will be made before then. Which brings us to the deadline for a decision on Cobo that Detroit City Council equates to a gun held to their heads. Do they not have a clue about how business works? Frankly, I’m surprised the Auto Show is willing to give them until after July 1st to decide. Most convention venues book up more than a year, even two years, out. Admittedly, I’m amazed the Council is proposing to nix the Cobo deal a second time before the State Senate bill even passes. I’m truly saddened by the apparent disregard for Detroit’s citizens and reputation evidenced by the Detroit City Council. Monica Conyers, Barbara Rose Collins, and Martha Reeves are the chief antagonists. Looks like Emmet Moten thinks Coleman would support the Cobo deal and if Kenyatta supports it, it must be good for Detroit. The only gun being held to Detroit City Council’s head is the one they’re playing Russian Roulette with.

Michiganders, let your State legislators know you support Senate Bill 585. Detroiters, tell Council enough already—let’s fix Cobo for everybody’s benefit.


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