Local “News” Channel Prefers Dead Woman to a Live Detroit
Tara Grant is dead. Detroit is not. There is a difference between life and death, but somebody needs to tell the news stations. So it was 7 o’clock Tuesday night and I was sitting in front of the television waiting for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to deliver his 2007 State of the City address. The word was that this could very well be the best speech of his relatively young career. By now everyone knows the man can talk, which doesn’t automatically mean the man can deliver, but there was still this feeling that the mayor just might turn on the juice tonight. And for sure, make no mistake about it, if there ever was a time when the mayor needed to come on strong and shine like the North Star, this was that time. So there I was, watching Channel 7, when suddenly, barely 15 minutes into what turned out to be an address of just over an hour, the Channel 7 News team decides to cut and run to yet another story about Tara Grant. Tara Grant who is still dead. And not only is she still dead, but the gory details of her senselessly brutal death will do absolutely nothing to help the City of Detroit. Her death offers no revitalization plans. Her corpse will not be offering police protection to devastated Detroit neighborhoods. She is simply dead. But for some reason Channel 7 doesn’t want her to be dead, I suspect out of some morbid fear that if they relent and allow the woman to rest in pieces (I’m sorry, I know that’s cold-blooded, but I just can’t tell you how sick I am of this story) then they will be forced to cover actual news that matters. My wife, equally outraged, was yelling down the stairs that she was shutting down the box and going immediately to WDET, the local public radio channel, which is by far the best source for real news in the whole city. But then I switched over to Channel 4 and was pleasantly surprised to see that someone over there had the common sense to realize that this wasn’t just “some speech”. This was the “State of the City” address, given by the mayor of our city during a time when our city, county, and state are facing economic challenges the likes of which, as he himself said, haven’t been seen here since the Great Depression. And potential economic collapse is just one of the challenges we face. You know, it really doesn’t matter what you think of the mayor. That is, if you really care about this city. This is, as the saying goes, do-or-die time. This is save ourselves or drown ourselves and forever hold our peace time. This is our city, man, our city. At this point, as far as I’m concerned, caring about where we live should no longer be optional. For Detroiters, Detroit love should be mandatory. So for Channel 7 to ditch the State of the City address in favor of running around like an alley dog sniffing behind the cold, stinking remains of a dead woman was, well, what’s that smell like to you? Meanwhile, Mayor Kilpatrick brought it home when he pointed out that more cops on the street will not serve as a miracle cure for the recent explosion of crime in Detroit – even though he has returned all laid-off cops back to active duty and said he plans to hire 200 more officers on top of that. But in the end, as he said, we in Detroit need to deal with the fact that it’s Us killing Us (NOTE: since the publication date of this story, a related article in Wayne State Univerity’s student newspaper The South End reports that, at least according to the police department’s press secretary, “nonfatal shootings have decreased by 28 percent and homicides have decreased by 17 percent”) and in a city that is nearly 90 percent African American, it’s not that difficult to figure out which “Us” he’s referring to. If we don’t get a handle on this thing, then we will ultimately be the ones responsible for wiping ourselves out. The crime part of what the mayor talked about resonated with me most because, as he also said, no amount of beautiful seeds will have a chance of ever bearing more than a bare survival minimum of fruit unless the crime issue is dealt with. The crime issue is also tied into the neighborhood revitalization issue, which is so critical to Detroit’s rebirth. Hooray for the Riverwalk, for the lofts, for so many signs of green struggling through the cracked cement, but it’s time to take care of the regular folk. I completely understand the need to attract the money folks because I understand mathmatics and economics. You can’t build a tax base off of broke and hungry. But broke and hungry needs a better life too. The other great point the mayor rammed home, and that I firmly believe, was that there will be absolutely no Michigan recovery without Detroit leading the charge. We’re not called the Motor City for nothing. Detroit is the engine under Michigan’s hood. We pump the gas through the veins, and we always have. Of course it’s true that we need the suburbs and the rest of the state for a lot of things. That’s obvious. But what too many outside of Detroit don’t want to acknowledge is that they need Detroit more than they realize. If Detroit sinks, Michigan is coming right on down with us. I read one comment where someone said he should have talked more about the importance – actually urgent need for – a rgional mass transportation system. Whoever said that is absolutely right. Those who say that the mayor has always been long on great rhetoric are also right. But to ignore what’s been accomplished, even if it’s not enough, is volunteering for blindness just to win your argument. Sure, the mayor missed some things. He will continue to miss things and he will continue to screw up on occasion. Count on it. But Kilpatrick is our mayor, not our saviour. Just remember that. But enough of that. What’s the latest on Tara Grant? Those civic-minded types (and political junkies) who would like to read Mayor Kilpatrick’s speech in its entirety can view it right here on our site, right here in this “Detroit Issues” section.