Obama reaches out to Detroit. Is Detroit ready?


Like a lot of folks I have been spending a huge amount of my time in recent months focusing on everything Obama. Everything from the transition phase, including cabinet appointments, to the recent Inauguration has kept my full attention locked up.

I’m not much into self-flagellation so I forgive myself. The reasons ought to be obvious. But now that it’s all done and we really do have Obama as our new president, I’m beginning to hear the haunting grunts and moans of  all the pressing issues hanging around outside Detroit’s front door. Matter of fact, now that I take a closer look, it appears they’re already inside the house and turning the joint inside out. Detroit’s demons couldn’t care less who is in office in the White House. All they care about is being fed, because demons must either be fed or destroyed. They cannot, however, under any circumstances be ignored. That is the mistake Detroit has been guilty of for far too long, which would explain why the demons are inside the house munching on the furniture rather than outside still trying to crash the door down.

The demons think they live here, and so do we. That has to change.

All of which is to say, in an unforgivably long intro that I never would have gotten away with in a standard newspaper column, that it’s high time we in Detroit started paying a lot closer attention to the upcoming local elections. Hell, the election to choose the top two contenders to complete the mayor’s term is next month, and from all I’m hearing and seeing hardly anyone is paying much attention at all.  Granted, the city council election isn’t until November, but we need to be thinking long and hard about who we want that can keep the dumb shit at arm’s length and still work effectively with whoever our new mayor will be. We need to view these upcoming elections as a package deal, because we need a complete and thorough overhaul at City Hall.

Granted the contenders are hardly an exciting or inspiring bunch, and in the era of Obama just about every other politician everywhere falls woefully short. But there are still some competent choices available who have the ability to at least keep the city from careening off the road into any more ditches. A couple may even have the ability to move the city forward a bit, especially in partnership with the new Obama administration that has already expressed a strong willingness to assist us.

But in order for this city to really position itself for a continued – and sustained – revitalization, in order for us to actually be ready for the benfits of an outstretched hand from Washington, the rest of us have to care as much about these upcoming  elections as the politicians keep telling us they do. It has to matter to us who is at the helm.

I know the Kilpatrick scandal took a lot out of all of us to the point that it’s hard to trust or believe in anything Detroit anymore. We’re sick, we’re tired, and we’re embarrassed. Just when it seemed we were coming out from under, Kilpatrick dragged us all under the bus with him. So now we have an ex-mayor that is in jail, a school board that has just fired yet another superintendent while the DPS budget deficit is said to be over $400 million and the State is taking over its finances, a city council that could lose at least half of its members to a scandal that threatens to drag four or five out the door due to indictments, and a football team that couldn’t even win one damned game the entire season.

So yeah. It’s hard to stand up and cheer right now. And caring too much takes effort and it takes energy. But if we don’t supply that necessary effort and energy then who will? Because without it we’re sunk. As has been the case with Detroit for so long, our fate is in our hands. The cavalry is not coming. Barack can help us, but he cannot save us. For that job, we’re on our own.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Read my wife’s blogs @ The “D” Spot Redeux and BlackLiberalBoomer.


~ by Keith A. Owens on January 27, 2009.

4 Responses to “Obama reaches out to Detroit. Is Detroit ready?”

  1. Excellent commentary. I hope that all Detroiters (physically or in spirit) heed your call. I haven’t been watching the political action at the Detroit-level. I’ll need to catch up on the candidates that you’re talking about in your post.

    peace, Villager

    • Hey Villager!

      Thanks much, my friend. Yeah, quite a bit jumping off here in the Motor City. Quite a bit. This could be the start of getting back on the right track, but we really can’t afford too many – if any – wrong moves this time around. This is critical for us.

  2. Good job Brother,the election closes to the citizen is the most important. the present mayor is prepared to give Cobo to the suburbs, the water is next.The media harps that detroit is dysfunctional,the buzzard are circling.We must change the culture we live in ,its not hip to except mediocrity, we deserve better ,we must demand excellence of our kids , self,and our elected officials

    • Hey Tootsie.

      I couldn’t say it any better myself, so I won’t try. Except that I may disagree with you somewhat on the current mayor. The Cobo deal may not be the best aspect of his approach, but I do think he is trying to do a good job. And for right now I don’t see any of the other challengers as offering anything noticeably better at all. But you’re absolutely right that we must demand much more of ourselves, especially in our city. We deserve so much better than what we’re getting.

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