New Detroit City Council should (hopefully, please God) be boring as hell.
I think Gary Brown said it best a few nights before receiving enough votes to become Detroit City Council’s President Pro Tem when he said, “I think our city council should be the most boring but effective city council this city has ever seen.”
That’s somewhat of a paraphrase since I didn’t have my pen and notepad with me when I caught that bit of an interview on the TV news sometime last week, but it’s pretty close to what he said, of that I’m sure. And Brown’s meaning was clear as could be, namely that the time for high drama, grade school antics and all related bullshit has come to a close. It’s now time for the adults to take control of city government. Because city government is, after all, grown folks’ business.
Ever since I moved to this city 17 years ago, City Council has been pretty much a joke stocked full of embarrassing, poorly-delivered punch lines as our elected representatives. But on Tuesday, Election Day, even with the predictably low voter turnout, I saw something I didn’t think I would ever see in this city: Detroiters finally got fed up enough with their so-called leaders to do something about it. Instead of griping, grumbling, and grandstanding – and then being consistently MIA at the polls come Election Day, it looks like the people got pissed enough to shed the baggage that’s been dragging this city down for far, far too long.
Although I wish even more incumbents had been swept away (four survived), I still believe it’s a near miraculous occurrence that five of the nine new city council members who will begin their four-year terms come January are all brand new to the crew. And three of those five were the top vote getters, namely Charles Pugh, Gary Brown, and Saunteel Jenkins. Ken Cockrel, the current council president, dropped all the way down to number four.
This is unheard of, man. Seriously. Normally we might get one or two new faces if we’re lucky, but that’s the best we can usually hope for. And last election one of those new faces was Brenda Jones, who one might say is pretty underwhelming at best. She squeaked in at the number nine slot. This time she came in higher, largely, I figure, because folks recognized her name and because she kept her mouth shut and her distance clear from all the mess for four years straight. So they put her in again. Whatever. We’ll see. But the message here is that Detroiters finally said in no uncertain terms, “You clowns have got to go.” And to cap it all off, they voted overwhelmingly in support of district elections to replace the current at-large system which tends to keep incumbents locked in for life and doesn’t allow for a more fair and balanced representation of the city as a whole.
It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s the kinda thing that can make a person cautiously – very cautiously – optimistic. Because now I think we just might have the kind of no drama, no bullshit city council that will focus on the task at hand and not the theatrics, and they now have a mayor with whom it appears is more than willing to develop a good working relationship. And right about now that kind of relationship is more than critical.
And just a word about Mayor Bing, who now has his papers to be Mayor In Full and not just a term finisher; I think Bing will be one of those mayors who may well be reviled and hated publicly by a fair number of vocal groups and individuals who despise the radical cuts he is implementing, among other things. But years down the road he will be clearly identified as a critical turning point in Detroit history when the city finally got back on stable footing. Because no Detroit mayor who dared to do the right thing, the necessary thing, could ever hope to be loved in this town. We’ve been lied to and stroked for so long that we just don’t know how to handle the cold truth except to try and snap its head off. But Bing, a man totally devoid of flash and charisma, simply moves ahead in the face of it all.
Keep in mind that this is a man who declined a salary, who damned sure didn’t need the job, and who has already said he has no intention of running for a second term In other words, his only reason for taking the job was to clean up the mess. How many folks you know want to be janitor that bad? When was the last time you were just dying to take out the trash – of the whole damned city?
Oh yeah. This really is a new day…
SHAMELESS PLUG: Read my wife’s blog @ The “D” Spot Redeux