White Noise

For the protectionists and paranoid who live in Detroit, these aren't the best of times.

How can they be, when it looks like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will announce that the city will be cast under the spell of an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM), and a (gasp!) white man is running for mayor, and might be the frontrunner?

Both of these have happened in the same week. Mike Duggan announced his mayoral candidacy, officially, earlier in the week, and Snyder's announcement is expected two hours from now, as I write this.

This has to make the "stay in your own lane" Detroiters' insides gnarl up.

A few weeks ago, a letter writer from Detroit wrote to the Free Press and wondered why those of us in the suburbs care so much about Detroit.

"I don't care about Troy or Bloomfield," the writer said. Then the writer asked us who would reach out to help Detroit to "stay in your own lane."

The letter was long on paranoia and protectionism but very short on common sense and information.

While it's sad to think that there are still those who can't make the connection between a healthy Detroit and a healthier Michigan, it's also an affront to the people who once lived in the city, or grew up in the city, or maybe even still have direct ties to the city proper---people who have an emotional connection.

Not to mention the use of statewide tax dollars that have been used to help Detroit over the years.

That letter writer was besieged with responses the following week---many who took her to task. Some suggested the writer should be grateful that people still care about Detroit at all.

Duggan's candidacy, it says here, could be the most intriguing since that of Hizzoner himself, Coleman A. Young, who ran (and won) in 1973. That election proved the citizens were ready for a black mayor. This one will determine the voracity of the phrase, "Once you go black, you never change back."

Seriously, Duggan's candidacy is set up to provide a field day for the protectionists and the paranoid.

He's white, number one. He only moved into the city proper less than two years ago, number two. He refuses to have the city play the role of victim. He's a "pick yourself up by the boot straps" kind of a candidate. Duggan doesn't want Detroiters to say "Woe is us."

Duggan also has experience turning the insolvent, solvent again. He did so most famously as the head man at the Detroit Medical Center.

So Duggan is there, like a big white pinata. Let's see how many whacks he can take. If he's like the pinatas they sell in stores, he'll win going away. We bought one of those things for our daughter's birthday party years ago and after 45 minutes of whacking by the poor children, I had to rip it open finally.

Duggan will be cast as the white man carpetbagger---the outsider who should stay in his own lane. A man who doesn't really care about Detroit---only about returning it to the white man.

You think he won't be looked at that way?

Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan

As for the EFM, most right-minded people of reason know that the time is now for such a person. Detroit's financial woes are plenty and decades in the making. As former Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said, "It's a can that's been kicked down the road for decades, and there's no more can and there's no more road."

Still, the EFM announcement will be met with great disfavor and maybe even legal opposition. That much is for sure.

If the protectionists and paranoid spent as much time and energy working together with those who want to help Detroit as they do kicking and screaming about it, maybe the city could indeed get itself out from under this mess.

And, in about eight months, we'll find out if a white man carpetbagger can become mayor. It wouldn't hurt.


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