Brooks Patterson Still Hates Detroit
Mandatory Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWT32D8yxaU
Busing. It started with busing and it will end with busing. L. Brooks Patterson, career opportunist, antagonist and divider, was at it again this week, calling regional CEO’s an “egotistical group of self-appointed saviors,” hell bent on stealing and shifting jobs from Oakland County to Detroit.
In a letter last month to the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Patterson wrote — “You don’t have to read between the lines, it is clear what is happening: These self-appointed saviors for southeast Michigan are in the process of forming an “economic partnership” to direct business investments to the City of Detroit,” to the detriment of Oakland County. All in the “righteous cause of ‘rebuilding Detroit.’”
His main targets were DTE (Detroit Edison) CEO Gerry Anderson and Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert, among others. He called it a “cartel,” and cited Little Caesar's, Quicken Loans, the Lions and Pistons relocation’s from the suburbs to downtown and mid-town as the main culprits in shifting jobs from The OC to The D.
In the now-infamous New Yorker article from 2014, Patterson, always one to compliment himself and re-tell a story, said about Detroit, “ ‘What we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.’ ”
That was four-and-a-half years ago. Since then, Patterson’s stock and Oakland County’s have fallen. Northland Mall, Summit Place Mall, (right across the street from Patterson’s office)the Pontiac Silverdome and most recently Hazel Park Raceway, have all become proverbial white elephants in one of the most affluent counties in the United States. Neighboring Macomb County is poised to become the largest county in the state by the time the next census is counted.
Then, on Thursday, after the meeting with the Oakland Chamber, when asked if he would support the chamber, said “I’d rather join the Klan.”
He later apologized. “Sometimes when I’m passionate about a topic, I choose sharp words and purposely engage in hyperbole to get my point across,” he wrote. “Today, the words I chose offended a lot of people. I apologize for the poor choice of words.”
That’s putting it mildly.
Patterson first came to the public eye as an opponent of cross-district busing in the early 1970’s. Boston may have received the most notoriety in this battle, but Detroit was the template. Patterson, then working at a friend’s law firm, was at the front lines representing a homeowner’s association’s resistance to bring in students from other (read, minority) school districts. It ended in a draw legally, but Brooks won the election for county prosecutor the next year and has been the head of Oakland County since 1992.
Now, in perhaps his last act of defiance, he is leading the resistance against a regional transit system, a decades-long struggle that might be the missing piece for southeast Michigan to finally move forward and become a magnet for businesses like Amazon, the U.S. Army and Major League Soccer, among others, to look at Detroit as anything but a divided, one-note city (all three entities listed, especially the first two, said ‘no,’ to Detroit (and the region in general) when deciding to expand or add to their business, government or sports footprint. When Amazon listed their top 20 finalists for a second headquarters, they said Detroit was close to making it, but their lack of mass transit played a role in leaving the city outside the final 20.
Patterson is the last of the “Big Three,” leaders who dominated Detroit and state politics for the last quarter of the 20th Century. There was the equally bombastic Coleman Young, Detroit’s longest-serving mayor, who matched Patterson’s bromides with some equally-cringing ones of his own. He once proposed annexing Redford, Livonia and Northville. He said, quite accurately, that all the white people left and he stepped up. Also included in this group is Ed McNamara, the Mayor of Livonia from 1970–86 and Wayne County Executive from 1987 until 2002. “Enigmatic Ed” was both a friend and foe to both Young and Patterson. Someone once asked what McNamara was. He was whatever you wanted him to be, I responded. McNamara died in 2006 under a cloud of suspicion and an unsealed indictment involving the building of the new airport.
Old Ed, he knew where the bodies were buried and who buried them. He went to his grave with those secrets. Patterson is lucky Ed McNamara died. Had slick Eddie not been dying and that indictment unsealed, it would have brought down more than just him and everyone in Wayne County. Brooks will tell you stories about how he, Eddie Mac and Coleman Young would go to the Roostertail and get drunk every night, but you ask him about McNamara and he clams up like an oyster.
Patterson might be a parochial dinosaur in the 21st century and his me-against the world (or at least Detroit) is wearing thin, very thin.
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