Cynthia J. Pasky
With the curtain falling on the controversy that has surrounded Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick the past seven months, it's time to get back to work on the structural problems that faced us before this soap opera began and that remain in place today.
The mayor's legal problems have pretty much blotted out the sun in the media the last few months. But they have been a distraction from the fundamental challenges we face as a city, a region and a state.
Now that the Mayor is stepping down, we still have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. We still have a record number of home foreclosures that have the housing market in a virtual freefall. And we still have a City and State whose core industry is fighting for its very survival.
So the challenge for all of us who truly care about Detroit is how we regroup, put aside our differences and join together in a common effort to move Detroit forward. Because if Detroit does not move forward, neither will southeast Michigan and neither will Michigan.
We need to demand this of all of our leaders, whether they are political, corporate, civic or grass roots. The old divisions have to be put aside to find common ground. While we fight over issues like expanding Cobo Hall, getting a real start on rapid transit, control of the water system and other hot button issues, the rest of the world is passing us by.
In his weekly newsletter to his constituents issued the day after Mayor Kilpatrick agreed to resign, State Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mt. Clemens, made this observation:
"Fixing our region is all of our responsibility! We cannot have a great state without a great city. The problems of Detroit are not just Kwame Kilpatrick's or Ken Cockrel's. If this state we love is going to continue to grow and compete in the 21st Century, we have got to all acknowledge that our futures are inextricably interwoven. It starts with something as simple as the language we use and how we discuss our challenges as well as our assets. To respect ourselves is to respect our neighbors."
That sums it up about as succinctly as I've seen anywhere recently. Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.
A postscript to those of you who read last month's CEO Corner: Our golf outing and our Grand Prix Shakedown 8K run on Belle Isle were fantastic successes. We raised a combined $40,000 to support the 2-1-1 On the Go!, program that seeks out the homeless and offers them the opportunity to change their station in life. We're already planning next year's events.