Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 19, 2014

Jack Lessenberry: Detroit once again national laughingstock

Sometimes, it has to seem that if cities can have karma, Detroit clearly has a lot. All of it bad.

The city once again became a national laughingstock last week when George Cushingberry, the newly elected council president pro tem, nearly hit two policemen while driving a vehicle strongly smelling of marijuana and with an open rum bottle on the floor.

That came the day after city council ousted that body’s brightest light, and chose as its new president a woman who spent most of the last two years voting with those determined to obstruct reform.

Sad enough. But what few may realize is that these events could help result in Detroit remaining under state control … for years.

More on this shortly. But first, less than two weeks ago, things finally seemed to be looking up for the Motor City. The citizens, the vast majority of whom are black, ignored appeals to race last November and elected a can-do politician who happens to be white: Mike Duggan, a guy with a reputation for fixing broken systems, getting things done, and balancing the books.

A new city council was elected, with two out of the worst three naysayers gone. Saunteel Jenkins, the bright, savvy council president, was expected to win a four-year term in the job.

The hope was that by September the books would be balanced; the bankruptcy over, billions in debt eliminated, and the elected mayor and council again fully in charge of the city’s destiny.

Then, once again, the city’s politicians sabotaged themselves. On Monday, the new council voted, 5-4, to replace Jenkins with Brenda Jones, a former union local president starting her third term. For most of the past two years, the 53-year-old Jones has consistently voted to try to thwart any rational change.

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