Post No. 2
Kwame….Kwame….Kwame….what are we going to do with you.
I've worked downtown for the last five years, which means I've paid Detroit taxes for the last five years. However, I've never had an official say in what happens to the City.
Those of us who work downtown, but don't reside there, are certainly affected by what goes on in Detroit. It's simple -- when your job is downtown, you spend money downtown. You eat at restaurants, you go to bars, you spend time at museums and you cheer on teams at sporting events. But for those of us who don't live in the City, but contribute to Detroit's economy (forcibly or recreationally), our voices are never heard.
The success and economic stability of Detroit affects me every day. When there's a rise in crime and a decrease in the police force, the walk from my parking garage on the Riverfront to my office building (at the corner of Jefferson and Woodward) is a bit more stressful. Actually, my walk from anywhere downtown to my car is a bit more stressful – mostly because I've been mugged twice in the last three years. When there's an economic slump, my favorite downtown eating establishments and bars go out of business. When suburban residents are too afraid to venture to Detroit, the cultural viability of the City suffers.
I had high hopes for Kwame. Being elected Detroit's youngest mayor at the age of 31, I thought his vision for the City could be realized. I'm sure many of Michigan's young professionals looked up to him, perhaps even admiring such a young guy with big dreams.
Kwame talked about his agenda for improving the perception of the City, attracting new businesses and increasing tourism. And for a short while, I thought it could work. The casino's were thriving, subsequently moving to bigger and better locations and attracting visitors in droves. The Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a new marketing campaign to attract young professionals to Detroit. Compuware came downtown, causing the area around Campus Martius to build up. The Riverfront was being rebuilt and revitalized. There was talk about expanding Cobo. Things were looking good, and I stuck up for the city I loved – challenging those who called Detroit a hopeless "has been".
Then there was the smattering of Kilpatrick's (one too) many controversies – many of them potentially compromising any progress Detroit has made.
Manoogian Mansion parties. Lincoln Navigator shenanigans. Murdered strippers. Civic Fund misappropriations. Whistleblower scandals. Slander lawsuits. Nepotism allegations. Infidelity. Perjury. Will it ever end?
Because so many of Detroit's residents believed in the Mayor's ability to revitalize Detroit, and some of us suburbanites who work in the City wanted to see Detroit become a thriving metropolis, the Mayor's latest scandal was a hard pill to swallow.
The alleged indiscretions Kwame has been accused of during his tenure could possibly put the brakes on any momentum Detroit has built up. Will it compromise the trust placed in him by investors, business owners or residents? Will people become so fed up with how the City is being run that they'll move away? Detroit has already endured so many hardships, is it possible for us to bear any more?
While listening to Kwame's speech on Wednesday night, there were so many things I wanted to hear him say. Some people argue what allegedly happened has no bearing on how Kwame runs the City. But is that really true? How will businesses, being recruited to locate in Detroit, deal with the conflict of making deals with a Mayor who has so many black marks against him? Will current Detroit businesses be so ashamed or fed up with what's been happening that they'll close up shop and move elsewhere? Will our cultural attractions suffer because people stop coming downtown? Can anyone trust and believe what the Mayor tells us anymore? Has Detroit taken a giant step backward?
While leaving work the other day, the Colman A. Young building was swarmed with protesters. Some of them were supporting the Mayor and promoting forgiveness, but most of those braving the bitter cold were shouting "Hey. Ho. Kwame has to go". I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if it's easy for Detroit to forgive and forget.