September 19, 2005


Mayor rekindles tensions between Detroit and suburbs (AP, 9/19/05)

Facing a tough re-election fight, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick last week fed the long-standing rivalry between the city and its suburbs.

The mayor singled out two school districts in neighboring Oakland County as having higher rates of drug use than Detroit's.

"In Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills and all these places, they do more meth, they do more Ecstasy and they do more acid than all the schools in the city of Detroit put together," Kilpatrick said Thursday during the first of three planned debates with challenger Freman Hendrix.

County and school district officials lashed out at the mayor Friday, saying the statement was irresponsible, and requested a public apology.

"Those comments insulted the residents of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, insulted the students and impugned the reputation of two of our finest, exemplary school districts," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Patterson said Kilpatrick's comments were reminiscent of longtime Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, whom Patterson said refused to develop any kind of relationship with the surrounding communities.

In his January 1974 inaugural speech, Young enraged suburban officials when he encouraged the city's criminals to "hit Eight Mile Road" and leave the city by way of the suburbs. Eight Mile Road is the dividing line between predominantly black and low-income Detroit and its largely white and affluent northern suburbs.

Unfortunately it takes a disaster for us to disperse an inner city underclass.

MORE (via Robert Schwartz):
GULF COAST CRISIS: A FRESH START: Evacuees see a new land of opportunity in Houston (Deborah Horan, September 18, 2005, Chicago Tribune)

Robert Washington, a hefty construction worker with a do-rag covering his hair, earned a decent wage in New Orleans, often as much as $10 an hour. Problem was, there wasn't always work, sometimes not for weeks.

So when the flood unleashed by Hurricane Katrina washed away almost everything he owned, Washington, 29, decided to view the destruction as an opportunity in disguise, a chance to escape the grinding poverty that lurked beyond the jazz bars of Bourbon Street.

It may not have been the ideal way to make a fresh start--on a borrowed boat with few belongings as the floodwaters rose--but Washington figures Houston, where he was later bused with thousands of other evacuees, just might turn out to be a better place to be.

"Hopefully I can get ahead here," Washington said in a tent outside Houston's Astrodome last week, where he was filling out an employment application. "They got better jobs, better pay rates, more opportunity. I figure I'll find more work out here."

Around him, other hurricane survivors talked about finding hope in Houston and getting a chance to break free from the poverty that trapped them in New Orleans.

They had been truck drivers, restaurant workers and hotel managers before the storm forced them out of their homes.

"I think God used this [storm] as a setup for many of us to turn things around," said Eddie Walker, 25, a bespectacled hotel parking manager who was laid off from his job two weeks before the hurricane hit. Exhausted and traumatized, he hoped to find work at a hotel in Houston.

And Walker was far from alone.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Cycle breaking comment.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 19, 2005 1:22 PM