Dubious achievement awards 2004 - March 

Kindergarten Kouncil: While arguing over the fate of a proposed ordinance regulating topless bars, Kay Everett threatens to “go East Side” on fellow Detroit City Councilmember Sharon McPhail, who responds with the time-tested schoolyard taunt, “Ooh, I’m scared.” All part of a yearlong parade of high jinks from a council populated by more than its share of people with the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old. The ongoing council sitcom, entertaining as it may be, loses some of its laugh track when the city’s dire financial situation is figured into the plot. There’s a simple enough solution, though: Voters can deprive misbehaving councilmembers of their milk and cookies, and send them on a long, long time-out.

Bad to the bone: Sandra Marie Anderson of Midland and her dog, Eagle, gained international acclaim for their cadaver-finding prowess. The high-profile sniffing comes to an abrupt end after Anderson admits to planting evidence in at least six cases — including one incident when she supplied a human toe for Eagle to “discover.” The handler pleads guilty to five felony counts. Eagle merely snarls when asked to explain his role in the gruesome charade.

Ella’s bull is coming: Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings announces that Detroit police officers will no longer have to work mandatory 12-hour shifts. She tells reporters that the forced overtime is now unnecessary because crime rates fell. Apparently she doesn’t hear the sound of all those human bodies hitting the ground after being ventilated by hot lead projectiles.

Red light means go: Gov. Jennifer Granholm makes headlines by signing into law a bill that subjects people using illegal traffic signal changers — devices that allow a driver to switch that halting red light to a more speedy green — to a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Across the state, an untold number of people respond to the news by thinking, “Damn, I gotta get me one a them.”

Hip-hop-ocrite: In town for a high-profile speaking engagement, Carnegie Mellon University professor Richard Florida gets a big ol’ hug from our big ol’ mayor. But it’s a manly hug. Got that? Kwame doesn’t want y’all getting the wrong idea. Florida is, among other things, a prophet for tolerance, saying that one of the ways a city can attract the sort of young, hip, well-educated workers that industry craves is to actively promote and celebrate alternative lifestyles — including the gay way. Problem is, Special K professes to be a devout Christian, so Detroit’s moral paragon holds the position that the Good Book says gay marriage is bad, and said as much on the HBO program Real Time. So, does bigotry become hip if it’s dressed up with a diamond ear stud?

Lame campaign: Charlevoix businessman John Ramsey announces that he’s considering running for a seat in the Michigan House. Such announcements are typically greeted with a yawn. But in this case, the media take notice because Ramsey is the father of murdered child beauty queen JonBenet. Ramsey fails to capture the GOP nomination in August’s primary. Seems the campaign slogan “Vote for me — I didn’t kill her!” can’t be counted on for a groundswell of support.

Say it, don’t spray it: Rock demigod Jack White pleads guilty to a misdemeanor assault-and-battery charge related to his pummeling of the Von Bondies’ Jason Stollsteimer. Apparently believing Stollsteimer had made the grievous error of dissing him, White also admits to spitting on his one-time pal. He’s fined and ordered to attend anger management classes. Afterward, White responds to reporters’ questions by reading from a prepared statement stuffed in the crown of his spiffy fedora. Saying he was raised to “believe that honor and integrity mean something and that those principles are worth defending, and that’s how I live my life,” White never explains why he chose to defend his honor and integrity by horking on his rival.

Flee circus: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that young people are leaving Michigan in droves. Between 2000 and 2002, more than 41,500 people between the ages of 15 and 44 beat cheeks for places like Boston, Atlanta, Seattle and Austin. Only three other states experienced more of a drain. But on the bright side, Gov. Jennifer Granholm continues to sport shades as part of her “cool cities” campaign, clearly in the dark about that being so dorky it’s actually adding to the exodus.

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