Last week, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick led a small crowd in chanting his tri-pronged city plan “Kids Cops Clean.” It was part of an event promoting the clean part, dubbed “Motor City Makeover.” Unfortunately, because of the city’s dire financial straits, the mayor won’t hire contractors to do the job, as he promised during the mayoral campaign. Instead, Kilpatrick hopes thousands volunteer on Saturdays during the next three months to spruce up the town. City workers will assist and maintain the areas cleaned. The effort is vital, said Kilpatrick, because while “there’s some strange spirit” that keeps Detroiters connected to the city, “we’ve allowed ourselves to be defined by others.”
“We will learn to define ourselves,” vowed the mayor.
He also declared that Detroit has an excellent work force, adding, “We will not allow Fox 2 and the Problem Solvers to define” our employees, as he pointed down at the gaggle of media filming his announcement. News Hits thought this jabbed below the belt. After all, Kilpatrick himself fired six city employees in January with quite a bit of pomp and circumstance after Fox 2 featured four of them apparently drinking on the job. Al Garrett, president of AFSCME Council 25, which represents 6,000 city workers (but none of those fired), said there should have been an investigation before the dismissals took place. But so far, Garrett said, no one has filed a lawsuit or appealed Kilpatrick’s action.
Kilpatrick’s spokeswoman, Regina Strong, said the mayor will act on the Problem Solvers reports even if he thinks the program paints an unfair picture of city workers. “Obviously if something is going on like what was going on, he’s going to act no matter how he gets the information,” said Strong. “But he doesn’t want these sensational stories to overshadow the civil servants that do their jobs very well.”
However, we digress. To get involved in the cleanup, call the volunteer hotline at 313-224-4415.Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail [email protected]