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Waiting for god-awful 

Come on, admit it — you just can’t wait for the Republican National Convention to start. Doesn’t surprise me; as a brilliant columnist, I have a naturally keen sense of exactly what the people want. Right now, for example, they can’t wait to hear George Bush’s acceptance speech, which ought to start around 9 p.m., Aug. 3.

Yet, you’ve got a couple weeks to kill, and there are a few things worth noting closer to home.

The mailbag: The paid servants of Mike Darth-oops-Duggan were not happy with my column two weeks ago. Duggan, you may recall, is the 41-year-old pit bull/chief deputy Wayne County executive, who has now decided he should be prosecutor, despite having no experience qualifying him for the job.

They specifically objected to my observing Wayne County’s contract for limousine service at our Metro Airport from hell “had been given to a company in which Duggan had a financial interest.”

“This is an absolutely false statement,” shrilled June West, press secretary to the McNamara machine. “Mike Duggan has NEVER had any financial interest in ANY limousine company,” she wrote, demanding a retraction.

Well, it depends on how you define financial interest. Duggan does not own part of Metro Cars, Inc., as far as I know, which is smart of him; they have had trouble paying not only their bills but their federal income taxes, as long reported in the media. However, as also has been reported, the company’s original owners, Cullan Meathe and Gregory Eaton, did own a piece of Duggan’s household. One or both were investors in Kid Kingdom, Inc., a Canton Township recreation area run by Duggan’s wife Lori. Suppose that was the merest coincidence? Perhaps nobody would care very much — except for what happened next. Six years later, Metro Cars’ contract was renewed without being put up for bid. This, despite the documented fact that Metro Cars had defaulted on its federal income taxes, and was chronically late in paying fees to the airport. This, despite a report — never denied — that another limo service offered to pay the airport three times what Metro Cars did.

That is entirely typical of the way business is done in Wayne County under the Duggan-McNamara regime, whose finest monument is the airport.

Not incidentally, the state auditor has just issued a scathing report on the “slipshod” way Metro has been run. Now the man most responsible wants to be elected prosecutor, something roughly the equivalent of making Richard Nixon head of the FBI after Watergate. The polls show voters have their doubts, but expect a last-minute million-dollar barrage of TV ads and strong-arm tactics by the machine. The election, remember, is Aug. 8 (there is no contest in November) and features two worthy candidates: George Ward and Sharon McPhail. Unless you are nostalgic for a taste of life in the 1880s Robber Baron era, please vote.

New slogan at the Free Press?: Incredibly, there are still some literate adults who think the Free Press runs a “liberal” editorial page, which, if ever true, ceased being so about the time of the JOA. While the Detroit News has — until now — never wavered from a consistent hard-right stand, the Freep has become the ideological fellator of power.

There’s proof enough in its two endorsements of John Engler and last week’s especially craven endorsement of Duggan. “While lacking law enforcement experience ... there is no disputing his energy.” Besides, even if the airport is a mess, Duggan reassured the Freep “There are no criminal investigations whatever.”

Makes me want to send money — and wonder what Knight Ridder wants from Wayne County now. Oh, the Freep likely will endorse Al Gore in October, even if his campaign is in flames as the great blimp approaches the mooring mast, but, hey — nobody cares who any newspaper endorses for President. The lesser offices are where endorsements count.

Green Party update: Though Ralph Nader is at 8 percent and climbing in the latest Michigan poll, it is still unclear whether he will be on the ballot here. The party’s state organization has been in some disarray, and they have been scrambling to collect the more than 30,000 signatures which have to be filed with the Secretary of State by July 20.

Peter Schermerhorn, party treasurer, told me they have more than enough, but were striving for a cushion. You can bet Mark Brewer and the Democrats will challenge their signatures; they want them kept off the ballot if they possibly can.

Incidentally, assuming they make it — wanna spot on the Green ticket? The party is having its statewide convention in Okemos, near Lansing, July 29. The networks may not be there, but some interesting folks will, and they are still looking to fill some slots.

The truth about Fairlane: Lots of luck. Now that the lawyers, the posturers, the PR squads and the insurance companies have landed, we may never arrive at anything like the “truth” about what happened with Frederick Finley, who died, apparently of asphyxiation, after a scuffle with store security guards June 22. He will now be portrayed as a saint or a lowlife, depending on your lawyers. He was probably neither — but so what? Cutting to the chase, the bottom line is that he is dead. And does anybody really think they would have choked me, a little middle-aged white guy in a suit, to death under the same circumstances? Neither do I.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to

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