We’re No.1 twice 

Two news items in recent days caught our attention. One had to do with Detroit’s murder rate, the other with blubber.

We always have to chuckle when city boosters talk about Detroit’s image problem. They decry how media consistently portray our fine city in a negative light. The “demon media,” as Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick might say. Unfortunately for Detroit, facts sometimes get in the way. As the Freep reported last week, Detroiters were murdering each other at a rate of only one per day. We say only because the 361 homicides recorded last year reportedly represents the lowest total since 1967. Unfortunately, as the article points out, it is the murder rate that is of real import, and back in ’67, Detroit had a lot more people, so the current rate of 39 homicides per 100,000 people is actually much higher than it was back in the ’60s. In fairness, even the rate has been dropping in recent years. So things are getting better. Even so, according to FBI statistics reported by the Freep, our murder rate puts Detroit at the top of this nation’s 10 largest cities. That is not an image problem; that is a problem, period.

We also couldn’t help noticing that papers as far away as Melbourne, Australia, got a chuckle out of reporting that Men’s Fitness magazine is declaring Motown to be America’s fattest city. After holding the title for three straight years, a concentrated effort to slim down paid off for Houston, allowing us to take the top spot.

The Associated Press reported that our 300-pound mayor (OK, even we have to admit that’s 300 pounds of what looks to be mostly muscle) blamed all our blubber on the fact that our city is built around the car, which means that the only walking many here do is simply out to their driveway and back. But the big man is vowing to lead by example, promising to participate in a marathon this coming year. That’s one promise we can’t wait to see fulfilled. And Kwame, it doesn’t count if you cover the course on your Harley.

There is, of course, another solution. There could be a campaign to urge Detroit’s shooters to concentrate their sights on really fat people. That, at least, would probably move us out of the No. 1 slot in at least one category. But we wonder: Will that help our image, or hurt it?

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