Letters to the Editor

Sep 25, 2002 at 12:00 am
Trials and errors

I congratulate Metro Times and Lisa M. Collins on her timely and well-researched story, "Slipping up" (Metro Times, Aug. 21-27) concerning the staggering amounts paid out by the city of Detroit in personal injury lawsuits and other "tort" cases. I found Collins' reporting to be as fascinating as it was consistent with my own experience as a defense-side tort litigator in southeast Michigan.

But the one important factor in the risk-management crisis facing the City of Detroit that Collins missed is that virtually all of the injury lawsuits filed against the city are filed in the Wayne County Circuit Court.

Defense litigators know that Wayne County juries are unpredictable and that bizarre and huge jury awards are frequent, if not regular, occurrences in the courtrooms of the Coleman A. Young Center. For that reason, professional risk managers, insurers and defense attorneys look upon Detroit and Wayne County as less attractive places to maintain and operate businesses.

The City of Detroit is not the only large corporate entity that has been staggered by enormous verdicts (and the threat of enormous verdicts, which is then reflected in enormous settlements). —Charles D. Brown, Franklin

Long way to go

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Keith A. Owens' column, "Beyond the mourning" (Metro Times, Sept. 12-17). He makes an excellent point: Just because Timothy McVeigh, a young white male, was involved in Oklahoma City bombing, nobody started hating or pointing fingers at young white males. Then, why is it that anybody who even remotely resembles a Middle Eastern male becomes an object of suspicion, scorn and anger?

I am a clean-shaven Asian-American and yet, invariably, I get "spot-checked" at the airports whenever I try to catch a flight. Some of us have even learned to check in even our carry-on luggage in order to minimize the chances of being spot-checked.

It is a truism that a minority has not "arrived" until they are no longer subject to pigeonholing, stereotyping and typecasting. Has any minority gotten to that point yet? I think not. —Pradeep Srivastava, Detroit

Misleading leaders

Mary Ann Mahaffey's comments in Jack Lessenberry's column regarding the potential closing of our bookstore typify the self-serving attitude of Detroit's leaders ("Development for dummies, Metro Times, Sept. 18-24). Apparently, she doesn't understand the fragile city ecosystem, whereupon the continued loss of small businesses such as ours contributes to permanent decay, including the loss of tax dollars, residents, destinations and the cultural dumbing-down of a once vibrant and inviting city. It is far more expedient for her to support big projects, mostly run by non-Detroiters, instead of showing some concern and appreciation for the dedication and contribution we small businesses make to the City of Detroit.

Stop this collateral damage now. —John K. King, Detroit

Neighborhood pride

I'd like to be a voice from Detroit that weighs in on the wonderful article by Lisa M. Collins about Avalon International Breads ("On a roll," Metro Times, Sept. 4-10). I am tremendously proud to call Ann, Jackie and Rafi my friends and I am equally proud to call Avalon my neighborhood bakery. I live three blocks away.

When my boyfriend first wooed me with wine four years ago, I supplied the French baguettes from Avalon. When I wanted to impress said boyfriend's mother in South Carolina, Ann packed my arms with a variety of breads sure to please. When I need a treat, a chocolate espresso brioche always comes to mind.

I welcome our suburban friends that frequent the bakery. Part of the thrill of the bakery is how many different kinds of people are there at one time.

However, let it not be thought that Detroiters don't welcome, appreciate and patronize a great local business. Indeed, we do.

Thank you, Metro Times, for honoring the commitment that Ann and Jackie have made to the city. And thank you, Ann and Jackie, for giving us all one more reason to love living in Detroit. — Julia Pointer, [email protected], Detroit