Dropping the dime on us
In her recent article, (“Detroit faces massive layoffs in 2005,” Metro Times, Dec. 22, 2004), Lisa M. Collins correctly points out the complex reasons for our structural budget deficit. Ric Bohy, on the other hand, derives his insight from simplistic, mean-spirited distortions of fact (“Their honor, your dime,” Metro Times, Dec. 29, 2004).
Journalists have a right to monitor the actions of public officials; it is one of the most important hallmarks of a healthy, democratic society. There is also an ethical responsibility to report the facts accurately, so readers are informed voters.
Contrary to Bohy’s suggestion that City Council responded to our financial crisis by fattening our budgets, the sole reason for the increase in City Council’s budget are rising costs of health care, pension and fringe benefits. City Council made cuts in every other account.
To compare the City Council’s budget with the mayor’s is to compare apples and oranges. The mayor’s budget not only includes his own office but also the staffs of all other departments over which he exercises supervisory authority. He appoints every department director, along with deputy directors. Management-level appointees who answer directly to the mayor include those in his newly created Strategic Management, Program Management and Grants Management departments.
Mr. Bohy is wrong when he states that “nobody has to approve expenditures from each council member’s budget.” The City Council president has no legal budget oversight authority. All spending of public monies is supervised by the administration’s budget director. All expenditures are accounted for in the same way, no matter what department or agency it comes from.
It is important to understand our respective roles in shaping budgets and responding to fiscal crises. The City Council has to approve all expenditures, monitor spending and approve the city’s budget. The administration has to initiate proposals for how tax monies should be spent. Until the mayor presents the City Council with a deficit reduction plan, City Council cannot by law take any budgetary actions. The City Council has asked for this plan repeatedly, for nearly a year, and still has not received it. Five of us took action by calling upon the mayor to meet with City Council this month. The first of these meetings will occur on Friday, Jan. 14.
To suggest that my alliance with councilmembers Collins and McPhail serves “special interests” completely ignores that division and alliances among Council members are based on values and issues that affect taxpaying residents in Detroit.
If Metro Times is committed and sincere about informing its readers, investigating and analyzing City Council public statements, policy initiatives and votes on issues would be far more illuminating than hostile ruminations about motivations and agendas that have no basis in fact. —Maryann Mahaffey, President, Detroit City Council
Yes, Jack believes it
Mr. Lessenberry: You state that Bush won the election by some 2 million votes (“Facing the next four years,” Metro Times, Jan 5, 2005). Do you really believe this? How do you explain the discrepancy between exit poll results and vote tallies in battleground states but excellent agreement elsewhere? Doesn’t it seem just a little strange that virtually all of the enormous number of election “irregularities” that have come to light favor Bush? Do you accept that electronic voting machines (supplied by companies with strong Republican ties, run by secret code and easily hacked) give an accurate reflection of voters’ wishes? You need to face the fact that the United States is very quickly descending into dictatorship and may well be there now. I do not believe for a second that George Bush won in 2004 or in 2000. Somehow, I have a suspicion you don’t believe it either. —Tim Birt, Kingston, Ontario
Where’s the exit strategy?
Jack Lessenbery writes (“Facing the next four years,” Metro Times, Jan. 5, 2005), “Most damning, Kerry failed to articulate any kind of strategy for Iraq except to stupidly promise that he would ‘win’ the war. He didn’t say how, or when.”
In fact Kerry said he would add 40,000 new soldiers; which was the consensus of most of Bush’s own generals, that more soldiers were needed.
Beyond that however, Kerry was in the mainstream of the Democratic Party in its original support for the war. Howard Dean stated he was opposed to the war, but did not advocate immediate withdrawal of the troops.
But one saw the withdrawal of support for Dean when he became too popular and the official shift to John Kerry. If Kerry had signed on to Senator Carl Levin’s bill to make Security Council approval a condition for Senate approval, would the party have supported him? Most likely not, and that is the real failure. —Ed Sarkis, Troy, [email protected]
As much as I enjoy Lessenberry’s weekly liberal take on the Shrub and world politics in general, I would really love to hear his thoughts on “Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation,” especially since, on the Internet, the space featuring his article has been pimped out to those very important “doctors.”
Come on, people — give me a break! The few of us out in the world who tune in on Wednesdays to read this guy’s editorials about how to make the world a better place now have to stare at an ad featuring a model with an expensive new tight twat? For real?
It’s not that I’m sensitive and find it offensive — that’s far from the case. I do question the placement though, and like I said, I’d love to hear Jack’s thoughts on it. Maybe someone did a study and found that people who read Lessenberry are concerned about such things, but I doubt it. —Matt Wrosch, San Diego
Be very, very afraid
Jack Lessenberry: I enjoy reading your editorials. They’re always thought-provoking. Ever since the November election I have an overwhelming sense of foreboding that I just can’t shake. I’ve always had faith in the American people that we would do what’s right, but ever since 9/11 this country has become a mass of frightened sheep, led to slaughter by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The direction that this country is headed literally scares me to death!
I live on the outskirts of Detroit and work in the city (another topic I agree with you on). One need only be here a short time to see the impact of today’s economy on the manufacturing sector. What scares me more than the economy is all the talk of “morality.” To me what Bush is doing is attempting his own crusade against the Muslims and anyone else who doesn’t believe as he does. —Debra H. Copeman, Pleasant Ridge
A dubious omission
While there were many deserving winners of the “Dubious Achievement Awards 2004” (Metro Times, Jan. 5, 2005), I noticed a double standard and a glaring omission. The August sellout of WDTR that ignored community activists had a parallel in WDET General Manager Caryn Mathes gutting the station’s very identity as a public radio station in September. At both stations, diverse listener favorites were replaced by commercialized formats. The actions at WDET drew far more protests than those at WDTR. While it has not been publicly reported how listener outrage affected the fall pledge drive, it was announced in December that Mathes will be leaving the station after 22 years.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of the WDET situation is that Metro Times has barely covered it. Is this because Managing Editor W. Kim Heron hosts a WDET jazz show that wasn’t affected by the programming changes? Ah, those conflicts of interest! —Dave Hornstein, Southfield, [email protected]
Alliteration & accusation
In your “Dubious Achievement Awards 2004,” you announce, “Whining whiteys win one” when challenging the racial profiling and preferences called “affirmative action.” Forty years ago, “persons of color” rose up to protest other, more virulent racial affirmation styled “Jim Crow.” Would Metro Times report: “Bitching blackies battle back”? —John C. Bonnell, Roseville
Kalan: Canadian Clay?
I felt compelled to write to you to thank you for including Kalan Porter’s 219 Days CD on your top ten list of CDs for 2004 (“Best (and worst) music of 2004,” Metro Times, Jan. 5, 2005).
I really like your comparison of Kalan to Robert Palmer. A DJ in Edmonton has also compared Kalan to Rob Thomas from his Santana days. In particular the DJ was referencing the sexy sound of the song “Single” to that of the song “Smooth.”
Kalan has a loyal following in Canada and I personally hope your article will garner him some international fans. —Rosemary Rudolph, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, [email protected]Send comments to [email protected]