Letters to the Editor

Vote early ...

Re: “No count recount” (Metro Times, Sept. 21), you did a great job on this story. I just received an unsolicited ballot in the mail about two or three weeks ago, and a friend of mine received unsolicited ballots for his mother (deceased three years) and his father (deceased three months). What’s happening to our sacred right to vote? Elections seem to be getting just as corrupt as the politicians. We had Florida, Ohio, then Rev. Pinkney in Benton Harbor, and now Detroit. —Pam Randazzo, Detroit


Solidarity forever

Thanks to Curt Guyette for his article on the benefit for striking Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association members (“Solidarity forsaken,” Metro Times, Aug. 31).

That benefit, by the all-volunteer Friends of Labor (an ad hoc group which formed during the Detroit Newspapers strike), expresses the best labor movement traditions: “Never cross a picket line” and “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

In this case the givebacks demanded by Northwest Airlines are one more example of union-busting and contracting out. For those who say, “I’m not in a union, it doesn’t matter to me” — think again. It’s union contracts, with their wages and protections, that pull everyone’s living standards up. If AMFA is broken as a union, it’s your nonunionized employer who will be bolder about downsizing your standard of living.

To answer Professor Rachleff’s question “Is there solidarity?” Yes, there is — every time working people volunteer to help put together a benefit, walk a picket line or refuse to fly a struck airline. The injury to AMFA members today can be the injury to you tomorrow unless you stand up. —Jeff Ditz, Detroit


Party stalwart

I have to disagree completely with Ben Blackwell’s write-up on the Bloc Party show. What was he expecting? Pyrotechnics? Maybe a robotic Eddie walking around? Bloc Party showed up and played their music perfectly.

Other than the bass being a little low in the mix, their sound was incredible. Matt Tong’s drumming was exceptional, and this was amplified by the perfect drum mix that he had. Maybe Ben just cannot understand people that speak with an English accent, but I was able to understand Okereke’s “every last unintelligible between-song mumble.” Somehow Ben managed to understand that the Bloc Party had to cut the set short. If Ben thought that the Bloc Party was causing “torture” to people then why was the crowd “lapping it up”? Bloc Party showed up and put on a great show. Sure they did not run around the stage like a bunch of crazy monkeys, but they did show up and play their music. It’s the music that the crowd came to hear. At least Ben had a good time watching all the pretty lights. —Mike Dew, Royal Oak


Receivership, ho!

It is so rare that I agree with anything that Mr. Lessenberry opines about, I have to comment when I am in agreement. His Sept. 21 article about Kwame Kilpatrick and his lack of qualifications completely hits the target.

However, Jack’s sneering at the lawmakers in Lansing and the potential for a Detroit takeover via receivership is, plainly speaking, misplaced sentiment. Mr. Lessenberry would rather have Detroit solve its own problems and thus stay sovereign.

Ideally, I couldn’t agree more. But upon even the most cursory inspection, Detroit’s municipal governance is nothing more than a rotted framework for the securing of a nice sinecure for life where no one will ever bother you because you have no direct accountability.

At the heart of the problem is that the majority of voters in Detroit that actually bother to go to the polls do not understand enough about their candidates to elect ones with sound experience and practical ideas.

The August primary election underscores this point. Out of the 120 candidates running it became painfully clear that when the ballots were counted that qualifications were not the driving force behind who made it and who did not. It was solely name recognition. Consider the fact that councilman Alonzo Bates, currently under federal indictment, made it to the final balloting. What has Martha Reeves ever done in terms of governance of anything?

And what about the School Board elections? Weren’t the voters making headlines by screaming and yelling about disenfranchisement and disrupting school board meetings over the past several years? Yet when their time came to elect a new and freely elected school board the majority of people on the ballot did not receive any votes.

Why does Detroit, with a shrinking tax base and population, have a fully staffed nine-member City Council? Not even to mention a common, oops, I mean a City Council that is at large instead of elected by district. Why are there no term limits for council or for the mayor? Would it not be better to put policy implementation in the hands of a an unelected official, say like a city manager?

Making matters worse, the majority of those who have the wherewithal generally leave Detroit. The corollary is that the bulk (not all) of those who are left have no “wherewithal” whatsoever!

Sadly, true political reform will never occur under the current political framework. Contrary to what Mr. Lessenberry espouses, Lansing needs to step in and wipe the slate clean. Because even if Mr. Hendrix is elected, despite his ostensible virtue and ability, he will have to deal with Ortheia Barnes, Martha Reeves, JoAnn Watson and perhaps even Alonzo Bates from his prison cell. —Craig Larsen, Detroit


Sweat equity

The rebuilding of homes could become a blessing with the use of cooperative homes or apartments. You had an article a few weeks or months ago which included some words from Fred Woods who manages more than 50 cooperative senior citizen apartments and I am the secretary of such a building in Trenton, on the Detroit River, and I count myself as blessed.

Many years ago a fellow, James Rousch, took a condemned apartment building and gathered some homeless folk who cleaned, hung drywall, shared all the tasks of bringing a dead building to life and their work — “sweat equity” — went, like dollars do, to paying for their homes. Even kids can take out trash, and older people can make lunch for the workers.

America needs to find its pioneering spirit again, use our resources, create “green” buildings and put the unemployed to work doing the labor needed to create such structures. A sort of Extreme Habitat for Humanity on Steroids. Leaders are neededwho are able to motivate folks to believe in the power of we over the selfishness of me.

Straw for insulation. Reclaimed water from the roof. Windmills for electricity. Digging ditches for pipes that pull heat and cold from the ground. There are ways to build that keep the costs of heating and cooling down. It has been done. 

Why build the same old expensive oil-chugging or gas-bloated homes when we are running out? What more has to happen to us to realize there must be a better way to build a house. Engineers and environmentalists have the answers and the huddled masses standing out in the rain need their help. 

Our government so far has shown they can’t take care of us in a crisis. Don’t you think it is time we start to take care of ourselves? —Anne Bennett, Trenton


Erratum: Last week’s review of the film A History of Violence was incorrectly credited. It should have been credited to Jeff Meyers.

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