Letters to the Editor

Voting with her feet

Re: “On the election” (Metro Times, Nov. 16), I agree with you, Jack, and I am glad you printed the angry letter, because, for me, it sounded like something right out of my mouth. Unfortunately, there is black-on-black racism. Kwame is a dark-skinned, nappy-headed, earring-wearing partier and Hendrix is light-skinned, has good hair and is conservative in his look. A lot of people here in Detroit love scandals. It gives them something to talk about besides what’s really important. People love it, it makes them feel good that they can identify with this man. I am a 26-year-old woman who was around in the 1990s to remember the good that the Archer/Hendrix administration accomplished, including the Empowerment Zone, an area around Murray Wright High School. I am also a person who really believed that Hendrix would win. With all of the negative media attention about Kwame, I figured, “Who could be that stupid to actually give him four more years to spend petty cash on family and friends?” I attend Henry Ford Community College and, as soon as I am able, I too will be leaving the city. The stigma that Detroit has is that a lot of poor, stupid and racist people are here. And I no longer want to be a part of it. I don’t want to be grouped with imbeciles. —Tiffiny Elise Shipp, Detroit


United we stand

Dear Mr. Lessenberry: I may not agree with your assessment of Mayor Kilpatrick’s inability to lead this city forward but I do agree with you that the results of this year’s race go well beyond who won.

This past mayoral race was one of the most divisive I have ever seen (outside of the 2004 presidential election) and it may create more problems for our city than it solves. The past several months saw Detroiters pitted against each other at almost every level (young vs. old, rich vs. poor, educated vs. uneducated, etc.)

What’s unfortunate about that is that Detroit needs unity now more than ever. If we are going to move our city forward we must all be willing to put the negativity of the past behind us and move collectively toward a brighter future. To those older, more affluent Detroiters who made up the base of Freman’s support: We need you to stay in Detroit, help sustain out tax base and open businesses here to help offset the massive layoffs that are coming from the city, Delphi, GM, Ford and so many other companies that are struggling. To those young people who supported Mayor Kilpatrick: We must not gloat, but be willing to listen and learn from our elders so that we will be equipped to persevere and lead the way they did during the racial struggles of the ’60s and the economic struggles of the ’80s.

During his concession speech Freman offered an olive branch to Mayor Kilpatrick, and I would hope he accepts it if for no other reason than to start the healing our city. Its citizens need to move Detroit forward.

Lastly, Mr. Lessenberry, it should be obvious that I agree with you that race-baiting is gutter politics at its worst, but in the interest of fairness it should be pointed out that people like L. Brooks Patterson and the grand wizard of Warren, Mark Steenbergh, have built their political careers off exploiting racism and racial separation. —Dalton Roberson Jr., Detroit


Do Detroiters want help?

Re: Jack Lessenberry’s “Detroit’s future, and ours” (Metro Times, Nov. 9), I agree with everything that was written — but even if everyone who could was prepared to help, what if the people already living in the city didn’t want it? One gets the impression that the people in the city don’t want suburban help and the suburban people who want to help don’t trust the city government effectively to use any financial support it’s given. Governments aren’t Donald Trump. It’s not their job to revamp buildings and businesses. Businesspeople come up with ideas and raise the capital for them. The government is there to make sure the zoning laws are obeyed and the public isn’t getting screwed. —Victor Ventimiglia, St. Clair Shores


Some flak for Jack

Once again Jack Lessenberry reveals his mean-spirited spiteful approach to this community. In “Bush’s Watergate” (Metro Times, Nov. 2) he has the audacity to lecture the black press and black people generally about the manner in which we choose to deal with one of the numerous atrocities perpetrated by white people against us. He accuses Mayor Kilpatrick, whom he refers to as a “creature,” of being connected to the ad, despite the fact that he offers no proof of this. He accuses Mayor Kilpatrick of spending “thousands for limousines and night clubs,” when he knows that every mayor for at least the past 50 years has been provided a limousine and further that mayors are provided with a fund to entertain dignitaries and businesspeople in attempts to persuade them to do business in Detroit. He then proceeds to refer to the mayor as a boy despite the fact the he is 35 years old, finds a way to refer to his mother (a U.S. congresswoman) in a gratuitously insulting manner, throws another person’s name (Adolph Mongo) out without any explanation, and disparages the black newspapers in this city.

And this racist fool has the temerity to say black people ought to be embarrassed. Black and white people ought to be embarrassed that we allow this person to teach our children in one of our major public universities. He goes on to say “all indications are that two months from now, he [Mayor Kilpatrick] won’t have a job unless his mama gives him one.” —Ronald Hewitt, Detroit


Emergency time

Jack Lessenberry asks who wins if the state takes over Detroit. The answer is everyone except members of the incompetent political machine that has been running the city for 40 years. Of course this assumes the state appoints an emergency financial manager with the backbone to stand against the entrenched bureaucrats and labor unions blocking regulatory reform and the resizing of the city’s work force to match a declining population.

For an example of what might happen, we need to look no farther than Hamtramck, which experienced the appointment of an emergency financial manager. Louis Schimmel was appointed in 2000 to clean up a mess left by years of insufficient leadership from elected mayors and City Council members. In four years, Schimmel balanced the budget, improved services and eliminated waste. Is Hamtramck a utopia now? Not even close. But, unlike Detroit, it is no longer imploding because professional, hard-nosed managers straightened out the mess left by incompetent politicians.

As far as Lessenberry’s claim that “citizens would be politically powerless,” I say, “Welcome to the club.” I have worked in the city for several years while forcibly contributing 1.5 percent of my income to the treasury. In that time, I have been allowed to vote zero times for the officials who determine how that money will be spent.

In order to succeed, the city of Detroit needs professional management, not a bloated city council and a mayor prone to “mistakes.” —Steve Sutton, Farmington Hills


Alternate routes

Re: “Roads not working” (Metro Times, Nov. 16), what a great article! Not only did you report on what’s wrong, but you included excellent suggestions that our city and county leaders should take notice of if we are going to do something about the condition of our “city.” I really appreciate your detailed research into how other metropolitan areas are planning to stay vital and I hope someone with some authority is reading along, and is aware of what the rest of the country is thinking about us.

Thanks for responsible reporting of problems with solutions! —Kristine Gosselin, Livonias


Get busy on dancehall!

I wanted to comment on the article “Spliff n’ Groove” (Metro Times, Nov. 2) by Jonathan Cunningham. Reading this article, I was ecstatic to see a reggae/dancehall event in Detroit finally get put in the spotlight. Even though Jonathan states, “Such sound-system operators ... are beginning to play venues throughout Detroit,” reggae/ dancehall sound systems and artists have been in and around Detroit for decades.

This article focuses on the Mad Cobra and Half Pint show that, unfortunately, was canceled, but recently there were three much larger shows featuring Capleton, Sanchez and, most recently, Beenie Man, that received little, if any, attention.

I only hope that this is the first of many more articles to come highlighting some of these shows that are coming to Detroit and also our local talent as well. —D. Hicks, Southfield


Dancehall’s roots deep

Although I was extremely excited to see your article on Half Pint, Mad Cobra and the reggae/dancehall scene in the city of Detroit, I was equally disturbed by some of the discrepancies, as well. Being a Caribbean native, a dancehall and reggae music lover, and a longtime citizen of Detroit, I thought it was imperative for the growth and progress of dancehall in this city for me to contact you.

First, the mention of “sound-system operators ... beginning to play venues throughout Detroit” — with further research, it would have been found that dancehall and reggae music have been in existence in Detroit for more than three decades. A popular and historic dancehall is Archer’s Lounge on West McNichols Road. They have been playing reggae for more than 30 years consistently every night. King Harmony, a more veteran sound system, has also been playing in Detroit for over 15 years.

Second, to speak of Extreme Sound, which is Detroit’s most recent and feeble sound system. They have some coming up to do compared to better-quality groups such as Roots Rock Sound and Infinity Sound. I must agree that Detroit is tremendously behind the times compared to Toronto and Chicago. But with misinformation on dancehall, Detroit will still be at a standstill. I would hate for other cultures to be attracted to the wrong information and then disappointed. For more research please refer to some of the local Web sites like detroitreggae.com, tmyccco.com or sourcenews.org. I have found them to be extremely informative for anything concerning Detroit’s reggae and dancehall scene. Once again, I thank you for the exposure, it is greatly appreciated. —T.K. Brouster, Detroit


For the record

Metro Times’ musical best ofs (“The MT anti-awards, er, best in Motor City show!Metro Times, Nov. 9) includes “Best Record Stores.” Well, there was one very important one omitted, and yet another that deserves recognition. You folks there at Metro Times should take a look at stores like Street Corner and Switched On. Point being, you listed some stores that have gone out business (Off the Record and Wendell’s), but you forgot Funhouse. Well, we still love ya for the editorials. I hope you guys find it reasonable for us to speak up. —Kyle Klebba, Street Corner Records, Beverly Hills


Speaking freely

Sarah Klein’s culture column, “I’m with stupid” (Metro Times, Nov. 9), was right on the money this week, tickling the sweet spot for individual rights. I think limitations on speech rights are just as damaging to Americans as cancer — be it a T-shirt boycott or the PMRC.

People need to know that speech rights are for everyone, even if defending a multimillion-dollar corporation isn’t too hip these days. Ballsy reporting and objective viewpoints are the reason I like your fucking paper.

The thought of those sandy little sluts trying to boss around a respectable business in the name of moral righteousness makes me so mad I want to load up my BB gun and start blasting sparrows and squirrels. —Dan Keizer, Saint Clair Shores

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