Lone crusader

Jul 10, 2002 at 12:00 am

On a blistering afternoon Cornell Collier held a one-man protest in downtown Detroit. The placard the West Village resident held above his head read, “Vote Yes on Districts for City Council so your neighborhood won’t be left behind.”

Collier, who’d been protesting for three straight days, was referring to the much-ballyhooed measure the state Legislature recently adopted. A referendum will be on Detroit’s Aug. 6 ballot, asking voters whether they’d like to elect council members at large, as has been the case for decades, or via districts.

Collier thinks Detroit neighborhoods have gone to hell because they have no political representation. “And I know if a City Councilperson had to wake up every morning and see what people in these neighborhoods have to see, you can’t tell me they wouldn’t be on the phone trying to fix it,” he says. In a district system, council reps would have to live in their district. Now, they can live anywhere in the city. Collier referred to a recent Detroit News story showing that most City Council members live in a handful of affluent neighborhoods — Rosedale Park, the University District, Indian Village, Woodbridge and downtown — leaving huge swaths of the city without a representative in sight. Council, which is prepping for a court fight, has been screaming that the ballot measure is a despotic act from Detroit House Democrats, namely Rep. Keith Daniels, who proposed it. News Hits hates to grouse, but earlier this year the column suggested that council get its own district plan in motion rather than let the worthy issue become mired in Detroit vs. Lansing power plays.

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail [email protected]