Pennies and pounds

May 22, 2002 at 12:00 am

Driving home from work last week, News Hits had its radio tuned to WDET-FM 101.9 when the voice of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick came booming through the speakers. He was addressing Detroit City Council, which had looked at all the coin gambling halls are raking in and decided the city needs to capture a bigger share of the take. According to a consultant brought in by the council, Detroit could be getting as much as $300 million more per year from said casinos and still allow the blackjack boys reasonable profit margins.

Kilpatrick disagreed. Along with trying to convince council that the deal on the table was the best it’s going to get, he also warned that the council’s focus on profits could deter other companies from locating here. “That is something that will be a tremendous disincentive from this point forward, to any business that wants to locate in the city of Detroit,” cautioned Kwame. That’s when we experienced a Tourette-like seizure, convulsively pounding the steering wheel and repeatedly screaming the word “bullshit.” OK, so maybe we let that prescription lapse a bit too long. But even well-medicated, we’d still have been pissed at the insult of so disingenuous an argument being foisted on us. We know Kilpatrick’s not dumb, and even the rutabagas in our garden realize that casinos ain’t like GM. As council member Sheila Cockrel rightly pointed out, the slot-machine folk have this market to themselves. The casinos have exclusive licenses to pick people’s pockets clean; consequently, the city has the right — no, make that the obligation — to milk from them every penny it can. And if that works out to an additional 30 billion pennies, all the better. We’re just begging the mayor to spare us any further sophistry, ’cause our steering wheel can’t take any more pounding.

Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]