DETROIT, MI – For those old enough to remember those indelible words from Coleman A. Young the day that he took office for the first time when he became the Mayor of Detroit in 1974. “I issue a forward warning now to all dope pushers, to all ripoff artists, to all muggers: It’s time to leave Detroit; hit Eight Mile Road. And I don’t give a damn if they are black or white, of if they wear Superfly suits or blue uniforms with silver badges: Hit the road.” Those words started the Cold War between Detroit and it’s suburban neighbors.
That mental line drawn in the pavement has divided Detroit and the suburbs for decades now and L. Brooks Patterson is making sure that the world knows that the line is as visible today as it was the day that it was put down. L. Brooks Patterson has governed Oakland County for 21 years. Patterson relishes in the fact that the county that he governs is affluent and thriving against the backdrop of the bankrupt City of Detroit.
‘Lord’ Brooks Patterson gave an interview to The New Yorker magazine this past September. He made the statement “Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know? Tough shit.” It is no secret that Patterson has been a lightening rod of controversy for years. Statements like this from Detroit’s neighboring suburbs do not help in changing it’s tarnished image.
Patterson also made this statement to The New Yorker: “I used to say to my kids, ‘First of all, there’s no reason for you to go to Detroit. We’ve got restaurants out here.’ They don’t even have movie theatres in Detroit—not one. I can’t imagine finding something in Detroit that we don’t have in spades here. Except for live sports. We don’t have baseball, football. For that, fine—get in and get out. But park right next to the venue—spend the extra twenty or thirty bucks. And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking.” He is also quoted as saying “I made a prediction a long time ago, and it’s come to pass. I said, ‘What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.” He also told Paige Williams from The New Yorker “it is too late for a Detroit turnaround”
There is no doubt that tongues are wagging in Detroit, the suburbs and even the nation about his remarks. What L. Brooks Patterson is failing to see is that Detroit is working towards a path that could easily make Oakland County look like an unwanted stepchild by the time is all said and done. If Patterson thinks for one minute that Oakland County could not take some massive hits from a rising phoenix like Detroit, then he is sadly mistaken.
Some how, some way, the line drawn down 8 Mile Road needs to be erased from the conscious so that not only do the suburbs thrive but so will Detroit.
Bill Mullan, a spokesman for Patterson, issued the following statement concerning the New Yorker profile.
“It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson. She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region. Mr. Patterson’s record on advancing regional issues in a transparent and responsible manner is unparalleled. His initiatives – including such as Automation Alley, the regional law enforcement management system CLEMIS, and his leadership on the Cobo Authority – have had a highly positive and nationally recognized impact on the region.”
Mullan did not say Patterson was misquoted.