Minehaha Forman is a freelance writer living in Detroit. Born on a farm in Belize, Central America, she moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and a career in writing. Forman’s work has been featured in many metro Detroit publications including Dbusiness magazine, Hour magazine and Corp! magazine. She has provided event coverage for Real Times Media and The Michigan Chronicle for three years, covering the popular Pancakes and Politics speaker series and other events. Prior to working with the Chronicle, Forman was a blogger with The American Independent News Network where she covered Metro Detroit politics and the 2008 presidential election. She will continue to provide commentary and coverage of Detroit politics as a blogger and feature writer for The Michigan Chronicle’s website.
Website URL: http://truthordarestories.blogspot.com/
I woke up to bad news this morning: DPS will cut 2,000 jobs this fall to stay afloat, someone died in a shooting on the West Side and in another incident a man was stabbed, a woman was carjacked by a ten-year old... These are not exactly chipper facts to go with your morning coffee.
If I hadn't read the news, I wouldn't have known anything bad was happening. That's because I also woke up to some great news this morning: The eggs I set under one of my hens are hatching, the cucumbers I planted ate starting to climb up the trellis, the field of garlic on a vacant lot is standing tall and the plums trees, also in a vacant lot, are heavy with ripe fruit: too many to eat. All the snap peas are ready, birds are chirping loudly and cheerily, as if it were the best day of their life. And best of all, it's summertime! Today is the first day of summer and one of the longest days of the year.
Despite all the bad news, I remember why I love Detroit. It's the absolute freedom of farming vast spaces of vacant land, of having bonfires in the middle of a city lot. It's the countless birds chirping. It's the wild, wild Midwest feeling where laws and ordinances have been flung to the wayside years ago: The city can't even afford to fully mow it's own vacant lots so my garlic field is safe from citation.
In any other city I couldn't do this. I couldn't get dolled up and drive five minutes to a fabulous cocktail party downtown and still dig my lunch out of the ground out back. People flock from all over the world to visit Detroit. So many people want to interview me about my garden from Holland, Sweden, Australia, South Africa ... that it gets annoying. I just like fresh food. These tourists come to photograph the eerie abandoned factories, the urban farms, the artwork. Because it's a city where almost anything goes.
Despite al the bad news, I love living in Detroit. It reminds me of my home country: Belize, Central America. And while that's a third world country, the decaying economy also lends residents a lot of freedom if they know how to find it. We could have the best turnaround team in the world on board to help fix the city's finances, but we have to be real with ourselves: Nothing's changing overnight and it may get worse before it gets better. So embrace the freedom. Stay informed, but focus on the positive.
If the city of Detroit was a business, and Mayor Dave Bing was the President/CEO, and Corporation Council Krystal Crittendon was said businesses’ top lawyer, Crittendon would have been fired months ago.
But the city isn’t a business, and the mayor isn’t a President or CEO and able to call all the shots. There are many reasons one could argue that municipalities aren’t like a business, and alternately, many reasons why one could argue that they are.
Bing has said many times that the city aught to be run like a business. And in his letter to Crittendon yesterday, he cited how she had hurt her client, the City of Detroit, in her lawsuit challenging the consent agreement. As a direct result of her actions, bond ratings dropped, along with the already low public opinion of the city.
As much as Bing would like to run the city like a business, there are instances, like this one, where the two are distinguished. The city council has to vote on this one and six of them have to agree with Bing in order to remove Crittendon from her post as the city’s leading lawyer. And the council doesn't work for Bing.
It is unlikely that the City Council will vote out Crittendon for two reasons: First of all, there are not six city council members who agreed with allowing the consent agreement in the first place. That vote rattled through at 5-4. Secondly, Bing has already asked the city council members to remove Crittendon: just last week. They said “no” and no major external shifts have taken place since then, unless they are under some more, less public pressure from the state to get rid of her, the vote isn’t likely to change.
The question of weather a city should be run like business has intrigued me for some time.
But now is not the time for more philosophical debates and back and forth within city government. Could Crittendon’s removal turn into another city circus?
That’s what Bing is trying to avoid, and yet it almost seems inevitable.
One of the definitions the Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives for the word “business” is:
“Serious activity requiring time and effort and usually the avoidance of distractions "
Under that definition, Detroit is definitely a business and needs to avoid as many distractions as possible in order to stabilize not only the city’s reputation, but its finances.
Does It Matter If You’re Black or White?
Michael Jackson didn’t think it mattered but when it comes to the ballot box, voters do. The question is, should it?
As the August 7 primary creeps near, here’s some bad news for Congressman Hansen Clarke: Yesterday, the Black Slate, a grassroots organization-turned-PAC that was founded in 1973 to make sure black voters are educated on which candidates are best qualified for the community, endorsed congressman Gary Peters over Clarke despite that fact that, well, Peters isn’t white and Clarke identifies himself as a black man. So what just happened?
It’s the first time the Black Slate has endorsed a white candidate running for a seat in the U.S. House. As much as we try to avoid this, in a region as segregated and steeped in racial tension as Metro Detroit, yes.
Should it matter? No. Let the most qualified candidate win. Politics without racial consideration would be a beautiful thing. And while it’s not the 60’s anymore, the way votes are divided along racial lines, it’s clear we have a long way to go before people take race out of the equation at he ballot box.
Still, it’s decisions like the Black Slate’s to back Peters that gives hope to a new kind of politics. A kind inspired by President Barack Obama’s election almost four years ago where a black man can get the white vote, and a white man can get the black vote; A country where we truly judge candidates by their political history across the board and not the color of one’s skin.
That’s what the Black Slate has done with the Peters endorsement.
"Ron Hewitt, the coordinator for the Black Slate, said race wasn’t an issue in the selection. He said Peters 'voted with President (Barack) Obama more than any other candidate in this race; helped to pass the historic healthcare legislation; and was a leader in saving the automotive industry from collapsing.'
'[Peters] record was more in keeping with what we were looking for,” Hewitt said...'"
Now that the 14th congressional district has been re-drawn into strangely shaped and sprawling space spanning over of white suburban communities as well as black urban ones, the vote along racial lines could really make the difference. How important is it that we have a black representative in Washington?
Writer Jack Lessenberry put it this way in a February article in Hour magazine:
“The 13th and 14th districts theoretically should elect black congressmen. Michigan has had two African-Americans in congress since [John] Conyers was first elected in 1964…”
This raised a question in my mind that I’m still struggling to answer: When we forget about race are we also forgetting the recent past or are we taking the struggles of the past and turning them into the future Martin Luther King dreamed of?
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