COBO a No Go!

 The degree of absolute ignorance displayed by the five brainless members of the Detroit City Council who voted against the Cobo deal is rare, even for the often dizzy Detroit City Council.  Monica Conyers, JoAnn Watson, Barbara-Rose Collins, Martha Reeves, and Alberta Tinsley-Talabi…you should be ashamed of yourselves and embarrassed to show your faces in the City of Detroit.

The agreed Cobo plan was an accomplishment of Metropolitan Detroit political cooperation unlike we have seen in this region since, well, ever. The Cobo deal was an example of the kind of cooperation across municipal and county lines that is necessary if the City of Detroit and it’s Metropolitan region (which rise and sink together) is ever going to break out of the downward spiral we have found ourselves in for the past several decades. The Cobo plan, agreed upon between three county executives (including the unagreeable L. Brooks “Foresightless” Patterson), the Mayor of the City, the Governor, and the state assembly, was a project in negotiation for years.  The deal would have removed Cobo liabilities from the shoulders of Detroit residents and shifted them to the balance books of a newly created regional authority.  Specifically, the deal would have given $20 million in cash to the City. In exchange for that cash the regional authority would have completed a $288 million dollar renovation of the facility and taken on debts of the convention center estimated to be somewhere between $150 to $300 million dollars. Finally, the City would have been relieved of the approximately $15 million in annual City budget expenditures needed to maintain Cobo. These debts and expenditures have been, and now will remain, a heavy burden on our cash strapped City that is failing to provide even the most basic City Services.

In addition to the basic economic losses that the mentally defunct five members have ensured will a burden to the City, the overall losses to the City and her residents will be much higher.  The North American International Auto Show will not be Detroit’s show for much longer (unless a new Cobo plan is reached). German manufacturers agreed to attend the 2010 show on the basis that a renovation of the facility will take place.  Many other manufacturers from around the world have indicated that without an expanded facility they will not continue attending the show. It has long been recognized that without an updated and expanded Cobo Detroit’s auto show will, at best, remain a marginal show of interest only to locals. The new reality is a far cry from the international spectacle that brings millions of dollars and thousands of visitors to the City each year.

It is also likely that the City will miss out on the opportunity to host dozens of smaller conventions that could have been lured by a renovated facility.  The loss of additional convention business will have a devastating impact on the City’s economy, including hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and more.

An Even Bigger Problem

Each time a political decision is made that is as backwards as the one made by the Council members this week the City’s reputation and appeal to outside investors and potential residents is diminished.  Even someone like myself, an extreme advocate for the City of Detroit, cannot help but think twice about whether I am investing my time, money, sweat, and passion in vain.  Comments made by these numb skulls (including that the State of Michigan legislature is “racist”) and the end result of their actions is all the evidence needed to explain how a once-world class city has continued to digress into a further state of irrelevance.  Those of us dedicated to the growth of the City already face an uphill battle.  Actions taken by the City Council make it equivalent to a battle moving up an ice covered hill.  Perhaps the greatest travesty is the fact that many of the parties involved in the negotiation (prior to the Council’s vote) indicated that they would not be coming back to the table to work a new deal. 

But Why 

So how can an elected body in one of the Nation’s largest cities make such an ignorant mistake? And why?  The Council tried to justify there decision on the basis that they do not want to see the City of Detroit’s “assets” pilfered from future generations.  This thinking is so far beyond reason that even referring to it as “thinking” clouds the very definition of the word.

First, as discussed above, Cobo, as it sits right now, is NOT an asset.  Second, the “future generations” of Detroit citizens would be much better served if the Council focused their efforts on establishing basic city services, increasing revenue through economic development not hampered by miles of Council red tape, and holding themselves accountable to the people of the City not there own bank deposits.

Cobo was not being sold to Canada and shipped to Toronto.  Cobo was being transferred, negative cash flow and all, to a regional authority.  An authority may I remind you, that the City of Detroit and Wayne County had representation on.  The Five-Stooges lifted the rug of misinformation and complete ignorance of basic economic concepts and swept under the greater good of City residents and the financial health of the City.  This is not the first time that has happened.

For the City of Detroit to make the kind of changes needed for it to recovery drastic steps must be taken and unique solutions to monumental problems must be crafted.  Those kind of solutions are incomprehensible to many people in the City government.  The residents of Detroit, at least those that still care (which, if that number correlates to voting numbers for the mayoral primary is around 15%), must demand a change and hold thoughtless, selfish, and inept officials accountable.  Real change can only come to the City when a new crop of leaders is elected.  We cannot afford to let ignorance run amuck at City Hall while so many crucial decisions must be made.  We must have individuals who are able to see beyond tomorrow and think beyond a grade-school level.  We must elect leaders.  We must demand a change or it will never come.


~ by rmkasak on February 25, 2009.

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