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Friday, March 1, 2013

Guest Op/Ed - On Governor Snyder’s Appointment of an Emergency Manager for Detroit

Photo Credit - Citizens for Detroit's Future

IU News & Talk Guest Op/Ed
By: Tom Barrow of President of Citizens for Detroit's Future


I am sickened by Michigan’s Governor talk about my city and my people as if Detroit is the human dump of the state, as if real Detroiters are incapable of running our own city. I became nauseous because we have been led to this position by an inept, unconcerned and disengaged Mayor who knew from day one that a Detroit mayor’s job IS way beyond his abilities. I believe he was recruited from Franklin as his steel business went bankrupt, recruited to do the bidding of conservative interests that covet our city’s assets for private profit. 

As I listened, I reflected on my life having been born in a Detroit which I have so come to love and feel protective over. I listened to a man, who has never had a relationship with my city except from afar but who described my home based on a distorted perception created as a result of a inept non-Detroiter masquerading as one of us after being selected as our Mayor. 

My fellow Detroiters, back in the election of 2009, I was left empty and drained after the mayor’s race because I saw the seals placed on the cases by election night workers had been changed. The fraud was such that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted unanimously not to recount the entire 41,215 Absentee Votes and still another 18,736 ballots from the polls where only 9,501 ballots would have changed the outcome.

This discovery was an unprecedented event in the electoral history of this nation, yet not a single major media outlet sought to investigate. I knew with certainty that the process had been rigged but I also knew that it would be too foreign for the public’s minds to get around. But it was only today that I came to realize the “why”.

Now Belle Isle, my childhood playground, will be taken from us as Detroiters. The “Cadillac Harper” bus route I remember as a kid and which I took to get downtown to Hudson’s will become a suburban dominated regional authority no longer under my city’s control. Our Water System, the prize of prizes, will be removed from our control and given over to private investors for personal profit and our city’s union contracts will be abrogated. I expect to witness an unprecedented firing of Detroit residents as the city privatizes it functions.

I must say that the city’s longest serving Mayor, Coleman Young, will likely sit up in his grave knowing that what he often referred to as “outsiders”, “doomsayers” and “naysayers” will now be running our city. It is so sad and I am deeply remorseful. I cannot but feel that an outsider’s hate, indifference and disrespect towards Detroiters has caused the loss of my city even before we had a chance to build bridges I knew we could build. 

My friends, the great 19th century abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, declared in a famous speech that “Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has and it never will.” On his death bed in 1895 Douglas’ last words were said to be that “we must continue to Agitate! Agitate!” 

In his spirit, I call upon my fellow Detroiters, activists and citizens alike, to let’s meet to plan our actions to combat this abrogation of democracy. It may require civil disobedience in the name of all Americans who love freedom and democracy; it may require us to choose economic targets to boycott; strategic locations to disrupt; facilities to protect symbolically, and a plan of communication to our nation to show our outrage.

Sadly, we may no longer be able to just provide commentary on our plight; we will likely have to execute action meant to demonstrate our resolve to save our city from its looters and the opportunists who wait patiently in the wings. My friends, the enemy has devised and has implemented its initial long-term plan of disenfranchisement, its “quiet war” of propaganda and manipulation, all with collaborators from within our own ranks. For the sake of ourselves and our beloved city, we must be prepared to make this a noisy and visible war for our own survival. 

Our ancestors who built this city demand no less from us than what they themselves invested for the good of our city and for democracy itself. Let us now go forward!

Writer's Bio:
Tom Barrow, President of Citizen's for Detroit's Future, graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in with a concentration in accounting. After graduation, Mr. Barrow joined the Detroit accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. where he remained for six years while becoming a CPA. Barrow, left the company start his own firm Barrow, Aldridge & Co., public accounting firm.

The firm grew to become the largest minority-owned firm in the Midwest, and arguably in the United States servicing clients such as the City of Detroit, training hundreds of minority and women CPAs and accountants. 
 

Mr. Barrow was appointed by then Michigan Governor William Milliken to the state Board of Accountancy, becoming its first African-American and youngest board member. This state agency was responsible for licensing all CPAs. Tom remained a member of that Board and rose to become its youngest and first African-American chairman. 

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