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  1. #1

    Default Why I can't vote for Cockrel

    I had high hopes for our current mayor when he first took office. Ken Cockrel's inaugural speech endorsed a number of issues that excited me, such as sustainability, open government and creativity. I thought he meant to follow through on these ideals because he brought them up when the easy issues to endorse would have been fighting crime and improving city services. The rhetoric sounded good, but since then I have been disappointed by his actions.

    First off, if you're going to be the green mayor you can't be anything but against the incinerator. I am not a big believer in black-and-white issues, but this one is pretty clear cut. When Cockrel was on council (which he did a better job running than any of his predecessors I can remember) he was against the incinerator and cast the votes to back it up. Now that he is in the position of power where he could do something about it he is at best hedging and at worst doing a complete about face. Stories like these scare me:

    Still smoldering
    http://metrotimes.com/news/story.asp?id=13794
    Detroit Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire: Ken Cockrel Jr.
    http://metrotimes.com/news/story.asp?id=13664

    Second, his proposal of dealing with the city's budget deficit is truly unimaginative. This city needs more than just pay cuts for its workers. It needs some tough decisions, and more than anything the city's bureacracy needs to be broken down and simplified. There is no evidence of this happening, just campaign rhetoric that grows staler with every uttering.

    Third, is the handling of the Lafayette building and the pervasive sense of his administration to demolish first and ask questions later. Such actions are the antithesis of sustainability and innovation. Demolition is anything but green policy, but that seems to be the first option the Cockrel administration goes for when tackling major problems. Use most of the foreclosure funds for demolition instead of expediating low-cost acquisition of these buildings so they can be reused and put back on the tax rolls. Use stimulus funds to demolish the train station instead of siezing it and first offering it for redevelopment, a move that could create jobs, increase tax base, create business opportunity and provide a stunning example of Detroit's innovation on par with the Book Cadillac restoration.

    And then there is the Lafayette building, which to me is the most unexcusable. Here is an opportunity to do something special because the tax payers have clear title to it. Instead the Cockrel administration looks at it as a burden and puts it at the front of the line for demolition. This is an action that will cost millions of dollars at a time when our firefighters are dying trying to protect abandoned houses that have burned so many times they should have been razed long ago. The Lafayette is a major downtown building and belongs to taxpayers. Before lining it up for demolition, the Cockrel administration/DEGC should have reached out to the community for ideas on what to do with it or at least put out a request for proposals. Instead we saw the rights to it shifted from one developer to another behind the scenes, while the city officials who are supposed to be protecting the tax payers' property neglect it, turning a blind eye as vandals have their way with it. And then suddenly something that was worth an investment of tens of millions to redevelop is not worth anything anymore and needs to be torn down.

    City officials never considered doing something innovative, such as renovating the first floor, securing the exteroir, mothballing the rest and using the sections that face Campus Martius and the Levin Courthouse for advertising to help pay for it. This is a move that would cost much less than the at least $3 million it would cost to raze the Lafayette. It would also give the Lafayette enough of time to be available after the light rail is built. The whole development dynamic will change when the streetcars start running, enough that it could easily make a building like the Lafayette a prime candidate for redevelopment. And nevermind that the new historic tax credits combined with brownfield tax credits could knock half the cost off redeveloping the Lafayette but those aren't available if there is no building.

    But we don't get this. We get the same tired cliches of its better as a parking lot than redeveloped. The same group think that has prevaded our leadership for decades and put the city/downtown in the hole it is in today. And city officials never reach out to the public for ideas, even though the Lafayette belongs to us, not them. In fact city officials ignore the will of the public when hundreds of concerned residents tell them to keep trying. This type of arrogance and contempt for citizen activism smacks of the Kilpatrick administration, something I was hopeful we were beyond but realize we are sadly not.

    I once believed in Cockrel. In fact I couldn't wait for him to be mayor after what Kilpatrick did to this city. And I think he has done an admirable job of guiding the city since taking office. Fighting for the Cobo deal was the right decision and I like his stance against Maroun's twin span. I am glad to see him setting up a curbside recycling program and like his appointments. And he comes off as a regular guy with a level head not entranced by the trappings of his office. In a normal time, I think he would be a good mayor. One I would be proud to vote for. But this isn't a normal time. Business as usual, old answers and half steps are the last thing Detroit needs right now. That's what Cockrel is becoming to represent. Plus, I don't think I can trust him anymore. So many times he says one thing and is actions do another. Maybe in the past I could let such things slide, but not in a post-Kilpatrick atmosphere.

  2. #2
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    So are you voting for Dave Bing? If so, do you think he will be a better mayor than Cockrel, and if so, why? Are you just staying home on election day? You bring up some valid points, but I'm not sure what the alternative is.

  3. #3

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    I don't know who I am voting for, if I vote at all. I guess I am looking at this a little like a process of elimination.

  4. #4
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    Hemingway, I feel the same way. I like Cockrel's personality more than Bing's, but when it comes down to action he is surprisingly disappointing. As a result I may withhold my vote for mayor, since Bing seems to not be substantially different. If I choose to do this, it will be the first time I ever sat out an important election since I've been able to vote. I can still be persuaded one way or another, but time is running out.

  5. #5

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    I started out liking Ken Cockrel. However, his tenure in the Mayor's Office has simply been one profound disappointment after another.

    I'm voting for Dave Bing next month. Will he be better? Maybe. Maybe not. Once in office, Mr. Bing will have 6 months to produce the results that Mr. Cockrel has proven himself uninterested in working towards.

    If Mr. Bing gets the job done, he can stay on as Mayor.

    If he doesn't, we can boot him out and replace him with someone else.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fnemecek View Post
    I started out liking Ken Cockrel....
    Yes Fnemecek, but those 6 minutes went by awfully fast....

    LOL... no I do agree with you on your points.

    I also think that he needs to go back to his old job and regain control of Detroit City Council from that banshee....

  7. #7
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    I think Cockrel has/ will do a workman like job as mayor. He does not have the over all vision that I would like to see but I could see us making incremental positive changes with him in office. I believe he is a honest accountable politican, something we can't take for granted after what we have been though.

    I am having serious reservations about Bing at this point. The other day he was down in SW Detroit talking about the dual span for the bridge. This is an issue that affects the residents down there to a great degree and the best answer he could come with is that the dual span would create more jobs (I could have told them that) but that he had to get back to address their other concerns such as the effect on the areas environment, traffic etc. The man is not prepared. Bing passed on questions about the budget because it said he couldn't get it from the city.

    Isn't the budget or at least a general outline on the cities website ?

    When a candidate runs for office he should be prepped on the 10 to 15 key issues that affect the citizens of the city. He should talk to as many of the key stakeholders for each of the issues that he can and then develop his talking points or position paper for each issue. There was no reason he should have given such a lame answer to those people in SW Detroit about as something as important to them as that.

    On my particular hot button issue I want to how he will transition DPS from a school board governance to a mayorial governance without flooding the city with charter schools.

    All in all I question his learning curve and I question if he thinks he is the guy on the white horse riding in to save us from ourselves.

    Maybe in the next two debates Bing will give us more than generalities and give me a reason to think he's better than Cockrel, otherwise its Cockrel for me with a hope that Hendricks jumps back in for the general election.
    Last edited by firstandten; April-02-09 at 11:32 AM.

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    My guess is Cockrel has had to backtrack on some of what he wanted to do thanks to the City's economic situation, e.g. it's great to say get rid in the incinerator, but there are expenses attached to that idea that the City can't afford. There are other ways to start "going green" first that a lot less expensive up front and money saving in the long run. Balances have to be struck.

  9. #9

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    I agree that balances have to be struck, but the Lafayette building situation makes me think that he isn't interested in striking balances, doing the best thing fiscally or even listening to the average voter anymore. It really was the straw that broke this camel's back.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by firstandten View Post
    I believe he is a honest accountable politican, something we can't take for granted after what we have been though.
    Sort of like warm ice or fast snails or tall midgets?

    P.S.: When/where are the next two debates?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilpup View Post
    My guess is Cockrel has had to backtrack on some of what he wanted to do thanks to the City's economic situation, e.g. it's great to say get rid in the incinerator, but there are expenses attached to that idea that the City can't afford. There are other ways to start "going green" first that a lot less expensive up front and money saving in the long run. Balances have to be struck.
    Or else the Powers that Be got to him and made it clear that he is not in charge around here.

  12. #12
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    I can see where lilpup is coming from . You can make promises and you would think that as a councilperson Cockrel would know the meat and potatoes of most issues, but until you actually get in the office and look at the books you just aren't sure. What complicates the issue this time is that Cockrel would be creating political suicide if he were completely transparent about how bad things are.

    Thats another reason why this charter must be revised, we never need these many elections in this short of time span ever again.

  13. #13
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    Crumbled, I like fast snails
    A choice between two flawed candidates, pick your poison

    Not sure when the debates are but hopefully we could do without the peanut gallery and just have the two candidates.

  14. #14
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    Bing and Cockrel are to debate April 15 at the Detroit Economic Club and live April 23 on WXYZ-TV (Channel 7).

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gistok View Post
    Yes Fnemecek, but those 6 minutes went by awfully fast....

    LOL... no I do agree with you on your points.
    Hey, now. Check the archives. I went a couple of months without saying anything disparaging about our Interim Mayor.

  16. #16
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    I would like to sit this election out, but can't bring myself to do it. So, I will probably vote for Cockrel, only because Detroit does not need another transistion and then another one in 7 months. I say that because I have zero confidence in Bing as mayor.

    I hope for better choices in the August primary.

    Speaking to the City's financial problems, no politician yet has had the courage to do what really needs to be done: identify the core services citizens/businesses require and fund them properly. Everything else become a wish list and is only funded if there is anything left over.

    Right now, the city is trying to maintain everything so the funds are spread too thinly, nothing is done well and deficits continue. But, who is going to close down the Neighborhood City Halls (they are nice but not essential)? Who is going to ensure there is good public transportation, then keep just a few of the rec centers open, closing down the rest, because now people would be able to get to them? Who is going to say we don't have to have a Human Rights Department? Who is going to say it makes sense to charge a small fee for cars going onto Belle Isle?

    I didn't even like typing any of that, so I don't expect a politician to promote any of it.

  17. #17
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    ... unfortunately one of the reasons I want Cockrel back as Council President is that it's become a loose cannon without him (granted there have always been some loose cannons on council). Just today one of the major news items has been the fracuss between Monica "Wacko" Conyers and Sheila Cockrel.

  18. #18

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    Today's stay of execution was a pleasant surprise. I'll give Cockrel a little credit for at least listening to the preservationists for the moment. Hopefully, he can build on this action, but I am not holding my breath.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by E hemingway View Post
    And then there is the Lafayette building, which to me is the most unexcusable. Here is an opportunity to do something special because the tax payers have clear title to it. Instead the Cockrel administration looks at it as a burden and puts it at the front of the line for demolition. This is an action that will cost millions of dollars at a time when our firefighters are dying trying to protect abandoned houses that have burned so many times they should have been razed long ago. The Lafayette is a major downtown building and belongs to taxpayers. Before lining it up for demolition, the Cockrel administration/DEGC should have reached out to the community for ideas on what to do with it or at least put out a request for proposals. Instead we saw the rights to it shifted from one developer to another behind the scenes, while the city officials who are supposed to be protecting the tax payers' property neglect it, turning a blind eye as vandals have their way with it. And then suddenly something that was worth an investment of tens of millions to redevelop is not worth anything anymore and needs to be torn down.

    City officials never considered doing something innovative, such as renovating the first floor, securing the exteroir, mothballing the rest and using the sections that face Campus Martius and the Levin Courthouse for advertising to help pay for it. This is a move that would cost much less than the at least $3 million it would cost to raze the Lafayette. It would also give the Lafayette enough of time to be available after the light rail is built. The whole development dynamic will change when the streetcars start running, enough that it could easily make a building like the Lafayette a prime candidate for redevelopment. And nevermind that the new historic tax credits combined with brownfield tax credits could knock half the cost off redeveloping the Lafayette but those aren't available if there is no building.
    Personally, I like your ideas. Have you ever spoken at a City Council meeting?

  20. #20
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    Cockrel just doesn't have what it takes to lead a city. In all this time all he's done is reintroduce the Kilpatrick plans that he was against. Plus, I'll never forget how, when the firefighter died fighting a fire in an abandoned building, he never visited the family, went to the hospital, or spoke with his fellow firefighters. All he did was speak at the funeral when the cameras were there. You have to show your support for those frontline workers that are risking their lives on behalf of this city.

    That being said, I'm not that impressed with Dave Bing either. I hope someone emerges for the regular election.

  21. #21
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    E_Hemmingway,

    So let me get this straight, the Incinerator and Lafayette Building are you two main sticking points?

    First of all, I have yet to hear a valid solution as to what to do if the incinerator DID go away. Yeah, I've heard the tree huggers screamin "Hey everybody, let's recycle!!!" That's great in theory, but the reality is, it's a long ways from being a replacement for the incinerator. Personally, our house is increasingly recycling more and more items. Yet I'm sad to say, getting the MAJORITY of Detroiters on board with separating items into different bins, then placing the multiple bins out to the curb, is probably a long ways off. So what do we do with the trash that wouldn't get recycled, go back to burying it in landfills? Personally, I'd rather see it burned. I feel there should be a push for recycling in Detroit, growing it perhaps a neighborhood at a time, and test out how feasible it is. What you don't do is spend millions on a program that hasn't been tested, simply because the green crowd doesn't like the incinerator.

    As for the Lafayette, I personally feel it would be a waste of federal money to tear it down, money which could be used in much better ways. I agree with you that many of these buildings should be mothballed, and that examples like the Book Cadillac and Fort Shelby are great examples of success stories. Though let's be honest shall we, those two successes are exceptions to the rule, and the tax dollars/incentives aren't out there to go around to everybody. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of other vacant buildings, warehouses, apartments, and homes exist. Very few will be saved, and one should ask, how many years should a city's people have to deal with these eye sores? 20, 30, even 40 years? What kind of quality of life living conditions does this give people?

    So what's the happy median here, and where did we go wrong? First off, the city should NOT be in the real estate business. They are quickly becoming one of Detroit's biggest slumlords. Go after the building owners, make them secure their buildings, require them to keep them up to code. If a building is getting foreclosed on, the bank takes possession, then the bank is responsible for making sure the property is secure and up to code. In the end though, we have to decide when enough is enough. Conduct a realistic list of which properties are the least likely to be renovated, move them to the top of the list. An example, the Packard plant should be towards the top of the list. I'm not sure where Lee Plaza would fit, but it would be well ahead of Lafayette on the list.

    So back to the "Why I can't vote for Cockrel." Why not? Because he's not cleaning up 6 years of mess in a few months time? Perhaps his magic wand is in the shop along with his magic hat. I've told MANY people why I can't vote for Bing. I moved to Detroit by choice. I knew what lay ahead of me, I knew much of the city's history and struggles, yet I still moved here...as a renter. After a few years, have learned/experienced much more, I decided to buy a home here....by choice. Mr Bing has done a lot of good for Detroit, be it through Bing Automotive, or the surrounding neighborhood development. Yet through it all, he chose not to move here. He did not move here by choice as much as he did by necesity, and at the last minute, he bought an address and became a registered voter. Does anybody really believe that if Bing loses in the election that he will be a resident of Detroit another day? Depending on his loss margin, he may hang a bit longer to run again in the fall. He is our own version of Hillary Clinton, moving into town for his own personal political gain.

    I still consider myself a new resident, even though 7+ years have passed by. Though I have established a vested interest in the city. I've seen first hand what citizens of Detroit deal with, and we don't need some mayoral candidate floating down from Franklin Twp who hasn't a clue what living in Detroit is truly like to come save us. I won't even mention the fact that I've yet to hear any valid plans by Mr Bing on how to turn things around.

    I've witnessed first hand many of the improvements Mayor Cockrel has made. Just yesterday I saw something I've NEVER in my life saw since moving here. Detroit workers out cleaning up vacant lots that were littered with trash. I also saw a couple dumping sites being cleaned up. The police department continues to undergo many changes/improvements, most importantly, the reopening of precints/mini stations. Obviously, problems still persist, though they persist due to the previous administration's closing of precincts. Until new stations open and district boundaries are redrawn, service probably won't seem improved to many people.

    One last thing I can't understand, people feel that Cockrel was a good fit heading City Council, and many would like to see him back in that position to take over for Conyers. Well, here is a really off the wall idea....why not simply rid council of Conyers and the others who gots to go instead? All I've really read on this thread is a lot of pissing and moaning about bullshit that most Detroiters don't care about. It would be interesting to see how many Detroiters outside a couple mile radius of downtown even know where the Lafayette building is.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Supersport View Post
    Does anybody really believe that if Bing loses in the election that he will be a resident of Detroit another day? Depending on his loss margin, he may hang a bit longer to run again in the fall. He is our own version of Hillary Clinton, moving into town for his own personal political gain...

    The police department continues to undergo many changes/improvements, most importantly, the reopening of precincts/mini stations. Obviously, problems still persist, though they persist due to the previous administration's closing of precincts. Until new stations open and district boundaries are redrawn, service probably won't seem improved to many people.
    I fine with a political opportunist, as long as it's one gets things done once he's in office. Ken Cockrel is a life-long Detroiter, who seems more in love with the idea of being called "Mayor" than he is in actually doing the work associated with the job.

    I don't expect Detroit's Mayor to solve all of our problems in 6 months, but I do expect him to accomplish something.

    Case in point: you talked about the re-opening of various precincts/mini-stations. That's nice.

    How many 9-1-1 calls will those mini-stations answer?

    Oh, yeah. I forgot. The answer is: none. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

    It's a token gesture, meant to make people feel like he's doing something without actually accomplishing anything.

    One of the biggest problems with the Detroit Police Department is that there aren't enough police officers on patrol to respond to all of the calls coming in to the system. Why is that Mr. Cockrel can find the resources to re-open all of these buildings and get a new mobile mini-station (just as useless as a stationary one, but with pretty, flashing lights), but he can't hire police officers?

    Dave Bing is a bit of a gamble. He is the front-runner and like a lot of other front-runner, he is trying to be very vague about what he'll do as mayor. However, we're down to a choice between him and a guy who we know won't even bother trying to do anything productive.

    The worst thing that can possibly happen is that Mr. Bing turns out to be just as useless as Mr. Cockrel has been. If that's the case then we as a community will have a chance to throw him out of office in November.

  23. #23
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    Very thoughtful post supersport.

    In thinking more about Bing v Cockrel it seems that Cockrel is starting to manage public policy versus economics versus the wishes of the people and at least is coming up with something people can live with.

    I keep coming back to the school issue with Bing, not so much as the undergrad dates because he has a reasonable spin on it and I can give him a pass on that. Now I'm bothered by the lie to cover the lie but all in all I can let that go.

    What I'm having problems with is the blatant misrepresentation of having an MBA, having it on his resume and talking about it in an NBA video. You can't spin this, this gives you an insight into his character. You see this crack in his carefully spun good guy PR persona. I would suggest there are other cracks , I just don't want to have to discover those after he is already in office.

    You always do a diservice when you misrepresent yourself in this fashion. I know people who said getting an MBA was the single hardest academic achievement they made in there life and Mr. Bing dismisses that by what he did.

    Mr. Bing also stated he would appoint a job czar. Now on the surface this sounds like a good idea, but if we really think about this some more this seems like more political fluff.

    First of all Mr. Bing is suppose to be the jobs expert why pay for a cabinet level position to do something he should be capable of doing ? Simple. His businesses has been mentored and hand held by Ford and GM purchasing execs to the point that failure was close to 0%

    Secondly what is this jobs czar suppose to do ? increase the size of DPS and city government because thats who the majority of Detroiters work for.

    I feel a better use of time and money would be for the mayor to contact the deans of the business and economics department of Wayne State University and the University of Detroit and have them put together an all-star group of graduate students to study and present recommendations to create more jobs in Detroit.
    I bet you would get better information and more out the box recommendations than some job czar.

  24. #24
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    Fnemecek,

    The reason behind the mini-station is to allow another place for citizens to make police reports. I'm sure the many people who have sat in the districts waiting hours in order to make a report feel a bit differently that you regarding the importance of mini-stations. See, people like yourself completely write off steps forward because they apparently don't service you directly and you ignore the fact that it IS helping others.

    ps...seems now that the Lafayette demo plans have just been put on hold, all the Mayor now has to do is say he's against the incinderator. That ONE single thing is apparently the only serious factor now. LMAO

  25. #25

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    Supersport:
    I have had to wait to file a police report. Twice, in fact.

    Of course, I have also had to call 9-1-1. Twice for drug deals in progress in front of my house, before I just gave up on that. Once when two drug dealers started shooting at each other. Another time when a domestic dispute turned violent and someone tried repeatedly to run over a pregnant woman in the street in front of my house.

    None of those calls, by the way, resulted in a police officer showing up.

    Given a choice between having to wait to file a police report and increasing the odds that an officer will show up the next time one is needed, I will gladly wait in line.

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