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Detroit Versus Metro Detroit

It's the same old story, but now there are new players.

So it seems Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is mad at Detroit Mayor Dave Bing for implying (or outright saying, depending on who you talk to) that the City wants the DETROIT Pistons to move downtown.

Oakland County is one of the richest places is the nation, let alone Michigan. And I understand Patterson's irritation with anyone taking tax base and money out of his territory. But I cannot abide another war between two politicians about the city and the suburbs.

For all of our sakes, can we get on the same page?

Great commentary on the topic in Thursday's Detroit News by Nolan Finley. He outlines Patterson's arguments, which basically accuse Bing of "poaching" the Pistons from Auburn Hills.

"I don't see how moving furniture around on the deck of the Titanic helps this region grow," Patterson said.

"I've worked darn hard to bring economic development to Oakland County, and to keep it here," Patterson says. "I've got a team that pounds on doors all over the world looking for new jobs and growth for Oakland. And I don't appreciate Detroit, Wayne County or anyone else trying to steal them once I've gotten them here."

Guess who helped that iceberg ram into the Titanic, Mr. County Executive? Look, Brooksie, this region is dying. And that includes Oakland County, too. If Detroit goes under, what do you think all of your residents of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield, Royal Oak and elsewhere are going to do? They're going to leave the state, that's what. No one is going to sit around while their million-dollar home goes worthless, or their business fails because there is no one around to spend any money.

I cannot comprehend (meaning: fill me in if you think you can) why Brooks, Bing or anyone else thinks this is productive. Detroit has to be the focus of all our collective attention. There cannot be any separation between the area's fortunes. We all are dependent on one another now.

Look, Oakland County has its faults and issues too. Pontiac, which is the center of the county, has gone beyond dying into dead territory for the most part. How about we look at fixing Pontiac, Detroit, Flint and countless other cities before we attack one another?

Finley's column also quotes the mayors of Livonia and Warren, complaining about how Detroit "stole" Quicken Loans and General Motors. Okay, about Royal Oak picking up Saab? We could do this all day.

I'm sick of it.

Finley seems on the side of the region -- meaning, he wants growth across the board but not at the expense of the city or the suburbs.

A strong central city provides indirect benefits to the suburbs, but not enough to make up for a devastated tax base. It's not a healthy regional strategy to fill a building downtown by vacating one in the suburbs. And there's certainly no defense in using state tax dollars to do so. The region's revival must be fueled by newcomers bringing in growth. Robbing Brooks to pay Bing will shift around the region's devastation, but won't make it go away.

Sure, that would be nice. But no one is coming here of their own will. Why don't we focus on fixing one part of the problem at a time?

ADD ON: A blog post from today's event "Telling Charge of our (Detroit) Story:

Sugrue: “I'm an advocate of regional cooperation.”

Posted by Louis on March 18, 2010 - 10:41 am

“… The most successful metropolitan regions get together to solve common issues. Detroit is not one of those regions, he says.”

P.S. Sugrue is Thomas Sugrue of the University of Pennsylvania, author of Origins of the Urban Crisis. So there.

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