George Jackson was a great believer in downtown Detroit. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Despite its problems, Detroit has been blessed with some very talented and dedicated leaders who’ve devoted themselves to making the city better.
Three of those individuals are moving along, and we’d be remiss not to acknowledge their contributions.
Faye Alexander Nelson looked at Detroit’s riverfront a decade ago and saw in the weed-choked, neglected shoreline the beginnings of the city’s revival. As director of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, she helped transform the riverfront into a promenade that is fast becoming the gathering spot for the community. The conservancy opened the riverfront from the Belle Isle Bridge to the Ambassador Bridge and sprinkled it with parks and other attractions. It’s become one of the most beautiful places in the region.
Nelson has moved to the DTE Foundation, where she replaces Paul Hillegonds, who is retiring. Hillegonds, a former lawmaker and CEO of Detroit Renaissance, is one of Michigan’s wise men. His counsel has been sought by leaders of both the public and private sectors. He has worked selflessly for Detroit and Michigan. He says he will remain active in the community in retirement, and we hope he will. Michigan can ill afford to lose his steady guidance.
George Jackson, head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., announced his retirement this week. Jackson was bullish on downtown Detroit before it was cool to be. In the lean times, he employed creativity and solid development skills to put together difficult deals. His most recent accomplishment was coordinating the Foxtown hockey arena development.
Leaders like these are rare, and appreciated. We wish all three the very best in their new endeavors.
Potholes in Macomb
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel’s desire to be responsive to the growing pothole problem in his county is commendable, but his solution is a bit ill-focused.
His suggestion that county drivers call 911 when they encounter a pesky pothole has irked the Michigan State Police, and for good reason.
The MSP says 911 is not the appropriate number to call about potholes. The police agency is correct.
While deep potholes could cause an accident that results in injuries, most potholes are not life threatening. The MSP suggestion to call the Macomb County Road Commission or a local department of public works is a much better idea.
In fact, if Hackel wants to put a priority on potholes, he should establish a hotline that takes calls 24 hours a day, and then make sure those messages are checked and acted on within a reasonable time.
Sinking to lower standards
Detroit and surrounding communities have had more than their share of political leaders who have shown questionable ethics. The latest list includes Warren Mayor Jim Fouts and Detroit City Council president pro tem George Cushingberry Jr.
Fouts was photographed holding hands with his secretary during a 2012 Chicago trip, while Cushingberry is in the middle of a controversy concerning his actions during a traffic stop in January. Most recently, Cushingberry’s law license was suspended for 45 days to resolve a grievance filed by a former client.
The Warren City Council tried to pass a stronger ethics code that would hold officials more accountable, but the proposal was defeated in a 4-3 vote.
Legislating morality may be impossible, but holding elected officials to reasonable standards of conduct is not. Residents can use the ballot box to let local leaders know their actions aren’t acceptable.