Letter: City Council is helping Detroiters

The Detroit News
Detroit City Council member Janee Ayers at a news conference at Cody High School’s Medicine and Community Health Academy  in Detroit on Thursday 9.3.15. In an emotional address, the city’s fire commissioner on Thursday joined city and school leaders in unveiling a two-year pilot program designed to train high school students as firefighters and EMTs. The new partnership, between the Detroit Fire Department and Detroit Public Schools, was detailed during a news conference at Cody High School’s Medicine and Community Health Academy on the city’s west side, where classes will be held. The effort hit home for Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins, who choked up as he told the crowd how he became a firefighter. A stranger recommended it to Jenkins, then 19, as he was standing in the unemployment line waiting for a check after being laid off from a postal job. Four months later, he started work as a firefighter. (David Coates/The Detroit News)

Re: Nolan Finley's Sept. 18 editor's note, "Council chases away jobs to please union": It seems like every week we hear about a new development in Detroit. At community meetings throughout the city, people are concerned about the logistics of these developments and how lifelong Detroiters living in the neighborhoods will benefit from them.

Development is more than just another building downtown. Development means creating new, well-paying jobs that could launch a lifelong career. It means providing a family enough to properly care for their growing children, and bridging the gap between people from all walks of life in our city.

Or at least it should be. Development should not be strictly controlled, but it should be monitored and challenged. Our job as Detroiters is to make sure our voices are heard, to make sure our city progresses in a way that we want and benefits its lifelong residents.

My neighbors elected me to uphold these values, and I will not compromise the people of this city for the sake of a new building. When considering proposals for new development, I first and foremost consider their impact on everyday Detroiters who stuck with this city through thick and thin. The people who work to build these new buildings and the people who maintain them upon completion will be the ones to determine how far Detroit goes.

This is why council passed a resolution supporting a $15/hour wage for downtown janitorial workers. Our downtown is for everyone, and the people who keep it running deserve to be paid a living wage.

Detroit is a world-class city. To be viewed and treated as one, we need all the amenities. The construction of Little Caesars Arena and the recent improvements to Cobo Center were necessary. We need more businesses to create jobs in the city for Detroiters. We also need more hotels to hold the talent and events that our city attracts. In other words, we need to continue to develop.

But any new business that wants to set up shop in Detroit does not get to dictate the terms for their presence. People in this city fought over many years to set industry standards and workplace conditions. The businesses and workforce have come together time and time again to create a healthy environment where the workers can take pride in where they work, and businesses can take pride in the product they offer.

Simply put, how well our workers are treated will determine how well Detroit treats its visitors and the world treats Detroit.

Detroit does not simply need new development. It needs principled development. To develop also means to bring out capabilities or possibilities. It does not need a new hotel. It needs quality hotels.

As your Detroit City Council member, I will not allow anyone the right to undercut our people. We deserve better.

Janeé Ayers, member

Detroit City Council