Suburbs to Detroit: Fuck Off. Again.

This adorable picture of a child and prairie dog is
meant to temper any anger expressed in this post

First the good news--We saved the Zoo! Sort of. The City Council approved a deal that will turn over the daily operations for the zoo to the Detroit Zoological Society. Unfortunately, the cash-strapped city won't be handing over any funding, and now the DZS is relying on the State to put up at least $4 million to cover the first year's expenses. Of course, since the city council dragged its feet on the issue, the promise of state funding for the zoo is looking less and less likely. Wonderful.

The DZS is proposing a regional tax for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to cover the $5 million in funding necessary to run the zoo. The millage would amount to roughly $5 per annum for a $100,000 home. Sounds reasonable, don't you think?

If you answered yes, then you are exceedingly more liberal than the average Freep reader. For instance, take Copper Penny, who had this to say:

I would love to see the zoo owned and managed by an entity other than the city of Detroit. The only way I'm in favor of a tax to support the zoo would be if the city of Detroit had no access to the proceeds of the tax. I firmly believe current officals of the city are only concerned with cheating and stealing and the amount of money they can put into their own pockets and those of their friends. And as I see it, many citizens of the city of Detroit and the city council are the racists with large chips on their shoulders. They are the ones who play the race card whenever possible. I can just hear the uproar now if a [white] group wanted to build an Irish-, English-, French-American Historical Museum and what about Caucasion-American History Month? African-Americans would have a field day. Why can't you just be AMERICANS like the rest of us? I have as many black friends as white friends and several asian and hispanic friends and we all respect each other as people with no regard to our ethnic backgrounds or our different races. We call ourselves AMERICANS! I have no respect for the Detroit City Council but it's not because they are black...it's because I see them as arrogant liars, cheaters and thieves. There is much being done to the downtown area of the city because that's where the movers and shakers gather for entertainment. I'm ashamed to take my out-of-town friends downtown because of the pitiful slum areas we must pass through on our way. No wonder people are leaving the city as fast as they are able. City officials it seems, have absolutely no concern for the average citizens of Detroit, and that's why the city is failing. I believe the city will never ever be the vibrant and wonderful city of my youth. It's such a pity. Who brought it down?

First of all, please note the "I'm not a racist! I have black friends!" rhetoric of this particular comment. Darling, if you can't see the contradiction in pointing out that you have black/asian/hispanic friends while asserting that you have "no regard to our ethnic backgrounds or our different races" I'm sure that whatever I have to say here is going to go over your head.

I wish I could convey to non-Detroiters what it is like growing up and living in and around this city. The animosity between the suburbs and the city is so palpable it's almost comical. The problem is, unlike other major cities, Detroit is no longer the urban commercial and financial center around which the suburbs rest. Rather than the wagon-wheel the city was meant to resemble, Detroit is like a doughnut: all kinds of doughy, white richness encircling a great big nothing. The city doesn't sustain the suburbs so much as it exists as a parable, a cautionary tale of a city gone bad. This is where commerce goes to die. And worse, this is where culture goes to die, as Detroit tries to revamp its image by destroying countless centuries-old buildings so as not to offend the Super Bowl tourists. But at least we got to keep those nifty little map kiosks. Now if we could only get suburbanites into the city so that they can get lost and use those kiosks. God knows navigating Bricktown is tricky.

But as evidenced by the above comments, and my post from the other day, the animosity runs both ways. And it almost always gets in the way of any real reform. The city council nearly killed the zoo because of what it perceived as the racist motivations of the suburban-based DZS. And now that the council has finally handed over the reins, the suburbanites aren't ready to pick up the tab unless they can completely push Detroit out of the picture. As another commenter asked, will they change the name from the Detroit Zoo to the Overseer Zoo?


annamaria at 8:29 PM

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