Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sifting through a snow storm

With 5 inches of snow on the ground, and more steadily falling, covering the ice that sub-zero windchill temperatures produced, I debated on whether to attend the meeting of the Feb. 12 MorningSide Neighborhood Organization, but I'm glad I did.

As a resisdent of the neighborhood and a board member of the organization, I had a responsibility, afterall. I could have easily used the snow (not to mention the lack of a sitter) as an excuse. However, I buckled my 2-year-old in the car seat and away we went.

Part of my hesitation was due to the fact that the evening's original speaker, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick did not attend. Given the controversy of the text-message scandal in which he became entangled after we had initially confirmed his spot on the agenda, I figured he would graciously bow out, and he did.

The mayor is accused of having an affair with his chief of staff, who resigned after the Detroit Free Press made public copies of the text messages the two exchanged. The messages referenced some of their encounters, and called into question Kilpatrick's handling of the dismissal of officers suing him in a whistleblower lawsuit the city settled for $9 million. The high-ranking officers claimed they were improperly fired for investigating the affair and other alegations of wrongdoing against the mayor. And, the controversy continues, as the mayor seeks to conceal the contents of messages not yet made public and the courts appear ready to release them to the media.

In Kilpatrick's stead was Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, who has always appeared to be a straight-shooter, and he stayed true to form. There were no salacious details shared about the mayor's problems. He delivered a sort of impromptu state of the city that was light on the positive spin. That was refreshing, because the other area residents who ventured out on the snowy evening wanted some answers, wanted to hear what the city is doing to address crime, trash pickup and rampant foreclosures. The answer was simple -- "We're working every day," Adams said.

Adams assured residents that the city is working on a game plan to address the foreclosure mess currently ravaging the MorningSide Neighborhood, which happens to be located in one of the top 10 zip codes in the country for homes going into default. The two houses next door to my own have gone into foreclosure within the past six months, so I have a front row seat to the mortgage madness gripping the country.

I asked Adams if the city intended to sue, much like Cleveland and other cities have done to force the most prominent lenders who have done business in the subprime market of their municipalities.

Although I didn't get an enthusiastic affirmative, I did appreciate an honest response that indicated the city is working on a response. Suing major mortgage companies holding deeds to the bloated collection of foreclosed homes in my neighborhood isn't on the immediate radar, but the city is looking at some legal remedies. For that I am thankful. Candor can idle even the most active of rumor mills. Just something city leadership needs to consider.

I'll revisit this topic as news develops. Stay tuned.

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