By Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair, MWRO
Many cities across the country are experiencing economic declines like Detroit is going through, but we have the distinction of being “first” on many painful lists. We are in the top five in housing foreclosures, in unemployment, in tax foreclosures, in infant mortality rates, in school closures, in dropout rates, etc.
Some things, however, you can’t make up. Highland Park, Michigan, was one of the most beautiful small cities located entirely within the boundaries of Detroit. The trees stretched across the streets to touch each other, providing shade in the summer and giving all residents a panoramic winter view of deep and lasting beauty that all of us enjoyed. Along the edge of Highland Park was one of the Chrysler auto plants that employed 1000’s. It gave both a solid standard of living and a tax base that helped operate the local government.
Chrysler moved to upscale Auburn Hills, Michigan and took that tax base with them. The decline in Highland Park started. The population dwindled from a high of 66,000 residents to less than 16,000 today. Tough times in H.P.
Knowing this history, knowing about the 1000’s of residents who lost their jobs, knowing that water was disconnected because residents couldn’t pay the rising costs, a series of no-vision politicians vied for elected seats until the juice ran out. A disappointing Governor Jennifer Granholm, not allowing H.P. to declare bankruptcy on her watch, instead appointed a financial manager who took the place of an elected body. The first pirate crew was lead by a now defunct Ramona Pearson & Associates who were dismissed after some 20 months. They took more than $1 million dollars out of Highland Park in salaries. No improvements to turn the crisis around during that reign of terror were made except to benefit themselves at the people’s expense. Now we come to this.
Native son Arthur Blackwell shed tears when he was appointed to serve as the next Financial Manager of cash-strapped Highland Park in 2007. He was so touched by this appointment, and declared his love for the city that raised him & his family. The ‘HONOR” was so great, he vowed to work for $1.00 a year. After a series of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests were filed, we find that he collected since 2007, $495,000.00. Of course, he has an explanation for this, suggesting that it may only be an accounting error, plus noting that he has written back to the City $66,000 that he may have collected unwittingly. He was fired two days ago, and a 3rd Financial Manager from an upscale community has been appointed. Wonder how this is going to turn out?
Just losing his job is not enough. Blackwell should be the focus of a citizen’s arrest, and taken from his nice home kicking and screaming and off to jail where we decide how long he should stay there after stealing from poor people. Class war continues. Who pays for destroying the lives of working people? No one!
(Image courtesy City of Highland Park)