Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Revisiting stories: the death of L. Brooks Patterson, County Executive, Oakland County, Michigan

Note: I lived in Oakland County roughly from 1971/1972-1978 and the summers of 1979 and 1980.

L. Brooks Patterson won 7 terms as County Executive in Oakland County, Michigan, which lies north of Detroit.  Before that he was the tough on crime County Prosecutor for 4 terms.

He was strongly pro-County and pretty much anti-Detroit, as I wrote in this piece from 2014, "The rise of Oakland County is built upon Detroit's fall."

From the Crain's Detroit Business article, "What will happen to Brooks' deputies?":
Patterson was first elected county executive in 1992 after serving four terms as Oakland County prosecutor.

His tenure as Oakland County executive was marked with myriad successes, but also controversy. The county's AAA bond rating has been reaffirmed time and time again under his leadership, and the county has a lauded three-year rolling budget. He instituted the Automation Alley high-tech cluster and the Emerging Sectors program for knowledge-based jobs. Medical Main Street and Main Street Oakland also came into being under his watch. He was honored by Governing magazine in 2013. The University of Detroit graduate and U.S. Army veteran was generally viewed as a business community champion.

While his leadership of Oakland County itself has drawn wide praise, his comments about Detroit and other issues have drawn criticism.

His career had been marked by bitter feuds with Detroit and neighboring counties over a host of issues ranging from transit to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Some viewed him as an obstacle to more robust regional cooperation.
Like Trump's very parochial bilateral "Make America Great Again" push, Patterson was a block to creating more regional approaches to the area's issues.

In e-talking with Nigel, our correspondent from New Zealand, I looked up the demographic data comparing Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties population from 1960 to today.

Overall, there are only about 120,000 more residents in 2018 compared to 1960--although it must be acknowledged that the metropolitan area has grown beyond these three counties.

The difference is that 1.2 million residents from Detroit have been redistributed and Wayne County's population dropped by 900,000, while Oakland and Macomb Counties roughly doubled in population.

Patterson died not quite two weeks ago, and because in the 2016 election, the County shifted from a Republican dominated electorate to a more progressive and Democratic there is jockeying between Democrats as the Party aims to capture the County Executive position.

It's not clear if there will be a special election, which if one is held will be in the 2020 election cycle, for a two-year partial term, as the normal cycle for the office is in the "off year election" from Presidential elections.

Also see:

-- "Commentary: Patterson leaves enduring legacy, but time for region to move on," Crain's Detroit Business
-- "R.I.P. L. Brooks Patterson, A racist," Detroit Metro Times
-- "McGraw: Friends Say Brooks Patterson 'Loved' Detroit, But His Record Shows Otherwise," Deadline Detroit

A couple weeks ago in a post about segregation, I mentioned that I went to school for a time in the Pontiac School District, while the school system was desegregating and where school buses were bombed in protest. It turns out L. Brooks Patterson represented one of the incendiary anti-busing activists, Irene McCabe...

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