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Asking good questions

It is great to see Metro Times step into the Detroit development scene with Casey Coston’s twice-monthly column devoted to Detroit’s development community ("Sunrise Boulevard," Metro Times, Dec. 4-10). Maybe a journalist will ask a challenging question of the alphabet soup of agencies (DDA, DEGC) charged with directing the city’s development effort. The two daily rags just reprint the latest nonsensical press releases without question.

It is also encouraging to hear Mayor Kilpatrick say there might be some value in our city’s historic buildings. The only "dinosaurs" are the same old stupid people who want to tear down Detroit’s future by destroying the past and blowing up historic buildings. For years we have had to listen to the dubious reports of how a building is "too far gone" or "a financial deal can never be put together."

Each historic building is a potentially huge source of federal financial help in the form of historic tax credits, and the city bureaucracy barely has to be involved to receive the credits. By waiving a few years of city taxes (the schools still receive their cut) additional money is freed to be used for development. Once impossible projects are now very doable. —Sam Burdell, samburdell@yahoo.com, Detroit

Ghostly memories

I worked in downtown Detroit from 1977-87, bad years for saving the city's history. Washington Boulevard was something of a hoot — a lipstick-red Erector Set surrounding pretty much nothing. Yet, it could have been a studio background for movie in the 1940s. You could, without squinting too hard, see what it once was, and what it could yet become.

In the gray photos of a long-past time, I saw Detroit's first Civil War volunteers gather in the shadows of the very buildings that were crumbling before my eyes. A little imagination and those buildings could have been shops and restaurants linking Detroit's financial district to Greektown. But they are gone now, ghosts.

I now live in an area much younger than Detroit but with ghosts of its own. I am new here and unsure of the commitment that this city makes to its history; I know Detroit's is not enough, and it is time to do more. Perhaps Mayor Kilpatrick could start by visiting his predecessor, the Honorable Hazen Pingree, poised as a sentinel at the foot of Washington Boulevard, and emblematic of the greatness of your — our — city. Thanks, and stay on it. —Tom Oren, tclaytonoren@aol.com, Silver Spring, Md.

Feather in his cap

Thank you, Jack Lessenberry, for continuing to ask questions about Jennifer Granholm ("The nightmare scenario," Metro Times, Dec. 4-10). I guess some people can fool most of the people

most of the time.

On Jan. 24, 2002, the Detroit News had an article about McNamara and his cronies, and in a sidebar, quoted Granholm as follows: "I know these people. You could knock me over with a feather if they found any wrongdoing."

I cut out the quote and have kept it, waiting for this moment. My feather is ready. —Cynthia Brody, Beverly Hills

Remembring Joltin’ Zolton

While instant runoff voting recommended by Jack Lessenberry in his recent column is a good idea ("Get the good guys together," Metro Times, Nov.27-Dec. 3), we shouldn’t hold our breaths waiting for it to be enacted.

A more practical alternative for the Greens is infiltrating the Democratic Party. By operating as a progressive caucus and running candidates in Democratic primaries, the Greens could help to move the Democrats in a more liberal direction while eliminating the danger of helping to elect Republicans like George W. Bush, Mike Rogers and Mike Cox.

The situation of the Greens reminds me of the Human Rights Party (HRP) back in the 1970s. While HRP was able to elect a few Ann Arbor city council members from heavily student precincts, in many more instances it threw elections to Republicans by splitting the progressive vote. After a few years, HRP founder Zolton Ferency realized the futility of this approach and returned to the Democratic Party with his followers. Ferency was subsequently elected an Ingham County commissioner, ending a long losing streak at the polls. —Dave Hornstein, dhornstein152309mi@comcast.net, Southfield Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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