24 September 2009

Thoughts on Democracy, Detroit, and Mr. Robert Bobb

First, I am a DFT member. Second, I agree that most of what Bobb has done has been good and and needed doing for a long time. Many, most of the financial cleaning up he's done, the DFT has clammered for for years. Lots, there is a serious issue that underlies Bobb's role that needs to discussed.

Bobb's appointment and powers are the result of the collapse of a functional civic society in Detroit. Dave Bing's appeal is that he's a watered down Bobb. When it takes strongman rule to clean things up, democracy and civic responsibility are swept aside. People flop back on their sofas, fat and lazy, applauding the autocrat's broom as it sweeps up the mess the people allowed to overwhelm them. When the autocrat's broom sweeps up some of the people, the others clap and say, "About time."

The problem is that Bobb, as tyrant, gets to decide on his own what needs sweeping up. He decides what replaces the old system. He decides anything and everything. Omniscience is a lot to ask of Bobb - especially when he's busy walking on water.

In a few short months, our heroic Cinncinnatus returns to DC or Oakland. What happens next? Granholm, Duncan, Bing - Democrats all (well, I suspect Bing's a Repub) - have abandoned democracy and want Bobb's sceptre passed to the Mayor. What's missing is any belief that Detroit will ever be a functioning society. They've thrown in the hat. If they're right, then what are we doing here? What's the point? Is laughing at the corpse that amusing a pastime?

Maybe our Democratic leaders are correct and democracy has failed in Detroit. After all, our elections are often the electoral equivalent of jury nullification. Maybe it will take tyrants to make Detroit work. If so, don't complain when the next Kilpatrick treats the city like it's his mother's purse and he's hungry. That's the problem with strongmen, there are always more Kwames that Bobbs.

02 September 2009

Mr. Bobb gives me my job back

Yesterday I was called by the HR people of Detroit Public Schools and informed that I was needed this year after all. They sent me to a school that filled me doubts, but the Principal was looking for a Middle School teacher, so I was sent back to HR. I waited around with 30 or other recalled teachers until another place was found for me. After about an hour, not bad as these things go, I was sent to the extreme Northeast corner of Detroit.

My new school is John Trix Elementary. No, he was not a cereal magnate. He was an industrialist (Brass fittings). No, the teams are not the Trixters (read "Tricksters"). They are the Troubadours. I plan to try to change the name to the Trixters with a coyote, crow, or spider as a mascot.

First impressions of the Principal and staff are good, so maybe this year will be better than last. Come to think of it the only way it could be worse is if an alien burst out of stomach at some particularly inopportune time.

Anyway, thanks to those who expressed their concern. I really didn't expect to be called back, at least not until count day in four weeks, if then. I've never been so relieved to be wrong.