Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium
Detroit City Council should offer options, not roadblocks
February 25, 2005
Facing a $230-million deficit, the Detroit City Council ought to help
lead or get out of the way.
Leadership doesn't mean swallowing everything Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
proposes, but it means more than just saying no.
The posturing over mayoral cuts to bus service and the Belle Isle
aquarium doesn't bode well for a city facing financial crisis and
possible bankruptcy. Council members are trying to buy time, but time is
Instead of suggesting alternatives, the council would rather pass
politically appealing but meaningless resolutions such as the one it
approved Wednesday, urging the administration to keep the aquarium open
for two months while supporters look for alternative funding. The city
can't afford to do it without hurting the Detroit Zoo, which oversees
Worse, council members approved another measure limiting the zoo's
ability to sell or transfer animals. The legally and ethically
questionable motion might mean that, if the aquarium closes, the animals
can't be moved to other zoos without council's approval. Keeping animals
in a closed aquarium, as council members and the mayor wrangle, could
endanger the health and welfare of the animals.
The council is understandably concerned about cutting or reducing
service on nearly 50 bus routes and ending 24-hour service. One in four
Detroit households does not have a car, and bus cuts will have a severe
impact. Kilpatrick has said he won't cut core services, namely, police
and fire. But bus service is just as vital for many Detroit workers
Still, the council's response has been to oppose the mayor's plan
without offering alternatives. Inefficient operations and work rules are
costing the Detroit Department of Transportation millions of dollars a
year, but the council won't take them on. Maybe free fares for senior
could be eliminated. Seniors are deserving, but so are low-income
workers who won't have a way to work.
Detroiters know what the council is against. Now they need to know what