Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Priorities of Monica Conyers

Detroit city bus drivers staged a walkout today to protest City Council’s refusal to put Wayne County Deputies on board for security in spite of federal money already in place to cover all the expense. ("Detroit bus drivers stage walkout over security concerns"). The Sheriff says he can detail his deputies immediately, no problem, if he just gets the word. As for the Detroit cops, they stopped riding the buses in 2005 due to a manpower shortage. It also happens that in 2005 Mayor Kilpatrick was still getting lightly ribbed for rolling with a 21-person Detroit police security detail. But, hey, the bigger the man, the bigger the target, right?

Joining the 5-4 majority to deny the protection for buses were Detroit City Councilwomen Monica Conyers and JoAnn Watson. The Council has been twiddling their thumbs over this for more than a year. The alleged sticking points are questions over liability if a passenger is injured by a deputy, (as opposed to say, being shot, robbed, or sexually assaulted by a fellow passenger), and the Council’s fear that allowing deputies to ride would somehow lead to "privatizing" the bus system. Since the City has its very own law department chockful of lawyers sending checks to successful plaintiffs suing the Detroit Police Department for abuse, it shouldn't take more than a year to get a legal opinion on the liability question. As for the "privatization"concern, that's just local code meaning Detroit’s elected officials fear loss of control over the D-DOT’s budget. They'd vote to let the City-County Building burn down before they'd allow a private contractor to stamp out a trash fire in a public rest room.

But the kicky thing is that Councilwomen Monica Conyers and JoAnn Watson are the same city leaders who co-sponsored last week’s Council resolution to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States, an historic and significant national statement Conyers was prevented from voting on herself due to an urgent Hawaiian trip she was duty-bound to take. "Councilwoman Conyers Skips Vote on Her Own Impeachment Resolution").

In spite of the absence of Councilwoman Conyers, the impeachment resolution was widely reported to have passed unanimously. Yet only four of nine Council members voted in favor of providing security on city buses.

Yet I'm confident that from Councilwoman Conyers's point of view her priorities are just about right in terms of the big picture. In the big picture, Councilwoman Conyers knows that once Bush and Cheney have been impeached and President Pelosi and Vice President Murtha have finally ended the war on terror and redeemed America’s fair-haired status in the community of nations, all those frightened bus passengers will realize (parochial worries about muggings and shootings aside) that the Council has always had nothing but Detroiters'--and the world's--best interests in mind.

No comments: