The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Casinos leave Detroit's mayor in the lurch

Apr 2, 2001

Almost from the moment that Detroit's three casinos announced their current "temporary" quarters, the mayor was pushing to give them a new "permanent" home on Detroit's waterfront.

To that end, he used all the powers of city government to force little businesses, restaurants, blues and other music clubs, as well as a few homeowners, to pack up and move out. He wanted 57 acres of prime real estate, including Chene Park where jazz groups played free concerts in the summertime.

The mayor ignored the complaints of people who liked the warehouse music club district, and of people who lived nearby who weren't at all happy about the prospects of the traffic that the casinos would bring into their neighborhood.

He ignored the ballot proposition which had authorized the establishment of casinos –a proposition that had been put on the ballot repeated times, and voted down repeated times before voters finally acquiesced.

The city's courts ignored petitions for ballot propositions turned in by community activists who opposed the riverfront give-away.

Faced with the inevitable, most of the little businesses agreed to the city's terms and prepared to move out, either closing down completely or looking for another spot.

Now, however, it seems, that two of the three casinos have decided they don't want to move. They're doing too well where they are, raking in money hand over fist, so why put out money to build a completely new property?

What's a poor mayor to do when the businesses he's been fronting for leave him with egg all over his face?