(courtesy, Michigan Matters)

L. Brooks Patterson Would Rather 'Join The Klan' Than Group Trying To Poach Jobs For Detroit

Detroit vs. everybody in real life.

August 09, 2018 - 3:54 pm

(WWJ) Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said he would rather "join the Klan" than a regional CEO group he believes is trying to poach jobs from the wealthier suburbs and bring them to Detroit. 

It was a case of Detroit vs. Everybody, in real life. 

Eight-four percent of Detroit residents are black; 77 percent of Oakland County residents are white, and Patterson has been accused repeatedly of racism, most notably because he has vehemently opposed any kind of mass transit that would bring Detroiters to the suburbs for jobs.

Nearly 9 percent of Detroiters were unemployed, per the latest numbers, while Oakland County had an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent. 

After a public outcry over his remarks, Patterson issued a statement, saying, "Sometimes when I’m passionate about a topic, I choose sharp words and purposely engage in hyperbole to get my point across. Today, the words I chose offended a lot of people. I apologize for the poor choice of words.”

Earlier in the day, Patterson took aim at business leaders whom he believes are trying to poach jobs from the suburbs.

"That's  not your ally, that's your competitor," Brooks said to reporters about why he wouldn't join the group of CEOs, which he says is targeting businesses to come to Detroit from western Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

The Klan remark came after Patterson called an emergency meeting of the Oakland County Chamber of Commerce for Thursday afternoon to discuss a group of 23 regional CEOs who, he says, intend to raise $4 to $6 million for regional business attraction. 

When he was speaking to the media after the chamber discussion, he answered the question of whether he would join the group.

"Hell no, I'd rather join the Klan," he said. "They're not working with us, they're not working for us."

Brooks brought leaders to the gathering with a letter that said the leadership and effectiveness of Sandy Baruah, head of the Detroit Regional Chamber is "up for debate ... Sensing a weakness at the DRC, a group of 23 regional CEO's, led by DTE Chairman Gerry Anderson, has moved in and formed a "Super Chamber" referring to themselves as a "Regional Umbrella Organization.'" 

"You don't have to read between the lines," Patterson wrote. "It is clear what is happening: these self appointed saviors for southeast Michigan are in the process of forming an "economic partnership" to direct business investments to the City of Detroit. They will have no hesitation about coming into your community and snatch business leads in the righteous cause of "rebuilding Detroit."

Reached for comment after the meeting Gerry Anderson, DTE Energy chairman and CEO, said this to WWJ Newsradio: "I understand L. Brooks Patterson's passion for his work and honestly, we are all after the same goal. The entire region benefits when investment and jobs come from outside Michigan and the country to Southeast Michigan. The Detroit Regional Chamber, the Regional CEO Group and all the county leadership in Southeast Michigan can make a positive difference when we align and create incremental, good paying jobs for the 11 County region."

The Chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors, Ray Telang, added: “The Detroit Regional Chamber has been working closely with the Regional CEO Group for the past two years to drive business and economic investment as well as job creation in all 11 counties in Southeast Michigan.  The Chamber’s CEO Sandy Baruah has been a driving force behind this effort.”

Neither one responded directly to Patterson's comment about the Klan.