Should Detroit Be The New Amsterdam?

By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s Michigan Matters

Could legalizing pot and sex be the magic formula to fix what ails the Motor City and turn it into a hot spot for young people?

Yes, according to flamboyant barrister Geoffrey Fieger who posed the idea during taping of Michigan Matters.

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Fieger, who was born in Detroit and ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat candidate for governor and has talked a few times about doing the same for mayor, said the city has hit rock bottom.

“I could turn it around in five minutes,” Fieger said.

“I’d shovel the snow and I’d clean the streets and parks. Then, I’d tell the police department to leave marijuana alone and don’t spend one dime trying to enforce marijuana laws. I also would not enforce prostitution laws and I’d make us the new Amsterdam.”

“We would attract young people,” he said. “You make Detroit a fun city. A place they want to live and they would flock here.”

Fieger appeared with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, who did not embrace the idea.

“How does that fix the schools or unemployment or illiteracy in the city?” said Patterson, also born in Detroit and taught English there before becoming an attorney and Republican leader.

Fieger, who appeared on Michigan Matters a few months ago and announced he would run for mayor of Detroit in 2013, said he changed his mind after Mayor Dave Bing said he would seek re-election.

Patterson and Bing traded barbs on the the future of the Emergency Financial Manager legislation that was recently tweaked by the state legislature and gives more powers to EFMs in running distressed cities and schools.

Fieger thought it was unconstitutional and would be overturned while Patterson disagreed.

Patterson also predicted Bing would eventually be named EFM of Detroit if he is unable to secure concessions from unions to deal with the $200 million deficit it is facing.

On other matters, Patterson and Fieger each gave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder “B to B Plus” grades on the jobs the two CEOs turned politicians have done so far.

Snyder is facing battles and protests from unions, teachers, movie makers and others as he tries to shrink government and confront the state’s $2 billion hole.

One of the few bright spots in the economic tsunami that has gripped this state is exporting which has been big business — to the tune of $44.5 billion in 2010.

Ken Rogers and Carol Cain on Michigan Matters set at WWJ-TV CBS Detroit

Automation Alley Executive Director Ken Rogers appears with Cain on "Michigan Matters" and discusses the importance of exporting in the state. (credit: Greg Shattuck/WWJ-TV)

Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley, a regional business group that includes eight counties in southeastern Michigan, the city of Detroit and 1,000 plus businesses, also appeared on the show and talked about the importance of exporting.

The “Alley” as it’s called, which Patterson started in 1999, has become a catalyst that has helped Michigan businesses secure $152 million in contracts from trade missions the group has arranged.

The Alley has gained much attention.

In fact, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – the jobs creation arm of the state – just asked Rogers and his Alley team to help with their global exporting programs.

“The good news is there is a great deal of opportunity for companies big and small in China, India and other places,” Rogers said.

Rogers said they will unveil a new International Business Center at Alley offices in Troy on April 28. It will help them serve more businesses interested in reaching out globally.

Watch the Emmy winning Michigan Matters 11 a.m. Sundays on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit. You can read Cain’s columns on business and politics in Sunday’s Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or via email.

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