DETROIT (WWJ) – The often outspoken Oakland County Executive is once again in hot water over comments he made about Detroit in a recent interview with “New Yorker” magazine.
L. Brooks Patterson is quoted in an article titled “Drop Dead, Detroit!” as saying he only has negative things to say about the Motor City. He made the controversial comments while giving reporter Paige Williams an extended tour of Oakland County last September.
“Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I’m called a Detroit basher,” he said. “The truth hurts, you know? Tough s***.”
The 75-year-old Republican went on to say he warned his children never to travel to Detroit.
“I used to say to my kids, ‘First of all, there’s no reason for you to go to Detroit. We’ve got restaurants out here.’ They don’t even have movie theatres in Detroit — not one,” he said.
Patterson said the one thing Detroit offers that the suburbs can’t is live sports — and even then a trip to the city is quite risky.
“For that, fine — get in and get out,” he said. “But park right next to the venue — spend the extra 20 or 30 bucks. And, before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That’s just a call for a carjacking.”
He’s also quoted as saying a prediction he made has come to pass. He said, “What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn.”
A statement from Patterson’s office said the seven-page article casts the executive in a false light, but didn’t dispute the quotes or apologize for his actions.
“It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson. She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region,” the statement read.
Williams told the Detroit Free Press on Monday that there wasn’t agenda against Patterson. “Our focus was simply to explore what made Oakland County so successful. That’s what we did do. It’s a balanced portrait,” she said.
The National Action Network, an organization founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton, is calling for a public apology from Patterson. The group is holding a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday to request the apology.
In a statement, Rev. Charles Williams II, the National Action Network’s Michigan chapter president, said Patterson’s remarks were “repulsive” — not just because Detroit is mostly a black city, but “because it is also a direct slight to the American Indians who occupied the land before Detroit was Detroit, and Oakland County.”
Patterson is no stranger to making controversial comments. Last May, he likened Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger to Hitler, repeatedly referring to the politician as “Adolf” as TV cameras rolled. He also added a visual element to his verbal bashing after pulling a comb out of his pocket and putting it up to his upper lip, to resemble Hitler’s mustache.
Patterson was also heavily criticized in May 2012 following an outlandish comment he made when asked what advice he would offer embattled Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. He said: “Go in the garage, pull the door down, leave the engine running.” Patterson later dismissed the comment as a “bad joke.”
Following the Ficano incident, Patterson seeming foretold the future by saying, “Oh, well. It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time my sense of humor’s got me in trouble.”