Sunday, September 09, 2007

Few council members attend retreat's first day

This is inexcusable for members who were off for 5 weeks previous to this event to skip out. This is a waste of the $50,000 dollars of corporate monies donated to host this off site workshop. The council could have held the meeting in Detroit and used the monies to support an after school program for city youths since no one wanted to attend in AA. Kenneth Cockrel Jr should be ashamed of his weak leadership and not demanded that all members attend this event. All members had plenty of notice to shift their schedules for this meeting. The sad part is there were no repercussions for the members missing the meeting. No accountability for the council members actions. It is time for us to clean house at City Council and elect people who have a desire to make Detroit a better city and not further their own personal agendas.

Seven out of nine Detroit officials missed part or all of the sessions in Ann Arbor due to other commitments.

ANN ARBOR -- Attendance was sparse at portions of the first full day of the annual Detroit City Council retreat Wednesday.

Five of the nine members attended the retreat's morning session featuring a presentation by Detroit Renaissance President Doug Rothwell on stimulating the area's economy. And for about 90 minutes into the afternoon session on goal-setting for the next two years, only two members attended. By 3 p.m., five members were at the session.

The four-day, three-night retreat started Tuesday at Weber's Restaurant and Hotel in Ann Arbor and is open to the public. It was expected to cost nearly $50,000, paid by corporate donors.

Some council members didn't attend or were late because of other engagements. At least one, Councilman Kwame Kenyatta, said he skipped part of the agenda because the retreat's facilitator created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Ricardo Solomon, a former Wayne County commissioner who is now a partner in the proposed retail center at Eight Mile and Woodward, was hired to facilitate the retreat. The proposed Shoppes at Gateway Park is expected to go before the council soon for a vote.

Kenyatta said he supports bringing more retail businesses and jobs into the city, but said he was concerned with Solomon having such a key role in helping the council set the agenda.

President Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said Solomon's role isn't a conflict. He is just a facilitator paid through corporate donations, he said. "He isn't dictating the agenda," Cockrel said.

Cockrel said ideally he would like all nine members to attend but said it is important that a majority of the members and council staffers attended at least a part of the session Wednesday aimed at setting an agenda.

President Pro Tem Monica Conyers and Councilwoman Martha Reeves didn't show up Wednesday. Reeves had a previous engagement, her staff said. Conyers spokesman Sam Riddle said she had a pension board meeting, and was caring for her two young children. Aides to Conyers and Reeves attended.

Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins and Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel missed most of the Wednesday sessions, arriving around 3 p.m. Sheila Cockrel was sick with the flu and Collins had a doctor's appointment that she couldn't reschedule.

Councilwoman Brenda Jones attended the morning session and part of the afternoon session. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson attended the morning session. Kenneth Cockrel Jr. and Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi attended all the sessions.

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