In the city of Detroit, 60 percent of children reportedly live in poverty, 40 percent of the streetlights don't work, police take about an hour to respond to any call, it filed for bankruptcy protection last week, and, according to mayoral candidate Tom Barrow, it's all a lie.
"Chess moves are thought way in advance," Barrow tells the local ABC affiliate WXYZ.
Barrow was visiting the WXYZ studio to introduce himself to the public that may not know who he is; a get-to-know-the-candidate-who-really-believes-all-of-your-city's-problems-are-entirely-made-up segment.
"These are really big claims you're making...the way you're talking, these problems are all made up," WXYZ anchor JoAnne Purtan says, implying she wants Barrow to definitively state for-the-record that he believes Detroit is in its current position just so Gov. Snyder, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Mayor Dave Bing and write-in candidate Mike Duggan can sit down for a drink in the near-future and share a good laugh about the whole thing.
"They are," Barrow replies.
To bring you up sort-of up to speed on Barrow: This is his fourth go-around at running for the mayor's seat in the past 30-or-so years. He's an accountant who, in 1994, was convicted of bank fraud, tax evasion and filing false tax returns; served 13 months of a near two-year sentence, and has since repeatedly tried to get the conviction overturned.
He spent the better part of this summer campaigning on a platform that consisted entirely of disdain for another candidate, one whom the region's daily newspapers have taken a liking to as the race began to take shape.
Mike Duggan, the bane of Barrow's existence, moved to the city in 2012 from nearby Livonia to make a run for mayor. Duggan has long-ties to the city, and was considered the front-runner until Barrow successfully waged a battle in court to boot him from the ballot over an ambiguous residency requirement in the city's charter.
When Duggan was convinced to stay in the race as a write-in candidate, Barrow took him to court again, arguing that Duggan could not run as a write-in candidate. (Remember, this is Barrow's ostensible platform.)
The case was tossed because even if fellow Detroit Jalopnik scribe Aaron Foley wanted to run as a write-in candidate, all he'd have to do, according to the city's charter, is declare his intent to run as a write-in by 4 p.m. on the second Friday immediately before the primary election.
Now we're a few weeks from the Aug. 6 election and, based on reports, no one candidate has really presented a well-rounded platform. Duggan doesn't dig the I-94 widening, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon wants to put one cop in every square mile of the city, there should be more recreation centers open and no one likes the emergency manager running the show.
Perhaps it's the discontent over running for a political office that virtually holds no power under Orr. Maybe there coincidentally is a lack of long-term vision from the candidates who the local media give the time of day. Perhaps Barrow is right and a great conspiracy is unfolding before our eyes; the state has moved its pawns, knights and hooks in the right spots so Michigan can finally slap a sign on the entrance to Belle Isle that reads, "Property of the state of Michigan," and then, shit, who knows what would come after that.
Point is, if one of the many lawsuits contending the legality of emergency managers doesn't come to fruition then, at least for now, the city will be operated by Orr and the legion of lawyers he now employs. If, as a mayoral candidate, you want to win — then it's probably time to address some issues the city has, present a couple possible solutions you might explore, and consider what the plan might be once Orr's 18 months are up next fall when the city has the opportunity to vote him out. Instead, the majority of the dialogue from this campaign season has been dominated by a tiff over eligibility.
Aug. 6 can't come soon enough.