Bloomberg Businessweek has a hasty profile of new General Motors CEO Mary Barra that's probably worth a read. But I couldn't get past the second page because the Detroit defender and former copy editor in me got stuck on a deliberately placed swipe at the city.
Most of the story's crux is about the departure of Dan Akerson, the arrival of GM lifer Barra and how GM can't afford to make the same mistakes in the past. One paragraph takes us to the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, where GM's headquarters are. And that's where I begin to get confused.
The seven shining cylinders of the Renaissance Center—GM's formal headquarters—stand like a keep on the Detroit River. Police cars parked on the periphery don't seem to deter the bandits on the deserted downtown streets. When Bloomberg sent a photographer a few weeks ago, he was robbed of $15,000 worth of equipment. The hustle didn't end there. The photographer also spent, and lost, money in an attempt to get his equipment back. When BMW reps came to town for the car show a few years back, thieves stole their 7 Series sedan.
That story about the photographer being robbed sounded familiar. Bloomberg didn't name the photographer, but if you keep up with Detroit news it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who — and to figure out more details of the incident.
"I got ripped off twice," said the photographer, Christopher Morris, who has gained an international reputation shooting photos from the White House to some of the world's most vicious war zones.
After the thefts, Morris said he used an app to trace his iPhone — also stolen — to a house on Algonquin near Waveny. He contacted police, who took reports from Morris and witnesses but said they could not approach the house without a warrant.
But about 8 p.m. Wednesday night, cops called Morris at his hotel and told him they were working on the case.
And the camera equipment and iPhone are not the only losses.
"They also stole the photo cards with two days of work," Morris said.
Morris, who lives in Florida, was shooting photos for a positive story about Detroit — the resurgence of the Jeep, which is produced at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant near the spot where his gear was swiped. He did not want to name the publication.
Morris, 55, said his rental Dodge Avenger was parked at a McDonald's on Conner when he stepped across the street with a camera to check out an angle for a possible shot.
"Then I heard the glass shatter," he said. "There were three guys at the car. They took off with my bag and a camera and the iPhone."
The positive story about Jeep? Bloomberg has a pretty positive story published today with a Christopher Morris photo.
But Conner and Mack, nor the Jefferson North Assembly Plant or the McDonald's in question, are nowhere near downtown like the Barra profile states. It's six miles away; we've even got video of a drive from JNAP to downtown for the skeptics. So why did Bloomberg, the same Bloomberg that gave us some dubious figures about 50,000 stray dogs roaming Detroit, throw that in there?
Were we supposed to believe that he was robbed outside GM headquarters and that anyone approaching the RenCen is at risk, even with police presence? That's not even what happened, and it's confusing Bloomberg would go with that. Hell, I wasn't the only one who raised a red flag about it.
By the way, it's common sense to not leave valuables in plain sight anywhere, whether it's Detroit or Detroit Lakes, MN. I'm not blaming the photographer, and it's certainly tragic that he was robbed. But let's not act like this is just a Detroit problem.