Monday, February 09, 2009

EVENT: Flint Mayor Don Williamson Resigns.

And Flint, Michigan has just had another seismic day.

Andy Heller writes some insightful comments on the resignation.

Here's my take on his position:

Just a few observations from a 11-year ex-pat.


"Michael Brown, appointed as city administrator last week by Williamson, becomes mayor in the short term. He's a steady, peacemaker type who will bring what order he can to City Hall."

Darnell Earley was far and away the best mayor I've ever seen preside over Flint. Chicago has a reputation for nasty politics, but Flint's scene seems comparable if not worse. The trick is in what you said above... Brown doesn't want the job. The same was true for Darnell Earley. A mayor who "doesn't want the job" is freed from his political ambitions to pursue an aggressive agenda for the city of Flint. A city as troubled as Flint doesn't have any room for personal ambitions and vanities. Which is why I'm optimistic about Brown, and hope he'll maybe reconsider.


While I agree, it's a bad idea to endorse anyone before we've seen the full ticket, things have changed a lot since Dayne Walling lost. He was running on a platform of coalition progress and innovative troubleshooting which has (and many people observed this at the time) had a lot in common with Obama's strategy. Flint's choice of Don Williamson was a -- understandable perhaps -- fearful and skeptical choice. It was a choice that argued that entrenchment and hunkering down will slow a city's deterioration, and that this is preferable to the risk of trying a new direction. Given Flint's history with experimentation -- AutoWorld, the Don's own Windmill Place, even Job Corps -- this stance should not be a total surprise. Of course other "experiments" (the cultural center, community schooling, the magnet program) have been successes. So it's a mixed bag.

Whoever takes the reins of Flint now is going to have to 1) be willing to take risks, and 2) to recognize the right risks. In the past, the city has gotten one or the other, but not both.

Best of luck to all of you. I'll be watching.

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