Monday, October 11, 2010

Responding to Criticism from Letter to the Editor

Rather than spend the 44 cents for a stamp, I will respond here to a another critical letter to the editor printed in last week's Woodward Talk from Ferndale resident Wynetta Ann Warner. This time she takes me to task for celebrating the arrival of a brand new company locating in Ferndale from San Diego California that is expected to eventually bring in several hundred new jobs.

In choosing to locate in Ferndale, Michigan, Search Optics Inc. officials told city leaders they were impressed with our progressive attitude, our "walkability", our embracing of diversity, and the attraction to Ferndale of "millenials" and young educated persons. Since this kind of development is exactly what many of us have been striving for for the past two decades, it is with some "head-scratching" that many of us try and decipher Ms. Warner's criticism. Everyone knows that I have based my entire career on the promotion and celebration of diversity. That includes diversity in age...we want kids, teens, young adults, boomers, seniors, and all.

Of course we understand that companies' may not discriminate in hiring based on age, and no one has challenged that important law. In fact, many older workers are in demand, as employers understand that such employees often work hard, are mature and "seasoned", and can be loyal and efficient. But civic leaders also know that a city or region that fails to keep or attract young talent is a place that is doomed to fail to thrive. Companies today base themselves in areas that are prized as "livable" and sustainable. They want diversity, along with an educated work-force.

Leave it to Ann to make a lemon out of lemonade. We manage to attract a new company - from San Diego of all places, because of the new way we have charted in a state that is crying out for new jobs, and Ms. Warner challenges the mayor for heralding that fact. A guy, she acknowledges, who worked for a dozen years to pass our human rights ordinance.

She says that it is worrisome that her mayor still seems to not know the laws on this subject. Let me reassure her that I do. She can worry about other things now, such as global warming, industrial farming and pollution, or nuclear proliferation.

Her final comment asks if, now that I am over 50, am I planning on leaving to make room for a younger person. Well, hello? I guess maybe so. I may leave the office of mayor soon, depending on how my bid for Oakland County Commissioner goes next month. Whether the next mayor is younger or older than me will depend on the current City Council, and ultimately, the voters.