Detroit's Belle Isle, the beautiful but not-as-well-kept-as-it-should-be island park that has been managed by the city for more than a century, is now being turned over to the state of Michigan, prompting some outrageous comments from two city council members.
There was a deal put forth months ago to lease Belle Isle — home of the Giant Slide (!), the Detroit Grand Prix, the wedding of your friend who grew up in Lake Orion and moved to Detroit two years ago, your grandmother's church picnic, Hipster Beach, a closed zoo, a museum, a yacht club, a conservatory and lots of cars on the weekends — to the state and turn it into a state park and charge a nominal fee.
Since Belle Isle is considered one of the city's last remaining "jewels," however, the proposal was met with opposition from some city leaders. Things have changed now that the city is under state management and bankrupt, and a new but similar deal was hammered out today.
But two female council members, JoAnn Watson and Brenda Jones, remain in staunch opposition to the idea of Belle Isle being turned over from city control to state control — so much so that both women invoked rape to express their disdain.
“There’s nothing about Belle Isle that impacts the bankruptcy petition or the city’s deficit – nothing,” Watson said at this morning’s council meeting. “And it flies in the face of all the public pronouncements about the state wanting to help the city. We don’t need this kind of help. Seems like a rape to me.”
After Watson spoke, Jones reportedly said, "It's a disrespect with no transparency. It's a rape."
Strong comments considering that Detroit has thousands of unsolved rape cases with no end in sight for many of them. Watson doesn't have much to lose at this point since she's not returning to council, but Jones is up for re-election. We'll see how that goes.
Neither comment will probably get the scrutiny they should nor will neither councilmember be taken aside and explained just how ignorant they are, because when have we ever taken Watson or Jones to task about the wildly offensive things they've said during open council meetings?