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Local Columnist Gives Up Negativity, Reporting; Plans To Do Job Again Soon

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Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press wrote an interesting column today. To some extent, it serves as a pleasant offering a day after after Stephen Henderson's piece in Sunday's paper about some of the city's biggest development projects being behind on loans, or today's report from Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr that Detroit's finances are fucked.

Riley, as we now learn, has been "fasting from negativity."

Calling it "the best idea I've ever heard," Riley says for the three weeks leading up to her church's "celebration of women" on May 19, the congregation agreed to take a break from being negative; or, for her, as she (perhaps) offhandedly notes, from being a reporter.


The plan: Be positive or be silent. OR YER OUTTA THERE, or something.

Riley notes that for one member, Mamie Cokley, a former U.S. Department of Defense worker, the challenge presented its difficulties.

“I didn’t know how many times I said something … and then I’d say, ‘Oh, I’m fasting!’ ” (Cokley) recalled.

I know the feeling.

With everything going on in this city? That kind of resolve is mighty tough.

It's hard being positive, y'all! So Riley offers up the challenges she's faced while "fasting" from negativity.


First, she contemplates why Michigan would decide to open a new — and so far controversial — school district called the Educational Achievement Authority to operate financially failing schools, without ever really seeming to have any money to do such a thing. Feathers were ruffled everywhere after it was learned Roy Roberts, emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools (someone Riley, for whatever reason, feels compelled to tell us she admires greatly!), loaned the EAA $12 million over the last year. Why is DPS — whose finances are better off since Roberts took over, but still maintains a $76 million deficit — floating cash to the state's authority that's supposed to work on fixing financially troubled districts? Probably a great story to work if you ask an education reporter.

Ah, but Riley is taking a break from negativity. She says she's held back her premonitions — the story can wait until May 19th.

She continues:

When mayoral candidate Mike Duggan, whom Gov. Rick Snyder appointed to the EAA board, said he didn’t know the district superintendent he helps supervise had taken out a $6-million loan, I wanted to know how he and other board members could not know? But then I found out that Roberts is on the EAA board.

But I remembered the fast against the negative, and held back.

Don't fret. Come May 19, Riley is headed back to the trenches to fight the good fight.

And while I won’t forget the lesson that Mamie Cokley wants us all to learn, to be positive rather than negative, I will try to honor the idea but also ask some hard questions.


In other words, Riley's saying she's going to be a reporter.

She adds that she plans to find out what the idea behind the EAA was all along. She is dying to know, as a reporter, if the intention was to gut DPS and have the EAA oversee all of its schools instead, in turn causing dozens to lose jobs and more.

If that is the case, then the governor ...

Oh, that’s right. I’m fasting from the negative.

In short: Riley's gonna get to the bottom of it. Starting May 19.


(Youtube video of digital introduction for Riley when she delivered a speech in Birmingham, MI on December 10, 2009.)