Detroiters respond as Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson blasts city in 'The New Yorker'

(WXYZ) - Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson continues to face heat for comments he made about Detroit in a national magazine.

Patterson was profiled in  this week's issue of The New Yorker  (subscription required) in an article headlined, "Drop Dead, Detroit."

Patterson was pretty candid on what he thinks about the city and its bankruptcy problem.

In the article, he stated:

Anytime I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive. Therefore, I'm called a Detroit basher. The truth hurts, you know?  I used to say to my kids, 'First of all, there's no reason for you to go to Detroit. We've got restaurants out here.' They don't even have movie theatres in Detroit - not one.

He went on to say that if you have to stop for gas in Detroit, that's just a call for carjacking.

Patterson didn't talk much about his accident last spring that has left him seriously injured.

We did reach out to Patterson and his office issued the following statement on Monday:

It is clear Paige Williams had an agenda when she interviewed County Executive Patterson. She cast him in a false light in order to fit her preconceived and outdated notions about the region. Mr. Patterson's record on advancing regional issues in a transparent and responsible manner is unparalleled. His initiatives have had a positive impact on the region such as Automation Alley, CLEMIS, and his leadership on the Cobo Authority.

Patterson told 760AM WJR radio host Paul W. Smith that the interview was based on 20 year old quotes.

He also reiterated that in the following statement that was released on Tuesday:

I regret that something I said 30 years ago is causing such consternation today. I have worked hard to build good relationships with some of the past mayors of Detroit. I do not intend for The New Yorker article to damage my relationship with Mayor Duggan and I look forward to working with him over the next four years.

I want to remind Mayor Duggan of what I said at the Big 4 Luncheon at the Auto Show last week and these are my true feelings: That I want to work with him, and I want to make sure that any project that he has that I can be supportive of, to give me a call.

The reporter, Paige Williams, told us she wanted to compare and contrast Detroit and Oakland County: why Oakland County is well managed and why on our southern border a great American city is in bankruptcy. For several days, my staff and I spoke with her about our office management style, the ways we have assisted Detroit, regional success stories such as the Cobo Authority, and the county's major programs that are having a positive impact on the region. We are beyond disappointed that none of those in-depth discussions made it into the article for balance

Mayor Mike Duggan and City Council President Brenda Jones released the following joint statement early Tuesday:

Brooks Patterson's statements were not what you would expect from a regional partner with a vested interest in a strong and healthy Detroit.  We hope he apologizes for this promptly.  The Mayor and Council remain focused on our unified efforts to improve the quality of life in Detroit and we are not going to be distracted by negative comments from anyone.

Reverend Charles Williams II and the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network are demanding a public apology from L. Brooks Patterson for his remarks. The network addressed the statements directly during a news conference on Tuesday.

Many Detroiters were upset to hear the slams against the city and told 7 Action News that Patterson went too far.

"He needs to check into some things," said Detroiter Derrick Porter.  "Maybe he needs to come down here and live or something and we live in the area and it's not that bad."

"We do bike a lot.  There is a ton of stuff to do. The science center is offering a ton of activities, and I go to the DIA pretty often," said Brittany West who lives in Detroit.

We found out that it wasn't just Detroiters upset with Patterson's scathing remarks.

"We live in Livonia," said Mark Hourigan.  He and his wife regularly bring their daughter downtown.  They had been at the North American International Auto Show when we spoke with them.

"They're so many different restaurants that we haven't even been to yet.  Just driving around, it's amazing," said Trisha Hourigan.

"I love it, it's nice," said Greg Stier.  He and his wife live in the small town of Algonac.

"I'm from a town of four-thousand and I come here once a week," said Stier.

We did find others who rarely visit downtown Detroit, like Chad Reagen's brothers who live in Oakland County.  Reagen said his siblings rarely go to Detroit.

"I think they think it's unsafe.  They have that perception," said Reagan.

Native Detroiter Jessie Jordan

who now lives in Royal Oak told us that some of the perceptions exist for a reason.

"I have no problem. You just can't stray too far in the wrong area. But it's getting better," said Jordan.

He and his friends said Detroit will never be the city it once was, if people keep talking out against it.

"If people aren't going to participate, it's not going to work.  In order for the city to thrive, people have to go downtown. They need to go to the businesses there and make the city active again," said Dan Radlick of Royal Oak.

7 Action News did reach out to The New Yorker and the author of the article for comment. They replied that the author is not available for interviews and would like the story to speak for itself. 

They did respond to Patterson's contention that the interview was based on 30-year-old quotes, saying that contention is not true. The New Yorker says the majority of the quotes are based on original reporting done in the Fall of 2013.

They also say that the report is a "comprehensive profile" and "therefore recounts some things he said early in his career, but the majority of the quotes in the piece are drawn from recent reporting."

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