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24 years ago in Metro Times: MT interviews the most powerful woman in Detroit you've never heard of: Dorothy Brodie, who holds the undeniably long title of executive assistant to the mayor for federal regulations. Translated, this means that Brodie is Mayor Coleman Young's lobbyist to the Reagan administration, and it is her doing that allowed Detroit to gain control of the People Mover project from the federal government. The People Mover, which began life as a concept developed under the Carter administration during the '70s, was reluctantly taken up by the Reagan administration and brought to Detroit to be tested as a system of mass transit. "I'm not quite sure how the public got the perception that Detroit screwed up the People Mover," said Brodie. "We did not have a hand in it until last October, and all of the screw-ups occurred before then." Since Brodie got control of People Mover construction into Detroit's hands, construction has been moving smoothly and within budget, and the first passenger is expected to board July 31 of next year. Unfortunately, 23 years later, the proposed $600 million city and metro-wide light rail transit system of which the DPM was supposed to be a hub hasn't yet materialized. What was happening: Genesis at Joe Louis Arena, Willie Nelson at the Michigan State Fair, Patti LaBelle at Pine Knob.
19 years ago in Metro Times: In his column, Ashes & Diamonds, Alexander Cockburn comments on recent major mergers of the nation's banks, writing, "Twenty years ago, the news that some of America's biggest banks were merging would have sent up shouts of alarm about the growth of a banking octopus, three or four huge institutions dominating the nation's financial life. Today, such shouts are muted. ... The mood is one of fear that the entire financial system is teetering on the edge of a precipice. ... Only a political shift can push the system back toward a rational path." Taking stock of the combination of "extreme economic fragility and political paralysis," Cockburn predicts, "If the fragility increases — and it seems certain to do so — radical programs of economic reform may seem very alluring to Americans realizing how much damage has been wrought by the Very Rich in the past decade." In light of the recent financial meltdown and taxpayer bailouts, Cockburn's predictions of two decades ago remain uncannily prescient. What was happening: The 12th Annual Miller Lite Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival in Hart Plaza, the Blanks at the Miami, the Almighty Lumberjacks of Death at Clutch Cargo's, and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers at Chene Park.
12 years ago in Metro Times: The Metro Beat column describes how about 20 protesters picketed the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit, chanting such slogans as "Stop the bombings right away, the real terrorist is the U.S.A.!" The bombings in question are the series of cruise missile strikes that the Clinton administration authorized against a chemical plant in Sudan, and several suspected terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. These strikes come in the wake of a deadly bombing of the U.S. embassy to Kenya, in which several Americans and hundreds of Africans were killed. "According to press accounts," writes Metro Beat, "President Bill Clinton said the attack was based on intelligence reports suggesting that the targets were part of the Osama bin Laden terrorist network." The strikes distract attention from Monica Lewinsky's return to the grand jury, but do little to discourage bin Laden. In fact, the "chemical plant" turns out to be Khartoum's Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory. To this day, critics maintain that the attack caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Sudanese citizens by cutting off access to life-saving drugs. What was happening: Joe Cocker at Pine Knob, Alice Cooper and Bill Cosby at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Special thanks to editorial intern Noah Heinrich for his assistance with this column.