Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. today vetoed the Detroit City Council vote that killed the state deal that would have created a regional authority to oversee Cobo Center and a $288-million expansion of the city’s convention center.
“Based on the authority given me as mayor under the Detroit City Charter, earlier today I vetoed the Detroit City Council’s resolution to reject the Cobo expansion plan,” Cockrel said this afternoon outside Cobo Center.
“I fully expect my veto to stand. I therefore look toward to the expansion of Cobo and attracting bigger and better conventions and shows to the region.’’
Cockrel’s announcement was followed by applause.
Cockrel also reacted to assertions that Detroit Council President Monica Conyers injected race into the matter.
“Small-minded, divisive politics, you know the us vs. them mentality, the city vs. suburbs mentality, the black vs. white mentality has held us back as a city and, frankly, held the region back for years,” he said. “It’s time for us to move beyond that. The only color that really matters here, is not black or white, it’s green.”
Conyers was not present at Cockrel’s announcement but continued with her vow to fight Cockrel’s veto in court.
“If he wants a court battle, then I guess he’ll get a court battle,” Conyers said this afternoon in front of the Spirit of Detroit during a news conference she called one hour after Cockrel made his announcement.
“The legislation says only us … that we have a right to do this," she said of their vote to reject the deal. “We don’t need to override because he doesn’t have the right to do this.”
The Detroit Regional Chamber supports Cockrel's move, saying the Cobo legislation passed in Lansing last year represents the best chance for a compromise between all the parties involved: Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, the state and the city of Detroit.
“We support the mayor and agree the current Cobo Hall expansion plan is the best option for the city and the region," said Detroit Regional Chamber President & CEO, Richard E. Blouse Jr. “This expansion is critical to moving the region forward and it means jobs for residents and supports the continued revitalization of Detroit.”
Conyers led the effort to reject the legislation which was passed by the state Legislature in December and signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in January.
Cockrel sent a letter to the council Monday urging members to reconsider their vote, or he would use his charter authority to veto their 5-3 vote rejecting the deal.
The council’s research and analysis division said the mayor has no veto power, citing a 1978 opinion from the-state Attorney General Frank Kelley.
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said he was glad that Cockrel exercised the same right that every mayor and township supervisor has.
“We need leaders who will stand up for the citizens of the city and the entire region,” Ficano said. “We need the council to realize how devastating it will be if we lose the International Auto Show -- ultimately losing more than 16,000 jobs and more than $500,000 million a year in economic activity.”
Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Gieleghem hailed the veto as an effort to “preserve the auto show and provide the necessary upgrades to a great regionally supported asset in the city.”
“Everyone in the region had to give a little on this. We had to set aside our differences for the greater goal of preserving the auto show.”
Speaking by phone from the Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland, Barron Meade, president of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, hailed Cockrel’s veto.
“Obviously we’re very supportive of the mayor’s position and looking forward to getting a world class facility that our region desperately needs,” Meade said. “We’re patient as long as it’s moving forward in the right direction. We need the upgrade and we need the expansion, the sooner the better.”
Isaac Robinson, political director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was on hand to support Cockrel.
“We really needed this,” Robinson said of the veto. “Detroit and our region is suffering and we need a boost. This is really going to be a positive thing for the city of Detroit and the region. We need to do something, can’t do noting. And we’re losing jobs and this means so much for Detroit.”http://www.freep.com/article/20090304/N ... +Cobo+vote