Bernard Parker, the outspoken Wayne County Commissioner who has been criticized as well as praised for his stance in the ongoing scandal that has rocked Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and his administration, said he plans to leave the commission at the end of his term.
Parker is leaving in the midst of an intense federal investigation into the administration of Ficano, and at a time when opinions are divided regarding his role on the commission and how he moved from being a vocal critic of Ficano to supporting the county executive’s lightening rod pick for CEO of Detroit Metro Airport, Turkia Mullen, to now being critical of the administration.
But the man who has recently become the most visible political face against the Ficano administration, says it is just a matter of it being time to leave the county.
What does Parker plan to do?
The commissioner is going to run for a seat on the Detroit City Council. Council member Kwame Kenyatta announced last week that he will not seek another term when his tenure ends.
In an exclusive interview, Parker, said his decision to leave Wayne County is due to the impact of redistricting. His district has been expanded now to include portions of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods. And because his term doesn’t end until Dec. 31, Parker will not file for reelection May 15. The new district, according to Parker, now accounts for only 45 percent of Detroit.
“Because of the reapportionment, they changed the boundaries of my house where I live and it now extends to Harper Woods and Grosse Pointe and I really do not want to represent that area,” Parker said. “I want to represent the city of Detroit 100 percent, and I think the city needs experienced leadership as we go through this crisis.”
Given the investigation that Wayne County is facing, Parker admits that it is black eye on the overall county government, including the commission.
“Some people may see it negatively but I want to serve the city of Detroit. I don’t want to serve a suburban community,” Parker said. “My experience in the last 22 years on the commission I believe will aid the city as we move toward recovery.”
On Detroit’s consent agreement that allows for the appointment of a nine- member Financial Advisory Board, Parker said, “I have not seen all the details but I think there are some good things in there. I think the consent agreement was the better of the two evils. But I think the important thing is as we move with the agreement that we go back to independent cities with home rule.”
He took parting shots at Ficano saying he has “lost his ability to lead and for the good of the county he should step down. But I don’t think he is going to step down.”
He said there wasn’t enough support on the commission for a vote of no confidence on Ficano.
“If it was presented and did not pass it would send the wrong message,” Parker said.
When asked how could he be critical of Ficano after supporting Mullen for the airport job, Parker insisted the Airport Authority was misled.
“The bottom line is that we selected someone who misrepresented the facts,” Parker said. “After we began to uncover her background and poor leadership, that is when we took action and did what we did.”
Bankole Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and the author of a six-part series on the Obama presidency, including “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published last year. His latest book is ”Obama and Christian Loyalty” with an epilogue written by Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman. His upcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and ”Obama and Business Loyalty.” Listen to him every Thursday morning on WDET 101.9 FM Detroit and every Sunday, 9 to 10 p.m., on “The Obama Watch” program on WLIB 1190 AM-New York. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.