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Judge Steven Rhodes

Some mistakes are rather difficult to explain.

Just as an example, on Tuesday, DPS Transition Manager Judge Steven Rhodes announced that he is excited to be leading DPS back towards local control.

So far so good.

Then Judge Rhodes announced the local community members that he himself had picked to serve on his transition team. All except one of Judge Rhodes’ hand-picked team members are white, and many of them don’t even live in Detroit.

Not so good anymore.

Those who made the list are the following:

Jay Alix, Alix Partners, LLP; Al Koch, Alix Partners, LLP; Kurt Beckeman, Alix Partners, LLP; David Carroll, Quicken Loans, Coalition; Matt Cullen, Rock Ventures; Jeff Lambert, Lambert, Edwards & Associates; Kelly Rossman-McKinney, Truscott Rossman; John Truscott, Truscott Rossman; Patricia Flaherty, retired, Ford Motor Co.; Jimmy Settles, UAW Ford; Gene Gargaro, Masco; and Eugene Driker, Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker, PLLC.

So here’s the thing; it’s not that none of these folks are qualified. Because sure, they are quite qualified. But this is Detroit, and Detroit is still more than 80 percent African American. The student population in DPS is closer to 100 percent African American. That probably explains why our phones were blowing up as soon as the story hit the news. Nobody could believe what they were seeing.

Would it be asking too much for Judge Rhodes to consider some qualified candidates for his transition team who weren’t white? If he doesn’t know any qualified blacks himself, then perhaps he might have considered calling someone who could help him out in that regard. Understand that we are willing to accept help from wherever we can get it, and are appreciative of those willing to step in, but we think Judge Rhodes also needs to understand that there are plenty of fully qualified African American candidates who would be only too happy to serve and do whatever they can to improve DPS.

Yes, results most certainly do matter. But appearances matter, too. And to suggest, intentionally or not, that the only folks qualified to help DPS transition properly are white folks is, well, a problem.

A problem that needs to be fixed.

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