County executive said he 'regrets' one of several inflammatory remarks in New Yorker.

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DETROIT — Civil rights activists and Detroit political leaders on Tuesday called on Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson to issue a meaningful apology after inflammatory remarks by him appeared in a profile in The New Yorker magazine.

"It's time for your vicious, malicious attacks on Detroiters and minorities to stop," the Rev. Charles Williams II of Historic King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit said this morning. "Detroit has moved on. It's time for you to move on, too."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who declined to comment Monday, when the article was published online, issued a joint statement Tuesday with City Council President Brenda Jones that said they hope Patterson apologizes for his comments.

Patterson's comments are "not what you would expect from a regional partner with a vested interest in a strong and healthy Detroit," the joint statement from Duggan and Jones said.

Jones read the statement during a break in Tuesday's City Council meeting.

In an article this week in New Yorker magazine, Patterson is quoted as making a series of inflammatory remarks about Detroit — including, "Any time I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive … the truth hurts, you know?"

Duggan and Jones said they will remain focused on unified efforts to improve the quality of life in Detroit.

"We are not going to be distracted by negative comments," Jones said, reading the statement.

Williams, who is president of the National Action Network's Michigan chapter, said the group wanted not just a verbal apology, but to meet with other regional political and business leaders to mend the rift between city and suburb in a region deeply divided by race and socio-economics.

"We're calling on all of you all to join us right here in the heart of the hood, and we will come together for the first time," Williams said.

Patterson on Tuesday apologized on a radio news program for one of the more incendiary remarks. Asked by New Yorker writer Paige Williams how Detroit might fix its financial problems, Patterson was quoted as saying: "I made a prediction a long time ago, and it's come to pass. I said, 'What we're gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.'"

But he did not back down from another comment in which he said he warned his children to avoid Detroit.

"Before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here (Oakland). You don't, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That's just a call for a carjacking," he told the writer Williams, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and GQ magazine.

Patterson issued a statement on Tuesday, saying he is 'beyond disappointed' with the article.

"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."

In an article this week in New Yorker magazine, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is quoted as making a series of inflammatory remarks about Detroit — including, "Any time I talk about Detroit, it will not be positive … the truth hurts, you know?"

The headline — "Drop Dead, Detroit!" — set the tone for a profile of Patterson that was published online Monday and described him selling the merits of Oakland County while repeatedly bashing the state's largest city. A Patterson spokesman said the article was the product of an agenda against Patterson and that it cast Patterson "in a false light."

Patterson also is quoted as saying "Before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here (Oakland). You don't, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That's just a call for a carjacking."

The article was written by Paige Williams, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and GQ magazine. She described Patterson giving her "an extended tour of his empire" in a chauffeured minivan this past fall. She interviewed him as they rode along.

In answer to a question as to how Detroit might fix its financial problems, Patterson was quoted as saying: "I made a prediction a long time ago, and it's come to pass. I said, 'What we're gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and the corn.' "

The story caused a firestorm of reaction Monday, including on social media. Detroit City Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins said, "His comments are so outrageous that they don't even deserve a response."

Patterson's spokesman, Bill Mullan, said the 75-year old Republican politician was unavailable for comment Monday, but Mullan issued a statement.

"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 — including Automation Alley, the regional law enforcement management system CLEMIS and his leadership on the Cobo Authority — have had a highly positive and nationally recognized impact on the region."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/21/county-executive-under-fire-detroit-bashing/4707729/

Mullan's statement did not dispute the quotes or apologize for Patterson's comments.

A top Democrat in Oakland County's mostly Republican political hierarchy said he was disappointed but not surprised by Patterson's statements.

"That's not how I operate, but that's just what Brooks does," Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash said, after reading the New Yorker profile online Monday night. Nash, who became the first Democrat elected to Oakland County's top water-management job in 2012, said that "throwing around this kind of language doesn't do anybody any good — there's no need for name-calling."

The Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network, said, "These remarks are repulsive and racist. Not just because the City of Detroit is over 80% African American, but because it is also a direct slight to the American Indian who occupied the land before Detroit was Detroit and Oakland County was Oakland County."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who shared a stage in front of the Detroit Economic Club last week with Patterson, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, declined to comment Monday. Ficano couldn't be reached.

There was a collective cringe across social media as Patterson's off-color comments managed to offend many Detroiters and suburbanites, even as some political analysts say the sentiments aren't anything that many voters in Oakland County would find outrageous or disagree with.

The reactions on social media were swift: "Every paragraph made me wince," tweeted @RethinkDetroit. @Davezilla tweeted: "L. Brooks Patterson needs to be voted out of office for saying crap like this."

On a chauffeured drive from Oakland County to a yacht party on Lake St. Clair, Patterson tells Williams that he warned his children about going to Detroit, and that the only thing Detroit has to offer that the suburbs don't is professional sports events.

"For that, fine — get in and get out," Patterson is quoted as saying. "But park right next to the venue — spend the extra 20 or 30 bucks."

Williams, reached late Monday at her home in Boston, refuted Mullan's claim of an agenda against Patterson.

"Our focus was simply to explore what made Oakland County so successful. That's what we did do. It's a balanced portrait," she said.

She said she was drawn to write about Patterson by "just Oakland County's history of financial success."

Oakland County had been "clearly very successful in a region that's been in a lot of trouble, so it was naturally an interesting subject," she said. "Anytime someone succeeds is interesting. People want to know how they did it."

Joshua Pugh, a spokesman for the Michigan Democratic Party, said the remarks divert attention from substantive issues. "When Republican politicians make these kinds of offensive and divisive comments, it sets our state back," he said.

A spokesman for the Michigan GOP didn't return a request for comment.