Candy Cane or Coal? It's Complicated

Letter From the Editor


Published:

Once in a great while, I sort of feel sorry for politicians. Imagine trying to explain your stance on a complicated concept like applying a “means test” to Social Security. Then do it in the sound-bite-sized descriptions that most voters’ attention spans will tolerate. 

That’s a bit like what our “Candy Cane or Coal” nods are — bite-size commentaries on the good, the bad, and the ugly around town each year. 

These awards are something of a holiday tradition at Hour Detroit. We keep a rolling list throughout the year, then the staff weighs in and it’s whittled down — or beefed up — until it fits. 

Of course what we select is subject to a lot of discussion — and what we choose is, admittedly, totally subjective. 

I’m sure readers will quickly identify some obviously important topics that we didn’t discuss. Why? Like a politician describing a stance — or some folks explaining their relationship status on Facebook — “it’s complicated.” 

In the interest of public interest, try on for size a few of the topics we purposely avoided: 

We didn’t talk about Detroit’s water department. Where would we start? With shutoffs that prompted a United Nations inquiry? The pros and cons of the regional water authority? Not a one-sentence topic.

How about the DIA’s potential role in solving Detroit’s bankruptcy? Try getting the “grand bargain” and DIA staff pay raises into one sentence. Coal? Candy canes? Plenty to go around. 

How about moving targets, like the bankruptcy/emergency manager saga? Trading assets like the Joe Louis Arena site to a creditor versus what pensioners settled for, then add in the largely positive role some politicians have played in this grand soap opera. Yet another complicated concept that takes more than a mouthful to digest. 

So perhaps we did pick relatively “easy” topics for our candy canes and coal. After reading them, let us know who you think should get noticed — and what complicated issues you’d like to read about in 2015. 

P.S. … The Rest of the Stories

There’s more to this issue than candy and coal. We ask writer/director Mike Binder how his new movie Black or White aims to spur dialogue about race. We explore how Detroit can strengthen its foothold in the fashion business. We take a sparkling approach to holiday party wear, then offer up some gift suggestions. And, of course, we have a range of food coverage, including the revitalization of the swanky 220 Merrill in Birmingham and the rebirth of the relatively low-key Campau Tower in Hamtramck. We also feature a photo essay about something we might all agree on: 5 million LEDs certainly make the Detroit Zoo an attractive place for a winter stroll.

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