Saturday, August 3, 2019

R.I.P. L. Brooks Patterson, 1939-2019

Original at Oakland County Times.

Long-time Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has died.  WXYZ has a video tribute.

WXYZ had no description other than the video title, but the local papers have lots of pithy quotes in their obituaries.  First, The Detroit News.
“It is with deep sadness that I report the passing of our friend and county executive, L. Brooks Patterson,” Chief Deputy County Executive Gerald D. Poisson said. “He was a once-in-a-generation leader whose vision inspired all of us to be part of the best county government in America.”
"Our dad was a courageous fighter all his life and he fought right up until the end," [Mary] Warner said. "Our family is grieving over the unimaginable loss of our father, grandfather, hero, and friend. Many will remember him for his impact on Michigan and generosity toward Oakland County. We'll remember him for his love and generosity toward his family and friends."
“It’s been a great run,” said David Vanderveen, director of central services, including the county airport, who had been with Patterson since 1993. “He supported his people, which is great for a leader, and when he came in, he said: ‘We are going to work hard and play hard.’ And we have.”
“For a half-century, Brooks Patterson, despite never holding statewide office, has been the most prominent person in Michigan politics, with the possible exception of (former Detroit mayor) Coleman Young,” said [William] Ballenger, who puts out the digital website The Ballenger Report.
Just as he's the last person I quoted from The Detroit News article, Ballenger is the first person I quote from the article at the Detroit Free Press.
“Certainly, in Oakland County, he was clearly the iconic, dominant figure of the past half century,” said longtime political analyst William Ballenger. “He was synonymous with what Oakland County came to be and to represent.”
“He’s going to be remembered for his tremendous public service, leading one of the most successful counties in the nation,” said former Republican Gov. John Engler, a longtime friend and political ally. "Even when there was weakness around it. He can be very proud of AAA bond rating, the technology leadership and he helped create a jobs engine in the state. There are an awful lot of lives that are better because of Brooks’ leadership.”
"You cannot dispute his leadership abilities and his desire to make Oakland County the premier county in the country,” [Former Farmington Hills Mayor Vicki Barnett] said. "While we always disagreed on policy, he’s an extremely jovial, likable man with a bigger than life personality, who’s really been a champion for Oakland County.”
While I disagreed with Patterson about sprawl, transit policy and redistricting, I have to acknowledge that he ran the county where I've worked since 1996 and lived since 2010 very well for the past 27 years.  May the county be as fortunate with his successor.

Speaking of which, The Detroit News reported that "Poisson will take the oath of office to serve as county executive until either the Oakland County Board of Commissioners appoints a successor within 30 days or a special election is held."  That has the potential to be very interesting politically, if not downright entertaining.  Stay tuned.

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