After six years of public service on the Ingham County Commission and almost 20 years in the Michigan Legislature, I came to the Mayor’s Office with the reputation of being a liberal Democrat. Naively, I assumed and hoped that when the upstart, anti-establishment City Pulse began to publish, I would have an ally in my efforts to revitalize the dispirited city I inherited. Much to my surprise, the Pulse quickly adopted a strategy of questioning and challenging virtually all of our economic development initiatives and policies. I was disappointed and annoyed by its constant criticism, particularly because we shared a common value system. The conflict escalated when the Pulse began to criticize my efforts to nurture and grow General Motors’ presence in our community.
Thus began a period of increased tension between my administration and the City Pulse. It seemed nothing we could say or do was acceptable to the Pulse, and we perceived that much of its reporting on our initiatives was not balanced and fair. My frustration was so great that I directed members of my administration to not respond to Pulse reporters’ inquiries. Finally and fortunately, a mutual friend, local radio personality Tim Barron, offered to help negotiate a cease fire. Berl Schwartz and I had a frank and honest conversation that led to a better understanding of each other’s goals, a more professional working relationship, and, most importantly, better service to the community.
Over the years the City Pulse has evolved into a valuable community institution. Its comprehensive focus on the arts and in-depth coverage of neighborhood, City Hall and local political issues has made it a critical player in our body politic. I look forward to its weekly publication and congratulate Berl and his team for hanging in there, finding a niche, and doing it well.
David Hollister was mayor of Lansing from 1993 to 2003 and is now Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Prima Civitas.