Smith Story Goes National
Today, the Huffington Post picked up on the Paul Smith controversy, drawing hundreds of comments from its national audience in a matter of a few hours.
In the meantime, according to the Oakland Press, Paul Smith was the recipient of a visit from the Secret Service, who apparently took the material in Mr. Smith’s signs seriously enough to warrant an investigation.
Sterling Heights is now getting a richly undeserved black eye before a national audience because of the negative attention Mr. Smith has brought to our town. Here is a sampling of the reader comments from the HuffPo site’s article on the flap:
- I grew up in Sterling Heights, on the border with Troy and they are two of the most racist cities in Michigan.
- Note to self: Never drive through Sterling Heights.
To be fair, there was the occasional positive comment, such as:
- Good for you, Sterling Heights, for getting rid of this guy.
You must live up to your name.
- I’ve been to Sterling Heights and I’m surprised they’d elect like this.
There are real, material consequences to what is said and done by Sterling Heights elected officials, and this is a perfect case in point.
Regardless of what happens with Mr. Smith, thousands of people across the country will now see only the negative comments and assume that Sterling Heights is as bad as they make it out to be. Some of those people with these misguided assumptions will make decisions to not open businesses here and others will choose other suburbs when they’re asked to relocate from whereever they live to the Detroit area for work.
Unfortunately, people tend to believe the worst of what they hear about a distant place; it is part of human nature.
Are the negative comments of the sort that bolster Sterling Heights’ image? Are these the sort of comments that will cause our housing values to go up, or go down? Will this black eye make our city’s employees more proud to work here as they must accept lower wages due to economic conditions? Will the Macomb Incubator be as successful now as it might have been otherwise?
In last night’s diatribe, Mrs. Smith accused the rest of council as well as the entire audience at the council meeting of trying to destroy her husband’s reputation. Mrs. Smith, what have you and your husband done to our entire city’s reputation?
Unfortunately, the damage has been done. Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse before it starts to get better.