Troy Mayor Facebook FAIL

Dec 5, 2011

One of the things I do is help get undergraduate students ready for the job market. Since we became an e-mail society, I’ve had to repeatedly advise students to make sure they use appropriate e-mail names, especially for professional use.

Johndoe@hotmail.com is appropriate. Boopsie, Dominator and Babycakes are not. Those are, in fact, all ones that I have actually seen on class resumes. In the last five years, we’ve had to talk to students about Facebook. Pictures of yourself pole dancing, drinking or smoking marijuana are not a good idea if you want to get a job.

Yes, employers really do check. Unfortunately for politicians sometimes, so do citizens. Last week, somebody called to tell me that the newly elected mayor of the Detroit suburb of Troy had posted this on her Facebook page: “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there.” 

My first reaction was to think it was a hoax. Troy is an upscale Oakland County suburb of 80,000 people. A lot of fairly well-educated people, engineers and other white collar workers live there, and it is home to the state’s most upscale shopping mall, The Somerset Collection.

Yet the newly elected mayor, a realtor named Janice Daniels, admitted posting it, and didn’t even really apologize. She told a reporter “I probably shouldn’t have used that kind of language,” but said she has moral issues with homosexuality.

Whatever your politics, this raises a number of questions. Daniels is a Republican and an open anti-tax crusader and Tea Party supporter. I haven’t talked to L. Brooks Patterson, the godfather of Oakland County Republican politics about this incident, but I’ve talked to him about similar issues.

He thinks that intolerant bigotry like this is one of the reasons Oakland County, once solidly Republican, has become more and more Democratic. He told me once that when elections are fought on economic issues, the GOP has no problem in his county, which is Michigan’s wealthiest. But when those with a right-wing social agenda come forth, Republicans start losing votes.

From a purely practical political standpoint, the mayor’s post was just plain stupid.

Whatever the marriage laws are in New York, they have nothing to do with running the government in Troy. Smart politicians know you never want to alienate people unnecessarily.  Morally, of course, what she posted was highly offensive. What if she had substituted the N-word, or even “black” for the word queer?  People would be marching on and boycotting Troy.

Yet far more of her constituents are, in all probability, gay than black.Troy, an odd sprawling suburb without much of a history and essentially no real downtown, has not had good PR recently.

Its citizens twice voted to abolish its public library, till it finally was saved in a third vote last August. Mayor Daniels, by the way, was against appropriating the money to keep the library open.

My guess is that this, combined with the mayor’s comments about gay people, is making the Troy Chamber of Commerce’s job considerably harder these days.