Marie Farrell Donaldson

Marie Farrell Donaldson (June 1986)

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Themes: Leadership | Urban Challenges |

Guests: Marie Farrell-Donaldson, Susan Watson
Host : Ed Gordon
Producer : Tony Mottley


Summary: Host Ed Gordon begins by asking about a letter Farrell-Donaldson had written to Mayor Coleman Young pointedly objecting to his veto of two staff positions in her office and the suggestion in his veto message that her office was not providing sufficient service to warrant continued funding. She says she was more upset by Young's suggestion that her office was not doing a good job than by his veto of the two positions.

"In this day and time the citizens of Detroit really need someone that they can go to whose job is to listen to their problems and try to do something to help them resolve those problems," she says.

The letter was the most recent incident in a history of sometimes-tense relations between Young and Farrell-Donaldson, dating back to at least 1982 when, as the city's auditor general, she had raised questions about city contracts that helped spark a major scandal for the Young Administration. A graduate of Wayne State University and the Harvard Business School, Farrell-Donaldson was seen by some as a hero for her willingness to challenge Young. But she deflects suggestions by Gordon that she is the conscience of the city.

"I don't see myself as being Detroit's conscience," Farrell-Donaldson says. "I see myself as being a woman who believes in doing a good job. I believe in doing what I'm being paid to do. And for that reason, if it means standing up for what it is that I am doing, that's what I do. But I don't profess to be a savior or a dictator I profess to be a person who believes in doing an honest day's work."

Farrell-Donaldson discusses the operations of her office in response to questions from Gordon and a variety of viewers who call the program. She also shrugs off a question by Gordon about whether she has any aspirations to become the first female mayor of Detroit.

"I don't think so," she says. "I'm a technician, not a politician."

The program concludes with a commentary from Detroit Free Press columnist Susan Watson who argues for maintaining a strong ombudsman's office that can "make waves on behalf of the citizens."

The program provides a valuable look at the ideas and personal style of a key governmental figure who provided some counterbalance to the dominant political personality of Mayor Coleman Young during the 1980s.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 3, File 7, Detroit’s Ombudsman – January 18, 1990 – Show # 2206


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