The Highland Park City Council adopted a resolution in support of the Green New Deal at its city council meeting Monday. All council members voted in favor of the resolution. You can view the Highland Park resolution here.
The Green New Deal is a 14-page document drafted by federal lawmakers that lays out goals related to energy and the environment, work, education and more.
Highland Park City Council President and Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Patrick authored the Southeast Michigan municipality’s resolution in support of the Green New Deal.
“Having had conversations with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, we wanted to get on board as soon as possible with this kind of proposal,” Patrick says. “We are an older city with aging infrastructure. We are aware of certain companies and certain folks not doing right by the city when they decide to uproot and leave. And so with any remediation, anything dealing with future development, there’s going to be some things that we need to correct… and we believe this Green New Deal can assist with that.”
Patrick was interviewed by WDET’s Laura Herberg. Below is a transcript of their conversation.
Laura Herberg: There are a lot of things in the Green New Deal. Talk about why it’s a good deal for Highland Park.
Rodney Patrick: You’re right there are tons of things in the Green New Deal. We tried to focus in on what we feel is best for the City of Highland Park. For example, the job creation section. Job creation must be paired with job training. That couldn’t be any more truthful than the statement itself.
When we have development happening in Detroit and Highland Park and other cities, the main thing about that development is that, when they want to have a certain amount of positions open for the local residents, real training needs to take place. You have companies that would rather just pay the fine and keep moving versus actually bringing on the local residents that live in the city that will be impacted by the development to actually do the work. So we want to correct that problem.
LH: One of the goals of the Green New Deal is to “meet 100 percent of power demand [in the United States] through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources…” What steps will Highland Park take to move toward that?
RP: While we are not there yet in terms of the green technology and making sure that we have sustainability in that particular sector, one thing that we could do as a city is to make sure that the city-owned buildings and all the locations that we operate out of can be energy sustainable, making sure it’s clean energy, and making sure that we actually can lower our costs by having those locations be as energy efficient as possible.
LH: Another goal in the Green New Deal is to provide “resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people…” Right now Highland Park doesn’t have any public schools. How is the city going to work towards achieving education-related goals?
RP: As we continue to try to strive to bring about change with our school system, we want to make sure that while that’s happening we’re coupling that with best practices that are out there for a 21st century education. We don’t want to have things set up and then have to go back and try to redo everything to bring it up to today’s standards. We want to make sure that today’s standards are incorporated as we move forward to build the district. That’s what the school district should be thinking about.
LH: How do you plan to move forward and achieve some of these goals with the city’s current finances?
RP: Any city that’s aged like Highland Park has its financial challenges, has its aging infrastructure, but we want to make sure that we take it step by step, address issues as they come up, and then get to the point where we can be proactive after we’ve become a lot more financially stable. And again those revenues will assist with that. And the Green New Deal could possibly assist with that as well. Instead of the city of Highland Park having to clean up a space that needs to be developed, or try to go out and get grants and have their hat in their hand to the state or to the Feds for monies for clean up, we need to make sure that our process is in place to make sure those companies that were there do what they’re supposed to do in regards to clean up, remediation, make sure everything is prepared and set, so the next folks that want to come along and want to do some developing, can.
LH: So now that you’ve adopted support for the Green New Deal what’s your next step?
RP: We want to work closely with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to make sure that Highland Park is not only included, because we’re in her district and we believe that she’s looking out for the best interest of the city, but now, when her environmental justice working group has further discussions, we want to make sure that a representative from the city of Highland Park is at the table, making sure that the direction of the Green New Deal can assist Highland Park in the best way possible.
LH: Anything else you want folks to know surrounding this?
RP: This is a big step. It’s a big step for our city. It’s a big step for Congresswoman Tlaib’s office and the diligent work that she’s doing in Washington, D.C. to help cities like us. We are in her district and we have a representative that’s working hard, not only on the Green New Deal, but on a number of other issues. All those other issues have a direct or indirect impact on the city. And we want to work with her.
Congresswoman Tlaib spoke at a Green New Deal Workshop with community members hosted by the Highland Park non-profit Soulardarity on Feb. 20. Her speech was captured in the video below.
The Congresswoman begins speaking at 27:20 minutes. She is introduced by Council President Patrick who, at the 25:20 minutes, proclaims that Highland Park will be the first city to adopt the Green New Deal.
Highland Park Green New Deal https://t.co/MnMQRNF04V
— Laura Herberg (@HerbergRadio) February 20, 2019