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Suburban Segregationist Brooks Patterson Breaks Up Detroit’s Hard-Won Transit Coalition

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For 40 years, Detroit has struggled to muster the political support to build a coherent regional transit system.

The region came within an inch of finally doing it in 2016, when voters turned down a four-county ballot measure by just 1 percent. A terrible performance in working-class white Macomb County — a Trump stronghold just northeast of the city — helped doom the measure.

The desire by white suburbanites to maintain geographic segregation has always held back attempts to improve regional transit. While the 2016 ballot measure seemed to signal that the suburbs had turned a corner, polarization is back. Brooks Patterson, the executive of Oakland County, an affluent, largely white suburban area northwest of Detroit, recently said he would not agree to a second go at the ballot.

Patterson got a standing ovation when he broke the news at his annual state of the county speech, saying he doesn’t

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