L. Brooks Patterson, who died Saturday at age 80 at his home in Independence Township, was one of the Detroit area’s most consequential and controversial figures in local politics.
To some, he represents the ascendancy of an economic powerhouse, in Oakland County, and the very pinnacle of good governance and fiscal stewardship. But he’s also a key player in the region’s ugly racial divides, through his bitter rivalry with former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young and his history as an attorney fighting bussing and school integration in the 1970s.
Patterson was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer, and while there were plenty of signs that the modern era was starting to pass him by, there is no denying that he left a major mark on the regional — and on regional politics.
On today’s show, I go back in time to when I was covering politics in the mid-aughts for The Oakland Press.
We hear from state Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, who worked with Patterson when he served on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
And I speak with the guy whose desk was across the divider wall from mine, Steve Huber. He covered Patterson for the OP starting when he was still the county prosecutor, then later transitioned to a job in communications in Patterson’s office.
Then Jer and I share our own thoughts about Patterson’s complicated legacy.