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August 15, 1986 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-15

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Friday, August 15, 1986



Climate Control

Continued from preceding page

move and is committed to
spending time with his family.
So he commutes the hour-
and-a-quarter drive to Lans-
ing, often dictating when driv-
ing and catching up on other
work when a passenger. He
admits the drive wearA thin —
"If there were one part of the
job that I could change it would
be the commute" — because he
frequently drives to Lansing
and back four or five times
weekly, except when he is in
the department's downtown
Detroit office.
But regardless of where he's
worked, as a lifelong Democrat
and public servant, Ross has
always put civil rights first. As
founder of the Michigan Citi-
zens Lobby he helped spawn an
organization committed to
providing consumer informa-
tion never before available. As
the director of Common Cause
he led the fight for political
campaign reform. And as a
Democratic state senator from
Southfield he spearheaded
worker's compensation re-
Ross sees no conflict in this
varied career path. In fact, in
an era when public service is
perhaps taking a back seat to
the • pursuit of "Yuppiness,"
Ross explains his extensive
public sector experience this
way: "I look at it basically as
all instances of democratic
problem solving, and different
problems tend to call for differ-
ent approaches, different
organizations and techniques,
and so I see it all as being of the
same cloth. To me there is no
great jump ideologically or
psychologically going from
Common Cause to the De-
partment of Commerce. I see it
as people, the democracy, or-
ganizing themselves to succeed
at different tasks so they can
have the kind of life they
"I guess my sense is that the
focus shifts as the problems
shift. During the '60s and early
'70s we had a period of enor-
mous prosperity. And so the
focus began to shift to quality
of life, to parts, if you will, of
the American dream that had
been neglected, looking at cer-
tain parts of the population
that had been left behind, at-
tempting to identify some of
the injustices that still needed
to be dealt with."
Then, suddenly; real pros-
perity came to an end. "And in
real terms," Ross explains,
"our economy has not grown
significantly in terms of what's
average income for some
people. So now people are say-
ing, we've got to come back to
the problem of how are we
going to make a living as a
And Ross is not one to con-
cede easily. In fact, he sees a
renewed strength coming out
of all this turmoil. "Every time
the community comes under
pressures — and I'm talking
about American society —
there are certain values that
get pushed and people get
angry or scared. Tolerance, di-

Doug Ross:
His goal is to put Michigan
back to work and develop the
state's international

versity, state-church separa-
tion, individual liberties — a
whole variety of things that I
think at least are the central to
the success of the society get
challenged, so every genera-
tion has to come forth and do
As for Ross' own political
yearnings, Ross is leaving the
door open, including the gov-
ernorship of Michigan. "I go
back to what I've decided is the
best way to focus all my efforts
and that's to be in the center of
things. Certainly being gover-
nor is being in the center of
"The thing I've also learned
is it's a real mistake I think to
focus on a particular office and
say, 'this is what I want to be,
this is going to be the definition
of my success or failure in pub-
lic life.' Because some things
may not open up for 20 years.
We've got two U.S. Senators,
Riegle and Levin, both good
senators. Being in the U.S. Se-
nate would be wonderful, but
they could both be in the Se-
nate for another 25 years."
"So to that's what I want to
be or that's what I'd like to be,
you may never get that oppor-
tunity and so you put yourself
in a frustrating situation. Pub-
lic office is something I'm stilt
interested in and if there were
a good opportunity, I'd take it.
"The future's open, and right
now it's fun and I can't believe
that I have been able to find an
occupation, a profession where
I get to do what I love to do and
they pay me as well. They don't
pay me real well, but they do
pay me. I don't see how you can
ask for anymore than that." ❑

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