"We are and have been home to some of the brightest minds shaping our world," responded Mayor Bryan Barnett in an open letter

By Jeff Nelson
March 17, 2015 02:05 PM
Ian Gavan/Getty

After Madonna revealed chilling details of her 1979 sexual assault on Howard Stern’s radio show, the host asked her why, after the rape, she didn’t return to her hometown.

The singer, whose new album Rebel Heart was released March 10, said she didn’t even consider it.

“Well, have you ever been to Rochester Hills, Michigan? I can’t be around basic, provincial-thinking people. I just didn’t want to go back,” Madonna, 56, said before moving on to another topic.

In response, Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett penned an open letter defending the Detroit suburb, flaunting everything from school testing scores and cultural diversity to producing Olympic gold medalists “and even a top selling global singer/songwriter.”

“Admittedly, I don’t know what experiences led you to that opinion, but let me assure you, our community is anything but basic or narrow minded,” Barnett wrote. “In fact, we are and have been home to some of the brightest minds shaping our world … We design and build more robots than any other city in North America, and Rochester Hills residents and businesses have been granted over 900 patents, nearly one a day, over the last three years. Not a typical achievement you would associate with ‘simple or basic’ people.”

Wrapping up his note, the mayor invited the pop music icon back to visit her roots:

“Madonna, you have achieved unbelievable success and while we appreciate your talent and achievement, we expect you to appreciate ours,” he wrote. “I invite you back to Rochester Hills to see who we are and what we believe in. While we certainly don’t need your stamp of approval, I am quite confident we would earn it.”