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Author Topic: Detroit at top of economic agony list  (Read 5505 times)
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« on: December 21, 2008, 12:38:49 pm »
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www.buffalonews.com/nationalworld/national/story/529205.html

Detroit at top of economic agony list
Flight to suburbs leaves core adrift
By David Crary and Corey Williams
ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT — One measure of how tough times are in the Motor City: Some of the offenders in jail don’t want to be released; some who do get out promptly re-offend to head back where there’s heat, health care and three meals a day.

“For the first time, I’m seeing guys make a conscious decision they’ll be better off in prison than in the community, homeless and hungry,” said Joseph Williams of New Creations Community Outreach, which assists ex-offenders. “In prison they’ve got three hots and a cot, so they commit a crime to go back in and come out when times are better.”

For now, better times seem distant. Even with no hurricane to blame, Detroit has, by many measures, replaced New Orleans as America’s most beleaguered city.

The jobless rate has climbed past 21 percent, the embattled school district just fired its superintendent, tens of thousands of homes and stores are abandoned, the ex-mayor is in jail for a text-messaging sex scandal. Even the pro football team is a pathetic joke — the Lions are within two losses of an unprecedented 0-16 season.

And overarching these woes is the near-collapse of the U. S. auto industry, Detroit’s vital source of jobs and status for more than a century.

“We’re the Motor City,” said Scott Alan Davis, who oversees community development projects in one of the worst-hit neighborhoods. “When the basis for that name collapses, that’s started to scare people.”

The roots of Detroit’s current plight go back decades. Court-ordered school busing and the 12th Street riots of 1967 accelerated an exodus of whites to the suburbs, and many middle- class blacks followed, shrinking the city’s population from a peak of 1.8 million in the 1950s to half that now.

About 83 percent of the current population is African- American. Detroit’s poverty, unemployment and school dropout rates are among the worst, and the latest FBI statistics show Detroit with the highest violent crime rate of any major city. Car and home insurance rates are high. Chain grocery stores are absent, forcing many Detroiters to rely on high-priced corner stores.

“There’s always been a real can-do spirit among our people,” said the Rev. Edgar Vann, pastor of Second Ebenezer Church. “That’s being beaten down right now. . . . These times, unlike others, have sapped a lot of that spirit from them.”

For Mark Covington, as for many of his neighbors, there are two Detroits. One features swanky casinos, opulent hotels and two new sports stadiums, beckoning high rollers to a relatively vibrant downtown.

Then there’s the vast Detroit of decaying neighborhoods, trash-strewn lots and burned-out houses. “It makes me want to leave,” said Covington, 36. “But I figure, if I leave, who else is going to help? . . . People like me are what’s going to turn Detroit around.”

For all its woes, Detroit has no shortage of residents offering to tackle them. There are 15 candidates for the Feb. 24 special mayoral election necessitated by the conviction of Kwame Kilpatrick for trying to cover up an affair with a former top aide.

The challenges are daunting. Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. said Friday the city’s deficit is approaching $300 million, and he ordered all departments to cut their budgets by 10 percent. The public school district faces a deficit exceeding $400 million, prompting the state to declare a financial emergency. The district’s superintendent, Connie Calloway, was fired on Monday. Several dozen schools have been closed in recent years.

The residential real estate market is catastrophic, with the Detroit Board of Realtors now pegging the average price of a home at $18,513. Some owners can’t find buyers at any price.

“If you no longer can sell your property, how can you move elsewhere?’ said Robin Boyle an urban planning professor at Wayne State University. “Some people just switch out the lights and leave — property values have gone so low, walking away is no longer such a difficult option.”

Mark Douglas, 41, is among the metro area’s most successful African-American car dealers — he succeeded his father in 2005 as president of Avis Ford in suburban Southfield.

“Detroit has got to figure out a way to make people feel it’s safe — if people don’t want to live there, it’s tough to develop any kind of tax base,” Douglas said. “Whites have to move back in. You’ve got to have the integration factor. Everyone has to come together.”
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2008, 12:46:50 pm »
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Flight to suburbs leaves core adrift

This is not news.
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2008, 01:22:36 pm »
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Detroit needs to completely overhaul its budget.  Prioritize spending and put many less important projects on a waiting list.

Put police coverage first... Detroit needs to vastly increase its police presence to fight crime.  It is simply one place that you cannot do more with less.

The school district needs somebody that can get in there and fight.  Close unneeded schools (I'm sure there are tons of them) and institute a hiring freeze in the schools.  You're going to piss off a lot of people by closing neighborhood schools, but decide which buildings need the least maintenance, and close the others.  If you can't sell the closed properties, donate them to neighborhoods and have the neighborhoods pool together to turn them into community centers.

It is good that Detroit has revitalized their downtown.. but they need to place a lot more emphasis on neighborhoods.  People want to help turn the city around.. if they can get down to the neighborhood level with some taxing power while allowing the city to provide other services and resources... things will improve.
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2008, 01:32:06 pm »
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Detroit is un-fixable. Just let it die already.
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2008, 01:45:28 pm »
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Detroit is un-fixable. Just let it die already.

The problem is that this is simply not true.

Many American cities have been on the brink of collapse and have come back.  New York City is a shining example.

The New York  of today is completely different than the New York of 1977.
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2008, 01:54:53 pm »
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They need to spend every penny on revitalizing from the core out.  Work out from downtown (which is still lackluster) to the slums on making it more appealing to all kinds of people.  The more they spend on that, the more tax income they can gather to spend on less important, but appealing things.  Police and schools should also be high on the priority list.  I actually think they have a great opportunity to completely reinvent the city.  With a little (or a lot) of help from the state, it can definitely be salvaged.

Agreed.. and you're not going to turn the slums into paradise overnight... but like a deep cut wound... you have to stop the bleeding.  Stopping the bleeding is a good first step towards recovery.

If people have a sense of "okay.. things aren't great, but they're getting better", they won't leave.
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2008, 02:01:19 pm »
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again

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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2008, 02:20:05 pm »
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Detroit is un-fixable. Just let it die already.

Detroit can definately be saved. What they need to is focus on crime and Education. Those two things contribute to the continuing exodus of the middle class white and black. I generally like what Fezzy and Snowyguy have said.

There Education system is a complete joke and all attempts to reform it have been blocked by the school board and the city council. A year or two ago, I recall that a rich businessman offered to spend I think $20 million of his own money and open up charter schools. He was rejected on the grounds that it would undermine the public school system, and they were afraid of what this evil rich white Republican businessman would teach these innocent African Americans(Maybe he would teach them to think for themselves and not be pawns to the big city political machines). What public school system is there to undermine? Charter schools worked in New Orleans and it would force the regular school system to reform. 

In terms of crime they need to take a look at what NYC did in the early 90's. They shuld not copy it 100% b/c Detroit isn't NYC but it needs to be looked at cause there situations are similar.

Thirdly Detroit needs to make the city more favorable to small Business.   I heard a few years back a proposal where the federal Gov't could create a special classification for certain cites are that really in trouble like Detroit. Where in return for reforms to education and crime fighting the Fed Gov't would lift or lower certain taxes just for those cities to encourage Business and development in those areas. I don't know it it would work but it is definatly something to consider.

I do agree it can't be done all at once and it has to start at the cities center and work outward.
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2008, 02:22:00 pm »
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2008, 02:37:38 pm »
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Detroit is un-fixable. Just let it die already.

The problem is that this is simply not true.

Many American cities have been on the brink of collapse and have come back.  New York City is a shining example.

The New York  of today is completely different than the New York of 1977.
New York wasn't based entirely around a dying industry.  New York, even in its worst of times, had a lot of different things going for it.  Detroit is missing that.

I'm not saying it's unfixable, but it won't be as easy as fixing NYC was....and MUCH less likely.
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2008, 02:38:24 pm »
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Allow the suburbs to vote on internal detroit matters and not the reverse to fix it within a few electoral cycles.
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2008, 03:16:09 pm »
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This isn't really news.  Criminals have been wanting to stay in jail so they can get food and shelter for years now.

And flight to suburbs isn't new either.

Here's the problem: The police force isn't a police force.  For too many years it's been the personal protection/cronie department of the Mayor's.  Cops are corrupt, and the good ones we do have are smart enough to realize that if they try to defend Detroit without the help of about 100 backup cops, they'll be dead too.  When you're in the bad part of town, even the cops run red lights because they know that it's not safe to wait there (I've seen it happen.  You go to areas along Rosa Parks Blvd, and the intersections are treated more like stop signs).
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2008, 04:40:38 pm »
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The police force is very important to a vibrant city.  I know that sounds like an oxymoron... but I'm not talking about a military style police force armed with machine guns ready to mow down anyone who dares cross their path...

I believe in having strong police presence in combination with neighborhood councils would improve Detroit greatly. 

Detroit needs to try and attract a more diverse array of business.  Reducing crime and improving the schools will be the beginning of that process.

When the milling industry collapsed in Minneapolis beginning in the '20s, the city diversified.  Since, it has kept a diverse array of manufacturing, banking, retail, and high tech computer and medical fields that have helped the region weather many economic downturns.

Only by spreading out over all industries with a concentration in innovation will major cities in the U.S. keep growing.
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2008, 08:02:18 pm »
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I know I'm not "supposed" to say this, but are there any majority African-American cities that are doing well?
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2008, 08:11:44 pm »
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I know I'm not "supposed" to say this, but are there any majority African-American cities that are doing well?

Despite the insane sense of negativity one hears in the media, our own city isn't doing that badly.
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2008, 08:35:02 pm »
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I know I'm not "supposed" to say this, but are there any majority African-American cities that are doing well?

Despite the insane sense of negativity one hears in the media, our own city isn't doing that badly.
We're doing a heck af a lot better than Motown, but still..... 
In today's paper: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/dec/21/the-great-migration-ex-memphians-cite-a-lack-of/
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2008, 12:08:35 am »
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I''ll rebut my own assertion and point out that Atlanta has been doing exceptionally well as of late. Still, most majority black cities (Detroit, Flint, New Orleans, Memphis, Baltimore, Washington DC, Gary, St. Louis, Cleveland, Camden) seem to be pretty troubled.
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2008, 12:12:55 am »
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The police force is very important to a vibrant city.  I know that sounds like an oxymoron... but I'm not talking about a military style police force armed with machine guns ready to mow down anyone who dares cross their path...

I believe in having strong police presence in combination with neighborhood councils would improve Detroit greatly. 

Detroit needs to try and attract a more diverse array of business.  Reducing crime and improving the schools will be the beginning of that process.

When the milling industry collapsed in Minneapolis beginning in the '20s, the city diversified.  Since, it has kept a diverse array of manufacturing, banking, retail, and high tech computer and medical fields that have helped the region weather many economic downturns.

Only by spreading out over all industries with a concentration in innovation will major cities in the U.S. keep growing.

I know what you are talking about. Where I lived in PA the only jobs were across the state line around Binghamton, NY. I even lived there for about a year. Its a very rough community. The Economic base was the military-Industrial complex and Comunications like IBM and SMC. Binghamton whethered many a recession throughout the Cold war due to the constant demand for military equiptment. When the Cold war ended the city went into decline. Many of the industries relocated to the South and West or Overseas. When the War on Terror started we hoped it would lead to a recovery but since many of the Industries had already left the opposite happened as the economy sunk into the recession of 2001-2002.  IBM closed most of there plant down and the defense industries were only a shell of had once been. My dad had worked for a company called Systems Manufacturing Corporation(SMC). In 2000 he was working 48 hours a week. In 2001 they ended overtime, and later they cut back to 32 hrs. When rumors began to spread of a cut to 28 hrs in early 2002 my dad had enough and he moved us to NC. Binghamton has still failed to diversify significantly and thus they continue to struggle.

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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2008, 09:51:32 am »
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I''ll rebut my own assertion and point out that Atlanta has been doing exceptionally well as of late. Still, most majority black cities (Detroit, Flint, New Orleans, Memphis, Baltimore, Washington DC, Gary, St. Louis, Cleveland, Camden) seem to be pretty troubled.

The issue here is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many cities become majority-black because economic insecurity leads to fighting over municipal services which causes white people and middle-class black people to leave for the suburbs and other metro areas. The main issue here is that white people have the benefit of never having to be in the minority somewhere if they don't want to be, so they can and do always move somewhere else, either near or far, rather than compete for control of civic institutions if they're going to get outvoted.

As has been said, there are majority-minority cities which have prospered, which in turn brings in more ethnic diversity as people from other communities move back in. Atlanta and Washington, D.C. are the typical examples here. It's also true of neighborhoods within New York, Boston, and parts of California.

Camden and Washington, D.C. are light-years apart in so many ways. In fact, the cities named cover a broad range of experiences. St. Louis has many bombed out areas, but it also has many vibrant neighborhoods, and the metro area itself is troubled and has lost some of its economic anchors. St. Louis, Cleveland, and Baltimore have large ethnic neighborhoods with some political pull. Gary, Camden, Detroit, and Flint are in a different league of economic despair. Where city boundaries are drawn makes all the difference. Etc.
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2008, 11:55:54 am »
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I''ll rebut my own assertion and point out that Atlanta has been doing exceptionally well as of late. Still, most majority black cities (Detroit, Flint, New Orleans, Memphis, Baltimore, Washington DC, Gary, St. Louis, Cleveland, Camden) seem to be pretty troubled.

 The main issue here is that white people have the benefit of never having to be in the minority somewhere if they don't want to be, so they can and do always move somewhere else, either near or far, rather than compete for control of civic institutions if they're going to get outvoted.


I disagree. There are a great many poor white people stuck in neighborhoods that have changed. Not all white people are comfortable. The fact of the matter is that the crime rate is much higher among blacks than in the general population. Not every black is a criminal, of course, but when a neighborhood changes from white to black, many whites (and middle class blacks) leave because they feel threatened by an element of the population. In most cases, it is the criminals, most of whom are black, not government services that cause an area to go into freefall.
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« Reply #20 on: December 24, 2008, 03:52:10 am »
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Hasn't Detroit been on the agony list for a long time? Tongue

I remember seeing in Robocop that Detroit's police cars had bulletproof windshields. I wonder if the real Detroit is getting close to having to do that.
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« Reply #21 on: December 24, 2008, 03:50:18 pm »
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Hasn't Detroit been on the agony list for a long time? Tongue

I remember seeing in Robocop that Detroit's police cars had bulletproof windshields. I wonder if the real Detroit is getting close to having to do that.

You make a good point. Detroit hasn't been doing well in generations. After the '67 riots, there was little hope.
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« Reply #22 on: December 24, 2008, 05:43:03 pm »
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Hasn't Detroit been on the agony list for a long time? Tongue

I remember seeing in Robocop that Detroit's police cars had bulletproof windshields. I wonder if the real Detroit is getting close to having to do that.

Probably, at least in parts of Detroit
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