A condensed version of my Reasons Behind Detroit’s Decline article has made it to the Detroit Free Press Op-Ed page. Thanks, Freep. BTW, I never intended to have this blog be an “all Detroit, all the time” blog, but I’ll take what comes. What will come later is much more content on Midwestern industrial cities, particularly the small to midsize types (usually with a population between 50,000 to 250,000) that have long been forgotten by many. Cities like Gary, IN; Dayton, OH; Akron, OH, Rockford, IL, Terre Haute, IN and Muncie, IN come to mind. There are dozens like these in the Midwest.
In the meantime, the City of Detroit is at a major crossroads in its history with a looming possible fiscal takeover by the State of Michigan. The City is very nearly broke, with enough cash on hand to last only through the end of April. Mayor Dave Bing has been trying to institute budget cuts and renegotiate union contracts to close the deficit and build the reserves, but has had little success in doing it. Meanwhile, the State has been developing a consent agreement that would give it broad fiscal authority to improve financial accountability. A good summary of the State’s approach can be found on the HuffPost Detroit website.
My take is that something drastic needs to happen in Detroit, something along the lines of the Washington, DC Control Board of the mid-’90s. Detroit is no longer the city it once was, and cannot be governed like the city it used to be. And if Detroit is to rise from its current position it has to establish a forward-looking and forward-thinking fiscal policy that allows it to make the transition.
DC made the transition 17 years ago that Detroit could potentially undergo now. Let’s hope it can lead to the same kind of revitalization in the Motor City.