Originally Posted by LMich
Well, with the mayor having screaming about the threat of an EFM since the day he took office, who the hell knows if he's not just crying wolf, again. But, if he is for real, this time, the two options are really quite simple. One, the unions blink first again, and pay even more for their healthcare premiums and are switched to 401(k)s, or two, they don't and then who knows what given past games of chicken. My feeling is that the unions will agree to paying more towards their healthcare, but I think the pensions may be the sticking point.
What's really kind of ironic and strange, though, is that Detroit actually has a council this time that was calling for more layoffs and concessions than the mayor was in the last budget, and it was the mayor who declined to make the cuts. In fact, the council held a rare joint media event calling on the mayor to follow through on the council's committment to making further cuts. So, this coming from him is really kind of rich, and shows either incompetence or a lack of leadership skills on his part.
All this said, at the end of the day, people aren't moving out of the city because of its financial situation. The city could be back in the black, tomorrow, and the fact is that city services aren't going to be getting any better, at least not enough to keep and attract people. Certainly not a reason not to get one's fiscal house in order, but I think we need to be realistic about what a fiscally sound Detroit will mean in the physical appearance of the city and how it's able to dispense city services, and I don't think it will mean much in regard to those things. Parts of Detroit have been allowed to decay to such a degree that even a financially healthy Detroit will need massive amounts of state and federal funds even to get rid of excess infrastructure, let alone rebuild what needs to be rebuilt. I appreciate the help the Feds are giving to see by way of their Neighborhood Stabilization Fund -- Detroit has gotten rid of 3,000 execess homes -- but we're not controlling blight, we're helplessly chasing it.
The situation just seems so hopeless without an integrated local, state, and national plan for urban areas. Detroit's a stark example of how we've allowed many of our inner-city urban areas to fail, but it's not the only example, unfortunately.
Well, I'll have to disagree on a few points.
You're right, Detroit could balance its budget tomorrow and residents would still flee, but without at least getting it's financial house in order Detroit will not have the resources to staunch the tide of residents leaving. Let's also not forget the tax paying small business that are leaving the city too because of break-ins and tax rates. Most middle class residents with jobs wishing to stay in SE Michigan (and businesses) leave because of crime, poor city services, and tax rates that are not competitive with suburban communities. Without stable finances Detroit will be forced to make more police layoffs and that certainly can't be good for crime. Moreover, cutting workers alone has not worked. Detroit lost as many residents between the 2000 census (around the time when the city workforce peaked) and the 2010 census as those residents lost between the census of 1980 and the 2000 census.
And the real issue with Detroit is not residents alone, but who remains in Detroit. I apologize if I am too frank, but Detroit's concentration of poverty (and lack of middle income and higher residents) and the problems that poverty brings detracts from those with decent jobs, incomes, wealth and education from moving into the city. Detroit's population could easily drop to half its present level and the city would be much better financial shape with better city services (and lower crime to boot) if those 350,000 Detroiters had incomes, jobs, and spending habits of those in say Farmington Hills or Novi. Besides a few who will move downtown and maybe midtown, you will not begin to get the healthy mix of poor, middle income, and rich residents until the city at least sends the signal that it has hit rock bottom and starts to stabilize its finances and starts to make decisions to attract the right mix of residents. Cutting alone will only delay the day of reckoning and make it more painful too. We've tried it for at least 30 years and it hasn't worked, but I guarantee Detroit's leaders wish they had as much wiggle room as leaders had in 1980 than they do now.
I also disagree that large abandoned areas are always a bad thing for Detroit, especially going forward. On this forum we have noted that some of the advantages that sun-belt cities and suburbs have used over the last few decades to lure residents and businesses from older cities include cheap land (farmland) and the lack of NIMBYs (at least initially). Those large abandoned tracks give Detroit that over other older cities. If there is any hope of getting Federal and State aide to make large scale transformations of those abandoned areas in Detroit it will more than likely involve tax and regulatory incentives to repopulate those areas with business and residents.