Detroit is known by its most unwelcome attributes: It has one of the highest murder and violent crime rates in the country. And it currently is known as the most populous U.S. city to ever seek bankruptcy protection. Can it also enjoy the biggest recovery? In a comprehensive piece, Bridge’s Mike Wilkinson answers questions about the city’s recent past to get a hint at its future: Does the city generate enough money to fix what ails Detroit if billions in debt are cut? Are the city’s costs too high? Does it pay its workers too much? Are pensions too generous? Can the city endure a reduction in both spending and revenue and revive what is by most measures the most dysfunctional large city in America?
As Mayor Mike Duggan works to revitalize Detroit, a Detroit Journalism Cooperative project looks at who’s giving him money. Here’s a new, searchable database of his donors…and the first look at his new “Detroit Progress Fund,” which Duggan says will be different than Mayor Kilpatrick’s civic fund and Gov. Snyder’s controversial NERD fund. It’s original reporting by Bridge Magazine and WDET.
What happens after Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr leaves the city? Who should be involved in the transition, and how should it be handled? Two local emergency managers join WDET guest hosts Christy McDonald, from DPTV, and Chastity Pratt Dawsey, from Bridge Magazine, to discuss how the city may transition back to a traditional governing structure and other issues. The guests are Joyce Parker, the current emergency manager of Allen Park, and Lou Schimmel, the former emergency manager for Ecorse, Hamtramck and Pontiac and currently on the transition advisory board in Pontiac.
Three years ago, only a half-dozen cities and school districts in Michigan were being run by state-appointed emergency managers. Today, 17 are in some phase of receivership. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed for bankruptcy, history’s largest for a municipality. Bridge magazine writer Chastity Pratt Dawsey examines the effectiveness of the emergency manager law and how it measures up to similar laws in other states in a report for the magazine’s latest issue. She joined Michigan Radio’s Stateside program.
Michigan receivership laws are stirring contempt in fragile communities. Bridge Magazine’s Chastity Pratt Dawsey reports on Michigan’s aggressive emergency manager law, how it’s mired in litigation and what other states – notably, North Carolina and Rhode Island – have succeeded with through more proactive and inclusive approaches in distressed cities.
In the era of bankruptcy and emergency management, how well crime and safety are being handled remains an unsettled debate. What is the crime-related breaking point for Detroit families to make them move? What are the conversations families have around the dinner table or behind closed doors about maintaining residence in Detroit? These are some of the questions posited in a recent Bridge Magazine article by Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett. She and Craig are joined by panelists Kim Trent from the Wayne State University board of governors and WDET News Director Jerome Vaughn to discuss the issues surrounding crime and residency in Detroit.
At the beginning of the year, newly elected Mayor Mike Duggan said to watch what happens in six months. The media partners of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative did just that, examining how the city is functioning while in bankruptcy and how the leadership of Mayor Duggan is impacting services and neighborhoods.
Next Chapter Detroit posted the DJC’s coverage of the mayor’s first six months in office as it was released…and now brings this compilation of all the partners’ work:
We start with a look at the mayor himself. Here’s a profile by Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham. Also Bridge Magazine’s Mike Wilkinson looked at Mayor Duggan’s penchant for creating his own performance measures, both how they’re defined and reported.
Benchmarks from Bridge
After this introductory piece, Bridge magazine published a series of stories looking at how well Mayor Duggan is meeting certain benchmarks, some of which he set for himself, at the beginning of his term. They are:
City Services, written by Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham Jobs, written by Rich Haglund Livability, written by Nancy Derringer Public Safety, written by Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett Public Transportation, video by Hailey Zureich and John Zyski Schools, written by Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek
The Craig Fahle Show
Craig hosted guests for several segments to talk about aspect of the mayor’s work and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative coverage. He was joined by Bridge Magazine’s Nancy Derringer, Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham and WDET/Next Chapter Detroit’s Sandra Svoboda to discuss what the mayor has — and hasn’t — done.
Craig also spoke with listeners on June 23 to hear their assessments of Duggan’s performance. Generally they think he’s doing a good job — but say the city needs more.
In Mayor Mike Duggan’s first six months in office, one of the biggest difference between him and previous mayors has been his relationship with the City Council: Council member Saunteel Jenkins tells Craig it’s a cordial one that works. “It’s different because the mayor has actively pursued a relationship with council,” she says.
Detroit Public Television
On the television airwaves, DPTV aired two programs with discussions about Mayor Duggan’s first half year. First, the MiWeek team evaluated some of the mayor’s biggest successes and remaining challenges. Then American Black Journal dug into the Blight Removal Task Force, one of Mayor Duggan’s signature efforts.
Every Detroit mayor for decades has talked about blight. One of the biggest problems facing Detroit is the huge number of abandoned houses, buildings, and vacant lots. Here’s a look at what’s changed in how that issue is addressed since Mayor Mike Duggan took office, by Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham.
Graham also reported that one out of every three Detroit households doesn’t have a car. They rely on the bus system. But it’s broken. People at the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit disagree whether it’s gotten any better since Mayor Mike Duggan took over the Detroit Department of Transportation, but officials at the department say they’re working to get more buses on the roads.
Michigan Radio’s Stateside program on June 23 featured Detroit Reporter Sarah Cwiek and Investigative Reporter Lester Graham who talked about Mayor Duggan.“He’s showing some real leadership skills for a guy who has been elected to serve a city with no power,” Graham says on the program. Stateside also hosted a conversation about transportation in the city.
Until recently, almost half the streetlights of Detroit were dark. Thousands of new streetlights are replacing the old broken ones. Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham caught up with one of several crews installing streetlights in neighborhoods around Detroit and discovered fewer, less expensive lights to power and maintain means a big drop in cost.
When elected, Mayor Duggan took over a city run by someone else: state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Still, Michigan Radio reports that doesn’t mean Duggan has been denied all the rites of passage of the job including the schlep to Lansing to ask the state Legislature for something. Every mayor has to do it. And Duggan had to go to Lansing with a really big ‘ask.’ We’re talking about the $195 million dollar rescue package for his city (that’s right, ‘rescue,’ ‘settlement.’ Just don’t call it a ‘bailout.’)
WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter found some Detroit residents say the initiatives undertaken by the Mayor are producing mixed results as he works to create what he calls a “livable” city – one that attracts new residents and maintains a stable tax base. WDET’s Pat Batcheller looks at efforts to improve the city’s bus system and transportation department.
Mayor Mike Duggan acknowledged one of the single biggest hurdles city residents face when it comes to transportation during his State of the City address in January: the high cost of auto insurance. WDET’s J. Carlisle Larsen takes a look at what the situation is for drivers in the city.
To get a sense of how a candidate plans for success and how they go about implementing such a strategy when elected, WDET’s Travis Wright spoke with former Mayor Dennis Archer. Twenty years ago this week, Archer, a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice was wrapping up his first six months as mayor. When Archer looked back on those crucial first months in 1994, he said it all started when he tapped six University of Michigan professors to help him craft a city improvement plan in 1990.
-By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda
@WDETSandra and firstname.lastname@example.org
Bankruptcy reporter and Next Chapter Detroit blogger Sandra Svoboda and Bridge Magazine’s Mike Wilkinson join Craig to talk bankruptcy court proceedings and Mayor Mike Duggan. Sandra also tells Craig about the Next Chapter Detroit community meeting that happened earlier this week in Southwest Detroit. “The bankruptcy process is something that has seemed a little bit distant from the neighborhoods at this point. Nobody’s opinions are right or wrong or more important than anyone else’s,” she says.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says his top priority is reversing the city’s population decline. But one thing Duggan has no control over is Detroit’s schools. Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek writes that the city’s education landscape has changed radically, giving parents new school choices. While most parents like having that kind of choice, it’s also resulted in a confusing, patchwork landscape of schools – with no single entity in charge of the whole system.
“When it comes to crime, there are two kinds of conversations Detroiters tend to have. The first kind is with the people who don’t understand why anyone would live in Detroit. And then there are the conversations we have at our dining room tables, with our neighbors or spouses.” As part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative’s coverage of Mayor Mike Duggan’s first six months in office, Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett discusses the calculus of deciding to live in Detroit, based on crime statistics and perceptions.