Detroit has a host of well-documented problems – poverty, crime, street lights, mass transit – that hamper its recovery. But the ability to create jobs may be its biggest hurdle. More jobs could mean less poverty and more tax revenues to fix the many broken things. Bridge Magazine’s Mike Wilkinson maps where the jobs are and reports about efforts to create more employment around the city.
Former television reporter Alexis Wiley joined Mayor Mike Duggan’s administration shortly after he took office in the midst of the bankruptcy case. She joined WDET’s Stephen Henderson on the “Detroit Today” program to discuss city improvements and remaining challenges.
The Plan of Adjustment provided $10 million for Detroit’s parks, writes Bridge Magazine’s Bill McGraw, which means improvements at dozens of parks around the city this summer. A tripling the number of workers tending them. Growing corporate support. A collection of volunteer park lovers adopting green space in Detroit neighborhoods and caring for parks that the city still is not able to reach. The city is closing some parks, but as McGraw travels around the city and speaks with residents and officials, he finds that parks in Detroit are a “good news” story.
Blight removal was a much-discussed part of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial. As head of the Blight Removal Task Force, billionaire Dan Gilbert took the stand and talked about the need for removing vacant homes. Then-Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr testified about how the $440 million contained in the Plan of Adjustment would go toward fighting blight over a decade. Mayor Mike Duggan has touted the pace at which the city is tearing down dilapidated structures. Now, Bridge Magazine, a Detroit Journalism Cooperative partner, maps out just where the city’s demolition efforts are focused and why. Click on the headline above for the article and find the link to the interactive map down the page.
Tavis Smiley, PBS’s popular late night television host, is in Detroit this week to tape five episodes of his award-winning program, Tavis Smiley. Detroit Public Television will film the show in front of a live audience at the Community Arts Auditorium at Wayne State University.
Tickets to be part of Smiley’s live studio are available by clicking HERE.
Smiley’s series of episodes taped in Detroit will focus on the city’s rebirth and recovery, paying particular attention to the bankruptcy’s role in rebuilding downtown, pressing issues facing Detroit residents, the Arab-American population in Dearborn, the city’s arts community and the problems facing inner city education.
Smiley has spent the better part of his career focusing on issues facing the African-American community. Starting out in local public radio in Los Angeles on KGFJ, Smiley went on to host social issue forums on C-SPAN as well as host and produce his own shows on Black Entertainment Television and National Public Radio. He has also published numerous books and essay collections discussing a wide range of topics from poverty to education and healthcare, and the Tavis Smiley Foundation helps fund programs aimed at developing young leaders in their communities.
Detroit Public Television is a partner with WDET in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.
It took him little way into his 2015 State of the State speech, but Gov. Rick Snyder gave Detroit, its bankruptcy and its emergence from it a few minutes during the annual address last night.
Here’s audio of the whole speech:
Here’s what he said about Detroit:
(Begins at 16:11 into the speech) In terms of local government, one thing I have to mention in terms of opportunity and great outcomes, is the city of Detroit. We emerged from bankruptcy from the city of Detroit, a tremendously hard, difficult process that many people came together to do special things that stand out. And I do want to recognize the people that really made that happen, I want to recognize the retirees who made a sacrifice, who went through very difficult times and they were with us though to support the grand bargain. I want to recognize the hard work of the people at the DIA in terms of raising resources, the foundation committee for raising resources, all the great work that took place through this process to make Detroit a stronger, better place. In particular, I want to thank Mayor Duggan. Mayor, thank you and the city council for your strong effort. (APPLAUSE)
A gentleman, a fellow U of M alumni who did tremendous work, we want to get him back in the state of Michigan Kevyn Orr. (APPLAUSE) and some of the individuals couldn’t join us, but Judge Rosen and Judge Rhodes did tremendous work in this effort, and I want to thank each and every legislator, for your conference, your courage to come together to stand up as Michiganders to say we are all one state. We’re strongest when we recognize it’s Detroit, Michigan, and the thing I’m proudest to say, after how many decades can each one of us say now that we all have the common goal of not dwelling on Detroit’s past, but saying let’s grow the city of Detroit, in particular put an emphasis on the neighborhoods to bring them back to be a great place to live in our state. Let’s see Detroit keep continue going up and Mayor you have my support and partnership in helping make that happen. Thank you (EXTENDED APPLAUSE to 18:32)
Then at 40:30: To give you an update on something though is of interest to many people on the whole situation of emergency managers, since I’ve been governor we’ve had 11 different cities or school districts that have had an EM. I’m pleased to report six of them have left emergency manager status and we have a seventh on the way. The system is generally working well, but the point is let’s avoid emergency managers, let’s do early warning, and the other thing I’m calling for is we need to do a scorecard for all local jurisdictions and state jurisdictions about financial performance and performance in terms of objectives that’s easier for our citizens to use and to see. Let’s create this easy-to-use scorecard that our citizens deserve so we can be more accountable and transparent on how we’re operating and what our challenges are within government.
Detroit had an historical year in 2014, to say the least and to say it again.
The city’s bankruptcy – history’s largest municipal case, as we’ve said, written and blogged countless times — monopolized local news, and 2014 brought Detroit and the bankruptcy to the forefront of all local and some national news outlets. Former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes captured headlines, and the “grand bargain” became a household phrase.
Here is a look at some of the year-end news recaps as well as into what 2015 might hold for Detroit:
The city’s past and the future were discussed on 2014’s final Flash Point with optimism reigning supreme. Former City Council Shelia Cockrel, however, “cautions city officials that hard work is on the horizon as the return from bankruptcy continues.”
The WDIV program’s guests included Portia Roberson, the city’s group executive for civil rights and ethics, Cockrel, political consultant Adolph Mongo and The Detroit News’s Nolan Finley. The picture painted of the future is bright but not without bumps in the road.
Roberson predicts 2015 will “undoubtedly be a better year for the city of Detroit, thanks to the emergence from bankruptcy and resulting financial flexibility.” But Cockrel cautions city officials that there is plenty of work left. Mongo suggested ways the city can avoid past mistakes, Finley recommend focusing on raising revenues.
The Detroit Free Press provided comprehensive coverage throughout 2014 about the bankruptcy. Through their extensive reporting, Freep reporters composed a bit “manifesto” chronicling Detroit, the bankruptcy and how it got there. “And, ultimately, it’s the story of how, one by one, like soldiers switching sides in the midst of battle, the major players and creditors who had been at war with the city dropped their objections and joined a “grand bargain” to save Detroit.” It was published in November, but we think it’s worthy of a re-post at year’s end.
Crain’s Detroit Business named Orr and Rhodes Newsmakers of the Year for 2014. Their work doing what many believe to be impossible earned them this titled.
USA Today, in a year-end wrap up of the single biggest news stories in all 50 states, named the bankruptcy as Michigan’s. “The nightmare is over,” they wrote.
Still, the bankruptcy didn’t solve all of the city’s problems. An Agence France-Presse piece, published in Business Insider, outlines the great progress the city has had but also makes note of problems that still lie ahead.
The venerable New York Times also points out that many questions remain to be answered as the city moves forward.
For the local take on what remains, here are the Freep’s answers to those questions.
Effective at midnight tonight, Detroit is no longer in bankruptcy…and Kevyn Orr is no longer the emergency manager.
Orr, Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan met with reporters this morning. They made statements, thanked numerous parties and looked ahead to Detroit’s next chapter.
Here’s some of what they said:
“We are thankful that at this point the city will emerge later today, by the time I go to bed, from bankruptcy. We will exit and we look forward, truly to a better time for the city going forward.”
“The reality is that the city is moving forward and that gives me a great deal of pride and satisfaction.”
“How can we make sure the neighborhoods are coming back, jobs are being created?”
“If you look at the timeframe, over the last year or so, we’ve seen a major improvement in city services which was long overdue.”
“I want to recognize the retirees who are taking some cuts through this. That shouldn’t be forgotten.”
“We’re showing in this world, compared to the old world, where you used to hear about deficits, new problem and new issues. Now we’re showing how we can work together, show better results, and I’m really excited about partnering, again with the mayor and city council and only watching that path get better and better.”
“We’re all focused on growing the city of Detroit, a tremendously exciting outcome. … We’ve got an outstanding outcome, far better than people’s expectations.”
“The Plan of Adjustment gives us the tools to have a chance to succeed.”
Some of the city’s consultants, hired before the bankruptcy was filed, will continue with the city specifically for financial matters.
“All the drama has been on the bankruptcy side. It hasn’t been with the city officials. … People of the city have seen the improvements.”
“We’re going to start fresh tomorrow, and we’re going to do the best we can to deliver the services people of the city deserve. … Tomorrow’s not different than any other day.”
“Kevyn Orr. Former Emergency Manager. That has a nice ring to it.”