Mayor Mike Duggan wants former Detroiters to visit the city for a homecoming. The idea is to attract people who wrote off their relationship with the city. The “Detroit Homecoming” is aimed to bring them back for a visit, a little flirtation. Detroit Journalism Cooperative member Michigan Radio has this report.
WDET’s bankruptcy reporter and Next Chapter Detroit blogger Sandra Svoboda and Detroit Free Press reporter Matt Helms join Craig to discuss Detroit’s financial crisis. Sandra and Matt agree that the bankruptcy is still very much a court operation. But as the city continues through the process, some of the real changes could begin to become apparent by this fall. Here’s their segment.
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.
Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones says her management style employs the Golden Rule, to treat her colleagues as she wants to be treated. “One of the things I wanted to make sure happened was there was respect and communication among all council members,” says Jones. She says respect among the council members goes a long way to making sure city council has respect in the community, which is especially important as the city works to emerge and recover from bankruptcy.
When a group of teens turned out to the WDET/Next Chapter community meeting, hosted in conjunction with Urban Neighborhoods Initiative on June 25, we couldn’t pass up asking them about their neighborhoods and how they envision the city’s future.
“I actually do see that bankruptcy has affected my neighborhood because even across the street from me, there’s houses that need to be taken down or even are on the list of being taken down,” says Anthony Keeth, 18. “I’ve heard stories about this great city. The houses used to be full. The neighbors knew each other. You might as well say they were family, but now it’s like, I don’t see where that’s ever happened.
The meeting one was of 12 we plan throughout the city this year, where we’ll answer questions about the bankruptcy process and hear about what it means to city residents. These community meetings will help shape our coverage of the bankruptcy on WDET and at Next Chapter Detroit.
The five youth in this video range from 15 to 18 and are part of the youth development programs developed and coordinated by Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, also located in District 6 in Southwest Detroit.
We asked the teens about their neighborhoods, what they think bankruptcy means and what how they envision the Detroit’s future. Their common themes and issues for them? Abandoned lots, blight and violence. They also say that even though there is litter and blight, not everyone in the neighborhoods treats their property and their city that way.
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
“Every Neighborhood Has a Future…and It Doesn’t Include Blight,” is the title of the comprehensive plan and set of recommendations to eliminate blight in the city of Detroit. DPTV/American Black Journal Host Stephen Henderson speaks with Glenda Price, co-chair of the Blight Removal Task Force, about how Mayor Mike Duggan plans to accomplish the goal of removing the blighted structures within five years.
Of all Detroit’s challenges, perhaps the most baffling is its spotty bus service. It’s an embarrassment for the city that put the world on wheels, and still can’t move people around on public transportation efficiently. In the early days of his mayoral term, Mike Duggan named improving city services as one of the six-month benchmarks residents should judge him on. Bridge went to the riders themselves to see what they think of the job he’s doing as part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative’s reporting on Duggan’s first half year in office.
Next Chapter Detroit brings you a few of the bankruptcy-related stories from the previous week in the local and national media:
The Million-Dollar Housing Market?
The city’s auctioning of abandoned homes has generated more than $1 million in commitments, city officials reported this week.
“The success of these auctions is another reminder of just how much demand there is for good homes in Detroit’s neighborhoods,” Mayor Mike Duggan said statement on June 26. “Within a matter of months, these vacant houses will become homes that will be adding to the strength of our neighborhoods.”
As The Detroit News reports: Since May 5, the city has been selling homes on the www.buildingdetroit.org. The first auction generated 88 bids with a high of $34,100. For the past month, the land bank has been selling two homes per day.
Speaking of Moving In…and Out of the City
The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published stories this week about whether Detroit’s population continues to move out or grow with new residents. The WSJ’s Marketwatch blog takes a somewhat analytical approach, comparing cities across the country on the basis of home affordability, tax rates and unemployment. Of course, the piece is also peppered with colorful anecdotes about Detroit’s reality with a hopeful tone.
The Times, though, includes “up high” some of the facts that seem to fascinate much of the country: Detroit’s foreclosure rate (one in 10 properties this year) and the occasional starting auction price of $500 for a house. The Times also notes Detroit’s unusually high tax foreclosure rate, linking it to the city’s financial woes:
“In some cases, homeowners have abandoned properties and simply quit paying taxes, and foreclosure may be the only way to get a house back into the hands of people who actually want to live there and pay their share. In other cases, those who lose or abandon their houses sometimes end up buying other houses at auction – sometimes for as little as $500 – and begin the cycle again, although new rules are aimed at taking back properties sooner if taxes are again not paid. Either way, the city fails to get all the tax revenue it is owed.”
Lighting Up Detroit
The June 25 sale of $185 million worth of revenue bonds for Detroit’s public lighting authority “had no problem finding buyers,” Reuters reports.
“The bond issue, which was sold through the Michigan Finance Authority, was 2.5 times oversubscribed, receiving 35 institutional orders and several dozen more from retail accounts, according to a statement from Michigan officials.”
In December, Citibank financed about $60 million in floating-rate bonds for the lighting system. The June 25 sale was the first public offering of Detroit debt for lighting since then, Reuters reports.
What the Detroit bankruptcy “teaches” the rest of the world continues to be a common theme in media coverage and conversations about history’s largest Chapter 9 filing. This week, the Wall Street Journal’s Bankruptcy Beat blog covers some.
Perhaps predictably, the WSJ did not address communicating with citizens or ensuring the process is explained as fully as possible for residents or retirees. But the “takeaways” author identifies are worth “putting on the record” as lawyers and journalists say. They are:
Negotiate and make every attempt to avoid Chapter 9, but do not forego its potential rehabilitative benefits.
Seek to organize creditor groups as soon as practicable and engage in meaningful negotiations.
Understand the nature, full extent and potential value of the assets of the troubled municipality.
Prior to any formal proceedings, develop a projected restructuring and business plan that would be feasible and would comply with the applicable principles and rules that govern Chapter 9.
Establish, as early as practicable, the involvement of the state government as a party in interest.