Cynical Synapse

Wed, 28 Sep 2011

Detroit: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Filed under: Detroit, Economy — cynicalsynapse @ 6:08 pm

Detroit Renaissance Center

Metro Detroiters are fiercely loyal to the D. We’re so accustomed to negative news, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear something good about Southeast Michigan. Such was the case yesterday when I heard only Detroit and Washington DC saw housing values increase over the last year. Unfortunately, experts think renewed foreclosures will erase any gains achieved during the Feds looking into robo-signing and other lender irregularities.

After a nearly 3 year investigation, the former chief and 5 other Romulus police were charged in a corruption scandal. Former chief Michael St. Andre faces 10 charges; he and his wife could each be sentenced to 20 year terms. What’s bad is the allegation the chief and detectives used drug forfeiture money to buy drugs (marijuana), alcohol, and pay for prostitutes. Their criminal enterprise converted tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to personal gain, but I can’t believe the amounts were worth the penalties they face.

Detroit map

Detroit and its suburbs have a love-hate relationship. Coleman A. Young, the city’s first Black mayor, characterized Detroit as surrounded by hostile suburbs. The suburbs, for their ugly part, are reluctant to play nice with Detroit. There are separate city and suburban bus systems—DDOT and SMART—in the tri-county service area. The suburbs get their water from Detroit Water and Sewerage, and the suburbs regularly posture for more control of the board.

Fundamentally, though, city and suburban acrimony stem from the 1967 Detroit riot. The region is still struggling, 44 years later, to move beyond its past. This is not rocket science, folks. Detroit needs the suburbs and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties need the city. Like Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

As an aside, it’s interesting to note then Gov. George Romney—father of presidential candidate Mitt Romney—called out 4,000 Michigan National Guardsmen in response to the riot. Subsequently, Romney requested Federal troops to augment DPD, the State Police, and National Guardsmen. While I’m not wearing his shoes, that’s a pretty significant escalation of forces in a very short period of time. It’s also a part of the elder Romney’s legacy you don’t hear anyone talking about, considering 43 (34 rioters) lost their lives in the 4 day period.

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