Detroit: Walking Through the Valley…

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” – Psalm 23

In March of 2008, NRO’s Rich Lowry wrote an excellent article titled “Detroit: The City That Liberalism Ruined”:

…Detroit suffers from every possible malady except a plague of locusts, and that’s only because they find urban living uncongenial.The city has a revitalized downtown, but all around it, the city rots. Forbes magazine declared Detroit “America’s Most Miserable City,” on the basis of its unemployment and crime rates, among other things.

The unemployment rate of 8.2 percent is the highest of any major urban area in the nation, and its homicide rate is higher than New York’s in the bad old days of the early 1990s.

The city has lost 1 million residents since 1950. It was hit by the decline of the auto industry and white flight, fueled partly by racism. These trends would have rocked the city no matter what. Detroit compounded them with disastrous governance, personified by Mayor Coleman Young, who held office for 20 years beginning in 1974.

His record raises the question why, if it wanted to engage in a nefarious plot to hurt blacks, the federal government would invent the AIDS virus when it could simply emplace mayors like Coleman Young instead. “Imagine a Rev. Jeremiah Wright with real power,” says urban expert Fred Siegel. Coleman taunted suburbanites, accusing them of “pillaging the city,” while his scandal-plagued administration managed the city into the ground.

And then the Liberal “messiah” Barack Hussein Obama bailed out the horribly-managed American Automobile Industry, generously giving them OUR tax money, ensuring that (a) they would not follow the dinosaurs into extinction and (b) huge contributions from the Auto Workers Union would keep coming in.

At halftime of the 2011 Superbowl, Clint Eastwood starred in and narrated the following television commercial for Chrysler:

It’s halftime. Both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half.

It’s halftime in America, too. People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback. And we’re all scared, because this isn’t a game.

The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together, now Motor City is fighting again.

I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. And, times when we didn’t understand each other. It seems like we’ve lost our heart at times. When the fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.

But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one.

All that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And, how do we win?

Detroit’s showing us it can be done. And, what’s true about them is true about all of us.

This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime America. And, our second half is about to begin.

Well, Dirty Harry, Detroit is well into the second half…and they’re waaay behind.

Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating almost half its streetlights.

As it is, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are broken and the city, whose finances are to be overseen by an appointed board, can’t afford to fix them. Mayor Dave Bing’s plan would create an authority to borrow $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Maintenance would be contracted out, saving the city $10 million a year.

Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Detroit’s plan goes further: It would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. Vacant property and parks account for 37 square miles (96 square kilometers), according to city planners.

“You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas like we light other areas.”

Detroit’s dwindling income and property-tax revenue have required residents to endure unreliable buses and strained police services throughout the city. Because streetlights are basic to urban life, deciding what areas to illuminate will reshape the city, said Kirk Cheyfitz, co-founder of a project called Detroit143 — named for the 139 square miles of land, plus water — that publicizes neighborhood issues.

“It touches kids going to school in the dark,” said Cheyfitz, chief executive of Story Worldwide Ltd., a New York marketing company. “It touches midnight Mass at a church. It touches businesses that want to stay open past 9 p.m.”

Bing in 2010 began an independent project called Detroit Works to sort ideas on how to reconfigure the city for residences, businesses, green space and even agriculture, a plan due in August.

Meantime, Brown said, the city will fix broken streetlights in certain places even as it discontinues such services as street and sidewalk repairs in “distressed” areas — those with a high degree of blight and little or no commercial activity.

Bing’s plan requires state legislation to create the lighting authority. Governor Rick Snyder supports the plan, said his senior policy adviser, Valerie Brader.

There’s already experience snuffing out streetlights within Detroit’s borders. Highland Park, a 3-square-mile city encircled by its larger neighbor, removed 1,100 of 1,600 streetlights last year, after piling up a $4 million debt to DTE Energy. The move saves $45,000 a month, said Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, a spokesman for the company.

Only major streets and intersections remain lit in the city of 12,000, once home to Chrysler Group LLC’s namesake car manufacturer and Henry Ford’s first moving assembly line. Mayor DeAndre Windom, 45, said residents at first complained, though few do now. He’s considering grants and private funding to relight darkened streets

Colorado Springs pulled the plug on 9,000 of its 25,600 lights in 2010 to save $1.3 million, said David Krauth, a city traffic engineer. Some were relit as revenue improved, though 3,500 remain dark, saving about $500,000 a year, he said.

In Detroit, some streets have no working lights. Many appear dim or are blocked by trees. And some areas with mostly vacant lots are well-lit.

So, instead of encouraging capitalism and encouraging its citizens to pull their helmets back on and get back in the game, Detroit is herding them like sheep through the dark valley that used to the Motor City.

With cities like Detroit and the others being turned into a bunch of non-contenders by the “Democratic Coaching Staff,” it sounds like Team America needs a new quarterback, doesn’t it?

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