Detroit will run out of cash by June 15, a week from today.
Suzette Hackney and Matt Helms report for the Detroit Free Press, June 8, 2012, that Jack Martin, the city’s new chief financial officer, said Detroit will be operating in a deficit situation if the state withholds payments on a portion of the $80 million in bond money needed to help keep the city afloat. The battle ultimately could lead to an emergency manager if state officials deem the city to be in violation of the consent agreement that gives the state significant control over Detroit’s finances.
This news comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report of May 24, 2012, that due to Detroit’s dwindling income and property-tax revenue, residents have to endure unreliable buses and strained police services. Now, the city plans to eliminate half its streetlights, which would “nudge” the city’s residents into “a smaller living space.”
As it is, 40% of the 88,000 streetlights in Detroit 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 streetlights plan would leave sparsely populated swaths unlit in a community of 713,000 that covers more area than Boston, Buffalo and San Francisco combined. In Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60% fewer residents than in 1950, vacant property and parks now account for 37 square miles, 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.”
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.
Here are some facts on Detroit, from Wikipedia:
- Detroit was the United States’ 12th largest (most populous) city in 2010, with 713,777 residents.
- In 2010, 32.3% of Detroit families residents were below the poverty level, the highest among large U.S. cities.
- As of the 2010 census, the city’s racial makeup was 82.7% Black (African American), 1o.6% White, and 6.8% Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican and Mexican).
- 31.4% of households in Detroit were headed by a female with no husband present; only 21.5% of households were married couples living together.
- Detroit was the 3rd most dangerous U.S. city in 2009, according to a study by the CQ Press, using population figures and crime data compiled by the FBI.
- In May 2011, the Department of Labor reported metropolitan Detroit’s unemployment rate at 11.6%, with the city’s unemployment rate for May 2011 at 20%. Both figures are much higher than the official national jobless rate.
- Politically, Detroit consistently supports the Democratic Party in state and national elections (local elections are nonpartisan). According to a study released by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, using the percentage of city residents who voted for the Democratic Party, Detroit is the most liberal large city in America.
And that, boys and girls, explains why Hiroshima, Japan, which was devastated by an atom bomb in 1945, succeeded in reviving itself, and why, in the same span of half a century, Detroit now looks like it has been hit with an atom bomb.
Hiroshima in ruins in 1945