Getting to the Truth about Detroit’s Bankruptcy

In late July, the Detroit Free Press decided to “truth squad” what it described as the nuggets of facts, pseudo-facts, observations, opinions and insights put forth from the national media and commentators of all stripes about the Detroit bankruptcy underway.  Right off, the hometown paper wanted to tackle “two misconceptions” often repeated the past several weeks: The domestic auto industry and Detroit are synonymous, and that bloated pension benefits pushed the Detroit budget into ruin.

Briefly put, the Free Press stated that the auto industry has not been connected financially to the city proper and its operations for decades.  And next, Detroit police and fire pension benefits are modest compared to other major cities such as Los Angeles and Kansas City, Mo.  The article goes on to talk about the complexity of Detroit’s current fiscal crisis concluding “What’s more accurate: Like the fall of Rome or the causes of the Civil War, it wasn’t any one thing but a long, multifaceted process at play.”

I returned to my old hometown area last summer and I’ve found surprising optimism when I network with alumni at my alma mater, Wayne State University – located in the heart of a thriving midtown area.  My own past experience with renewal in some formerly crime-ridden and decaying areas of Brooklyn also makes me see possibility where others see disaster. Now a new book from the Brookings Institution Press also sounds an optimistic note on reviving our struggling urban centers across the country – The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy by Jennifer Bradley and Bruce Katz.  In a recent interview on NPR, Katz echoed the sentiments of the Detroit Free Press that the revival has already begun and adds that it is actually part of a national trend

I hope readers will take a moment to follow both links above and get a clearer picture of my old hometown and see why I refuse to give up hope for the future!

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