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Detroit EFM insults city and retirees

haymarket

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Kevyn Orr, the EM of Detroit with nearly dictatorial powers, has given an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he insulted the city, its people and its history. It demonstrates the contempt Orr has for the people whom he is suppose to lead to the Promised Land of Fiscal Health.

The Weekend Interview with Kevyn Orr: How Detroit Can Rise Again - WSJ.com

Much of Detroit's dysfunction is also due to simple complacency. "For a long time the city was dumb, lazy, happy and rich," he explains. "Detroit has been the center of more change in the 20th century than I dare say virtually any other city, but that wealth allowed us to have a covenant [that held] if you had an eighth grade education, you'll get 30 years of a good job and a pension and great health care, but you don't have to worry about what's going to come."
So according to Orr, what was wrong with Detroit was that people could make a good living in a good job, get a pension and health care and that killed the city. Amazing.

As somebody who was born in Detroit and raised in the neighboring city of Dearborn, this shows the complete ignorance of Orr for the true history of the city. What made Detroit hum like a well oiled machine for decades was precisely that people could come here with little education and get a factory job. They could earn a decent living, they could get married, but a modest home, have kids and raise a family in dignity and with a sense of self worth. On the block I grew up on in Dearborn in the Fifties and Sixties, there was not one college educated husband but they all had good jobs and all stayed put to raise their kids and everybody maintained their property and were decent citizens.

Too bad they did not know that instead of thinking of themselves as good citizens they should have realized they were just dumb, lazy and happy. As to the rich part - yeah Mr. Orr, we plead guilty to that. We were rich. We had a father with a decent paying job who packed a family of six or more in a 950 foot home. I used to get awakened every workday at 6 AM to see my dad leave a few minutes later and return every day around 4. He never took a day off and he taught me the value of both hard work and simply showing up. We had mothers who stayed home and loved and raised us. She taught me the value of sacrificing so others could have it better. We actually could buy a new car every five years and if we were lucky we could go camping for a week fifty miles away and call that our annual vacation. And after 35 or 40 years in a dirty factory, our dads could retire for a few years before they died because their job was a union job and that was a negotiated benefit.

Dumb, lazy and rich. We all had the Detroit disease but did not know it.

But I guess its okay because Detroit has been cured of that disease. Everybody knows that today you can't lead a middle class life with a spouse and a family and a new car every five years without any higher education. Today, we have made progress and the Detroit disease has been eradicated as people in those same social positions now learn to say "welcome to wal mart" or "you want fries with that burger?" And they get less than ten bucks to do that and if they are lucky they have another such job and maybe a spouse with two of their own also. And together they can work 120 hours a week and hold off creditors and pray nobody gets sick because they have no union or no union benefit contract.

And dreams of retirement? No way Jose. Ain't gonna happen. Its social security for you and thats only if the right does not have its way and we axe that program by the time you are ready for it all in the name of progress.

It must be nice to be Kevyn Orr coming in as a invading carpetbagger and leaving with hundreds of thousand of dollars in his bank account and a new notch on his resume. It must be nice to have dictatorial powers and be able to destroy what is left of fat, lazy and dumb people who worked for forty years to get that pension so you can teach them the hard lessons of life so Detroit can become some kind of experiment in rebuilding.

"People say I'm a dictator," Mr. Orr chuckles. "I don't appreciate that, but if I'm going to be one, I'm going to be benevolent."
So much for what Abraham Lincoln called a government of the people, by the people and for the people.


Dumb, lazy and fat. But thank to Kevyn Orr and his plans for you - the rich part of the equation is no longer a fantasy that people are embracing.

Dumb fat and lazy. Welcome to Michigan Mr. Orr. At least we are no longer rich.
 
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SMTA

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You cherry picked the negativity as usual.

His comments were accurate and he is working to make the city viable.

Your denial reflects the root of Detroit's failure.

Detroit's current financial woes can only be blamed on.....Detroit.
 

AliHajiSheik

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Nostalgia doesn't pay the bills. I'm sure many of those 50's and 60's families put their kids through college and after they graduated, it looks like many moved to the suburbs or to other parts of the country. Those who figured they could stick around with little education and still work in the factories making cars and stick take in a big paycheck for the rest of their lives got blindsided by macroeconomics. Truly those who hoped that the next generation would take the hit, and not them.

First the car companies didn't adapt and then government didn't adapt. Either building the wrong types of cars for the day, or building signature buildings in a declining city.
 

haymarket

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You cherry picked the negativity as usual.

His comments were accurate and he is working to make the city viable.

Your denial reflects the root of Detroit's failure.

Detroit's current financial woes can only be blamed on.....Detroit.
the roots of Detroit's failure came in two things

1- the loss of 2/3 of the city population and the jobs and tax base that went with that exodus
2- extreme racial polarization which fed into the first factor and only made it worse

So tell me how current Detroiters get blamed for an exodus of people, jobs and tax base that began over 60 years ago when most of the current population was not even alive?
 

CanadaJohn

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the roots of Detroit's failure came in two things

1- the loss of 2/3 of the city population and the jobs and tax base that went with that exodus
2- extreme racial polarization which fed into the first factor and only made it worse

So tell me how current Detroiters get blamed for an exodus of people, jobs and tax base that began over 60 years ago when most of the current population was not even alive?
I can't think of a single other large city in North America that has seen a decline in population to this extent over 60 years and has done virtually nothing to address the exodus or try to bring people back. I know here, in Toronto, if we don't have a large increase in population people start panicking and if the tax base isn't always increasing and new businesses coming in people at the city are working hard to develop plans of action and incentives for business etc. and they make sure the city keeps clean and well maintained and if graffiti starts up somewhere, it's whitewashed down unless the city has approved it as an art/cultural project.

If the powers that be let a city rot the people will leave and those who remain will help excelerate the rot. Detroit is a city that succomed to neglect and only a strong leader, ignoring the cries of those tugging at his apron strings, will be able to pull it out and start it back on the road to recovery and it will take decades of hard work.
 

haymarket

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I can't think of a single other large city in North America that has seen a decline in population to this extent over 60 years and has done virtually nothing to address the exodus or try to bring people back. I know here, in Toronto, if we don't have a large increase in population people start panicking and if the tax base isn't always increasing and new businesses coming in people at the city are working hard to develop plans of action and incentives for business etc. and they make sure the city keeps clean and well maintained and if graffiti starts up somewhere, it's whitewashed down unless the city has approved it as an art/cultural project.

If the powers that be let a city rot the people will leave and those who remain will help excelerate the rot. Detroit is a city that succomed to neglect and only a strong leader, ignoring the cries of those tugging at his apron strings, will be able to pull it out and start it back on the road to recovery and it will take decades of hard work.
Perhaps you could tell us of efforts made in Toronto that Detroit could have made over the last sixty years that would have stopped the exodus of people, jobs and taxes?

I have been to Toronto on long weekends at least six times over the years and was always impressed with your city. I sincerely would love to know what they did.

Also, did Toronto have the long history of racial polarization that Detroit has?
 
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SMTA

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the roots of Detroit's failure came in two things

1- the loss of 2/3 of the city population and the jobs and tax base that went with that exodus
2- extreme racial polarization which fed into the first factor and only made it worse

So tell me how current Detroiters get blamed for an exodus of people, jobs and tax base that began over 60 years ago when most of the current population was not even alive?
The current folks have the pleasure of historical responsibility for past and current problems.

Are you really trying to pass the buck to past residents, and absolve current residents of any responsibility?

Detroit is in the pickle created and earned by.....ummm....let's see......Detroit!
 

CycloneWanderer

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the roots of Detroit's failure came in two things

1- the loss of 2/3 of the city population and the jobs and tax base that went with that exodus
2- extreme racial polarization which fed into the first factor and only made it worse

So tell me how current Detroiters get blamed for an exodus of people, jobs and tax base that began over 60 years ago when most of the current population was not even alive?
You missed the point. He blames the past 30-40 years of leadership (& unions by association) in Detroit for getting comfortable and not being willing to adapt to the changing world. I would place a decent portion of that blame at the feet of the unions. They didn't allow the city to adapt to the changing economy. Example from the article: not outsourcing garbage collection. That is a simple thing which saves the city 15 million a year. That change was fought tooth and nail by the public worker's union and I doubt anyone exept the emergency manager would have been able to force that change through. The business unions set up circumstances so that it was too expensive to do business in Detroit (in many cases the entire US, for that matter). Those unions hit the manufactoring businesses in detroit expecially hard. Once businesses and people started leaving Detroit, the inept, often corrupt leadership of the city was unable to adapt to the changing cultural environment and got stuck in 1950's racial divides. I think you are correct that those enflamed tensions caused more people to leave/deterred business from relocating to Detroit.

However, even all that is not the point of the article. The main objective for that article is to show how Detroit CAN and is being revived through a couple factors. 1: Bankruptcy will help the city's current population to break free from the bad decisions of past leadership. 2: Good leadership decisions can create a culture and a society which has the potential to generate an economically healthy/successful Detroit. 3: Doing so benefits the "current population" the most of anyone. Overall, it is a very positive, yet realistic article concerning the future of Detroit and its challenges.
 

AliHajiSheik

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the roots of Detroit's failure came in two things

1- the loss of 2/3 of the city population and the jobs and tax base that went with that exodus
2- extreme racial polarization which fed into the first factor and only made it worse

So tell me how current Detroiters get blamed for an exodus of people, jobs and tax base that began over 60 years ago when most of the current population was not even alive?
They are accountable for the obligations of the citizens before them and more particularly, to the government before them. If they didn't want that to be the case, they would not have incurred obligations beyond the current tax year--obviously not a practical way to run a city. Regardless, I don't care about the blame game. Detroit did not shrink overnight but the obligations continue. The government should have been reducing expenses all along the way. Now someone comes along and closes the bar so now only the drunks (used to further the analogy) are left and now someone has to pay the bill from all the previous customers who were buying rounds for their friends.

As for the people left? Shrink the city and auction off the outskirts with first dibs to the surrounding cities/counties and break this city up so that just a viable core is left. Then shine as a beacon to scare other large cities to the horrors of shrinking populations.

The great thing about this country is being able to move from place to place without permission. Why someone voted with their feet is irrelevant to the current issue. As for any obligations, stick it to the citizens of Detroit or even the state of Michigan, but don't use federal money to bail out.
 

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I can't think of a single other large city in North America that has seen a decline in population to this extent over 60 years and has done virtually nothing to address the exodus or try to bring people back. I know here, in Toronto, if we don't have a large increase in population people start panicking and if the tax base isn't always increasing and new businesses coming in people at the city are working hard to develop plans of action and incentives for business etc. and they make sure the city keeps clean and well maintained and if graffiti starts up somewhere, it's whitewashed down unless the city has approved it as an art/cultural project.

If the powers that be let a city rot the people will leave and those who remain will help excelerate the rot. Detroit is a city that succomed to neglect and only a strong leader, ignoring the cries of those tugging at his apron strings, will be able to pull it out and start it back on the road to recovery and it will take decades of hard work.
I'll give you props for that, John. Canadians have always done a better job than we have at maintaining infrastructure. All you need to do is visit both sides of Niagara Falls to see that.
 

SMTA

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I can't think of a single other large city in North America that has seen a decline in population to this extent over 60 years and has done virtually nothing to address the exodus or try to bring people back. I know here, in Toronto, if we don't have a large increase in population people start panicking and if the tax base isn't always increasing and new businesses coming in people at the city are working hard to develop plans of action and incentives for business etc. and they make sure the city keeps clean and well maintained and if graffiti starts up somewhere, it's whitewashed down unless the city has approved it as an art/cultural project.

If the powers that be let a city rot the people will leave and those who remain will help excelerate the rot. Detroit is a city that succomed to neglect and only a strong leader, ignoring the cries of those tugging at his apron strings, will be able to pull it out and start it back on the road to recovery and it will take decades of hard work.
Ding, ding, ding - we have a winner!
 

Dapper Andy

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So according to Orr, what was wrong with Detroit was that people could make a good living in a good job, get a pension and health care and that killed the city. Amazing.
No, what he said was when those jobs left the city they choose not to do anything about it.

Although maybe we should stop all federal and state aid to Detroit if you're making the argument that those good paying jobs requiring an eight grade education still exist.
 

haymarket

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The current folks have the pleasure of historical responsibility for past and current problems.
That makes no sense at all. People who were not even born yet are somehow guilty of the actions or inactions of others?!?!

That is absurd in the extreme.
 

haymarket

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You missed the point. He blames the past 30-40 years of leadership (& unions by association) in Detroit for getting comfortable and not being willing to adapt to the changing world. I would place a decent portion of that blame at the feet of the unions. They didn't allow the city to adapt to the changing economy. Example from the article: not outsourcing garbage collection. That is a simple thing which saves the city 15 million a year. That change was fought tooth and nail by the public worker's union and I doubt anyone exept the emergency manager would have been able to force that change through. The business unions set up circumstances so that it was too expensive to do business in Detroit (in many cases the entire US, for that matter). Those unions hit the manufactoring businesses in detroit expecially hard. Once businesses and people started leaving Detroit, the inept, often corrupt leadership of the city was unable to adapt to the changing cultural environment and got stuck in 1950's racial divides. I think you are correct that those enflamed tensions caused more people to leave/deterred business from relocating to Detroit.

However, even all that is not the point of the article. The main objective for that article is to show how Detroit CAN and is being revived through a couple factors. 1: Bankruptcy will help the city's current population to break free from the bad decisions of past leadership. 2: Good leadership decisions can create a culture and a society which has the potential to generate an economically healthy/successful Detroit. 3: Doing so benefits the "current population" the most of anyone. Overall, it is a very positive, yet realistic article concerning the future of Detroit and its challenges.
Oh I got the point. Calling names like dumb, lazy and fat. I got the point.

Joking about his status as a benevolent dictator while plotting to take away pensions from old folks - believe me, I got the point.

That so called savings of 15 mil a year pales next to the amount the State of Michigan reneged on in promised revenue sharing in return for Detroit lowering its tax rate - which it did. Why doesn't the Detroit Bashers want to talk about that?

And why is the figure 30 to 40 years? The slide began in 1950 when the City lost 10% of its population over the next decade.

If unions hit manufacturing especially hard like you maintain - why then did the Big Three fight to save the union and the unionized jobs instead of using their own bankruptcies and problems to divest themselves of the union?
 
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haymarket

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As for the people left? Shrink the city and auction off the outskirts with first dibs to the surrounding cities/counties and break this city up so that just a viable core is left. Then shine as a beacon to scare other large cities to the horrors of shrinking populations.
I have never ever heard anything like this before. And just who do you think among the surrounding border cities is going to want to buy parts of Detroit? That idea defies reality.
 

haymarket

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No, what he said was when those jobs left the city they choose not to do anything about it.
And what should the City government have done about it? A Berlin Wall perhaps?
 

SMTA

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That makes no sense at all. People who were not even born yet are somehow guilty of the actions or inactions of others?!?!

That is absurd in the extreme.
I do not appreciate your dishonesty at all.

I said responsible, not guilty - you really need to stop your cherry-picking reading and the twisting of facts.

Yea, kind of crazy how that works, isn't it?

So, yes, all current Detroit residents have fiscal responsibility for all of that massive debt and misspending from their parents, grandparents and all of the other Detroit residents.

Current residents bear the responsibility based upon their residence, and the fact that they pay taxes to the city.

You should know this.
 

AliHajiSheik

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I have never ever heard anything like this before. And just who do you think among the surrounding border cities is going to want to buy parts of Detroit? That idea defies reality.
I intended to write that the border cities could claim the property before it would be put up for auction.
 

SMTA

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And what should the City government have done about it? A Berlin Wall perhaps?
  • Create a more inviting business environment
  • Reduce spending and in turn property taxes to help increase business profitability.
  • Eliminate union control of the city and allow the market do determine the cost of labor.
  • Increase the effectiveness of education of the workforce to support business needs
  • Spend money wisely on improvements to the city to make it a nice place to live and work
  • Increase the effectiveness of the police force and reduce crime by holding the PD accountable for results


This is just a short list - you should know this.
 

SMTA

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And what should the City government have done about it? A Berlin Wall perhaps?
Yup- 20 feet high and completely surrounding the city.

Once completed, fill it with water.
 

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Oh I got the point. Calling names like dumb, lazy and fat. I got the point.

Joking about his status as a benevolent dictator while plotting to take away pensions from old folks - believe me, I got the point.

That so called savings of 15 mil a year pales next to the amount the State of Michigan reneged on in promised revenue sharing in return for Detroit lowering its tax rate - which it did. Why doesn't the Detroit Bashers want to talk about that?

And why is the figure 30 to 40 years? The slide began in 1950 when the City lost 10% of its population over the next decade.

If unions hit manufacturing especially hard like you maintain - why then did the Big Three fight to save the union and the unionized jobs instead of using their own bankruptcies and problems to divest themselves of the union?
Haymarket, he never said anyone was fat. Are you, by chance, overweight or have a history of obesity? That was a joke :peace

In all seriousness, if you are offended by the truth you need to reevaluate your own assumptions. I don't believe you understand the analogy he is presenting when he "calls names." He isn't saying the individual citizens of the city are dumb and lazy, he is saying the collective city is. Honestly, I think that is pretty truthful. The average level of education was relatively low considering the life expectations of the population. Additionally, the comparative wealth of the city reinforced existing behavior/policy, which inhibited the city from changing with the times and improving. I think the dumb, lazy, happy and rich comment on the longtime characteristics of the CITY is accurate. Which begs the question: do you have a problem with the accuracy of the characterization or the bluntness of it?

Your view of the issues surrounding the "pensions from old folks" seems overly naive. I'm quite certain the man would like to come to an agreement where pensioners would retain a portion of their benefit which would allow for the city to succeed. I'm also quite certain they have told him to go **** a duck. Why call the man a tyrant when he acts on the only feasible option available to him? I also don't think the comment about being a "benevolent dictator" was given in jest. His role is to be a dictator. If life gives him lemons, I expect he would want to make lemonade.

That 15 million was just one example of wasteful spending. If you contacted him, I'm sure he or his office would be able to provide you with an exhaustive list.

The 40-50 years was mine.

Bankruptcy can be messy and purposefully getting rid of the unions entirely could just as easily run off a large portion of the companies customer base. It's a very complicated issue politically at that point.
 

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Perhaps you could tell us of efforts made in Toronto that Detroit could have made over the last sixty years that would have stopped the exodus of people, jobs and taxes?

I have been to Toronto on long weekends at least six times over the years and was always impressed with your city. I sincerely would love to know what they did.

Also, did Toronto have the long history of racial polarization that Detroit has?
It's not anything big that Toronto has done that could necessarily be replicated in other cities as a "cure" for decline. It's more that the people here, city government, government workers, and the citizens as a whole take a lot of pride in our city and we're constantly ragging on about keeping the streets clean and keeping graffiti away and Toronto is now one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world because we welcome people from all over and we enjoy and participate in their various cultures with festivals throughout the city celebrating Italians, Greeks, the Caribbean, etc. We're also pretty open minded and accepting of gays and the gay culture with one of the world's largest populations and pride weeks. I guess we're a pretty open and accepting city and if newcomers bring their prejudices and homeland fights with them, we quickly tell them it's not acceptible here. And out city government supports all of these cultural and ethnic activities with grants and public service supports as part of having a vibrant community.

We've got problems with black youth crime and gangs, and drug trade problems like most big cities, but we don't just accept it - we work hard to contain it. We have special police divisions that patrol areas on foot, working with these communities to try to help root out the trouble makers. We recently had a very large police action, over 1,000 officers plus fire, paramedics, ambulances, etc. attend one social housing apartment building and raid the whole building, rounding up the drug pushers, gang-bangers, etc., confiscating illegal guns, drugs, etc. and the law abiding residents of the building were really happy it happened and it made their lives easier at least for a little while - there's no guarantee the gangs and criminals won't try to find a way back, but the residents will be watching and trying to make sure it doesn't happen.

The Mayor is out every year collecting garbage one day, painting over graffiti another, painting park benches and picnic tables, bringing the community together to keep the city clean and liveable. Setting an example and the business community gives their workers time off to participate in these kinds of things to give back to the city.

These are just small examples of being diligent and keeping a lid on problems before they fester. There are some run-down places in Toronto but nothing like most big cities and there aren't what I'd call ghetto neighborhoods where people just exist rather than live.

Detroit's gone way to far for any of this now - I said on a thread about Detroit a long time ago that the State of Michigan should pass legislation that confiscates any abandoned property in the City of Detroit and razes it to the ground and replaces it with grass/parkland. Remove the blight that meets the eye in so many corners of the city and then let those properties be purchased or give them away to people willing to come in and develop them with new homes and businesses and provide incentives to get people in. Give city workers incentives to actually live in the city that pays them through these types of programs so that they can keep money they spend in the city as part of their tax base. But it's going to take hundreds of billions of dollars over many, many years to get Detroit moving forward again - but I think it could and should be worth the effort.
 

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I'll give you props for that, John. Canadians have always done a better job than we have at maintaining infrastructure. All you need to do is visit both sides of Niagara Falls to see that.
Oh, believe me, we've got big infrastructure problems here too - in Toronto, we're way behind on upgrading our transit system, we've got an expressway into the southern end of our downtown that's crumbling and we've been fighting for years to decide whether to fix it, tear it down and build new on the ground or build underground - we've had madness in building condos in the downtown core and not keep up with needed infrastructure for the hundreds of thousands of people that brought to the core. And, sadly, we've got a lot of people living in social housing that's crumbling and needs upwards of a billion in renovations and no good way to fund it.

I'd say the difference may be that we recognize we've got the problems and we're working on them, doing what we can piecemeal and scheduling more every year and never letting anything just slide into neglect and then forgotten. In Detroit, it's like the city management and politicians just decided to give up because things started to look too hard.
 

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And what should the City government have done about it? A Berlin Wall perhaps?
I'm not really sure what your question has to do with anything said.
 
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