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Subject: Cleaning up Detroit? Sadly.... not likely rss

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Lynette
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I come from a long line of fight the good fight type of people from both of my genetic lines.

So my Dad and Step-mom, after another break-in a couple of months ago, finally had enough and decided to move out of Detroit.

For years my Dad has helped his neighbors by mowing lawns and doing small favors to try and keep the neighborhood nicer. Not to mention being a policeman for over 25 years. But as they get older and the battle seems to be being lost at a faster rate than ever, they are finally heading outside the city limits.

But they aren't going without at least a bit of fanfare.

Mom wrote a farewell letter to the city council of Detroit, and then the news did a story about why they are leaving.

If anybody is interested... here is link to the news story, including video of the area they/we lived in. I love that house and I am sad it will no longer be ours when I go home to visit.

I am even sader to see the city of my youth so utterly trashed.

(if you watch the video you get to sort of meet my step-mom. Though I just call her mom, since she and my Dad have been married since I was like 3.)

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/Detroit-couple-says-fear-...

Oh and FYI... this is the second break-in the last few years.

They have been broken into other times before this. Once while I was going to college. It was funny some of the things taken from my room.

and another

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/news/Detroit-neighborhood...

Here is a copy of the letter she wrote.

Dear Mr. Cockrel:

I am sorry to say that after our 2nd break-in in two years that we must leave Detroit. My husband, Gerald, is a retired Detroit Police Officer. We purchased our home 1971 for $25,000. We cannot sell it for that today. Our neighborhood is located in the Northeast area of Detroit (between 7 & 8 Mile Road and Schoenherr & Hoover Road).

When we moved into our home this neighborhood was very nice, quiet and a lot of older citizens. Once we moved in shortly thereafter a lot of young families move in. I am a suburb women (Roseville) and was forced to move into Detroit in order for my husband to keep his job. We were forced to live here. My husband retired in 1999 and we were trying to decide whether we were going to move out of state or just out to the suburbs. Before we made our final decision residency was given to all city workers and then there was a mass exodus which drop the value of our home. Then the final nail in our coffin was the housing market crash. I still to this day have felt like I was prisoner of Detroit, but we still played by Detroit's rules unlike other fellow workers and have paid the price by owning a home we cannot even sell for what we paid for it in 1971.

We have watched the gradual destruction of our neighborhood, but none so bad as in the last several years. At one time we could have gotten $80,000 for our home and now we feel lucky to sell it. Our neighborhood looks like a war zone. Aluminum is striped off a house as soon as it becomes vacant (even if it is for sale). The doors are kicked in and the furnaces and hot water heaters are taken first. Then the plaster walls are demolished in order to get the wiring out. If you have nice windows, as we do have Wallside Windows, then they disappear and turn up in one of your old neighbors houses. Fencing is taken. Even security doors are taken off of vacant houses. Nothing is sacred. I would like you and the City Council to come into our neighborhood and look at the houses. There is one whole block on Joann, south of State Fair, that has no one living in the homes and they are completely torn up. State Fair does not look any better. I look out my bedroom window and see the trash two houses down that the squatter next door to me has taken out of her house and thrown in the empty house's backyard. All I can think of is RATS coming soon.

Please help bring Detroit back, but you and the rest of the elected officials might want to try working from the outside in for a change. This neighborhood use to be a good tax base for the city. Now it is just a war zone.

Now that I am leaving I am sorry to say goodbye to Detroit, but I do feel better about a loving family being able to buy my house and make it a home in 2 years by paying us on time. I have to leave as my husband is sick and cannot take care of a house anymore and he does not want to have to worry about me being left in a City with no protection from vandals, gangs, etc.

Take care of Detroit as I leave with much sadness.

Shirley A. Jagoda
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Lee

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Good, yet very sad story.

I commend your folks for staying so long. I always said (and say) no one would ever be able to drive me from my house.

The sad truth of the matter is that if you are the only decent folks in a neighborhood, you really have no choice but to leave. Especially if you have a family!

Such a shame that a once great city has become......well, has become what it is.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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I hate to see a city in decline like that and I'm sorry for the fear, frustration, and heartbreak that this must be causing to your parents. I don't see much hope that anything can be done. Detroit would have to re-invent itself on a massive scale and quickly. The jobs just aren't there anymore, and that root cause isn't going to go away any time soon.
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Lynette
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ejmowrer wrote:
I hate to see a city in decline like that and I'm sorry for the fear, frustration, and heartbreak that this must be causing to your parents. I don't see much hope that anything can be done. Detroit would have to re-invent itself on a massive scale and quickly. The jobs just aren't there anymore, and that root cause isn't going to go away any time soon.


Oh the jobs leaving haven't helped, but the city was spiraling into decline for decades when jobs were plentiful.

Not to totally start a bickerfest... but to me Detroit is the dying example of what happens when the far left gets total power and governs totally unchecked for decades.

It is not possible to "tax" the rich enough to run society.

Constantly voting in bread and circuses stops working once you reach a certain percentage of the population no longer even trying to work toward a greater common good. Or even a greater "personal" good.

It is also a sad reality that people who don't work for what they have tend to not be vested in keeping it maintained.


Why care about this house you are renting. All the other houses in the neighborhood look trashy. So let it all rot, we can just move if it gets too icky.


There is no sense of even personal value/pride. Very well community pride.

Honestly... It is a radical idea, but I swear I think if Detroit imported 50,000 immigrants from some really ravaged places and said (like land grants of old) get this place fixed up and keep it up and in 5 years we will give you the deed and it will be yours, that might turn things around.

Then the city might get in a base of people who will be vested in bringing the city back. Who would build a community rather than destroy one.
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Lynette
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Uncle_Eddie wrote:


What about your parents' house? Will they have to abandon it? This is especially sickening. I've known so many who basically retired off the proceeds from selling their house after 40 years of appreciation and equity; I can't imagine being forced to walk away like that.



Actually they have found a poorer family that is interested in "renting to own". So it should stay nice for at least a few years.

As I understand it, my parents are going to carry the note and let them pay them directly rather than having to qualify for financing. They are only moving about 20 miles away so they will be able to go down and check to be sure they are maintaining the property.
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Xander Fulton
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Meerkat wrote:
It is not possible to "tax" the rich enough to run society.


Of course it is - Portland is doing it just fine, as does most California cities (by and large).

The trick is that you need to have a place that is so awesome that 'the rich' want to live there DESPITE high taxes.

If a city is a dump with no redeeming arts, culture, history, or environment quality (say, if you let big business run wild, unchecked, for decades), then the first time you try to budge taxes OF COURSE the wealthy will flee in droves. And the middle class. And even the poor (who are able).

As someone from the 'rust belt', myself, the mis-management of those cities has VERY little to do with "left" vs "right" politics, but overall community involvement. If a place isn't a nice place to live, then it doesn't matter if you give every tax break imaginable to anyone who even LOOKS like a viable business (Cleveland tried that), or if you try to tax the heck out of anyone around to try to get enough to scrap by...

...it's going to come crashing down, either way.

EDIT: and it should go without saying, of course, that the PRIMARY reason all these cities have failed was that they let themselves be bought and owned by the auto and steel industries from top to bottom. Any potential new industry was quickly squashed to prevent worker loss, and this resulted in serious economic problems once those industries failed.
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Lynette
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XanderF wrote:
Meerkat wrote:
It is not possible to "tax" the rich enough to run society.


Of course it is - Portland is doing it just fine, as does most California cities (by and large).

The trick is that you need to have a place that is so awesome that 'the rich' want to live there DESPITE high taxes.

If a city is a dump with no redeeming arts, culture, history, or environment quality (say, if you let big business run wild, unchecked, for decades), then the first time you try to budge taxes OF COURSE the wealthy will flee in droves. And the middle class. And even the poor (who are able).

As someone from the 'rust belt', myself, the mis-management of those cities has VERY little to do with "left" vs "right" politics, but overall community involvement. If a place isn't a nice place to live, then it doesn't matter if you give every tax break imaginable to anyone who even LOOKS like a viable business (Cleveland tried that), or if you try to tax the heck out of anyone around to try to get enough to scrap by...

...it's going to come crashing down, either way.

EDIT: and it should go without saying, of course, that the PRIMARY reason all these cities have failed was that they let themselves be bought and owned by the auto and steel industries from top to bottom. Any potential new industry was quickly squashed to prevent worker loss, and this resulted in serious economic problems once those industries failed.



Except that is not an accurate picture of Detroit. Detroit still HAS some of the best arts, culture, history of any city short of New York itself.

I grew up there. The Detroit Institute of Art along with all the other "fine" things still manage to survive because those are things the "Rich" not only build but have continued to leave for the use of everybody.

Dead center "Down Town" is still filled with theaters and the Opera house and stadiums and restaurants and night life etc. The Greenfield village and Henry Ford Museum is more "history" packed into any one place than most cities have even spread out.

Detroit was not bought and owned by the auto industry. Oh there was a LOT of it there of course, but much of that was in the suburbs around the city. And there were many other healthy industries there.

Ten years ago the metropolitan area was still doing fine, it was only the "city" that was degrading into a disaster zone and had been for 20 years.

Mayor Coleman Young and his cronies drove the city into the ground.

Next, I have been to Portland many times and they do not "tax the rich" only to maintain that city. Nor does Portland give into pressure to do so many subsidies that nothing becomes self-sustaining. Plus I doubt that full quality pay is given routinely for sub-standard work by "contractors" who are your political backers.
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Lynette
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tscook wrote:
Detroit is paradigmatic of white flight more than anything.


That might be true if it weren't for the fact that successful blacks also fled the city.

So I reject that and would call it "middle class" flight. Leaving those who expected something for nothing to destroy the very things they supposedly wanted an equal share of.

It is mind blowing to me that my parents house, solid brick, garage, nice established landscaping would be worth easily 100,000 where I live now. Even as old as it is. But it can be bought for 20,000 or less in Detroit.

And there are 1,000 houses like it in Detroit. If only the people living there would maintain these homes they could have a "middle class" lifestyle by putting in just the work to keep them up. Even on a "poverty" budget.

Something that the poor in other communities can't imagine being possible.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2009/07/feral-houses.html
 
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This is a sad story.

I wonder if there is a general population decline in Detroit? If so, it would be logical for parts of the suburbs to revert back to countryside. Logical in an abstract way, but no less painful for the people directly affected.

My take on your "far left" comment:

I wonder if anything in the US can be farther left than a regular social democrat party in Europe. I just don't know enough to judge that. But from what I've observed so far, there's an inherent danger of inefficiency and misuse of funds if any party is in power for too long. There are exceptions fortunately, but I think they are often made possible by individuals or small groups high up in the hierarchy, who keep following good principles.

I agree that "bread and circuses" are not a sustainable policy. And I find extremist, and above all, populist parties to be prone to fall for it.
 
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Detroit is pretty much beyond hope, but the same cannot be said for many other long-declining industrial cities. My hometown, Philadelphia, just gained population for the first time since the 1950 Census, and when the 2010 numbers came out it shocked everyone by staying ahead of Phoenix. We still have some bad areas, we probably always will, but Philly is plenty vibrant and plenty hopeful.

Many other cities- Pittsburgh had some rough years when industry fled but has bounced back in a big way. Boston and New York too are booming. Of course, Philly and Boston and New York all have things like subways and walkable neighborhoods and density, so they're able to attract people by offering the sorts of things that a city should.

And all of these cities are just as solidly left-wing as Detroit. So don't blame it on left v. right.

ED: Also another thing that screwed Detroit was that it put all its eggs in one basket, the auto industry. The key to having resilient, vibrant cities is to have a diversified economy not so catastrophically dependent on one sector, and Detroit forgot that. That was its real problem.
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Chris White
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DeltaAlphaBravo wrote:
::General comments, not directed at any one poster::
Bulldoze.
Clear. Remove all infrastructure.

Annual Cycle:

Plow.
Plant.
Harvest.

It doesn't have to be a city for city's sake. Detroit doesn't have to exist as a metropolis.

This idea that everything should always be improving is an idea that strike me as absurd. Things change and often for the worse (shrinking, closing, decaying). The appropriate response is not always “Let’s Rebuild!” Sometimes “let it die and start again” is the correct course of action. (Something that should have happened on a much larger scale throughout business in general in 2008.)

We build vast metropolises based on industries. The industries leave and we expect the cities to thrive.. It was farm land before, let it be once again. Why do we fight to save it? We get blocks and blocks of landfill, post apocalyptic neighborhoods for what? To keep the sense of the city alive? Let it go! Most of the infrastructure is about to fail anyway, why stay and try to fix it?

The principle is simple: you cut away the decay, dead growth, and extra tangential growth to allow the new and healthy fruit bearing growth to thrive.


Urban farming and creative destruction are fine things. But one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the land is not immediately going to be suitable for agriculture- urbanization and industry have a way of removing nutrients and introducing contaminants into the soil. I think some sort of managed decline and natural remediation is going to be necessary and desirable, though, and small-scale farming within city limits certainly looks to be a growth sector in Detroit's future, such as it is.
 
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