HFD The End of Times

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HFD The End of Times

Postby Mud Bug » Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:23 am

Nolan Finley
Column: Is Detroit in its end times?

My grandmother used to talk about the end times, and would scour current events and the weather for evidence of the Biblical signs foretelling the Earth's final days.

I find myself doing the same thing with the city of Detroit.

Last week, Mayor Dave Bing provided a clear signal of the city's coming apocalypse. Faced with an existential moment demanding life-or-death decision making, the mayor instead stalled for time.

Detroit is out of time, and Bing's failure to act decisively to turn back the cash flow crisis makes it inevitable that an emergency manager will be appointed by the state to make the hard decisions and common sense reforms that should have been made decades ago.

It won't be pretty. And it may not save the city.

Bing won't slash the 2,300 employees, including 800 police and firefighters, that need to go now to replenish the city's coffers because he's rightly fearful that the impact on services and safety will accelerate the exodus from Detroit. His counter is to promise 1,000 layoffs soon. Not enough. The emergency manager will mail far more pink slips.

Bing is hoping he can avoid mass privatization of city services, including the bus system, by bringing in outside managers to make them more efficient. It's too late for that. The emergency manager will outsource any service that can be provided cheaper by someone else, and buses likely will go.

Bing hasn't put any of the city's "jewels" on the auction block. The emergency manager will hold a fire sale. Say goodbye to City Airport, the city's power plant, and anything else that isn't nailed down. Selling assets to clean up the balance sheet will be Job One.

Bing has been overly patient with the city's unions, hoping they'll ultimately come to Jesus on giving concessions on health care, pensions and pay. They won't. The emergency manager will tip over the bargaining table and achieve those savings with the stroke of a pen.

The emergency manager will save the city from bankruptcy, for a moment. But because of decades of denial, it will be salvation by fire.

There will be fewer amenities, fewer cops on the street, fewer reasons to live in the city. The abundance and affordability of suburban homes will be hard to resist. Those remaining in the city will fight changes every step of the way, particularly because it will be an "outsider" ordering them.

Despite a new burst of youthful energy and enthusiasm for Detroit, no one can look out and see a point at which property values, income tax revenues and population stop declining.

The manager can cut costs and spending, but there's little that can be done to stabilize revenue.

So the cutting will continue.

It will be like chasing water down the drain.

Maybe nothing the mayor could have said or done last week would have altered the city's course. But because he said and did nothing, Detroit's fate seems tragically sealed.

http://www.detnews.com/article/20111120 ... -end-times?


I think we all agree that Detroit, at least Detroit as we currently know it, is over. Kaput. Finis.

There will be vigorous disagreement about the Next Detroit, and I have no doubt many thousands will fight the inevitable. But, like fir trees on the mountainside during an avalanche, those that cannot bend only snap and break.

In February, 1000 city workers will get laid off. That is the first wave. More will follow.

Funding will cease for all cultural arts, including the DIA, the zoo, and the Charles Wright Museum. While the DIA might be able to limp along from endowment money and the donations of wealthy old widows in Birmingham, the zoo and the Wright museum will almost certainly shut their doors.

Recreation centers will be shuttered, and just like dozens of schools that have been boarded up recently only to have scrappers and vandals gut their insides, one time anchors of neighborhoods will become unusable hulks and criminal hideaways.

The same will happen to hundreds, no thousands, of homes, businesses, and churches whose owners withstood the exodus tide of the past several decades hoping that someday, if they stay and contribute, life in Detroit will return to greatness.

I have a vision of New Detroit. Mark my words and hold me to this account over the upcoming months.

New Detroit will be a fraction of Old Detroit. The boundary will be cut by major landmarks such as the river and freeways (My prediction is the city will be framed by I-94, I-96 I-75, and the river). The shape will be perfectly symmetrical. Anything outside the Box will not be Detroit.

Few people will actually live in New Detroit (under 100,000). Instead, the city will function as a hub for business, commerce, entertainment, and health care. There will be little to no focus on providing municipal services to vast neighborhoods; from this point, only sources of revenue (casinos, sports arenas, and corporate entities) and immediate residents will recieve city services. The municipal departments will mirror cities of similar size, like Lansing and Kalamazoo.

In many parts of Old Detroit- Del Ray, Brightmoor, Grandale, Grixdale, Krainz Woods, on and on- you will be on your own. I know it may seem that way now, but you'll soon wish for the good old days after the water and sewers get shut down, electricity gets severed, waste removal ends, and police, fire, and EMS cease operation.

Most of you will move. To New Detroit. To the suburbs. To another state. Anywhere but where you were.

Some of you will stay put, and perhaps incorporate your enclave into a self-supporting city like Hamtramck. I could see this occurring in SW/ Corktown, Old Redford, and perhaps the University District. Some neighborhoods will have enough pride to muster the resources to have basic services such as police, fire, and garbage removal.

And in all the other parts of old Detroit: they will look like a cross between a bad science fiction movie and a third world hellhole. Fires burning in the perpetual darkness, territorial bands of heavily armed thugs roaming the streets, every building will be looted, heaps of trash everywhere, bodies strewn about, and tanks posted at egress points to keep the visagoths at bay.

I don't see it happening any other way.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby gullycanyon » Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:49 am

I'm sitting here, thinking, "Goddam, Mud Bug, that's awfully damn grim; surely, it won't end up like that, c'mon, now," and I'm trying to come up with a projection that doesn't feature any symbolic hooded figure toting a bladed instrument.

I'm thinkin,' I'm thinkin.'

I guess I'll have to get back to ya on that.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Doctor Detroit » Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:59 am

The Zoo doesn't get that much from the city, now. Their initial cut off of funding left nearly a $10 million funding gap, which the state temporary helped with, and then the Zoo ran the tri-county milage with raises about $15 million a year to cover it on their own. According to their financial reports, Detroit just pays "Insurance and Security" on the land to the tune of $900,000 or so. I think they can carry on with the milage if they have to cover that final $900,000, but at that point some other entity should take control of the land and all ties with the city should be severed.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Mud Bug » Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:06 am

Okay so maybe the zoo will continue to house hippos and peacocks. But, as you conceded, it will function completely autonomously from New Detroit.

I stand behind all other predictions.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby frank - up in grand blanc » Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:24 am

Too grim of a picture, Mr. Bug. In my time up this way I've watched Flint go through this once, and while the city is now only a shadow of what it was (e.g. PD now numbers about 100, whereas there were maybe 300 in '97) life is still a load better than the Escape From New York fantasy. Not saying that I plan to move in, but the example of this little Detroit suggests that the incremental loses won't add up to a social armagedon (sp?).

I'm being hyperbolic in order to make this point: outside of CBD hasn't Detroit already ceased to exist? The impression is that services in the 'hoods are so low as to be virtually third world caliber. Lawlessness and blatant scavenging are already the norm, so how much more can things fall?
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Mud Bug » Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:36 am

frank - up in grand blanc wrote:I'm being hyperbolic in order to make this point: outside of CBD hasn't Detroit already ceased to exist? The impression is that services in the 'hoods are so low as to be virtually third world caliber. Lawlessness and blatant scavenging are already the norm, so how much more can things fall?


Alot. The many neighborhoods that are barely limping along will collapse entirely as soon as the water system gets shut down, the power grid goes offline, and criminal elements completely overtake the streets. If you think Brightmoor, Greenbriar, Conant Gardens, etc are rough now, well you ain't seen nothing yet. Mark my words on this, Frank.

Furthermore, Flint isn't Detoit, or even a little Detroit.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Amadeus » Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:44 pm

Mud Bug wrote:
frank - up in grand blanc wrote:I'm being hyperbolic in order to make this point: outside of CBD hasn't Detroit already ceased to exist? The impression is that services in the 'hoods are so low as to be virtually third world caliber. Lawlessness and blatant scavenging are already the norm, so how much more can things fall?


Alot. The many neighborhoods that are barely limping along will collapse entirely as soon as the water system gets shut down, the power grid goes offline, and criminal elements completely overtake the streets. If you think Brightmoor, Greenbriar, Conant Gardens, etc are rough now, well you ain't seen nothing yet. Mark my words on this, Frank.

Furthermore, Flint isn't Detoit, or even a little Detroit.


Can't figure out why you suppose the water system would shut down, and I'm not sure about the electrical grid, either.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby ldodger » Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:19 pm

I know I'm setting myself up for a boatload of razzing from other members, for what I'm about to say. All of this talk about the gloom and doom in Detroit renews my resolve to return to the city and try to make (at the very least) the area where we end up in Detroit to be a better place.

I have much more to say, but sanding drywall must be my afternoon focus. betterhalf has the whip at the ready...
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby frank - up in grand blanc » Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:54 pm

Amadeus wrote:
Mud Bug wrote:
frank - up in grand blanc wrote:I'm being hyperbolic in order to make this point: outside of CBD hasn't Detroit already ceased to exist? The impression is that services in the 'hoods are so low as to be virtually third world caliber. Lawlessness and blatant scavenging are already the norm, so how much more can things fall?


Alot. The many neighborhoods that are barely limping along will collapse entirely as soon as the water system gets shut down, the power grid goes offline, and criminal elements completely overtake the streets. If you think Brightmoor, Greenbriar, Conant Gardens, etc are rough now, well you ain't seen nothing yet. Mark my words on this, Frank.

Furthermore, Flint isn't Detoit, or even a little Detroit.


Can't figure out why you suppose the water system would shut down, and I'm not sure about the electrical grid, either.


Water, well that could be shut off and it would mean the end, but I'm at a loss for a plausible scenario where it would be shut off. I'm not down with the dollars and cents of Detroit's water, but isn't it safe to assume that things are self-sustaining even in the most Soweto-like areas because the bones of the system are in place? I could be wrong.

Electricity? PLC could unplug, but that would only mean an end to streetlights and traffic signals. Mabye our Lansing plant can offer insight into the Public Services Commission, but I'm guessing that DTE would be disallowed from ending service to an area(s) of the city even if it wanted to do so.

How is Flint substantially different from Detroit? Not busting your balls here, Mud, but they strike me as essentially the same in terms of the social and economic issues.

EFMs are probably terrible for civil service unions as well as political appointees, but I don't see them as blowing up municipalities. Maybe I'm too trusting, but the institution appears to me as a savior because the EFMs don't operate under the threat of political consequences for making tough decisions.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Mud Bug » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:12 pm

Amadeus wrote:Can't figure out why you suppose the water system would shut down, and I'm not sure about the electrical grid, either.


Because both are run by Old Detroit, a municipal entity whose quick demise is practically assured. Who would take over the city's failing power grid and thousands of non-paying accounts? DTE? Only if mandated by the courts or legislature, which they would no doubt fight tooth and nail.

frank - up in grand blanc wrote:How is Flint substantially different from Detroit? Not busting your balls here, Mud, but they strike me as essentially the same in terms of the social and economic issues.


It's like comparing two cities, on hit by a Category 3 hurricane and one by a Category 5 hurricane. Yeah both were struck by hurricanes and both show signs of damage. But the difference is in scale- Flint looks rough and has bad parts but not mile after God forsaken mile like Detroit.

ldodger wrote:I know I'm setting myself up for a boatload of razzing from other members, for what I'm about to say. All of this talk about the gloom and doom in Detroit renews my resolve to return to the city and try to make (at the very least) the area where we end up in Detroit to be a better place.


Actually, New Detroit (all 32 square miles of it) will be very livable for it's 90,000 residents. It will be a clean, safe, and vibrant community- properly walled off from a surrounding landscape that resembles Dante's Inferno.

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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby James Scott » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:35 pm

I'm seeing a whole shitload of misunderstanding here. First off, Mud Bug, there will be no New Detroit. Ever. The state has repeatedly said that there will be no municipal bankruptcy, so wiping the debts clean and starting over is an impossible dream.

You can shrink Detroit all you want, though. Give up all the taxpaying people that live outside your green zone, and you'll be in even a bigger hole than you were before, since you will still be on the hook for the city obligations. Before Dante's inferno happens in the hinterlands, I will bet that there will be a move by the suburbs to absorb those neighborhoods adjoining them. I bet getting services for once would be appealing.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Ray J. Johnson Jr. » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:42 pm

ldodger wrote:I know I'm setting myself up for a boatload of razzing from other members, for what I'm about to say. All of this talk about the gloom and doom in Detroit renews my resolve to return to the city and try to make (at the very least) the area where we end up in Detroit to be a better place.

I have much more to say, but sanding drywall must be my afternoon focus. betterhalf has the whip at the ready...


I always figured you were into the kink.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby The Suburban Avenger » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:44 pm

ldodger wrote:I know I'm setting myself up for a boatload of razzing from other members, for what I'm about to say. All of this talk about the gloom and doom in Detroit renews my resolve to return to the city and try to make (at the very least) the area where we end up in Detroit to be a better place.


Good luck to you ... just make sure your guns work.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby jmy » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:45 pm

I can't see water service being eliminated in select neighborhoods without affecting service to the suburbs. For Detroit to implode as this scenario suggests, the suburbs would be simiarly affected, which they'll fight tooth and nail.

A more interesting scenario -- probably one more likely than a comprehensive, regional Metro-Detroit -- is the one James Scott suggests: spinning off certain areas to their neighboring suburbs. Just about everything annexed after 1916 could go, which would maintain a "core" Detroit.
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Re: HFD The End of Times

Postby Roquefort Robert » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:11 pm

Wow. Mud Bug is Danny. Who knew?
By using the El Dorado Atmospheric and Oceanic temperatures thermal map. I caculated the contrary direction where the polar jet stream is going and it didn't look pretty.
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