On the brink of a new, post-bankruptcy beginning, Detroit is really two cities. One is comprised of wealthy enclaves linked to a compact, rapidly redeveloping downtown. The other is made up of the rest of the 139-square-mile urban expanse, populated by longtime residents who have fought for decades to survive in an environment that has become increasingly uninhabitable.
Detroit has been at the heart of America since its founding in 1701. Over the years, Detroit has always been the center of America. Located geographically to connect America with Canada via the natural water systems, it is the way in to America's heart.
With less than a week remaining before the 2014 election, the airwaves have been inundated with political advertisements. For Michiganians, this has meant a heavy does of ads for race for governor between incumbent Rick Snyder and Mark Schauer.
Buried within the bankruptcy of Detroit is a fundamental political and moral question: Who are "we," and what are our obligations to one another?
Orr gets it. He went after pension debt, the city's biggest foe, and is now winning that fight. Simply put, his continued focus on pension reform is the solution that Detroit needs. With that said, Detroit still faces a long, up-hill climb.
As Detroit's bankruptcy proceedings continue to unfold, once again some creditors and commentators are arguing that the city should sell off the DIA's art collection to pay off the city's creditors, among whom are thousands of retired city workers.
Take a trip to Detroit, where everything from the city's economy, to countless of its neighborhoods, to crucial civic-services that its residents need to live healthy happy lives, all seemed to have collapsed.
The lessons from the past, including resistance that led to rethinking the top-down approach and discrimination embedded in the postwar federal urban renewal program, suggest that efforts to reshape American cities' landscapes will not succeed without community buy-in.
Every business, including my own, has its own self-sustainment as its primary goal; yet, we Detroiters tend to include in our personal goals a desire - a need - to help Detroit.
It has been nearly a year since Detroit filed for bankruptcy, and in the four months since being granted bankruptcy protection eligibility, the road to recovery still looks long amid the city's latest revision to its bankruptcy plan.
Detroit is a city being looted and stripped bare. If we decide that those who are weak and vulnerable will be sacrificed to protect the wealthy and the powerful, then no one is safe.
Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend. But the failure that crowds out the rest, no doubt at least partially due to its ubiquity and ordinariness, is the persistent non-functionality of those streetlights.
Progressives were understandably upset about Detroit's bankruptcy. It was muscled by right-wing Gov. Snyder and even the lesser cuts to pensioners are hurtful. There's the obvious ongoing damage to existing wages and benefits for city workers. But the cold reality is that these outcomes were inevitable given Detroit's catastrophic economic mess, and catastrophic political leadership.
Judge Steven Rhodes's recent ruling in Detroit led many to believe that it's open season on worker pensions. The national media declared local governments had new legal precedent to start cutting benefits for thousands of public employees. This is exactly the wrong lesson to take away from Detroit.
When a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that municipal pensions are vulnerable under federal bankruptcy law, no one was surprised. Little about life in 21st-century America prepares anyone to expect a judge to stand up for public pensions.
We can hear the 'wolves on Wall Street' howling at rising profits and executive salaries -- while the sucking sound you hear are jobs and families flung into poverty. 2014 will require a vigilant vote and voice to make a real difference for a very real problem.