Much of the dust has settled following Detroit’s historic bankruptcy filing on July 18, the causes of the city’s long-lived financial turmoil being blamed on everything from gross administrative mismanagement to labor unions to the free market. But now observers are finally taking a step back to ask the big questions.
Namely, what happens now?
For one thing, Governor Rick Snyder, whose appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr made the big decision, has actually experienced a modest bounce in polls. For that reason, it would seem that most Michiganders agree the end was a long time coming and was dealt with appropriately.
Many, despite the pension battle and the hoards of creditors coming to collect, are even optimistic. There are currently 16 candidates to replace the exiting Dave Bing as mayor, an office most may wonder who could possibly want.
Yet while issues remain for vital infrastructure, there are also plans in place to make downtown Detroit more attractive to outsiders, particularly from the wealthy suburbs. These include bringing a Major League Soccer franchise to the Motor City with the construction of a massive stadium complex on or near the site of the failed Wayne County prison. Detroit’s well-wishers recognize the vital role of new “angel investors” in getting Detroit back on its feet, and while the project’s manager Steve Apostolopoulos promises that it will be privately funded in its entirety, this is not the case regarding the approved new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings–about half of the $650 million cost of which is expected to come from taxpayers.
The project reportedly has the consent of Rick Snyder himself, for reasons of economic stimulus. “This is part of investing in Detroit’s future. That’s the message we need to get across,” the governor said. “As we stabilize the city government’s finances, as we address those issues and improve services, Detroit moves from a place where people might have had a negative impression…to being a place that will be recognized across the world as a place of great value and a place to invest.”
In a city where the police arrive in 58 minutes on average, and education has suffered to the point that an estimated 47 percent of residents are “functionally illiterate,” the state’s prioritizing is vulnerable to a great deal of scrutiny.
And in the case of many pensioners, even outrage.