JIM CREES: Bankrupt? So what’s new?
So ... Detroit is officially bankrupt.
Frankly, I don’t quite understand either the seeming surprise surrounding the ‘event’ or the amount of news coverage the filing for bankruptcy has generated.
Heck, just about anyone ever living in the State of Michigan ...ever ...must realize Detroit was, is, and will be a continuously evolving dump, and an ever real drain on the state’s morale and economy.
The city has been a mess for years ... decades ... generations!
For half a century, (more actually), the city has been “carried” by the rest of the state. Still, until just very recently politicians of all cuts of cloth have chimed in the ol’ tune — “As goes Detroit, so goes the State of Michigan.”
That has never, ever been true in any practical sense. It’s just one of those things people repeat and repeat in hopes that it will become true some day.
Truth be known, taxpayers around the state have been pumping money into not only the city itself, but all sorts of city institutions.
For example, the state tax on liquor still goes toward paying off the debt on Cobo Hall - still today! In June of 1985, the state House approved dedicating liquor tax revenues to paying off Cobo Hall construction costs on the theory that the convention center’s success benefited not only the city, but the entire state as well. With an extension approved in 2008, state taxpayers will continue paying for Cobo Hall through 2039!
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I implore you!
This benefits me how???
Look, gentle reader.
I grew up in Detroit. I went to school in Detroit. I graduated from high school in Detroit.
It was already morphing and changing back then ...and not for the better.
But, having said that, Detroit then was nothing like it is now.
As a kid growing up in a good, solid, middle-class working family neighborhood, Detroit was actually kinda cool.
You could go just about anywhere, and do just about anything.
There wasn’t anywhere near the blight and destruction there is now.
Some areas may have been old and a bit seedy, but there simply wasn’t the devastation one sees in the city today.
I lived in a nice neighborhood.
It may have been something of an Ozzie and Harriet period in American history, but I certainly can’t offer any apologies for that. It was actually kinda fun growing up in Detroit.
Our neighborhoods were defined largely by the elementary school which serviced the hoards of kids running through the streets with little of the fear there is today.
We played ‘Hide and Seek’ over an area encompassing four or five city blocks. We’d hide in people’s garages, and run through yards not belonging to us at all.
We would walk miles - literally - to Balduck Park to watch the archery clubs in the summer, and sled down Balduck Hill in the winter. (My guess is that Balduck Hill was actually simply a huge mound of construction material that had been planted over and turned into part of park.
We’d walk down to Mack Avenue and across into the Grosse Pointes to fish in the Detroit River - kinda.
It was fun.
Then ...there was high school.
Look. I wasn’t crazy about high school, but my high school years in Detroit weren’t bad. There was a lot to do.
I saw Steppenwolf at Olympia. The Electric Lighthouse Orchestra too. I saw Black Sabbath, (the early version!), at the Grande Ballroom. Every Christmas season I went to Ford Auditorium to hear Handel’s Messiah with the Detroit Symphony and the Rackham Choir.
We drove around. Took buses. Had a pretty decent time of it.
Living in Detroit was not half bad.
But it started getting dicey after the riots. That’s for sure.
Honestly, I almost think you could change the name of the city ‘cause it sure isn’t the same place in which I and millions of others grew up.
The place has gone to hell in the proverbial handbasket, and frankly it is way past time the city be declared bankrupt. It is way past time the rest of Michigan and Michiganians be held accountable for that place and the corrupt officialdom of the past quarter century - with little or no hope for any return.
Detroit is no longer Michigan’s shining beacon. It probably never was, but it was a decent place in which to grow up.
So, let’s be honest. Anyone now bemoaning the demise of the City of Detroit is about 25 years too late.
If anything, other communities in Michigan should take a good long look at the Motor City and try to figure out today, not tomorrow, how to adapt to changing realities before they simply evaporate from the scene — as has Detroit.