It has been a long and rocky ride down the economic slope for the Motor City, a city I know well.
White, Black flight
Year after year and decade after decade, the businesses, White middle class and then Black middle class, left for the suburbs or beyond. The declining tax base, increasing crime rate, blight and debt beyond belief became too common for any good.
Authorities kicked the can down the street on an annual basis (pretty much like our federal government today). Now, Detroit is in very dire straits. It has a debt of $20 billion and can only generate about $1 billion per year for its annual costs. Bankrupt indeed!
If I ruled this matter, here is how I would throw down on the bleak situation.
There is rampant corruption. All city officials involved in any process where money is involved such as licensing, procurement, taxation, etc. should take a lie detector test and undergo a background check (revenue exceeds noticeable income).
Gangs are the biggest distributors of drugs and the violence and crime related to it. Gang leaders (captain level and above) are to be identified and then prosecuted for racketeering under the RICO statutes.
More than half the property tax owners do not pay their tax bills. Give them 90 days to catch up or make strict arrangements. Failure should lead to property seizure and quick auctions.
The school system of Detroit is one of the worst in the nation. Effective immediately, there should be a charter school licensing system. All tax-funded charter schools should be compelled to teach literacy and mathematics; some science to be added, beginning with first through 12th grades.
Elementary public schools can be replaced with these charter schools whenever practical. High schools should be considered for merger with others or just closed when literacy and math levels are inferior. Libraries will be privatized. You can’t have a great city without a quality workforce.
Detroit is the capital for unions. This will end. All city-related union contracts should be voided immediately and payroll and benefits will be in accordance with the Bankruptcy Committee and the ability to pay by the employers and shareholders.
The city will no longer be responsible for the parks and recreation facilities. The ownership remains with the city but the maintenance, grounds keeping, security, etc. will be privatized via a request for proposal process (3-year terms).
All utilities and hospitals will be privatized. RFPs will be renewable on 10 year terms. City or county commissions will provide oversight and regulatory enforcement.
In regards to empty buildings and vacant lots, proposals will be accepted and reviewed. If viable and up to code, proposals will be approved deeded for $1.
Development must begin immediately. Ninety percent of the workforce during the developmental stage and permanent hirees thereafter must be residents of Detroit. City and schools bus systems will be privatized as soon as possible.
The new Department of Transportation will be responsible for upkeep and repair of city streets, alleys, roadways and snow removal. A multiple or single privatization process will be applied with oversight done by a citywide commission.
Well, I think the above is a good start. Any comments or additions are welcomed. Here’s to a safe, vibrant and family friendly Detroit – devoid of corruption and blessed by our Lord.
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.