The city of Detroit is full of promise. New industries are looking to take advantage of the open spaces, tax breaks, and the desire or residents to see their community become great again. Mayor Bing talks of improving things through “right sizing” and taxing the already cash strapped residents. However, vital services are not being maintained and properly managed.
Forty firehouses were slated to lose their natural gas because the city owes close to $65,000.00 that it hasn’t paid on since May. DTE says that a $30,000 down payment is the only way to keep the gas on. Firefighters offered to give their shoe polish and toilet paper money to help pay the bill. For the 46 firehouses, that only amounted to a few hundred dollars.
There are several problems that have been coming to light involving the vital services provided by the fire, medical, and police departments in recent months. A firehouse was unable to open it’s garage door due to a stolen power line, and a residence less then a mile away caught fire with two residents inside. It was over 20 minutes before a unit could make it to the scene. Police and firetrucks had to deliver 6 injured firefighters to the hospital after a building collapse because half of the ambulance fleet was waiting for repairs. Several police officers have lost their jobs over misconduct.
The Detroit Public Schools are now being managed by Robert Bobb who was placed as financial manager in March of 2009. While he is closing schools and making changes, the district still faces short falls and has a history of corruption. Teachers have to cover their own supplies, children need to bring toilet paper, and the water at the school’s bus station was shut off last spring. Teachers and other staff that work for the schools have had to take pay cuts, cuts in medical coverage, and had to give the district a “loan” in order to show improvement to the school’s budget.
The city has many hurdles to overcome, but the basic services should be something residents can count on. If residents can’t count on medical, fire, and police protection, why would they want to stay? Too many have already left because of economic reasons. The schools have lost many students due to the conditions and those they keep have only a 35% chance of graduating. Shouldn’t education be a priority?
The residents, teachers, and service personal are who really suffer at the hands of politicians and ill run offices. The city can be condensed, the school buildings updated, and the abandoned buildings torn down, but if the governing offices are still mismanaged, stolen from, and below standards then nothing changes. If the city and schools want the people and industries to come back then they will need to address the services that people count on most.
Oralandar Brand-Williams, Mark Hicks, and Jennifer Mrozowski, DPS academy issues plea for toilet paper, The Detroit News
Nicquel Yerry, Building collapses in Detroit, KASA.com