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Not so bright 

Sometimes the City of Detroit makes our job — being snide, cynical and generally malcontented — too damn easy.

Take, for instance, the $1.2 million project intended to protect streetlight poles from thieves who strip wire from the base of the standards. For the past couple months, city workers have been placing plastic covers, called shrouds, on the base of the poles. The city intends to install 21,000 by winter, according to Al Fields, City of Detroit deputy chief operating officer. Fields says the purpose of the project is to improve the look of street lamps as well as thwarting the copper crooks. Depending on your aesthetic sensibility, the former may be true. But the latter sure isn’t.

News Hits checked out 10 shrouds placed on light poles downtown. They camouflage the gaping holes where metal covers have been removed. But as for preventing vandalism, what a joke. The two bolts intended to hold the shroud in place don’t do a thing. It’s a cinch to slide the plastic cover up the pole, making the metal covers and wiring accessible.

“There is always going to be ways to access it,” Fields admitted to News Hits. “It is still harder to get access to the bottom, but we said we just have to do something. There is no perfect solution.”

Less than perfect, however, is being charitable. A discussion on the subject has been simmering at the Detroit discussion forum at DetroitYes.com for the past couple weeks.

“I’m telling you people, every single one of them that I’ve tried to lift up has come right up. Those bolts at the top just don’t make a firm enough connection. In other words, the whole project has been a failure,” wrote one contributor who goes by Detroitnerd.

Another writes, “I’ve just lifted a few up today to see. It’s stinkingly easy.”

All of this was lost on The Detroit News, which published a puff piece about the shrouds in August — and, as far as we know, has yet to revisit the matter. The daily newspaper parroted the city party line, reporting that the shrouds are a “new effort to protect its street lights from vandalism and scrap-seekers.” Not a word was mentioned about how useless they actually are.

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