"In These Times" Examines Bankrupt Detroit

Aug 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Since doing our big cover story a few weeks back on the way the national media is covering Detroit’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protections, we’ve been keeping an interested eye on the ongoing reporting.

Among the latest offerings is a cover piece by  In These Times, a left-leaning magazine based in Chicago.  Rather than a parachute report, though, this is an inside-out sort of job, written by Ryan Felton. A former intern here at the Metro Times,  Felton now slings ink for the Oakland Press and continues to live in the city. He’s produced a balanced, in-depth piece that does a good job summarizing the various roots of Detroit’s financial problems, as well as portraying the schizophrenic nature of the city’s current state, with new life being breathed into the downtown and midtown areas while conditions in many of the neighborhoods continue to deteriorate.

What’s particularly interesting about Felton’s report is the degree to which in examines what will happen to Detroit after bankruptcy, especially if austerity measures only lead to more hardship on the city's remaining residents. Here’s one particularly trenchant snippet:

“If Orr’s proposals to revamp city services and attract new residents and businesses don’t stabilize Detroit’s income slide and population free fall, they could become monuments to folly. With one-third of the city’s residents in poverty, Detroiters don’t have the money to maintain the city’s retail outlets, transportation system, city infrastructure or housing stock, [John] Mogk says. As George Galster, author of Driving Detroit and Wayne State urban studies professor, recently wrote in Detroit Free Press: ‘Any future scenario wherein the city relies only on its own income and property tax revenues and further budget-cutting while it shrinks is doomed.’”

And that, really is the 18 billion dollar question: What kind off city will remain once the massive burden of debt is dealt  with?

To read Felton’s piece online, go here.

— Curt Guyette