Detroit’s Proposed Budget: 2,500 Layoffs, $250 Million In Cuts

The city of Detroit, which recently reached a deal for the state to oversee its finances, is

Photo submitted by Nathan Barnes

proposing a budget that  cuts more than 2,500 jobs in an effort to reduce its annual expenses by  $250 million.

The Detroit Free Press says the 2,500 layoffs would be on top of 1,000 job cuts Mayor Dave Bing sought earlier.

The proposed budget, laid out for city council’s review, also calls for the Detroit Department of Transportation, the city’s troubled bus system, to be privatized. It would transfer operations of the city’s lighting department to an independent authority.

Many homeowners have complained about broken street lights and problems with Detroit’s power grid, which is separate from the rest of the area.

Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is set to speak about the city’s future today. 

 

Where Did Everybody Go? – A Changing Gears Special

Former Detroiter Alex Ozark on the Hyundai-Kia proving grounds in California / Credit: Charla Bear

Many of us have friends or family members that have moved away from the Midwest.

In the Changing Gears special “Where Did Everybody Go?” we’re talking with some of those people who have moved out of the region – asking them why they left, what they found, and if they’ll ever come back.

We also take a look at what their departure means for the region.

You can listen to some of those stories here.

Part I: What’s So Great About Austin? Plenty, According To Former Midwesterners

Part II: The Appeal Of Portland

Part III: Detroit Coney Dogs On The Sunset Strip

Part IV: A Generation Moves Off The Farm

You can listen to the hour long Changing Gears special “Where Did Everybody Go” Sunday, 9 pm ET, on Michigan Radio; Monday, 10 am CT, on WBEZ Chicago; or Tuesday, 8 pm, on ideastream Cleveland.

Midwest Migration: Detroit Coney Dogs On The Sunset Strip

Alex Ozark on the Hyundai-Kia proving grounds / Credit: Charla Bear

No city has been more affected by Midwestern out-migration than Detroit.

Based on the latest census numbers, the city is losing about 2 people every hour.

Changing Gears has been talking with some of those people who are leaving our region.

Alex Ozark grew up in Detroit. He always wanted to work in the auto industry, but he’s not doing it with the Big Three. He’s doing it in California.

Charla Bear brings us this report:

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Alex Ozark drives like a maniac in his company’s cars, treating a black SUV like a cross between a tank and a sports car.

“So we’ll do, we’ll do a hot lap.”

He deliberately hits potholes, runs over lane dividers, and takes corners really fast. So fast, I have a death grip on the grab handle.
Continue reading “Midwest Migration: Detroit Coney Dogs On The Sunset Strip”

On Earth Day, Turning The Motor City Into Cycle City

Let’s face it: Detroit’s reputation as the Motor City is unshakeable. But it’s gaining ground as a city for cyclists.

Racing enthusiasts have revived a velodrome, cycle clubs are growing, it’s easy to find a bike tour and tourism officials took journalists on a ride around Detroit last year. Grown Men on Bikes, a Detroit cycle club, even has its own theme song.

On Sunday, which is Earth Day, the Detroit Tigers want to take all that a step further.

The Tigers' mascot, Paws, with cyclists who rode to Opening Day 2012/ Courtesy Detroit Tigers

The team is hosting its first Ride to the Ballpark event, testing its theory that baseball fans and bicyclists are one and the same.

“Detroit has a very cool, strong cyclist culture,” says Eli Bayless, the Tigers’ director of promotions and in-game operations.

The Tigers are offering a $14 package that includes an upper deck ticket to the game, and a ticket for a bicycle valet. Cyclists will pull up to Columbia Plaza in front of Comerica Park’s Gate A entrance, and check their bikes.

Tickets must be purchased by midnight tonight: there will be no same-day Ride to the Ballpark sales.

As of Thursday, more than 100 people had already bought their tickets, said Bayless, and the team hopes to attract a total of about 250 cyclists/fans. Continue reading “On Earth Day, Turning The Motor City Into Cycle City”

Detroit Has Tons Of Vacant Land. But Forty Square Miles?

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Vacancy is easy to see, hard to quantify

DETROIT – Forty square miles.  That’s how much of Detroit lies vacant, nearly a third of the city.  You could fit Miami or San Francisco inside all that emptiness.  At least, that’s what we’ve heard for years.  The thing is, it might not be true.

This is a story about a number – an estimate, really – and how it became a fact illustrating Detroit’s decline. I’ve read about 40 square miles in the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The Washington Times. I’ve heard it on Fox and I’ve said it on the radio. That’s why Margaret Dewar called me out.

“Wait, this can’t be true.”

Dewar is a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. She thinks there’s tons of vacant land in Detroit. Just not 40 square miles, dramatic as it sounds.

“It’s too good a number to let go of,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful number, it’s so shocking.” Continue reading “Detroit Has Tons Of Vacant Land. But Forty Square Miles?”

Is Detroit’s Comeback Over? Carmakers Lose Market Share Gains

Last year, everyone in the auto industry was chuffed about Detroit’s comeback.

American Landscape, by Sheeler

The carmakers were enjoying a healthy rebound from the bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler. And for a while, at least, Chrysler outsold Toyota to make the Detroit Three the Big Three again.

But this year, Detroit’s market share has been slipping, and that has ramifications all across the Midwest.

In fact, the auto companies have fallen back to the market share level they held in 2009, as GM and Chrysler were struggling. In a piece for Forbes.com, I look at what happened to the Detroit companies during the first quarter.

Basically, there are three issues:  Continue reading “Is Detroit’s Comeback Over? Carmakers Lose Market Share Gains”

Midwest Migration: The Appeal Of Portland

Carla Danley / Credit: Chris Lehman

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If you wanted to start life over in a new place, would you choose somewhere with a chronically high unemployment rate and struggling schools, or one that’s known as a haven for slackers? The latter is one way to describe Portland, Oregon.

It seems like everyone is talking about Portland these days. Part of that has to do with the success of Portlandia, a sketch comedy show that pokes fun at Portland’s young hipster crowd. As one character explains, “Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

But not everyone who moves to Portland is a twenty-something slacker. The city still draws out-of-state transplants, including highly educated professionals.

More than half of all Oregon residents were born somewhere else. As part of our Changing Gears project, reporter Chris Lehman introduces us to two families who moved to Portland from the Midwest. Continue reading “Midwest Migration: The Appeal Of Portland”

Midwest Memo: No Oversight In Infrastructure Plan, Stimulus Funds To Closed Schools And Casino Competition

Infrastructure plan, examined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7.2 billion infrastructure plan gets a hearing today at the City Council. The Chicago Tribune reports the plan would give a board of financiers the ability to approve multi-million dollar deals with almost no oversight. Some aren’t happy with the idea.

Stimulating failure The Dayton Daily News reports that nearly $5 million in federal stimulus funding went to charter schools in Ohio that have since closed their doors. Millions more went to schools that were accused of mishandling funds in the past, according to the paper.

Casino competition Indiana is expecting to lose $100 million in state revenue as new casinos open in Ohio. The new Ohio casinos are expected to take away customers from Indiana’s casinos according to the Herald Bulletin.

Empty buildings, full of danger The Detroit Free Press looks at the harrowing walk to school for many of Detroit’s children. The Freep has a twopart series at the dangers children face from the 33,000 vacant buildings near Detroit schools.

Parking lawsuit A deal to privatize four city-owned parking garages in downtown Chicago has led to a $200 million lawsuit, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Banking on land banks Partner station WCPN Ideastream says more Ohio counties are setting up land banks to deal with the problem of vacant property.

Midwest Memo: Tracking Tax Incentives, Rebounding RVs And Foreclosure Numbers

Not tracking incentives Few states are doing a good job tracking their business tax incentives. That’s according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States. The AP has a writeup. Among Midwest states, Pew says Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri are “leading the way.” Michigan and Ohio have “mixed results.” And Illinois and Indiana “trail behind.” The full report is here.

Revved up for RVs PBS Newshour reports on the rebounding RV industry in Indiana. The town of Elkhart was struggling just a few years ago because of a downturn in RV sales. Elkhart turned to electric vehicle maker Think to help boost jobs. Now, Think is in bankruptcy, and the RV companies are hiring again.

Now, on to the budget Detroit mayor Dave Bing will present his budget plan to city council this morning. It will be the last budget proposal from the mayor before a new financial advisory team takes over the city’s finances.

In full bloom A report from Michigan State University says the state’s agricultural sector grew dramatically during the recession. Partner station Michigan Radio has the details of the report, which claims agriculture now contributes $91.4 billion to the state economy.

Foreclosures New foreclosure numbers are out from RealtyTrac. The Midwest still has 7 states in the top 20 for highest foreclosure rate.

The Prince Fielder Economic Effect In Detroit

Slugger Prince Fielder has only played one regular season game with the Detroit Tigers, but the team is reveling in his economic impact.

New scoreboard, new slugger/photo by Micki Maynard

The Tigers drew a record Opening Day crowd of 45,027 to Comerica Park, the second-highest single game attendance in the park’s 12-year history.

Many people were there simply to see Fielder, the former Milwaukee Brewer who signed a $214 million, nine-year contract with the club earlier this year.

Thanks to Fielder, the Tigers have seen an immediate impact on season ticket sales.

They sold 21,000 season ticket packages (six games or more) before the season started, guaranteeing them annual attendance of at least 1.6 million fans. That’s up 50 percent from the 14,000 season tickets the Tigers sold in 2011, when they won the American League Central Division title. Continue reading “The Prince Fielder Economic Effect In Detroit”