Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Detroit Woes

The average selling price for a home in the city of Detroit over the past two months is $22,000 according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. No doubt this bad news can be attributed to the low taxes, clean politicians and the prevailing anti-union philosophy.


concrete katie said...

I walked the streets of Detroit last year. Blocks and blocks of vacant city streets.

I sat at a 50s hamburger joint which was attempting to be trendy joint overlooking the new Tiger Stadium with its very cool giant fiberglass tigers stalking about and watched as auto execs and the homeless would pass each other on the sidewalk and stare. The boldest and the most alive were the homeless.

Detroit reminds me of Chicago because of its bigness and because of its architecture. Unlike Chicago, however, Detroit has become a symbol of an America that is no longer viable because there is no industry to support it.

You will be happy to know there is a big new art museum. There is also a fancy redevelopment in the downtown but there is a lingering sadness and a lack of pedestrians on the street that really got to me. And the blocks and blocks of vacant properties went on forever.

Anonymous said...

As the previous owner of several money pit crap products from a company with empty slogans (At Ford Quality is Job One, Ford Commitment to Quality, Built Ford Tough) I'd say Detroit was ripe for a fall. Ford Exploder, Ford – Found On Road Dead, Fix Or Repair Daily, F*@!#% Over Recycled Dodge…. They're all true.

Detroit has become a symbol of an America that is no longer viable because there are no CUSTOMERS to support it Katie, and with high taxes, high crime (The new Fallujah) and high labor costs for low skill sets industry will look elsewhere.

Toyota will be next if they continue to let their quality slip.

Anonymous said...

Yes Unions and poor industry mangament has brought Detroit to it's knees.
Bad Government kicked it in the balls.
A lot there for other Cities to learn .
Racine too could learn something from this.
The City could be marketing as a place for Manufacturing (Like the State group True North) vs an Uptown Art Project
Doing more to fight Crime ( My wife got mugged last night at Walgreen's do not tell us Racine is safer) vs not keeping the 200 officers Mayor Becker said he would maintain. I am starting to see the empty houses in the inner city
The choice is simple market this City for industry or see the City die

concrete katie said...

Is the answer then for companies outside of America to buy up America? Should we sell our ports? Relocate to Asia?

Or do we look at the mirror?

When I was a kid I had a piggy bank and a bank account and I was encouraged to save some of my pennies. America has changed. We spend more than we make. We don't think about restoration we just discard the old stuff until or unless there is an outcry.

This is a pivotal time for America.

Greg Helding said...

Dear Anon -

Would you care to let me know how many officers you think we have at the police department?

Anonymous said...

I understand 194 we where told by Mayor Becker he would keep 200.
Then too we we told he would not cut any fire fighters and the closing of the Fire Station was not going to lead to cuts in manpower.
Sir I think you are doing good job, however there is now way that this Art Project is worth police/fire.
I do NOT believe that no city funds are being used for this project Then too I think that the Grant Writer is a sham and if J- Wax wants Racine to have a City Adim they should pay for him.
For that matter the whole MIS outsourcing for NO SAVINGS because as I keep hearing the Mayor did not get along with one person (who I understand is or will be suing the City) but you can not be held to that since he did so without counsel approval.

This is off the point of the post Detroit Woes let me ask this why is Racine not using Marketing firms from the City or for that matter doing RFP for the service?
Why do we have at least three marketing plans vs one incluse plan?

Pariah Jeep said...

Hello Greg - sorry I never contacted you directly about the police/fire etc. because you have already made up your mind that Racine neeeds to spend more money on "economic development" than police/fire etc. I know that "the "budget" doesn't allow that.

Some communities have caught on to the fact that having more police cars driving around cuts crime to an extent. Some have even caught on that companies thinking about moving to a new area are very concerned about things like crime and how well the roads are kept. Some communities have EVEN avoided paying marketing and other consulting firms big money to tell them they need new museums. I guess - at least - it can be argued that Detoit's big multi-million dollar art museum has provided lots of wall space for graffiti.

Anonymous said...

As of this morning there are 193 offices on the force.
No one can tell me why the full 200 have not been hired.
My guess is that the Mayor is telling the Police and Fire Commotion not to
bring any more on board.
Gee Muggings at the Walgreen's on North Menmoral robbery on State St.
More Gun shots heard in the inner-city but we do not need police we need Art Galleries! We need Grant Writers
Guess it is where you live

Greg Helding said...

Mr. Jeep-

I'm afraid you are misinformed. The City of Racine spends 55% of its budget on Public Safety. That percentage dwarfs any other area - including economic development. The budget is available on the city website - check it out for yourself.

As far as current police staffing, we are authorized for 200 officers. We are at about 97% of that. Officers retire, quite, transfer, or get fired. When that happens, Chief Wahlen can't just head down to the corner store and pick up a six pack of cops. There is no administration roadblock, official or unofficial, in the way of the Chief filling these empty spots. The hiring process is intensive and long. The last one started with dozens of applicants and produced 2 hires.

The city supports our police; we are even looking into allowing the Chief to hire some new officers in advance of retirements to stave off anticipated shortages.

I wish people would stop saying that we are not allowing cops to be hired. It is simply not true.

Another thing people need to understand is that the having 194 vs 200 officers does very little to affect day to day street strength on the shifts. Don't get me wrong, I want the 6 new recruits as soon as possible. However, having them will not mean we can have extra patrols in your area or mine. It will make it easier to schedule and it will be less stressful on the cops who do not have to work as much overtime. The notion that having the six extra officers will have the city "crawling with cops" is just as false as the idea that the Mayor and council do not want to see them hired in the first place.

Pariah Jeep said...

I suspect that the city does spend quite a bit on the police department. I said that Racine wants to spend more on "economic development". I did not mean that Racine spends more on this than on police, simply that Racine wants to spend more than they have in the past on "economic development".

I keep putting "economic develoment" in quotes because it is a joke, especially at the local level. Branding and images and slogans are not the reasons any new company will come here or anywhere else. They look at fundamentals. They will not be impressed by the fact that the budget for road salt is $200,000 but the new tree planting budget is $110,000, and we had to keep hearing how the salt budget was dwindling. New companies want to know if their people will be safe and can get back and forth to work. This belief that cities should be building museums and rain gardens to attract new talent and business is promulgated by consultants who go around making big money spewing this nonsense.

What "economic development" DOES do at the local level is give a group of people (and outside consltants) jobs at the taxpayers' expense. Technically this is economic development.

In the end, if the city's budget is 55% police, it could be maybe 60% if the nonsense like "economic development" went away or was appropriately reduced. THAT would create an environment that MIGHT bring new business.

concrete katie said...

Why don't one of you (Jeep? Greg?) consult with Kwame Kilpatrick. Call him on his cell.

Anonymous said...

Greg said Public Safety he did not say police/fire.
Words are important.
For the record I full belive that the messages to the Police/Fire Comm. is NOT to hire any more Policemen.
My understanding from inside the RPD is we will not see any new officers this year. (08).

Why are 6 more officers critical because that could allow one more officer per shift on the road. Right now we need everyone we can get



The City needs ONE marketing plan for the whole city vs three plans each run by a different group. This plan needs to be ran by a company in Racine or owned by someone from Racine. Mr. Hendrix comes to mind as one such person.

concrete katie said...

Anonymous 3:58 mentions Hendrix. Must be this Chase Hendrix, Adaptive Easel. I was most impressed with his ideas stated in a blog re 10.3 City Unemployment JT's article. The blog promised to be interesting and then, as often happens, it just disappeared.

Greg Helding said...

We spend about $28M out of $80 on Police. At 35% of the budget, it is out single biggest expense. It is clearly a priority. I will say this again, the idea that we do not want to do enough to fight crime is simply false.

Also, the people who think we are not allowed to hire more police really need to get better sources. Last I check, we are in 2008 right now and we have already hired 4 new patrolmen and are looking for more. As I said, it is a long and difficult process to hire police officers.

On another note, just because the newsmedia says cities are running out of salt, that does not mean we are. Racine's salt budget was OK this winter because we planned ahead. Believe it or not, your local government can do some things right. Our DPW has salt contracts that allow us to purchase any extra we may need at the same price as the original purchases. Other cities paid almost twice as much as we did to get more salt.

A lot of these issues and realities need more than the skills of a newspaper reporter or blogger to explain. As I have said in the past, I would be happy to discuss any of these city issues with anyone in real life. Come on down to a council meeting sometime and check things out.

Pariah Jeep said...

I have no doubt that a lot of money is spent on the police force - my point is that we can use more. My point is also that quite a bit of money is wasted. I only know what I read and when the paper said everyone was running out of salt I assumed that everyone was running out of salt.

As for your last paragraph, I don't have time in my life to go and watch other people do their jobs. Decisions will be made and nothing I say or do will make any difference. If I thought for one second that anything I said would be valued I might think about it. I wonder if anyone would be interested in coming to watch me do my job(s). I develop new technologies, start up and run businesses, and try to do most of it in Wisconsin.

Caledonication said...

I would be interested in coming and watching you do your job...


Pariah Jeep said...

Hey - thanks! But you'd be the only one -

Anonymous said...

Crime - the same issue they tried to hang on ML King, before they shot him.
Make people afraid of minorities.