Saturday, July 23, 2005

Kwame, Detroit, and Urban Sprawl

From the AP

"""DETROIT - Former deputy mayor Freman Hendrix has raised about $1.5 million so far this year for his campaign for mayor — three times the amount raised by incumbent Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick raised $482,051 from Jan. 1 to July 17, according to campaign finance reports obtained by the Detroit Free Press for Saturday's editions. He started the year with about $1.7 million and spent nearly that much in those seven months.

In recent polls of likely voters, Hendrix has been leading Kilpatrick, whose first term included a $300 million budget deficit, hundreds of layoffs, scrutiny over his use of a city credit card and city lease of a luxury SUV for his family."""

I think business has found its candidate. It's not Mayor Navigator.

It looks like Mayor "Navigator" could very well get the heave ho. He's certainly in a bad position. The reform vote will likely go to Hendrix, as they never liked McPhail. Sharon McPhail is well known for playing racial politics (Going back to Dennis Archer's first campaign) and will likely get most of that vote, making it tougher for Mayor Navigator to play the "White outsiders are out to get me" card that Former Mayor Coleman Young was a master of playing. I hope Hendrix wins, and I hope every incumbent there gets tossed out, and that there's a house cleaning. What happens in Detroit affects all of us in Michigan, including Livingston County.

Which gets me to another somewhat related issue. Urban Sprawl. Livingston County is the epicenter of sprawl and it was rural and is now an exurban county of about 175,000 people. I'll go on the record right now and say that I am not a supporter of sprawl and am a bit of a NIMBY. This may break from some of my party. I am a native of Livingston County, and remember the pre-Walmart days. I grew up outside of Brighton and remember when all the new subdivisions were woods and swamps. There was some good hunting area that no longer exists, and as a hunter and outdoorsmen, I believe that unless we keep our rural areas rural, we are going to lose our sport in a few years.

Livingston County started to boom heavily in the 1980s, and skyrocketed in the 1990's, particularly after the passage of Proposal A which dramatically slashed property taxes. We are also within an hour of four major cities(Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint). Crime is low here, and there is a rural atmosphere and a bit of a frontier attitude out this way.

I don't have a problem with people moving out here. This is a free country, and while I am a native of the county, my parents are not. I do have a bit of a problem when people move out here and try and change this area to the area they came from. If you want the small town and country way of life out here, please join us and become one of us. Please don't change us to Ann Arbor. If individuals who move here want to be Novi, then they should stay in Novi. Or Farmington Hills. Or Redford. Ann Arbor. Southfield, etc. Why are the individuals who want to create a replica of those cities moving out here and not staying there? Schools? Those areas have good schools as well. Taxes?

By evidence of all of the development the past 20 years in this county, there certainly is a large group of individuals who want to bring the city out here. New subdivisions, gated communities, McMansions, new commercial developments, boxstores, Walmart, Costco, all of which was not here 20 years ago.

In contrast, Detroit was once a city of 1.8 million people in the 1950's and still had about 1.6 million people in the 1960's. However, between the 1967 riots, Coleman Young's disaster as mayor, white flight, job losses, poor schools, high taxes, poor city services, a struggling Big 3, and crime - it is now down to about 900,000 people. Detroit is not the only city though losing population and battling blight. In the last census estimate Redford, Livonia, Warren, Dearborn, and Westland are dropping population. Novi, Sterling Heights, South Lyon, are all gaining. The inner suburbs of Detroit are losing population, as is Detroit. Those who left Detroit before, are now leaving those suburbs, continuing the migration cycle further away from the city.

If something is going to be done about urban sprawl, it has to start with fixing Detroit. Many people want to live in the city or in a city environment. It'd be nice for them to have a good city to live in, so we can keep a rural character here. Fixing the city has to start with good schools so families with kids are able to live there and develop roots. Jobs are needed, and we all know the state of jobs in Michigan right now. The insanely high taxes and low service model that Detroit follows currently is not getting the job done. If I was mayor, my priorities would be.

1. Lower Property taxes. Some people who want to live in the city can not afford it because of the insane property taxes.
2. Zero tolerance of crime. I am usually not a fan of zero tolerance, but if Rudy Giuliani can clean up NYC in the 90's, the same can be done with Detroit. Dennis Archer tried and did help cut the murder rate in half there. It's not impossible.
3. Schools. The mayor can not do that much there, but he can use his political power to help clean house with the school boards. If the schools are going to be truly fixed, it has to start with Detroiters cleaning house. They won't listen to Lansing as they don't trust outsiders.
4. Jobs. The infastructure is there. 3.5 million in the Metro Area. High unemployment compared to the rest of the country. Just cut the red tape, don't make it a closed shop business, and cut the taxes.

Lastly, if Detroit can make a comeback, we may be able to keep what is left of our rural character here for another 20 years - without governmental intervention that restricts our property rights and does not solve the underlying problem. A fixed Detroit is good for all of Michigan, including Livingston County.


Barry "iPod" Johnson said...

Hey Dan!

Good to see you out there. There are a few of us in SE MI. Even (gasp) Ann Arbor.

I'll be checking your blog on a regular basis from now on.

Republican Michigander said...

Thanks for checking in. I'll link your Royal Flush site to the list.