HOT BLAST: 'How do we get what we want and not pay for it until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?'
Sep 16, 2013 | 1200 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Frederick Douglass Homes are shown through overgrown grass in Detroit earlier this month. A $6.5 million emergency federal grant covers the initial phase of demolition and cleanup, and officials say the city will be eligible for more money when that’s completed. The federal money comes at a crucial time for the city, which is overseen by a state-appointed emergency manager and in July became the nation’s largest city to file for bankruptcy.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The Frederick Douglass Homes are shown through overgrown grass in Detroit earlier this month. A $6.5 million emergency federal grant covers the initial phase of demolition and cleanup, and officials say the city will be eligible for more money when that’s completed. The federal money comes at a crucial time for the city, which is overseen by a state-appointed emergency manager and in July became the nation’s largest city to file for bankruptcy.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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This detailed report from the Detroit Free Press - How Detroit went broke - is worthy of attention. If for nothing else, it presents a fiscal irresponsibility that is common well beyond Detroit's city limits: 



When all the numbers are crunched, one fact is crystal clear: Yes, a disaster was looming for Detroit. But there were ample opportunities when decisive action by city leaders might have fended off bankruptcy.

If Mayors Jerome Cavanagh and Roman Gribbs had cut the workforce in the 1960s and early 1970s as the population and property values dropped. If Mayor Dennis Archer hadn’t added more than 1,100 employees in the 1990s when the city was flush but still losing population. If Kilpatrick had shown more fiscal discipline and not launched a borrowing spree to cover operating expenses that continued into Mayor Dave Bing’s tenure. Over five decades, there were many ‘if only’ moments.

“Detroit got into a trap of doing a lot of borrowing for cash flow purposes and then trying to figure out how to push costs (out) as much as possible,” said Bettie Buss, a former city budget staffer who spent years analyzing city finances for the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan. “That was the whole culture — how do we get what we want and not pay for it until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?”



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