Detroit Provides Lessons For The Future Of Democracy In America

However, despite these achievements, the city continued to lose jobs and income. The wave of predatory mortgage lending during the late 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, drove 237,000 people from the city.

The much trumpeted tax revenues from the casino hotels are now caught up in the bankruptcy proceeding as Syncora Guarantee Inc., a bond issuer, has laid claim to the revenue even prior to any of the money being deposited in the city’s general fund. Since the first-tier capitalist of bankers, land-owners and business magnets take priority in the bankruptcy trial, Syncora has threatened to file additional legal actions against the municipal pension funds which were the alleged focus of a 2005 interest-rate swap deal involving Bank of America and UBS.

Through the efforts of Atty. Jerome Goldberg representing retiree David Sole in the current bankruptcy trial, the interest rate termination costs were reduced from nearly $300 million to $85 million as a result of a series of hearings in late 2013 and early 2014. Yet what Goldberg argued was that these financial institutions should actually be sued for the return of over $300 million paid to them by the City of Detroit which benefited the municipality in no apparent way.

In the July 20 edition of the Sunday Free Press, a macabre and utopian blueprint for an entertainment district between downtown and midtown engineered by multi-billionaire Mike Ilitch, the owner of Comerica Park and Joe Louis Arena, the home of the Redwings hockey team, was plastered on the front page as the lead story. Ilitch has already gained a rubber stamped approval by the Detroit City Council to construct a new arena for a stated $650 million, while the city is in bankruptcy.

City tax dollars will be utilized for a substantial portion of the construction. The land was turned over to Ilitch Holdings for one dollar. There are no real guarantees that the hundreds of thousands of unemployed and underemployed Detroit residents will have any hope of acquiring meaningful jobs from this project.

In short it is more of the same obsolete approach to urban development. It will only benefit the rich and drive even more working and poor people from the core of the central city and continue the decay of the outlining neighborhoods and local business districts.

What is actually needed in Detroit is the rebuilding of neighborhoods and the creations of tens of thousands of reliable and well-paying jobs. This can only be done through the taxing of corporations and banks which are at the root cause of the current crisis, forcing them to pay for the damage done through a decades-long process of de-industrialization and predatory financial schemes.

Nonetheless, these programs are not being advocated by the current political leadership within the mayor and city council offices. Under emergency management, the political officials work at the pleasure of the un-elected dictator who represents the interests of the corporations and banks.

Consequently, a new democratic movement based among the working people and the poor must take the lead in forging a popular response to the urban crisis in Detroit. An alliance of popular forces committed to decent employment, guaranteed incomes, access to utilities and water services, quality housing and education, the democratic governance of public institutions and their management, is at the core of the struggle for a livable future not only in Detroit but across the U.S. With the national and international focus being placed on the social conditions in Detroit, numerous lessons for other municipalities who are facing similar problems can be gained in order to build a nationwide campaign against the ever-growing corporate dictatorship over the lives and institutions of the majority of the population which resides in the cities.


By: Abayomi Azikiwe

Editor, Pan-African News Wire


We’re All Detroiters Now – THEBLACKCHANNEL.NET