Friday, September 25, 2009

Straight Talk

The New York Times profiles Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who apparently isn't willing to pretend that Motown can go back in time:

“We’ve got to focus on being the best 900,000 populated city that we can be and stop thinking about ‘We can turn the clock back to the 1950s and ’60s,’ ” he said, referring to a time when the city, still the 11th most populous in the nation, was nearly twice as big. “That era is gone.”


  1. From what I gather about and of Dave Bing is; he's honest, intelligent, concerned, and a realist. Attributes that were not possessed by the last few Mayors of that city. I would love to see him overcome the odds he faces. He needs a lot of cooperation to make it happen though. I wish him the best in getting it. unclebuck

  2. Dan Kildee isn't just an outlier. There's a critical mass growing for core-city-physical-shrink ideas.

    Daniel Okrent mentioned the same point in his essay about Detroit this week in Time Magazine.,8599,1925796-4,00.html

    What hadn't quite happened yet is a major city actually implementing these ideas in a way that saves it enough money that its residents see visible positive results in terms of city services per new square mile.

    Flint used to be an innovator fifty years ago. But no one person, even an energetic new mayor, could make an idea like right-sizing happen... and in Flint's case, the new mayor has spoken negatively about the idea, and hasn't exactly gotten off to a fast start.

    The Mott foundations are still in Flint, supporting good causes, but they seem less willing to fund local innovation than they once were. Perhaps that's just realistic acknowledgment that Big Money is only effective in support of leaders that can capture the public's support for Big Ideas.

    In any case, the right-sizing idea isn't going anywhere in Flint, Dan Kildee's innovative thinking notwithstanding.

    Maybe Mayor Bing will be able to build the coalition to make it happen first in Detroit. He'll need a lot of support, from powerful people and ordinary folks. He certainly has mine.

  3. I know very little about Dave Bing, but that same thinking should be fearlessly applied to Flint.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at