Commentary: Dissolving Detroit Is a Ridiculous Notion

Michigan lawmaker wants to give up on the Motor City.

Posted: 11/30/2012 06:07 PM EST

Detroit has been in quite a difficult spot for some time now. The city is broke, and the flight of former residents and businesses has put much of the once booming locale into blight. Worse still, most Americans who are even concerned in the slightest about Detroit, can’t come to a consensus about how to repair it.

Some people have suggested getting an entirely new city council to fix Detroit, while others like the idea of investing $800 billion in the city. Today comes a far more rash — and, frankly, offensive — proposition: Let Detroit die. And this isn’t coming from some loudmouth pundit; it’s coming from one of Michigan’s own elected officials. 

"At some point we're going to have to seriously consider dissolving the City of Detroit," Republican State Sen. Rick Jones told the Detroit News.

[Jones]  is proposing the Legislature, which has the power to establish municipalities, should make the city part of unincorporated Wayne County.

Jones was unclear about what good it would to do to turn the city and its services for 700,000 residents over to a county with its owns financial and political problems.

But he said outstate lawmakers like himself are growing tired of the City Council delaying implementation of the financial consent agreement state and city leaders signed in April, inching perilously closer to payless paydays and bankruptcy.

It’s not just Jones who’s saying Detroit may be dissolved and incorporated into Wayne County; on the radio this week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said though dissolving Detroit would be a last resort, he can’t rule anything out.

Jones and Snyder are not without their detractors, of course. State Sen. Bert Johnson, a Democrat, calls the idea to let Detroit go “ridiculous.” "This conversation to bastardize Detroit has got to stop," he told the News. "Detroit doesn't do that to other people and they shouldn't do it Detroit.”

So what happened to Detroit? Here is a helpful, if not totally thorough, video that does a decent job of explaining how Detroit ended up in the crisis it’s in. The main points are that Detroit was once a bustling boomtown that’s since fallen off. And since that decline the city has been unable to provide even basic services for residents, the vast majority of whom are Black, in the way that it should. Now, after decades of struggle, people like State Sen. Rick Jones are suggesting abandoning Detroit outright. That would certainly be easier for state lawmakers, but what of the hundreds of thousands of people who still call Detroit home? What must it sound like to them to hear their own elected officials saying they might have to let them go? Unfortunately, it probably sounds all too familiar: Detroit residents are used to being let down by their government.


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(Photo: Courtesy of Michigan Senate)

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