Cities

Detroit, Where Public Employment Booms

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This just in from Detroit: Lack of private enterprise is detrimental to city survival, no matter how many art collectives pop up in long-abandoned homes. Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy has the scoop, gleaned from the city's most recent financial report:  

Still pretty nice, if you frame it right

The report lists the number of jobs provided by the city's largest employers, which indicates how sensitive its finances are to the actions of a particular firm. In Detroit's case, six of the top 10 employers are not private businesses at all, but government entities: public schools, the city government, the U.S. government, Wayne State University, the State of Michigan and the U.S. Post Office. Two others are health care providers intrinsically tied to government policy, the Detroit Medical Center and the Henry Ford Health System.

The remaining two are automaker recipients of federal bailouts, GM and Chrysler.

Detroit is showing a $155 million budget deficit, despite borrowing $255 million last year. The city government still boasts an 70 departments and agencies, of which several provide redundant services to the mayor and City Council. The roads are falling apart, and the school system is saddled with a $327 million budget deficit, which will require shuttering half the schools in Detroit.

But wait, there's good news! The city met its audit deadline for the first time since 1997 and received $207 million in stimulus funding for police, new buses, and assistance for the homeless. The Pistons might be moving downtown, hopefully driving casino traffic; the employment rate went up 3 percent last year; and that eternal savior of decaying downtowns, light rail, just got a $25 million boost from the feds.

Incidentally, Chicago has an even higher concentration of public sector jobs, with nearly 175,000 in the city working for either the school district of federal, state, county, and city governments. Might be time to think about lowering that nation-leading tax burden. 

Read more from Reason on America's cities here.

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  1. The sad part is, things are looking better now than they did two years ago.

    It’s a long, hard road. Dunno if we’ll make it.

  2. that eternal savior of decaying downtowns, light rail, just got a $25 million boost from the feds.

    That money would be put to better use if they paid citizens by the pound for trash brought to central collection stations.

    1. Is there nothing light rail cannot do? Shoot, the administration should push the repeal of Obamacare, since light rail will make the nation much healthier.

    2. Speaking of which, caught an awesome doc on teh satellites yesterday. The title, I believe, was “How Beer Saved the World”. Made a very convincing argument (I know, confirmation bias), that mankind owes damn near everything to beer.

      1. arguement!???
        it is a self evident proposition…kinda like cumming feels good. Whoa…maybe cumming saved the world??? OK, but beer is next for sure.

    3. But it’s going to be HIGH SPEED light rail!

  3. I’m confused:

    Detroit is showing a $155 million budget deficit, despite borrowing $255 million last year.

    A deficit is the amount the city borrows, correct?

    So does this mean they actually reduced their deficit by $100MM from last year? That they’ve already had to borrow $155MM this year, so far, and god knows what they will borrow by the end of the year? What? WHAT?

    1. No, debt is what the city borrows. You can borrow to close a deficit & thereby add to your debt instead of making hard choices like cutting spending or raising taxes to close the deficit.

  4. At least Detroit does provide the valuable service of putting on display how badly the worst fucking ideas for running a city turn out when all tried at once. Sort of a political Darwinism experiment. Taken to the extreme. Lately, however, I’m getting the impression that the ‘leaders
    of Birmingham Alabama somehow got the notion it’s all some sort of recipe for success, or some stupid shit like that – as in close succesion, they’ve blathered on about light rail, pouring more money after lost funds into both a city planned and run convention center hotel right next to another bankrupt and foundering city planned and financed convention center hotel complex, while at the same time talking up the ideas of pouring a lot more money they don’t have into the existing sports white elephant, Legion Field Stadium (which at this point Alabama and Auburn both refuse to hold the Iron Bowl, the biggest annual event in the state), while they dangle money flushing inducements to bring back into town the AAA baseball farm team, the Barons, who already bailed due to sucktitude, while the education system that has already shuttered half of their properties due to declining enrollment continues to rack up multi-million dollar operating deficits annually. Oh, and did I mention that the last pack of vultures in office and now occupying federal prison cells thanks to their endorsement/manipulation of a sewer boondoggle that somehow left the area on a billion dollar hook to Wall Street firms that underwrote it all, then ditched any real impact by accepting bailout funds is likely to suck the life out of anything positive likely to happen in the next decade or so, at least?

    Good times, good times.

    1. Of course, to distract everyone about all this, and convince folks to re-elect him mayor after finishing out the term of the last guy, who was elected while under federal indictment anyway, has been pushing hard his idea to turn it all around –

      THE FUCKING OLYMPICS!

      I shit you not. Atlanta? What do you mean they took it in the shorts?

      1. And being Drew’s hometown aside, it pretty much convinces me why he and Nick went to Cleveland – with examples like Detroit and Birmingham, Cleveland actually looks salvageable, and not a complete waste of time and effort.

    2. Sounds like your mayor is Presidential timber, Windy.

      1. Maybe, if he was a Hawaiian private school alum passing as a homeboy. . .

    3. its like evolution – there were plenty of cavemen who ran up to the lions saying, “nice kitty”
      At some point, there will be no more Detroit – its getting smaller every day.

  5. How does this compare to employer figures from less basket case cities? That is, the local city government, the local school district, any colleges or universities in the city, the local hospitals and medica clinics, and the US Postal Service are top employers in most cities.

    I’ll give an example-my city (Riverside, CA). The city actually had a budget surplus last year, despite the overall budget problems in the state.

    Here are the top employers (from Wikipedia):

    # Employer # of Employees
    1 University of California, Riverside 7,127
    2 Riverside Unified School District 4,200
    3 Kaiser Permanente 3,900
    4 City of Riverside 2,749
    5 Alvord Unified School District 2,000
    6 Riverside Community College District 2,000
    7 Fleetwood Enterprises 1,963
    8 Riverside Community Hospital 1,600
    9 Parkview Community Hospital 915
    10 Riverside Medical Clinic 750

    So, two public colleges, two public school districts (they cover seperate parts of the city), four private hospitals (the local public hospital is outside city limits), the city itself, and only one non-medical private corporation (Fleetwood, who makes RVs). I’ll bet most cities are similar.

  6. (The spam filter ate my last post for no farking reason. Let me try again by posting it in two parts.)

    My city (Riverisde, CA) had a budget surplus last year (despite the problems in the state overall), yet nine of the top ten employers are either health care organizations or government agencies. I’m sure most cities are similar. That has little to do with Detroit’s problems.

  7. Here’s the list:

    # Employer # of Employees
    1 University of California, Riverside 7,127
    2 Riverside Unified School District 4,200
    3 Kaiser Permanente 3,900
    4 City of Riverside 2,749
    5 Alvord Unified School District 2,000
    6 Riverside Community College District 2,000
    7 Fleetwood Enterprises 1,963
    8 Riverside Community Hospital 1,600
    9 Parkview Community Hospital 915
    10 Riverside Medical Clinic 750

    Four hospitals/clinics (all private; the public one is outside city limits), the city government, the two school districts that cover the city, two college districts, and a company that makes RVs (the only non-public, non-health care related employer in the top ten).

  8. The list:

    # Employer # of Employees
    1 University of California, Riverside 7,127
    2 Riverside Unified School District 4,200
    3 Kaiser Permanente 3,900
    4 City of Riverside 2,749
    5 Alvord Unified School District 2,000
    6 Riverside Community College District 2,000
    7 Fleetwood Enterprises 1,963
    8 Riverside Community Hospital 1,600
    9 Parkview Community Hospital 915
    10 Riverside Medical Clinic 750

  9. The list (posted in multiple parts so the spam filter doesn’t eat it):

    # Employer # of Employees
    1 University of California, Riverside 7,127
    2 Riverside Unified School District 4,200
    3 Kaiser Permanente 3,900

  10. 4 City of Riverside 2,749
    5 Alvord Unified School District 2,000
    6 Riverside Community College District 2,000
    7 Fleetwood Enterprises 1,963

  11. Screw light rail and high speed rail, the future is light speed rail.

  12. 8 Riverside Community Hospital 1,600
    9 Parkview Community Hospital 915
    10 Riverside Medical Clinic 750

    So, four private health care facilities (the public hospital is outside city limits), two college districts, the two school districts that cover the city, the city government, and, the loan non-government non-health care business, Fleetwood, an RV maker.

  13. Presumably, this will get the attention it deserves tomorrow, but here, for your commenting pleasure, we have:

    Investigators working for New York City, prompted by the Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured 13, bought 9mm handguns at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix and secretly videotaped the transactions, Bloomberg said.

    The mayor showed videotapes to the media of the January 23 sales at a news conference.

    “You can still walk into a gun show and buy a 9mm in the same time it would take to buy a hamburger and fries at McDonalds,” Bloomberg said.

    Bow down before the mighty Bloomberg, filthy peasants!

    1. So, once again, Nurse Bloomie has hired agents of the government to conduct activities, which, if carried through to fulfill his made up point, would involve at least ONE illegal act, and he expects people to fawn and pat him on his ingenious yet pointy head about? Typical of the statist fuck. But hey, what the hell – fake but accurate is all that matters to him as he justifies the means.

  14. What are the chances Bloomberg’s minions will be arrested and prosecuted for recording those transactions?

    1. Is video taping a gun purchase illegal now?

      1. I don’t know, but I know you don’t go to Illinois and videotape a cop these days.

        1. I thought we were talking about New Yorkers video taping Arizonians. Nothing to do with Illinois having a stupid law on the books. State’s rights seem to increase the chances of some state or another having a retarded law, IMHO.

          1. I don’t think the videotaping is the issue. IIRC, he already got his pee-pee whacked for trying this crap in Virginia – because basically he engineered a fake (thus fraudulent, and illegal) transaction in an effort to paint VA gun dealers as the criminals.

            Backfired on him that time, too. Hope this stunt gets him the same negative press, as well.

            1. An indictment in the state where it took place would be great.

            2. This would be a time where Sheriff Joe could actually look good in comparison.

  15. I get that. It’s generalized bitching on my part about the trend, pointed out often here by Radley Balko, for the police departments around the U.S. to try and get the states to enforce eavesdropping laws to prevent the filming of public officials.

  16. That was for Geofpt.

  17. In Detroit’s case, six of the top 10 employers are not private businesses at all, but government entities: public schools, the city government, the U.S. government, Wayne State University, the State of Michigan and the U.S. Post Office. Two others are health care providers intrinsically tied to government policy, the Detroit Medical Center and the Henry Ford Health System.

    The remaining two are automaker recipients of federal bailouts, GM and Chrysler.

    Roads! Roads, I say! ROADS!!!!!

  18. I thought we were talking about New Yorkers video taping Arizonians.

    We’re talking about “private investigators” hired by the City of New York recording (“wiretapping”) private citizens engaged in legal* business transactions in a state 2500 miles away. And yes, my insinuation is that, if private citizens from Arizona went to New York to surreptitiously entrap city officials into committing perfectly legal acts in order to bray about the lawlessness and anarchy rampant in Manhattan, the private citizens would, more likely than not, end up in jail.

    Fuck that mincing little totalitarian shit.

    *they are claiming that the buyers claimed they wouldn’t pass a background check, but the sellers went ahead and took their money.

    1. Man, I’m with ya. I figured, but didn’t want to put words in your mouth. Damn right Bloomy would try and figure out a way to send his prosecutorial goons after them.

    2. Actually, the acts they video taped were illegal. The private investgators said things like “I don’t think I could pass a background check”. Technically, private parties can’t legally sell guns to people who they have good reason to suspect can’t pass a background check. So, even though a check wasn’t required, admitting one thinks one can’t pass it means a private party can’t sell a gun to them without breaking the law.

      1. No. And Bloomberg explicitly stated it *was* legal. And I think AZ law does prohibit videotaping like this. So essentially, you haven’t been even close to right yet. Why do you bother posting?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..r_embedded

        1. Let me qualify: It’s probably “illegal” in the same way that eavesdropping statutes shouldn’t extend to public employees who are acting in public with no REOP. Investigative journalists who are invited in and then gather information about a business are generally treated differently under the law than private citizens taping each other. There are rights of privacy issues all over this topic, and I’m not perfect with them.

          1. Oh, well, Bloomie claimed it was all legal, and up and up. . .that certainly settles it, say no more, say no MORE!

            1. Bloomie admitted that the gun sales were legal. We’re dealing with two legality issues here. The gun sales themselves (legal) and the videotaping (possibly illegal, but probably okay). I seriously dislike Bloomie and take his word for garbage.

              Geotpf claimed the gun sales were illegal, and therefore, justified the videotaping. I won’t weigh in on the merits of that claim.

      2. Technically, private parties can’t legally sell guns to people who they have good reason to suspect can’t pass a background check.

        Actually, federal law doesn’t reach a private party transaction at all. If they failed to present valid AZ ID, the sellers might be in trouble with the state. The purchasers, if they used faked IDs are definitely in trouble as they violated state and federal law (since NY and AZ do not have reciprocal law on gun purchases).

  19. “Still pretty nice, if you frame it right”

    Isn’t that picture being taken from Canada?

  20. Technically, private parties can’t legally sell guns to people who they have good reason to suspect can’t pass a background check.

    It’s nice you take Mayor Bloomberg’s grandstanding at face value. I’m happy for you.

  21. The Pistons might be moving downtown, hopefully driving casino traffic

    That prospective buyer (the Ilitch family) has officially bowed out of the sale, and it’s highly unlikely that any other buyer would move the Pistons downtown. The Palace of Auburn Hills will remain the team’s home.

  22. But wait, there’s good news!

    That the Lions won more than 0 games this year?

    1. This is a true fact. Yay, Leos!

      Next year, they shoot for 7-9! Woooo!!!

      1. That is the one good thing about having the worst year in professional sports history. At least it’s always uphill.

        Next year, they shoot for 7-9! Woooo!!!

        Maybe then they can make it to the divisional round of the playoffs.

  23. Perhaps when inner Detroit goes completely feral, the suburbs can rename the entire area the “Coleman Young Experience.”

    1. Well, since all the “criminals” left The D? when Hizzoner told ’em to “hit 8 Mile”, I’m sure that any issues in the city limits are the result of meddling, white suburbanites who are trying to gain control of the “city jewels” like Cobo Hall and…and…um…OH, the Art Museum and….and….and…..THE OTHER JEWELS.

      Meddling. White. Suburbanites.

      /SE MI Bullshit

    2. Also – WORLD-CLASS ORCHESTRA!!!!

      Now on strike, for your listening pleasure…

  24. The irony of the whole thing is that the libertarian ideal of “free” trade is what caused the decline of the city in the first place…

    …this blog cracks me up. Story after story about things failing as we implement more and more of the libertarian agenda…

    When this country is the equivalent of china, will you finally be happy and stop complaining? We’re going backwards as fast as we can…stop whining that we’re not doing it fast enough…we’ll get to libertopia some day.

    1. Yup, everyday we take away regulations, cut back on taxes, lose government jobs, and privatize industries.

      1. And China = Libertopia. C’mon, it’s all so obvious.

        1. I didn’t mean in laws and government, i meant living standards…isn’t that the goal of libertarianism? Everyone has the same living standards, no matter how high/low they are?

          If you believe in capitalism, you believe in the lowest cost…and because labor cost is the gross majority of costs in any good, wouldn’t the goal be to find the single cheapest person on earth that could do the job required?

          Its pretty hard to have someone making $15 an hour compete with someone making $.15 an hour…i know who i’d hire.

          Hence, detroit. We’re in a global race to the bottom…who will win? Guess we’ll find out…

          Right now GDP per capita is $7k…i wonder how great our standard of living will be on that?

          I mean, assuming there are no rich people that skew the figure, like in america…there is a huge difference between the median and the mean income.

          Good news though: the world economy would only have to become 6.5X larger just so that we would be in the same place assuming this whole competition thing works out perfectly…i’m sure $481 trillion is right around the corner…i know it took all of recorded history to get to $74 trillion…but don’t let that get in the way…oh, i forgot to factor in population growth…what’s a thousand trillion?

          1. You need to look for a different handle, or at least drop the S. You’re not really an effective sadist (unless a mosquito buzzing you is a sadist), but you do have masochism locked down tight, as demonstrated by your inability to stay away from H&R.

  25. isn’t that the goal of libertarianism? Everyone has the same living standards, no matter how high/low they are?

    No. Go back and learn the basics. If anything, your posts might become less incoherent.

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