The Common Good
August 2012

Blame for Blight: Bill Wylie-Kellerman Replies

by Bill Wylie-Kellermann | August 2012

Bill Wylie-Kellermann replies:

What an odd coincidence that only black majority cities have incompetent elected leadership. Another coincidence: Detroit’s $220 million deficit is exactly equal to revenue-sharing funds promised by the state when it revoked the city requirement that public employees live within its bounds—funds long since withheld. Total amounts held back are actually twice that. The state’s hand is on the deficit, not the solution. The financial crisis did not just “happen.” It has been engineered by predatory financial institutions that continue to extract moneys from municipalities, as from homeowners. Were Detroit a developing nation, budget impositions would be called “structural adjustment.” At the first state takeover in 1999, Detroit schools had a surplus of $100 million and a remaining bond measure of $1.2 billion, which subsequently went to suburban and out-of-state contractors. When authority was returned to the elected board, it faced a 15-year, $21 million-a-year debt with tens of thousands fewer students. Neither audits nor indictments followed. Now the governor attempts an all-black, statewide “failing school district,” comprising only Detroit schools, which is a free-for-all to for-profit charters and “cyber schools” without overhead. Is it even worse under the current school emergency manager? Space forbids to tell.

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