Mad at Kilpatrick? Hell yes. Now let’s move on

Like most of us for whom the term “pissed off” doesn’t even begin to encompass the extent and expanse of our rage, hurt, and anger related to Mayor Kilpatrick, I’ve vented and spouted plenty. Matter of fact it was my anger at the mayor that pushed me back to my blog after nearly six months of inactivity. I just couldn’t sit still and keep my mouth shut anymore. But having vented and stomped my feet, I think it’s time to move on. I don’t wanna hear about this crap every day, and I’m not interested in play-by-play coverage. I’ve said my piece, and at this point whatever happens happens.

 Meanwhile, Detroit churns on. And there is so much more that needs to be tended to in this city and that relates to this city in one way or another. To spend each and every waking moment digesting the so-called text messaging scandal gives a whole other elevated meaning to the term “wasteful spending.”

 Take the issue of home foreclosures for example. This is something that I’ve written about before on this blog, but once is hardly enough to sufficiently address an issue that threatens to drag this city and this region to the bottom of the economic ocean. And yes, it really is that serious. The nation’s leading economists are finally allowing themselves to utter the ‘R’ word (recession) when speaking about this nation’s current economic condition. Now consider the fact that if America is in a recession, and if Michigan has the weakest economy in the nation (which it does), and if Wayne County has the weakest economy in the state (which I’m pretty sure it does), and if Detroit has the weakest economy in Wayne County (which it definitely does), then you get the picture about where Detroit is at right now.

And you should also get the picture why Mayor Kilpatrick and his ever-swirling storm cloud of mind-boggling bullshit is truly not the big story right now. Sure. He’s on the front page of the major dailies every day. And the latest tidbit often leads the evening local news. But since when has that been a qualification for what truly matters in this town? And to be fair, sure, the local news media has done some fairly in-depth pieces on the foreclosure crisis. But nothing like how they’re covering the Kilpatrick mess. And this is disturbing to say the least since Detroit will still be here with or without Kilpatrick. But if we keep losing population at three times the rate of other major metropolitan areas and if we keep leading the nation in home foreclosures then we definitely won’t be a “”major metropolitan area” for very long.

 I suppose what prompted this little blog entry was an article that recently appeared on the front page of the Mar. 25 Wall Street Journal entitled “Wave of Foreclosures Drives Prices Lower, Lures Buyers”.  Here’s the opening paragraph: “A glut of foreclosed homes of historic proportions is starting to drive down U.S. home prices faster as lenders put more properties on the market and buyers show signs of interest.”

Sounds pretty grim, but also a faint glimmer of possibility, right? Now read this graf from further down: “In some beaten-down markets, the price cuts have been stark. The Detroit Board of Realtors recently found that home sales in the city (excluding suburbs) in the first two months of this year jumped 48% from a year earlier, to 1,540. The average home price there sank 54 % to about $22,000.”

So yeah, it’s nice that home sales are picking up. But if home prices are being cut in half? If that is reflected in a cut-in-half appraisal rate, which means property taxes will be significantly lower, then how is that going to affect the bottom line in this city? Believe me I know property taxes are already too high – I’m paying them – but it’s one thing to adjust those rates as need be. It’s a whole other effect to see the bottom get yanked out from beneath an already broke city by such a huge drop in property tax collections. If my math is wrong or if I’m reading this wrong, then I apologize.

But it does look to me like this whole scenario represents yet another dark corner of the catastrophe we’re all living through out here. A catastrophe that deserves considerably more attention and that needs to be solved. A catastrophe that is considerably more important than whether or not Kilpatrick winds up in an orange jump suit.



~ by Keith A. Owens on April 9, 2008.

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