One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Media roundup: Good, bad and ugly

Here's the good. It's an interesting essay from the Web site Sharable by Aaron M. Renn, an urban strategist, about the city and its potential.

Whether (trends like urban farming and artist colonies) really pumps life back into Detroit remains to be seen. But it has done one essential thing: it has created an aspirational narrative of success in Detroit that other Americans might imagine themselves being a part of. If that starts to attract people in sufficient numbers to reverse core city population decline, Detroit could be at the start of the long road back.

Whether that road leads anywhere depends on whether the region musters the courage to pair that renewed core vitality with a commitment to investing precious dollars in the core instead of making it even easier to live even further away.

Here's the bad. Its a well-written essay in the Wall Street Journal by Reason Foundation senior analyst Shikha Dalmia, who frequently writes about the city. She lives here in the suburbs of Detroit. It is about whether Dave Bing, our new mayor, can save Detroit from bankruptcy or worse. This is my favorite section:

Detroit now more closely resembles a frontier town that needs not flashy stadiums and art institutes but basic services: police, firemen and good schools. Mr. Bing needs to confront the hard reality that the city needs to pare back its liabilities, identify infrastructure it can no longer afford to maintain, and (though this is anathema to Detroit's political class) perhaps auction off portions of its 140 square miles to neighboring counties, shrinking to a size that its diminished population base can support.

Here's the ugly. Nice slap at Detroit. Really, we know we're a punchline for jokes. This one, by the Arizona Zany Press, is particularly weak. I have emailed the paper, which is part of what seems to be a legitimate news orgization, to see if they want to explain why they think this is funny. Its title is: "Entire City of Detroit to be Auctioned Off – Sold to ‘Highest' Bidder." Har har.

The highest bidder will get his chance to walk off with a city of broken dreams next month. Detroit, once lauded as the epitome of futuristic cities, will be sold off in an absolute auction next month and sold to the highest bidder.

“The city is a shambles,” said acting mayor Dave Bing. “I don't know how high you're gonna have to be to buy this city, but pretty damn high, I imagine,” he continued.

Just how high the buyer will have to be to buy a city with unemployment hovering at around 28 percent and the median home price stuck at below $10,000 is anyone's guess. Economists predict the person or group who emerges as the winning bidder will likely be just south of cloud nine.

Detroit once boasted a population of over 1.8 million. The latest census information pegs the city's current population at less than 900,000 people.

“Hopefully the city sells for at least a reasonable amount, and we hope the bid is as high as the bidder when it all closes,” said one city official.

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