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President Obama Comes To Detroit

President Barack Obama makes his way to the city today, mainly to tour a pair of auto plants and celebrate the success of his bailout strategy. That's nice, and I get the symbolism. And it's intriguing to think he may also have an opportunity to take a look at much of what lies between the two east-side factories, as has been poignantly noted. But even beyond this, even as he walks the factory floors and navigates the crumbling streets that connect the two plants, I have to hope that he also understands the deeper connection. I hope he understands how it's been over-reliance on that same symbolism in recent years, and the stasis it has induced, that have contributed to the despair and dilapidation that stretches between the Chrysler plant on Jefferson Ave. and the GM plant in Hamtramck.

Yes, the fact that there's still a pulse in the local auto industry is worth celebrating. But from what I read and hear, I get the sense that the symbolism that President Obama will be hailing today is more about his success in upholding a key element of Detroit's past than about helping set a course for our future. Sure, the companies that built those plants helped build this city. But their decline on these shores has also meant our decline. The jobs they once provided in abundance have dwindled. The work went away. So did many of the people. They were replaced by little more than creeping desolation.

Meanwhile, just like the once Big 3 suffered by staying mired in old business models and older-boy networks, the city they once made a power has lagged behind and stumbled onto hard times because of its inability to change. And we've gotten scant few public policies, from the White House or from City Hall, that have effectively addressed our plight.

I know President Obama has talked boldly about the future of manufacturing and technology in the U.S., about how the green revolution can replace the ones built on smoke and soot. I'm behind the brother there. Again, good-paying  jobs are always embraced here. But in this city, where unemployment is near 50 percent and where only a fraction of the people have college degrees, we need a vision for a relevant future, not just nods to our glorious past and sad present. Amid all the talk about aid to Wall Street and help for Main Street, we need the President to not forget real solutions for the Boulevard. The auto companies' recovery, however slight, hasn't been the city's. Although, in many ways, the fate of those companies and many in this town are still inextricably tied, it's becoming less so.

And in many ways, it needs to be. We're no longer the auto capital of the world. Worse, though, we're having a tough time figuring out who we should be instead. But we have to find a new direction, a new face, a new symbolism. I hope that the President is able to see that while he's here, too.

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  • 1

    Much like Roger and me.

    And social responsibilities of the corporations and Congress.

    Sure it's great that we opened the doors to the Japanese and German automakers who tried desperately to destroy us.

    I guess you could say that is a good Christian thing.

    But it sure played havoc with the City most responsble for helping win that heinous war.

    Now these old baloon framed houses served their purpose and are past due for demolition.
    Devils night was simply the precursor of what is inevitable.

    The Michigan State Housing Development Authority long ago abandoned working in the City and City planning simply wet to hell and no mayor seemed to have an ide of what to do.

    Does Bing?

    And now we are to give him everything to do?

    Or is it to be the puppet.


  • 2

    detroit was once a shining example of the industrial age. a city built on manual labor. a city that allowed people with very little education, to enjoy the comforts of middle class living, and retire gracefully. unfortunately, the technology age and information age have given way to a new type of American worker. one that's highly educated, computer savy, and detroit has yet to make the leap.

    but does detroit really need to make the leap? isn't there always a place for an industrial leader, in any society? rather than only focusing on automobiles, shouldn't detroit be pitching it's hard working blue collar community to anyone who builds anything? trains, planes, bridges, whatever. "if you need it built, come to detroit" should be the motto.

    but that would require a city-wide push, but city leadership. leadership detroit never truly seems to have.

  • 3

    dang, dd! Detroit STILL is the Auto Capitol of the world! Between Ford, GM, And The American Portion Of Chrysler(remember...GM PAID CLOSE TO 4$billions to dump FIAT a couple years ago!)..That accounts for about 45% of THE USA' market: Pathetic , I know, But revisit recent History....VW split for WASH. DC area a couple of years ago , from Troy, MI. because they couldn't GIVE AWAY the V-Dubs! NOW, IT's the world's largest car com.!...SO MUCH COMPETITION...ALL OF IT Waged against the USA3!! Lighten up! After 40plus years oif unfair, almost Criminal ONE WAY TRADE, The europeans, AND JAPAN, STILL CANNOT outsell us here!!..As for Outmoded-outdated Technology, The Auto Industry Employs, even to this day, far MORE Engineers, Techies if you will, than THE so called, COMPUTER INDUSTRY...ALMOST ALL of which is Manufactured Overseas!!..Just as a writer should never start a story with Quotes, neither should a writer start out a story w/ the prevailing "urban legends" od Detroit Manufacturing prowess!...Just ask ANY TOYOTA,..What?..Let's see...Today it's the AVALON OWNERS' turn!..dd, the 1rst thing any 3rd-4th World Country does to get wealth, is finance THEIR OWN CAR INDUSTRY..Germany, JAPAN, KOREA, soon, India, and After much theft of usa3 technology, CHINA!! Get off the old diatribe!.. THOSE FACTORIES CLOSED FOR One REASON only!..Not OUTDATED TECHNOLOGY ; not fake oil Crises; Not currency manipulation; not even poor design....THE ONLY REASON (well..THE MAIN REASON).) Was the IDIOTIC anti-Middle class public policies dreamt up by some IVY -Leagued Educated, Arkansa bred-Calif. bred, former Presidents.. PERIOD!!

  • 4

    That may be true Dave if one believes that the Senators and Reps do not have the ability to speak.

    Congress can be blamed and not only can they be blamed, they have the incredible damned arrogance of blaming us.

    Detroit is the Mecca for the Automobile... where the development and the suppliers come to work the deals out. We finally have the finest automotive design school thanks to Wally Ford's vision.

    So when some damned fool says "Hey we have to ruin the Fiesta for the American Market because the average American has bad taste" it's done here. This is the Capitol.

    And yes the damned executives could never get together to create a fantastic Automotive Museum, Archival Center and Hall of fame in Downtown Detroit, that would have preserved and protected our heritage, they were off to pebble beach playing golf or something. Iacocca is partially right when he wonders where all of the leaders have gone.

    But this city needs planning and has for a third of a Century.

    Seeing some old houses falling apart should evoke nothing other than we have a plan and we are underway to recreate Detroit. But sadly that does not exist and Dave may never make it happen.

    There is lots of ad hoc stuff going on but no overriding view. Surely when LBJ announced the War on Poverty and the grand advent of Planning he was not intentionally blowing smoke.

    Buit the Republicans and their tired philosophies of running the War on the Poor and the Contract on the Middle Class have sadly gained some ground. How is well beyond me other than the Hitler philosophy of saying stuff over and over again until all the fools believe it.

    We should welcome the clearance and begin planning anew.

    And plan intelligently so that people can live comfortable through all the stages of life. Not those gluttenous, grotesque big foot displays of horrible taste that are now permeating the suburbs.

    So rather than wear the look of dispair that Laura speaks about we should rejoice that we not have the land to work with without having to uproot neighborhoods and families.

    Let's get that incinerator down and start a huge sanitary landfill/skii park and a golf course and more parks that tie in with each other with bicycle paths. Let's build some new housing that can match and beat what Mies and Hilbs did. Time to do that is long overdue.

    Philadelphia Revived, Pittsburg Revived, Cleveland Revived. Time to get us to a'revivin' too.

    Oh, and BTW Dave It was the Harvard Business School that taught the Killer Instinct. I'm sure that W had that course and many others. I can tell you from experience that many a Harvard architect doesn't know dookie.

    People who do not know what they are doing but who have been placed in political power really are the bane.
    Thrasher was right, he smelled it coming.


    • 4.1

      ...ia...Agreed: IF the senators and congressmen/women Had the ABILITY TO SPEAK on Behalf of US WORKING CLASS CITIZENS!...Let's face it: The republicans are the sole party of the EVEN Greedier, RICH...And some racists!..YET, the former Progressive Democratic Party Has become the 'plaything of 'the ALMOST AS GREEDY RICH , and Powerful! POLS are by the Rich, FOR THE RICVH! Some 70% of ALL...ALL of USA's wealth Created, in last 15...15! years!!... HAS GONE to the top 1% of Americans(mostly!...Mostly, Americans, that is!)..That said, WAM could employ MORE Archetects(true not in the FOUNTAINHEAD SENSE Architechts) and especially planners, to sort through the dang MESS!! Let's call it as it is! Grand Rapids is STILL a much smaller project, than Detroit..I'm not taking sides...I've grown weeary of the Political..'he said...She said..' I guess in that sense, THEY(the Elitist Elect, ) have won. SOO Let's get behind domething on a Grass-roots Scale : only a couple million people!! , In this GLOBAL ECONOMY. Does a Planner save the whole PACKARD PLANT?..Even the many Thrown together additions to these Industrial-Historical Behemoths!?..ia,...that's your daughter's and your's job!..We need you 'guys' more than ever to create verbal , first, then eventually, but not too long, VISUAL EXCITEMENT!! As anyone who's tried to work off others' mistakes, it's more work to restore, re-Adapt(?), and bring together many places and trades-disciplines , THAN BUILD NEW!!...MORE OF A CHALLENGE?...BUT Planning new , w/ the old constraints, is Always harder and more labor-planning intensive! THERE IS PLENTY OF Opportunity...Not In THE CONSERVATIVE BILLIONAIRE LIES Sense...SOME REAL busines, large and small, neighborhood, and Suburban-Exurban Cooperation is all that's required!... There!...That feels better! Wheww!

  • 5

    Oh, BTW, Grand Rapids revived as well.

    My daughter and I were there on wednesday to recieve an Innovative Michigan Award for the i41CX+ that I have been working on with a Quantum Physicist Candidate from Adelaide, SA.

    How stunningly beautiful it has become. True that they did not need to demolish their absolutely stunning old City Hall with the pink and gray stone but an awful lot of great stuff is happening.

    When we recieved the award they said that it was great to see that Detroit was being Innovative again.

    I didn't know that we were representing Detroit but I'll take it proudly.

    Megan commented that Grand Rapids looked better than Downtown Detroit and she is right.


  • 6

    What should Detroit be? It shouldn't just be one thing. It should be a manufacturing hub that makes 1,000 different things for 1,000 different purposes, not a place that makes one big thing that will eventually go away. And every industry will go away eventually. We can't afford for the whole state to rise and fall with the fortunes of any one industry anymore.

    Everyone wants to go back to the Golden Era when the Big Three carried the city. The reality is that their dominance was economic cotton candy, preventing a truly organic, diversified economy from developing. Time to start eating our vegetables.

  • 7

    Detroit had the highest concentration of Engineers of any city and there has been and still exists lots of knowledge here along those lines.

    To some degree this has aso been our pitfall.

    But then you have such innovative engineers as Bill Allison who, in his retirement, perfected the wind engine and hit the theoretical maximum efficiency of 59%.

    We should be building his stainless steel designs right here not those dufus huge plastic ones that operate at less than 30% efficency.

    The world does need high efficiency fans.

    So much of what we see and what has been offered represents very poor engineering that you wonder if we have left out minds at times.

    Look at that damned absurd thing that the Governor has in her backyard... makes her look absurd and irrelevant.

    This is the home of brilliant engineering, not flapjack stuff.


  • 8

    Who is Melvin Turner and why is he wearing a Detroit Police Badge?

    Police Officers must have the trust and respect of the community to effective protect the community?

    Then why is Melvin Turner wearing a police uniform?

    Just like Warren Evans, while Melvin Tuner was the 2nd in command at the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, he notoriously dated a female Lieutenant (Pam McClain) who he directly supervised, and promoted another of his girlfriends to the rank of Commander Rose Fodera.

    Melvin Turner was fired from 4 different police departments.

    He was fired from his $185,000 per year job as Undersheriff of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department after he beat up his baby momma, but not right away, because who cares if cops beat up their baby mommas. He was fired only after being convicted of domestic violence and had his police powers taken away.

    Next he took a job as police chief in Highland Park, Melvin came in and broke the backs of the Police Union and helped the city to go bankrupt. The police department was dissolved.

    Next he convinced the Emergency Financial Manager in Hamtramck, however the Hamtramck Cops disliked Melvin Turner and filed complaints and whistleblower lawsuits against him. The Emergency Financial Manager investigated the complaints and decided to fire Melvin Turner.

    Then he arrived in Sumpter Township as Chief of Police. He pissed off everyone there from the city dog catcher to the Township Supervisor. Seem Melvin thought the Township should provide him with his personal police car to take home. He was fired at one year.

    Then Melvin applied for every open police chief job in the State of Michigan and the State of Texas. When Clinton Township told him to hit the brick and that he was a four time looser, the filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against them claiming they would not make him Chief of Police because he was a dark black guy.

    Melvin Turner lead the State Police on a high speed chase down the lodge freeway.

    Melvin Turner was told that he was barred from testifying against drug dealers because many of the Circuit Court judges found him to be habitually untruthful witness. (a liar)

    Melvin Tuner has several complaints filed against him by drug dealers stating that he had unlawfully taken their gold jewelry for his own personal use. Melvin Turner had a retail store were he sold second hard goods and allegedly a lot a stolen merchandise.

    Melvin Turner threatened to shoot and kill Wayne County's Personnel Director when she told him politely it was not appropriate for him to attempt to kiss her and other females on the cheek at the start of a meeting. She advised Melvin that a hand shake was proper for the workplace.

    Melvin Turner was sued for sexual harassment by one of his female subordinates.

    Warren Evans hired Melvin Turner to be Deputy Chief of Police in Detroit.

    Mayor Bing and his new broom is sweeping clean. Time to sweep Mel Turner right out the door.

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