The City of Detroit can’t maintain her Parks but the Private Sector Can

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 10th, 2013

Week in Review

Detroit, the Motor City, the automotive capital of the world (at one time), is an example of what government should NOT do.  The city got rich off of the automotive industry.  They imposed a city income tax.  Greatly expanded the size of city government.  With the public sector unions negotiating generous pay and benefit packages.  Just as the UAW was giving their members generous pay and benefit packages.  And why not?  Detroit WAS the Motor City.  And nothing was going to stop that cash cow.  What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, a lot.  Competition came in and offered quality cars for less.  And the great decline of the Big Three began.  As did all that tax revenue to fund that expanded government with those generous pay and benefit packages.  Fast forward to today and Detroit is a shell of what it once was.  Half of its population is gone.  Drowning under the cost of that expansive city government.  And forced to close city parks because there’s just no money left after paying for those generous pay and benefit packages (see Detroit to Lose 51 Parks – Impact on Residents by Marilisa Sachteleben by Marilisa Sachteleben posted 2/4/2013 on Yahoo! News).

Detroit’s City Council nixed a plan to lease Belle Isle to the State of Michigan last week. In response, Mayor Dave Bing announced plans to close 51 area parks, cut maintenance at others, and greatly reduce recreation center budgets overall, says the Detroit Free Press…

The Detroit Free Press reports that revenue lost from the collapsed Belle Isle deal means that groundskeeping on Belle Isle will be limited. The Belle Isle Conservancy was able to get the island’s historical aquarium reopened in 2012 after being shut down for several years. With less money, it may be difficult for Belle Isle attractions to remain open…

Detroit resident Syed Mohiuddin of the Michigan Muslim Community Council is very concerned about park closures. He said, “My wife and I live downtown, and we are definitely affected by the announcement. Park closures are not an option. To the contrary, we need to invest more in parks to make our neighborhoods safer and community healthy. How do we do that given the state of our budget? Partnerships. Corporations, suburban religious groups, and others can and should partner with city government and community organizations and find solutions for each and every park. They are just too important to sacrifice, not in the name of politics, not in the name of budgets.”

He’s right, you know.

One local park group came up with such a solution: the Clark Park Coalition. Clark Park, at 1130 Clark St. in Detroit’s Southwest-Mexicantown neighborhood, was forced to close over 20 years ago due to financial troubles in Detroit. Concerned neighbors, activists, organizations, and youth programs put their heads together to preserve Clark Park. They formed a nonprofit partnership with the city recreation department.

Currently, Clark Park’s collective provides year-round programs to over 1,200 youths in the area. It maintains a regulation-size outdoor ice hockey rink (the only one in Metro Detroit). Free daily summer lunches are served to over 100 youth. Activities at Clark Park include baseball, arts and crafts, field trips, soccer, golf, fitness training, softball, tennis, roller hockey, gardening, and ice skating. Kids can come to the park center for homework help, mentoring, and computer assistance. There are community service activities for school projects and even opportunities for kids to find jobs.

Imagine that.  The City of Detroit is going bankrupt.  They can’t afford basic maintenance at their parks.  And look at all the private sector did at Clark Park.  This just goes to show you what the private sector can do.  And what the public sector can’t do.  The lesson?  Cities should privatize as much as they can.  And embrace partnerships.  Corporations.  Suburban religious groups.  And community organizations.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

California finding it more Difficult to Pass On the High Cost of Union Contracts to the Taxpayers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Have the California taxpayers reached their limit in paying new taxes?  Perhaps (see Cash-strapped California cities back off asking voters to hike taxes by Ronald Grover posted 8/2/2012 on Reuters).

Over the past six months, city councils in at least seven municipalities invoked a state law which allows them to put tax hikes on the ballot much more quickly in the event of a “fiscal emergency.”

Burdened by expensive public employee contracts and the fall-out from the housing meltdown, the cities are struggling to avoid the fate Stockton and San Bernardino, both of which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

But now some of those cities are thinking twice about the wisdom of seeking tax hikes…

The retreat reflects political realities in California, where tax increases often generate noisy and well-funded opposition from business groups and self-styled taxpayer advocates…

“Voters are getting very angry that their government keeps coming back and asking for more money,” said Darry Sragow, managing partner of the law firm SNR Denton in Los Angeles and a long-time Democratic campaign strategist. “The voter is saying, ‘I’m cutting back, you should be doing the same thing…'”

The city of El Monte, outside Los Angeles, opted for a different kind of approach. On July 24 it put a proposal on the November ballot to increase taxes on sugary drinks, a move it said would help it fight obesity among its children.

The proposal drew immediate opposition from industry groups who were fighting a similar tax proposed two months earlier by the city of Richmond, California.

“This tax is a sign of the times,” said Bob Achermann, executive director of the Californa/Nevada Soft Drink Association, said. “City governments are looking for revenue. We think this is a misguided approach.”

It is interesting that while it’s the cost of union contracts (salary and benefits, including pensions and health care) causing these crippling deficits they always threaten to lay off cops and firefighters if the voters don’t approve new taxes.  If it’s the union contracts that are causing the problem why are they not addressing the union contracts?  Instead of trying to tax cigarettes or sugary beverages?  While lying to us that this will pay for public health initiatives or make our children healthier?  When it will only go to pay for those union contracts that they can no longer afford?  Passing this cost onto the taxpayers who don’t have such generous pay and benefit packages?  Why?

Because there is a symbiotic relationship between government and unions.  Government gives them generous contracts.  And unions provide campaign cash and foot soldiers for elections.  While passing the high cost of this relationship on to the taxpayers.  Again, those people that don’t have such generous pay and benefit packages.  This is why governments will turn voters upside down and shake them for every last dollar they can get out of them.  So they and the unions can live very comfortable lives.  While the rest of us don’t.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,