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Detroit’s neglected infrastructure desperate for improvement. Click here to listen to the story.

Detroit’s neglected infrastructure desperate for improvement

Attorneys are back in a Detroit bankruptcy court this week, arguing over whether the city qualifies for what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The thinking goes like this: Cut the Motor City loose from some of its crushing debt and legacy costs – pegged at around $18 billion. But even if that happens, the city will still have a huge task ahead of it: making a city infrastructure built for 2 million people work for a population that’s now under 700,000.

(As Rodney Dangerfield might say:) Take the buses. Detroit’s Emergency Manager Offers Dire Report on City. DETROIT — An emergency manager assigned to lead this city back from the brink of financial ruin has taken his first detailed look at Detroit’s woes, and the picture of debt and disarray he paints may be bleaker even than earlier grim portrayals.

Detroit’s Emergency Manager Offers Dire Report on City

In a report to be presented to Michigan’s treasurer on Monday, Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager appointed in March to take over operations here, described long-term obligations of at least $15 billion, unsustainable cash flow shortages and miserably low credit ratings that make it difficult to borrow. And in the face of those fiscal troubles, Mr. Lessons for Detroit in Pontiac’s Years of Emergency Oversight.

“An emergency manager is like a man coming into your house,” said Donald Watkins, a city councilman.

Lessons for Detroit in Pontiac’s Years of Emergency Oversight

“He takes your checkbook, he takes your credit cards, he lives in your house and he sleeps in your bed with your wife.” Mr. Watkins added, “He tells you it’s still your house, but he doesn’t clean up, sells off everything and then he packs his bag and leaves.” Pontiac, just 30 minutes north of Detroit, was once a healthy blue-collar city, thriving in the glory days of the American automotive industry as home to manufacturing plants of General Motors and the name of one of its brands.

People used to wait to get a seat at restaurants downtown and, for nearly three decades, football fans came from miles around to watch the Lions play in the Silverdome until the team moved into Detroit in 2002. Photo Instantly, there was resistance. Without question, Pontiac is different from Detroit and the experience here may not be easily replicated in a larger city. It remains to be seen how Louis H. Mr. Revolutionizing Safety & Security Detroit PD planning massive technology upgrades. The Detroit Police Department is making major strides to move away from outdated technology and invest in new improvements for officers in the field.

Revolutionizing Safety & Security Detroit PD planning massive technology upgrades

According to the Detroit Free Press, the city has plans to spend $38 million on developing police technology, which will involve a fully integrated public safety computer system. The city's new proposal will help in the recovery process from bankruptcy, and Detroit is planning to spend $150 million through the next decade to make up for the years without investing in new police technology, the source cited. The new police equipment will range from more precise tax collection methods to real-time data for crime trends, reported Police Magazine.

Several officers still fill out police reports on paper and some tax information is filed on index cards in the station, the source reported. Investing in high-tech equipment will reduce costs and errors in the long run and should prove to be a successful return on investment. Before Detroit Can Move On, It Needs To Upgrade From Windows XP. Pay cuts coming to Detroit police, fire officers - Aug. 2, 2013. The 10% cuts apply to 1,200 police lieutenants and sergeants and 400 comparable officers in the fire department.

Pay cuts coming to Detroit police, fire officers - Aug. 2, 2013

The cuts, announced this week, will take effect in September. Bill Nowling, spokesman for Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager overseeing the city's reorganization effort, said other city employees took the same 10% cut in 2012. The cuts for these officers was delayed because of union contracts that were in effect. "We had to make this cut due to disparity between management and rank and file," said Nowling. He said the city will save $4.5 million from these latest cuts. "These pay cuts and the savings have already been baked into the budget. Is Detroit getting better? Some key findings.

Detroit Rising: One year after exiting bankruptcy, are city services in Detroit improving?

Is Detroit getting better? Some key findings

How is Detroit doing one year after leaving bankruptcy? Any realistic estimation of the city's progress has to take more than finances into account. Fewest cops are patrolling Detroit streets since 1920s. Detroit — There are fewer police officers patrolling the city than at any time since the 1920s, a manpower shortage that sometimes leaves precincts with only one squad car, posing what some say is a danger to cops and residents.

Fewest cops are patrolling Detroit streets since 1920s

Detroit has lost nearly half its patrol officers since 2000; ranks have shrunk by 37 percent in the past three years, as officers retired or bolted for other police departments amid the city's bankruptcy and cuts to pay and benefits. Left behind are 1,590 officers — the lowest since Detroit beefed up its police force to battle Prohibition bootleggers. "This is a crisis, and the dam is going to break," said Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association. "It's a Catch-22: I know the city is broke, but we're not going to be able to build up a tax base of residents and businesses until we can provide a safe environment for them. " Police Chief James Craig acknowledges he doesn't have as many officers as he'd like. Forbes Welcome. Forbes Welcome. 'A Crime': Groups Say Detroit Bankruptcy Plan Benefits Rich, Attacks Working People.

A city in flames: inside Detroit's war on arson. For eight long years, the firefighters of Highland Park, Michigan, worked out of a warehouse.

A city in flames: inside Detroit's war on arson

There was no red-bricked facade, no lanky Dalmatian. No freshly washed engines gleaming in the sun. No second-floor fire pole to descend in the dead of night to wailing sirens. Whatever idealized vision you have of firefighting, Highland Park is not it. Instead, picture a hulking, boxy building on the edge of an industrial park about six miles north of downtown Detroit. The Highland Park fire department opened nearly a century ago, in 1917, to serve the booming city. As Detroit breaks down, scourge of arson burns out of control. Data shows Detroit is arson capital. Detroit — Nationwide fire data support Detroit's reputation among firehouses as the arson capital of the United States.

Data shows Detroit is arson capital

"It's been that way for years. Every time you'd go to a seminar, you meet up with investigators nationwide and all they want to talk about is Detroit," said Jon Bozich, who retired in 2001 as the chief of the city's Arson Squad. "People used to say the arsons would only stop when the city runs out of fuel. It hasn't happened yet. " Detroit has averaged 3,800 to 6,000 suspicious building fires annually for years.

Nationwide, no city with a population of at least 300,000 has as many suspicious fires or arsons per capita, according to FBI Uniform Crime Reports and the National Fire Incident Reporting System of the U.S. And Detroit is near the top of both lists in total suspicious fires and arsons, despite its smaller population. Both databases have their problems. Detroit pays high price for arson onslaught. Detroit — Arson is a raging epidemic in Detroit, destroying neighborhoods and lives as the city tries to emerge from bankruptcy.

Detroit pays high price for arson onslaught

Even amid a historic demolition blitz, buildings burn faster than Detroit can raze them. Last year, the city had 3,839 suspicious fires and demolished 3,500 buildings, according to city records analyzed by The Detroit News. Burned homes scar neighborhoods for years: Two-thirds of those that caught fire from 2010-13 are still standing, records show. "Nothing burns like Detroit," said Lt. Joe Crandall, a Detroit Fire Department arson investigator, referring to the city's high rate of arson.

The Detroit News researched arson for more than three months and found that it remains a huge obstacle to renewal efforts following bankruptcy. Few neighborhoods were untouched by arson and the entire city bears its costs. "People don't realize arson is a felony. Some Detroit officers don’t like city’s time clock plan. For Detroit, a Crisis Born of Bad Decisions and False Hope. DETROIT — This city was already sinking under hundreds of millions of dollars in bills that it could not pay when a municipal auditor brought in a veteran financial consultant to dig through the books.

A seasoned turnaround man and former actuary with Ford Motor Co., he was stunned by what he found: an additional $7.2 billion in retiree health costs that had never been reported, or even tallied up. “The city must take some drastic steps,” the consultant, John Boyle, warned the City Council in delivering his report at a public meeting in 2005. Among the options he suggested was filing for bankruptcy. “I thought all hell would break loose — I thought the flag would finally be raised,” Mr. Boyle recalled in an interview last week. Some factors were out of the city’s control. But recent findings from a state-appointed review team and interviews with past and present city officials also suggest a city that over the years was remarkably badly run. Photo Mr. Detroit firefighters speak out on bankruptcy. By Tim Rivers and Jerry White 29 July 2013 In fire stations across the city of Detroit, discussions are being held about the impact of the city’s bankruptcy filing and initial efforts by rank-and-file firefighters to mobilize opposition to the emergency manager’s attack on pensions and essential services.

Last week, scores of red T-shirted firefighters, organized in the ad hoc Public Safety Workers Action Group (PSWAG), fanned out across the city holding informational pickets and protests outside of fire stations and the Federal Bankruptcy Court. They have explained the connection between decades of layoffs, fire station closings and other budget reductions, and the increased dangers facing residents in the sprawling city of 139 square miles.

Bottom line after Detroit bankruptcy: 200 more police officers, 100 new firefighters. Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, lead Detroit bankruptcy mediator on adjustment plan Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, the lead bankruptcy mediator, thanks a large group of people who worked on Detroit's bankruptcy deal and sacrificed for the greater good during a press conference after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhode's confirmation of Detroit's plan of adjustment at Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit, Nov. 7, 2014 (Tanya Moutzalias | MLive Detroit) DETROIT, MI -- The city can now afford to hire more police and firefighters. That's the bottom line after a 16-month court process that came to a triumphant climax Friday with Detroit being authorized to shed $7 billion of debt. "There are going to be more than 200 additional police officers on the street as a result of the plan," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

Implementation of an elaborate, 10-year plan to restore long-broken city services is now possible after U.S.