Detroit is not broken, city government is

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    Detroit is not a broken-down city. We are not going to fall into the river. Let’s be clear on this fact. It’s city government that is broken.

    The business and philanthropic communities are moving forward with significant investments. They are not waiting on the City of Detroit to fully address all our governance challenges.

    Many business leaders envision a brighter future for our beloved Detroit and are moving with a sense of urgency. This is evidenced by the recent investments of Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock Real Estate Services organization, the progress in Midtown, and the 100-percent leased Broderick Tower near Grand Circus Park that opened two weeks ago for tenants.

    The Cobo Convention Center will become a premier facility in North America that highlights its international location on the Detroit River. This would not be possible without a regional authority, independent of Detroit municipal government. I look forward to sharing more about Cobo’s impact as it completes the massive renovations.

    Additionally, both the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) are thriving cultural institutions, experiencing record attendance during the last few years due to a tri-county millage and philanthropic support.

    Furthermore, block clubs and community associations across the city are stepping up like never before to improve our neighborhoods.

    This progress is happening with support from the City of Detroit, but is sustained mainly through regional cooperation.

    As the City of Detroit works toward financial recovery, the Detroit City Council and the Bing administration stand together in repairing the finances and restructuring services for greater efficiency. All ten elected officials are passionate and committed to Detroit. Despite what many may think, we share an overall vision to make this city better, although it is clear that we may disagree on the steps needed to complete that journey.

    Detroit’s legislative branch is sometimes erroneously viewed as a roadblock to progress. This impression could not be further from the truth, as 95 percent of the items brought by the Bing administration to the council table are quickly approved, mostly within one week.

    The remaining items may require greater diligence before making a decision on behalf of the citizenry. Therefore, council must exercise its fiduciary responsibility of providing oversight to the City’s budget. This process gets all the public scrutiny and is a point of anxiety for some.

    An example of recent cooperation is City Council standing with Mayor Bing in the adoption of a resolution on October 23 that I drafted to support state legislation in creating a Public Lighting Authority.

    I will not rest until the streetlights are on in our neighborhoods.

    I have believed for a long time and continue to stand on this point. We need to perform three things well as a city in order to retain and attract residents and businesses: First, improving public safety; a very close second is educating our kids; and thirdly, operating a fiscally responsible government that delivers quality city services to its residents, visitors and businesses.

    Gary Brown is vice president pro tem of the Detroit City Council.


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