Oct 12, 2009
Around 50,000 people lined up at Cobo Hall to pick up applications for $3,000 in federal stimulus money from the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. So many people showed up that the double line of people snaked around inside Cobo Hall and then around the block all the way down to the river.
This came one day after 25,000 people had snapped up applications in just three hours at six local neighborhood city halls. After the huge response on the first day, city officials announced they would give out just 5,000 more applications and funneled all the remaining applicants to a single downtown location.
If someone had wanted to produce chaos, they couldn’t have done a better job of organizing it!
They staffed the facilities with volunteers rather than paid professionals. They kept the doors to the hall closed until ten in the morning, despite the fact that people had been lined up outside since midnight on a cold night, with winds of 50 miles an hour.
What was the response of the media to this disastrous situation? To blame the victims! They focused on the few fights that occurred and the scam artists that are always around waiting for a situation like this. The ministers and politicians of both parties showed up all over the local and national television news, bewailing the chaos created by the population.
How dare the scum who created this situation blame the people THEY put in these circumstances at Cobo Hall?
Detroit is a tragedy attacking its people. The official unemployment rate for Detroit is around 29%. In fact, it’s much higher. Easily half the population has practically no income, and the city offers a tiny amount of money, $3,000, just enough for people to get their heads above water for a minute, to just 3,400 people. In other words, the 80,000 people who applied have less than a 1 in 20 chance of actually receiving anything.
This was the final insult in a city that has been ripped to shreds by the banks, real estate developers, insurance companies, and mortgage companies, which have decimated large blocs of formerly working class neighborhoods.
Detroit and its people have been ripped to shreds by the auto industry, which had been moving jobs out of the city, long before the current crisis broke out.
The population has been bled dry by the local politicians. The new mayor, Dave Bing, comes in proposing to help private companies strip the city of everything that was still left over after the previous mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was done. Bing is currently planning to privatize the city’s payroll department and City Airport. What he proposes is exactly the opposite of what is needed under the conditions of this economic crisis. It’s a plan designed to get rid of good paying jobs, by hiring companies that won’t pay as much, and mostly to people who do not live in the city.
The previous mayor, Kilpatrick, closed down the city’s rec centers, sold off city parks, and gave huge tax breaks to the corporations. While he was the House Democratic Leader in the State Legislature, Kilpatrick engineered the takeover of the city schools, along with the Republican Governor John Engler. The state opened the door to private investors and other charlatans, beginning the process of transforming public schools into “charter schools.”
The people who stood outside Cobo Hall on a cold, windy night hoped for some small shot at some economic assistance. If they had rushed into City Hall, taking it over, they would have been more than justified!