Fleeing crushing costs

Re: Keith Owens’ “The real exit poll” (Metro Times, Nov. 23), my wife and I are going to leave Detroit; we’re in one of those “higher” brackets you talk about in your article right now, but we won’t be when I retire next year (she retired this year after 35 years in the Southfield public schools).

The main reason? The cost of doing “business” in Detroit.

We have one house (in Rosedale Park — I’ve lived here for more than 30 years) and two cars. The property taxes are more than $3,500, the house insurance is more than $1,800, and the car insurance is more than $2,400. We just can’t afford to continue to live in this city (which I have lived in all my life and really have no desire to leave other than I can’t afford to live in poverty to be able to pay the tab).

By contrast, we bought a house in Alcona County in late summer. The property taxes are $1,600, the house insurance is $650, and the cars can be insured for $600 there. That we will be able to afford. Roughly the same size house, same size garage and definitely the same cars and same drivers.

There is going to be no comeback miracle unless the city can get its finances under control and make it possible for anybody with any income level to live here. That means attracting and keeping business to help pay the tab. It also means cutting payrolls and personnel that aren’t really needed; the city has to downsize its costs to levels that are supportable while still providing essential services — I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams that all the employees I see sitting around in city offices are really, truly necessary.

It also has to do whatever is necessary to erase the bright red line around Wayne County and the brighter red line around Detroit itself to get insurance costs under control — and it’s not the job of the police department to eradicate crime (cops are after the fact, not before), it’s the job of the citizens to get themselves under control and, for lack of a better term, knock off the nonsense and stop robbing and killing each other. If we don’t, Detroit is going to become Benton Harbor East. Erasing the red lines can’t be legislated, it has to be done by the people themselves — there is no other way.

Now, I don’t want to leave. I really don’t. I’ve lived in this city all my life (except for a sojourn in the Navy) and I like where I live and the neighbors I have and the attractions and services that are available to me at the drop of a hat. I don’t admire the mayor and I don’t think the guy is going to be able to do much in the way of making the things happen that need doing (I voted for the “other guy,” but I don’t think he’d be able to do too much either; I don’t think any one individual could). Railing about the legislature, the Congress, the White House, the governor and any other politicians isn’t any kind of an answer (even if it does feel good to yell and scream about politicians) — the city can’t politic it’s way out of trouble, only the people can do that.

I’m kind of sorry that I won’t be around to see what happens. —Thomas Ronayne, Detroit


Glory days?

I read with great interest the article by Keith Owens, and I must say that the numbers of people (illustrated in the inset) who are leaving Detroit are “horrific,” and if the numbers from the “lower-middle class on up” keep leaving, Detroit will continue to be in serious trouble financially. The city can’t afford to lose that kind of tax base and survive.

My family came to Detroit in 1953 when I was 6 years old. I well remember when Detroit was a bustling, thriving city, where you had all the conveniences and didn’t have to leave Detroit to buy anything. But, as time passed, Detroit lost half of its population — and a great deal of its tax base — along with the conveniences. I am 58 years old, my home is paid for and my children are grown and I have no intention of selling my home and starting all over again; I’m in for the long haul. I’ve lived through some of Detroit’s glory days and I long for some glory days to return. Will Detroit return to those glory days? I heartily doubt it, but I do believe Detroit has some good days ahead, and I will do whatever I can do to make those days glorious again. —Thomas A. Wilson Jr., Detroit


The Buckeye Limited?

Re: “Roads not working” (Metro Times, Nov. 16), I agree with the writer that the region is failing because there is not a dependable source of alternative transportation. The question I have is how do you connect Michigan and Ohio so that Toledoans can come to Detroit and back again. I travel I-75 to Detroit and find the highway a nightmare. I dream about commuting on a sleek, new, fast system that can get me to my classes at Wayne State University. I-75 has become a train of trucks, not to mention the horrible weather conditions that make the highway a knuckle-busting experience.

I enjoy Chicago to shop and visit because I do not need a car to get where I want to go. I would rather go to Detroit, but getting around is not fun. I like to take the People Mover in downtown Detroit just to enjoy the ride and seeing the city from a different perspective.

Good luck selling the populace on mass transit. I have found that in Toledo the people have become addicted to the ability to get from door to door in their auto. They follow most other major cities in this area and wait for Detroit to lead the way. If Detroit stagnates, Toledo dries up. I will probably be moving myself if things do not improve. —Bob Davis, Toledo


Street folk need options

I read your “Give ’em shelter” (Metro Times, Nov. 16) piece with great interest. That same week my English class had been given an assignment regarding the Joyce Brown case that occurred in October 1987. Brown’s rights and freedom to choose were violated; she was hospitalized and medicated against her will. With the exact number of Detroit’s homeless unknown, but being at least in the range of 10,000, something needs to be done to combat the problem. The rights and opinions of the homeless need to be respected, as ACLU Legal Director Michael Steinberg stated, but leaving people out on the streets in the freezing Michigan winter seems just as bad. More options for Detroit’s homeless and a solid commitment from Mayor Kilpatrick are needed to ensure the right’s of Detroit’s homeless as well as their safety is not violated. —Jillian Richards, Windsor, Ontario


A Vile response

For the goddamn record! I take great offense to insinuations in your article on this Niagara person (“Falling for Niagara,” Metro Times, Nov. 23). In reference to her book it stated, “Jerry Vile’s personal ode to his friend Niagara is fabulous — wry, wacky and dangerous ...”

Friend? How dare your Ms. Hill imply I am or ever was a “friend” of this Niagara thing! Does your publication not have a research department? At the best, our distant “relationship” might be called a coldly professional acquaintance. As curator for Dirty Show (Feb. 10-14 at the Tangent Gallery) I deal with hundreds of artists — I simply can not be a friend to every one.

As far as the writing in my intro to her book being “fabulous,” how would I know? I have yet to receive my checking copy (however they did offer to sell me one without the shipping charge or sales tax). I will just have to take Ms. Hill’s expert word for it. —Jerry Vile, Hazel Park,

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