Playing with Democracy


Written by Caroline McAndrews

Tomorrow, the Detroit City Council will be voting on whether or not to allow the expansion of the Detroit Development Authority (DDA), a move that would grant over $300 million dollars in public funding to developers to build a new hockey arena in the city. We’ve been focusing on the stripping away of democratic rights in Detroit over the past several months.  Coming weeks after a federal court ruled that the Detroit bankruptcy can move ahead without guaranteeing pensions for Detroit retirees, one wonders how city officials could approve a plan to facilitate, authorize and make way for the construction of a new hockey arena and, according to recent reports, the state supported demolition of Joe Louis Arena.

The expansion of the DDA is being touted as a way to bring much needed funds into the city.  Yet it has been proven time and again that sports arenas not only don’t bring in added revenue, but often don’t even make up for the initial public investment in their development.  Representatives involved in the People’s Platform will be attending the Council meeting to encourage representatives not to allow this move. If the Council does, however, vote to expand DDA, People’s Platform representatives will push for the inclusion of a Community Steering Committee that truly reflects not just the residents and businesses in and around the catalyst area, but also community members from both District 6 and District 5 that will be impacted by this development.

Last month, a report was released by Demos that links the Detroit bankruptcy to moves made at the state level that deprived the city of previous revenue.  The report warns that far from freezing pensions, what the emergency manager needs to do, ideally in collaboration with the state, is to increase revenue by $198 million annually to bridge Detroit’s budget gap until structural programs can be put in place and the city can benefit from increased general economic improvement. Spending $300 million dollars to build a sports stadium that no evidence supports can bring in revenue does not seem like the right idea for Detroit.

With hits continuing to come at the people of Detroit, we can’t help but wonder when it will stop and when officials will begin to focus on what will benefit the citizens of Detroit and not just the businesses.

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