Toxic Government by Democrats: Detroit

A012-BlightCourt001-1107y_11-12-2007_O7NEO0E.jpgEditor’s note: The following is the fourth in a series of articles that will expose the misery of life in America’s poorest cities, all of which have one thing in common: they are controlled exclusively by Democrats. Each article presented by FrontPage will reveal how the production of mass urban poverty is much more than just a failure of leadership, but a means of political survival for the Left. To read the background pamphlet by David Horowitz and John Perazzo, “Government Versus The People,” click here.

Perhaps no other city in America illuminates the failure of Democratic Party policies more brightly than Detroit. Two stories, separated by only four, days are emblematic. On March 11, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatick was found guilty of 24 of 30 charges leveled against him, including fraud, racketeering and extortion. Four days later, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appointed attorney Kevyn Orr as the city’s emergency financial manager, in a last ditch effort to avoid what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history. From 1961 to the present, the tragic history of Detroit itself has been written entirely by Democrats such as these individuals.

It was 1961 when Louis C. Miriani, Detroit’s last Republican Mayor, lost his re-election bid. It was a well-deserved loss. Miriani was a criminal who served 10 years in prison for tax evasion. The victor in the race was Democrat James Jerome Cavanagh, the only elected official to serve on LBJ’s Model Cities task force, a program that emulated Soviet efforts to reconstruct entire urban areas in Eastern European cities. Cavanagh decided that a nine-square mile section of Detroit should follow suit, and he got a new income tax, as well as a commuter tax, through the state legislature to pay for Detroit’s very own “Model City.”

The program became a disaster when residents resisted the command-and-control edicts from Democratic mayors and federal officials, telling people where to live, what to build, and what businesses to open in return for cash, training and healthcare. As a result of such heavy-handedness, a breakdown in civil order occurred, as did the beginnings of Detroit’s precipitous population decline. On July 23, 1967, that decline was accelerated when police arrested more than 80 people at a “blind pig,” a name given to black American after-hours clubs, in the heart of Model City. Outraged residents staged the worst race riot of the 1960s in retaliation, during which businesses were looted and burned. Five days later, LBJ was forced to send in two divisions of paratroopers to restore calm. Over the next year and a half, 140,000 residents, mostly white, fled the city.

Despite such failure, Democratic policies continued to be implemented. Public employee unions were granted high salaries, exorbitant benefit packages, and allowed to implement inefficient work rules and other requirements that raised the cost of doing business in the city. The same Democrat-fostered union mentality took hold in the private sector with a vengeance, to the point where Detroit’s auto industry began moving to right-to-work states in the South in order to survive.

While this economic catastrophe-in-the-making was taking place, Democrats were also undermining the school system. By 2009, Detroit Public Schools (DPS), a system U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan called a “national disgrace,” was also put under the control of an emergency financial manager in order to prevent bankruptcy. And 2009 was the year that DPS students turned in the lowest scores ever recorded in the national math proficiency test over its then-21-year history. As of last June, only 1.8 percent of DPS students were considered capable of doing college level work, the achievement gap remained one of the highest in the nation,  and 79 percent of residents said they don’t want their child educated by DPS. Moreover, by 2016, the system that had educated approximately 160,000 students as recently as 2000, will be reduced to serving less than 40,000 children.

Detroit residents have paid a heavy price for such a dysfunctional system: a mind-blowing 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate.

Considering the quality of leaders running the city, Detroit’s descent into ruination should surprise no one. From 1974 to 1993, Coleman Young was mayor. Young may have run as a Democrat, but he was subsequently revealed to be a member of the Communist Party. His brand of “us against them” politics, essentially branding anyone who disagreed with him as “racist,” exacerbated Detroit’s descent into chaos. In 1992, his police chief was convicted of stealing $2.6 million from city taxpayers, even as Young defended him. Michigan’s hard-left U.S. Senator Carl Levin was Young’s chief supporter, serving as Detroit City Council president.

Such corruption was hardly anomalous. In 2006, former Detroit City Council member Alonzo Bates was convicted of putting a relative on the payroll, for which he served a 33-month sentence. In 2009, City Council member Monica Conyers, wife of  U.S. House Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who has represented Detroit for 47 years, pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges and served 27 months in a federal prison. As for former Mayor Kwami Kilpatrick, his corruption wasn’t limited to the aforementioned conviction. In 2008, he agreed to resign and spend 120 days in jail for two felony counts of obstruction of justice. In 2010, he was sentenced to up to five years for violating the terms of his probation stemming from the 2008 conviction.

In 2012, Kilpatrick was also linked to a dubious pension deal involving ex-Detroit Treasurer and Kilpatrick appointee Jeffrey Beasley, who has been indicted by the federal government for taking bribes and kickbacks as part of a corrupt bargain that cost two Detroit pension funds $84 million in investment losses. Last month, two more city officials, pension fund lawyer Ronald Zajac, and Detroit Police and Fire pension trustee Paul Stewart, were also indicted in the widening pension fund bribery scandal. Also in 2012, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. retired as the result of a scandal surrounding his sexual involvement with a female officer in the department.

Along with the corruption, Detroit has paid a heavy price for an economy that has been based on Democrats’ ideas of governance that derive from “fairness” and “social justice.” The city stands on the brink of bankruptcy with a $327 million budget deficit that could have been $900 million if the city hadn’t borrowed lots of money. It has an overall liability of $14 billion, that includes an underfunded (read: “looted”) municipal pension fund. The city population, as high as 1.8 million in the 1950s, has declined to just over 700,000 currently. Only 54.3 percent of Detroit residents who could be part of the labor force participate in it, meaning they have a job or looking for one. The other 45.7 percent don’t have a job and aren’t looking. And 15.3 percent of those employed have jobs with the government.

Detroit is in free-fall socially as well. 34.5 percent of residents are on food stamps. Only 9.2 percent are married couple families with children under 18. Single parent households run by females account for 29.7 percent of Detroit’s population, and the out-of-wedlock birthrate in the year prior to the Census Bureau survey was more than 75 percent.

Of the 363,281 housing units in Detroit, 99,072 are vacant, and 47 percent of Detroit property owners have paid their property taxes in a city whose 139 square miles have been broken down into four separate categories of deterioration that determine the level of city services they receive — if they receive any at all.

To top it all off, Detroit was the most dangerous city in America in 2012, with a murder rate 11 times that of New York City.

Despite these daunting realities, Detroit residents remained hitched to the Democratic Party wagon. In the 2012 election, Barack Obama received 98 percent of the vote, and other Democrats, including convicted felon Brain Banks, were elected with large margins of victory.

Emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr has been tasked with finding a way to save Detroit from bankruptcy. Yet even if he does somehow succeed, it would likely be a Pyrrhic victory at best. As long as Detroit residents continue voting for a Democratic Party whose ideology has run their city into the ground, bankruptcy will come — sooner or later.

Previous articles in the series:

Toxic Government by Democrats: Baltimore.

Toxic Government by Democrats: Minneapolis.

Toxic Government by Democrats: Chicago.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Mary Sue

    Detroit: The origin of the Low Information Voter.

  • Anon question

    Great article.

    Now that the end-game of bankruptcy is here, what will happen next?

    Will the city be managed externally for several years?

    Or, will things stay the same politically (home rule), but with Detroit not being able to borrow (after bankruptcy)?

  • Michael Copeland

    The harvest of socialism – Lifestyle Now, Someone Else Pay Later – is bankruptcy.
    “Social justice” is a giant Ponzi scheme.

    • Michael Durham

      "Progressive" is communist code for "communist".

      The subtitle of this article is: "Minorities and the poor have suffered the most under decades of progressive rule."

      So the subtitle should really read: "Minorities and the poor have suffered the most under decades of communist rule".

      The DemonRATs are all murderous, fascist totalitarian communist vermin. I wish there was some sort of all-just "god" type of thing out there that would wipe them all the f*** out, once and for all, and send them all to some sort of "hell", and that it would let me see it happen. Too bad there's no such "god". There's nothing out there. And the world is stuck with these futhermucking tyrants.

  • AdinaK

    How many people still believe that gov't rule is good for the masses, particularly those who require more than most? In other words, the toxicity of Demsters lies within its belief that total control is best for folks, demonstrating that average folks don't know what is good for them.
    Nevertheless, in tandem with Obama Inc's toxic rule, the requisite question remains:where are they headed? –

    And this is all we need to know.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel

    • Dennis

      Hey AdinaK,

      I am a former Detroiter whose family has and still is living in the city. This has / is home for more than 100 years.

      "DEVIL'S NIGHT AND OTHER TRUE TALES OF DETROIT" was written by Zev Chafets who, I believe, resides in Israel. Contact him for more information.


  • AlgerHiss

    Let’s not leave out the notorious “Detroit People Mover”. That money pit continues to rape the public. Review its story here:

    As well, punk-thug Coleman Young’s son is probably staging himself to run for mayor. What’s his name?

    Coleman A. Young II ( )

  • AlgerHiss

    Let’s not leave out the notorious “Detroit People Mover”. That money pit continues to rape the public. Review its story here:

    As well, punk-thug Coleman Young’s son is probably staging himself to run for mayor. What’s his name?

    Coleman A. Young II ( )

  • AlgerHiss

    Let’s not leave out the notorious “Detroit People Mover”. That money pit continues to rape the public. Review its story here:

    As well, punk-thug Coleman Young’s son is probably staging himself to run for mayor. What’s his name?

    Coleman A. Young II ( )

  • tanstaafl

    How long have the Democrats been running Washington. DC?

  • Guest

    You constantly run articles blaming progressive policy and democrat rule, but you always fail to answer a simple question. Why is progressive rule doing well in Seattle, Denver, Portland, Sweden, Denmark? Are you naive or is the simple truth to hard to swallow? What is the difference between Seattle and Detroit, Birmingham and Denver, East St. Louis and Portland? Demographics.

    I to hate progressive policy. I am a genuine conservative, but I can see that demographics makes a difference. When your city, county, country looks like the third world you should expect third world conditions.

    Take a hard look at sbpdl. Use an Internet searches you have no idea what that means. The hard reality of life.

    • voted against carter


      is that you,.. you silly libratard concern troll.

      "Seattle, Denver, Portland, Sweden, Denmark" are you kidding me??? THESE are your example of supposedly competent government.

      FACE PALM.

    • Gee59

      Because they are doing all that well. The leftists have destroyed all of those places as well.

    • Guest

      I see I got several votes down without a good argument against. I would pose the position that it is people such as writing this column who are racist. Do you think minorities are too stupid to see they are being used. Do you think they are too stupid to understand after voting democrat for 40+ years that they do not know what they get when they vote democrat? I think they are smart enough to know what they are voting for and want what they vote for.

    • Roywil

      I live near Seattle (not IN, thank god). And have also lived in Portland. If you are using those two cities to somehow support a premise that they are "doing well" due to (despite?) a tradition of Democrat control, you are way off base.

      I have watched both cities regress with each successive year.

      No, they are not a Detroit…yet. But they will reach a tipping point someday fairly soon. Then get back to me in 10 years.

      • Mary Sue

        Yeah Seattle is going down hill fast. The only reason it's not Detroit by now is it's not had as long to evolve.

    • Fritz

      Sweden is not as "Progressive" as many on the left like to think, and in many respects it has retreated away from out in out socialism. In Sweden, for example, prostitution is illegal, recreational drugs are illegal, and abortion is not offered on demand anytime anywhere. Also very few industries are state run, and most people are employed by private industry not government. They do have property rights too, if government expropriates your land, or denies you full use of it, they have to compensate you for the full market value. They also have a private parallel health care system. I forgot to mention that because they are a neutral country almost all adult males are required to serve in the military at some point. Sweden and Denmark are also fairly homogeneous societies, unlike the U.S and Canada they are not mostly comprised of immigrants and decedents of immigrants.
      What I find curious is why you included two European countries in a list of U.S cities, sort of a an apples to oranges comparison don't you think? Why not European cities to American cities, or compare progressive run U.S states that are failing verse those that are succeeding.?

    • wsk

      Those areas of which you are giving as examples have some of the highest tax rates. A house of cards that will inevitably fall

  • Michael Copeland

    Lifestyle Now, Someone Else Pay Later is a giant Ponzi scheme.

  • voted against carter

    Detroit MI. IS what obama, the democRAT party and their UNION masters want for ALL of America.

    Coming to YOUR town SOON.

  • Brujo Blanco

    A family member of mine was talking to someone the other day and this family member was about an Independence (welfare debit card) and was surprised to hear my family member did not have one. Then this person made the comment that everyone should have one. This person was serious. The mindset that government is the unlimited source of money is what put us in the economic situation we are in right now.

  • Brujo Blanco

    Wait till the amnesty folks come out of the shadows with outstretched hands.

  • Cassandra

    I live in a suburb of Detroit and I can tell you that the moment the whites left Detroit, Detroit became really bad and it is bad.still Detroit is the pits.. I do not live in a wealthy suburb but a middle class place of hard working people. We have some black families around but they subscribe to the same goal:hard work and keep the place spotless and pay your taxes. Unfortunately life, thanks to Obama, is becoming harder and harder. My neighbor lost his job two years ago and he just retired because he could not find a decent job. And as Blanco just said ;
    Wait till the amnesty folks come out of the shadows with outstretched hands.

  • antisharia

    It's not worth trying to save Detroit. Better to tear it all down and start over.

  • Glass-Steagal

    Democrats ruined a few US cities, Republicans ruined the world economy & more than a few countries. Seems fair.

    • chris

      Didn't Bush try to contain Freddie & Fannie (around 2007-08) but was told by Barney Frank (Dems held the House then) that these two entities were OK. Wasn't it Clinton that really pushed hard for more homeownership even among those who couldn't afford the loans. A former co-worker got a home loan at 8% around 2006 with a 3 year ARM that adjusted to 11% and within a short time lost the house since he couldn't afford the payments. We knew he couldn't afford it but was told otherwise. Speaking of Glass-Steagall wasn't it Clinton who weakened this law which was on the books for what 50 years or so that contributed to the financial crisis.

    • Mary Sue

      Republicans could not have ruined the world economy. It wasn't republicans that insisted that banks MUST loan to people who CANNOT PAY IT BACK.

      It was DEMOCRATS, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, who started the ball rolling on the toxic loan scheme. The World Economy is NOT entirely dependent on the USA though. Socialist commie countries are failing because they spend too much taxpayers money on bullcrap.

    • Mary Sue

      no, not fair, because the Republicans DID NOT ruin the world economy. Republicans don't run Spain, Germany, Cyprus, Greece…

  • Questions

    The problem with Detroit is not "Democrats." Seattle, Portland and Pittsburgh, three of the most livable and attractive cities in America, for example, for decades have had Democrats running City Hall. And even Detroit for many years, prior to the 1967 riots, worked well. Not for nothing was it called the "Paris of America."

    The problem, quite simply, is blacks. Detroit is more than 80 percent black. And the blacks aren't victims; they're victimizers, inflicting their brand of bullying, terror, anti-white hatred and lack of cognitive skills on everyone, including their own kind. And article about Detroit that doesn't treat race as central is simply dishonest, if not gutless.

  • Guest

    I would pose the position that it is people such as writing this column who are racist. Do you think minorities are too stupid to see they are being used. Do you think they are too stupid to understand after voting democrat for 40+ years that they do not know what they get when they vote democrat? I think they are smart enough to know what they are voting for and want what they vote for.

    • cjk

      We can only go by what we see, not what you imagine. It seems to me that racist minorities will rather vote for the most corrupt of their own race rather than any white candidate when they have the numbers. I guess that acknowledgement of the TRUTH on my part makes me a raaaaaaaacist to enlightened geniuses like you.
      BOLD, in your face FACTS never seem to matter much to you fools who love to label others with your labels because you will lose every argument based on fact.

  • hikerdude

    Detroit the writing on the wall for the rest of the Nation. The City Council should have it renamed Fallajuh .

  • Guest

    No. I am definately not a liberal. I am a very stricter conservative, a real genuine conservative who recognizes the fact that demographics does matter to civilization. I was a follower of Lawrence Auster who wrote opinions for Frontpage until he was blacklisted for crossing the boundary by daring to mention their are differences within racial groupings. I don't not buy the "race is a social construct PC claptrap."

    I believe blacks and Hispanics are smart enough to know what they are doing when they consistently vote for liberal positions. I do not belittle them and say, " oh those poor minorities. They are simply too stupid to know they are being misled."

    As to your name calling, that is a liberal tactic just like calling someone racist designed to end the conversation.

    Those governments are certainly not what I would like to live in but they are very far from dysfunctional as in Birmingham, and Detriot. They are not bankrupt.

    • Mary Sue

      there's a difference between 'stupid' and 'brainwashed'. Although it helps to be stupid in order to be brainwashed, it is by no means necessary.

  • RUI

    The Democratic party: no surer way to destroy a city without bombs.

  • UCSPanther

    I personally hope the same state of decay visits the Uber-progressive cities in California, such as Berkeley and San Francisco.

  • cynthia curran

    True, demographics does make some difference, Santa Ana is a poor Hispanic town while Irivne is a wealthy white-asian town.

  • cynthia curran

    Well, actually Portland is not doing that well its poverty rate for whites is around 13 to 14 percent which is high for whites, take Anaheim where Hispanics are over 20 percent but white poverty is around 6 percent. So Portland isn't one of the successful towns mention above since white poverty is around 11 percent.

  • cynthia curran

    I mean US white pvoerty is around 11 percent.


    Look, until you suggested that Ahlert was a racist, you were making a reasonable point: there is a difference between Detroit and Seatlle, for instance, and I think it would be a good idea for Ahlert or someone else to do a follow-up article on the state of Democrat-controlled cities that are not yet completely falling apart as Detroit, for instance, certainly is.

    My view is that Seattle is something of an outlier, while the others are certainly showing signs of decline but more subtly than Detroit and Chicago. Remember that the picture is somewhat obscured by heavy Federal involvement in our lives, from which there is no escape. As for demographics, it's really only meaningful as it relates to culture, which heavily influences politics: people who hold traditional American cultural values tend to lean Republican, while those who wish to tear that culture down (radicals by definition) are obviously Democrats.

    In the long run, statist policies must lead to destruction, regardless of the demographics.

  • westie

    You are right questions, the FP neocons are as many others, too gutless to identify the real problem with the municipal bankruptcy landscape and thus their can be no solutions. Philadelphia is the next failed minority run city going into bankruptcy, mark this date.

  • Parenthetical Phrase

    The information in this article is simply stunning. I don't think cities are run that badly in third world countries. And yet, not a single black politician, clergyman or "community organizer" utters so much as a peep about it. This is truly genocide but by the very members of that group. There was a time when Detroit had the highest per capita income of any city in the country. I am shocked.

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  • Fritz

    I have been told by acquaintances in the Detroit area that the elections are rigged almost as much as they are in Chicago. There is no such thing as a free and fair election in such places anymore then there was in the former Soviet Union, Cuba, or more recently Venezuela. When you have the same people that held office for decades counting the votes, with little or no oversight, this is what you get. As Joseph Stalin once said, and quite correctly, "It doesn't matter who they vote for it's who does the counting". I suspect that this may be the key difference between places like Detroit and Seattle, while there may be a preference for one party over the other in Seattle, Portland, and Denver, the elections are at least contested, at least for now. In Detroit, and more infamously in Chicago/Crook County you have basically a one party state where the candidates are picked by the Democrat Party machine, just like the old Soviet Union it's a case of "Goodbye old boss, hello new boss." I would be very surprised if the voter turnout in Detroit/Wayne County was higher then maybe 35%, many there probably think that it just doesn't matter.

  • Jeff

    While I agree that the Progressive/Socialist policies are the root cause of Detroit's (and other large city's) problems, I don't think you should discount the demographic/cultural influences. Certainly white-flight and money-flight have created the current demographic, but the cultural predilections of those left behind are dragging the city even further down. Not just in their ignorant voting pattern, but the resident's willingness to accept a crime/welfare/illegitimacy environment. Drive a Detroit city street–how many people do you see voluntarily patrolling the neighborhood at night, sweeping the sidewalks, painting, working to make their city livable? How many do you see sitting on street corners doing drugs, drinking, prostituting? The residents are getting just what they want, just what they deserve.

  • twiliter

    Absolutely the most one sided article I have read in a long time. Can’t call it journalism.

    • Randy

      Well, what are they supposed to say?? Detroit has been ruled by the Democrats for 51 years. And look at it…..really look at it. Look at what has happened. If there is nothing else to say, then why is this not journalism? If Detroit were flourishing, then they wouldn’t have all this to “report” now would they. You want them to lie and tell you what?? That Detroit is a wonderful, prosperous place to live?? Would THAT be journalism? Don’t you think if there WERE another side, they’d write about it? Truth is, there isn’t another side to this story.

    • Enzo

      Except you don’t seem to any kind of list of all the GRANDNESS going on where is it? All I see is your destruction and failure it’s in PLAIN VIEW.


    Detroit is a poverty stricken, crime ridden, uneducated, corrupt cesspool of liberal politicians doling it out to public and private unions that dole it out to their workers in unsustainable pensions and other benefits in exchange for keeping the Democrats in power.

    It is just another Obama plantation along with Flint, and Oakland and Chicago.
    The black people are enslaved by Obama hand feeding them, and they don’t even know it.