Politics & Prejudices
Mich. Republican urges action in carp crisis
Published: March 11, 2014
As I noted three weeks ago, former State Sen. Jack Faxon is today one of the underappreciated men in Michigan politics. He was the guy who wrote the language saying pensions couldn’t be cut, back when he was the youngest delegate to the 1961-62 constitutional convention.
Faxon was also the man who started state funding for the arts, back in the day; today, he is 77 with the mind of an energetic man in his 40s. Not surprisingly, he has a novel idea to save Detroit: Physically shrink it.
“The emergency manager should appoint a boundary commission, and get rid of a lot of this land that is just largely vacant fields,” he said.
How would that work? “If you let it simply go back to being townships, the county would have to provide services. Detroit simply doesn’t have the resources to do that anymore.”
Does that sound crazy? Well, in fact, Detroit originally was a lot smaller. There’s nothing sacred about the idea that Detroit is, was, and evermore shall be 139.6 square miles.
Back in 1910, Detroit was a mere 40 square miles. By 1920, when it had more than one-third more people than now, the city was only 78 square miles. However, it quickly grew to its present size in 1926, the last time the city added land. Detroit kept adding people till the early 1950s, when it may have briefly had two million souls. There are fewer than 700,000 now.
“The city is really doing pretty well downtown, along Grand Circus Park, up to Midtown,” Faxon says.
Faxon, who was born in Detroit in 1936, asks: Why not face reality, settle for what works, and concentrate on building a smaller, vibrant muscular city? That would make sense …
Except, some city politicians might feel well, neutered. Give up land? The horror, the horror. How could reshaping a city into something that works possibly justify that?
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