Michigan’s two Democratic U.S. senators want to paint a different picture — a much more optimistic one — of Detroit than what people see on the nightly news lately.
In an op-ed published Monday in USA Today, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., contend that Detroit is actually on the upswing despite a historic bankruptcy filing and $18 billion in debt.
“The images flashed on TV screens across the country do not tell the whole story,” Levin and Stabenow wrote. “The fact is, we’re not waiting for a comeback in Detroit, the comeback has already begun.”
The joint column is an attempt to douse or at least diminish what has become a firestorm of awful national and international press for the once-proud city. Nearly every media outlet in the country has noted Detroit’s fiscal woes, making it that much more difficult to convince investors and businesses that a turnaround is possible.
The senators laid out a series of economic development projects already underway in the city, including the new Quicken Loans headquarters, a light-rail project and the addition of the Elijah McCoy Patent and Trademark Office. They also note that charity has played a role in the revitalization of Detroit, noting former White Stripe frontman Jack White’s donation to help keep the Masonic Temple music venue afloat.
Clearly, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the Motor City, and Levin and Stabenow admit as much. Emerging from bankruptcy — the city's filing is still in limbo in the courts — will be a long and arduous process and the city’s thousands of current and retired municipal workers “wait on-edge to see what will happen to their families’ incomes and their pensions, which average only $19,000 per year,” they wrote.
But the two lawmakers also feel another side of the story, Detroit’s potential for rebirth, has been underplayed in the media.
“This is a critical time,” Levin and Stabenow wrote. “It will continue to take hard work and tough decisions to bring Detroit’s city government out of bankruptcy. But Detroit’s comeback has already begun, it will continue, and this great city will come roaring back.”