detroit joe louis monument

Everyone knows Detroit's got problems.

Friday morning, the city's emergency financial manager announced a suspension of some payments to unsecured bondholders.

Detroit topped the list of Forbes' 'most miserable cities' list this year.

The city's finances had to be taken over by the state of Michigan.

And former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is likely going to jail for a long, long time.

But we're banking on the city getting its act together — and it's not just because things can't get any worse.

We've put together 25 signs Detroit is on the mend. Here's the summary:

In several major economic indicators, Detroit's rate of improvement has matched or exceeded the national average.

Kilpatrick aside, the city enjoys strong leadership

The auto industry is booming

And its sports teams keep winning titles.

Hear us out.

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DETROIT IS LIKE a canvas of chaotic art, a Gerard Richter or Pollock, standing starkly out against the blank white room that surrounds it. You find yourself drawn in, compelled to stop and gaze at it. Whether it’s ruin porn or the saga of Kwame or now our new state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager, it’s hard to look away.

The national press has duly documented this most recent drama, how Governor Snyder appointed Kevyn Orr as the Emergency Financial Manager to studiously go through the city’s books and find a way to stave off bankruptcy. Orr is like some old man in a ramshackle rooming house desperately digging through every drawer to find change for the fare as the sound of the last bus barreling down the street shakes the whole structure. It isn’t pretty.

Recently, Mr. Orr made the surprising suggestion the city pay its debts off by selling various treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts. The thought being that an auction of a few pieces by Van Gogh, Matisse, Bruegel and Copleys might be enough to satisfy our hungry creditors. I’m sure he had a good reason for suggesting such a thing (after all, city services can’t really be cut much deeper. As the excellent documentary “Burn” points out, this is a city where the Fire Commissioner vacuums his own office). Still, the logic behind Mr. Orr’s tactic escapes me. Since a variety of legal constraints exclude the possibility of any works being sold, all his proposal did was make a lot of very serious people extremely upset. Perhaps that was his goal, who knows. I sincerely believe he has good intentions. As opposed to many here who view him and his mission with suspicion – many were angry at him before he even began –I wish him every success and I do not envy him his task.

His is an exceedingly difficult job. This week he is going into negotiations with the various institutions that own Detroit’s city bonds, institutions that include various large banks.

If he were to ask me, I would offer one very simple solution: Ask the banks to pay back the banks. Maybe not all of the debt, but they could cover a good chunk of it and without even having to write a check.

I am not talking about a loan; we are poor as church mice with nothing to mortgage really (except for perhaps José Valverde’s contract; seriously, we’ll give that to you cheap). Also, I am not asking for a favor or a kindness or an act of benevolence. And I am not talking about class war; no, nothing fancy like that. But there is a logic to why they should help us out, and it goes like this:

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MLB Pitches Youth Academy For Tiger Stadium Site

Photo Credit: freep.com

Major League Baseball is pitching a plan to bring the game back to the site of the old Tiger Stadium, although its vision for a MLB Urban Youth Academy at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull faces financial hurdles and lacks support from a key city official.

Darrell Miller, the league’s vice president of youth and facility development, said Monday that his office is considering several possible Detroit locations for an academy, particularly the old stadium grounds. He declined to identify the other possible sites.

The academy would provide free year-round baseball and softball instruction for youngsters and involve the construction of ballfields, indoor facilities, batting cages and offices.

Major League Baseball has built four such academies in Houston, New Orleans, Puerto Rico and Compton, Calif. Three other locations are under development in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Hialeah, Fla. Major League Baseball says more than 10,000 youngsters have attended its academies since the first site opened in Compton in 2006. Nearly 350 academy participants have gone on to play collegiate baseball or softball, and close to 200 have been chosen in the MLB’s First-Year Player Draft.

Miller said the league would like to establish youth academies in or near every city with a major league team.

He said it’s too early to put a price tag on a Detroit proposal, but said academies typically cost $3 million to $6 million. Major League Baseball will contribute a portion of the necessary investment — but not all. In January, Commissioner Bud Selig committed the league to a $1.5-million investment for a planned Reds MLB Urban Youth Academy in Cincinnati.

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