Almost two weeks ago, Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, immediately called for “significant” cuts to the pension funds of current retirees who had worked for the city. The pension shortfall accounts for $3.5 billion of the city’s $18 billion debt. It was one of the first items that were placed on the chopping block, along with other public services, in an already disadvantaged city. Things just seemed to hit rock bottom for Detroit and its residents.
Well, great news citizens of Detroit! That wasn’t rock bottom.
Despite city services being cut to the bone, and your meager annual pensions dramatically slashed, the city of Detroit figured out a way to kick you while your down. The Michigan Strategic Fund JUST APPROVED to spend $284.5 million to build a new $450 million arena for the Red Wings hockey team in Detroit. Let them eat pucks!
The new Red Wing’s arena will be the third publicly funded major sports stadium in Detroit. The Tiger’s Comerica Stadium and the Lions’ Ford Field were also billed and marketed as “remedies” to save the city, and obviously failed.
All hail corporate welfare. The owner of the Red Wings, Mike Ilitch, is also owner of the Detroit Tigers, making this his second major government handout to build a stadium for one of his teams. He is also the founder of the pizza chain Little Caesar’s, whose family is worth $2.7 BILLION. Here’s a thought. You know how at the end of the commercials, a little Caesar drives a stake into two pizza pies while chanting “Pizza! Pizza!” Perhaps they should change the pizzas into the city of Detroit, and just say “Screw you!”
Governor Snyder shamelessly claims “this is part of investing in Detroit’s future… it [would] increase the tax base of the city, and should increase the employment opportunities for Detroiters.” Hockey isn’t a year-round sport. What do seasonal workers do for money off-season? And what about the bill the House approved in December of last year, giving Ilitch a tax-break to build the arena (cause the $284.5 million wasn’t enough) all the while, his company Olympia Entertainment OWED the city over $2 million in unpaid taxes.
At the time of the vote, one of its opponents, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, SAID THE PROJECT WOULD ROB THE STATE of school-aid fund in order to benefit a corporation that was delinquent in its taxes to the city. “Detroit is completely broke and this is a company that actually owes money to the city,” she said. “Your schools will end up paying for this project. We need to stop and evaluate this properly.”
Detroit should take a PAGE FROM BRAZIL, where mass discontent with the quality of schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and the government spending allocating resources to build stadiums for the World Cup and Olympics led the masses to the streets. Since selling foam fingers down aisles may be the only way most residents would ever even see the inside, perhaps they’ll have no other choice but to take to the streets.
Danielle DeAbreu is a former model and student at William Paterson University studying Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Political Science.
Follow me on Twitter @DaniDeAbreu13