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WSJ: No Train for the Motor City

DETROIT—After kicking the tires on a shiny new train system, the Motor City has decided to take the cheaper bus instead. This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Mayor Dave Bing suddenly abandoned a roughly $600 million plan to build a light-rail line along a key corridor that supporters had insisted would attract new residents and jump-start economic growth. Instead, they proposed a less-expensive plan for a network of express buses to deliver workers from the city to the job-rich suburbs. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204844504577100660265044228.html

The Economist: The Parable of Detroit

IT IS hardly news that the city of Detroit has been in long-term decline, a victim of everything from the problems of the "big three" carmakers to family breakdown, crime and middle-class flight, both black and white. But the scale of the recent collapse has caught even hardened Detroiters by surprise. When the results from the most recent decennial census appeared earlier this year, they showed that in the decade from 2000 to 2010 Detroit lost an astonishing 25% of its population, a demographic catastrophe (New Orleans apart) without parallel in the developed world. .... Yet despite all the gloom, there is a bit of a sense that things might just be starting to turn, and the reason is simple: Detroit is now incredibly cheap. And that has drawn some admittedly rather pioneering types back into town. http://www.economist.com/node/21533407?frsc=dg|a

Dave Bing meets a(nother) wealthy industrialist.

SYRACUSE, N.Y., September 25th — Last night DBB's own wealthy industrialist was at an event with Dave Bing, former Piston and current mayor of Detroit. I introduced myself and we conversed for a...

NYT: Can Microsoft Make You ‘Bing’?

Microsoft’s assault on Google in Internet search and search advertising may be the steepest competitive challenge in business today. It is certainly among the most costly. Trying to go head-to-head with Google costs Microsoft upward of $5 billion a year, industry executives and analysts estimate. As the overwhelming search leader, Google has advantages that tend to reinforce one another. It has the most people typing in searches — billions a day — and that generates more data for Google’s algorithms to mine to improve its search results. All those users attract advertisers. And there is the huge behavioral advantage: "Google" is synonymous with search, the habitual choice. Once it starts, this cycle of prosperity snowballs — more users, more data, and more ad dollars. Economists call the phenomenon "network effects"; business executives just call it momentum. In search, Google has it in spades, and Microsoft, against the odds, wants to reverse it. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/technology/with-the-bing-search-engine-microsoft-plays-the-underdog.html

The Odd Challenge for Detroit Planners: How to Shrink a City

DETROIT — When Marja M. Winters was studying urban planning in graduate school, she learned the art and science of helping cities grow. Now Ms. Winters, a native of Detroit and the deputy director of the city’s planning and development department, finds herself in an utterly unexpected role, one that no school would have thought to prepare her for: she is sorting out how to help her hometown shrink, by working through difficult decisions that will determine which neighborhoods can be saved and which cannot. .... Actually carrying out such an effort, particularly in a city as vast as Detroit, is like solving a complicated set of interwoven puzzles, as Ms. Winters has discovered over many long days and some nights poring over thousands of pages of maps and statistics in her 23rd-floor downtown office. How to reconfigure roads, bus lines, police districts? How to encourage people — there is no power of eminent domain to force them — to move out of the worst neighborhoods and into better ones?

UPDATE: Detroit's RoboCop statue

In a demonstration of the Internet's ability to connect like-minded people, the exchange led to a Facebook group promoting the idea to build a RoboCop statue here and a fund-raising drive with worldwide reach. So far, more than $60,000 has been raised from metro Detroit and many other countries through the Kickstarter page set up by Imagination Station, a nonprofit that's building a creative campus in Corktown. The fund-raising was set to officially end on Saturday. Detroit artist Jerry Paffendorf, who's involved in the statue drive, said he hopes a 10-foot-tall replica of RoboCop will be completed this summer. The planned location is somewhere in Wayne State University's TechTown research and technology park. Wherever it winds up, "it's going to be a world-class statue, like you would see Thaddeus Kosciuszko on Michigan Avenue," says Paffendorf.

Detroit Needs Robocop now more than ever

RoboCop is many things to many people. To MT, the accidental city planner who originally proposed erecting a statue of the action hero in a tweet last month, he is "a GREAT ambassador for Detroit." (The tweet was directed at Detroit's mayor Dave Bing.) To the people at the public arts nonprofit Imagination Station, who raised the $50,000 needed to create the statue, he's a potential tourist attraction for the embattled city. To many Detroit residents, activists, and writers, a RoboCop statue is a tragic misuse of effort and resources in a city with nearly 20 percent unemployment. As someone who has lost numerous hours to debating the merits of Paul Verhoeven's 1987 film with fellow sweaty sci-fi cultists, I quickly joined the ranks of those who donated money for the statue.* Now, with the funds raised and at least one potential site (on land owned by Imagination Station) confirmed, MT's humble suggestion is on its way to becoming bizarre reality. This is probably thrilling news for some, depressing news for others, but I'd like to make the case for why the statue should be welcomed. RoboCop (the cop and the movie) is a great ambassador for Detroit. And though a statue to him won't fix the city's problems, it does have something important to say about the place and its plight.

With Detroit in dire straits, mayor invites big thinking

With no salvation in sight, Bing, 67, has embarked on a mission few in his position have ever had to take on: dramatically shrinking a major American metropolis. To do so, Bing has issued an open invitation: anyone with a proposal, plan, theory - a notion, even - is welcome to try to save his crumbling city. Numerous outfits have responded, turning Detroit into the new New Orleans - a giant testing ground for urban planners and developers.

For Hall of Famer Dave Bing, Being Mayor Is a Whole New Ballgame


Nice profile on Bing from FanHouse's David Steele. / day-job-plug

Detroit’s Renewal, Slow-Cooked

"In this city, a much-heralded emblem of industrial-age decline, and home to a cripplingly bad economy, a troubled school system, racial segregation and sometimes unheeded crime, there is one place where most everyone — black, white, poor, rich, urban, not — will invariably recommend you eat: Slows Bar B Q."
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