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By Kirk Cheyfitz
The recent cuts in Detroit’s income tax could be reversed as part of the plan Mayor Bing and Gov. Snyder are pushing to fix the city’s crumbling streetlights, but it will likely require renewed efforts by the Republican governor to shore up support for the plan among GOP state legislators.
Under a 1998 arrangement agreed to by city and state officials, income tax rates for residents were cut July 1 from 2.5 percent to 2.4 percent; rates for non-residents who work in the city went from 1.25 percent to 1.2 percent. If the cuts remain in effect, they will reduce taxes by $9.5 million annually.
But the July 1 tax cut could be reversed as part of the streetlight initiative, and Chris Brown, the city’s chief operating officer, said by email last week that “we remain optimistic” the initiative will prevail.
That seems like a reasonable aspiration, but it comes not from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing but his counterpart in New Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
The Press Trust of India reports that the the Indian capital’s top official set that standard in a meeting earlier today with top civic and power distribution officials.
“Street lighting in Delhi must match the street lighting in developed cities of the world,” the chief minister said. “The functionality of the street lights should be more than 98 per cent.”
Current estimates put the level of Detroit’s functioning streetlights at about 60 percent.
Dearborn Patch reports that DTE will be fixing lights on Oakman Blvd this summer.
Updated from my Facebook update: Our old Free Press pal, Chris Christoff, does a piece for Bloomberg, which catches the attention of Marketplace, whose correspondent, Mitchell Hartman, tracks me down for an interview via the ISDN line at Poynter. (Chris had quoted my Detroit143 partner, Kirk Cheyfitz).
Hartman does a perfectly fine 2 min, 30 sec story [transcript posted here: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/detroit-half-street-lights-could-go-dark)], but Marketplace anchor Kai Ryssdal misreads Hartman’s script in his intro and lists Detroit’s once-anticipated population as 12 million (!) instead of 2 million. Dismaying on a show that does a “by the numbers” segment every night, but stuff happens. Hartman tells me Kai quickly realized what he’d done and taped a new intro for later broadcasts, and the error was subsequently corrected in the web audio version.
Christoff’s story on Bloomberg, meanwhile, gets picked up by Drudge. Among the results? More than 1,000 comments attached to Christoff’s story. The Bloomberg story also catches the attention of local TV in Detroit, which for the most part misinterprets its discussion of the Bing-Snyder plan as “surprising” when, in fact, that news had been reported three weeks earlier. As Kirk says (in a Facebook comment) of the unfolding coverage: ”While it’s a little like a game of telephone, it is getting enormous attention for the issue that we believe to be the formative issue for Detroit at this moment.”
This collection of images was taken on two different nights on the stretch of West Grand Boulevard between West Vernor Highway and the Fisher Freeway. All the streetlights here have been out for a long time. All photos by Detroit143 photographer Ellen Jacob © 2012.
With no streetlights, the glare from the rain-slicked road is the only illumination.