Morning Joe | November 15, 2012
>>> at " rolling stone " and "mens's journal" mark brunelli, his new book. brian sullivan is with us. steve is back and s.e. cupp, all right here at the table. mark, let me ask you something, people's perceptions of detroit . at least my perceptions of detroit . haven't been there for a while. you think of eminem. you think of the automobile industry . the defining motel in my mind, about detroit , the 1967 riots and what has happened to detroit since then. so take it away.
>> well, a lot of people do look at the riots at the point when things changed to the point, actually the seeds of today were happening, you know, probably ten years before that with sort of disinvestment and conversations moving out. lots of residents who could move out were moving out with suburban sprawl . so that was happening. certainly, detroit sort of became america's epic failure. the big city .
>> mark, i was living outside of detroit when the latest renaissance happened, when trump came in. and the renaissance towers went up.
>> did that just not work? or what happened there?
>> well, a lot of that stuff tends to happen in the downtown, midtown core. in the green, the tiny section, the majority of the city is still real under serviced. and people talk about the fiscal cliff. detroit is, you know, the bottom of the fiscal cliff.
>> it went over it a long time. maybe they should call it the jack white revival, right? i love what you're saying, you look at cork town, slow's barbecue, astro coffee. it's small. real estate has gotten so expensive. do you believe, though, that seed will sprout?
>> not unless more investment is made in the rest of the city. i don't think you can have just this tiny little bubble growing in the rest of the city if 40% of the streetlives don't work. if half of the schools have closed since 2007 . if, you know, the valid crime rate is five times the national average, and they're cutting police officers , cutting pay. so, the rest of the city is sort of in a failed state .
>> the problem they have is, the city has shrunk so much that essentially you don't have an economic base to support the services. what the city really needs to do is basically downsize. but the problem with that, you have a block and you have mostly burned out houses or vacant lots. you have three families living there and they don't want to move. what do you do about that? you're trying to provide services to a city that is very large geographically?
>> and yet the numbers don't work. so you've got to have some fundamental change. i was struck when i went back to detroit in mank 2009 . i was working on cars. in early 2009 , do you know what the average sell price of a house in detroit was?
>> $5,000, that was the average sale price of a house in detroit .
>> what does that say about this country?
>> it says a lot about is the trade.
>> moving into downtown, right?
>> it says a lot about detroit for sure. but when you talk about the fracturing of a once american city. a truly great american city, what does it say about this country if we allow this to happen to detroit ?
>> it was stunning.
>> in the midwest, harrison, the architecture spectacular, now unfortunately, it's urban archaeology .
>> now, allowing it to happen, almost -- you can't overestimate how much race played into that. detroit was one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the u.s. and i don't think a city like detroit with detroit 's history would have been completely discarded if it had been 90% white and not 90% black. beyond that, i think it's just, you know, the new talk of the shifting of the debate from cuts, cuts, cuts, to more revenue. and that sort of thing, i think is an important shift for a place like detroit because, you know, it's showing the kind of limits of austerity.
>> a friend that works for an i.t. company, they're moving jobs in downtown detroit , because he said, all in, real estate , labor, it's cheaper than mumbai.
>> what about if they're moving a high-tech plant in detroit , what are they going to get the workers?
>> they're going to have to lure them in with inexpensive real estate .
>> so what does that do about the natives of detroit who are still there? what does that do about the fracturing of families in detroit ? what does it do about the hundreds, perhaps thousands of teenage mothers who walk the streets in detroit with a double death sentence. theirs at 16 years of age and having a child at 16 or 15 years of age.
>> it's true. the city of detroit did a survey, asking the thoughts on the city. something like 40% of the people they polled said they would want to leave detroit in the next four years if they can.
>> but you can't say you're home.
>> there's a job in chattanooga at the new vw plant that he can't move or sell his home or walk out on his credits. these people are stuck, you're right, mike, in nearly impossible situations. how do we fix it? to your point, you can't tear down blocks because one or two families won't move? do you use eminent domain ? these are very good questions.
>> michigan doesn't really have eminent domain . that's really not an option. you're right, if there's one person on that block 40 years maintaining her house, she's not necessarily going to move. to get her to move costs her a lot of money which detroit doesn't have.
>> let's read a paragraph pour two from "the new york times" entitled "how detroit became the capital of starring at abandoned buildings ." you wrote, detroit 's brand has become authenticity. a key component of which has to do with the way the city looks. does fixing the real problems faced by detroiters i began to wonder, mean inevitably that, and when your city has 70,000 abandoned building that will not be gentrified anytime soon. rather, it's one of esthetics and in detroit are, you can't talk esthetics without talking ruin porn. a term that is in the city. detroiters can get touchy about the way descriptions and photographs of ruined buildings have become the favorite midwestern souvenirs of visiting reporters. still for all of the local complaints, outsiders are not alone in their fascination. the stats are so staggering when you read them, when you see them up on the screen on tv, you just wonder to your point, steve, downsizing a whole city, you know, what do we do here?
>> exactly my question for mark. so what do we do, we all understand the problem. it's right there in front of us, but what do we do?
>> it's tough, i didn't write a policy book. but a lot of people like to talk about something like leadership. they point to detroit 's leadership. and they seem to feel if you could appoint some superaccountant he could fix the city.
>> fortunately, that have a good mayor.
>> hard working .
>> he's hard working , he's really trying to do the right are thing, but he's a prisoner of the system.
>> he's got the state. he's got all the restrictions on him in terms of what he could do?
>> you could appoint mike bloomberg the mayor of detroit , but once he started writing personal checks, there's the problem. it's basically coming down to money.
>> the sad american story. the book is " detroit city is the place to be." mark binelli, thank you so much.