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The Emergency Manager and the neighborhoods

June 27 2013 | no comments

Things were pretty quiet in the 16-one hundred block of Greenview Street today, except for the sounds of neighbors working to improve their part of Detroit.

It’s here in the neighborhoods where emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s plan will be felt day to day.  And residents say he faces a very large challenge.

We talked with Lewis Pratt who moved back to Detroit from Southfield three years ago. He’s considering moving out again because he’s disappointed in city services, “In comparison they don’t compare with Southfield city services.”

One of his main concerns is trash pickup, “You put it out a day before, maybe it don’t get picked up until the next day at ten at night, you wonder what’s going on.”

The emergency manager’s plan includes privatizing trash collection; a move he says could save the city $15-million a year.

How does that sit with Lewis?  “You don’t know until it happens . They don’t need to raise the taxes, they need to lower the taxes.”

That’s also part of Kevyn Orr’s plan.

Terrence Williams just moved onto Greenview Street.  He’s working to make his home comfortable and attractive. He wants the city to help make it safe.  He and Kevyn Orr agree on job one.

Earlier the month Orr told us, “Public safety, public safety, public safety is certainly a priority. We’ve said that consistently.”

Terence says he’s glad to hear that. “I have kids, I have elderly grandparents, so for me it’s imperative for them to be safe.”

As we were talking with Terence, the new police chief was holding a news conference just a few streets away.

Chief James Craig told the crowd, “I’ll ask the question ‘Do you feel safe?’  If you don’t feel safe, we haven’t accomplished our full goal.”

Terence says he has faith it will happen.

On Greenview Street most of the streetlights work – most of the time.  But throughout the city 40 percent are broken.

Yesterday the new executive director of city’s Public Lighting Authority, Odis Jones, was introduced to the public.

The authority has a three step plan: To meet with the community, to make emergency repairs to vital systems and put together a three year plan to restore lighting to the entire city.

Jones said, “It’s frightening to be a citizen in some areas of the city where you not only worry about whether or not you’re able to get police to show up at your door, but more importantly you do it in the dark.”

Charles Sabra doesn’t live on Greenview, but that’s where we found him today.

He says “Something’s got to be done because the kids got to grow up in this.  I grew up here.  I didn’t have to go through all the stuff they’re going through now. It’s just crazy.”

Charles was mowing the lawn for his buddy whose back is hurt.

“That’s where it starts,” he said, “Neighbors got to get back to being neighbors that’s the way you help a community grow.”

Charles is looking forward to the changes Kevyn Orr is proposing – or bankruptcy, if it comes to that.  And he’s looking to his neighbors.

“The city can’t do everything.  People got to work together.”

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