by AMBER KELLY Photographer
The city of Detroit, Michigan experienced a controlled blackout last Wednesday, September 11. Gary Brown, the chief compliance officer under Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, had a portion of the electric grid that powered the city shut off as a “precautionary measure.”
According to Brown, consumers of Detroit Public Lighting were asked to turn off their air conditioners earlier in the day, despite the fact that the temperature had reached 90 degrees. When city residents did not comply quickly enough, the power was turned off, disrupting activities at various public buildings, such as Detroit City Hall and the McNamara Federal Building.
When the power was turned off in these buildings, various city residents were trapped in elevators, and many buildings were evacuated for safety reasons.
In defense of the emergency manager’s actions, Bill Nowling of Orr’s office, said, “The outages are [a] precautionary measure while DTE and city crews work to fix two main lines in the grid that went down earlier today.”
In past years, Detroit has faced many infrastructure problems, amplified by the fact that the city filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, 2013. Some Detroit residents believed this blackout had to do with officials’ goal to privatize the lighting department.
Was this power outage a political move? While some say yes, others are unsure. Detroit has experienced various blackouts over the years, as the lighting department is underfunded and DTE Energy has not updated their infrastructure. Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder have attempted to battle Detroit’s serious economic issues, but with little success.
The economy is not the only problem state officials face, however. In the late 90s and early 21st century, businesses began leaving Detroit, and as jobs left, so did the people. Due to this migration from Detroit, the city has experienced its own kind of depression.
“Anytime I hear news about Detroit, it’s really negative. I hope the people there can get back on their feet again,” says senior Stephanie Pasewaldt.
With a lack of funds, the city has been unable to update things like basic infrastructure, as shown by the frequent power outages dealt with by Detroit residents.
The standard of living in Detroit has been visibly reduced, and crime has skyrocketed among its citizens. Detroit has been labeled as one of the most dangerous cities in America, with 386 murders in 2012 alone.
The unemployment rate in Detroit is over 40 percent, and the number of people with high school degrees is declining.
While the automobile industry used to be the main source of revenue for the city, business has faltered over the last decade or so.
“I don’t know how Detroit can combat the many problems it is being faced with. Without a lot of business in the city, how can they do much? The unemployment rate is really high, and with such a high crime rate, I’m guessing people are unwilling to invest in any shape or form into Detroit,” says senior Jennifer Park.
Currently, the future for Detroit is not looking too bright, literally. Can the residents of the city, along with state officials, fix all the problems plaguing them?