Private citizens pick up the slack as Detroit cuts public services

Elizabeth Dorton Contributor
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With the city of Detroit now $2.5 billion in debt and the cancellation of city services, teams of private citizens are helping to provide basic services.

To avoid bankruptcy, the city is being run by an independent emergency manager. Payments on unsecured debt were already canceled last month in an effort to save money and spend what they have on services such as the police force and fire departments.

But with the lack of funds come the dismissal of several city services, which has spurred a measure of civic pride, Fox News reports.

After the city abandoned a long awaited light-rail project, 26-year-old Andy Didirosi was “pissed” and chose to fund a transportation plan himself.

A self-described “gearhead,” Didirosi had several old Greyhounds and school buses on hand and started the Detroit Bus Company, Fox reports.

Not only has Didirosi provided a transportation route in the original location that the plan proposed, he has provided another route to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Didirosi acknowledge that transportation is a city issue and that his company should not be a permanent solution.

But for now, “I don’t see a better option than providing the services,” he said.

Ted O’Neil of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan cites this as an example of how “civil society” can make up for government shortcomings.

Trained civilian volunteers for the Violence Intervention Protective Emergency Response System assist police in patrolling dangerous neighborhoods.

Another group boards up abandoned homes to prevent empty spaces from becoming bastions of criminal activity.

After the city chose to close 72 parks, Tom Nardone quickly discovered what that means- general upkeep of the land is no longer a concern, and so the plots are basically “abandoned.”

Nardone, a former Ford Motor Co. analyst, first started just doing the job himself with a riding lawn mower. Other Good Samaritans noticed his work and began to help, which is how a one-man mowing operation blossomed into “the mower gang.”

The gang receives equipment donations from Husqvarna, a lawnmower manufacturer, to manage 15 city parks. They also seek to restore a bike path that hasn’t been in use since the 1980s.

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