Budget Cuts

Budget Cuts (1990)
Duration: 00:28:37

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Themes: Urban Challenges |

Guests: Lavelle Williams, Bill (George Martin) Black
Host : Trudy Gallant
Producer : Tony Mottley

Summary: As the city struggles to cope with the proposed layoffs of 500 police officers and 222 other city employees, Detroit Black Journal host Trudy Gallant examines the situation with a pair of guests: Bill Black, a reporter who covers city government for radio station WJR, and Lavelle Williams, vice president of the Michigan Avenue Community Organization, a neighborhood advocacy group that has been critical of city government.

The program starts with an update from Black on negotiations between the Young Administration and the police officers' union that appear to be on the verge of an agreement that would avert the police layoffs. However, such an agreement, Black points out, would not save the other city jobs scheduled for elimination within days.

Williams says her organization is concerned about what those layoffs - mostly in the city's Department of Public Works - will do to already inadequate services to the city's neighborhoods.

"It's a constant problem." Williams says. "And every couple of years it seems that we have this massive layoff of police and then we hire them back and then we lay them off and the services get worse and worse."

And Black points out that the announced budget cuts will only save about $28 million of the projected $80 million deficit, so substantial additional cuts will be necessary.

They also discuss an emerging political struggle between Young and the City Council over the cuts. The council, Black says, is planning to seek a court order blocking the cuts because the mayor is trying to implement them unilaterally, without submitting them to the council for approval.

The recent elections caused a shift, he says, in the political balance on the council, from a 5-4 majority that supported the mayor to a 6-3 majority resisting the mayor. Much of that, he says is a reflection of residents concerns that Young had focused too much on downtown development and not enough on helping the residential neighborhoods.

"It's still a homeowner city and individual neighborhoods are a first priority with most Detroit residents," Black says. "They're concerned about what's happening to their neighborhood and to them."

Gallant takes several phone calls from viewers that raise other issues related to the budget, such as housing and bus service.

The program is valuable as an examination of the financial difficulties that beset Detroit and other major cities in the closing decades of the 20th century, and for the insight it offers into the shifting political realities in the city. And an additional point of interest is the appearance of Bill Black (George Martin), who was one of the first African American reporters in mainstream Detroit radio and was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame a year after his death in 1992.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 8, File 33, South Africa – April 20, 1994 – Show # 2528