Dennis Archer, previously a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, was elected mayor for two terms from 1994 through 2001. He promised to “build coalitions of all races, creeds, and economic levels to produce real improvement in the troubled city” and blasted Coleman Young for having run a political machine that “defended Detroit against the hostile forces from the white suburbs.”
In his campaign, Mayor Archer stated, “I represent. I represent the people who can’t get their garbage picked up on time … their streetlights to stay on all night … their phone calls answered at city hall. I stand before you representing children who are more concerned about surviving the school day … the homeless, the disenfranchised and the working poor who want affordable housing, and a clean and decent place in which to live.” He was an honorable mayor with a good record.
Mayor Archer was credited for ratcheting down animosity between black political leaders and white business leaders during his term. His accomplishments included:
• 11 billion in projects
• $100 million for empowerment zone
• Facelift to the downtown Renaissance complex when GM purchased it and moved their headquarters there.
• New Tiger Stadium
• Three Downtown casinos
Downsides listed included:
• A cumbersome bureaucracy facing new businesses
• Running thin on city services including police
The three casinos employ 8,000 people and provide $150 million in taxes to Detroit.
The baseball stadium was financed partially by Detroit taxpayers who went in debt $115 million to fund the stadium. The stadium added about 1,000 jobs in and around the stadium and added about $5 million a year in city revenues.
During Mayor Archer’s term Unemployment dropped across the United States from 6.1 to 4.0 %. In Detroit, unemployment dropped from 15.8% to 7.3% as Detroit’s population dropped from 1,000,000 to 904,000. Murder rate dropped from 58 to 44 per 100,000.
The figures suggest that in 1994, 421,000 people were working in Detroit, and in 2000 417,000 people continued working. Now 270,000 are working in Detroit out of a population of 730,000. The combination of job growth in the United States and Mayor Archer’s implementation of Downtown growth staved off unemployment.
The type of jobs from the casinos and ballpark fit the demographics of Detroit’s unemployed population, low skilled workers, and provided recreation that add livability value. The empowerment zone jobs added similarly. The saving of the downslide of the Renaissance saved such jobs and added surrounding service jobs. Mayor Archer did well in slowing the decline of jobs.
Yet, the loss of population due to crime continued its rapid downward slide.
Detroit’s Budget deficits started in 2005 and have grown to $387 million this year of a $1 billion budget.
Takeaway from Mayor Archer’s term:
Decent paying jobs added that can be readily absorbed by available unemployed workforce, will be when offered
Crime rates went down as employment went up…..
Detroit’s black population during the term stopped growing for the first time in a century and white flight continued its steep rate of decline. The following decade, middle income blacks would leave the city as well. And with their flight, a dropping population would finally cross the threshold that would thrust Detroit into deficit spending.
Livability added by a sports stadium, 3 casinos and an upgrade to a downtown shopping complex were peripheral to the population’s livability perception of Detroit. Crime was the overriding factor. Even though the murder rate for instance dropped from 58 to 44 per 100,000, it was still 10 times that of the suburbs. A better economy made migration more possible, white flight continued and Black in migration stalled.