Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jerry, we hardly knew ye

And we would probably have been better off never having met you, Mr. Cavanagh, and becoming a Model City;
[Jerome] Cavanagh’s tenure [as Detroit's mayor] would be closely linked with President Johnson’s Great Society. Johnson’s War on Poverty was aimed at assisting urban children to obtain better housing, health care, education and job opportunities. Cavanagh had already launched a similar program called TAP (Total Action against Poverty). Johnson’s added federal muscle would give TAP some tiger-like teeth to attack with.  
....In September of 1965, Cavanagh, along with UAW president Walter Reuther, prodded President Johnson into selecting a pilot city to shower with federal grants and demonstrate to the nation how a large urban area can be rehabilitated physically and socially when properly equipped.
By Federal tax dollars; was provided with an initial fund of $400 million per year.  Its focus was to eradicate slums and replace them with low to moderate cost housing, attack inner-city poverty by bolstering social programs, providing jobs, health care and recreational facilities, all of which would help keep young people off the street and learning instead of rioting.
Worked out well, didn't it.
Cavanagh’s persuasive powers and determination enabled Detroit to hustle up some $360 million federal dollars to fuel his anti-poverty programs. Only Chicago, with the powerful Mayor Daley and New York with Mayor Lindsey managed to wheedle more out of Washington. Detroit’s boy mayor was rapidly making a name for himself.  
    By 1966, Detroit had become a Model City not only in name but most certainly in stature. Detroit had gained national acclaim as a truly progressive city in a time when many were still regressing. By placing respected liberals in charge of the police department, capturing the lion’s share of War on Poverty funds and hosting the highly vaunted March for Freedom, Detroit was enjoying its time on top of the national pedestal. Detroit had become the “city upon a hill, for all eyes to see.”
And now we can all see what has become of those bright promises.

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