Sunday, October 20, 2013

CBS 60 Minutes: Detroit in 1976 and today

In case you missed it, here is the 60 Minutes piece on Detroit from last Sunday, October 13, 2013.

And just for comparison, here is a 60 Minutes piece on Detroit from 1976.

My take - Detroit's leadership - whether that is the Emergency Financial Manager, Mayor, or City Council - needs to find better ways to rezone land in the city for more productive purposes.  Reforestation, rip out the infrastructure, farm, give back to the commons - anything to make the city more livable for the residents.  

My letter to David Ridenour @ The National Center for Public Policy Research

I decided to write a letter to David Ridenour of the National Center of Public Policy Research regarding his article published in The Detroit News titled "Electric cars are running on empty promises."

Dear Mr. Ridenour:

I appreciate your very biased opinion of the electric vehicle market for the simple fact that it inspired me to make a post on my blog after a long hiatus (  Unlike you, I don't get the benefit of quality mass transit system like you have in D.C. nor do I have the benefit of spending my time thinking of ways to get more money from conservative donors so I can further the economic agenda of a very narrow strata of our society.  Hmm, come to think of it, when you try and push the agenda of gas powered cars over that of electric cars, you are of course exercising free speech but you are trying to protect the market of the oil industry.  Such protectionism seams counter to the "free market" values your think tank tries to promote.

But I'm not writing to tell you I see through the politics and hypocracy in your piece because that's too easy.  As an owner of electric-gas Chevy Volt, I thought I would react to your piece with a few of my own opinions. 

First, you are right that current electric powered vehicles are not very big (with the exception of some Tesla vehicles), so perhaps they are not the best vehicles to pack up a family of 4 and spend a week on the road.  I happen to like the hatchback on my Volt because I can fit more in my trunk space than I could with my previous sedan, but I'll recognize your point here.  I doubt that in the early days of gas cars - where I think there was one or two seats - that those cars were ideal for the nuclear family you outline in your piece.  Yet, for someone who uses his Volt to drive to work and back alone and the occasional trip to the gym, the size doesn't mean much to me.

Second, you are right when you pointed out that when purchased outright, even with the government tax credit, my Volt is much more expensive than a gas car of similar size.  I also understand that our automakers here in Detroit take quite a hit on these vehicles.  I happen to lease my vehicle, and will end up investing $10 - 12k total over the life of the 3 year lease with gas and charging included.  I'll cover why my car does make a lot of economic sense later, but I'll acknowledge your point that these cars do cost more money.

Thirdly, I will also acknowledge that my Volt only has an electric range of around 40 miles, that it does take 4 hours on a 240v charger to charge fully, and that the government's investment of $7.5 billion over 10 years seems like a lot of money to the average American family.

So here's what you missed in your piece and I apologize if this sounds too anecdotal compared to the cropped facts you chose to put in your piece.

1. My Volt is fun to drive.  Last I heard, this is a characteristic that car buyers also look for in addition to utility.  It hauls off the line.  I can even trick it to charge my battery which is pretty cool too.  I have a friend who has driven Cameros and Corvettes and he loves his Volt.  The interface in the car is pretty awesome as well, even on the base version. 

2. I've owned my Volt for almost 6 months, I've put 5k miles on it, and I've used under 20 gallons of gas.  Since I put premium gas in, and the gas in Michigan can be almost $4 per gallon, I've spent about $80 on gas so far.  During that 6 months, I've spent about $22 per month charging it from home (I've used free chargers in public places too - still haven't found a place giving out free gas).  So, I've spent around $200 to power my vehicle for about 5k miles.  A car that gets 35 miles per gallon (which is a generous MPG) would have spent around $500 to fuel their car at $3.50 per gallon.  While this amount over the life of the vehicle may not make up for the premium I pay for it, my everyday out of pocket costs are pretty good.  My Volt tells me that, over the life of the vehicle, I'm getting 222 MPG.  Pretty nice.

3. Can you please post how much the government subsidizes the oil industry on an annual basis?  Oh wait, I know your answer.  They deserve that money because they pay so much tax on that $10 billion in quarterly profit.  I won't go into the military costs around protecting our supply of oil.  It's probably only a few bucks, right?  The foreign policy issues associated with oil dependence are bigger issue - let's just say I don't think your piece really furthers the agenda of energy independence.  Instead, if I were to read into your piece and your politics, I would say you are pretty liberal when it comes to spending money to protect America's dependence on oil. 

4. My friendly [conservative-run, profit-minded] utility company paid for a $2,500 charger installation which charges my car in 4 hours and which provides permanent economic value to my home.  That move made a lot of economic sense for me.

Bottom line: Electric cars may not make sense to everyone, but they did for me, and while I too was a skeptic, I have to say, I love my Chevy Volt and I will probably own an electric car for the rest of my life.  When I can afford to power the car off energy produced in my own home, I'll be even more energy independent. 

And to be fair, we do have a gas powered family car that we can take on road trips and hold our nuclear family when that larger family comes to fruition. 

So, here's what I invite you to do Mr. Ridenour.

1. Go drive a Chevy Volt, not just a test drive, but rent one for a month or something.  Put it in sport mode and have some fun.  Maybe you'll find an electric charging station where you can charge up for free.   Then come back and diss the car as a free market consumer rather than a conservative, big oil-funded think tank president.  

2. Write a piece that compares the government subsidies for electric vehicles vs. oil and gas subsidies.

3.  Consider the average driver as something different than the nuclear family you describe and consider their needs.  Consider that an electric car may not be the best all around vehicle for driving a family of 4 a few hundred miles to grandma's house, but it may be just the answer for someone who uses it to drive to work and back, or to supplement another vehicle. 

Thank you.

Geoff Young
Proud owner of Chevy Volt

Sunday, February 17, 2013

News from Detroit: February 17, 2013


Meet The Makers: Rebuilding Detroit by Hand

Remaking Detroit: Can Creative Companies Save an American City on the Brink?

Now Atlanta Is Turning Old Tracks Green


The New and Improved Electoral College Map

The Social Trends Driving American Gangs and Gun Violence

How to Unparalyze Us

Margin calls
Life on the edges of America’s financial mainstream


Detroit Labs doubles staff, preps to move into its own space

Urban trailblazing: New series looks for trends before they happen

Guest Blogger: David Tarver

Creativity flourishes at Detroit Labs, a smartphone app developer

TechTown lands $1M to create Detroit Technology Exchange

Comerica refi may hint at Wings arena financing


New Detroit Blight Authority to speed up bringing houses down|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Tom Walsh: If GM thrived after bankruptcy, why not Detroit?|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

'Dry Bones'? Hardly — There's Still Life In Detroit

Thomas and Dewar: What Detroit could learn from Youngstown

Bing announces partnership to raze more homes, defends 'difficult decisions'

Detroit Mayor Says City Is Making Progress on Debt

EDITORIAL: Better under Bing isn't good enoug

KEITH CRAIN: Of course they don't like the idea of an EM


Fallacy of the creative class: Why Richard Florida’s ‘urban renaissance’ won’t save U.S. cities

Healthier Communities Through Design

10 principles for making high-density cities better

The Geometry of Transit-Friendly Neighborhoods


MOCAD Renovation: Plan For Detroit Art Museum Wins Architectural Review Award (PHOTO)

Building Facade, Detroit

Detroit: Pictures of a Neighborhood

An 'Autopsy' Of Detroit Finds Resilience In A Struggling City


Can fuel-cells overtake batteries in the race to be green?

Impact Investing for the New Economy: People

Michigan battery firm spent $143M of U.S. grant, never made one item

2 new venture funds formed in Michigan|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Automation Alley accepting applications for entrepreneur fellowships


Time to support Snyder

Phil Power: Gov. Rick Snyder makes clear he's about investment

Snyder wants state to be leader for emerging automated technology

I-69 International Trade Corridor group sends tax-free renaissance zone request to Lansing

Detroit chamber's goals may not match state GOP's


South Korea's aerotropolis blueprint is no flight of fancy

Midwest High-Speed Rail: Hundreds Of Firms Will Benefit From New Web Of Routes

Ray LaHood: “Sitting on the Sidelines Doesn’t Accomplish Anything”

Left In The Dark: Copper Thieves Rob Detroit Freeways Of Light

A 12th stop might be in M1 Rail's future, pending federal approval


Macomb County's Top Businesses Recognized

DOWNRIVER: Ficano: Hype can help grow region

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Policy News from Detroit: February 10, 2013


Detroit, the Billionaire’s Playground

Patenting and Innovation in Metropolitan America


US Manufacturing: The Misunderstood Economic Powerhouse

Weekend Read: Debunking the Myth of the Startup Hub

Will Google Kill The Auto Industry? No, And Here's Why.

8 founders who ruined their companies

IdeaLab 2013 recapped

The New Three R's Every Business Must Learn

Whole Foods, Target, Wal-Mart Stores Stores Push Into Cities

The shipping news
Despite problems, a revival in shipping on the Great Lakes is expected

University Research Corridor a worthy investment|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s


The Happiest And Unhappiest Cities To Work In Right Now

Is It Time for a Set of 'Localist Papers'?

The Worst Run Cities In America: 24/7 Wall St.

A Framework For Creating A Thriving Detroit Of The Future

Unheralded Outperformers: 10 Metro Markets That Are Leading the Housing Recovery

Walkable Urbanism as Foreign Policy

How to make sustainability sustainable

Innovation and the Wealth of Cities

Defending Youngstown: One City's Struggle to Shrink and Flourish


Export-Import Bank opens office in Detroit's TechTown|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

'Why Don't We Own This' Site Maps Detroit's Housing Crisis With New Tools To Battle Back

Tom Walsh: A Disney-esque automotive attraction for Detroit could rev up Motor City|head

Bargain Homes Lure Buyers Worldwide to Detroit: Mortgages

Detroit Classics, Priced to Move

John Gallagher: Detroit Future City and the roadblocks

Detroit's Innovative Survival Plan Is A Model For The World - But Will It Work?

Tale of two futures? Future City blueprint shows what Detroit could be|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Detroit entrepreneurs plan to hire workers

Detroit developers revamp high-rises for young professionals|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Experts weigh in on downtown Detroit's retail revival|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Detroit Land Bank readies for a major growth spurt|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

10 Sustainable Business Trends Underway in Detroit (Photo Tour)

Josh Linkner: Think of what is possible, not obstacles|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

6 Lessons From America's Comeback Kid -- Detroit, MI

Preserving Urban Rivers in Detroit and Across the Great Lakes

Detroit, blue city

Leg Up for Downtown Detroit

Ilitch consultant: Wings arena could break ground by fall


Insurance Analysts: Obamacare to Increase Out-of-Pocket Premium Costs, Despite Lavish Subsidies

Mich. gives Whitney revamp $8.5M

How to Win States and Disenfranchise People: The GOP's Electoral-Vote Plan

The GOP and the City

How the Post Office Made America

Detroit's Property Tax Black Hole, in Map Form

China Steps Up Buying in U.S.


John Carlisle: City Council's regular speakers put on a good show

Clark Durant: For Detroit, it's time for vision, not scorn|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Nancy Kaffer: 'New' Detroiters need to make their voices heard

Stuck in reverse, Detroit rolls closer to bankruptcy

Detroit neighborhoods languish through city's fiscal ills

Rudolph: Detroit's condition is a collective failure

Graphic: Detroit Then and Now


Wayne County communities keeping some zoo tax money for downtowns|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Developing Macomb's Blue Economy{Email_Address}&utm_campaign=It+All+Points+East

Cottons seed plan for GP Park

Novi Continues to Make Economic Development a Priority

Three Decades of Regional Innovation

Downtown Opportunities: Selling Ann Arbor's city-owned properties for urban residential development

New Oakland County official hopes to improve regional water system through cooperation

Patterson: Oakland County is on the rebound

Patterson speech touts his recovery, Oakland County's prospects

Macomb Co. board chairman a history maker|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s


Michigan vies for top 10 status in economic competitiveness

Snyder: Gas tax, Medicaid plans make fiscal sense

Snyder's political agenda shifts to center

Snyder budget calls for higher gas tax, vehicle fee, more for education

EDITORIAL: Expanding Medicaid is sound economic choice


Who's to blame for Michigan's road woes?

Metro Detroit near, dear to outgoing U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood

A highway runs through it
Is it really a good idea to spend $1.8 billion expanding a 6.7-mile stretch of I-94 in Detroit?

Report: Greater Detroit a leader in tech employment, innovation

The new Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority: A solid step forward, but many more ahead

Americans now spending most on gas since early 1980s

Atlanta Aerotropolis

U.S. commits funds; M1 Rail construction to begin this year, Cullen says

OTHER VOICES: TRANSPORTATION: Fix more than beaten track



Delta's Glass Bottom Jet App

Motor City requiem

Planting New Life in Detroit's Vacated Landscape
How Christians are spearheading the urban farming movement in Motor City.

Ruin Porn or Realism? Why Chicago’s Artists Are Obsessed with Detroit

Life in the Red

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Policy News from Detroit: January 13, 2013


Bridge to Canada: Al Madrigal exposes slick-talking Canadian bridge builders operating in Michigan

Information In America Moves 33,480,000 Times Faster Than It Did 200 Years Ago

In Beleaguered Detroit, a Media-Wise Group Shows Reporters the Brighter Side

Detroit 360 Film


American industry is on the move

Detroit showcases global car trend

How GM Lost -- And Found -- The Path To Innovation

Automakers let app developers drive innovation

Detroit Sheds Pounds For Gas-Mileage Gains

GQ's Detroit Auto Show Preview


35 Urban Innovations We're Watching This Year

Washington’s Economic Boom, Financed by You

Game Changers | Planning: The Great Lakes Century

America's "greenest street" provides a blueprint for sustainable urban development

Toward the Walkable City


Editorial: Time to get Michigan moving

Snyder applauds Detroit's efforts, slows the financial review|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Trying to predict the future of the Great Lakes

Lower west side story: 'Gateway Project' may revive once-thriving stretch near downtown GR

EDITORIAL: Leadership, trust keys to Future City


Forces rally to redefine Detroit|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Editorial: Time's running out for Detroit|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Detroit Mayor: Takeover Decision Could Come Friday

Nancy Kaffer: Bing, council pulling together as Detroit's crisis grows|topnews|text|Opinion

Brian Dickerson: Detroit Future City plan confronts grim realities and maps a plausible way forward|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE


Robert Ficano must give deposition in lawsuit by former aide|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

I-69 International Trade Corridor NDMC launches new website

Sandy Pierce named chairman, CEO of FirstMerit Michigan

Canton embarks on new marketing plan


Netherlands' futuristic highway plans largely impractical in Michigan|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Woodward light-rail project will receive $25 million in federal funding|newswell|text|Michigan%20news|s

How Are Michigan's Roads? Tell SEMCOG the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Detroit: after decades of urban blight, technology boom gives Motor City hope

Detroit Works unveils 'Future City' concept, suggests uses for vacant land

Developer pitches $1B commonwealth for Belle Isle|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Belle Isle: Motown's Monaco

A plan to save Detroit: Report calls for a smaller, stronger Motor City|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Online ideas kickstart new Detroit businesses|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Dan Gilbert sets sights on another downtown Detroit skyscraper|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Kresge Foundation gives $150 million to help make a leaner, greener Detroit|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Cobo Center's $299M revamp on target|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Detroit nudged into 21st century with 'Future City' plan|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Detroit Works report recommends realigned transportation, employment districts, land reuse, lighting solutions

From vacant to vibrant: A coalition rises

Q&A with George Jackson DEGC


The Rise of Graffiti in Detroit

A Different Detroit, As A Native Tells It

Detroit putting pieces back together, with food and art leading the way

Guest commentary: Detroit as vacation spot? Believe in it

North America’s Mecca for Feather Bowling Is in Metro Detroit

Detroit’s problems are also Toledo’s

Kresge to begin making grants to fuel Future City changes by summer


The great innovation debate

State of the Climate | National Overview | Annual 2012

No Longer the 'Party of Eisenhower and Reagan'

Is Broadband Internet Access a Public Utility?

Made in America, Again
Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is politically savvy and can make economic sense.

ObamaCare's Health-Insurance Sticker Shock

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Policy news from Detroit: January 6, 2013


‘I think Detroit’s going to comeback’

EDITORIAL: Regional success -- Caring about Detroit is a matter of self-interest

Hope in Detroit: An Outsider on Motown’s Entrepreneurial Renaissance

How Economic Development Is Changing the Geography of Urban Crime

Reading the City

Demolition of dreams: 12 Detroit homes razed by mistake|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE


Snyder signs transit, lighting, downtown arena bills: 'An exciting day for Detroit'|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Snyder signs Detroit lighting, Red Wings arena, regional transit bills|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Governor Snyder On Reinventing Michigan: More Than Meets The Eye

Snyder signs bill ending fees to treasurers|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Editorial: Reforms boost Michigan's ability to compete|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Lou Glazer: Improving Michigan's business climate may not yield dividends some expect

NextEnergy, MEDC Launch Michigan Accelerating Technologies Grant

Brownfield has been backbone of urban development (Grand Rapids)


What will happen to Detroit?

Bing announces new plans to raise $50M in revenue for Detroit|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Next mayor faces unclear role amid Detroit's woes|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Detroit Works Project readies plan for key areas of city

Detroit to reach turning point|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s


Detroit beginning to hear rumblings of renewal

Welcome to the New Businesses -- Thank You to Those Businesses That Stayed

Gilbert, partners buy 5 more Detroit buildings, including Kresge|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Dan Gilbert's investments in Detroit could serve as a catalyst for even more development|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Midtown's boom shows no sign of slowing down|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Cobo Center's new riverside atrium entrance is nearly ready|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Detroit takes first step toward injecting life into Hart Plaza|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Detroit cultural gems DSO, DIA and science center show luster again|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

An Idea To Build A Tiny Forest In Detroit’s Heart

Detroit Mobile City IOS Conference Hopes To Spur City's Tech Economy

Detroit Breaking Ground As Lab For Wireless Innovation

Ford announces $10-million community center in Mexicantown|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

An Urban Tree Farm Grows In Detroit

Detroit's Big Three trying to power up Motor City

Developing Detroit: Five major developments to keep an eye on in 2013


7 Facts About Government Benefits and Who Gets Them

America’s European moment

The dangers of ‘outsourcing’ public education

Rob Sisson: Building a greener future for the GOP


Imagine Air Travel Without Hassle: Surf Air Can

PSFK toured the UK airline's newest clubhouse and spa at JFK and LHR.

What Really Matters for Increasing Transit Ridership

Ann Arbor officials hope new railroad ownership could boost commuter rail, greenway plans

Airport City Manchester – a £650 million ‘Aerotropolis’

Youths demonstrate at 8 Mile and Woodward for 'truly regional' transit

Editorial: Repair Michigan's infrastructure

2 Washtenaw County reps appointed to Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority board

50 Best and Worst US Transportation Projects, State By State

How an Industrial City Reinvented Itself as a Sustainability Hub


Wayne County short on cash, but not on appointees|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Fmr. Ficano fundraiser denies wrongdoing; invokes 5th Amendment rights to avoid some questions

Crain's puts money on the map: Major investments along 5 regional roadways

Tom Walsh: What's next for Michigan's economy to be discussed at Detroit Economic Club luncheon

Wayne County leaders vow to trim deficit

Carol Cain: Hackel extols virtues of Macomb living

Auto industry drives investment along Michigan Avenue in 2012

Van Dyke: $1.3 billion in manufacturing, Menards and Shelby restaurants

John P. McCulloch is new Huron-Clinton Metroparks director

Busy corridors: Heart of Detroit gets spotlight, but arteries draw development, too


Return to the City: Renewal of Inner City Retail Stores

America's Baby Boom And Baby Bust Cities

Foundations are credited with resurrecting the Pittsburgh's economy after the 1980s' collapse

The 5 Most Important Sustainability Stories of 2013


The Best Green Ideas of 2012

M@dison Building, D:hive, coffee shops dominate start-up news in 2012

51 coolest gadgets of 2012

8 ways Detroit restored our faith in humanity in 2012

Detroit 2012: A Look Back At The City's Biggest Trends And Most Memorable Moments

Detroit in 2012: The Year Our Tech Scene Became Legit

Future City Tactical -- 12 Musings From Detroit 2012


Joe Scarborough: Newtown Shooting Made 'Ideologies Of My Past' On Guns Irrelevant (VIDEO)

The Freedom of an Armed Society

Goodbye, CCHA

Hazen Pingree: Quite possibly Detroit's finest mayor|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Tom Walsh: Detroit is missing an auto tourist attraction

How NASA might build its very first warp drive

Remains to Be Seen
‘Detroit City Is the Place to Be,’ by Mark Binelli

For a better tomorrow, the time to act is now, futurist says