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NDE are the national educational radio network presents special of the week. We continue with the second of seven half hour radio documentary programs on Metropolitan Government prepared for broadcast by the capital city is broadcast station in Detroit. WJ our lead producer and a writer is also go for it. WJ aren't you little for this series. Is there a better way. Listen write listen to the sounds of the city. Sounded like he got a good list. Most people working in the world shopping people at play music in the city you know from the beginning of what we call civilization the city has been a meeting place for city people clustering together in every decreasing numbers. Why because the greater the number the greater the variety and the greater the opportunity for commerce for culture pleasure education entertainment.
Only a large city can give birth to a winning major league baseball team or become an average 45 here at the city generates life in a million ways because people gather there. But the city's in trouble serious trouble. Why because its center is decaying and why is that happening. Well something starts to rot. When the life force is drained from it. Is that what's happening to the city. Many would say that it is that it is being sapped of its vital forces the force of people people all kinds of people resourceful creative people. The city is not made of buildings it's made of people. If people live off the city but refuse to become city dwellers then the city as we have known it begins to die at least the center dies. The present
trend points to a remarkable phenomenon. A future city made up entirely of suburbs and a futuristic donut city. This is the second in a series of WJR special reports seeking answers to the question is there a better way. The first programme dealt with regional thinking and the slowly growing realisation that the urban problems belong to the total urban and not just the core city. In this program we talk about urbanization. If there is a suspicion that we have lost our way it's a good idea to look back where we've been in conversation with the chairman of the Department of Urban Planning at the University of Michigan professor Gerald crane. We covered some of the historical background of the city and
what it what it is that makes one city more appealing than another. Professor crane is not a politician. He's more concerned with the physical and the static appearance. He's originally from England but has been in this country for more than a decade. He was hired to direct the development of Elmwood Park Project in Detroit which is really an attempt to develop a community within a community since it is trying to really house some 15000 people. Crane also heads the planning for the 350 million dollar Medical Center project in Detroit. He also has been engaged in large developments in other states. Professor crane confirms what we already suspect that most of our modern cities have grown unplanned and unchecked. Well historically of course. Since the Industrial Revolution. We've been experience tremendous population increases as a consequence of the increased capability to support larger and larger populations. And most of those populations and most people found it
more congenial congenial to locate in urban areas rather areas so. Since the turn of the century and probably before all that there has been this tremendous influx of population into urban areas. Now the urban areas were not politically or physically or economically equipped to receive them. In any organized way so that the development that accommodates people has taken place in a somewhat chaotic and. No organized way. And we inherit this. And we're faced with the job from here on in. Both rectify past mistakes and hopefully planning for the future in such a way that we won't repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. Professor crane explained that the older cities of Europe and Asia are the cities which remain interesting and appealing even in the 20th century came into being under vastly
different circumstances than those facing our modern urban centers. Life was simpler. Transportation was primitive. You didn't need the grid work of square blocks to accommodate automobiles. There was much greater use of public squares were meeting places and celebrations. This made for a greater sense of community and greater pride in the city itself rather than one's own private lawn or backyard. One really lived in the city and perhaps one of the most important factors which contributed to orderliness of growth was control the form of government was autocratic. The decision making process was simple. Usually one man decided what should go where and that's the way it was done. But there is another good reason why the older cities are more appealing. The ancient cities of Europe or Asia. They used to build cities materials that they took from the ground. Almost on which they were building the city. They dug stone from the hills overlooking the city and they built the buildings. And by and
large they tended to use one or two building materials so that almost. Regardless of the quality of the design of an individual building. The city as a whole fitted it. It went. Together statically. Whereas today we have at our fingertips a whole variety of building materials that permit a wild variety of building forms and we haven't yet mastered the art of putting these various buildings and forms of materials together. In a way that is harmonious and sympathetic to one another. Professor crane has had some experience as a planner in Europe as well as in America and I asked him if one company can learn from another. Every country I think has to develop its own particular method for coping with urban growth. That is indigenous to its own particular circumstances and I'm not just referring to the natural circumstances of the physical environment but particularly. The political structure.
So that one cannot come up with a perfect plan for how to handle a city and apply it to London to Paris New York or Detroit. The way you might do with other things. This is something that grows out of the peculiar characteristics of an area. But I think there is one similarity that we all have to follow the Europeans in and that is that we're going to have to. If we want a decent environment we're going to have to control it. That word creeps in whenever we discuss planning and giving direction to the growth of urban centers. Control is an ugly word in many ways. But we do accept a great deal of it in other areas we don't let people drive on both side of the highways because it's generally recognized that it's for the good of everybody. That we have a degree of control that's rather an extreme example. But I don't think that we can permit industry to. Pollute the environment otherwise I think
we'll end up with less freedom than we might otherwise have. Is necessary for any freedom to exist at all. University of Michigan political science professor Arthur Brahmas tells us how cities got started in America and I wonder under the whole moral doctrine in Michigan a group of people in an area can draw a map and get out a petition to incorporate as a village or a city. And having done that and sent it on to the county board election is posted and they decide temporarily that they want to incorporate as a city or village they elect commissioners to write a charter and after the charter and written by responsible people in the area it's vetted as a people again and as soon as the voters have decided that day accept this charter and the results have been certified to the secretary of state that area is then incorporated
as a city or a village. And this is like the old Woodrow Wilson theory of self-determination you can decide whether you want to be a village or you want to be a city. You can incorporate a city with only 500 people per square mile like Livonia did when they had about 18000 people and it gets about 36 square miles and they incorporate as a study. On the other hand you're going to incorporate a small village with a home rule charter with 100 people to the square mile so that you have a wide open system of corporations. That's how we got to ring so all of our studies with these satellite corporations. And that tells us something of the mechanics involved but remembering that cities are people. Why do people incorporate as a city. Well I think I work with about 35 or 40 home rule charter commission mostly for cities and
I would say that basically it's a decision on the part of the people so far as a city is concerned. They want to cut themselves off from the township. They want to have their own government and they want to control certain things that are very close to them locally as they see it they want to have their own police force they want to have their own fire department they own or they want to run their own public works and utilities and they want to control doning and in general they just want to be master in their own house the way they see it. The basic American concept of home rule is involved in the birth of a city. Home Rule or self determination we can project this idea about what went wrong. I think what I want to happen basically in this century was that in 19 0 9 when we evolved the theory of home rule for
cities in villages no one foresaw the present clustering of satellite communities around central cities as in the case of Detroit. And initially I think this process of incorporation was thought of in relation to more or less the independent study with its own hinterland. But I would say that the results of this policy began to show very strongly in the 30s and 40s and 50s by the time you got past the trolley car and got over into the idea of everyone going around a metropolitan area on a paved highway an expressway you had conditions set up in which it was bound to bring about a generation of population and once you've gone that they weren't going to be governed by central cities they wanted their own local governments and so here we are with the present. I hate to use that word because I think it's a loaded word
fragmentation. And their review is the loaded word fragmentation. And we will have more to say about it in this series of special reports. But let's talk about schools now. It may seem like an abrupt switch from cities to schools but the system of education has experienced a parallel growth to that of the cities and we chose early in our history to separate the school government from the rest of the municipal government. We allowed them to raise their own taxes and plan their own development. Our school system in Michigan is not without some state control because of the state aid to education whereas the state exercises little or no control on growth of cities. Wayne State University professor Louis Friedman points out that the state control over school districts has resulted in less fragmentation. The school situation has come off much better at least in this respect. That is we had some 7000 school districts in the state of Michigan 140 today. There probably
are no more than at the most 14 to 15 hundred. What has happened is a considerable amount of consolidation and the consolidation has come about and very desirably so because of the guidelines which the State Department of Public Instruction the state legislature in short state government has set out for the local school district that is to say since a good deal of school aid comes from state grants and aid. The fact that state in effect control the purse strings has enabled it and its agencies to prescribe guidelines for the local school districts which has brought about a consolidation that I referred to a few moments ago. Michigan is Oakland County provides a good example of a program of consolidation of school districts which was handled at the intermediate or county level as the county became urbanized. Dr. William Emerson is superintendent of Oakland schools.
It became my job and the job of this office when I took it over to get on with the business of restructuring the school district organization within the constituency. The map on the wall shows you what we did for about five years. Three of us myself and two others in this office spent almost 100 percent of our time conducting area studies along with local citizens putting on election campaigns holding elections consolidating school district. I must say that the consolidations that we brought off didn't always turn out the way we wanted them to because as a matter of local referendum we did not have our way and maybe we should have either but. But we did consolidate from 100 down to the number 28. Each one of these consolidations provided the basis for a viable
elementary and secondary program. Dr. Emerson explains the overall effect of consolidation. It put the local districts out of the business of one room school operation. It put into every local school district competent management competent general management competent business management competent curriculum management. It put specialization into local school district automatically another section of the teacher licensing code applied no longer could. College but hinders even teach in school. They had to at least have gone to college for two years and of course shortly all had to go to college at least for four years. So within a very short period of time the corporate structure changed. Consolidation took effect professional management came in some specialization occurred in in the top management of all local school districts
and the faculties were upgraded in academic and professional status. That professional status can make quite a difference to the school administration. One school board member the treasurer for instance didn't keep all of his books in a shoe box. We got accounting systems and we got accounting machinery and we had accountability for funds and people knew where the money went. What a wonderful. The curriculums were no longer designed by someone who published a textbook. Somebody chose the textbooks that they wanted to minister to how they were taught and circlet all kinds of speciality in academic preparation and expertise. I came into the environment simply because of number one a change in the Times and number two a shift in the corporate structure. This updating of schools in Oakland County this consolidation of school districts from 100 down to 28 occurred at the same time that cities were mushroom all over the county. There are now 63 different governmental
units in Oakland County. I asked Dr. Emerson How come how come people saw the benefits of consolidation where schools were concerned. One must. Get the citizens to attend to what benefits if any will accrue if they abandon an institution that's been being 18 19 and that they grew up with it. A person won't make that kind of change unless he can see it in a pretty straightforward way. What benefits will accrue to his children or somebody else's children on account of this harrowing experience. It is a harrowing experience to abandon the familiar and the comfortable. That's why the forces of inertia are so strong and it isn't easy to push without applying pressure. After all if this thing had to go to referendum people voted on the issue.
Right or wrong because they wanted a vote on the Michigan law did not permit us to pressure people. We we've operated in a Jeffersonian. Environment cross-road Cracker Barrel democracy is what it was. There's one way to deal with Sadr there's one way to bring bring expertise to that and that's to have some people who have the expertise and you put them face to face with with a citizen. The job gets done. Dr. William Emerson as I mentioned is superintendent of Oakland schools in future programs we will use Oakland County as an example and development of county government to cope with problems of urbanization. The chairman of the county's Board of auditors Daniel T Murphy is a great advocate of stronger county government. When the county can learn from the cities we can learn the problems that confront the city as people stormed and rolled into the cities. We can see that
they weren't ready for all of this kind of. Migration at the time it came to that. If we don't learn in the counties from what happened to the cities we in 10 or 15 or 20 years are going to be doing just exactly what the cities are doing we're going to be running to the federal government saying there is no more money here you've got to come in here and solve my problem because we're not you know going to be talking about the core of the inner city. You can be talking about the coal are of the intercounty. This is we're going to be part of a metropolitan kind of an operation. And we have got to plan in advance in order to have these kind of sink sewer water clean water clean air the services that need to be done so that planned communities no matter how many people move into him are always ready for that influx of a greater population and have it designed properly. In any discussion of urbanisation and Michigan one should not ignore a government of the county level although in many cases it has been ignored. Detroit councilman Mel
Robbins who has served as chairman of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors and is presently chairman of its Ways and Means Committee and explains that the recent court rulings have made some changes in county government in Michigan. Actually what happened under the Supreme Court decisions of the state of Michigan in the United States Supreme Court is that we are required now to apportion the legislature of the county on a one man one vote basis to elect these supervisors they will be known as commissioners. But all that we really are doing are is reducing the number from 133 to 26 in Wayne County. This will provide no greater powers for any of these 26 members of the new Board of Commissioners Board of Supervisors than is presently the case it will not provide for any opportunity to overhaul the bureaucratic structure of the county it will not provide for a strong executive. It will not consolidate
any of the offices of the county. All that it will do will be to provide on a 26 member district for the election of twenty six new supervisors. And now Wayne County voters in next month's election will decide upon County Home Rule why County Home Rule I guess I could give you several reasons let me start with just a few. One county government in Michigan threw out all 83 counties is archaic is a carry over from a time when we were a rural state and when the counties were really rural extensions of state government so that we need now and in the light particularly of Wayne Counties to almost three million population to revise and modernize our county government to make it amenable to the needs and the services that we have to provide. Councilman Robinson says the county could operate as a large municipality under County Home Rule.
We are a sprawling bureaucracy with power diffused all over the place. We have for instance a Wayne County Civil Service Commission whose three members are either elected by the full board of supervisors power resides there. We have also a three member board of control of the Wayne County Road Commission. Power is diffuse there. We have separately elected clerk of the County Register of Deeds of the county sheriffs prosecuting attorney 3 auditors all of these are separately elected offices. And we need to consolidate some of these we need to modernize the government along the lines for example of a large municipal government Home Rule. So far has been discussed as applied to the smallest units of government at the village on the city level. When the term is used in connection with county governments some people feel that it takes on a different connotation under the state enabling law that was
passed in 1966 that makes County Home Rule a possibility for each county that may choose to go that route. Under that enabling legislation it is quite clear that a new modernized county government will not be able to impose its will on the member communities within the county. All that will be possible will be some greater modern role for the county to play. It will perhaps be able to plan it will be able to coordinate and if there is consent from the respective governments the 45 governments for instance within Wayne County then and only then could it act but it could not act unilaterally and it could not act to impose its will on any of the communities that presently exist. It is not intended that county home rule should be a substitute for the city of Detroit or for the city of Dearborn of the city of Trenton or Gibraltar a gross point or Harper Woods Highland Park etc.. Councilman Ravitz is talking about Wayne County but there are six
counties in the southeast Michigan metropolitan area a rapidly growing region. Professor Friedland's says we have little time to plan. There are. Half a dozen or so major basic functions such as water supply storage systems road transportation networks pollution. Programs and projects. And one or two others which if they were organized on a metropolitan basis at least meet us we would have a much more viable and effective. Governmental organization for the metropolitan area a metropolitan area which has a southeastern Michigan for example five million people which on the basis of. Projects and projections that have been developed by a number of organizations in the Detroit metropolitan area we confidently expect. To see
somewhere around eight to 10 million people by 1980. That is only 11 12 short years away and the lead time to develop many of the necessary facilities services is none too long 12 years may seem like a long time to some. But with respect to the pooling of resources finding the money developing the plans and actually bringing him through to fruition. The construction so to speak at 12 years is not too long a period of time to bring this about. And if in that 12 year period we are almost going to double our present population you can see the kind of problem we will have if we continue to have lets say some 400 odd governmental jurisdictions all with tax authority and all operating more or less independently on these matters. Chairman of the southeast Michigan Council of Guardians and supervisor of Milford Township William L. mainland says that a voluntary cooperative
approach at the local level is the only acceptable solution. It seems to me that when you come up against a situation where you have fixed it yourself to where you have reached the limit of your own capacity it only would appear to me to make sense that you look around you. To your neighbors in adjoining township communities who share a similar situation and similar problems and see if the possibility does not exist. You're getting together on some of these problems and by combining your efforts are taking perhaps one particular project at a time. You may be able to do things collectively and cooperative endeavor that you never could do. Now what is your alternative to this approach. As I see it. The alternative is to
pass the buck. Urbanization was the second in a series of WJR special reports seeking answers to the question is there a better way. The flight from the city turned to federal government southeast Michigan Council of doctors and metropolitan government will be the subject of future programs in this weekly series on local government reorganisation. This is Oscar front at WJR news. NPR's special of the week thanks the capital city is broadcast station in Detroit WJR for the recordings of these documentaries. This was part two of seven parts on Metropolitan Government. Is there a better way. This is NPR National Educational Radio Network.
Special of the week
Issue 8-1969
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Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 8-1969,” 1969-02-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
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APA: Special of the week; Issue 8-1969. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from