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Abstract: This case concerns a major fiscal problem facing the city of Detroit, and its mayor Coleman Young, in the 1970s. Part A presents a profile of Detroit, a deteriorating manufacturing center with virtually all of the classic symptoms of urban decline. The statistical profile, which is designed to complement the descriptive profile in Part A, offers demographic, socioeconomic, and political data on the city. Part B presents the mayor's dilemma. As the 1976-77 budget was being prepared, it became apparent that new revenue sources would have to be found and/or drastic service cuts instituted, to save Detroit from near-bankruptcy. The sequel chronicles various federal, state, and city efforts to ease Detroit's financial crisis, including state and federal aid, and new taxing authority for the city.
Learning Objective: This case explores the problems facing political jurisdictions that have limited leverage over the social, economic, and political forces affecting their well-being. It is designed to serve two purposes: to give students practice in sifting and analyzing a diffuse body of data; and to familiarize them, via classroom assignments and exercises, with policymaking based on pluralistic decision-making processes.