A look at Detroit from the inside out

By Tom Quiner

Bill Nojay knows the story about Detroit. He worked for the city.

He gives us an inside look at the dysfunction that permeated Detroit in a piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal today (“Lessons from a front-row seat for Detroit’s dysfunction”).

He gives us a real feel for structural problems embedded in a government built by liberalism. Here’s a quick recap of his observations.

What did you do?

“Last year, I served as chief operating officer of the Detroit Department of Transportation. I was hired as a contractor for the position, and in my eight months on the job I got a vivid sense of the city’s dysfunction. Almost every day, a problem would arise, a solution would be found—but implementing the fix would prove impossible.”

Was it easy to manage your people?

“Union and civil-service rules made it virtually impossible to fire anyone. A six-step disciplinary process provided job protection to anyone with a pulse, regardless of poor performance or bad behavior. Even the time-honored management technique of moving someone up or sideways where he would do less harm didn’t work in Detroit: Job descriptions and qualification requirements were so strict it was impossible for management to rearrange the organization chart. I was a manager with virtually no authority over personnel.”

Could a bailout fix Detroit”

“The last thing Detroit needs is a bailout. What it needs is to sweep away a city charter that protects only bureaucrats, civil-service rules that straightjacket municipal departments, and obsolete union contracts. A bailout would just keep the dysfunction in place. Time to start over.”

Go to the Wall Street Journal to read his complete analysis of what is wrong with Detroit.



  1. Monte on July 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I agree. Not all cities and public unions have acted so irresponsibly, but Detroit deserves no federal dollars to bail them out. Let it be a lesson to all municipalities that treat the taxpayer with such greed.

    • quinersdiner on July 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks for writing!