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Image of Burton Leland

© Gilles Perrin http://www.gilles-perrin.com/

Burton Leland
Wayne County Commissioner

From 2000 to 2010 we lost a quarter of a million people—250,000 people we lost. We will probably be a city at some point of about 500,000. We used to be two million. The problem is because once people left we have so much abandonment. People aren’t paying taxes, there’s no dollars coming in. You know we need those taxes to run government. So when they leave, they’re not paying any income tax, property tax; you still have a city that’s huge—we have 140 square miles. If you look at Detroit from up in the sky from a satellite, there are parts of Detroit that look like a farm, it looks rural, so overgrown. A third of the city is occupied with people, and we have tremendous abandonment, tremendous.

So you know you have to do something very drastic. You know you can’t drive a fire truck, fix the water, fix the lights, provide garbage removal, drive a police car down the street with one person. There used to be twenty-five houses and now you got one or two houses. You just can’t service that block anymore.

We’re gonna fight the fight until we have no breath left; we’re gonna fight the fight and we’re not gonna give up, and this is our mission, to just make it happen.

From June 13, 2012, interview