Today, the Obama administration triumphantly announced $320 million dollars in federal and private funds to support the newly-bankrupt city of Detroit. The administration felt compelled to intervene in Detroit, fast tracking federal grant money to Mo Town, proclaiming that “We’re going to continue to support the efforts under way in Detroit and ensure the federal government is an active partner in supporting the revitalization of the city.”
What about Stockton?
Even though Stockton has been bankrupt for about a year and faces similar if not worse circumstances than Detroit, the Obama Administration apparently doesn’t think we are worth saving.
Detroit recently claimed the mantle of “largest city to go bankrupt” from Stockton, a title held by the city since last year. But the responses to each city’s respective plights have been vastly different. As I wrote in an earlier article, as the economic engine of Michigan, Detroit has been the subject of countless debate at the state level. There were different opinions on what should be done, but everyone agreed Detroit was vital and needed to be saved one way or another.
Unfortunately, Stockton is way down on the pecking order of California cities. Where’s Jerry Brown? He should be up in arms that a bankrupt city in Michigan is receiving preferential treatment while bankrupt California cities gets nothing (not that Brown has helped us before). Instead, Stocktonians are pulling themselves up on their own, while President Obama showers Detroit with millions.
Detroit’s aid should not be considered a bailout since these funds don’t go towards refilling city coffers, but they will kick start economic development. At least some of the assistance going to Detroit may have been awarded through federal grants anyways, but the administration took the time to streamline Detroit’s application process. As a result, $140 million will be awarded for transportation projects (light rail, bus rapid transit) and millions more for public safety. FEMA is even kicking in $25 million for firefighters.
Stockton doesn’t need a bailout, but I think we deserve the same opportunities afforded to other downtrodden cities. Helping Detroit leverage grant money for a recovery while leaving Stockton to fend for itself shows blatant political favoritism and disregard for those who have the bad luck of being poor in Stockton and not Detroit.
It’s not just Detroit that is getting help from the feds, either. Just a few weeks ago, new Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx parachuted into Fresno to announce a $16 million TIGER grant to revitalize a key downtown corridor. Fresno officials credit assistance from the Obama administration with helping to navigate the bureaucracy and red tape normally associated with federal grants.
This blatant disregard for Stockton is yet another slap in the face from higher powers of government. I was pleased to see Rep. Jerry McNerney’s scathing letter demanding an explanation for Stockton’s exclusion from federal aid. Maybe that will turn some heads at the White House, but I’m not holding my breath.