James Tatum


Recent articles


How Kwame Kilpatrick gambled away Detroit's money

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On July 18, 2013, Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy after decades of social and industrial decline.

Art or Assets?

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When the Delaware Art Museum sold William Holman Hunt’s “Isabella and the Pot of Basil” they earned $4.25 million as well as the opprobrium of the art community. The Association of Art Museum Directors formally sanctioned the museum in June, and instructed its fellow members not to lend artwork to the Delaware Art Museum.

Was Romney right about bankruptcy?

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I called to have my 2003 Saturn Ion repaired in early May. I wasn’t called back about the repair until the middle of June. When Mitt Romney wrote, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” perhaps he spoke with a bit more wisdom than we – myself included – realized at the time.

Detroit and the DIA

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A testament to the complexity of Detroit’s bankruptcy has been how many people have written about the matter incorrectly. Namely, on the proposition that the Detroit Institute of Arts sell its collection in order to settle the city’s debts.

Coleman Young didn’t destroy Detroit

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Former Mayor Coleman A. Young is not an unimpeachable character in Detroit’s story, nor is he the antagonist he’s often been made out to be.

Restorative justice helps teach students

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For most of this decade, and the previous decade, punishment in schools has not only been considered separate from criminal justice policy, but has also been all about retribution: suspension, expulsion, demerits, etc.

There is no defense for the death penalty in the U.S.

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Opponents of the death penalty have to understand that supporters of the death penalty will not be moved by the botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett in Oklahoma. They don’t care.

City officials don’t plan for the worst case scenario

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The problem is city officials didn’t abide by what could clumsily be called the “What If It Goes Wrong” principle. In other words, there didn’t appear to be any consideration of the worst case scenario on the part of city officials who were in office at the time. It was all but assumed the project would be successful. It wasn’t.

You can’t have the art

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People who think the city of Detroit should sell the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection tend to either not understand bankruptcy, or the implications of the art’s sale.

Republicans and the city

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Often times, Republicans point to cities like Detroit and Stockton, both of which have filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, and link their disarray to the Democratic administrations that control them. Urban politics are complicated, and those cities’ problems have more to do with the Great Recession than the party which controls them.

Film tax credits won’t make you a movie state

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I like Oliver Stone’s movies, but do I like them so much I’d offer the famed director of “Platoon,” “Natural Born Killers” and “Any Given Sunday” $10 million from the public treasury?

A glimpse into the EAA's past, future

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had already raised the ire of residents in multiple cities, namely Detroit, when he empowered state administrators to take over city finances. Republican Snyder, who is currently in an election battle with Mark Schauer, a Democrat, has also empowered an arcane entity known as the Education Achievement Authority to take over school districts and public universities with low student achievement.

Ypsi must be wiser with taxes

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What city with no money can afford to give it away? Ypsilanti apparently can.

'Stupid rules' restrict business, keep cars off online market

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“You take a look at the weak economy, the overregulation….what we are seeing here is big government in practice,” said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican nominee for vice president in 2012. Such complaints about an overbearing government are abstractions and are difficult to debate and discuss – unlike real instances where clearly the rules on persons and businesses are burdensome.

Economic mobility decreasing, income inequality on the rise

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Economists divide income distribution into quintiles. This sterile terminology doesn’t capture the romanticism of “rags to riches,” but the American dream is about people who want to move into a quintile above the one they were born into.

The Water Street Development Project is a disappoinment

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It’s already been written that the city of Ypsilanti will not declare bankruptcy, at least not in the foreseeable future. That does not mean there are not lessons to be learned from other localities that have sunk into insolvency.

Fix our roads!

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From casual observance our roads appear to be worse than ever. Which is why I am (and you should be) utterly perplexed as to why our state Legislature intends to waste money to cut taxes rather than fix our roads.

A tax cut for Detroiters

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Detroit should cut taxes. More specifically, it should eliminate its income tax of 2.4 percent. As part of the city’s plan of adjustment, a formal outline for solvency that was submitted to the federal bankruptcy court in February, it appears the city has other ideas. Namely it intends to collect income taxes from residents known as reverse commuters – people who live in the city but work in other areas. Former Mayor Dave Bing estimated $142 million in income tax revenue went uncollected in 2009, and the city wants that money.

Opportunity cost, opportunity lost

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“Colorado Expects to Reap Tax Bonanza From Legal Marijuana Sales” was a headline which appeared in the New York Times over Winter break.

Lokale Wirtschaftsentwicklung seminar on economy enlightening

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On Feb. 14th, in room 421 of Pray-Harrold, students from the University of Applied Sciences, Kehl, Germany presented their research on local economic development.

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