With a remarkable ability to get things done in a city that has been on the brink of state emergency management, Midtown, Inc. has a reputation for being better at performing the role of government than government itself, writes Detroit writer Anna Clark in the New American City.
But, she asks: What are the stakes of ceding public sector work to non-profits? Some argue that if private organizations like Midtown aren’t making sure trash is picked up and the neighborhood is promoted as a positive place to invest, the jobs won’t get done — and neighborhood will languish. On the other hand, communities cede a certain amount of accountability when private hands, whether a community development corporation like Midtown, Inc. or a for-profit company, take charge of public services.
Is there a risk when common-good public services are — at least some of the time — defined by neighborhood borders rather than city ones? De facto or otherwise, will cities be less likely to make high-quality services and innovation available to all its neighborhoods, or will some be left (perhaps all too literally) in the dark?