Detroit’s funeral directors received this unusual text message last month. “FYI, city of Detroit can’t process death certificates because they have no paper and don’t have money to buy any.”
The message, from a fellow funeral director, was mostly true: The city did stop issuing certified copies of birth and death certificates on July 23, days after the July 18 bankruptcy filing. That day, a nervous paper vendor demanded cash — and the city wanted to do business as usual, on credit.
FYI: In bankrupt and frequently bizarre Detroit, dying is easy. It’s proving you are dead that’s hard.
Cutbacks in hours, balky vendors, and the news that Herman Kiefer Complex will close Oct. 1 are all affecting the city’s death and dying business. The city’s vital records department will close and Wayne County will assume responsibility for issuing birth and death certificates, according to Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
“Have you ever heard such a crock?” asked Wallace Williams, president of the Michigan Select Funeral Directors Association, when asked about the paper shortage. “They told us they ran out of paper and it might take five days to get some.” Williams, who texted his 20 or so funeral director members, says the potential impact of a death certificate shortage was dire.
Without certified copies of death certificates, families couldn’t access bank accounts, file insurance claims, or access probate court. The families are often struggling financially, grieving and frustrated by any bureaucratic delay. And although funeral homes provide copies as a service to families, they wind up taking the heat.
The president tomorrow will once again address the issue of race in American life in a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Administration officials, however, bristled at suggestions that he make even a symbolic trip to the predominantly black city of Detroit, which last month filed for bankruptcy.
“There’s not a goddam [thing] we can do right now to help them,” an Obama aide told Politico’s Glenn Thrush.
There are 264,209 households in Detroit, and 91,204 of them — or 34.5 percent — get food stamps.
There were 12,103 babies born in Detroit in the 12 months prior to the Census Bureau survey, and 9,124 of them — or 75.4 percent — were born to unmarried women.
Of the 363,281 housing units in Detroit, 99,072 are vacant. Indeed, vacant houses have become a powerful visual symbol of what advancing socialism has done to the city. Traditional family life is nearing extinction in this once vibrant corner of America.
Obama said in Michigan that if the federal government does not take more money away from people who have earned it, the public schools may not be able to buy school books. But the Department of Education says that in the Detroit public schools — which have books — only 7 percent of the eight graders are grade-level proficient in reading and only 4 percent are grade-level proficient in math.
School books are not lacking here. Self-reliance, the spirit of individualism, and the Judeo-Christian values that support marriage and family are. They have been driven out by a government that wants the people to depend on it rather than on themselves, their families and their faith.