We sent a team of OpenlineBlog interns to visit Detroit recently for a conference on urban and economic solutions with experts from across the nation and they came up with some observations worth sharing.
It's no secret Detroit has been devasted economically and forced to boldly change or die.
The problems were not created overnight but there are signs that the younger generation of Detroit is being allowed to experiment with relaxing the clunky ways of the old guard with new ideas and ways.
"Sometimes, you need a near-death experience to stop smoking, change your lifestyle and get life back on track" said one of the economic revitalization experts they met in Detroit.
Our interns met dozens of groups that are working to undo the bad habits of the last and infuse a new, tech-savvy, bold mindset.
Smart minds are being allowed to solve big problems.
What struck our interns is when they returned to Aurora, Illinois.
While there is a glimmer of hope in Detroit, Aurora is depressing.
It's a city dying but unlike Detroit, there isn't a national outcry, no change and the same people that created the mess continue to operate.
And, even worse, some of the next generation are part of the problem.
When Aurora corrupt cop Kristen Ziman was appointed police chief, it represented the ultimate failure of a city.
Not only she is a homegrown product but instead of fighting to stop the political mafia that has exploited the city, she joined it.
Aurora is second to none for corruption, taxes, spending, reverse economic development, declining education, increasing poverty and incompetent public officials.
Even IF all the bad guys and gals from Mayor Tom Weisner to the crooks led by Bob Vaughan at the Dunham Fund to crony cop Kristen Ziman were tossed into prison tomorrow, it may be too late to reverse the sinking ship.
Killing Hotel Projects.
Failure after Failure.
It would take bold change, a clean slate and attracting smart people from outside to help fix the mess.
Aurora isn't a city that encourages debate from within, let alone anyone from outside.
That combined with being in a fiscally-crippled state with an exodus of taxpayers exploited by decades of Michael and Lisa Madigan.
20 Years from now, Kristen Ziman, Tom Weisner and their cronies will all be enjoying their luxury pensions somewhere else so the good news is they will be gone.
Bad news is you are foolish enough to stay here, you will be paying for them for the rest of their lives on top of the bills for the damage of the last decade of destruction under the regime of Tom Weisner.
Let's hope for the sake of Detroit, they never move there and ruin it.
Because at the rate things are going, 20 years from now, Detroit will be thriving compared to Aurora's slow motion death already underway.