CLBR #206: A Tale of Two Cities – Detroit and Los Angeles

CLBR #206: A Tale of Two Cities – Detroit and Los Angeles

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Maraniss talks about his latest book, Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story which captures the Motor City at its zenith in 1963.  While Steve Reneker, the Los Angeles’ General Manager for Information Technology Agency talks about the city’s plan to become a Gigabit city.

Play in new window | Download (45.2MB)

marannissOnce in a Great City: A Detroit Story by David Maraniss


It’s 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city’s leaders are among the most visionary in America: Grandson of the first Ford; Henry Ford II; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown’s founder Berry Gordy; the Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and Civil Rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; Martin Luther King. It was the American auto makers’ best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther’s UAW had helped lift the middle class.

The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march.

Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot. Before the decades of civic corruption and neglect, and white flight. Before people trotted out the grab bag of rust belt infirmities—from harsh weather to high labor costs—and competition from abroad to explain Detroit’s collapse, one could see the signs of a city’s ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.

Combining hindsight and insight with deep-dive research, Maraniss provides a clear-eyed flashback to a once-powerful manufacturing metropolis intoxicated by cheap gasoline, swaggering hubris and blue-sky confidence. . . . Maraniss examines modern history in the dogged manner of David Halberstam and Robert Caro. Between the lines, he leaves an unwritten thought for both today’s optimists and pessimists. If things could go change so much in just 50 years, what might the next half-century bring?  – The Detroit News.

gigabit city

Segment 2: Making the City of Angels a Gig City

As Los Angeles explores becoming the biggest city to become a Gigabit City, we will talk with Steve Reneker,  General Manager of the city’s Information Technology Agency.


Steve Reneker is the General Manager for the Information Technology Agency of the City of Los Angeles since January 2013.  Prior to that, he served as Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) for the City of Riverside and Executive Director for SmartRiverside, a non-profit organization since 2005.  At the City of Riverside he managed the Information Technology Department which is outsourced to Xerox.  He also formed SmartRiverside which developed programs to attract and retain High Technology companies in Riverside and also operated a City wide wireless Internet project with Digital Inclusion that provides free training, PCs and Internet for low income families in Riverside.  The City of Riverside was recognized in 2012 as the Most Intelligent Community in the World by the Intelligent Community Forum.

Prior to joining the City he worked for Dell in business development, and has worked in IT for over 30 years including CIO roles at the County of Riverside, City of Aurora in Colorado, and the Eastern Municipal Water.  He graduated from Cal State University San Bernardino with a BS in Management Science.