Petitions to repeal the Emergency Manager Law will be submitted later today or early tomorrow. There will be more than enough signatures to get the issue before Michigan citizens, which it should have been done long ago. The law unilaterally voids elections and creates manager appointed by the Governor and endowed with the power to void legal contracts and create their own budgets. When I was a child I was taught this was what Communism would bring about unless we fought them in Southeast Asia.
Given the anti-democratic nature of the law (which is clearly unconstitutional), why is it such a difficult issue? A large part of the problem is the intransigence of political figures in cities like Detroit. It is certainly true that beginning with John Engler the State has significantly reduced funds for local municipalities to operate. Giving tax breaks for corporations and reducing taxes failed to produce many jobs and failed to improve infrastructure. The result has been that local services, such as policing and fire fighting and sanitation have been severely damaged. Mayors and City Counsels have been forced to make difficult decisions involving which vitals services to eliminate. The problem is that they haven’t made those decisions.
Mayor Bing and City Counsel have failed to cooperate to provide the unified and strong leadership needed to rescue Detroit. Mayor Bing, to his credit, at least made an innovative proposal to consolidate neighborhoods and services to save money and improve services. The proposal went nowhere. The best they could manage was to negotiate a chair in the back of the room when the Governor’s representative considers selling off Detroit’s few remaining prized assets, such as the Water treatment and pumping facilities.
Could it be that democracy can no longer function on any level in Michigan? Could it be that we need a dictator, a Caesar to save our cities? The Mayor and City Counsel have failed the people, but the solution cannot be a State takeover.