Tough Choices in Detroit

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.


4 Responses to Tough Choices in Detroit

  1. Frank Cusumano says:

    The entire budget deficit could be cured by raising the Detroit Casino Wagering tax from 19% to the 33% that Ohio has passed. 197 Million that the Casinos and the billionaire Illitch keep. It is all about the Benjamins, not about the common good.

  2. InYourFaceNewYorker says:

    And of course there are the economically disadvantaged kids in inner cities who are already in crowded classrooms. They are already at a disadvantage because many come from households that don’t read. The science is out, folks! Being read to at home from day one is the best predictor of how well kids will do in school! So anyway when the teachers fail to be miracle workers but at least give the kids SOME chance, they get blamed, the schools close, and the kids who were in overcrowded classrooms to begin with are crammed into even more overcrowded classrooms. What chance do they have?


  3. Frank Cusumano says:

    Let me comment on the Detroit Water and Sewage Dept. (DWSD). This, I believe, is the true prize, and the end game of the entire so-called Detroit fiscal “crisis.” DWSD is a governmental monopoly over the entire region’s water and sewage treatment. Business interests in Lansing hope to make it a private monopoly. It is illegal to tap a well for private water supply, and illegal to put in a septic field in most of the region’s municipalities. There are ordinances preventing an individual business or citizen’s liberation from the monopoly.

    So, DWSD is mismanaged.. at least that is what the business interests would lead you to believe. But the main cost driver of the increases (between 18-31% every year) is LACK OF CONSUMPTION. Don’t believe me, that is from the DWSD and SEMCOG analysis. The link is at the end of this post. People of the region, economically distressed, are conserving water to save money. The is the driver of decreased revenue. Infrastructure maintenance and legacy costs are additional expense drivers. That lack of volume is the revenue cost driver. So DWSD whacks the suburbs with clearly unsustainable increases, and Lansing sits idly by, watching and waiting.

    Now here is the kicker. This is the way the business interests want DWSD and the suburbs – at odds, angry and irrational. This is the tried and true method – create a crisis and then step in. Demonize Detroit, and the mismanagement (always an element of racism for good measure) and that will condition the suburban citizens to accept – even welcome- the idea that privatizing the monopoly. That is good “conservative government?” Business and the banks and will “help” the suburbs. The EFM, appointed by Governor Snyder, will sell the DWSD’s multi-billion dollar business for pennies on the dollar to the connected political cronies. I predict that it will be the billionaire Ilitch or a consortium led by him or his “family” that will step in to “save the day,” but whoever it is, don’t believe for a minute that this entire mess/affair is random and not calculated to enrich the few.

    Note that is the DWSD was regionalized, then the suburbs could resist the takeover more effectively, so that is off the table. Better to double the water and sewage rates every 2-3 years and then quickly stage the coup.

    In street parlance, it is just another “F-Job.”

  4. Michigan has been under Democratic leadership for most of my life. Just now we got a Republican governor and after all these years of Democratic waste the state is in serious financial trouble. It’s going to take drastic measures to clean up Michigan, and frankly Detroit is choking on debt.

    In your face makes ignorant statements of “Tax the rich”, but what good will that do outside of driving what few rich people and organizations we do have out of the state? Then where will we be?

    I don’t even want to hear the BS about Police and Fire Departments not getting enough money! Here in Plymouth we recently had an election that sought to pay Fire Chiefs $120,000+ a year from their current $90,000 a year! The fire fighters from just under $80k a year up into the 90K a year stratosphere! WTF!? If you cant make it on $80-90K per year working a city job then you got problems, and that problem these people have should not be passed on to the citizens!

    With regards to the DWSD, for gawds sake man! We are in the great lake state! We have one of the WORLDS largest fresh water supplies! This should be a non-issue! Hell other states that deal with drought want to pump our lakes dry, and currently many cities are building their own water treatment plants because the DWSD is what it is! But what happens when the local governments build their own water treatment plants? The people that get service from them get screwed even harder!

    Something needs to be done, and given the current climate it’s going to have to be drastic! More and more the current administration is trying to paint a rosy picture because it’s an election year, when nothing could be further from the truth!

    We need a Hero! NOW! And it isn’t Obama and his Administration, or the local Democrat aka Union government that has run this state into the ground the past 10 years!

    What about all that sin tax money? WTF does all that go? You know the tax that makes a $1.50 pack of cigarettes turn into almost $7.00? What about the lottery money? Its mismanagement and greed that is driving this state off the cliff and now that someone wants to do something about it people are up in arms?

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