As if anyone needed a reminder of just how dysfunctional city government is in Detroit, the media is reporting that Mayor Bing has hired his own attorney to challenge the City attorney who is suing the State of Michigan to block the consent agreement. This has to be a first. I think Ms. Crittendon has a valid basis for her lawsuit – the State does owe the City of Detroit millions of dollars of revenue sharing funds that have been denied for nothing more than political reasons by Republicans. However, I also think she is missing the big picture. The consent agreement was the only viable defense against the State taking over Detroit and allowing the pillaging of its few valuable assets by other cities. For example, it’s no secret that the suburbs have longed for the Water Department. In this sense, the city managers and unions might be a bit less concerned with preserving the last vestiges of patronage and privilege and much more focused on defending the City from the relentless political attacks of Lansing. The argument that Michigan needs a vibrant urban center as an economic engine is accurate, but that center is becoming Grand Rapids. Detroit remains relevant because of the border and the Illitch sports empire and the few remaining auto plants. The point is that the State still needs us to be successful, but for years the Republicans in Lansing have sought to disenfranchise Detroit. If Mayor Bing had more cooperation and less co-opting then we wouldn’t have needed a consent agreement in the first place. This might sound strange coming from me, but there is a time and a place for a lawsuit – and this is not it. Drop the suit (for now) and let’s start building a new Detroit.
Motor City Madness