It appears to be a done deal – Gov. Snyder has appointed an Emergency Manager for Detroit. For anyone who loves Detroit it is a sad day, and I fear will it turn out to be a matter of destroying the city to save it.
First and foremost, Detroit has to take responsibility for this to happen in the first place. The political machine in Detroit since Mayor Kilpatrick (who inherited a Detroit with a budget surplus)have been corrupted into an ethos of self-service and self-destruction, with political leaders for the most part interested in serving their own needs rather than the needs of the City. There has not been a leader with a healthy vision for Detroit in nearly a generation. Detroit floundered economically because of the lack of responsible political leaders on both the local and state level.
As Detroit reeled from the corruption of Kwame to the dysfunctional dictatorship of the City Council, the carrion in Lansing watched and waited. The silent takeover of DeVos and Koch in Lansing was unmasked with the betrayal of Michigan by Synder when he snuck through the Right to (not) Work legislation at the direction of his lord and master, DeVos. It was only a matter of time before carrion descended onto Detroit to destroy the unions and pick apart city assets.
They didn’t have to wait long for City Council to manifest yet another instance of self-destructive dysfunction (namely, the Bell Isle fiasco) as the pretext to justify nullifying elections and appointing an Emergency Manager. Our economic savior, Mr. Orr, arrived waiving the specter of bankruptcy and warnings to unions. He was also hotly followed by tax liens on his own properties, which should have suggested that the real agenda wasn’t fiscal responsibility.
Already, the plum of Detroit assets, the Water Department is being mentioned as a target for sale. Interestingly, the Governor has said that the State management of Belle Isle would be up to the City Council (that would cost the State money).
The real conflict for me is the fact that I can only hope that Detroit does emerge from the Emergency Manager stronger, because it was clear Detroit could not do it on its own. It feels a bit like welcoming death after a long, painful illness.