In the days when I used to attend church on a much more regular basis than I do now (not a reflection on my church), one thing I used to hear the pastor say quite often was that “the devil is busy”.
Indeed he is. Indeed he is…
For those not so familiar with church lingo, particularly black church lingo, what the pastor meant is that evil never really sleeps. If you want to not just conquer evil but remain on top, then you need to stay vigilant and pay attention. And never, ever fool yourself into believing that it is over. Because no matter what major or minor victories you may think you have won, the devil is busy figuring out how to get it all back while you’re busy victory dancing in the streets patting yourself on the back.
OK, so maybe the Republicans aren’t the equivalent of Satan. You’re right. Maybe that’s a bit much. And yet, as I continue to watch what is going on here in my home state of Michigan where the Republican Governor Rick Snyder and his henchmen continue to do all they can to thwart the will of the people by forcing PA4 (the Emergency Manager law) down their throats despite the majority vote of the Michigan Supreme Court allowing the anti-Emergency manager ballot initiative to (finally) be allowed onto the ballot in November, and then the most recent decision by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John Murphy to suspend PA4 until the election (which is what should have happened long ago), one does have to wonder just how much pull the Republicans have in very low places.
Technically, the situation on the ground right now should be that the Emergency Manager law is suspended until the election in November and the Detroit Public School Board is now in control of all academic matters. Because the old Emergency Financial manager law is still active, Emergency Manager Roy Roberts should now only be Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts – at least until after the election. If the EM law is overturned in November, then Roberts is gone altogether, and good riddance. If voters decide they want to keep it, then he gets to stay and screw us some more.
But despite the fact that Murphy plainly said in his split-decision ruling (split decision because opponents of the EM law were hoping the judge would return all powers to the school board) that the school board now has authority over academic issues and Roberts is now – if only temporarily – back to financial manager only (meaning he is no longer all-powerful), Roberts apparently still can’t reconcile himself to the altered landscape. Despite a petition with more than 200,000 signatures asking for the repeal of the Emergency Manager law, a ruling by the State Supreme Court forcing the issue onto the ballot despite crazed efforts by Republicans to muzzle democracy, and now a ruling by the Wayne County Circuit Court, Roberts continues to be as obstructionist as possible and then says he’s doing so for the sake of the kids.
School is scheduled to open in Detroit within two weeks, and yet it looks like all the kids have to look forward to is all-out warfare between the elected officials on the DPS school board and an emergency manager appointed by a Republican governor who views democracy as an inconvenience. Those who argue in favor of Snyder and the EM law say that the schools have been so bad for so long that the EM law is the only thing that can save the system before it crashes and burns. They also say that the kids are caught in the crossfire, which is a crime, and that is probably their strongest argument.
But the one question nobody can still seem to answer is why should we trust Gov. Snyder more than we do our own elected officials? Granted, the history of the Detroit School Board is far, far from stellar. But that’s what the vote is for. If the people of Detroit have allowed the DPS to sink below acceptable levels then it is up to the people of Detroit to rectify that situation. Allowing any governor, regardless of party, to take complete and total control of a municipality simply because he believes the situation requires such drastic action is beyond unacceptable. And for Gov. Snyder to sit calmly by and smile as his appointed bulldog blatantly defies a court ruling defies belief. The lengths to which this particular bulldog is willing to go to satisfy the appetites of his master would be sad and pathetic if it weren’t so destructive.
Once again I ask the question; if the DPS board is truly as incompetent and out of whack as is being alleged by detractors, and if they truly don’t care at all about Detroit kids, then where is the evidence that Gov. Snyder has the answers? Why are we supposed to believe that his agenda is so much better for Detroit? What has Snyder done to earn our trust to such a degree that we should be willing to suspend democracy on his behalf and follow him into a burning building – especially when that burning building isn’t even his?
Detroiters don’t mind a helping hand. What we have a problem with is when that hand is squeezing our throat while we’re being told it’s all in our best interest.
The devil is indeed busy.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.