So now comes the report from the appointed state ‘team’ in Michigan led by State Treasurer Andy Dillon saying what most folks in Detroit have known for some time, namely that Detroit’s finances are shot and are badly in need of immediate repair before we all go over the cliff. The pressure is on Gov. Snyder to recommend an emergency manager to take over Detroit just like he took over the Detroit Public Schools (DPS). And Pontiac. And Benton Harbor. And Flint. And so on.
Snyder is under no obligation to recommend an emergency manager, however, and he could go for a consent agreement. The funny thing here (OK, maybe not actually ‘funny’) is that for someone who seems to enjoy stealing democracy as much as Snyder does, he doesn’t seem too anxious to impose an EM on Detroit. I could engage my sense of humor here and say maybe his conscience is kicking in after ignoring the will of the voters last November by replacing Public Act 4 (the Emergency Manager Law of 2011 which the voters rejected at the polls) with Public Act 436, a mirror image of what the voters rejected (created during the lame duck session of 2012 with no public hearing and no committee hearing), due to go into effect on March 28, 2013.
But then this really isn’t the time for bad jokes. So then I suspect what is more likely is that Snyder is having a bit of difficulty finding anyone who wants this job. So far pretty much everyone whose name comes up as a possibility to stand in front of the firing squad either ducks, runs, puts tape over their mouth, or simply replies “Hell no.” In other words, nobody in their right mind wants to get in the middle of this mess and be Snyder’s boy toy in the ‘D’. Keep in mind that it was largely due to Detroit voters that PA4 was overturned, so whoever comes in here comes in here knowing the people don’t want him/her here. They come in here knowing the City Council doesn’t want them here. They come in here knowing the Mayor doesn’t want them here. The unions don’t want them here.
In case this is in any way unclear to whoever is considering the job, nobody wants you here. Oh. Except for Gov. Snyder. But he’ll be about an hour away in Lansing. And maybe DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts could be a buddy. And of course the two major newspapers that, as we all know, do such a good job reflecting the views of Detroit residents.
So sure. The emergency manager-to-be will have king-like powers once he/she is enthroned and will have the ability to give the great big middle finger to the entire city at will just as Roberts is doing to DPS and the other emergency managers are doing throughout the state. But I’m thinking sooner or later (hopefully sooner) it may dawn on somebody that it ain’t easy being king when you have no court and the vast majority of your subjects dream at night of your head on a pike. Sooner or later perhaps Snyder will consider the fact that even a king needs some measure of cooperation to run the kingdom.
The state team that issued the report says that Detroit simply cannot be trusted to solve its’ own problems and that therefore we must trust the state to do it for us because, of course, they have our best interests at heart. This is the same argument used by Snyder and other supporters of the EM approach when they disregarded the results of the November 2012 elections, namely that he was ignoring the voters for the sake of the kids of Detroit and we should just trust Massa Snyder to do what’s right. Even though DPS has been under state control for 11 of the past 14 years, which means that they kinda have to bear a fair amount of the burden for why things at DPS are so screwed up in the first place, right? I mean, the state took over DPS to straighten things out, but instead they made things worse. And now we’re supposed to trust the state to …
Wait a minute…WTF???
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.