The fact that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder followed through on his decision to appoint an emergency manager to take over Detroit’s finances isn’t the surprise because, well, it’s what he said he was going to do. And even before he announced his intentions outright the signposts were all up and down the road everywhere you looked. Snyder’s intention all along has been to hijack democracy in Michigan – and Detroit in particular – and as of March 14, 2013 he officially accomplished exactly that.
So that’s not what has me most concerned because anyone who was paying attention could see that one coming. What has me considerably more concerned are certain Detroiters themselves who are suddenly smitten with the bright and shining smile of the man whom Snyder has appointed to dismantle our democracy and assist him in hijacking our vote. Kevyn Orr, a high-powered African American attorney, made his introductory remarks last week and within moments I was seeing Facebook posts and overhearing conversations from people who just couldn’t help but stutter with praise at how well-spoken Orr is. He was just so impressive. Just so…so…. in command.
It’s not like we haven’t seen this trick before, folks. When Snyder made his move to take over the Detroit Public Schools, he used a high-powered African American male (Roy Roberts) to do the job. Now he is stealing democracy from the largest city in the state, and once again he brings in a high-powered African American male to do his bidding. And Orr isn’t just high-powered and black, he’s a Democrat who actively supported and campaigned for President Barack Obama.
Nobody ever said Snyder was stupid, and anybody who still buys that gosh-golly-gee-I’m-just-a-nerd routine he sold to get himself elected needs to quit snoring. Because tactically speaking this was a brilliant move. Snyder knew there was no way he could appoint a white person to take control of the blackest big city in America, especially not as a white Republican male, so like any good 21st century plantation owner he got a strong young black male to work the fields in his stead. And then, just for some added security against any possible future backlash from Attorney General Eric Holder who has been requested by numerous parties to intervene, he appointed an Obama supporter to boot. This move also works well to frustrate the machinations of local democrats trying to decide the best way to continue the fight against a ticking clock and a stacked deck.
The Detroit Free Press, which has made no bones about its support of Snyder’s moves to flagrantly disregard the will of his own voters when they voted against the Emergency Manager Law last November, is portraying Orr as if he was somehow delivered to us on the wings of doves with trumpeting angels heralding his arrival.
With a bold dash of confidence, Kevyn Orr predicted Thursday that he’d be able to accomplish a significant level of repair in Detroit — now foundering under staggering debts and unable to provide decent public safety and other basic services — in a role he said he felt a sense of obligation to accept.
“It’s the Olympics of restructuring,” the 54-year-old Washington, D.C., lawyer and bankruptcy turnaround expert said after Gov. Rick Snyder introduced him to Detroit as the emergency financial manager of a city at risk of a municipal bankruptcy.
A Democrat who worked on the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barack Obama, Orr said he wasn’t sure he would take the Detroit job when Snyder, a Republican, first approached him. But he said the offer of public service — even with a pay cut to a state-funded $275,000 annual salary — compelled him.
So did his wife, Dr. Donna Neale, a surgeon, who Orr said told him, “This is your call to action. Put up or shut up.”
Almost makes you wanna cry how this saintly man sacrificed his astronomical salary and the lights-camera-action of Washington D.C. to accept a measly $275,000 and then be forced to live down here in the ghetto. All in the name of service and wanting to give back.
I’m just so touched by the love. Wonder how much love we coulda got if we’d paid him his regular salary?
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.