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A city is not a factory

The U.S. bankruptcy judge ruled that EM Kevyn Orr has the authority to act in the place of local government in a Detroit bankruptcy case. The judge has yet to decide if Detroit is eligible to file.

This was Gov. Snyder’s plan all long — to take the city through bankruptcy.

According to e-mails released this week, the plan for an emergency manager-led bankruptcy began in the governor’s office — confirming critics’ worst fears.

The Snyder administration has taken a serious credibility hit with the revelation of e-mails dating back to January that confirm his administration’s plans. How’s that for transparency?

Snyder led a seriously problematic and compromised bid process. Do we believe him now when he says all this bankruptcy will improve city services for Detroit residents?

The emergency manager was supposed to keep us out of bankruptcy, remember?

What about when, after voters defeated the emergency manager law, his administration pushed through another version of the law, which now justifies Kevyn Orr.

In fact, the Snyder administration selected an emergency manager — an “agent of the state” — selected a law firm with bankruptcy experience, had the mayor let a bid on law firms capable and interested in the city’s restructuring work, all before announcing a financial emergency existed in the city. How’s that for corruption?

So how lame do former and present City Council members — Gary Brown, Charles Pugh, Saunteel Jenkins, Ken Cockrel Jr. and James Tate — who voted to approve the Financial Stability Agreement/Consent Agreement, feel now?

These council members were self-righteous in their misguided belief that they were making the hard decisions to save the city from bankruptcy — only to end up here now.

That’s what happens when you are led by the governor’s office.

Get it? The governor has a plan. It’s Detroit public officials who don’t have a plan or a clue. Neither Mayor Bing nor council has offered any plan — formidable or weak — as an alternative to Gov. Snyder’s heavy-handed strategy.

Detroit will not be leading itself through bankruptcy. Lansing will. The power, the city’s billion-dollar budget and assets are now being managed by a governor appointee and a federal judge.

It’s hard to read the national stories on Detroit’s bankruptcy filing. No one seems to capture or understand the structural nature of the problem.

Most are actually taking the lead of the corporate media reports that come from this city, and pundits are recklessly pinning the blame for this bankruptcy on corruption.

Yet, the economic reality of Black America is much more difficult to understand. Detroit is a city that has not recovered from rampant, unprecedented, unpunished predatory lending preceded by 65 years of disinvestment, bad state and federal urban policy.

A city is more than numbers. To ignore the larger structural and economic forces is shortsighted and will not correct long-term problems. A city is not a factory.

It is people’s lives, a seat of civilization, a small-business hub, a center and creator of culture. To focus exclusively on numbers and the most basic city services — as only a nerd would do — is a morally bankrupt choice.

 

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