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EFM? No thanks, Detroiters say

Council, mayoral candidates, NAACP among those speaking out

By Mike Sandula
The Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — As Gov. Rick Snyder weighs whether to appoint an emergency financial manager (EFM) to the city of Detroit, City Council and several mayoral candidates are saying don’t bother.

At its formal session Feb. 26, Council again discussed the city’s options, concluding an EFM isn’t necessary. Council President Charles Pugh said an extended consent agreement is one possibility; Council is expected to send its final recommendations to Gov. Snyder by Feb. 29.

Councilmember JoAnn Watson, meanwhile, says there’s no substantial difference between the new emergency manager law, Public Act 436, and Public Act 4, which voters rejected statewide last November. Watson’s motion to file a lawsuit challenging PA 436 was denied, however.

The NAACP also lamented that Michigan voters have been ignored.

“It is apparent that Michiganders who overwhelmingly indicated by their votes last November, to the tune of 2.3 million, to repeal Public Act 4 do not matter to many of the states elected officials,” reads a statement released Feb. 26 by the NAACP.

Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the NAACP Detroit branch and author of the statement, also urged Gov. Snyder to consider the city’s history.

“There is no way that an emergency manager is going to come into the city of Detroit and within a period of 18 months resolve what has taken 50-100 years to develop.”

“We urge the state to be our partner,” Anthony continues. “We do not call upon the state to be our overseer.”

Rev. Anthony held a press conference Feb. 26 reiterating these viewpoints.

Krystal Crittendon, former corporation counsel and current mayoral candidate, also says there’s no basis for emergency management. Crittendon, in a statement released Feb. 25, says the city is owed $800 million in accounts receivable, as confirmed by State Treasurer Andy Dillon.

Further, Crittendon says the state bares some of the responsibility for the city’s financial crisis.

“The state eliminated revenue sharing for all Michigan cities, causing all cities, not just Detroit, to experience financial distress,” Crittendon says.

Crittendon also points out that much of the long-term liabilities referenced in the Financial Review Team’s report are not attributable to the city’s general fund.

Another mayoral candidate, former State Rep. Lisa Howze, says the city can become financially solvent “inside two years” — without the help of an EFM.

“The state of Michigan claims that Detroit has a $15 billion long-term debt crisis,” Howze said in a statement. “After my financial team and I reviewed the city’s audited financial statements, long-term obligations in the city’s general fund are less than $2 billion. This is not a crisis.”

As the Michigan Citizen reported last week, Detroit had a general fund deficit of $327 million in fiscal year 2012 and long-time liabilities exceeding $14 billion, according to the financial review team.

Howze held a press conference Feb. 27 detailing the full extent of her three-month investigation.

A message left with the governor’s office seeking comment was not returned.

Contact Mike Sandula at mikesandula@michigancitizen.com

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