‘Right-wing gangster move’
At a public forum hosted April 10 by the NAACP, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis indicated city services would improve under the approved Consent Agreement (CA). Lewis and supporters of the CA say residents should expect transportation and lighting, among other city services, to improve.
Impossible promises for an administration that announced just two days later massive cuts to the already reduced city budget. The mayor plans to cut $160 million from the general fund and about $600 million more from the overall budget. Tough measures for a mayor who refused, just last year, to make enough cuts to avoid emergency management.
Transportation cuts, despite Lewis’ boasts of improved services, will further reduce Detroit Department of Transportation service, which already ended 24-hour service and eliminated routes.
Lewis presented the austerity budget to city council, while Mayor Bing convalesces, mostly offering vague, across-the-board cuts to city departments ranging from 10-25 percent — a thoughtless, incompetent way to direct city resources. It’s easy to say, “cut 20 percent;” more difficult to determine redundancies, understand the needs of residents and execute a plan based on the city’s priorities.
This administration is undoubtedly waiting for State Treasurer Andy Dillion and Gov. Rick Snyder to do the hard work of steering Detroit’s resources and priorities. The CA, which allows the state to develop a financial reform plan and have final say over Detroit’s budgets, will allow the state to set the priorities the Bing administration has failed to articulate since its inception.
Expect for times to get worse in Detroit long before they get better. Unfortunately, streets will remain dark and the already delayed response time for police and fire — which face a 10 percent pay cut — will probably remain the same. Residents who hope the agreement with the state will bring relief should think again.
At the budget presentation, Councilwoman Joann Watson called the budget an attack on the city charter and part of an “unprecedented right-wing gangster move.” Watson reminded the council and deputy mayor of the $100 million in cuts the multiple unions created for the city.
Watson is correct. Detroit’s path to “recovery” is coming from a right-to-work, Republican-dominated Lansing. Detroit’s leadership, council and mayor, should determine its own priorities — delivering adequate services to its citizens.
What happened to the unions’ plan for $100 million in savings and suggestions for increased revenue? Was it ever considered? What happened to protecting city workers and their rights to collective bargaining?
The five council members who voted in favor of the CA tried to assure citizens it would make things better. The mayor’s proposed budget, which has to be approved by the state, has already shown it to be a farce.
Bring back the unions’ plan or let the new nine-member board, CFO and program management director reveal the budget process is for show and the state is Detroit’ s new boss.