We don’t have to yell
When Gov. Rick Snyder announced the confirmation of a financial emergency and the imminent appointment of a emergency financial manager (EFM), he said he wouldn’t deal with those who oppose his position by yelling. It must be nice not to have to yell to be heard.
Republican policy makers certainly don’t have to.
This week, Lansing threatened to cut $74.8 million from both Wayne State University and University of Michigan’s budgets because the legislature believes the schools were bypassing the right-to-work laws passed by legislators in the dark of night during its lame duck session in December. These are contracts that both administration and labor said would make each institution more financially stable. This comes one week after Snyder announced his candidate for EFM, Kevyn Orr of Jones Day law firm in Washington, D.C.
This is the second major policy shift with generational ramifications the tyrannical Republicans have forced on Detroit and Michigan.
Snyder and the legislature also overturned voters in the state of Michigan in the same lame duck session, when the new EFM law, Public Act 436, was rammed through the legislature. It must be nice not to have to yell — who said nerds aren’t the nastiest bullies?
This week, a new cadre of EFM protestors emerged in Detroit. Not the activists who are usually first in the fight, but establishment leaders who have come out in opposition of the EFM law. The Council of Baptist Pastors, the Detroit NAACP and public officials from other cities have stepped out to condemn a law that denies half of the state’s Black population the right to vote, local input in their schools, transparency in local government and does nothing to guarantee financial solvency.
What we most recognize is that there is no evidence an EFM will improve the financial outcome for the city of Detroit. Most know an EFM can absolutely cripple the city. The problem with having an EFM — along with the civil rights violations and the fact the law is in line with repeated, documented attempts in U.S. history to deny African Americans electoral privileges — is that it just doesn’t make financial sense.
An EFM will come in and, likely, immediately sell or transfer assets. The Water Department could go. Belle Isle could be in the hands of the state — or developers — by the summer. In the short term, the EFM can balance the books with these sales. The real problems remain — the falling economic status of most Americans, especially Black Americans.
Real leadership comes with considering opportunities for the city’s population living in poverty and developing policy to grow the city and create economic opportunities for its citizens. Detroit will be destitute without its assets. It’s one thing to be broke with a car, another to be broke without a car.
The governor, mayor and now Kevyn Orr have not begun to contend with this grim financial fact.
EFMs also bring consultants with expense accounts. As this week’s front page story exposes, most people do not understand the nature of corruption can be found in these costs. While consultants propose to save money, they also spend in ways that include thousands of dollars in high-end wine and top-shelf liquor paid for by taxpayers.
These consultants will be in Detroit for the next few years under an EFM.