“We, the city.” That is the phrase used by the Jones Day attorney in court to identify his client. The Jones Day attorney is wrong. He represents Gov. Rick Snyder and his appointee, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
“We the city” better describes the hundreds of persons marching outside the courthouse in protest of the illegal proceedings inside. Appropriately, one of the chants city residents use while protesting goes: “Whose city? Our city!” As Councilwoman JoAnn Watson continually reminds people, the city did not file bankruptcy. Kevyn Orr did, at Snyder’s behest, and only to beat a scheduled hearing on a motion to stop Snyder and Orr from violating the Michigan Constitution by meddling with pensions.
Both men testified they knew they had the power to exclude and protect pensions as the constitution mandates. Both also acknowledged they swore to uphold the constitution — except, evidently, when doing so would violate their political ideology.
Jones Day and Orr are bankruptcy lawyers. While Snyder testified he didn’t recall any salient facts about the hiring of Orr or his firm, he did admit he interviewed “at least one other candidate.” Obviously no national search was conducted to find a qualified city administrator. Orr admitted he knew nothing about running a city. Like the Republican governors of Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, Snyder wanted to break the unions. He just found a slicker way to accomplish it — through emergency management.
And that tool allows him to privatize and monetize every city service and agency. No more troubling workers, just a steady stream of city tax revenue for the governor’s corporate friends to divide up and enjoy. If he can ignore the needs of people in their twilight years, what makes anyone think he cares about the residents of the city. Snyder’s shameless refusal to honor the vote of the state’s citizens when they rejected PA 4 at the polls demonstrates his scorn for democracy. He came back in less than two months with a new Emergency Manager law — one he guaranteed would never be subject to a vote of the people.
Evidence reveals Snyder, within weeks of his inauguration in Jan. 2011, began making preparations for two things: taking over Detroit and putting an emergency manager in place who would take the city into bankruptcy. Snyder needed the Emergency Manager law to ram through the bankruptcy he had planned for over two and half years. There is no evidence there was any attempt to explore alternatives.
Adding insult to injury, the bankruptcy judge halted all pending lawsuits challenging Snyder on the legality of his new Emergency Manager law. It seems the courts and officials are trying hard to protect what the people regard as an illegal law. The blatant disregard for citizens — especially those in Detroit — is slowly coming to light in court testimony. So, the reality of what is unfolding is a mockery of the transparency promised by Snyder, a mockery of the vote and a wrong waiting to be avenged.
How much do people have to learn and how much do people have to endure before the people act?