Detroit moves one step closer to state takeover

It’s looking like today may mark the beginning of the end for Detroit’s Mayor and City Council. According to numerous sources, the closed-door meetings on the take-over of the City have begun. The following comes from the Detroit Free Press.

…A 10-member team appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to determine if a financial emergency exists in Detroit, a key step toward possible appointment of an emergency manager with broad powers to cut spending.

The team includes a former Supreme Court justice, former college presidents and a former Detroit police chief. The team has until late February to report its findings, although Snyder could ask for them sooner.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city still has financial stress but won’t run out of cash by April as previously predicted…

I’m certainly not an expert on such things, but it seems to me that this whole thing could also be a bit of theater intended to scare Detroit’s public service unions into making big concessions with Bing, in hopes that doing so might prevent Snyder from replacing him with an Emergency Financial Manager empowered to force even less palatable deals down their throats. It’s really hard to tell what’s happening behind the scenes. At one point, people were even speculating that Bing may himself be angling for the EFM position. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Assuming an EFM is forced on the people of Detroit, theirs would be the sixth city in Michigan to be taken over by the Snyder administration, joining Ecorse, Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Flint. And, it’s probably worth noting that, demographically speaking, these cities are primarily African-American in composition. With more on that angle, is a clip from the Washington Post.

…The state law allows emergency managers to sell off city assets, restructure debt and break union contracts. But the managers also usurp the powers of local elected officials.

“It is the civil rights issue of our time. I didn’t vote for an emergency manager. I voted for a mayor. I did not give up my right to vote on the whims and fancies of a law that we believe is unconstitutional and immoral,” said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, pastor of Fellowship Chapel and a civil rights activist in Detroit. “We view it as another step in the direction of voter suppression and vote oppression.”

(Congressman John) Conyers sent a recent letter to the Department of Justice arguing that the appointment of an emergency manager to keep the city out of bankruptcy would violate the civil rights of Detroit residents. (Detroit’s school district is already under the control of an emergency manager.)

“My conclusion [is] that there is a racial component that is discriminatory and that is a violation of civil rights,” said Conyers, who also wants to hold Capitol Hill hearings on the constitutionality of Michigan’s practice of appointing emergency managers….

Also in the news today is this somewhat related tidbit from Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress.

…Disney XD is apparently making a version of RoboCop for kids. It’s called Motor City, and involves a futuristic Detroit where an evil billionaire called Abraham Kane bought out the city went it went bankrupt and “banned all freedoms”…

And, here, with more on the new series is a clip from the Animation Insider:

This cartoon is set in a futuristic Detroit owned by evil billionaire Abraham Kane. Having banned personal freedoms including automobile transportation, Kane now faces one last obstacle, a group of hot-rod wielding rebels who call themselves The Burners. Led by Mike Chilton, The Burners rise to stop Kane from conquering Detroit’s last oasis of freedom — an underground refuge dubbed Motorcity. The series, created by Chris Prynoski and produced by Disney Television Animation and Titmouse, Inc., is slated to premiere in winter 2012 on Disney XD.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be prophetic… Or, then again, maybe we should hope that it is. Mike Chilton sounds like he could be fucking awesome.

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  1. Edward
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that we can serve as a cautionary tale to the children of America, and that Disney’s shareholders will benefit from our misery.

  2. Burt Reynolds
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Ecorse, BH, Flint, and Pontiac were taken over because of racial discrimination. Of course. It has nothing to do with astronomical crime rates, horrible schools, no tax base, and general shittiness. They had horriffic city councils I assume, who made equally horriffic decisisons with the strapped monies they had. Sound familiar? I’m looking at you DCC.

  3. Star Child
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Detroit could probably benefit from a take over by the state since they seem to be running their city into the ground…

  4. Max Abuelsamid
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    So we should just remove the democratic system and force the people of Detroit to live under an appointed ruler who determines everything that happens to THEIR city? Don’t think for a second that Snyder’s lackey won’t just cut cut cut.

  5. Star Child
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Detroit has been in the pooper for 30+ years… the Democratic system has failed it along with its elected officials. I suppose they could declare bankruptcy.

    “After examining Detroit’s numbers, review team member Glenda Price said the city is certainly in a financial crisis.

    “The seriousness of the situation was made sharper,” the former Marygrove College president said Tuesday after reviewing the finances. “When you have all of the data, and you see it, it is sobering.””

    – Detroit Freep

  6. dragon
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Detroit could probably benefit from a take over by the state

    What makes you think so? Appointing EM’s has an actual track record, going back at least a decade in Michigan. Don’t you think Snyder would be crowing about the success rate of these efforts. It seems to be a direct transfer of union wages and benefits of hundreds if not thousands of workers into paws of appointed cronies and political donors leaving the city in exactly the same shape as before.

  7. gary
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    what detroit needs is a recreation center.

    one would spur economic development and increase the tax base. i would have assumed dave bing would know that.

  8. Robert
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I think dragon makes a very good point here…and one that almost everyone seems to be ignoring, including the press.

  9. Mr. X
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Detroiters make stupid decisions. I read a poll not too long ago that suggested that many would vote to reelect Kwame Kilpatrick. Does that mean that we should invalidate their votes, though? What kind of precedent does that set? Should the federal government take over Mississippi based upon the metrics they’ve been putting up on education, health care, etc?

    The whole thing amazes me. We give the people of Detroit shitty schools, and, then, when they make ill informed decisions, we throw up our hands and say the only answer is to come in, seize power from them, liquidate their last remaining community assets, and create an environment more conducive to attracting big business, which is code for low regulation, cheap labor and no taxes.

    Are the people of Detroit doing a bad job of managing what they have? No doubt. There is corruption and ineptitude at every turn. I would argue that cannibalizing what little they have left, though, is the opposite of what needs to happen. It’ll just turn it into a brothel for the rich, like the people at Disney have foreseen.

  10. Mr. X
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I should add that I’m all for there being consequences to bad management. I just think that the rules should be equally applied across the board. When the big banks act irresponsibly, they get bailed out. When Detroit fails, the poor kids get 60 kids in a classroom and the suggestion from Gigngrich that they should clean their own toilets.

  11. Posted January 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Oh! Mark, thanks for the bit about Detroit being lined up to be the 6th city in the state with an Emergency Manager. I win $5.

    I just remembered that I made a bet with elviscostello that fewer than 10 Emergency Managers would be appointed by the end of calendar year 2011. I believe the count at the end of 2011 stood at the five cities you list above, plus the Detroit Public Schools. (Muskegon Heights school district has requested an EM, but the State won’t consider appointing one until after they finish a financial review; Highland Park school district is also queued up for an EM but doesn’t have one yet.)

    The point of my staking a flag on the “less than 10” prediction last year was to contest the idea that Governor Snyder was positioning himself to appoint hundreds of Emergency Managers in a display of naked power. I continue to assert that the EM act is *not* an act of racist corporate cronyism by the Governor — it’s an imperfect attempt to address deep and long-standing issues with Michigan’s fragmented and hamstrung municipal governance structure.

  12. Glen S.
    Posted January 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Fewer than 10 communities have received EM’s so far … but those that have (or are about to) represent a lion’s share of Michigan’s “majority-minority” communities. How can that possibly *not* be racist?

    That’s like saying that, because Governor Snyder exempted public universities from the recent ban on domestic partner benefits, he is *not* homophobic.

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  1. […] surmised, it’s not a coincidence that this protest is taking place on Martin Luther King Day. As we’ve discussed here before, the Emergency Financial Managers to date have only been deployed in cities that are primarily […]

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