In November 2012, Michigan voted to repeal the existing emergency manager law; despite this fact, Michigan’s legislature jammed through a new bill to replace the old emergency manager legislation during the lame-duck session in December 2012.
According to reports by Huffington Post, Governor Rick Snyder is still considering the facts from a report done by a state-appointed review team to see if Detroit is, in fact, in a state of financial emergency.
During a one-on-one session with Snyder, The Associated Press asked if any of the potential candidates for the job had already declined it.
“Oh yeah. There were quite a few people who were in that camp,” Snyder said. “Because if you think about it, and this is not to imply we’re going to do one, but it would be an extremely challenging position.”
Challenging may not be the best way to describe such a task.
The review team’s report also found the city would have had to increase revenues or decrease spending by about $15 million per month from January to March in order to “remain financially viable.”
Snyder believes the way to solve this problem is with an emergency manager. While desperate times may call for desperate measures, many agree this law is not the way to do it.
Under the law, the appointed emergency manager would be in charge of all the financial affairs of Detroit. The emergency manager would also have the jurisdiction to declare bankruptcy for the city. Snyder now has 30 days to decide if Detroit is in fact in a financial emergency.
A report from the secretary of state claimed eight cities and schools in Michigan are currently under the control of emergency (financial) managers. That means eight locally elected governments have been dismissed and handed over to state-appointed officials.
This is destroying democracy. This law takes away our right as citizens to elect our own government. It undermines your right to vote. You may argue that with our vote, we should have voted for a different governor, but many agree that our governor has gone too far with this legislation.
Former Governor John Engler was actually the first governor to appoint emergency managers in Michigan. Engler sent emergency financial managers to the Michigan cities of Hamtramck, Flint and Highland Park to try and prevent them from going bankrupt. Eventually they did help these cities avoid financial disaster, but it took more than seven years.
Deficits and financial emergencies are not something that can be fixed overnight. Putting someone Michiganders don’t trust into a major role is not going to help. These emergency managers should not be able to take over a city’s local government: they should not be taking over Detroit.
Detroit has financial troubles for many reasons, such the massive population loss from 1.8 million citizens in the 1950s to just over 700,000 according to the 2010 United States census.
“We need to grow the city of Detroit,” Snyder said. “That’s the answer here and it’s going to be really hard. I want to make sure people understand how difficult this is going to be.”
The place to go for answers is job creation. Michigan needs major renovations to its economy, and Michiganders need employment to spur the growth of Michigan’s economy.
Emergency managers are a Band-Aid for a larger problem. Detroit can be great again, but the city won’t get there by solving its budget issues alone. Detroit will get there by way of hard work, investment, smart governing and leadership from Lansing.