Testing Gov. Snyder’s Resolve


With Obama-esk precision, Mayor Dave Bing punted the multi-million dollar budget deficit solution to the City Council. The legislative body, though, would have none of that.

Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown led the council chorus requesting that tough decisions to reverse the city’s dire fiscal fate be outsourced. Gov. Rick Snyder, according to the audacious Brown and company, might even enter into a “consent agreement” with Mayor Bing and arm him with sweeping financial powers similar to those of an emergency financial manager (EFM). It didn’t seem to matter that abdicating their budget-balancing duty revealed the depth of the council’s repeated failures to address the fiscal deficiencies of city government.

Brown may not be aware that power over the budget is the responsibility of the legislative branch, not a financial mercenary. It is the principle reason why he and he and his colleagues were elected. No one should be surprised, though, that his request provided confirmation that the council is inundated with politicians that have little knowledge of their fiduciary responsibilities, and lack respected judgment about what constitutes good public service.dollar-sign-in-maze-shows-finding-dollars-100214268

Although not known for budget solutions, the council’s ethical and professional lapses are legendary. The body historically teeters on the precipice of outright corruption and the misuse of official power and government resources for private enrichment. Allegations of bribery, patronage and campaign payoffs that line their pockets are more the norm than the exception.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson even proclaimed that Detroit is the victim of a stagnant national economy and in need of a Marshal Plan. She and her colleagues can’t seem to get their minds around the fundamental fact that the lethal combination of high taxes, high crime, poor city services, reckless spending and general inertia is what forces residents out and drives away tax base. The government’s ineptitude shouldn’t be allowed to continually collide with the reasons why businesses and households by the thousands flee.

While giving short-shrift to the fiscal morass enveloping the city, this council is among the highest-paid legislators in America. They make more than enough to own the vehicles and the other amenities provided them by the city. But they lord over an environment where any growth is among the poverty-prone population.

Since it can’t cut much more of the payroll without devastating already meager services, it makes sense to reduce outlays for employee costs that drain the treasury. However, neither Bing nor the council shows any political will to reassess available options and look beyond traditional approaches to service delivery. Even more regrettable is that employees are demonized when the real villians are the policymakers who are complicit in the contract-approving process but who refuse to eliminate wasteful programs or cut pet projects.

Granting second-term-seeking Mayor Bing EFM powers is no guarantee he would move to effectuate meaningful change. Neither he nor the council have an appetite for  budget balancing or offending special interest groups. The governmental unit that created the fiscal mess should be accountable for fixing it.

Should Bing and the council shirk from their duty to cut spending down to size, Gov. Snyder should waste no time appointing an independent EFM to seize control of the city and rescue its future. The EFM should immediately strip the mayor and the council of their perks and pay, and reconfigure the finances and service portfolio in a way that  benefits taxpayers.

Detroit politicians are testing Gov. Snyder’s resolve. To even suggest that the structural debt be managed by an outside fiscal controller sends the message that the mayor and council are of no use to the budget balancing process. Voters would be justified in sending them packing.

5 thoughts on “Testing Gov. Snyder’s Resolve

  1. Dear Bill Johnson,

    I just moved to Detroit and in May I bought a house. It has been a disaster of loss of things which I would not have in other cities. Damage and theft with no accountability and it is not just citizens but companies and government are involved in this. I am trying to recover as much as I can to leave. The detriment her is more then the benefit and the institutions for accountability does not work.

    I am appalled by the justice system violating rights that as an American we expect to have and have in other states. The city of Detroit makes up fines as well to get money out of people.

    Example my friend was sued by the city because his apartment building was not fully occupied he was only paying business tax on his income of a partially occupied building but the city said he was harming the city and people of Detroit by not renting out all his units and paying them more tax then they sued him.

    People don’t have time and money to pay to the extortionists in the government here and anyone who goes along with these plans needs to be fired. Don’t trust the people in Detroit to govern us as they are the cause of our problems and pain. They drag people into there legal battles and violate laws which people can’t win usually because they make things up as they go along like in the Dearborn protest case, where they told the protester that he had to pay 46 k and obtain a permit because he wanted to speak about a subject they did not like. The hundreds of protesters in the same spot who spoke on the subject the city agreed with they did have any requirements for them. They did not let the guy protest they put him in jail for not committing a crime.

    They also have horrible laws related to driving such as taking your licence plate if someone else borrows your car and has a traffic violation. The owner of the property has no way on his own to get it back from the state because the judgement surrounds the driver not the property owner. Then there is a audio recording of police robbing someone’s house they went to, to arrest.

    I consider the government changing rules and laws as they go along lawlessness and also I consider Detroit a money trap ran by corruption and possible dangerous criminal mafia groups who use the police and judicial system for their own advantage ( which I don’t want to discuss in this article). Please don’t trust the existing government because they have not even fired any of the people whom have been previously involved in scamming people and ruining people’s lives. If you have any influence can you tell someone, how can they keep people in power and in jobs who have made conspiracies to rob people illegally of there money and rights?


    Heidi Peterson

  2. Bill, what I cannot understand is why an elected body would be willing to have the constitutional and democratic right of the populace erased. We complain about low voter turnout and the fact people will not participate in a system that was created by a revolution becasuse of the oppression of rights by the mother country. The reason we had a revolutionary war and a civil rights movement was because of the supression of inalienable rights. I am perplexed that a governing body would be eager to turn over the right to govern to someone who would rule by decree whether as a financial manager or as a dictator produced by a consent agreement. That is exactly how Hitler came to power in pre world war two Germany. Such action disenfranchises the votes people cast for candidates to govern the city. Our form of Government was founded on the belief and principle that people would be assured the right to vote for persons of their own choosing to run our government at the National, State and Local Levels.
    I am not aware of anywhere in the Constitution of The United States that permits government to be ruled by a totalitarian authority without the consent of the governed.

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