Michigan governor plans takeover of financially strapped Detroit
By Mira Oberman ,AFPCHICAGO -- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder prepared for a state takeover of Detroit, an epitome of urban decay, by declaring the Motor City in a state of financial emergency on Friday.
March 3, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
“Detroit can't wait,” Snyder said at a televised town hall meeting. “We need to solve real issues here today because citizens are not getting the services they need and we have a financial crisis.”
The move by a white, Republican governor to take control of a predominantly black and Democratic city has drawn intense criticism and charges of racism.
“It's undemocratic and not a solution to the city's problems,” said John Philo, director of the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, which has challenged the emergency management laws in court.
Detroit needs a partner, not an “overseer,” Reverend Wendell Anthony, who heads of the Detroit chapter of civil rights group NAACP, said this week.
Snyder sidestepped a question about the racial implications of his move, but insisted that the appointment of an emergency manager does not mean the end of democracy.
“This shouldn't be about politics,” he said, noting that city council and the mayor can participate in the process.
“Let's all keep working together.”
Several city council members have vowed to block the move.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who has been widely praised for cleaning up after a succession of corrupt predecessors, said Snyder's plan must include more financial assistance from the state of Michigan.
“We have always said that we need help from Lansing to implement our initiatives such as public safety, transportation, lighting and others,” said Bing, who has long opposed having an emergency manager.
“There is a way for us to work together,” he said, if the emergency manager focuses not just on the city's finances, but also on restructuring initiatives to improve quality of life.
Supporters of the takeover say it is the only way to tackle Detroit's seemingly intractable problems.
Emergency managers have the power to eliminate entire departments, change labor contracts, sell city assets and rewrite laws without any public review or input.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announces he will appoint an emergency financial manager for the city of Detroit during a town hall meeting at Wayne State University in Detroit, ...