Time’s Not On Detroit’s Side

‘Time, time, time, it’s on my side, yes it is!’  So go the lyrics to the old Rolling Stones song.  In some cases, time is your ally, if you can afford to just wait out your opponents, and let issues pass.  In other cases, it’s not, and it can be the exact opposite.  Those of you reading are probably acquainted with the financial woes that face the city of Detroit.  In short, the city’s broke, and radical reforms need to be undertaken in order to right the finances of the city.  The state of Michigan has been forced to intervene in order to get the city on a more stable financial footing.  The Mayor’s in the hospital at what’s probably the worst single time for him to be on sick leave.  The City Council has been acting like the bunch of idiotic boobs that they’ve traditionally acquitted themselves as.

Much has been made of Public Act 4 and how it’s antidemocratic.  I couldn’t care less about the critics of the Act.  Their accusations are utterly without merit.  If a city can’t pay its bills and demonstrates a persistent inability or refusal to do so, there’s no other recourse but for a higher governmental authority, in this case, the state, to step in and sort out the mess that local leaders have created.  The current impasse in Detroit is that local leaders are demanding more cash, $137 million, in fact, to come along with a financial reorganization.  The state, rightfully, is saying no.  Detroit has a city government that’s designed for a city twice the size, and the political culture that permeates the city is downright tawdry.

But what the leaders of Detroit are missing is this: they’re going to be broke at some point in the middle of April.  At this point, they have power, because they’re still paying the bills.  But the fact of the matter is that they can’t afford to wait.  Every day that passes, their bargaining power declines, as they inch ever closer to the financial abyss over which they’ve presided for decades.  Yet, they fundamentally don’t get it.  The City Council is running Detroit as if it’s their own personal financial fief, to be run for themselves, friends and families, without regard to the citizens of the city of Detroit and the services that they deserve.  The longer that City Council keeps up with this heated rhetoric about ‘plantations’ and such, the more likely it is that they’ll find themselves without any authority whatsoever.

And the longer that this charade lasts, the more I’m thinking that may be the best outcome possible.


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