All started with a lawsuit against Governor Rick Snyder and Treasurer Andy Dillon over Public Act 436 of 2012, the reincarnation of Public Act 4 of 2011. The suit claims the new act is unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. The law is little more than a thinly disguised redux of the one that was repealed by popular vote last November. Andy Dillon was the architect of PA-4, and was likely behind the nearly identical provisions of the later version.
Concurrently, protesters gathered at Detroit City Hall and were denied access to the Emergency Manager’s office, formerly a public space. The group consisted of the same coalition that worked so hard to repeal the previous law and are behind the lawsuit — unions, elected officials, grassroots groups, community leaders and faith-based organizations.
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts wasted no time in delving into his new bag of tricks. He announced, with an abusive degree of hubris, his intent to fire the DPS Superintendent and to reverse all school board decisions that occurred since the referendum movement castrated his dictatorial reign last August. He seems quite pleased to have his magic powers back, al beit through an egregious affront to the democratic process.
This past week, former Governor William Milliken expressed deep concern about the way this is playing-out in the once great state of Michigan. He told Jack Lessenberry that he found the turn of events in Detroit “sad”. Milliken’s administration was known for its commitment to urban strength. Lessenberry said the following, citing a 1977 Milliken speech:
“Cities have always been the center of civilization as we have known it,” [Milliken] said, predicting our cities would become either, “Monuments—or death mounds—of our civilization.”…He persuaded the Legislature to put together a multi-million dollar, “equity package” for the city. His reasoning was that a large number of people across the state benefited from Detroit institutions like Belle Isle, the Detroit Zoo and the Institute of Arts. The Governor thought it wasn’t fair that the city got stuck carrying the entire cost of running them. Those efforts helped.”
Since the Milliken years, much has happened to undermine the fiscal stability of Detroit along with other urban centers in Michigan. Too often though, the blame is misplaced. This fact is understood by the former governor, and by those that are closely following the crisis, unlike those who take potshots, often subtly racist, but always uninformed.
SPECIAL FOOTNOTE: Of the thousands of readers on the subject, Democracy Tree has received only two comments that claimed they were okay with the dismantlement of democracy. The first was blaming “corruption” for the fiscal crisis, and the second was a misguided screed claiming I didn’t know my subject matter. Since I’m rightly recognized as one of a handful of statewide experts on the EM topic — having read and studied this for two solid years — the second commenter goes into the archives as someone who has his head up his ass. Back to the first…he claimed “corruption” as the cause for Detroit’s woes, and here was my response:
To imply that “incompetence” is the cause of these multiple fiscal crises is to demonstrate one’s ignorance of Michigan’s economy along with a possible nod towards racism, inadvertent as it may be. As corrupt as his administration was, Kwame Kilpatrick did not cause Detroit’s economic woes, any more than leaders in Flint, Pontiac, Highland Park, Ecorse, Benton Harbor, Detroit Public Schools, Muskegon Heights Public Schools, and any other school district or municipality teetering on the brink of insolvency have caused their problems.
Cities and schools that are not currently in crisis, negotiated the exact same contracts, bear the same legacy costs, and operated with the same budget projections as the afflicted communities. The only difference is they did not have their manufacturing base, and subsequently their housing market, and local economy fail due to factors outside their purview, plus get duped by the state…..
These cities were enticed by Lansing leadership to restructure their tax revenue streams and thereby promised compensatory revenue sharing from the state which was subsequently withdrawn in one of the most obscene bait and switch schemes known. Then upon their economic troubles, the finger was pointed at the perceived “incompetence” and “corruption” of their leadership.
This past week, former Gov. Bill Milliken put the message out that disinvestment in Detroit and other major urban centers in Michigan is utter folly, and done to the detriment of the state as a whole. Emergency Managers are all about cut-back management — parting-out communities like an old buick.
Amy Kerr Hardin