Hello Mr. Emergency Financial Manager,
Welcome to the City of Detroit. The financial review team and State Treasurer Andy Dillon will be making a recommendation to Republican Governor Rick Snyder to appoint an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) over Detroit. The citizens of the great state of Michigan voted to disband the controversial state takeover law, but Gov. Snyder and the Republican legislature passed another version opposite of the Michigan electorate faster than the ink could dry.
Detroit, with a budget deficit of more than $300 million, has struggled with cash flow and a deficit plan to eliminate the possibility of depleting its currency for more than a year. This makes the possibility of appointing an EFM and eventual managed bankruptcy imminent, if proposed solutions do not work. The question becomes, will the state go against the will of Detroit and the referendum solved at the ballot box, or is the EFM the best option, due to the lack of vision, solutions, and political constraints on the part of elected officials?
The majority of the African American cities of Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse, and the school districts in Detroit, Highland Park, and Muskegon Heights have been taken over by financial czars in pursuit of eliminating deficits. However, many voices in Detroit’s community are calling it a colonialist form of exploitation and control of economic resources, assets, and infrastructure with no taxpayer consent or approval mechanism. The new EFM law does address certain aspects of taxpayer engagement, but functions under a totalitarian form of approval and forces all power within the control of one person, similar to colonialist regimes.
The Wikipedia defines Colonialism as an establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes Colonialism as control by one power over a dependent area or people. The ultimate goal of colonizers is to claim complete control over the colony, the social structure, government, and most important, the economics of the colony to benefit colonists and their economic systems, relationships, and processes against the indigenous population.
European powers, such as Spain, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and France, established colonies throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas from the 1400s into the 1900s. Exploitive colonialisms primary goal was to extract economic resources to benefit the few in power over the masses. Most colonialist regimes ended due to uprising, revolt, and revolution from the indigenous people. Many in Africa and the Americas gave generations of sacrifices, and remorsefully their lives, to end such economic exploitation, apartheid, and slavery.
Is the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) beneficial to the City of Detroit and the thousands who pay for taxes for basic services and a certain quality of life? The 82.7% majority population of Detroit is of African American descent. The city’s residents are in trepidation of a complete takeover, the outside exploitation, and the fear of returning to conditions inflicted upon Black people before the civil rights movement.
If and when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder appoints an EFM, we pray and hope that the intent is to protect the rights of its tax-paying citizens, economic opportunities, and services to ensure a certain quality of life for all Detroiter’s, not just downtown to New Center and those operating behind closed doors in Lansing. The appointed EFM should involve, engage, and build coalitions, fending off any perceptions of a colonialist mindset or agenda. The historical ramifications of “Disaster Capitalism,” perpetuated by the state and the lack of vision from our elected leadership in Detroit, have brought the city to its knees. Decisions made over long periods have inevitably caught up to Detroit. We have no choice now but to face reality, the reality of welcoming Detroit’s first Emergency Financial Manager.
Let us hope that the EFM will help Detroit’s economic situation, eliminate the deficit with a plan, and save its residents from a financial apocalypse. We hope the EFM will do the right thing, and set the city on a new course towards economic prosperity. However, if it is a takeover of the city’s economic means, resources, assets, and infrastructure, only for the means of exploitation, Detroiters will respond, just as they did in November of 2012 at the ballot box.