Minehaha Forman is a freelance writer living in Detroit. Born on a farm in Belize, Central America, she moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and a career in writing. Forman’s work has been featured in many metro Detroit publications including Dbusiness magazine, Hour magazine and Corp! magazine. She has provided event coverage for Real Times Media and The Michigan Chronicle for three years, covering the popular Pancakes and Politics speaker series and other events. Prior to working with the Chronicle, Forman was a blogger with The American Independent News Network where she covered Metro Detroit politics and the 2008 presidential election. She will continue to provide commentary and coverage of Detroit politics as a blogger and feature writer for The Michigan Chronicle’s website.
Website URL: http://truthordarestories.blogspot.com/
Less than a week after being ousted from her perch at the top of Detroit’s Law Department, former Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon has announced her intentions to explore a mayoral run.
Crittendon gained name recognition only this year after challenging the legality of the city’s consent agreement with the state this spring with a controversial lawsuit that pitted her against current Mayor Dave Bing as well as state officials.
At the time the Bing administration painted Crittendon as a rogue lawyer who acted out of line to dampen city progress. But Crittendon asserted that the lawsuit wasn’t about her, that it was about doing her job to make sure government was acting within the city charter.
Since then Bing has opted to hire his own lawyers from the private firm Miller Canfield a move that has cost the city more than $300,000, city bond ratings have slid further into the junk bin and Crittendon has been demoted.
But her hasty post-firing announcement of a possible run raises questions that one can’t help but ask: Was Crittendon planning a run all along? Did she make a big (and ultimately unsuccessful) show of an attempt to halt the consent agreement, (a controversial compromise tied directly to the unpopular emergency manager law) to gain name recognition and position herself for a plausible run?
It’s true, politicians have to stay continually ahead of the game, in months, sometimes years of strategically planning. A telltale sign is that Crtittendon says she already has eight people in place to run her exploratory committee with less than a week of job displacement behind her. She told The Detroit News she heard about her ouster over the news media “like everybody else”.
If that was the case, it seems like she had been planning a run for some time regardless of whether she would be fired.
In a radio interview with Mildred Gaddis on Inside Detroit WCHB-AM: News Talk 1200 Monday morning, Crittendon had all of her talking points ready, and still insisted that it wasn’t about her but about the law and the voice of the people.
It almost seems as if her rise to fame or in some cases infamy was a calculated power play. Which as far as poltics goes, would be brillaint. Or maybe the events of the past year steamed her up for a run.
“The papers have portrayed me as a polarizing figure,” she told Gaddis Monday morning. “This is not true. I can work with both branches of government, as well as residents and the business and corporate community. This is not about me.”
She said her legal actions to block the consent agreement gave people hope, that the legal fight got people “believing we can reclaim this city”.
Crittendon said she has seen an outpour of support, residents approaching her asking how they can help in her mayoral bid. She also struck on a cord that resonates with many Detroiters who are worried a state receivership would mean a loss of voice for residents by declaring that the city can manage its own financial crisis.
What would be Mayor Crittendon’s first action? A thorough audit, and a beefed up collections taskforce to get back money owed to the city, she said.
Although she obviously is against recievership, she said kowtowing to State pressure in order to stave off the dangling threat of an emergency manager is not her course of action. She said the state will likely appoint an EM anyway, so fear is not the answer.
“The City Council should not be afraid to take a bold stand and listen to the people, not be afraid,” she said adding that even if an EM is appointed prior to the election, “he will not be here forever”. It seems likely that after establishing herself as a fighter for the people, she has positioned herself in the spotlight as a sort of martyr, perhaps gaining a soft spot in voter’s hearts.
The second question is, will it work?
Pitted against the likes of former DMS frontman Mike Duggan and Wayne county sherrif Benny Napoleon, Crittendon has some big fundraising to do. And fast.
It remains to be seen: What side of history will the woman who tried to stop Detroit’s state-mandated restructuring process fall on?
Aside from right-to-work, perhaps the most heated debate in Michigan last year was over the controversial emergency manager legislation.
Essentially, as opponents of the legislation fervently argue, an emergency manager siphons power from locally elected leaders and an appointed one starts calling the shots on how and where money is spent (and not spent) within an affected city.
Detroit, despite threats, has been able to doge an the infamous EFM (so far anyway).
But in many ways the city has, by default, come under a different type of financial management.
The city, it its compromised financial state, has been increasingly reliant on outside donors, big-ticket foundation gifts, to help keep city projects afloat. It’s been a much less heated debate, but it still exists in the undercurrent of city politics and grassroots movements.
A prime example of this came to a head in 2011, when the Kresge Foundation cut funding to Detroit Works project after a disagreement with the Bing administration over the role of outside decision-makers planning the fate of the city.
As Rustwire.com pointed out at the time:
Investors like Rapson weren’t elected by the people of Detroit. He came to Detroit a few years ago from the McKinght Foundation in Minneapolis. He lives in some fancy suburb outside Troy. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, private individuals like Mr. Rapson are wielding a lot of power in Detroit. They are threatening to dictate the terms of a project that will nonetheless be funded 4-1 by public money.
Since 2011 Bing and Rapson have mended fances and are not on the the same page. News came yesterday taht Kresge plans to donate $150 million tot he Detroit Works projects, that is "every single dollar" that Kresge spends in Detroit over the next 5 years Rapson says.
Rapson is of the opinion that Detroit needs outside voices and ideas to get it on a new path. And he's partialy right, making the issue more complex than the stale outsider v. Detroit standoff.
Mr. Rapson counters that more outside voices are needed in Detroit to help local leaders who, he suggests, aren’t up to the challenge of remapping the city. “The idea that the folks who have been trained a certain way for the last 20 years and who have never had the opportunity to apply that training in another community could figure all that out de novo seems crazy,” he said in an interview.
But city leaders say mapping out the city’s future—including deciding which neighborhoods will survive Mr. Bing’s consolidation effort and which ones won’t—is a task for local leaders and voters. “People want to know that their interests are being represented,” says Marja Winters, the city’s deputy planning chief and co-leader of Detroit Works. “Someone who doesn’t live here can’t accurately represent their interests.”
So, in a way, the city is under a financial direction from people who have not been elected. But we have to ask ourselves: is that such a bad thing?
You know how the saying goes: when life gives you pork, revive the McRib… Or was it something about lemons?
My point is, it’s when commodity futures dip, not soar, that investors dig in. And while Detroit isn’t exactly a commodity like pork, it is at what some believe is the bottom of a 60-year dip, prime time to plant the seeds in this fertile economic garden.
If Detroit is teetering on the edge of some humbling realities, it also is propped at a precarious tipping point that could define its future. But one giant fear still lurks in the not-so far-off shadows: Municipal bankruptcy.
Such a catastrophe, even if welcomed by some, would fit nicely onto Detroit’s crisis-driven timeline. Which, since the city’s boom in the 1950’s, has included widespread blight, severe population decline, startling crime rates, sluggish basic city services, pitiable poverty rates and an ever-looming financial boogeyman (aka an EFM).
This rattling list woes has inspired some to label the city a national basket case. Yet, if despair is in order, most Detroiters didn’t get the memo. In fact, many are projecting another ending altogether, one in which the hardships of the past give rise to a powerful hope. For all of its troubles, Detroit is a place where adapting to the whupping of post industrialism actually seems doable, and creative and bravely speculative investment ventures in the city are on the rise.
Supported by state, federal and private sector boosts, these upticks are actually gaining credence, so much so that moguls like Quicken Loans headman Dan Gilbert, longtime Detroit investor Mike Illitch, and financial guru John Hantz are racking up investments and beginning to build on long-term investments in the city. In other words, Detroit is the Place To Be. That’s not only a hip and speculative reality but also the title of a new book that's getting national buzz.
Perhaps Dan Gilbert knows it best. He is adding to his Detroit skyscraper collection.
The Detroit News today reports:
This would be the 16th purchase of a downtown property by Gilbert and company since January 2011. Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, relocated the headquarters of the nation's largest online home mortgage lender from Livonia to Detroit in August 2010. Gilbert's portfolio of companies has since moved more than 7,000 people to work in downtown.
.... "Our focus in 2013 will be on the three R's — residential, rail and retail — all of which are vital in creating the vibrant, thriving urban core that we all envision," Gilbert said in the statement.
Detroit stocks may be in the crapper but who cares? It’s the futures that count.
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