It’s amazing to watch how hurriedly elected officials in Detroit are responding to the threat of an emergency manager. We hear all sorts of meetings being held all in a bid to prevent what seems to be the inevitable: an emergency manager is coming unless city officials are willing to make drastic changes NOW.
What is interesting about this last minute preparation and responses is the sense of urgency it has when two years ago it was a different conversation and political climate.
The Detroit City Council and the Office of Mayor Dave Bing waged battles incessantly as if each other was the enemy. With political venom they opposed each other traded insults often like kids just because of political disagreements. Yet in all of these exchanges that we saw as hallmarks of the relationship between the city council and the mayor, there was no real sense of urgency.
But now that the city is on the verge of a seismic shift in operation with an emergency manager after Gov. Rick Snyder has made it clear that there is financial emergency and something would be done about it, all hell is breaking loose.
Detroit is a city where blame is a staple of the daily politics. Officials like to point fingers at who is responsible for epic failures in this city from one administration to another. But we have to be honest in this case of financial emergency that it is the city council and the mayor that mostly could not come together on so many issues that has got us to this point.
Blaming Gov. Snyder for the financial mess will not stop the financial emergency. The governor was elected to run the state not Detroit. The city council and the mayor were the ones elected to run Detroit and ensure that the next generation of Detroiters have a better and a proud place to live in. But they did not do so. They squabbled, fought all day long when they should have been crafting ways to stop the city from financial bleeding. The times spent trading jabs at each other could have been spent discussing ways to generate revenue for the city so Detroit can be on track to financial solvency.
When the city council and the mayor can only be known for the antagonistic relationship that dominated their discussions about moving Detroit forward then something is wrong with Detroit leaders. Hard pressed taxpayers are not getting their fair share of investment in the city.
While the city is on the road to the UNKNOWN, it is important to bear in mind that much of this would not happen today if Detroit’s elected officials have done due diligence and truly answered the call of public service by working to generate revenue, balancing the budget and saving the lives of children dying in this city because either ambulances failed to come early or public safety was not there in time.