Sunday, June 17, 2012

And Now, A Word about my Birthplace

I was born in Saratoga Hospital in the City of Detroit many, many moons ago.  Since we lived at the corner of Fairmount and Regent (though a house was eventually built on the empty corner lot), you could walk there if so inclined.  Alas, with that now being the most dangerous Zip code in the City, you might not want to.

Anyway, I digress from what I really intended to say in this post.

I have not said much about the consent agreement between the State and the City, the subsequent lawsuit and withdrawal, the appointment of the Advisory Board, etc.  So here it is, all in one fell swoop.

The Consent Agreement:  Well, I guess it is better than the Emergency Manager legislation known as Public Act 4.  I'll try to be brief.

The prior legislation, P.A. 72 was quite useless.  My professional organization, the MGFOA, tried to get the law changed in 2004.  The idea was to set up a list of criteria to allow the state to monitor local financial conditions and go in before disaster was ready to strike.  We were told that the State did not have the resources to do that. 

So, in their infinite wisdom, they decided it was better to have a community on the verge of bankruptcy and then step-in and wipe out all vestiges of democracy.  Well, maybe I exaggerate, but you get the point.  Kinda like the parent who waits till his child is already in jail to give any guidance on proper behavior.

Now, there are public petitions to put the P.A. 4 question on the ballot.  The 'powers that be' have declared that the type-face on the petitions was 1/32nd of an inch too small and therefore are invalid.  Stay tuned.  What is even crazier is that the State says if the voters are allowed to vote and the act is thrown-out that we revert to the old P.A. 72 which was repealed.  HUH? 

So, we have a consent agreement.  But, the City's Corporation Counsel sued saying that the State owes Detroit money and therefore, the agreement is not valid.  This got tossed out, but let's face it, the State has not paid any community their Statutory revenue sharing for years, using the excuse that they did not appropriate it, therefore, it is not due.  Gee, can I use that excuse with my bills?

The Advisory Board:  What can I say?  Nine members, none of whom have any local government experience, one with State experience.  Only two live in the City.  One really lives in New York and summers here.  One has ties to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.  One has degrees in medical technology (so do I) and psychology. 

All the newspapers kept talking about how you had to have ten years of municipal finance experience to be appointed.  Not true based on who was seated. 

Then we have a Program Management Director who tells a local paper that it is now time for him to perform his 'public service'.  What?  He is being paid $220,000 a year in taxpayer funds.  Detroit police and firefighters get paid one-fourth of that to risk their lives every day.  THAT's Public Service! 

I wish this group luck.  They need to focus on public safety and neighborhood stabilization.  Take care of the crime issues.  Negotiate with a utility company to take over the street lighting, or lack thereof.  Privatize the transportation system. 

I keep waiting for the community to re-emerge from the ashes of the 1967 riots.  Maybe they should send a delegation to Berlin, Germany to see how to rebuild.  I've about given up hope.

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