With less than 24 hours before Gov. Rick Snyder is likely to order a “preliminary financial review” for the cash-strapped city of Detroit, a City Council meeting with union leaders appears to be devolving into another predictable round of the blame game. “It’s giving away the city,” Council Member Joanne Watson thundered, according to a clip broadcast today on NewsTalk 760-WJR.
Said Council Member Kwame Kenyatta, according to the Free Press: “We as a community and as a people can agree to disagree but at the end of the day we have to decide what our destiny is going to be before someone comes in as a master, as someone to control the plantation. We don’t need someone else’s consent to do the business that the people put us in charge of.”
No, they don’t need someone else’s “consent.” But the councilman is right when he says Detroit must “decide what our destiny is going to be.” It must finally come to terms with failed governance, failed management, failed labor relations and a failed business atmosphere that have all combined to bring the city to edge of financial collapse.
Inflammatory rhetoric does not meet payroll or pay vendors, does not bolster cash-flow or rationalize city services, does not build the confidence of would-be investors and show residents a path for things to get better, does not ensure safer streets or quicker response times by the police and fire departments.
No, the overheated blame game only makes a bad situation filled with unpalatable choices only worse. There’s a reason Mayor Dave Bing and the governor would prefer to see the city’s leaders reach their own agreement to ensure the fiscal sustainability of the city: they understand the enormous political implications if Lansing is forced to intervene under Public Act 4, the emergency manager law.
And with time running out, one of the uglier ones is playing out in council chambers today — failed leaders blaming their failure on everyone but themselves.