The only surprise in the Financial Advisory Board’s warning that Detroit is running out of time in its pathetic effort to restructure government is that it’s a surprise … to anyone. Dysfunction reigns: if Mayor Dave Bing and his administration can summon the moxie to press ahead with reform, they can’t make the politics work with council; if they can make the politics work — a big if, to be sure — they’re stymied by lawsuits filed by the Guardians of Decline. If there are no lawsuits blocking a specific course of action, the administration can’t press ahead. Talk about a downward spiral.
“At the present pace, I think the city is going to run out of money,” Ken Whipple, a former Ford Motor Co. executive and retired chairman of CMS Energy Co., was quoted by the Free Press as telling the Bing administration during the financial board’s monthly meeting. Whipple is a straight shooter — committed to helping his hometown and committed to telling the truth.
Namely, the cash keeps disappearing. What apparently has not occurred to the obstructionists, chiefly because their collective financial acumen barely fills a thimble, is that continuing delay does not slow the city’s cash burn. And it won’t if voters repeal the hated Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 4, in the November election, either.
Detroit’s tipping point is here, as the jointly appointed Financial Advisory Board warned in its meeting Monday. Absent real movement on reforms city council endorsed six months ago in its consent decree with the state Treasury, the burgeoning financial crisis will become a full-blown one with pay-less paydays, unpaid creditors and missed bond payments. That’s a whole new league of ugly.