Now, after Gov. Rick Snyder pulled the Belle Isle lease deal over City Council’s inaction? Now, after Mayor Dave Bing said he would be forced to close 50 city parks this coming season because the cash-strapped city could not afford to (barely) maintain both Belle Isle and the parks? Now, Council President Charles Pugh wants to form a “working group” to discuss a master plan for the jewel in the Detroit River?
Seriously? Now? Absurd doesn’t begin to describe this exercise in denial, or the irony of using the words “council” and “working” in the same sentence. As the appointed Financial Advisory Board continues to warn that the city is not moving quickly enough to cut costs and as consultants keep finding example after example of towering waste and inefficiency inside the city, now Pugh wants to sit down and have a chin scratch over the future of Belle Isle.
Sure, why not? The governor’s weeks, if not days, away from appointing an emergency manager who would sign that lease deal in a nano-second to make the beleaguered, poorly maintained island a state park. With reality like that encroaching on the fantasy land known as council chambers, why not take precious time to think big thoughts about an asset the city has mismanaged for years?
As I wrote a few weeks ago: “What’s the benefit for a city on the verge of financial collapse to hold a rapidly deteriorating asset it can neither manage nor maintain properly? There isn’t one beyond the fleeting comforts of power and control, hallmarks of a dysfunctional political culture pushing Detroit steadily toward financial collapse, a state takeover or both.”
The disappointment continues. Every rational, adult step forward in the brutally difficult workout of Detroit invariably is followed by two infantile steps backward in the Detroit two-step, a circular dance of futility and stalling that will culminate in a takeover, Chapter 9 bankruptcy or both.