Payne: Punt

Even the clockwork punctual Snyder Administration could not meet the deadline to save Detroit. By law, the state’s Detroit Financial Review Board was to have made a recommendation – signed no later than Monday – on whether the governor should implement a consent agreement or appoint an emergency manager (EM). Monday came and went, and Andy Dillon’s team made no recommendation.

In short, they punted.

Nothing in Detroit works – so why should its state review board be any different? Their excuse? They had no consent agreement to rule on since the governor and city officials are still hashing out the details. There’s always an excuse in Detroit.

On a day in which Detroit’s beleaguered citizens should have gotten leadership, they got more chaos. More court appeals were filed by union stooges. Dillon’s board meeting was occupied by protestors yelling: “No justice, no peace!” The governor was openly mocked by Detroit civic leaders as they ramped up the racial rhetoric and nationalized the struggle (just as MIView writer Matt Davis predicted two weeks ago). Jesse Jackson announced he would bring his circus to town Thursday. And Detroit Reverend David Bullock bemoaned a “lynching of liberty” and accused Snyder of racism on par with the Trayvon Martin case.

“One half of Michigan’s African-Americans are under the emergency manager law. This is kind of like Trayvon Martin,” he told WWJ-News Radio. “If it looks like some kind of racial element is being implemented, then race plays a factor.”

Detroit has defied the rules for decades. Which is why it is in the situation it is today. Unsustainable public employee costs. Public corruption. Nonexistent family structure. Fifty percent adult illiteracy rates. And now the EM law.

“This is the last day we have to act, so we’re here today to address (the law),” Dillon told the raucous crowd. “We have a 10-day window … it is our hope that within this window. . . (we) come to an agreement.” He apparently was referring to a brand new 10-day window since it missed its Monday deadline.

But by law, shouldn’t that have triggered an EM?

The forces of disorder are winning. As they always do in America’s most dysfunctional city. Benton Harbor got an EM. So did Pontiac and Flint. Even New York City got a consent agreement almost identical to what the governor proposed 10 days ago. But none of it’s good enough for Detroit.

The governor says that he and city council are “just a few paragraphs away” from a consent agreement. He says he just needs a few more days. But WWJ-Radio’s Tim Skubick reported that Mayor Bing told Snyder that he would not accept a consent agreement with the words “consent agreement.” We’re not making this up. Those “few paragraphs,” in other words, are crucial. Snyder wants a consent agreement. Bing wants a “financial stability plan.” How then can the governor meet the law?

“We understand we have financial difficulties,” activist minister Malik Shabazz told the Detroit News as his cohorts shouted down Dillon’s team. “Give us the help we want, need and deserve, not the help you want to impose on us. We don’t want an emergency manager or a consent decree. This is white supremacy and we will fight you.”

As MIView columnist Bill Johnson says: “Let them go bankrupt.”

Henry Payne
Henry Payne is the auto critic for The Detroit News. A 25-year newspaper veteran, Payne is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonist with United Feature Syndicate, a former columnist and editorial writer for The News, and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other publications. His auto reviews appear every Thursday in the Drive section.