Charles Pugh promises us. He doesn’t give up easily.
So surely we can recognize that the Detroit City Council’s fruitless appeal of Gov. Snyder’s finding that Detroit faces a financial emergency will only be the latest – and not the last – in a never-ending series of tactics to protect the status quo and the power of the Council. Pugh and his colleagues are already making it clear that the next step will be to take the matter to circuit court if they can find a judge who will listen.
Detroiters must be proud! The City Council doesn’t just neglect the fiscal health of the city when it’s easy. Anyone can do that. But when the chips are down, your City Council keeps fighting for the right not to do its job, and to make sure no one else can do it either.
At least Mayor Dave Bing, while hardly the world’s most effective executive, knows enough to wave the white flag in a battle he can’t possibly win. Bing refused to join Council’s appeal on the emergency manager question because it’s a total waste of time and he knows it. Snyder is not going to say, “Oh my goodness, I thought Detroit was in a financial emergency, but now I see JoAnn Watson’s point that I’ve just been engineering a right-wing planned attack on the city. My bad.”
I don’t know what the Council spent preparing its appeal, but it was surely nothing compared to what it will cost to take the matter to court.
And that leads us to what should be a pretty easy decision once emergency manager Kevyn Orr is in place.
Given the power of the purse, Orr should – at the very least – tell the Council there will be no money to pay the legal costs of any more appeals on the EM question. And if Council insists on continuing the fight, Orr should exercise his power to sideline them completely.
Would that be an affront to democracy? I suppose. But given the nearly impossible financial challenges the city faces, a City Council that continues to file lawsuits against the only path to a solution is like a homeowner who keeps running into the house with a bomb strapped to his chest while the fire department is trying to keep the darn thing from burning down.
Except, of course, that in Detroit the Fire Department would never get there in time to begin with.
Sidelining a city’s duly elected leaders is a big deal. It should not be done lightly. It sets a terrible precedent and no one should take any joy in it just because those out of a job come from the other end of the political spectrum or whatever. Only the most extreme circumstances warrant even considering such a move.
But we’re past the point where Council can even be considered legitimate, or taken seriously, anymore. They are now obstructing just for the sake of obstruction, and Orr’s job is hard enough without having to deal with nonsense like this.
If he is the no-nonsense guy everyone says he is, he will put the Council out of its misery, and that starts by taking away the checkbook before they run to court again – looking for a new place to throw the temper tantrum that never ends.