Detroit City Council Fiddles While Detroit Burns

By | July 4, 2012
Detroit City Council - burn the city down

Burn Baby Burn...

The Detroit City Council seems to be completely out of touch with reality. Several of the council members seem to think Detroit’s problems are just going to magically go away if they ignore them long enough. As most sane adults know, when you ignore a problem it only gets worse. All they have done is put the Governor in a situation where he has to appoint an Emergency Manager, assuring their constituents that they will lose their elected leaders.

Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown seems to be the only one that comprehends what’s going on. When asked about his support for an agreement with the state, Brown said, “I’m not ready to play chicken with the governor, I’m not willing to gamble with the future of Detroit, hoping, because hope is not a strategy.”

Governor Snyder is going to act, with or without an agreement from City Council. Their consent is not needed because they are the responsible parties for this disaster. A judge wouldn’t ask a thief how much time he would like to serve for his crimes. The City Council has fleeced the residents of Detroit for years and now it’s time to pay the piper.

In a few last final acts of defiance, they’ve further saddled the city with the following:

  • More debt. Just last week the city council approved $137 million in bonds which will have to be repaid to the bond holders with interest. Since the city has a horrible credit rating, the interest rates will be quite high. Detroit residents will be repaying these bonds for years to come, so when you wonder why the city can’t afford more police and fire services and why the streetlights don’t work – this is why.
  • Even more debt. The city owes roughly $3.8 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) thanks to financially reckless interest rate swaps that they have made over the last 10 years.
  • After Mayor Bing vowed to tear down the Brewster Projects this year, opening up possibly the most valuable piece of real estate in terms of future Detroit development, the council said they didn’t want to “waste that much money” on one project. Never mind that the funds for demolition are free money from grants that are about to expire if not used.
  • In an effort to attract sorely needed business to Detroit, the city council voted earlier this week to DOUBLE the tax rate on business. For anyone that doesn’t understand sarcasm, doubling the tax rate on businesses will force many businesses to leave the city.

The list goes on, but one thing starts to become clear – the Detroit City Council is doing the political equivalent to what Minister Malik Shabazz suggested when he said they would “burn the city down” before letting the Governor come in to fix it.

When asked about his opinion on a consent agreement, “Reverend” David Murray said “Stop playing kow-tow to the white man who hates your guts”.

This is the type of cancer that has been eating away at Detroit for years and that attitude is exactly why the city finds itself in the situation it does. Comments like these from Shabazz and Murray are just the public comments made by religious leaders in the city, imagine what gets said in private. Anybody searching for answers as to how we found ourselves in this position can use this as a case study.

Unfortunately, these types of comments are finding an audience with city council members. When asked to consider the consent deal, council members Saunteel Jenkins, Brenda Jones, JoAnn Watson, James Tate, Charles Pugh and Andre Spivey voted no. Cockrel and Brown voted yes. Kwame Kenyatta declined to vote. Cockrel and Brown appear to be the only ones that understand the implications of an Emergency Manager, but they’re being outvoted by people all too happy to burn the city down.

Category: Business
Eric Barrier

About Eric Barrier

Eric Barrier is a financial writer and contributor to several online sites including The Michigan Standard where his focus is on local politics and finance.

4 thoughts on “Detroit City Council Fiddles While Detroit Burns

  1. UG

    I wish the people of Detroit would wake up and get some people in office that served the residents and the city, rather than just themselves. It’s hard to believe so much damage could be caused by so few people. Sad really.

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