Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers — February 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

Eclectablog reporting on the disparate racial impact of Michigan’s Emergency Manager law on The Rachel Maddow Show


Helping ensure the rest of the country is paying attention

In my seemingly endless coverage of Michigan’s anti-democratic, repealed-and-then-risen-from-the-dead Emergency Manager Law, one post seemed to get more attention than all the others. That was the one a bit over a year ago that showed that, if Detroit and Inkster were put under the control of Emergency Managers, over half of the African Americans in the United States of America with be without locally-elected, democratic government but, rather, would be ruled by a single, state-appointed ruler.

This past week, with Detroit on the precipice of receiving an Emergency Manager due to the failure of its consent agreement with the State of Michigan, I updated the original post to include more recent census data. That post is HERE. On Friday, it was featured on The Rachel Maddow Show:

It’s gratifying to see this story getting national attention, not because it promotes my blog (something I am, of course, happy about) but because it ensures that what is happening in Michigan doesn’t happen under cover of darkness. Because, make no mistake, if this law prevails legally here, and it looks increasingly as if this is the case, it WILL be exported to other states. Activists in the other 49 states in our Union must be vigilant against anti-democratic moves like this. You simply must find ways to ensure that the state’s involvement in failing urban cities — and Michigan is hardly the only state that has them — is done in partnership with the city and done in a way that BUILDS the city rather than tearing it down.

The best thing I have read on this topic lately came in a Detroit Free Press op-ed by Detroit mayoral candidate and former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan:

The state’s financial review team’s conclusion that a financial emergency exists in Detroit is based on detailed facts and thorough analysis. But it seems many are leaping to the conclusion that an emergency manager is the solution, without the same thoughtful analysis.

I have been involved in three turnarounds from near bankruptcy: Wayne County in the 1980s, the SMART bus system in the 1990s, and the Detroit Medical Center in the last decade. In each case, the turnaround was driven by the recruitment of a strong management team unified around a long-term vision of success. {…}

Not one of these succeeded by using a short-term team of emergency consultants to come in, take over the company’s management, impose their ideas of a turnaround strategy, and then leave. The management team left behind would have had no role in developing the strategy and would have no investment in its success. {…}

The governor can choose to trust Detroiters to bring about their own change and spend the rest of this year helping in these ways. Or he can decide the Detroit voters can’t be trusted and he can effectively nullify the 2013 elections by imposing an emergency manager now.

I’m really hoping this time we trust democracy.

Duggan’s assessment is spot on. Any recovery efforts installed by an outside individual are doomed to failure in the long term because the leaders that will remain after that individual is gone will not have been part of its implementation. It’s gratifying to see Detroit leaders talking in this sensible, rational way. It’s worth reading Duggan’s entire essay HERE.