Detroit City Council votes to fight imposition of Emergency Financial Manager, Mayor Bing won’t join them


The dysfunction continues…

In a series of events that only serves to highlight the dysfunctional relationship between Detroit’s elected officials, the Detroit City Council voted Wednesday to fight the imposition of an Emergency Financial Manager and, a short time later, Mayor Dave Bing went before the media to say it was a stupid idea that he would not be supporting.

It started with a vote by the City Council to try to convince Governor Rick Snyder not to move forward with and EFM:

The council voted 7-1 to appeal Snyder’s decision, and Council President Charles Pugh said there may still be time to change the governor’s mind. The appeal would not be a court challenge but would ask for a meeting with Snyder’s representative to try to change the state’s position.

“The governor hasn’t decided yet if he wants an emergency manager, so there is still time to convince him we don’t need one,” Pugh told Reuters. “I’m not saying our finances aren’t in trouble, but we can do this without an emergency manager.”

The Council also approved another measure asking Gov. Snyder to delay his decision:

The Council also approved a resolution asking Governor Snyder to delay his appointment. They’re asking that he wait until a new emergency manager law kicks in on March 28.

Council member Ken Cockrel Jr. says Public Act 436 it gives the city more choices than the current law does.

“You could take the existing consent agreement, [and] actually rewrite it and enhance it,” Cockrel said. “I think we’d have the ability to do that.”

Several hours later, Bing held a press conference in front of City Hall saying he would not be supporting the effort and that city officials needed to “stop BS-ing” themselves and Detroit residents:

Detroit City Council will have to go it alone in appealing Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to appoint an emergency financial manager. Mayor Dave Bing said Wednesday afternoon that he will not contest the governor’s looming appointment, adding that he does not believe it’s a fight the city can win.

Up against a Monday deadline, City Council earlier Wednesday voted to appeal Snyder’s determination that the city is in a financial emergency that it cannot correct without outside help.

Bing said council members are free to appeal the ruling on their own.

“We need to stop BSing ourselves,” Bing said at a City Hall news conference. “It is simply a fight we cannot win at the 11th hour in a 30-minute appeals hearing,” he said.

I’m ambivalent about this turn of events. I tend to concur with the City Council that waiting until the new law kicks in would be the most logical. Republicans are outraged that some universities are working with unions to approve contracts that will be outlawed when their new Right to Work law goes into effect. Why shouldn’t they be held to the same standard in this regard. It’s true that the new law, laughably titled “The Local Financial Stability and Choice Act”, is does offer cities the option of choosing which poison to swallow, at least there are options, limited as they may be.

On the other hand, at the end of the day, as I pointed out in my analysis of the new law, all of the power and the final decision-making authority rest in the hands of Gov. Snyder. With that being the case, no amount of begging by the Detroit City Council is likely to change the Governor’s mind and one could reasonable argue that, as Mayor Bing suggests, the clock has run out and now is the time for all parties to come to the table to reset their relationship and move forward together in partnership in a way that has the long-term interests of Detroit in mind. This requires both Detroit officials and the Snyder administration to put past slights and insults behind them and try to find a new path forward together.

Given the history of both groups, I suspect that’s unlikely to happen.

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]