Detroit, Emergency Managers — June 27, 2013 at 6:47 am

Detroit City Council member hired by Emergency Manager for nearly a quarter million dollars a year


Wait, I thought they were all bums that needed to be tossed to the side?

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has hired Detroit City Council member and President Pro Tempore Gary Brown to work on his staff. Brown, who made around $73,000 as a Council member, will be making $225,000 in his new position.

Brown seems like a truly competent guy. He was involved in trying to ferret out corruption in the Kilpatrick administration which led to him being fired and, eventually, winning a lawsuit against the city for it. There’s little reason that I can see that he won’t be successful in his new position as the city’s chief compliance officer.

The issue that this raises, however, is why does Detroit need an Emergency Manager if the City Council isn’t that incompetent in the first place? The imposition of an Emergency Manager presumes that the city’s voters are incapable of electing their own leaders and, yet, here we have a case where they did such a good job that one of them is getting a threefold increase in salary because he’s so fantastic.

Over in Hamtramck, Governor Snyder has appointed Cathy Square to run the show as Emergency Manager. She was the former city administrator in Pontiac, another city in crisis. The mayor of Hamtramck made a statement this week that, for me, highlights the whole problem with Emergency Managers:

“Long term, we need to find ways to build on our assets,” Majewski said.

Yeah. Yeah, you sure do and I hope Ms. Square is listening. Here’s the problem, though: she doesn’t have the tools in her toolbox to do that. She doesn’t have any way of increasing assets or revenue. She can only cut. She is given the tools of DEstruction when what is truly needed are tools of CONstruction.

When the very people who were running things before the imposition of an Emergency Manager are brought in to solve the problems they were, in part, accused of causing, it gives you pause. And it really makes you question the reasons for the entire process in the first place.

It will be worth watching how much of Detroit’s city treasurers end up in the hands of people and groups from outside of Detroit who will end up making a killing on their investment. Remember, developers are some of the most patient people on the planet. They are willing to wait for decades for their investments to pay off. Getting in on the ground floor of the rebuilding of Detroit, something that is clearly going to be handed over to private corporations, will be very lucrative.

But not for Detroiters unless I miss my guess.