Over this past weekend I had an opportunity to sit down with an old friend over dinner and intelligent conversation. It was only a matter of time before the topic turned to Detroit and the Emergency Financial Manager situation. Perhaps only the Kwame Kilpatrick saga has been a bigger story in Detroit in recent days and months.
All politics aside, no one can deny that something needs to be done to reverse the financial (mis)fortunes of the City. These same trials and tribulations have taken more copy space in more media outlets while ruffing more civic leadership feathers than a Gander Mountain winter coat rack. Yet, who are the bulk of these complaints coming from and are all audiences truly being informed of all possible contingencies (and the ramifications of the “same old”)?
Certainly, the old adage: the squeaky wheel gets the grease applies. High-profile community leaders, both based here and coming in from outside the market, continue to pontificate and dialogue-dominate while, all too often, suggesting disruptive protests and/or taking discourse back to the divisive isolationist days of Coleman Young. Are these individuals truly representing the men, women and children of Detroit? Do they really appreciate and sympathize with the plight of those who see 9-1-1 calls go unheeded, nights go unlit and garbage not go away? Are they experiencing it firsthand?
Or maybe the anti-EFM catcalls would more easily be held at bay if the City and those working to bail it out did a better job of communicating, more specifically, what a bankrupt Detroit would look like. Perhaps the best example of a hint of this is what occurred after the failed Belle Isle sale was announced. Who was not aghast at the prospect, said Mayor Bing, of 100 city parks closing as a result and the impact that would have on, in particular, our kids – our future.
As Kevin Orr moves forward with, as he tells it, “everything on the table”, I would suggest the City continue to give it to us straight – letting us all know the stark realities of exactly what we are facing and what, item by item, will occur if we don’t finally fix what is financially broken.