PONTIAC, Mich. - It hasn't been a warm welcome for a long time in Oakland County's most beleaguered city.
However, things are changing in Pontiac. Fitch Ratings has upgraded the city to a B- rating, up from CCC. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, Fitch's rating has given Pontiac a stable outlook for the future.
In the past, that outlook has been negative.
"If we had left the old administration, the same old decision makers, the same old objectors who say we can't do anything, it would be a quagmire beyond belief," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
Patterson credits emergency manager Lou Schimmel with righting the sinking ship. Pontiac is no longer hemorrhaging money. Key services such as police have been turned over to the Oakland County Sheriff's Department. The move has allowed the city to save millions of dollars while getting more officers on the streets.
Patterson's office has been working behind the scenes with the city to jumpstart development. New businesses already are popping up in the city once called a modern-day ghost town.
Patterson wonders how much faster and less painful the turnaround could have been had an emergency manager been appointed sooner. He's also looking down Woodward Avenue to Detroit, a city very close to going under.
"Obviously, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is Detroit. Is Detroit going to get an emergency manager? We may have waited too long. We may have delayed and kicked the can and obfuscated and hit all the issues. If so, then Detroit won't enjoy all the benefits of an emergency financial manager," he said.
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