OK, so now what?

Rod Meloni wonders what happens next in Detroit financial crisis


DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder dropped a bombshell on the City of Detroit yesterday.

In his opening salvo of the contract negotiation that is a consent agreement, he proposed what amounts to nine emergency managers instead of just one. Mayor Dave Bing furiously decried the move appearing at a Wayne County Community College student forum.

He said of a meeting he had with Governor Snyder last Friday after first seeing the proposal "I understand what I read, and that what I saw in that agreement there is no way in hell will I sign onto it!" He sounded very much like the proud, longtime homeowner severely low balled by a prospective buyer. It's easy to get insulted in that moment. As with any negotiation the next step can be tricky. Sure you can simply opt out of making a counter offer. But in this case, the mayor finds himself in the place where he really needs a sale. He has little choice but to counter and counter he will.

Local Four News has learned Mayor Bing's office staff spent the day meeting with City Council staffers working on a 27 page counter offer. It is marked confidential by the law department so details are a few days away from going public. Bing admitted the State has already seen a lot of what is in it, but his staff will work with council to try and sand off the rough edges. Their hope is to craft a plan that at once pleases the Governor and keeps overall city control in the mayor and council's hands.

How the Governor will react to that is anyone's guess. Still, it does reinforce to him the City's penchant for worrying more about the power than the problem.

The Governor acknowledged as much in an appearance today before Michigan Broadcasters when he said Detroit has a "cultural challenge" when it comes to accepting outside help.

"If you know someone that's got a challenge, is the right answer they tell you to go away? Or should they hold up their hand and say, ‘Please come help?'" Snyder said. "The inclination so far has been to say, ‘Go away.' I don't believe that's a good answer."

It's a wide gulf. It's one that would, under normal circumstances, get solved over time with great patience. Here's the head scratching rub; the City of Detroit is quickly running out of cash and more importantly time! As it stands the mayor and council may not have their finished document until some time next week. Treasurer Andy Dillon said yesterday he would very much like to have a full deal openly discussed before City Council by next Tuesday.

Today, Councilmember Ken Cockrel Jr. predicted any vote is not likely to come before the end of next week. Sadly, it's as if you came upon a terrible car wreck and while the driver lay in the street with arterial bleeding; you bicker with the bystanders whether they are qualified to step in. Meantime the victim bleeds to death! For Detroit, the death knell to the city will be the loss of its prized power. They appear just a whisker away from a frustrated Governor appointing an emergency manager despite his pleas to try and avoid one.

Tomorrow the Governor will meet with his staff about this consent decree conundrum. Friday the Detroit Review Team will discuss further the consent decree and any progress it might have discovered with the city's emerging counter proposal. Next week, on Thursday March 22nd, the Review Team and the Mayor's staff are supposed to appear before Ingham County Judge William Collette. There they are likely going to have to explain to him why he shouldn't negate this entire process and start over.

Why? For violating the State's open meetings act. You get the impression Detroit is characteristically swimming upstream with the prospects of survival diminishing by the minute. Anyone have a T-shirt we can borrow to make a tourniquet?

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