Politics & Prejudices
A heartbeat away from the mayor’s seat
With Bing in the hospital, an emergency looming, Pugh may be the most worrisome specter of all
Published: March 28, 2012
Someday, hopefully in the foreseeable future, a Detroit cleansed of the legacy of years of financial mistakes will be able to start again. There really is no other choice.
Having what amounts to a state takeover makes sense from the standpoint of the rest of us too. Joe Harris, now the emergency manager in Benton Harbor, told me this a few days ago: "Wall Street doesn't mind when the state takes over a city."
"They think that's a sign the state has it together, is taking positive action," he explained. "What they don't like is when the feds do it."
By that, he meant having a federal judge take over the city and preside over what would amount to bankruptcy. That would hurt Michigan's bond rating, Harris indicated. But a federal judge is almost certainly what will happen, absent the state taking charge.
Within a few days — perhaps as early as the time you are reading this — we'll know what the next step is for Detroit. There is an old cliché that things are always darkest just before the dawn.
That's not always true. But clichés enter the language for one big reason. Sometimes, they actually do turn out to be true.
Ethical cesspool: Last week, a new study by the Center for Public Integrity (publicintegrity.org) found that Michigan is one of the worst states in the union when it comes to ethics, integrity, and accountability in government.
Lobbyists spend tens of millions of dollars each year to seduce legislators, while most lobbying or campaign finance reporting requirements are either non-existent or can easily be evaded.
Rich Robinson, the principled director of the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, called this "an honor system in an environment where there isn't much honor."
No kidding. Over one six-year period, no member of the state Senate was willing to admit any conflict of interest on any vote.
Years ago, a local candidate in the Lansing area used to run on the slogan, "No Worse Than the Rest." Our state is different.
"We are worse than the rest," Robinson quipped. "We could call it, 'Michigan Exceptionalism.'"
And you thought we weren't special.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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