Who Wants to Be Detroit’s Emergency Manager?

 Today’s the day. Today, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is expected to receive a comprehensive report on Detroit’s finances to determine whether he should appoint an emergency manager to take over the city’s finances or not.

Snyder has said it won’t take him long after reviewing the report to make a decision about Detroit’s future. Earlier this month Snyder told reporters he wasn’t indecisive:

“It will probably take a week or two for me to make a full analysis of the report, and then decisions will be made. My reputation is not one to be sitting on things rather than making decisions.” 

But the hard part may be finding someone willing to take on the tall order of reigning in Detroit’s finances—a $300 million-plus short-term deficit and a long terms debt of more than $12 Billion. On top of everything, this is a city that takes great issue with state-based initiatives in city government.

If Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is right about having the second hardest job in that nation, then one can only imagine the post of Detroit’s emergency manager is right up there with the hardest of them. Talk about being hated.

Many people rumored to be on Rick Snyder’s short list have declined any interest in the post.

But one of those rumored EM possibilities is George Jackson, head of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. According to The Detroit News: “Jackson is the only named person who hasn’t denied he is in consideration. A spokesman for Jackson declined to comment and referred the issue to Snyder’s office”. 

 A state-appointed review team has been combing through Detroit’s snarled finances since December. While Detroit, as the state’s largest city, would be the biggest municipality to fall under state receivership, it would not be the first.

The cities of Pontiac, Highland Park, Benton Harbor and Flint have all undergone the controversial state measure of involving locally elected officials being stripped of many or their powers so a state-selected leader can take over.

The issue has been so controversial that it has inspired Flint playwrights to create an entire production on the topic.

State of Emergency, a play opening this Friday in Flint, uses verbatim theatre, that is a technique that uses real quotes from interviews and found materials, to make up a theatrical production outlining what life under state management is like for cities like Flint.

The play could also soon apply to Detroit.  One of the play’s creators, Andrew Morton of Shop Floor Theatre Company, says the struggle for power between local officials and state appointed receivers is one that makes for a great drama.

Morton told Mlive-Flint:  

“A very specific example is the announcement of (the emergency manager) on the night of the election of 2011. To me, that’s a dramatic event,” Morton said. Shakespearean plots, it’s all about who’s in power, or power shifting from one group to another, or one groups trying to wrangle power back.”

For Detroiters who don’t want to drive all the way to Flint will be able to watch it online streaming live  HERE on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 pm.

Local political annalists have agreed in their predictions that Detroit will go the way of Flint, Pontiac, and other cash strapped Michigan cities.



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