Detroit: City or Business?

If the city of Detroit was a business, and Mayor Dave Bing was the President/CEO, and Corporation Council Krystal Crittendon was said businesses’ top lawyer, Crittendon would have been fired months ago.

But the city isn’t a business, and the mayor isn’t a President or CEO and able to call all the shots. There are many reasons one could argue that municipalities aren’t like a business, and alternately, many reasons why one could argue that they are.

Bing has said many times that the city aught to be run like a business. And in his letter to Crittendon yesterday, he cited how she had hurt her client, the City of Detroit, in her lawsuit challenging the consent agreement. As a direct result of her actions, bond ratings dropped, along with the already low public opinion of the city.

As much as Bing would like to run the city like a business, there are instances, like this one, where the two are distinguished. The city council has to vote on this one and six of them have to agree with Bing in order to remove Crittendon from her post as the city’s leading lawyer. And the council doesn’t work for Bing.

It is unlikely that the City Council will vote out Crittendon for two reasons: First of all, there are not six city council members who agreed with allowing the consent agreement in the first place. That vote rattled through at 5-4. Secondly, Bing has already asked the city council members to remove Crittendon: just last week. They said “no” and no major external shifts have taken place since then, unless they are under some more, less public pressure from the state to get rid of her, the vote isn’t likely to change.

The question of weather a city should be run like business has intrigued me for some time.

But now is not the time for more philosophical debates and back and forth within city government. Could Crittendon’s removal turn into another city circus?

That’s what Bing is trying to avoid, and yet it almost seems inevitable.

 One of the definitions the Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives for the word “business” is:

“Serious activity requiring time and effort and usually the avoidance of distractions “

Under that definition, Detroit is definitely a business and needs to avoid as many distractions as possible in order to stabilize not only the city’s reputation, but its finances. 

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