Minni's Morning Coffee: Red Bull, Romney and Prop. 1


It’s true. Michigan’s ballot this year is more crammed than I-75 North at 4:30pm on a weekday.  Especially in Detroit were voters will face 18 proposals from the State, the County, the City, the public school district (DPS) and the community college (WCCC).

Voters have a big slab of homework to complete before voting.

 As you read this, have you decided on your picks for Michigan Supreme Court justices?  Or how you will vote on the Wayne County budget and appropriation ordinance? Luckily there are some pretty good voter guides out there.

Some people, the dream voter, keep an ear to the ground and slowly absorb information to make an educated vote.  The rest of us have a date with Google a can of Red Bull on the evening of Monday, Nov. 5. 

While I’m doing my best to avoid sucking down caffeine last minute in the name of democracy, no amount of ginseng, taurine or caffeine will be able to help me decide on one of this year’s biggest decisions for Michiganders (besides choosing the next President). That decision is on Proposal 1, more commonly known as the emergency manager (EM) law, or Public Act 4. When it comes to Proposal 1, I am the darling target of political ads: the elusive undecided voter.

The Proposal1, the EM law, would mandate a state-appointed official or advisory board to have full control of the finances and academics of financially failing cities and school districts like Detroit and DPS.

This issue is a repeated stumbling block and no matter how hard I study, discuss, or even mediate (ok, at this point I’ll try anything). The litany of opinion on Proposal 1 is off putting. I’m wary of those who are viciously for it as well as those who are vehemently against it. It’s getting harder to stand on the sliver of middle ground.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the EM legislation: it’s too polarized. Or maybe it’s what needs to happen to drag some sputtering municipalities in to 21st century? Obviously this can get dizzying.

Generally, supporters of the EM proposal tend to be more fiscal conservatives and supporters, more socially liberal. That’s just an observation. Some people describe the EM law like pulling teeth: “It’s not gonna be pleasant but it has to be done.”

Supporters of Proposal 1 say that without State intervention major cities will have no choice but to file for bankruptcy, plunging bond ratings into oblivion and spreading a dismal economic for all of Michigan. They say it’s the only choice for cities to avoid bankruptcy.

Critics of the EM law proposal say cities facing financial crisis should be able to file for bankruptcy if need be as a path out of a fiscal mess and skip the finance czar.

So when GOP presidential candidate (and Michigander) Mitt Romney framed bankruptcy as a chance to rebound during the presidential debate on Tuesday night it was a bit of a surprise. As a businessman, he basically said bankruptcy isn’t all that bad.

 “[Obama] said that I said we should take Detroit bankrupt,” Romney said in the debate, “And that’s right. My plan was to have the company [GM] go through bankruptcy like 7-Eleven did and Macy’s and Continental Airlines and they come out stronger.”

Maybe someone can help me out here: If Romney’s right and bankruptcy can be a launching pad to higher heights, then why do we need the emergency mangers in cash strapped cities? Is it bond ratings that are the issue here?


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