I, like many of you, watch the actions of my elected and selected leaders, and am ready to scream almost every day. It amazes me that these people are sent to represent the constituents that voted for them, but instead, they tune out our voices and decide that they know what is best for us.
I also read, watch and listen to the media coverage of these politicians. They also tune out our voices and support the decision makers choices. It seems that they see no other way. Read below to see an exchange I had with a reporter for the opinion page of my local paper.
I live in Michigan, home of an out of control governor. I live in Detroit, a city unlawfully being taken over by outside entities. They are doing this for the people of the city, because we can't seem to do it for ourselves.
Last year, the mayor and city council folded under pressure from the state to allow the city to be run by a financial advisory board under a consent decree. The city is broke, but now we are on the hook for fourteen million to pay for these people. They are forcing council to approve numerous millions in contracts to many outside reorganizing consultants. Their threat is to impose an Emergency Financial manager.
In an effort to slow this runaway train, the mayor and the city council asked the city's top lawyer to explore the legality of the agreement. She returned to say that the agreement was not valid because per the charter, the city cannot enter into a contract with anyone owing the city money. The state owes the city around 275 million dollars in revenue sharing that it refuses to pay the city. Both the mayor and the council advised her to file a suit against the state. In turn, the city was threatened with bond downgrades and bankruptcy and every other alarming thing one can think of. The courts decided against her. This past week, the mayor and council fired her from her position.
So today, I am reading an opinion piece in the paper about the city and the reporter called the attorney's actions misguided. I called her and asked her why.
What followed was a fifteen minute conversation. She started by throwing many rapid fire scenarios that could have happened had we lost our bond rating and filed bankruptcy. I offered that we might have to file bankruptcy anyway. I then asked that if our problem was revenue, what was being done in all these grand plans, to put the 30+% unemployed people to work? She responded to me that until the city was restructured and had stable police, fire, and schools, we would not attract revenue producers.
I pointed out that she completely overlooked the people I was referring to when I said revenue producers and that everyone desires stable services, especially the current residents. I also pointed out that these outside entities propose to solve the problems of revenue by breaking the backs of the the employees with pay cuts and furloughs and increases in healthcare costs.
She said that this restructuring was needed for the city to survive, and that it was alright for the state to put pressure on the city with a carrot/stick approach to get them to do what was necessary to right the ship. She mentioned an Emergency Manager. Even though we put the law on the ballot and repealed it in November. The state just wrote another emergency manager law.
I asked her if she thought democracy meant anything anymore and for her to show me one example of an EFM that was successful. I asked her to show me a restructuring firm that didn't leave the place worse than when they got it for the workers. I was about to ask her if trumping the results of an election with ramming through another version of the same law was acceptable but she stopped me.
She said that it was very interesting speaking to someone that held a differing opinion in a civil way and that she had to go. This was the end.
I closed by asking her to look at things from the perspective of the people, and to use her voice to focus on the needs of them. She did not commit and the conversation ended.
It is my hope that our conversation passed through her thoughts today, but I am afraid, at the end of the day, that her and her and those like her can see no other way.