Snyder must act quickly to repair Motor City

February 22, 2013
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It has been another week spent mired in the drama of the continuing saga of a crippled Congress, deadlocked amid the unmitigated threats of sequestration, and then Detroit was officially declared a financial emergency.

The pall it casts across The Mitten is devastating. Detroiters and east-siders knew Motown was living a financial crisis — so did the rest of Michigan. It’s not news; it’s just official. And now so, too, is the pain shared across two peninsulas.

The six-member Michigan financial review team sent to determine whether it should declare a financial emergency in Detroit, and allow an emergency financial manager to take over city operations, provided extensive research and comment as to the extent of the issues and liabilities. Gov. Rick Snyder at week’s end emphasized the financial crisis was 40 years in the making.

Team member and state Treasurer Andy Dillon did note that the team believed some “ingredients” for a financial turnaround are in place.

Detroit media reported the full scope of reaction, including the anger represented by the city’s dysfunctional leaders and citizens who decried any “takeover.” It seems particularly galling and predictable that Detroiters apparently have no understanding of the significant impact shared by all Michiganders, and looming large is the fear that, once again, outstate will be saddled with its bailout.

Gov. Snyder does not “win” in any scenario selected to fix what ails Detroit, nor do his constituents in any corner of this Great Lakes state. The good news is that the dismal D will be under extensive repair, because the state analysis showed Detroit leaders failed to adequately restructure a debt-ridden bureaucracy. The debt is estimated at $14.9 billion, including unfunded pension and employee retirement liabilities, and Dillon noted the city has been “masking” annual deficits with long-term borrowing.

The Business Journal believes Snyder to be exactly the right person at the right time in this state’s history, fully capable of salvaging all that made Detroit great before it was covered in the stench of political crimes and so-called leaders who sought and seek power, not civic service.

Snyder should act quickly. Michigan has waited long enough. Business decisions await. We are anxious to see Detroit rise again.

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