Detroit, depending on how you look at it is a great city. It’s the automotive capital of the world, or the tenth largest city in the nation, or the home to one of the largest water systems in the nation. Detroit is in one of the best positions for international import and export. Detroit has its own island, smack dab in the city. The city has an amazing downtown, and has the potential to be altogether an amazing city. The people of Detroit ooze with a weird combination of spirit and shame. It’s hard not to be proud of the Pistons and Red Wings, and sometimes it’s pretty hard to not to be ashamed of the Lions and the shaky politics. The shaky politics, of course is more serious. Maybe the full potential of the city will be uncovered if the people in charge had Detroit Pride in mind. Instead many of them use the city as a “lay-over” in their overall plan.
In fact, several key positions of power in Detroit are backed by the terms, interim, temporary, emergency. These opportunistic politicians come to the city; then they enact policies that oftentimes go against the grain of the current order of affairs, then leave. They leave to pursue other ventures. They leave the citizens of the city to pick up the pieces and roll with the punches.
Take for instance the Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Financial Manager, Robert Bobb. Bobb was appointed to the city’s public school system in 2009 by Governor Jennifer Granholm; his primary job function: to decrease the deficit. However, since his appointment the deficit has actually increased. The deficit was projected to peak in June 2009 at just under $306 million; the current deficit is just over $332 million. This is after he closed several schools, and was responsible for serving several pink-slips to workers. Now Bobb is proposing two plans to get rid of the deficit. One calls for the school system to fall into state receivership. The second idea: close more schools and force high school students into learning in “lecture hall” environments with 60+ students in one class room. Bobb’s term ends March 2011, and then he’ll be on his way. Leaving the Detroit Public Schools to deal with the raft of whichever plan is chosen, and neither of them seem to have the school system’s best interest at heart.
Then, there’s Warren Palmer, Mayor Dave Bing’s Director of Planning and Development. Earlier this month he announced his resignation. Not because of guilt or shame, or to avoid being fired. No, Palmer is resigning to “pursue opportunities in the private sector “as he put it. At least he isn’t trying to shade his opportunist antics though. But that’s not even the straw to break the proverbial camel’s back. Palmer will stay on board with Bing’s administration until one of those opportunities arises. In fact, several of Bing’s key aides have announced their intentions of stepping down. This leads citicizens to wonder, why they stepped up in the first place. The police department, the mayoral office, and city council are all together another can of worms, to be opened on another day.