Detroit’s fractured leadership is Washington all over
By Bankole Thompson
Detroit government is on the verge of collapse. Mayor Dave Bing admitted recently that the threat of an emergency manager is real. The government is on the brink of a serious economic downturn not because the city’s leadership could not prevent it, but because most of the leadership is engaged in personality fight. The dislike for Mayor Bing and the City Council is responsible for the current gridlock that’s held the city economically hostage.
Neither Bing nor council has faith in each other and as a result that deep dislike for the two branches of government (legislative and executive) is contributing in a major way to the fiscal cliff of the city. The state of Detroit government is an extension of the politics playing out in Washington but here at home it has more dire consequences for families.
Because of the politics of personality coupled with a vote of no confidence in either branches of local government, many families are now confined to crossing their arms and waiting for what will happen next. Bing has signaled a potential layoff of about 400-500 workers which is not the kind of news that should greet struggling families in the new year.
Though painful steps have to be taken and needed to address the city’s strutural finances, those steps should have been taken earlier. A giant political institution like the city of Detroit needs bold and incisive decision making attitude not pushing the problem further down the road.
It’s easy to pass the blame around in city hall for the inaction on a number of issues in Detroit but leadership should be definitive and clear. Leadership should not send mixed signals. Leadership should be honest and straightforward about the future. Leadership inspires hope in depressed times and gives confidence to a seemingly hopeless situation.
But unfortunately the leadership of the city is not the one that’s going to suffer here. Because they can move on to other assignments and gigs based on how they’ve positioned themselves in the last years. The people who will suffer the most are the families in Detroit who are already hard pressed and paying high taxes and yet getting few services for it. These are the real victims of Detroit’s fiscal cliff.
Yes, Lansing has a role and cannot be excused. But self-determination and the right to govern itself as a city requires Detroit’s leadership to take the lead and put personality dislike aside and make the right choices that will avoid the unthinkable.
The right to self-determination means that Detroit’s leadership should not hold struggling families in this city hostage to the gamesmanship that is playing out in city hall. Step up.
Bankole Thompson author of “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” is a distinguished journalist and presidential author. Since 2008 he has been a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening program on New York’s WLIB-1190AM. You can tune in every Sunday to hear his take on the Obama administration from 9-10:30pm and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut. You can listen to him every Thursday morning on WDET-101.9FM (Detroit NPR Affiliate) where he is a political analyst. Thompson is the editor of the Michigan Chronicle and author of the forthcoming book “Rising from the Ashes: Engaging Detroit’s Future with Courage.” No part of this blog must be republished without the appropriate designation or expressed permisison of the author http://www.bankolethompson.com