THE BLOG

Progress on Financial Reforms and Restructuring Necessary to Get Closer to a Thriving Detroit

10/24/2012 06:04 pm ET | Updated Dec 24, 2012

Detroiters have come accustom to the talk of deficits, low cash flow and payless paydays during the past several years. The reality is that the City of Detroit still faces a fiscal crisis that will continue if implementation of reforms is not moved forward.

A thriving Detroit is possible with an efficient municipal government. A local government that responsibly manages its financial and operational resources is attainable through restructuring.

I understand there is a sort of waiting game by some due to the referendum on the ballot to ask voters whether to outlaw or support Public Act 4 (emergency financial manager law). This conclusion is not my greatest concern. My attention is addressing Detroit's fiscal crisis. The court battles and distractions will not repair Detroit's finances, and frankly are draining our limited resources.

I saw the call earlier this month from the Financial Advisory Board to urge the Bing Administration to move more rapidly on reforms. I completely agree. We must forge ahead and not allow distractions or roadblocks to become a deterrent to progress.

I applaud the Bing administration for coming to the city council table this week to open new dialogue. I look forward to greater transparency and access to necessary information so that council can make informed decisions more quickly, in restructuring city government.

In my opinion, the most significant challenges plaguing our city and impeding our advancement are: 1) Extremely outdated technology; 2) Rampant workers' compensation claims and the frequency with which employees use sick days; and 3) Employee contracts that don't allow for greater efficiency. Once we overcome these three areas, it will open the doors for more efficient municipal government and effective service delivery.

As we face this crisis, it is instructive to recognize that the City of New York went through a similar predicament in the 1970s. They instituted a Financial Advisory Board that led to the repairing of the finances and eventual growth; as did Cleveland and Washington, D.C.

This can be accomplished too in Detroit. But we must focus on the long-term benefit of a thriving Detroit and remove any self-interest that we may have in current city operations.

Making decisions based on short-term fixes will only continue to bankrupt our future. We must concentrate on the end goal of a thriving Detroit. Public safety, educating our kids and a fiscally responsible government will create the environment for residents and businesses to thrive.

[Go Detroit Tigers!]