THE BLOG
03/16/2012 11:39 am ET Updated May 16, 2012

Consent Agreement Signals That Governor Snyder Wants Nothing to Do With Detroit

According to Channel 4's Rod Meloni, Detroit is headed for a consent agreement with the state.

For months, Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown has been openly and shamefully campaigning for a consent agreement with the State of Michigan primarily to save his job and at the same time gain more power from the State.

An ineffective city government given more power to continue to not solve the city's problems? That's counterintuitive and just plain stupid. It sends a signal that Governor Snyder is not really serious about fixing the problems in Detroit. For all intents and purposes, by doing this the governor is saying, "Detroit, I will leave you to your own demise, just leave the rest of the state out of your mess."

This is contrary to what we've heard from Governor Snyder since the day he took office and more recently when he named a review team to look closely at Detroit's finances. There appeared to be a sense of urgency and seriousness about addressing Detroit's financial problems. The governor appeared resolute that the state must step in; he even set deadlines and acknowledged that the state would probably have to intercede.

By most reports Detroit is nearly bankrupt, facing not only a short-term cash-flow crisis but also longevity cost that some say has the city in debt to the tune of $12 billion. The concern of the surrounding counties is that Detroit would declare bankruptcy, which would affect those surrounding counties' bond ratings. So municipal bankruptcy is not an option Governor Snyder will consider for obvious political reasons.

It was thought by many that Detroit would soon get an emergency manager. Governor Snyder spoke boldly of helping Detroit fix itself, and if he now settles for a consent agreement it will clearly say that he's looked at the options and has decided it's too much of a political risk. By agreeing to a consent agreement, he is in effect doing what had been done in Detroit for many decades now: kicking the can down the road further and not addressing Detroit's structural financial problems.

The consent agreement will give an already dysfunctional city government timelines to fix itself while behind the scenes there will more than likely come some financial support from the state. The governor has been adamant publicly about not giving Detroit a dime, but if he's to wash his hands, it will have to be done with cash.

The point is not to fix Detroit. The message is: dealing with Detroit's mess is political suicide.

A consent agreement in Detroit would be the same as what happened with the bank bailouts. Those executives gave themselves raises after performing so poorly.

Because Governor Snyder is signing on to this delay, Detroit's recovery will be deferred, citizens will not get the level of service needed and worse yet, city leaders will be given greater power to enlarge a problem that they obviously cannot fix. With a consent agreement, it's a certainty that every fiscal year city fathers will be crying about a budget shortfall and asking for more give-backs from labor unions.

It's equivalent to constantly being pricked with a knife.