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Emergency Financial Manager? Bring It On!

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Mayor Bing has suggested that if city workers don't agree to around $115 million in cuts that Detroit will have an emergency financial manager. He more recently said he didn't want to be that EFM after first saying he would welcome the opportunity to be named Detroit's EFM.

To the threat of an EFM I say bring it. It's high time Detroit finally got an EFM. For many years, especially the last 11 years, Detroit has really been drowning in red ink and leadership hasn't been able to stem the tide or find its way out of darkness. As a city worker I say to other city workers we can no longer be afraid of an EFM and in fact it could be the best thing to happen.

If Governor Snyder were to name an EFM, someone other than Mayor Bing of course, it should be a bona fide CPA, not a politician or someone who is going to be persuaded by politics or concerned with his/her image. Not a Robert Bobb. Detroit needs a bottom-line bean counter.

What I expect this CPA will do is the one thing that scares the heck out of City Council and the mayor, and that's eliminate their jobs first. They are no longer needed. They have been ineffective and unable to deal with the city's financial crisis. City Council has threatened that 2,000 jobs could be lost if Mayor Bing listens to them. But that does not include their own jobs. They stand ready and willing to make cuts to the frontline workers on the low end of the payscale, those who are scrapping to take care of their families. But when they've had a chance to make considerable cuts to Council staffs and budgets they've failed to do so.

One of the voices heard most on City Council advocating cutting jobs is Councilman Pro-Tem Gary Brown. Brown collects an $80,000 a year salary as a councilman. He gets a sizeable police department pension and he has $3 million dollars walking-around money that he collected in his whistleblower lawsuit. At least in Mayor Bing's favor he started out by not taking a salary, but Brown has never offered.

Mayor Bing too hasn't been a leader in making cuts where it hurts on his staff. He recently started taking a salary after telling voters he wouldn't if he were elected. The financial crisis is obviously not important enough for him to continue that promise.

The EFM would no doubt make severe cuts but at least with a qualified person making those decisions the likelihood is greater that the pain won't be continual or lasting. I believe that person will make the necessary cuts immediately, balance the books and the city would move forward from there. With the current elected officials the will or intellectual capacity to fix what ails Detroit does not exist so we keep spiraling down, while the situation worsens.  They've been told numerous times that cutting our way out of this debt won't work and they've done nothing to create revenue. They've done nothing to collect monies owed the city in uncollected tax revenue, hundreds of millions owed the city by tax absconders and delinquent property owners. The game of placing it on the backs of the little guy, city workers is well passed its time. At this point the best tonic for Detroit is a EFM/CPA.

Faced with that as an option or continuing with the same unequipped leaders I strongly recommend that Governor Snyder act quickly to save us from the political managers.

Add a Judge to the Names of Potential Mayoral Candidates

Detroiters are looking forward with great expectation for the 2013 elections. The reason is many feel a sense of buyer's remorse after electing what seems like a mostly ineffective City Council and mayor. In 2009 Detroit voters went to the polls and elected five new councilmembers and a new mayor. The mayor's race will no doubt garner the most attention with current Mayor Dave Bing looking for an escape hatch. Among those most often mentioned as candidates are Council President Charles Pugh, Council Pro-tem Gary Brown, Councilman Ken Cockrel and former Chief of Police, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, a mostly uninspiring field of candidates to say the least. Another name exploring the possibility is 36th District Court Judge Willie Lipscomb Jr. He has served in his capacity as judge for the 36th District Court for fourteen years. Prior to his current position, Judge Lipscomb served as executive director of the Notre Dame Legal Aid and Defenders' Association from 1974-75 and as assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County from 1975-79. In a private law practice from 1979-83, he then joined the 36th District Court as Magistrate, a title he held for two years before becoming judge. Judge Lipscomb is divorced and has one daughter, Christine.

This post was previously published on DetroitUncovered.