DETROIT (WWJ) – Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 Wednesday morning, Gov. Rick Snyder disputed rumors that the state’s consent agreement with Detroit is racially motivated or a “power grab” by Lansing.
He said the city’s problems center around the fact that it didn’t cope well with its population loss.
“If you look at it, the problems in the city have been going on for a very long time and the major factor, if you look at the financial question, it’s really one of population decline,” said Snyder.
Synder say it’s a “cultural challenge” to get leaders to accept that the city can’t fix its financial woes on its own.
Listen to the complete interview:
“If you go back 40, 50 years, Detroit was a city of a million-and-a-half people. It’s less than half that size today and to be a city that’s successful at 700-and-some-thousand, it had to reduce its cost structure and how it operates and that didn’t really take place and that’s created a huge financial burden,” he said.
Snyder said the task at hand now is creating financial stability in the city and providing better services to the citizens.
“In terms of public safety, in terms of transit, lighting, all those key services need to improve. And I think everyone would agree on that,” he said.
Snyder said there’s nothing illegal about the proposed agreement – something that some City Council members have shared concern about.
“It’s not to run the city. Again, the agreement we put forward clearly identifies the mayor as chief of the executive branch, the city council as the legislative body, but this puts in additional support for financial stability and implementation… This is a group of experts that can provide a lot of help and it’s been done successfully in other places, with respect to the people doing the implementation,” he said.
Although Mayor Dave Bing has said he opposes the agreement, Snyder said there is still room for negotiation with the city.
“I’ve always been, hopefully, known as a pretty reasonable person. It’s just, these have to be good ideas coming back and not just ‘No.’ It needs to be a dialogue and discussion on something that’s workable… I’m always open to talk, we just need a good discussion and we need people coming up with thoughtful ideas to make that happen, and I’m ready to listen,” he said.
The governor said the review team will play a large role in coming up with an overall plan.
“They’re the ones that will be making the approval of this agreement, along with City Council and the Mayor first,” he said.
Snyder said he took a “proactive” approach by drafting a consent agreement because the “timeline is running, and it’s not something that can be ignored.”
“The thing is though, we shouldn’t wait on getting this agreement done. We need to move forward in this capacity because there are so many things that need to be done, let’s get going,” he said.
MORE: View a copy of the consent agreement (.pdf format)