By Carol Cain
Watch Michigan Matters 11:30 am Sunday on CBS 62
With the Motor City’s fiscal crisis hitting the boiling point and all signs pointing to the naming of an Emergency Manager what’s needed is a game changer with skillset similar to Ford Motor Co.’s CEO Alan Mulally.
That from Andy Dillon, state treasurer, who appeared on “Michigan Matters” to discuss the Financial Review Team’s report released this week about Detroit’s condition. The team, supervised by Dillon, came to the conclusion the city was in perilous shape with no working plan in place that could truly fix it.
The report was given to Gov. Rick Snyder who said he will announce a direction on it next week. The decision on whether to name an Emergency Manager will also be made by Snyder with input from Dillon as well as others like Rich Baird and Dennis Muchmore.
“It’s manageable,” said Dillon of city’s brittle condition. He believes an EM is the best solution.
“We need someone who is a leader, who understands restructuring,” said Dillon. “This is a situation where you have 10,000 employees and a system that is broken.”
“The model (to repair it) is Alan Mulally,” said Dillon. “He faced severe financial stress and operational stress (when he arrived at Ford from Boeing in 2006). He made good decisions and was not so confrontational in getting it done.”
Dillon added that in Detroit’s case, “This too will be done in partnership with local officials. It does not need to be adversarial.” Dillon has had experience in turnarounds at McLouth Steel. He compared the turnaround of Detroit to the recent managed bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. “Speed will be important here just as it was at Chrysler and GM.” But Detroit’s crisis can be addressed without having to turn to bankruptcy, he added.
He blamed the woes on decades of changes that were never addressed. “The city went from two million to less than 700,000 people. Add in declining property values, abandoned homes and woes in its education system and you see the result,” he said.
Dillon gave credit to Mayor Dave Bing and city council for attempting to put forth a plan but added, “they can’t implement it … due to the city’s charter.”
Dillon added what was most important thing in an EM financial skills and abilities. Whether he or she is from Detroit is not as important, he said when pressed.
On the topic of other municipalities in fiscal trouble, Dillon said he is in process of implementing a plan with Wayne County. “We hope to avoid the situation there that we are dealing with in Detroit,” Dillon said.
When asked about the consent decree which city and state officials signed off on last year in Detroit, he said it simply did not work. Appointing an Emergency Manager then would not have worked as, “there would have been less acceptance of it.” Given the dire situation and woes in safety and other city departments, he is convinced there will be more acceptance now.
Of his own future, Dillon said he has no intentions of running for political office again. “My time was 2010,” when he lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who lost to GOP Snyder. “I am in the right job. When I am done I will go back to the private sector,” Dillon said.
Women On The Battlefield
Is the Pentagon’s lifting the ban on women in active combat a good idea? Not so fast, said Rocky Raczkowski, former Majority Floor Leader of Michigan’s House of Reps, during taping of “Michigan Matters.” “I have been commanded by women and I have also been commander to women,” said Raczkowski, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves having served 27 years.
Raczkowski, who runs Imperium Logistics, has been to Afghanistan and Horn of Africa, shared his personal feelings on the policy shift. “They do a tremendous job. I believe having women in the military helps our county and is the right thing to do if they wish to serve,” he added. “But putting women in infantry units is a different issue,” he added. “Integrating men and women for long periods of time in operations where physical conditions are dreadful is not something I believe is in the best interest of our defense department or nation.”
The issue is under debate after outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the Pentagon was lifting the policy that barred women from serving in specific combat roles such as the infantry. Women have already been serving in combat and done so incredibly well, said Air Force Brig. General (ret) Carol Ann Fausone, who runs Legal Help For Veterans LLC., who appeared on “Michigan Matters” along with Denise Ilitch. Lifting the ban is the right thing to do, she added.
Over 280,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with nearly 1,000 injured or killed. Many have been awarded Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars and Silver Stars. Women make up 14 percent of the enlisted ranks and 17 percent of officer ranks, according to the Department of Defense. Removing the ban will open up hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“I am convinced that over time as the policy is implemented women will prove themselves up to the task of assuming front line combat roles,” Fausone added. It will be up to the military service chiefs to recommend whether women should be excluded from some positions. They have until 2016 to do so.
Carol Cain is Senior Producer and Host of the Emmy winning “Michigan Matters” that airs 11:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62. You can read her columns on business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.