DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit could be just days away from falling under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.
Speaking at a town hall-style meeting Friday, Gov. Rick Snyder said today is the day to call “all hands on deck,” to grow and repair the city. “This is the time for us not to argue or to blame, but to come together as Detroit, Michigan — not Detroit versus Michigan.”
Snyder said he agrees with his review team’s assessment that there is a financial emergency in the city.
“I look at today as both a sad day, a day that I wish would have never happened in the history of this city, but also a day of optimism and promise,” Snyder said.
“I believe it’s appropriate to declare the city of Detroit in financial emergency, based on the review team report… If you look at the financial numbers, it’s not hard to justify that conclusion. There’s a short-term cash crisis and there’s long-term liabilities that need to get resolved. There needs to be a structure for long-term success,” he continued.
Snyder said Detroit has gone from the very top to the lowest of lows over the last half of a century.
“Detroit was the most successful city in the United States for how many years? We put the country on wheels, we put the world on wheels. We are the arsenal of Democracy,” he said. “At one point it was recognized as the most prosperous city in the U.S., and you step back and look at that and where we are today. If you go across the country… there’s probably no city that’s more financially challenged in the U.S.”
But it’s not about looking in the past, Snyder said, it’s about making long-term plans to ensure Detroit’s future is a bright one.
“It’s not just about numbers, this is about people. There are 700,000 people in the city of Detroit that are suffering,” he said. “We need no blame, no credit — we need to simply solve this problem and head toward a bright and exciting Detroit.”
For that to happen, Snyder said changes have to be made, and they have to be made now.
“The current system has not been working. We have not stopped the decline. It is time to say this is the time for us not to argue or to blame, but to come together as Detroit, Michigan, not Detroit versus Michigan,” he said.
Snyder won’t name an emergency financial manager yet, but he said he has an “outstanding candidate” in mind for the job.
“The kind of person this individual is, is someone that’s a great people-person. They have vast experience working on relationships, they have strong financial knowledge, strong legal knowledge, and that ability to say ‘How do you build teams and work together,'” he said.
The city, under state law, has 10 days to appeal Snyder’s conclusion and request a hearing on the review team’s findings.
“If they decide to appeal, there will be a hearing. Following that, I need to make a re-determination to continue this path or to change paths. If I continue on this path, I go to the Emergency Loan Board who will then select an emergency manager,” Snyder said.
Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 later in the day, Snyder said he does not agree with those who call the move a “hostile takeover.”
Hear the complete interview:
Snyder said he’ll address the issue again on Tuesday, March 12. In the meantime, the state of Michigan has established the website www.detroitcantwait.com to provide updates and facts on Detroit’s current financial emergency.
WWJ Newsradio 950’s Mike Campbell reports some council members have asked if the mayor plans to fight with them against the possible appointment of an emergency financial manager.
Council members are asking for a chance to present their own plan that they say, through additional city job cuts and tax collection, would result is a budget surplus of $3.5 million by the end of next year. They’re also talking about possibly leasing some city assets, including City Airport.
Councilwoman JoAnn Watson specifically asked if the mayor would fight against the “right-wing agenda, not to help the city but to grab its assets.”
Watson said they do not want another consent agreement, which Snyder last week said he was considering.
“Why in the world would we be sending a message to the governor begging, please, Mr. Governor, please don’t send in an EM — we’ll do what you say? That is patently disrespectful to the people who put us here,” Watson said. “We’ve gotta be standing, fighting and demanding respect for our citizens!”
A review team first looked into Detroit’s books in December 2011, but stopped short of declaring a financial emergency. A second team began to pore over the city’s finances again this past December.
Detroit is billions of dollars in debt and has a budget deficit topping $300 million.