Opinions Mixed As State Takeover Looms In Detroit

DETROIT (WWJ) – Is the governor caving to pressure from the suburbs?  Detroit City President Charles Pugh said that’s a fact, as Rick Snyder on Friday declared a financial emergency in Detroit, setting the stage for a state takeover.

Pugh said, however, while there is pressure from outside the city, he’s certain there are people within Detroit who would welcome a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

“Because they’re tired of it lingering. They want to get it over with,” Pugh told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Pat Sweeting.

But what those people don’t realize, Pugh said, is that an EFM won’t just be in and out. “It doesn’t work like that. And if it doesn;t work like that in smaller cities, why in the hell would they think it would work in a city as complicated as Detroit?”

Pugh pointed out that emergency financial managers were appointed to oversee the Detroit Public Schools, and, years later, the second EFM there is still on the job.

Also among those who oppose the EFM move is U.S. Congressman Gary Peters, who said he’s “deeply disappointed” in the governor’s decision.

“All of us agree that the city has serious financial challenges which must be addressed, however I fundamentally disagree with taking measures that disenfranchise the families I represent in Detroit,” Peters said, in a statement.

City leaders have 10 days to appeal Snyder’s ruling, before a manager is put into place — but it wasn’t immediately clear if Detroit Mayor Dave Bing would do so.

Said Bing on Friday, “The governor has made his decision, and it was his decision alone to make. While I respect it, I have said all along that I do not favor an emergency Manager for the City of Detroit. I will look at the impact of the Governor’s decision as well as other options, to determine my next course of action.” (Read his complete statement here).

Former city council member Sheila Cockrel said she realizes it’s a tough pill to swallow, but she believes an emergency financial manager is a necessity for Detroit.

Cockrel said a financial manager can do the job without the same constraints as local elected officials. However, she said an EFM can’t do it alone.

“It’s not a one-person fix, it’s a team approach,” Cockrel said, speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950. “There will need to be a team of people and there needs to be, you know, really cooperation from everyone.”

Cockrel said fiscal discipline is necessary and financial decisions must be made with transparency and accountability.

Sheila Cockrel Interview

As a few dozen people demonstrated outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal building Friday, inside, Snyder spoke about a the state’s good working relationship with cities like Pontiac and Flint, which already have EFMs in place.

WWJ spoke with Pontiac Mayor Leon Jukowski who said, while appointing a manager can be a painful decision, but a necessary one.

“What I’ve found here in Pontiac is, while a lot of people … still have misgivings about the emergency manager process, there has been progress here,” said Jukowski.

“We have more police on the streets. We’ve sort of cut through an awful lot of the cities debt load. Things are looking up here, and people recognize that — even if they’re not crazy about the process,” he said.

Jukowski said, personally, he believes Detroit needs an emergency financial manager, and he blames that need on years of failed management.

MORE: Gov. Snyder Declares Financial Emergency In Detroit

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