Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sally Kohn And The Daily Beast Tries To Rewrite Detroit's History

When is a government takeover a bad thing?  When a Republican does it, according to Sally Kohn.  

Detroit is no longer a city. Sure, it looks like a city. But that’s a fa├žade. [. . .] But Detroit, the political entity, is dead.
That's the crux of this.   Politics.  Not the fact that Detroit has been a craphole of crime and corruption for years.  
In 2011, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Public Act 4, which gave the state the power to place cash-strapped cities and school districts under the control of state-appointed emergency managers. In 2012, Michigan voters overturned that law. But in 2013, Snyder signed a barely revised version of the emergency manager law—and then used it to take over Detroit.
If Sally was intellectually honest about this, she would be asking, "Why was Detroit turned over to an Emergency Manager?  What lead up to this event?  Who was in charge during this time?" But then those are probing questions trying to find the root cause and not partisan at all.  

So in the fall of 2013, Detroit voters went to the polls to elect a new mayor and City Council, but it didn’t matter. The powers of the mayor and city council have effectively been suspended. Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, appointed by Snyder, has all the power and then some. A Democratic city that elected Democratic leaders is now controlled by the appointee of a Republican governor.

Or, to put it differently, Detroit—a majority African American city—is now controlled by a governor elected by a majority of white voters in the state. It really doesn’t matter that Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager, is black, nor that Mike Duggan, Detroit’s mayor, is white. What matters is that half of the state’s black population lives in Detroit. So through the state takeover, “half of black Michiganders have essentially lost the right to vote,” says Ife Kilimanjaro, co-director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council.
Kohn goes out of her way to make a point about the make up of race in the city but then disregards the race of Orr.  Besides, this wasn't a willy nilly power grab by Gov. Snyder to take over Detroit.  There are plenty of other towns near the Detroit area that Snyder could have taken over but since Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, the takeover happened.     

Elections have consequences and 40 plus years of democrats at the reigns of Detroit's levers and buttons lead to this.  Or as Ayn Rand has said, "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."   

Also, isn't this an example of the centralization of power?  Transferring controls of a local level of government to a state level of government?  When have liberals been against that?

Wait.  Gov. Rick Snyder is a Republican.  

Within this context, the water shut offs in Detroit are more than just a human rights crisis but an existential one as well, with the state now literally shutting off the means of survival for hundreds of thousands of people in Detroit. And whether the temporary moratorium on shut-offs continues or not, the reality is that the crackdown on water bills is part of a master plan to shore up the finances of Detroit’s water and sewage department for privatization.
What part of "Detroit is in bankruptcy" hasn't sunk in yet with Kohn?  And why an emergency manager was brought in to take over the city.  To help properly manage it's assets and make them functional again. 

Why would any city want to privatize its water system? A report by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) shows that water privatization fairly universally leads to higher prices for cities and consumers and, in many cases, decreased efficiencies. In fact, the track record for water privatization is so abysmal that CAI found more than 20 American cities that had once privatized their water have taken back control of their systems since 2002. If water privatization is bad for the city of Detroit and its residents, who is it good for? Corporations. Which is where the state’s interest comes in.
As to if it's going to work?  Who knows.  Can't be any worse off than before.   Scores of people not paying their water bills and employees in danger of not being paid.

But this is life.  Anywhere else, if you don't pay your water, cable, power, or any other utility, that utility gets shut off.  Detroit isn't that special to receive free water.      
Gov. Snyder has used his emergency management laws, versions one and two, to impose his conservative agenda across the state, including privatization. As Ned Resnikoff writes:

City agencies and entire school districts have been outsourced or privatized; public employees have been laid off in droves; municipalities have sold off vast swaths of public land; and city employee unions have seen their contracts whittled down to nothing. All of this was accomplished in the space of three and a half years. Michigan’s Emergency Manager system is what made it possible. 
Again.  Bankruptcy.  Detroit needed to trim its budget and sell what it can to make it out of the red.  If this was a family of four who owned a boat, four cars, and a couple of motorcycles, they would be forced to sell off  the extra and make due on a minimal budget to get on budget. 
Snyder isn’t just using the emergency management excuse to take over democracy in Detroit and other communities. He’s also seizing their resources. Yet another example is Belle Isle, a gorgeous 982-acre gem floating in the Detroit River. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Belle Isle was the largest city-owned park in the United States—until this past October, when Orr and Snyder signed a deal to lease Belle Isle to the state until the year 2043. The Detroit City Council voted to reject the deal. Snyder and Orr went ahead anyway, under the authority of the emergency management law. Now attendance at the park is down and state policing— and allegations of harassment of Detroit residents — is up. Meanwhile the state is phasing in a fee for visitors to the island.
So Belle Isle is now technically a State Park of Michigan.  The state does a nice job of managing their parks.  As someone who use to visit and camp out in several of the state parks, I've had no complaints.  The fee is part and parcel with that.


 “There's nothing wrong with the city operating its own asset. Belle Isle is a significant treasure,” said Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson. Which raises the question in all of this — broke as it might be, Detroit still needs things like water and other public services. Private companies or the state can take them over, but that won’t change the bottom line unless these new overseers find a way to squeeze out more profit — for instance, jacking up rates or further cutting services. That’s simple math. The state, and its corporate beneficiaries, want to take over Detroit’s assets so they can bleed the people of Detroit for more profits. And there’s nothing the people of Detroit can do to stop it.
You can't declare simple math without proving your work but you can try and re-write history by ignoring facts.   Detroit went into deep, deep debt with their day to day operations and had to borrow money to keep paying the city employees and public unions.  There were no profits to be had.  Resources, yes, but those were being poorly managed at the time.  The city government grew but the population shrank and the city government didn't make the cuts it should have to survive.   It's been happening often.  It just so happened to hit Detroit.   

What's wrong with profits?  Does Kohn offer her Fox News contributions free of charge?   
In the early 1900s, African Americans moved to Detroit to escape the inequality and injustice that persisted in the South. Much of the Detroit as we celebrate it in our national lore sprung from black political self-determination, economic leadership, and cultural expression. Plenty of dynamics conspired to dismantle Detroit’s greatness. But even bankrupt, struggling, falling apart, Detroit could still cling to its identity as a city —whatever price that meant in the past, whatever hope it held for the future. Now because of Snyder, even that is gone.
Shorter Kohn:  Keep pouring money into Detroit, RAAAAACISTS.  

Despite what she says, Detroit will still be there.  Motown will still be Motown and the Motor City will still survive.  And it's obvious that the cultural Detroit is still there.