Gov. Rick Snyder has imposed upon Detroit one man with the power to dictate its very future and its quality of life. And now he must own that.
Kevyn Orr has credentials. But it's not the man, it is the plan and the process by which he has arrived in town. Lest we forget, 2.3 million Michiganians, by a margin of 52 percent, voted to repeal Public Act 4.
Snyder and the Republicans who control the Legislature went against the consent of the people, changing the law to suit their own purposes and to enshrine a repeal-proof law in which the people would have no say. But the people will always have their say.
For those who say that democracy and the right to vote is not a factor in this equation: You are totally wrong. Read your Constitution. Remember how we got here in the first place. Many folks stayed home and did not vote. Many voted against their interests, leading to policies which are choking the quality of life out of their communities today.
One cannot reduce the value of the right to vote today and then expect to motivate the people on the value of their vote tomorrow. Orr knows that voting matters because he worked with the Obama campaign during the last election on the issue of voter protection.
How can he now ignore the fact that the city of Detroit — under his tenure — may very well become the "Olympics" of voter suppression?
City services such as public lighting, police, fire, water, education, economic access are all vital to our community. They are obtained and provided in many cases by the public policies of those we elect to office.
Our right to elect public officials to represent our community should not be traded on the bargaining table of economic distress. For many, this is a new poll tax. One can simply make the argument that based upon an inability to pay your bills, you should lose your right to engage in the electoral process.
Where will this slippery slope end? Will the Legislature introduce a bill that when some municipality is under financial distress, its voters should no longer be able to participate in national elections? Are we headed down the road to suggest that due to economic distress, you are not entitled to the educational benefits, national healthcare or the guarantees of the Constitution of the United States?
Emergency managers perform three functions: Cut, slash and sell.
Our city cannot cut its way into the future or slash its way into stability or wind up selling every asset that it has to stimulate growth in the economy.
What in Detroit will you sell to the highest bidder?
Orr represents Wells Fargo, one of the nation's largest banks engaged in foreclosures in the United States. At least 7,800 foreclosures are occurring right now in Wayne County.
Orr also represents the Amway Corporation, in which Dick DeVos was a lead voice in implementing the right-to-work effort law in Michigan. Coming from the Jones Day law firm with at least 828 partners and 2,400 attorneys throughout the United States, Europe and Asia — they are among the world's most prominent firms.
Yet on the issue of diversity, in California Jones Day was given an F for diversity by the Greenlining Institute for having one black partner in the state.
In its Washington, D.C., office — a city with a majority of African-American residents — where 239 attorneys practice, they only have four African-American partners and two African-American associates.
In Chicago, with a major African-American population, out of 179 attorneys, Jones Day has one black partner and one black associate.
It is important to remember when coming to a city like Detroit, with a majority African-American population, that diversity does matter and that input from the community is essential.
If Detroit is truly "the Olympics of restructuring," according to Orr, then where is the bailout money for this city?
Anyone who attempts to restructure Detroit must also engage in some restructuring of the banks, the job providers, the Legislature and Wall Street bond investors.
Where is the new revenue? Where are the new jobs? Eighteen months is not long enough to erase a 50-100-year problem.
The issues that confront us must not result in the creation of two Detroits, one for those who have and another for those who have not. Our security lies in citizens being prioritized, their voices being heard and their quality of life being made the number one issue. Orr appears to be a nice gentleman. But this isn't about him.
Everyone, particularly the Detroiters who never left, must be included. The people have a right to protest, declare unfair and challenge this imposed dictatorship.
Let us be clear: The individual whose hands are directly tied to the future of our city is Gov. Snyder.
Orr may be out front, but behind the scenes calling the tune is our dear friend, the nerd.
Dr. Wendell Anthony is president of the Detroit branch of the NAACP.
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