BlogProgress Michigan

By Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management

Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes’ approval of the Plan of Adjustment is not in the best interests of Detroiters. The plan, submitted by emergency manager Kevyn Orr, supported by Mayor Duggan and Gov. Snyder, protects banks, gives away public resources, and has no method to revitalize the city.

We object!

“We don’t live in a bankrupt city; we live in a city being attacked by bankrupt officials,” said Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church.

From the very beginning this process has been a sham. The city was not bankrupt. Independent analysts demonstrated that the city suffered from a cash flow problem, caused by the cessation of promised state revenue sharing.

The systematic withdrawal of state support, cutbacks to public services and schools, and massive layoffs in the public sector, combined with policies encouraging industry to move elsewhere, have created enormous pain for the people of Detroit.

We have endured the evils of structural racism, fiscal austerity, the loss of millions of jobs, and criminal predatory lending policies. We have been insulted and disrespected by appointed authorities like emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who call us “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.” Encouraging a policy of divide-and-conquer within the region, these misleaders attempt to deflect attention away from the deep-seated structural problems we all face. They encourage blame and guilt rather than creativity and compassion.

In spite of these enormous attacks, Detroiters have sustained themselves by drawing on our city’s history of struggle for the dignity of labor and the civil rights of all people. We have a rich history of challenging the dehumanizing development of corporate power and the systematic denial of the rights of people to live full, human and creative lives. By calling upon traditions of extended families, long-standing neighborhood ties, grassroots community and political organizations, we have built institutions to meet our needs and are developing new and creative ways of making a living.

We are proud to be a city framed by African American leadership that has consistently challenged the values of racism, materialism, and militarism. We claim a legacy that is shaping a new cultural life and providing a beacon of hope for the nation and the world for courage and commitment to change.

The Snyder-Orr-Duggan version of history attempts to distort this reality. They try to hide the complicated history that has caused the devastation of Detroit. They refuse to acknowledge that the wealth of the surrounding region has been won on the backs of the working people of Detroit. Now their so-called Plan of Adjustment will benefit the same small minority of wealthy people and major financial institutions. The rich will become richer, while the people of Detroit are forced to sacrifice their homes, pensions, healthcare, and city services.

The Plan of Adjustment has immediately and severely hurt tens of thousands of city of Detroit retirees in the Detroit Metro area by terminating their healthcare. Cuts to pensions will come soon. In order to buy off financial speculators like Syncora or FGIC, the city has been forced to cede valuable riverfront property, downtown land, garages, and, of course, cold cash.

As the result of 40 years of a federal judge’s unnecessary control of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the local wealthy classes have finally succeeded in their goal of dismantling the system and seizing major assets — the treatment plants, the intake plants and arterial lines from Detroit — through the Great Lakes Water Authority, a creation of the Plan of Adjustment. This authority was preceded by the privatization of waste collection and the fabrication of a similar creature, the Lighting Authority.

The prospects for the successful long-term implementation of the Plan of Adjustment are dim. It has been damned with faint praise, as in the testimony of the only official financial expert specifically appointed by the court to evaluate the feasibility of the plan.

All those responsible for creating the plan, including Jones-Day law firm and innumerable consultants, have taken over $100 million in legal fees from the bare cupboards of Detroit. And they will all leave town.

Meanwhile, Kevyn Orr is already traveling Europe extolling the powerful gains of the bankruptcy here, focusing on future targets — small nations – for extracting wealth and seizing assets. Snyder was re-elected as governor in no small part for having “fixed” Detroit, though Detroiters themselves overwhelming voted against him.

In Detroit, whatever the Mayor and City Council decide to do, it will be done under the very watchful eye of the state financial review board for 13 years. Because there is little new money in the Plan of Adjustment, there will soon be a conflict between city government and the financial review board because of the rising discontent of the majority of Detroiters with the results of the Plan of Adjustment.

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