Issue 33, Volume 85
March 6, 2013
Michigan Governor Snyder announced last week that Detroit was in financial emergency and that he would appoint an emergency manager to have ultimate authority over the fiscal affairs of the state for the next 18 months.
Perhaps this dictator will be benevolent and relinquish power at the duration of his term.
With the simple signing of his signature, 49 per cent of African American residents of Michigan were disenfranchised on the municipal level.
Because African Americans disproportionately live in the cities to have been taken over by emergency managers, half of these Michiganders have been disenfranchised on the municipal level.
And if that’s not an insult to democracy in and of itself (not to mention African Americans), emergency managers have the ability and authority to fire elected officials, make or repeal laws, dissolve union contracts and sell off public assets along with a whole other slew of dictatorial controls.
There’s no doubt that Detroit is in a severe financial crisis; the city was built for two million people and has a population which teeters around the 800,000 mark. Without a solid taxable base to reap revenue, the city is unable to provide services to its residents.
Last year, Detroit police announced that police stations would be closed to the public from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m., keeping their doors open for just eight hours per day due to budgetary constraints.
The number of justifiable homicides has been on the rise as judges are siding with residents who are forced to defend themselves when the police cannot.
The Detroit fire department announced last year that they would have to stop providing toilet paper to firefighters and that they must bring in their own from
Indeed, these are quite drastic times. But do these times cause for a drastic measure such as disenfranchising 50 per cent of a minority population in the
state at a municipal level?
What happened in Detroit last Friday was a travesty to democracy and has serious racist connotations.
Whether or not the intention was to disenfranchise half of Michigan’s African American is irrelevant, the fact of the matter is that it happened. Friday’s decision
was at worst racist and at best inadvertently racist.
People have told me that this is not an issue about race, and while I initially agreed that it wasn’t (on face value I agree this is about fiscal order), I’ve changed my mind.
You cannot allow for half of a minority population to be disenfranchised and claim that it’s not about race!
Detroit is a city in need of deep repair and while it was once heralded as the Paris of the mid-west, such is clearly not the case anymore. Following an exodus of a large percentage of its population during the race riots, and subsequent periods of population stagnation and decline, Detroit began creeping towards its current fiscal state.
Disenfranchisement is a disgusting practice and it’s absolutely absurd that I’m writing about it in the year 2013.
Michigan residents already overturned an emergency manager law last year and what did Snyder do? He signed into law an even stricter law which guaranteed more power to the manager.
Democracy? Not in Michigan that’s for sure.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Associate News Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.