Editorial: Threats of state takeover, bankruptcy ring hollow under weak leadership

The city of Detroit has been within weeks of running out of cash for more than a year now – and services haven’t stopped. Workers are still getting paychecks, and police never stopped patrolling the streets.

So it’s no wonder many of us aren’t running for the hills when city officials warned today that the state is about to appoint an emergency manager because the city is – you guessed it – within weeks of running out of cash. Threats of an emergency manager have loomed over the city since November 2011, when Mayor Dave Bing released an alarming report that suggested Detroit was on the verge of bankruptcy and soon would be unable to pay for services as essential as police and firefighters.

Even though the mayor and Detroit City Council have been unable to achieve any significant savings since then, threats of imminent bankruptcy and state takeovers have come and gone with much hype. Media headlines have parroted the dire warnings, feeding the hype.

It’s hard to believe anyone really knows how much money the city has.

What’s clear is the state and mayor’s office have cried wolf so many times that it’s tough to take them seriously.

If Detroit is free-falling into bankruptcy, as it most likely is, the state must decide now if it has the political will to seize Detroit’s finances like it has done in Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Flint, Detroit Public Schools and Highland Park Schools.

If the state can’t stomach a takeover, then get out and let Detroit do its thing.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.