Napoleon waffles on support of EM as he trails in polls

Benny NapoleonBefore it became clear that he was trailing in the race to become Detorit’s next mayor, Benny Napoleon struck a conciliatory tone toward a state-appointed emergency manager.

“The winds have changed,” Napoleon posted on Facebook in February, a month before the appointment of Kevyn Orr. “Let’s partner with the Emergency Manager (likely to be appointed) to swiftly address the city’s finances, improve city services and then focus on a strong Detroit future with local elected leadership.

Compare that to a recent speech at a church in Detroit, where Napoleon used a disturbing image to describe Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Duggan “has made an appeal to retirees and senior citizens while at the same time he was working to bring into town a man who said he would slit their throat and watch them bleed on the floor trying to take away their pensions, trying to take away their water department, trying to take away their Belle Isle,” Napoleon told an invite-only crowd.

For the record, there is no evidence that Duggan favored an emergency manager. Napoleon was referring to emails obtained by Motor City Muckraker that show Duggan was included in early conversations about an EM in Detroit.
While Duggan acknowledges he was consulted by state officials, he maintains he urged the state against appointing an emergency manager – a position backed up by email records.

Now Napoleon is hinting at fighting the constitutionality of an emergency manager, who has already spent millions of dollars putting the city in bankruptcy court in an effort to erase a disputed $18 billion deficit.

“I believe the emergency manager is unconstitutional until the federal courts tell us otherwise,” Napoleon posted on Facebook recently.

When Napoleon entered the race, he was believed by many to be the frontrunner, especially after Duggan was taken off the ballot. Napoleon even pledged to run a positive campaign.

But then Duggan won the primary election by a landslide in his write-in campaign. Recent polls indicate Duggan maintains a 2-1 advantage over Napoleon.

Napoleon’s tone has grown more combative and accusatory.

We asked him about it.

“I believe the emergency manager law is unconstitutional because it removes ‘elected representative leadership’ and is antithetical to the Democratic process granted by the U.S. Constitution,” Napoleon said. “There is a challenge currently filed in the federal courts. Until the federal courts determine otherwise, I believe Public Act 436 is unconstitutional. I am the only mayoral candidate who fought against an emergency manager and supported the ballot campaign last year with my own time and money, siding with the overwhelming majority of Michigan voters who voted to repeal Public Act 4.”

Napoleon said he doesn’t have faith the emergency manager can run day-to-day operations of a major city and said that task should be given to the next mayor.
“As mayor, I bring to the table what Orr could never – the trust and good will of Detroiters,” Napoleon said. “With that, I plan to be the good conscience of the community. I will focus on running the departments, while Orr focuses on fixing the city’s finances.”

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.

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