“Whoever is picked, they will make that person’s life is extremely difficult, professionally and personally,” says Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, a public policy think tank in Lansing, Mich., and a former Republican majority leader in the state Senate.
That resentment has festered over decades. As the population of Detroit has dwindled – due to a suffering auto industry and other economic hardships – the city has become more isolated, both politically and racially, from the rest of the state.
Today, Detroit stands in stark contrast with the rest of Michigan: While Republicans control state politics, Detroit is Michigan’s largest Democratic stronghold. Its leadership and population are overwhelmingly black, also in contrast to the rest of the state.
“You’ve got the racial undertones, the union issues, the loss of political power, all of these things are intertwined; you can’t really sort them all out,” says Mr. Sikkema.
The time frame for the emergency financial manager to make a turnaround is 18 months, which “is not enough time” to make a full recovery, although certain things are achievable, says Eric Scorsone, an economist at Michigan State University in East Lansing, who is also on Mayor Bing’s restructuring team.
What can Orr do?
Business leaders say they are anxious for an emergency financial manager to address glaring inefficiencies in the city's bureaucracy.
“The billing for [property] taxes has been sporadic at best,” says Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and a former US assistant secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush. “Companies may be getting bills from the tax department that are legitimately owed, but it was news to them, or bills they haven’t received for years. This goes to a competency issue. ”