Showing posts from July, 2013

Credit Counselor Orr Management Consultant

It is becoming clear Orr has two items on his agenda in Detroit. The first is to resolve the city's debt issues and get on a stabilized budget. The second is to revise the management and control systems and put in place a professional management team that will maintain control of the city's resources and keep it operating in a fiscally sound manner so the city does not sink into the abyss again. Both of these objectives are worthwhile however Snyder is messing up in the communication area by not being sufficiently forthright in talking about the management objectives. The city and the mayoral candidates must develop and be prepared to implement a plan that clearly demonstrates they know what needs to be done and they have the will and ability to do it. Otherwise the Emergency Manager position will be extended for another 18 months starting in September 2014. This is why I have been harping on the need for the mayoral candidates to develop and share their plans with the vo

Snyder's Demise

Rick Snyder either flunked all of the civic classes he ever had or the years that he successfully spent in the business world drained his memory of all that he was taught. In a democracy elected officials work for the citizens of the state. A well functioning democracy requires not only the implementation of sound policy and ideas; it also requires the Governor to communicate to his citizens informing them ahead of time what he plans on doing and why he is doing it. This is Snyder's downfall and it is likely to cost him in the 2014 election. The Governor and his team obviously did a poor job in selling the citizens of the state on the wisdom of the Emergency Manager law during the last election. This in turn forced him to ram the law through the legislature after the election in order to deal with the financial emergencies of the state, including Detroit.

Happy 100 Mom!

Happy 100th birthday Mom. It seems like only yesterday that you left us even though it is almost a quarter of a century ago. I bet you were surprised when Dad showed up to be with you in heaven five months to the day, to the minute when you died. Ozzie and I were very surprised. When we were with him he seemed to be doing OK, but after his death his neighbors said he was always saying he was going to be with Laura soon. He really missed you. During the last several months of your life you went through hell. You are probably aware that when you were in the hospital those last 30 days Dad was attending to you everyday from 7 AM until 11 PM when the nurses would force him to leave. At first the nurses looked at Dad as a pain in the butt. He was always looking over their shoulder when they would give you a shot, taking your temperature or whatever. When he was in the room alone with you and if he thought you were uncomfortable he would go to the nurses station and demand they take a

Detroit Rises As Detroiters Rise

Today, based on population, Detroit is approximately the 15th largest city in the United States and falling. Detroit is geographically larger than San Francisco, Boston and Manhattan combined. Detroit is a city in ruin that has a mayoral election in progress with no candidate providing and discussing any real, detailed plan for where and how they intend to move the city forward after the emergency manager leaves in September 2014. We are talking about a city where many citizens are so apathetic that a low turn out for the election is expected and yet there is no meaningful get out and vote campaign being implemented. My Dad use to say to me when as a kid I was getting excited about the upcoming baseball season, "potential, potential, get off your asp and practice." For Detroit to succeed the 700,000+ residents must get off their potential and do it. Frankly, if I was President I would not consider helping Detroit until I was sure the Citizens were helping themselves. Ther

China And Power

China is slowly becoming a more democratic country because its people will continue to demand it. As they transact more business with the West and the people of China get more exposure to our lifestyle and freedoms they will want to be a part of it. This will take time and those in power will resist the need to give up their corruption and influence. The rapid expansion of China really begun in the 1970's with Nixon's effort to reach out. Forty years have passed since then and now China is a world power and growing.  It may take another forty years before China's politics and economy becomes more like the west but it is inevitable. Unfortunately, we seem to be on a path of greater centralization of power and wealth. This power grab is coming not from the government but rather from our wealthy class and their conglomerates who are controlling more and more markets and politicians as a result of buying them with campaign contributions. Here is a peek of what the

Common Core

Here is a quote liked by Albert Einstein that appropriately fits Common Core: "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." (Sign hanging in Einstein's office at Princeton) We feel good when we can measure something, but we lose site of the fact that all good things cannot be measured. Common Core needs to find the balance. There is a reason why China encourages its students to spend some time in our colleges  We are the innovators and creators of the world. Excelling in creativity and collaboration is not an accident. It is related to encouraging the arts, sports, debate and other "non-core" activities. We have a problem measuring the results from these activities so we are putting less emphasis on them. The exception to this is inter scholastic sports where way too much money and publicity is dedicated to it when intramural sports could create the same outcome.

Detroit: What Will Creditors Take

Orr will need to compromise with Detroit's creditors and it will be in the City's best interest to do so. It is going to take leasing Belle Isle to the state, cutting a deal to unload the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, selling some assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), having the creditors taking a haircut of closer to 30 cents on the dollar, restructuring the terms on the remainder of the debt and adjusting future retirement and health insurance benefits.  Some of the DIA assets should totally fund legacy costs already earned by the employees. The real missing piece is there is no one talking about life after Orr. We have a city the size of Boston, San Francisco and Manhattan combined and a population less than 1/4th the size of these combined cities. Creditors will want to see a viable long term plan before making concessions. They are not going be be willing to reduce interest rates and principle balances while extending terms without feeling comfortable w

Detroit: Emergency Manager Law Rationale

Here is why I believe the Emergency Manager law makes sense and should remain in place for Detroit. The primary argument opposing the law is it takes away the constitutional rights of citizens. I submit that the law creating an Emergency Manager is very similar to a citizen losing much of his rights when he disobeys the law. When a citizen is caught driving under the influence of alcohol he can lose his right to drive. When he is convicted of a felony he can lose his freedom and spend time in prison. The same concept applies to school districts and cities. Both types of entities are created under the laws of the state of Michigan and are expected to comply with certain rules, regulations and laws. If the entity does not comply with the laws, including meeting certain standards, the state can take corrective action including putting the school district under the emergency manager law. The rational for such a law is that every citizen of the city of Detroit is also a citizen of