Thursday, October 9, 2008
State Vs. Detroit City Council
Michigan government has a rich and sordid history of sticking its nose into the business of Detroit. Years ago then Gov. John Engler engineered, as only he could do, the abolishment of the Detroit School Board and replaced it with state appointees. The experiment flopped. Recently another governor named Granholm took on the role of judge and jury and before the verdict was in, the Mayor of Detroit resigned. Her move worked. Now comes the democratically controlled Michigan House with its political eye on Motown one more time. This time the objective is to change the method of electing the Detroit City Council. Suffice it to say the current council won't like this one iota. We know that because for years the idea of scrapping the so-called at large system in favor of a ward system has been beaten back by the council. But House D's will try after the November election to add more accountability by making city council members run in seven wards instead of being elected by the whole city. City council members, the theory goes, who screw up under the current system are difficult to un-elect because lots of folks have to vote them out of office. If they run in smaller wards, the number is reduced dramatically. So as if the city doesn't have enough challenges, this legislative move will open up another as the Detroit legislative caucus and friends fight the local council which will wave the local control flag while again telling Lansing to stick its nose some place else. A guy to watch in all this is the new mayor. Does Ken Cockrel, Jr. side with the council from whence he came or with the legi slature to which he must go for financial support.