Sure, Detroit city officials cry crocodile tears over how government can’t afford an adequate number of cops or firefighters. And yes, the city leaves half its blocks in the dark many nights because it can’t afford to keep street lights on. And without question, it struggles to maintain its fleets of buses and emergency medical vehicles.
But if your job is to eat overpriced dinners with municipal suits and regurgitate stale observations and half-assed “solutions” to the same problems that have festered in Detroit for decades in Detroit? Oh, you gets paid. Handsomely.
Even as mayor Dave Bing has publicly fretted about the prospect of pay freezes and furloughs for city employees, city officials (and the state-appointed overseers guiding their hands) keep on doling out taxpayer-backed gifts to the “consulting” biz — all as part of their efforts to appease Rick Snyder, Andy Dillon and the other bullies who’re threatening to impose an emergency manager on Detroit.
The Detroit City Council authorized four contracts on Tuesday with outside firms that the Bing administration says will help the city cut costs and restructure operations.
The contracts are:
• $250,000 for Milliman of New Jersey to study cost-cutting in retiree health care and pensions.
• $1.8 million for Miller Buckfire of New York to assist the city in improving its investment banking.
• $4.2 million for Conway MacKenzie of Birmingham to provide operational restructuring services.
• $1.2 million for Ernst & Young of Detroit to provide financial restructuring services.
As the story also noted: “The contracts are among several the city must approve before it can receive another $20 million in bond proceeds.”
In other words, the state is threatening to let Detroit go broke unless taxpayers hand over dough to a small cabal of consultants hand picked by the mayor, governor and the rest of the cast and crew callously pimping Detroit’s dire financial straits.
It’s a classic hustle really, a stark example of what, back in the day, the boyz in the hood used to call “the overlay for the underplay.” Marty Kaan (to say nothing of Bobby and Kwam) would surely be proud.
Only difference here is, the payoffs are sanctioned, the kickbacks now encoded in law and bearing the legitimacy of a cowed council eager to do anything to keep itself out of political oblivion.
And what, exactly, will Detroiters get for their $7.5 million? In all likelihood, nothing new. After all, how often can we keep paying “consultants” to tell us what we already know, what we’ve known for years now? How long can these “consultants” keep the bankruptcy kabuki going before we stop paying to cheer them on? At some point, the alarms can’t get any louder, the pronouncements any more dire. How much, really, should it cost to shift around deck chairs on the Costa Concordia?
Whatever the price, we keep paying it. Seems money is scarcest only when it comes to negotiating with the people who keep the city clean and safe.
We’ve seen this movie before, of course. And yet — through all the threats of layoffs and furloughs and pay freezes to the men and women who keep Detroit running — we keep handing over cash to consultants for the same old ticket.
And it’s only later that we wonder why the ending never seems to change.
This article originally published on Deadline Detroit
Detroit City Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown Releases Statement Regarding Detroit’s Financial Crisis And An Emergency Financial Manager
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