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Michigan Governor Snyder holds Q & A session in Detroit; City Council set to consider deal Thursday

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder answering questions at a town hall meeting held at the Wayne County Community College in Detroit.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder answering questions at a town hall meeting held at the Wayne County Community College in Detroit.

The Detroit City Council is expected to debate a "financial stability agreement" with the state on Thursday.

That news came just a few hours after  Gov. Rick Snyder took to a stage at Wayne County Community College to answer questions.

Snyder said the event was an effort to end the "miscommunication" about his plans for Detroit.

"I'm not here to run the city," Snyder said. "I'm here to be a supporting resource."

The questions were pointed, but the mood was calm, especially when compared to the wild public meeting held by the state's financial review team earlier this week in which one protester, Malik Shabazz,  threatened to burn the city down before allowing a "state takeover" (Charlie LeDuff of Fox News in Detroit later got Shabazz to take back that statement).

Gov. Snyder showed emotion during the town hall meeting as he tried to explain his reasons for wanting to enter into some kind of deal with city leaders rather than appointing an emergency manager.

He said the financial crisis the city is facing is casting a shadow over positive trends in Detroit, and if more citizens are thinking of leaving the city "we are in trouble!"

In one of his more animated moments, Snyder said when he talks to young people in Detroit he asks them, "do you want to be a yuppie living in Chicago, or come make a difference in Detroit?"When asked about the fear that some in the city have about the consent agreement essentially being a state takeover, Snyder said any plan would let"the city run the city" with financial oversight, something the city has not had a good track record on, he said.

"How many plans have there been over the last few decades of Detroit?" asked Snyder. "How many of those plans actually been implemented?"

He said city government has not had the position of a chief financial officer, an important position, he said, for a city in financial crisis. It's a position Snyder says is now part of the draft consent agreement.

When pressed on the question of more revenue for the city, Snyder said he is willing to invest in things like public safety, and other programs, but more money is not necessarily the answer.

"Government should not be about spending money. It should be about real results for real people," said Snyder.

The Detroit Newsreports:

City and state officials on Wednesday were continuing closed-door negotiations over the status of a financial agreement to fix Detroit's fiscal crisis. The city council on Tuesday voted to borrow $137 million to get the city through its short-term cash crunch, but both sides agree a long-term restructuring of the city's finances is needed.

While his overall tone was reassuring, Snyder did say he's "impatient" with Detroit city leaders who haven't provided "deliverables" as part of the ongoing negotiations.

“In my view, there isn’t a lot of good reason why this wasn’t done some time ago," Snyder said. "We could have been implementing stuff for months now, if not longer."

City leaders don't want to call the deal they're expected to vote on a "consent agreement," preferring instead to call it a "deficit elimination plan" or "financial stability agreement."

Snyder says that's fine--so long as that deal contains some language that could turn it into a legally enforceable consent agreement under Public Act 4, the emergency manager law.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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