What's Going On In Detroit? It Seems Like Armageddon, Or Worse.
There’s something in the air in Detroit these days. I think it’s the Apocalypse.
And that’s not a reference to the judgment of the wicked going on in federal court, where a jury is deliberating the fate of the antichrist, Kwame Kilpatrick. The alleged antichrist.
It’s a feeling that Detroit is approaching end times. An old era is ending, and a new era is about to begin. Or is the city collapsing? Or both?
I think I even saw a cosmic cataclysm. Or maybe it was Malik Shabazz and Mike Duggan hugging.
Think about the past few days: All the signs of a catastrophic upheaval are present, short of the Detroit River running with blood.
Gov. Rick Snyder said he would decide soon over whether to appoint an emergency manager to clean up Detroit. Snyder rolled out a Doomsday scenario for Detroit with colorful bar charts.
State officials quantified Detroit’s tribulations: Annual deficits since 2005. Long-term liabilities of $14 billion. Collection rate of 7.7 percent by 36th District Court. A new charter that makes governing the city an obstacle course.
There’s even confusion between the state and the city over how many Detroit cops are on the job.
Then it got worse.
The Detroit News reported Thursday that 47 percent of the city's taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills.
And the Free Press reported Tuesday about a study that said there’s a possibility that Detroit’s long-term debt could leave just pennies per dollar to spend on all city services.
In response to Snyder, the city council – the nine-headed beast mentioned in the Book of Revelation -- argued their cataclysm disguised as a city does not need an emergency manager. The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, said if Snyder sends an EM to Detroit, then the governor would “own” the city and become responsible for everything that happens in it. Plus, an EM would be anti-democratic. “Has Michigan become the new Mississippi? Anthony asked.
And, finally, to add another layer of apocalyptic tomfoolery to the situation, the Detroit mayoral race really got going Tuesday night when Duggan announced he is running. And he became positively rapturous, proclaiming “every neighborhood has a future,” which will come true when a lamb breaks a wax seal and a lion-like living creature cries with the voice of thunder.
A professor of theology at Sacred Heart Seminary says the number of the beast equates to the words “Mayor Duggan,” whose name in Greek, when transliterated into Hebrew, retains the value of 666, whereas his Latin name, transliterated into Hebrew, is 313.
It’s the first mayoral campaign in Detroit’s history that could end with the winner being a figurehead, replaced – at least for a while – by the emergency manager. Every candidate has to constantly answer the existential question, “Why are you running for mayor when you might end up being the emergency manager’s tool?”
The final sign of Armageddon for me was a statement in a column last week in the Detroit News by Daniel Howes, a conservative writer whose work I respect. He said while many critics of Detroit put a lot of blame on its unions, “mounting evidence points to management.”
That acknowledgement is surely a sign.
As always in times of trial, I turn to the good book. Not the Bible, but “Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick,” in which he writes:
“I don’t know how all this will end, or why I had to come this way. It’s said that, in adversity, there are no problems to face, just choices to make. I choose to remain surrendered, to feed my soul faith, hope and love, even while I am doing time, because there is one thing I do know. Time will tell. And all is well.”
Are those enough paroxysms for one city?