Anna Clark, Detroiter: 'I Am Surprised At How Tremendously Sad I Feel'
March 16th, 2013, 7:54 AM
State intervention to help Detroit become financially self-sufficient gets wide attention from network newscasts, national papers and now The New Republic.
Anna Clark, a writer who was born in Southwest Michigan and moved to Detroit in 2007, shares mixed emotions about emergency management in a first-person article in that magazine.
It's hard not to feel like a failure. . . . The state-declared emergency is not surprising. I knew the EM was coming, which is why I am surprised at how tremendously sad I feel. . . .
Despite my sadness, I find myself cautiously optimistic about temporary emergency management. . . . I don't like emergency management, but I’m not sure there's a better option.
Clark, a n independent journalist for national publications, fills in outsiders on the state's experience with this tactic since 1988 – with examples such as Hamtramck, Ecorse, Flint and Detroit Public Schools.
Nine Michigan municipalities and three school districts have gone into emergency management, some multiple times.
Her 1,800-word commentary, headlined "Detroit's Least-Bad Option," takes a glass-half-full perspective.
This is also an uncommon opportunity to advocate for policies that serve city residents in other ways. Informal conversations are already happening among many local leaders and organizers.
What law should be changed to make Detroit a better place? What department needs to be restructured? How can positive social change be embedded in the accelerated, if flawed, process of emergency management? . . .
There is every reason to proceed cautiously, to bring every bit of scrutiny and transparency to the process that we can muster. But I do think that we can make emergency management work for Detroit, not against it.
Clark reinforces that view with comments from Michael Brady, a WSU Law School grad and Cass Corridor resident who works at the foundation-supported Center for Community Progress, a foundation-supported advocacy group in Flint:
"Anybody who is doing any work in Detroit should see this as an opportunity. If you're not speaking up with thoughtful ideas, in language that's relevant to the role of an emergency manager, and offering specific recommendations . . . then someone else is."