Krystal Crittendon to Detroit: Drop Dead
You’re about to effectively kill your own consent agreement and leave yourselves broke. Bravo.
Don’t kid yourselves; this screw-up was a team effort. As Hal Holbrook’s Deep Throat might have said: You don’t think this was all the work of little Krystal Crittendon.
After Detroit watched the city’s lawyers play consigliore for The Kilpatrick Enterprise, voters approved a new Charter last fall that gave the law department greater independence.
Seven people have to approve dismissing the head of law—the mayor and six members of city council.
When you consider the arithmetic required to prevent Law Department chief Krystal Crittendon from attempting her Hail Mary lawsuit to scuttle the consent decree, the more absurd this dramedy looks.
Five Councilmembers and Mayor Dave Bing all agreed to the consent deal as a preferred alternative to an emergency manager or bankruptcy.
Right there, you have six of the seven people necessary to tell Crittendon to knock it off or take a hike. Unfortunately, from the moment she set in motion this remarkably reckless game of brinksmanship, everyone started hedging their bets.
Bing waffled, City Council President Charles Pugh cheered Crittendon on, and what was once a done deal became another hot mess.
It wouldn’t have been beyond the realm of possibility for Bing and a majority of City Council to convince another Councilmember (say Brenda Jones or Andre Spivey) that, whatever they think of the consent deal, this dubious lawsuit is even worse.
Instead of a coalition lobbying a sixth Councilmember to push back against the lawsuit, Detroit is stuck with leadership ducking for cover behind politically expedient positions.
Let’s be real: The state simply does not owe Detroit $200 million in unpaid revenue sharing. Even if the case could be made that Lansing welshed on a legally enforceable agreement to maintain revenue sharing levels, the city’s end of said arrangement involved gradually reducing their income tax between 1998 and 2008. They stopped the tax cuts in 2004 with nary a discouraging word after Lansing cut revenue sharing in 2003.
If Detroit gets its past due revenue sharing, then you’d also have to conclude the city owes massive retroactive tax cuts going back eight years. Really, that’s not going to help the bottom line.
Unfortunately, the Bing Administration and so many others have for too long perpetuated this revenue sharing fiction that is the underpinning of Crittendon’s case.
It’s all led us to a point where the city is literally about to miss payroll.
When the bean counters gather to decide who, if anyone, gets paychecks next week, hopefully the politicians and lawyers find themselves on the bottom of the list.