Detroit sits and spins on a painfully sharp middle finger
“May you live in interesting times.”
I have to ask my wife, but I’m pretty sure that’s an ancient Chinese curse. Right about now that curse is hanging on Detroit like bad breath on the lips of a Cass Corridor drunk.
As I write this Thursday post it’s actually Tuesday and, last I heard, it looks very unlikely that the Congress will grant the $25 billion loan being requested by the Big Three Auto companies here in Detroit to keep them afloat until they figure out how to swim amidst the turbulent waters of a rapidly flushing toilet. Like I said in Monday’s post, I’m still not all the way convinced that the Big Three should get (or should have gotten, depending on what may or may not have happened by the time you read this) that big check unless they’re able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that they have a sustainable plan for long-term viability. They need to show that they’re good for it and that we’re not being asked to give them a life raft that will just transport them the short distance to the next disaster.
But I confess I can’t shake the dread that if they don’t get this cash? What the hell is gonna happen to all these people who work in the auto plants? To all those families? I mean, even though I know intellectually that postponing the inevitable by throwing good money after bad is an insane budgetary move that will only make the problem much worse in the long run, it’s still hard to shake the immediate images of those millions of families thrown out of work. I mean Jesus…
And that’s just one hammer that’s about to fall on Motown. Because then there’s this other bit of news that the Greektown Casino – you might say it’s the Chrysler of Detroit’s ‘other’ Big Three, the MGM, Motor City, and Greektown casinos – looks like it might be headed for bankruptcy. And naturally this is happening while they’re trying to finish construction on this new Greektown Casino hotel. The one that’s supposed to look so sleek, tall, and beautful and add all this modern pizzazz. I keep getting this image of a half-done metallic monstrosity reaching toward the sky, announcing to the world like a huge middle finger just how fucked we really are.
Only it gets even worse. Because now we get the news that Detroit’s budgetary deficit is actually much worse than anyone was suspecting. And the clock is ticking on just how we’re supposed to figure out how many thumbs we have to amputate – and from whose hands – to jam into that gaping hole in the dam. And the guy who’s supposed to be leading us in this effort is only the interim mayor because our former mayor is now behind bars. We won’t know who our final fearless leader will be until about a year from now.
So at an excruciatingly critical time in Detroit’s history when I can’t imagine we ever needed strong, steady leadership more, we’ve got the best hope we once-upon-a-time-long-ago thought we had locked up in jail. We are forced to wonder why it is that four of our city council members are under investigation by the FBI and how many of them are likely to be indicted before the end of the year. And we will have to wait a full year before we know who our mayor will be.
And by the time we find out? Yeah, you see where this is going, right?