Newly appointed Detroit Financial Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr began his job Monday of re-stabilizing the city’s struggling finances, at the same time that the Reverend Jesse Jackson calls for a dispute of his hiring.
Detroit is the largest city ever to be put under the financial control of the state, and if Orr manages to fix the debt and budget issues he will be celebrated as a hero. However, as an employee of the state of Michigan, he has already earned enemies in the city.
Civil rights leader Jackson called for a “major mass nonviolent demonstration” to protest the state’s decision to appoint an emergency manager. During a rally at Detroit’s Coleman A. Young Municipal Center Friday, Jackson announced his intention to combat the law allowing Michigan to seize control of the city, and asked citizens to join him in a non-violent demonstration.
Though he did not attack Orr directly, Jackson criticized the seizure as “boldly anti-democratic,” while speaking to the Huffington Post. The emergency manager law, Public Act 436, will officially come into effect March 28, several days after Orr begins his work. The citizens who organized Friday’s rally plan to file a lawsuit questioning whether PA 436 is constitutional during the week.
“As opposed to having a city council that’s democratically elected and a mayor, you’ll have a plantocracy, a plantation-ocracy, replacing a democracy,” Jackson said Friday.
“Centered around the filing will be protests and civil disobedience,” he added. “I certainly agree that we need and we seek federal intervention, but we must make our federal government do what they are supposed to do on our behalf.”
State officials have criticized Jackson’s comments and role in the city’s politics. Gov. Rick Snyder, whose office deemed Detroit to be in a state of emergency and appointed Orr earlier this month, released a statement saying that continued legal action would make solutions more difficult to execute. Michigan GOP spokesman Matt Frendewey suggested that Jackson was impeding on the city’s progress, calling the comments “irresponsible.”
“The citizens are anxious for solutions, and it’s disappointing that all the Rev. Jackson wants to do is provide some sound bites and stand in the way of necessary solutions to fix Detroit’s problems,” Frendewey said according to the Detroit Free Press.
Mayor Dave Bing and other city officials were against the appointment of an emergency manager, but declined to comment on Jackson’s actions. Detroit is currently facing over $14 billion in long term debt.