It's official: Detroit now a ward of the state of Michigan
This was invevitable, given the precipitous loss of population and a viable tax base.
But there's also no doubt that mismangement of city finances had much to do with this action by Governor Snyder in appointing a fiscal manager for the city answerable only to the governor's office.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder cleared the way for a state takeover of Detroit, declaring that the birthplace of the U.S. automotive industry faces a fiscal emergency and that he has identified a top candidate to assume its management.
The fate of Detroit is being watched closely across the country as many cities and towns are still struggling to recover from the housing bust and the deep recession that followed.
Friday's declaration by the Republican governor virtually assures that the state of Michigan will assume control of Detroit's books, and eventually decide whether the city should file the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Detroit has faced the steepest population decline of any major American city in recent decades. Once the fifth largest U.S. city and springboard for music icons such as Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, it now ranks 18th in size with about 700,000 people.
"Its time to say we should stop going downhill," Snyder told a forum of residents hand-picked by his office, at a Detroit public television station. "There have been many good people who have had many plans, many attempts to turn this around. They haven't worked," he said.
A report commissioned by Snyder has described what it called "operational dysfunction" in the city government, crushing debt of $14 billion and a current fiscal year budget deficit of $100 million.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing did not attend the announcement, nor did city council members appear to be in the audience. Earlier on Friday, a majority of the council said they wanted to challenge Snyder's decision but did not decide how to proceed.
While Snyder made his announcement on Wayne State University's campus, a few dozen protesters gathered about two miles away at city hall, clutching signs that read "Snyder, Go Home!" and "This is a takeover!"
Not surprisingly, no one competent enough to do the job of sheparding Detroit through a painful and unpopular bankrruptcy wants it. Snyder will have a difficult time finding someone.
As for residents and their feelings, well - there's always the race baiters:
Karen Lewis, 49, a manager at a fast food store, reflected the resentment some residents feel at the takeover of the predominantly black and Democratic city by a predominantly white and Republican state government.
"It don't take a genius to know what this is all about," said Lewis, who is black. "They want our money and our land. No one cares about us. And we're the ones who stuck around. Not the white folks."
But Bernard Ragin, 41, said he was tired of living in a city that has seen a collapse of basic services.
The fast food manager doesn't get it. There isn't anything in Detroit any sane person would want. There is no "money," and as for land, outside of a few blocks downtown, most of the rest is urban blight.
This is not going to turn out well for anyone and it may be that Washington will have to step in at some point to save the city and prevent "Robocop" like chaos.
"I don't care who fixes Detroit, as long as the street lights work and the police show up on time," he said.