In the 2010 election Michigan voters were led to believe that Rick Snyder could fix our problems because, as one of his campaign ads touted, "He's the only businessman running so he's the only one that even knows what he's doing." In light of the Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing by Detroit one may wonder what became of all this business wisdom when "One Tough Nerd" took office?
Shortly after his election Rick Snyder said "Michigan cannot be a great state until Detroit is on the path to being a great city." Yet, when listing his accomplishments for the past two years, none of them address the obvious problems that, according to the governor, he was uniquely qualified to solve.
2011 Rick Snyder list of accomplishments including.
1. Eliminated the Michigan Business Tax.
2. Taxed some pensions and cut personal income tax credits and deductions.
3. Signed a balanced budget three months ahead of the deadline.
4. Strengthened the position of emergency financial managers.
5. Required additional cost-sharing by public employees for health care and other benefits.
6. Revamped teacher tenure and linked evaluations partly to student performance.
7. Developed financial incentives for schools and communities to adopt cost-cutting "best practices."
8. Threw out Michigan's tax-credit strategy for economic development.
9. Lifted the cap on charter schools authorized by state universities.
10. Eliminated the state law requiring every item on a store shelf be individually marked.
1. Moving forward with the New International Trade Crossing.
2. Personal Property Tax reform
3. Eliminating regulations - 13 rules eliminated for every new rule we added
4. Pathways to Potential, a new initiative that puts social workers directly in schools.
5. A conference on infant mortality.
6. Efforts to revitalize cities across Michigan
7. Improving public safety.
8. Efforts to revitalize Detroit, including a new authority to restore Detroit lighting
9. The creation of a Regional Transit Authority for southeast Michigan.
10. Blight removal, including tearing down blighted properties and improving others
While improvements in public education and lighting in Detroit were nice window dressing, this is a man who ran on his business acumen. Neither of these "accomplishments" does anything to address the financial situation that brought down Detroit.
But rather than lead the resurrection of the town that Rick Snyder himself designated as the key to Michigan's success the governor said "Right now, my role is to be a resource. When people say, 'We need help,' we are ready to assist."
Where was this passive "will of the people" governor when voters said no to emergency manager laws, or when the public and his own party opposed the new bridge to Canada? Where was the contact your representative passion the governor has exhibited for Medicare expansion when it came to the most important city in his state? And since when does leadership include watching people fail when you have the knowledge and the power to help.
Rick Snyder may not be to blame for Detroit's fall from grace but standing idly by while his greatest asset imploded is not the work of a great businessman or a great governor. It is the action of man who is out of his depth.
His failure to act could take decades for the state to recover from.