In case you missed it, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared Detroit to be in a state of “financial emergency” on Friday, and sounds like he’s all but determined to appoint an emergency manager to oversee the city’s finances, as Michigan really really likes to do.
“Citizens are not getting the services they deserve and need,” Snyder said during a midday Friday public forum. “Public safety, lighting, transportation — all those areas need help and it’s time to call all hands on deck and say let’s all work together.”
So what does this mean for the Detroit Red Wings arena subsidy plan that’s in the works? In all likelihood, not much: The state is already looking at being heavily involved in the arena, so the governor probably isn’t going to stop Detroit from giving tax breaks to a project that he himself favors, even if they’re tax breaks that could otherwise be used to shore up city services. Besides which, Michigan’s emergency managers have so far been more interested in outsourcing public services and breaking union contracts than in reforming developer subsidies.
It could make things awfully interesting, though, as suddenly you’d have a major development subsidy deal being proposed at a time when the city council wouldn’t even be able to vote to have a say in the matter. That could look not so hot, since you’d potentially have an unelected administrator committing millions of dollars in future Detroit property taxes at a time when he’s telling the city’s elected officials that they can’t be trusted with taxpayer money. I don’t think irony can be grounds for a lawsuit, but if nothing else, it could give this a run for its money as Most Ironic Sports-Related Thing Ever.