Now here’s a newspaper lede you don’t see every day:
The Downtown Development Authority board spending $250 million in taxes on Little Caesars Arena is dominated by tax delinquents with financial problems and in some cases criminal records, according to public records.
The DDA, you’ll recall, is the local quasi-public development corporation that spearheaded the push to spend $300 million in public money on a new Red Wings arena, plus another $34.5 million to move the Pistons in with them. It’s long been considered about as in the pocket of the local business establishment as you can get — its longtime director took a job with the Red Wings as soon as he’d left office — and now, according to the Detroit News, its board is a clown car full of clowns:
Seven of the 12 appointed DDA members have a history of financial issues, including more than $500,000 in state and federal tax debt, according to public records. Several blamed the problems on the Great Recession, an ordeal they say made them better public stewards and taught them how to avoid making new financial mistakes.
Yes, you read that right: The tax delinquents on Detroit’s development authority board say that this makes them uniquely qualified to plan the city’s economic future. And the city council president agrees with them:
Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. said he doesn’t see the past financial troubles of some board members as an issue.
“It doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of doing a good job,” said Cushingberry, who filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and lost a home to foreclosure. “In fact, we probably need a few people that have some tax issues so they can anticipate the possibilities.”
Not that making bad financial decisions should necessarily rule anyone out from public service, but maybe it might be a consideration for a job that requires making financial decisions for the city? What next, hiring a guy to run an agency that he not only wants to eliminate, but he can’t even remember the name of? Wait, what?