Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Michael Brown Named Emergency Financial Manager in Flint

The state of Michigan has appointed an emergency financial manager in Flint, choosing former interim Mayor Michael Brown. Dawson Bell of The Detroit Free Press reports:
As emergency manager, Brown will assume most of the duties of elected Mayor Dayne Walling and City Council and control city operations and finances. But he will have broader powers, too, including the authority to end employee contracts.
That means the long-running standoff between the city and the Flint police and firefighters unions will finally reach a resolution, although it might not be a happy one, depending on which side your on.

Kristen Longley of The Flint Journal has more details on the move:
Brown said he'll be talking to department heads and public safety officials.

He also plans to appoint an advisory committee consisting of a city official, a representative of the business community, one Flint resident and "up to two persons with relevant professional skills" to assist him, he said.

Brown said he expects to take actions similar to those of the current emergency managers appointed in Benton Harbor, Pontiac and Ecorse.

"It's pretty clear if you read the law, there's guidelines for managers," he said. "I'm going to be no different."


  1. Thank God my first response to your Headline was wrong. I could only think that they have turned over Flint to the Mike D. Brown of " your doing a heck of a job Brownie" fame under George Bush and Katrina. I thought I'd seen the last of the old hometown for sure.

  2. Ha! I got your comment just as I was changing it to Michael Brown instead of Mike, realizing that I might be treating this story a little too informally. I'd forgot all about Brownie, as I'm sure the good people of New Orleans have tried to do.

  3. My reaction would be the opposite. I know Flint's Mike Brown as the guy who once already has been the most effective person-running-the-place-whatever-you-call-him that Flint has had in at least the past generation.

    The guy from FEMA and Katrina, on the other hand, is a distant memory.

    I like republican democracy as much as any other American, but Flint hasn't had much luck with elected officials lately. Hooray for the State's help in turning the place over to the Mott Foundation and their very-well-proven, civic-minded technocrat until they can get things on an even keel.

  4. I've heard good things about him from everyone.

    But a Democracy that is only democratic when people make "good" choices isn't. And however noble Michael Brown may be, he doesn't answer to us, but to Rick Snyder. Can anyone name a single city that has been righted in the long-term by the intervention of an EM or EFM? Bueller? Bueller?

  5. What would the alternative be? I think the only possibility would be Chapter 9 bankruptcy, possibly followed if no exit from bankruptcy could be structured by some unexplored path to legal dissolution or annexation by a neighboring government. Would bankruptcy, necessarily under the supervision of a court and with self government suspended, be a more democratic outcome?

    My understanding is that the whole point of the EM law was to create a way for an ineffectively governed and/or structurally uneconomic city to be salvaged with more of a mechanism for considering-what-the-citizens-think than the courts can provide.

    Also, of course, to paraphrase John Maynard Keynes, what matters is the best achievable near future, because in the long-term we are all dead.

  6. Somehow, I won't shed a tear if Detroit gets a state appointed financial manager. I've been hearing stories about theft in government agencies in Detroit that would make your hair stand on end, and thinly and not so thinly veiled death threats to investigators. Why should Detroit be different?


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at