Opinion
9:32 am
Thu January 2, 2014

What’s ahead for the New Year

Lessenberry commentary for 1/2/14

Well, the good news is that we’ve all survived to see another new year. The days are slowly getting longer, and we can now at least say confidently that spring will come this year.

Of course, it is still cold and dark in the morning, there are mountains of snow, and the holidays are officially over. Some of have to worry about getting back on our diets and all of us have to face the fact that this is an election year. Which means campaign commercials soon will be coming to a TV set near you.  

Regardless of your politics, for a number of reasons, this is bound to be a fascinating year.

Consider this: While we don’t know how it will all turn out, Detroit is going to go through bankruptcy. Before this month is over, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will file his proposed “plan of adjustment” with the federal court.

Soon we will know how he wants to get our largest city back to solvency. Then we will see what U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes thinks of his plan. My guess is that the process will be wrenching, agonizing and something like an elephant’s labor pains.

We just have to hope the Detroit which emerges will be able to stand on its own, and be able to provide some level of decent city services for its residents while avoiding getting back into the circumstances that landed it in bankruptcy.

Most of all, we have to hope that the newly solvent Detroit will be left with the tools to enable it to someday be prosperous again. That means being able to attract newcomers who are not afraid to have their drivers’ licenses say Detroit.

We don’t know how long this will all take. But what we do know is that by October, the emergency manager will be gone, and the folks elected two months ago will be fully in charge.

We also know that every elected official in state government will be up for election this year. Rick Snyder has been a controversial governor, and many so-called moderates who voted for him four years ago feel betrayed. They were stunned that he reversed himself on a number of issues, such as Right to Work. There is considerable bitterness that Snyder signed a law last week that allows special interest groups to spend  large amounts to influence campaigns while keeping their identities secret, something that seemed to break a promise.

But nobody knows whether Democrats, or their designated candidate, Mark Schauer, will be able to beat him. Republicans also have majorities in both houses of the legislature and on the Michigan Supreme Court. Democrats face what most see as an uphill battle to try to change the balance of power in all those places.

Michigan also has an open U.S. Senate seat for the first time in 20 years. Republicans control everything in state government, but have a mind-blowing record of failure in senate races: only one victory in the last 41 years.

Could this be the year that changes?  Well, those are only the upcoming events we know will happen. There will be others. What is certain is that this year is bound to be a most interesting time. 

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.