Well, yesterday was indeed one of the more momentous days in Detroit’s modern history. The city not only reached an agreement with Syncora, the major opponent of its bankruptcy filing. Detroit also reached a deal with the suburbs on the water system, something that has eluded everyone for years.
When I heard about all this, I was instantly reminded of economist Paul Romer’s famous quote: “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Detroit is in its worst crisis since Cadillac beached his canoes and scrabbled up the riverbank in 1701.
And for once, it hasn’t wasted it. Whatever you think of Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr: This would not have happened without them. Rhodes is the real hero in the water settlement.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson acknowledged this yesterday. For more than 40 years, Patterson has had a political career based on bashing Detroit. He had no intention of ever agreeing to a water deal with the city.
But Patterson knew that if he wasn’t willing to play ball, Rhodes could, quote, “cram down our throats his settlement of this issue, and this was always looming over our heads.”
The settlement itself is reasonable, logical, simple, and could have been designed by a graduate class in political science. A new Great Lakes Water Authority is being created.