A sigh of relief swept through Detroit recently after a judge threw out a legal challenge to the “consent agreement” the city just signed with the state to clean its books and avoid bankruptcy. The lawsuit, filed by the city’s megalomaniacal legal counsel, represented a level of overreach ridiculous even by Detroit’s lofty standards. But in the tragicomedy that is Detroit, it would have been better if it had succeeded and expedited Motown’s rendezvous with bankruptcy.
If there is any solution to Detroit’s fiscal mess, it may lie in the legal, not political, arena.
Fiscal deficits have been a fact of life in Detroit for decades as residents and industry fled its high taxes, high crime, shoddy schools and erratic trash services, thus eroding its tax base. Now, however, Detroit is flat broke, with a $265 million deficit that it has run out of gimmicks to fix.