Traverse City Record-Eagle

Op-Ed Columns

July 21, 2013

George Weeks: Snyder, Detroit’s '60 years of decline'

"We are all Detroiters today …"

— Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Rick Snyder, who campaigned as “one tough nerd,” faces mighty tough times politically from both the left and the right in the last half of his first term.

The National Journal pictured a grim, tight-lipped Snyder to illustrate its July 13 article headlined: “GOP governors in critical swing states are seeing their reelection chances jeopardized by more-radical elements within their own party.”

Snyder also now is under fire from union leaders, community activists and others for authorizing Kevyn Orr, his appointed emergency manager for Detroit, on Thursday to file the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history.

“Now is our opportunity to stop 60 years of decline,” Snyder said at a Detroit press conference Friday.

(Snyder on Sunday was scheduled to be on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.”)

In the swirl of media coverage, including stories on national TV, of the Detroit bankruptcy, I was particularly struck by reasoned comments Friday by state Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing—who would have been a strong contender for the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination had she not declined to run for apparent family reasons. In declining to join the chorus of Snyder criticism, she said:

“As disappointing as it was to see the news of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, now is not the time for despair, nor is it a time to point fingers. Instead, it should be a time of hope and a time to look forward for all of Michigan as we come together in support of our largest city and the economic hub of our state.”

Whitmer, a former three-term state representative, said:

“Bankruptcy isn’t the option anyone hoped for, but now that it is a reality we must work together to ensure it succeeds so that the recovery taking place within the city will not only continue, but accelerate.

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