Michigan city gets a technocrat

US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama speaks during a townhall discussion on the economy at the Mott Community College Regional Technology Center in Flint, Mich., on Sept. 8, 2008.

Jeremy Hobson: Well we've told you about the latest trend in financially troubled European countries like Italy and Greece: Put an economist, not a politician, in charge. Call it the rise of the technocrats.

Well, as Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra reports, technocrats have taken over cities in Michigan as well.


Jennifer Guerra: Flint -- the birthplace of General Motors -- is seeing red -- literally. The city is at least $7 million in debt. Michigan's governor has declared a "financial emergency," and will likely appoint an emergency manager to run the city.

Flint would join a growing number of Michigan cities whose elected officials are being replaced by financial fixers -- those who can come in and make "tough decisions" without any worry of political fallout.

Flint City Councilman Joshua Freeman is kind of eager to see that happen.

Joshua Freeman: Services are going to be cut, but you only have so much money to work with, and you either work within those dollars or you cease to exist.

But Flint resident Andrew Morton says he's not sure how many more austerity measures the city can handle.

Andrew Morton: We're so used to living on a very tight budget, and the idea of people coming in and taking more away a community that's lost so much; things are pretty tough already.

It would be the second time Flint has come under the purview of an emergency manager. This time, though, the manager would have more power to cut services and amend contracts.

I'm Jennifer Guerra for Marketplace.

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