Two Detroit residents protesting City Council’s vote to approve a $3.3 million contract between the city and the law firm Jones Day were arrested Tuesday. They were part of a group opposed to the contract, which is between the Detroit, currently under the emergency financial management of Kevin Orr, appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to steer Detroit clear of bankruptcy, and his former law firm Jones Day, where, previous to being named Emergency Financial Manager, he was a partner.
Jones Day also represents Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which owns many of Detroit’s municipal bonds. Protesters decried the blatant conflicts of interest. Emergency Manager Orr has absolute power over contracts; the declaration of the state of emergency by Governor Snyder effectively leaves Detroit without democratically elected representation in the city.
It’s been a long slow slide financially for Detroit, between racist urban renewal policies of the past, the collapse of the car industry, and incompetent city governance, and although Detroit has more recently been the hub for a sustainable community renaissance.