It’s not that public private partnerships are inherently evil, but rather that the private side of that partnership seems to always end up with the better end of the deal. Because of that imbalance, Detroiters are on their way to begging for scraps from their own table rather than having a say-so in the actual menu. According to Eric Williams, a candidate for the at-large seat being contested in the upcoming August 2 primary election, this is the nagging concern that prompted him to enter the race.
Why he’s running
“The basic premise of my campaign is that development is important, but development that’s not equitable, and not just – how it’s happening is not transparent – then we don’t need it. Actually we would be better off without exacerbating the existing social and economic divisions would be by creating a bigger gap between the haves and have nots. And that’s what we’re approaching right now.
Detroit becoming a slave to corporate largesse
“Part of the problem is that at the national level, and then subsequently the state level, government has gotten out of the business of government and out of the business of funding municipalities. Municipalities is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to actually government fulfilling these purposes. And as a consequence we’ve had to rely far too heavily on public private partnerships like Riverfront Conservancy, and Q-Line, and private security for downtown. What we have now, essentially, is public private partnerships have taken the place – are now essentially doing the central government functions; security, transportation. …The problem with that is that “the priorities are going to be the priorities of the private part. OK? Not the public part of that partnership.”
“Until we wean ourselves off that, or at least until recognize that’s what happening, we’re gonna see, not only development but the actual accoutrements of government develop in ways that only benefit either the customers, or the employees or the actual corporations themselves. And that’s why you see it in Midtown and downtown. We have to change that. We can’t allow that to keep happening. …So if you’ve got the Ilitch family or Matty Maroun, or Gilbert saying we’re gonna be providing all these things for you, the next time you’re in a room negotiating with them, how much leverage do you think you really have to say no when you realize he’s providing security for the core of your city? How much leeway do you have to say no when you realize that two-thirds of the revenue for an essential govt function is coming from this corporation? Not as a matter of tax dollars, and obligation, but merely as a demonstration of their corporate largesse. And it can be turned off at any moment.”
About the proposed Community Benefits Ordinance
“I would love to live in a world where they weren’t unnecessary. A CBA is essentially the equivalent of term limits, right? It’s essentially saying we don’t trust the people who are involved in this to do the right thing. But clearly our city government isn’t capable of making deals that benefit the community. And since they are incapable of doing it, the people – and again it’s lazy – rather than get rid of those people, you pass an ordinance to do it. And it’s kind of sad.”