In a week that has already brought its share of bad news for the federal Head Start program, the Detroit Free Press throws another log on the fire. According to the paper, the scandalously incompetent and corrupt city government in Detroit awarded a three year “no-bid” contract to what, if the critics are right, looks like one of the most despicably corrupt gangs of poverty pimps this side of ACORN. The non-profit in question, Clark & Associates, has been accused of gross “misspending and incompetence.” That is putting it mildly as the paper reports:
The council first grew concerned about Clark & Associates after the newspaper revealed that the nonprofit helped the city buy office furniture with $210,000 in federal funds that were intended to clothe and feed poor people about a year ago. The group has benefited from numerous no-bid contracts in the past five years.Council members said the current contract, if approved, may violate the law and put federal money in jeopardy at a time when poor Detroit children most need the help. Among the concerns: No bids were taken, Clark & Associates has no experience with Head Start, and the city never gained approval from the Head Start Policy Council to hire the nonprofit.
Given the dysfunctional nature of Detroit politics, it’s impossible for outsiders to know whether a public spirited City Council is raising the alarm about a genuine scandal, or whether one group of demagogic rent-seekers is complaining that the wrong guys are getting the payola that should rightfully be theirs.Mayor Bing, spouting fine slogans about the sacred rights of democracy as he fights a state takeover of what’s left of Detroit, did not send anyone to answer City Council questions about the no-bid contract from a chronically mismanaged agency to a dubious vendor. The mayor’s office also refused to discuss the matter with the Detroit Free Press — not a good sign, in our view. Those who have a strong case to make are generally eager to speak with the press.Meanwhile, rampant incompetence, administrative chaos and clueless mismanagement have so disrupted the ruined city’s faltering attempts to maintain some kind of early childhood education program that the Obama administration is threatening to close down all federal funding for early education in the once-bustling metropolis. The city is too incompetent to spend money.Failure like this is not built overnight. Decades of corruption, sloth, bad hiring decisions, political cronyism and depraved indifference to the needs of the poor were required to bring things to such a pass. No doubt Detroit has a generous pension program for all the wastrels and incompetents whose combined efforts created this train wreck. These people somehow manage to protect themselves even as they blight the lives and hopes of the inner city kids they were hired to serve.It is hard to see how a city recovers when things have fallen this far. Detroit’s voters do not seem interested in good governance, either unwilling or unable to penalize incompetence at the polls; the political class spouts blue liberal slogans but appears to have the compassion and generosity of a pack of velociraptors; the city’s core institutions have been so corroded and degraded after decades of decline that there is little hope for improvement anytime soon.The status quo cannot stand.Change is on the way.