BLOOMBERG

By Chris Christoff

(Corrects figure in fourth paragraph under ‘Getting as Pass’ subhead in story originally published Dec. 7.)

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) — The law that threatens Detroit with direct state rule may be repealed through a petition drive powered by unions and residents opposed to white control of a city that’s 82 percent black.

“It’s nothing but a takeover bill,” said Brandon Jessup, chairman of the Stand Up for Democracy coalition seeking 161,300 signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. “This is definitely a race issue. It’s affecting people of color not only in this generation but future generations.”

Detroit has the highest concentration of blacks among U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. It will exhaust its cash by April and may run up a deficit topping $200 million by June.

Last week, Governor Rick Snyder, a white Republican, ordered a review that may lead to appointment of an emergency manager, rekindling rancor in a city scarred by race riots in 1967. Detroit lost one-quarter of its population since 2000 — much of it to largely white suburbs.

Four Michigan cities are controlled by emergency managers. All have populations that are mostly black. If Detroit joins them, 49.7 percent of the state’s black residents would live under city governments in which they have little say.

Michigan’s emergency managers have sweeping authority to nullify union contracts, sell assets and fire workers. Snyder has said he doesn’t want one for Detroit, though he called the city’s financial condition severe enough to warrant help. [MORE]