Rick Snyder is starting to get national attention for his ambitious plan to defund and take over Michigan cities

Our Governor, Rick Snyder, has largely been flying under the radar these past few weeks, as what’s left of our nation’s journalists focus on the events taking place in Wisconsin, but that might be changing. Starting a few days ago with an exhaustive piece on the Daily Kos site about Snyder’s ties to The American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch brothers, stories have slowly started making their way into the mainstream. The narrative evolving in the national media seems to be fairly consistent – whereas Scott Walker set out to destroy his state’s unions up close and personal with a sledgehammer, Rick Snyder took another, less obvious route to the same destination. Snyder started, according to these folks, by proposing a budget that would defund Michigan’s cities, which he knew would lead to their almost certain collapse. And, at the same time, he put forward legislation that would allow him, in the case of bankruptcy, to disband the local elected bodies in these areas, and impose his own Emergency Financial Managers, who, according to that same legislation, would have the power to nullify local union contracts, and make deals with industry not to the liking of local citizens. Instead of just coming right out and smashing the unions, in other words, as Walker’s people did last night in Wisconsin, Snyder would create a situation where his hand-picked people and/or corporations could replace elected officials at the local level and begin the process of busting unions, liquidating assets and privatizing public services. The whole thing was laid out for the nation last night by Rachel Maddow.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Here’s a bit of the transcript:

…This is not about the budget. This is about fabricating a crisis to push for an agenda that you’d never be able to sell under normal circumstances. And so, you have to convince everyone that these are not normal circumstances. These are desperate circumstances, and your desperate measures are therefore somehow required. What this is has a name. It’s called shock doctrine…

I hadn’t given it much thought during the election, but I guess this is what the Republicans had in mind when they kept promising “smaller government.” They meant that they’d disband our elected bodies and replace them with more responsible corporate boards.

I’m at a loss as to how to move forward at this point, but several folks in the comments following last night’s post have indicated that it might be worthwhile to get together for a beer. I’m not sure how productive it would be, but, if that’s what people want, I’d be happy to help out to some extent, and maybe ask a few elected officials to join us. If you have thoughts as to what you feel would be useful, please leave a comment.

update: Some folks are even starting to throw around the phrase “martial law” when discussing what it is that Snyder is attempting to do.

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22 Comments

  1. Knox
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Rick’s first order of business as Governor was cutting corporate taxes to the tune of almost $2 billion. He followed that up by putting new taxes on retired Michiganders. So, it’s not that he’s against taxing people. He’s just against taxing the wealthy.

  2. Posted March 11, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Adrian, MI: Brought to you by Wal-Mart.

  3. applejack
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    I hate to say I told you so. Actually it seems like Snyder is worse than even I had expected. If he decides to run again next time, remember this and Vote Virg!

  4. K2
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I’m hoping that Haliburton gets the contract to oversee Ypsi. I think their security forces would be nicer than those of Black Water.

  5. Kim
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    The first comment from the Reddit thread on this.

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  6. Meta
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    From this morning’s Free Press.

    One $100 bill could block voters from a chance to stop more than a billion dollars in higher taxes.

    Whether you think it’s a dirty trick or a smart move, a House bill to implement Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to eliminate tax credits and exemptions contains a $100 appropriation — enough to make the plan immune from a voter referendum.

    The plan has incensed some Michiganders. On Tuesday, AARP is holding a rally at the Capitol for senior citizens angry about Snyder’s plan to tax pensions and other retirement income while cutting business taxes.

    In 2001, the state Supreme Court ruled that legislation with a state expenditure — even just $1 — can’t be repealed by voters.

    On Thursday, minority House Democrats assailed the move to block a potential repeal vote.”I think there’s a natural, built-in constituency that would sign that petition” to repeal tax changes, said Rep. Vicki Barnett, D-Farmington Hills.

    Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said the $100 appropriation in the 180-page bill is legitimate, and would be increased to cover the cost of implementing the new tax code.

    You can find the whole article here-
    http://www.freep.com/article/20110311/NEWS15/103110454/-100-cost-shield-Gov-Rick-Snyder-s-tax-proposal-from-voters?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

  7. Meta
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    It looks like there’s already a panel planned.

    State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, will host a budget town hall meeting March 21 to give residents an answer to the question: “What does Gov. Snyder’s budget mean to you?

    The event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Room 101 of the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College.

    It’s expected to feature a presentation outlining the impact of state budget cuts on the business community, working families, schools, seniors and local communities.
    Also on the agenda is a panel discussion with various local representatives and a question-and-answer session at which people can raise individual concerns.
    Representatives on the panel include:

    Dedrick Martin, superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools
    Paul Schreiber, mayor of Ypsilanti
    Howard Bunsis, Eastern Michigan University professor and chairman of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress

    To close a $1.4 billion state deficit and finance $1.8 billion in business tax cuts, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed deep cuts that impact schools, universities, cities, townships, counties, senior citizens and low-income wage earners, among other groups. He talked about his rationale for those cuts in a speech Thursday at Washtenaw Community College.

  8. AB
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    That’s the last time I ask Matt and Rene Greff who they’re voting for.

  9. Glen S.
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    “Financial Martial Law”

    That is the — in his view, positive — term that State Senator Jack Bradenburg (R-Harrison Twp.) used yesterday to describe the so-called Emergency Financial Manager bill that recently passed the Michigan Senate.

    When asked about concerns that the bill might usurp the powers of local, democratically-elected officials, here is what Bradenburg had to say:

    ““Local control? I’ll tell you what, I think that in a lot of these places there is no control.”

    While these comments reflect the view of only one Republican State Senator, it isn’t hard to imagine that many of his peers feel the same way — but are too smart to actually be quoted by a reporter.

    For the full story, see the Oakland Daily Tribune:

    http://www.dailytribune.com/articles/2011/03/10/news/doc4d78d0d4d764d009636769.txt?viewmode=fullstory

  10. Mike Shecket
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Mark, you kind of know the guy. Do you really buy into him being that underhandedly evil as opposed to just perhaps misguided?

    Also, it’s not like cities have no choices. Some could vote to raise property taxes (we’re maxed out, so far as I understand), and others could vote to establish or increase a city income tax. Ypsilanti chose to reject a city income tax.

  11. TeacherPatti
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    FWIW I’d still love to get together with our motley crew! (imagine it spelled Crue with those accent marks over the “u” and “o”). I’d suggest next Friday the 18th unless that it is too close to St. Patrick’s Day recovery or else the 25th? Or are Thursdays better for folks?

    And us meeting up might not be totally productive but it wouldn’t be awful either…even if just to cuss and commiserate (am I spelling that right?)

  12. Bud Wiser
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Snyder with different hair:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/11/punching-80-year-old_n_834601.html

  13. Mr. X
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Could we maybe put a dress on it and sneak a keg into the Town Hall meeting at WCC?

  14. TaterSalad
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Here is the petition to help defeat Barack Obama in 2012:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/1milliontodefeatbarackobama/

  15. lorie thom
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Glen et al: I would be interested in knowing a few things about the EFM:

    1) do they have to obey the open meetings act?
    2) is there a way to have the invoke the voting rights act?

  16. lorie thom
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    wow – that made not sense – 2) Is there a way to invoke the voting rights act to stop some of this stuff.

  17. dp in ypsi
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how much the freight house, the riverside arts center, or waterworks park will go for at auction?

  18. Oliva
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Is Michigan like Wisconsin in having to wait one year from election to remove the governor? (And with him his hatchet man from Utah?) This is incredibly depressing.

    Did anyone get to hear Fresh Air, first half-hour, on Tuesday? Guest, Philip Dray, wrote There Is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America:

    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/08/134337221/putting-wisconsins-union-battle-in-historical-context

    Bernero didn’t stand a chance–but why was that? He’s a very bright guy, fierce advocate of working people and the state as a place with a particular character and history, articulate as can be. Got almost nowhere in that election. Was never that his opponent had a speck of charisma. Snyder was sneaky, but it’s almost as though people wanted to be conned. I heard one Snyder voter say, “I never thought he’d go this far.” Why in the world not?

  19. Pete Murdock
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Financial Manager dissolves Pontiac Police Department and Fires Chief.
    This is what they can do now, just wait til the new legislation goes into effect.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20110311/NEWS03/103110370/1001/news/Pontiac-police-chief-fired-city-readies-Oakland-County-sheriff-s-deputies

  20. Pete Murdock
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    The Governor’s tax legislation is protected from repeal through a referendum by having a $100 appropriation tied to it. These Repubs are pretty slick in their attacks on the working class.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20110310/NEWS06/110310038/1001/news/Michigan-Gov-Rick-Snyder-s-new-tax-plan-could-immune-from-voter-repeal

  21. Emerge Man
    Posted March 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Pete, with an EFM everything is on the table, dude. As is should be, aye?

  22. Posted March 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    That Emergency Financial Manager provision actually was first passed in 1988. A provision overriding local control was added that same year to the Home Rule Law of 1908.

    I actually think it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been applied more harshly before now. Politicians of all stripes love centralized control. The bureaucrats in Lansing would like nothing more than to run the entire state from there.

    But the Republicans should beware. While they will enjoy the consolidated power when they’re running things, they’re going to start screaming when the Democrats regain power in a couple of years and apply the same powers, but in a different direction. What goes around, comes around.

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