I haven’t given much time here on the site to Governor Snyder’s proposed legislation concerning Emergency Financial Managers. I’ve been remiss in that regard, and I’m afraid that now it might be too late. As of this afternoon, the bill has cleared the Michigan House and Senate, and, barring some unforeseen development, it looks as though it will be signed into law by the Governor next week. Here, before we get rolling with the completely uncalled for and irresponsible Nazi analogies, is a clip from this evening’s Reuter’s article.
The Michigan Senate approved on Wednesday a proposal from Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to give state-appointed emergency managers broad authority to break labor deals to turn around failing schools and cities…
Senators voted 26-12 to approve an amended version of the proposal. It now must return to the state House for a vote. If representatives agree with the changes, the bill can be forwarded to the governor for his signature.
Republican leaders in the Michigan House tentatively plan to take the bill up next week, said Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger said.
The bill would allow a governor-appointed emergency manager to modify or terminate collective bargaining agreements. With the governor’s approval, the emergency manager also could dissolve a city government or recommend consolidation.
Hundreds of pro-union demonstrators had jammed the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on Tuesday from the floor of the rotunda to the floors above to oppose the measures in a scene reminiscent of weeks of protests at the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison….
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said the changes would add to the pressure on Michigan’s communities and school districts and served as an attack on public sector unions similar to those in Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin’s Governor Walker may be entering the front door on undoing workers’ rights, but make no mistake you all are sneaking in the back door to do the same thing with this vote,” Whitmer said in the final discussion for the Senate vote….
And, now, we’re pretty much just waiting on the Governor’s signature to make it law. Here, for those of you who prefer moving pictures to text, is a clip from last night’s Rachel Maddow program, in which she talks about the legislation.
And here, with more background, is a comment left early today by a reader in Ypsi named Glen:
…This bill is so extreme, so unwarranted, and frankly, so undemocratic, that it is finally starting to get some national attention. A “recommended” post this morning on the national political website Daily Kos carries the following headline:
“Michigan Governor Seeks Emergency Powers”
… and goes on to describe the bill this way:
“The governor of Michigan is trying to force through the legislature a bill that would establish emergency rule, LITERALLY. Gov. Snyder is seeking emergency powers that would enable him to 1) unilaterally declare a “financial emergency”, 2) disincorporate entire municipal governments, 3) dismiss elected officials with no replacement election to follow, 4) seize control of local civil services, 5) hand taxpayer money, services and POWERS to private, for-profit firms.”
I’d also like to draw everyone’s attention to a recent article in the Michigan Messenger, entitled “Bill Offers Few Guidelines for Use of Emergency Managers’ Powers.”
(Here’s a clip) in which Eric Scorsone, who is one of the “experts” hired by the Snyder Administration to train dozens of new EFMs, discusses the challenges of the new, uncharted territory this law exposes:
Scorsone said that he thinks the governor wants to push communities to make hard choices about their budgets by showing them that if they don’t make painful cuts, a state appointed Emergency Manager will do it for them.
“The proposed bill does not give details as to what actions an EM should take first when it comes to restructuring a town, and an appointed manager could decide to start with extreme measures such as dismantling a town,” Scorsone said.
“It’s unclear to me how that would actually work,“ he said, “how services will be provided.”
“Unlike in a corporate liquidation, the citizens don’t just go away.”
Working out the details of some of these extreme measures is stuff for another more advanced training, he said.
“In April or May we may get into questions like how does one dissolve a town.”
I want to repeat that: “Unlike in a corporate liquidation, the citizens don’t just go away.”
Folks, it may already be too late to stop this particular bill, but it ain’t over yet… so please call or write your local and state elected officials TODAY to urge them to oppose this disastrous bill, which not only threatens the future of local, democratically-elected control of many Michigan communities like Ypsilanti, but also many school districts.
So, here’s my question for the day. How shall we welcome the Emergency Financial Manager when he gets here? (I wonder whose house he’ll take.) I’ve been reading up on puppet regimes this evening, but, so far, I don’t have any great ideas. All I can think about is Jack Benny and how he deals with Col. Ehrhardt, the Gestapo Commander overseeing Warsaw, in “To Be or Not to Be.”