Friday, June 8, 2012

Despotism Has Taken Root in America, Especially in Michigan

DATA DRIVEN VIEW POINT: Here is yet another example of how despotism is taking root in America.   
FRI JUN 08, 2012 AT 12:28 PM PDT

Republicans trying to force Detroit to go Bankrupt in a week

I'm not the guy who can go too much in detail about this but I just want give you the gist of the story. Detroit has been a keypoint of Obama's economic recovery used for the stump. But now it's on the verge of being appointed a financial manager from Rick Snyder.
Jack Martin, the city’s new chief financial officer, said the city will be broke by June 15 but should be able to make payroll for its employees. He said the city will be operating in a deficit situation if the state withholds payments on a portion of the $80 million in bond money needed to help keep the city afloat.
The battle ultimately could lead to an emergency manager if state officials deem the city to be in violation of the consent agreement that gives the state significant control over Detroit’s finances.
But it looks like Michigan is not giving them the revenue they were promised.
Crittendon filed a lawsuit last week saying that the consent agreement was “void and unenforceable” because Michigan owes the city $224 million in revenue sharing plus more than $1 million in unpaid water bills, parking tickets and other debts. Under the city charter, Detroit can’t enter into contracts with entities in default to the city, so Crittendon challenged the consent agreement under her authority to investigate violations of the charter.

The Scandal of Michigan's Emergency Managers

Chris Savage
February 15, 2012 | This article appeared in the March 5-12, 2012 edition of The Nation.

On January 20 the progressive think tank Michigan Forward and the Detroit branch of the NAACP sent a joint letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder expressing concern over Public Act 4, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. Signed into law in March 2011, it granted unprecedented new powers to the state’s emergency managers (EMs), including breaking union contracts, taking over pension systems, setting school curriculums and even dissolving or disincorporating municipalities. Under PA 4, EMs, who are appointed by the governor, can “exercise any power or authority of any officer, employee, department, board, commission or other similar entity of the local government whether elected or appointed.”

Results were swift. In April the Benton Harbor EM, Joe Harris, decreed: “Absent prior express written authorization and approval by the Emergency Manager”—himself—“no City Board, Commission or Authority shall take any action for or on behalf of the City whatsoever other than: i) Call a meeting to order, ii) Approve of meeting minutes, iii) Adjourn a meeting.” The move in effect abolished Benton Harbor’s elected City Commission and replaced it with an unelected bureaucrat, perhaps the first time this has happened in US history.What are the qualifications for such a powerful office and the six-figure salary that accompanies it? Not much: PA 4 requires “a minimum of 5 years’ experience and demonstrable expertise in business, financial, or local or state budgetary matters.” Last year the state held a pair of two-day training sessions for EMs, both run primarily by companies that provide outsourcing services to municipalities and school districts. Yet PA 4 made the emergency manager the single most powerful person in the city.

The implications went beyond Benton Harbor. “Since the beginning of your administration, communities facing or under emergency management have doubled,” Michigan Forward and the NAACP wrote to the governor, citing a “failure of transparency and accountability” in the process of determining which jurisdictions need an emergency manager. The financial review team assigned to Detroit, for instance, had recently met in Lansing, nearly 100 miles away—“a clear example of exclusion and voter disenfranchisement,” according to the authors. On February 6 an Ingham County circuit judge ruled that the Detroit team’s meetings must be held in public.

Of Detroit’s 713,777 residents, 89 percent are African-American. The city of Inkster (population 25,369), which recently got an EM, has a black population of 73 percent. Having EMs in both cities would mean that more than half the state’s black population would fall into the hands of unelected officials. [Snip] Goto URL Above for more from The Nation.
Appeals court: Emergency manager repeal goes on ballot unless 2002 case is overruled
Published: Friday, June 08, 2012, 6:52 PM     Updated: Friday, June 08, 2012, 6:52 PM

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