Michigan Emergency Manager Law Challenged

As part of the growing push back against attempts by the hard right to corporatize public services, a group of Michigan citizens have filed suit asking that the state’s Emergency Manager Law be declared unconstitutional.

The law, known as the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act was rammed through the Republican-controlled legislature earlier this year as a response to burgeoning municipal bankruptcies.  The law allows the governor to appoint Emergency Managers to take over local units of government.  Those managers have full authority to fire elected officials, sell off or privatize community assets and dissolve entire municipalities, all while reporting to not a single voter.

To call the law extreme is generous.  It is undemocratic and unprecedented and killing off communities.  Of course, some would argue that is exactly its point.

At least one group is fighting back.  The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice has filed suit on behalf of 25 citizens arguing that the law “violates the rights of local voters by attempting to delegate law-making power and the power to adopt local acts to unelected emergency managers, by suspending the rights of local electors to establish charters and to elect local officials, and by imposing substantive new costs and expenses upon local municipalities without providing new revenue.”

The law mandates that local communities pay the salary, benefits and expenses of the appointed Emergency Manager and all costs of any employees or contractors hired by the Emergency Manager, including legal costs and insurance.

That’s right.  The governor can unilaterally declare a fiscal emergency and appoint a crony, all at taxpayer’s expense.  What could possibly go wrong?

As the Michigan Independent reports, plenty.  The Benton Harbor Emergency Manager is paid $11,000 per month while the former Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager (and proponent of closing the amazingly successful Catherine Ferguson Academy) made $425,000 during his last year on the job.

State and local municipalities are in crisis thanks in no small part from a continuing refusal to fund basic services in lieu of raising taxes on those Americans that can, and should, pay more.  But dissolving those entities and replacing them with unelected officials, or, as some in Wisconsin would like to see, private corporations is not the answer.  In fact, there’s a distinctly different word for what that is: fascist.


photo courtesy of krossbow via Flickr

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Jennifer S.
Jennifer S.3 years ago

It is about time we started to bring out-of-control government under control!!!

Lee K.
Lee Keys4 years ago

Did these goons study Hitlers absolute tactics, they sure did and if you look carefully most of these right wingers happen to have german names. Go figure, they want to take over the country and have evryone in servitude, Sicko's and the people of Michigan allow it.

Catherine Buchanan

michigan is in the state that it is in because the people allowed it to become that way. it's called not actively participating in the government process. seriously, what is the average amount of people that come out to vote? once people become elected, they need to be watched. the people are supposed to be the watchdogs of the elected officials.

the township you live in, if you really want to see a change, you need to begin to organize the people. a major problem i found when i lived in toledo is how do you find enough people who care to actually do something about it? i wish you luck.

Catherine Buchanan

finally, finally, finally, someone calls it like it is: fascism!!!

Ed Gould
Ed G.4 years ago

I was born in Michigan and was at least until a few years ago reasonably proud to say so. Now I won't admit it to anyone. My last relative died from Michigan 10 or so years ago. If he were to be alive today he would be moving out of the state quickly. Sad sad state of affairs.

The last person leaving please turn out the lights.

Dave Tohunga
Dave te tohunga4 years ago

The US economy is in a worse state than that of Greece.
It has been gutted by corrupt politicians and their corporate overlords.
Get ready for sanctions from the World Bank and the IMF.
Due in July they've been deferred a few months by Obama
and the head of the World Bank set up in a sex scandal to delay things
but the outcome is inevitable.
The US can now follow the path of Argentina and other '3rd world' nations
whose corrupt and criminal leaders gutted those nations.
Reap what you sow.

Pat M.
PC McComb4 years ago

In the case of the *elected* officials aka Walker and his cronies, theres a phrase for that, its called: "Bait and Switch".

In what is going on in Michigan, its what should be familier to TP'ers, that is IF they know anything about American history. Its called:
"Taxation without Representation"
And THATS UNCONSITUTIONAL ! ! Even the NEO-cons and their right-wing puppets who sit on the supreme court would have to agree !

The Other Robert O
Robert O.4 years ago

That is just plain ugly.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Thomas Artman
Thomas A.4 years ago

The acts in Wisconsin and Michigan are the most glaring, clear examples of life with the gop, should they gain any more power in the Federal Gov't. They want a dictatorship, plain and simple.

If they actually cared about improving public education, they would not have shut down that school - they would have hired experts to study, in depth, how that school operates, and then apply those lessons state-wide.

There is a complete and utter disconnect between their words promising freedom and democracy (gov't (a.k.a., Democrats) telling you what to do), and their actions. Fortunately, actions speak louder than words.