The emergency manager law signed last year by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) expanded the authority of the state to impose “financial martial law” on local governments the state believes are mismanaging finances. As it turns out, being an emergency manager is a pretty good gig if you can land it.
Emergency managers are appointed without input from the electorate, have the power to break collective bargaining agreements, fire elected officials and unilaterally dictate decisions about city operations, finances, infrastructure and public safety. With these broad powers comes a nice salary too.
Emergency managers receive six-figure salaries which are set by the state and paid for by local taxpayers. Those salaries range anywhere from $132,000 to $250,000 and those who pay them have absolutely no say in the appointment, decision-making process, or pay. In a democracy.
Activists in Michigan are working to repeal the law, either through the courts or via referendum. In the meantime, those already cash-strapped communities that have become subject to the rule of emergency managers can do absolutely nothing about it.
Photo from tracy o via flickr.