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Michigan Governor Starts “Financial Marshal Law,” Is Wisconsin Next?

Michigan Governor Starts “Financial Marshal Law,” Is Wisconsin Next?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has begun the process of taking over Benton Harbor, Michigan, inserting an Emergency Manager from his own team to take over the operations of the town.  From a press release from the Michigan AFL-CIO:

In the wake of a bill that was signed into law with high objection from the people, as it was a bill that threatened local communities, schools, townships, and municipalities, the first order has been officially issued in Benton Harbor.  Joseph L. Harris has used his emergency manager powers to “exercise any power or authority of any office, employee, department, board, commission, or similar entity of the City, whether elected or appointed.” In addition, the Emergency Manager has the power to supersede any officer or entity and the power to act on behalf of the city.

“This is sad news for democracy in Michigan.  It comes after the announcement of Robert Bobb in Detroit ordering layoff of every single public school teacher in the Detroit Public School system,” says Mark Gaffney, President of Michigan AFL-CIO.  “With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton harbor and the attack on Detroit school teachers, we can now see the true nature of the Emergency Manager system.”

This is a real life instance of taking away our fundamental rights.  In fact, the only thing City Boards, Commissions, Authorities or other entities may do without the approval of an Emergency Manager is to:

1) Call a meeting to order
2) Approve of meeting minutes
3) Adjourn a meeting

Everything else is under the Emergency Manager’s control.  These new powers are taking away the will and voice of the people by stripping away the rights of public officials elected by Michiganders.  By exploiting the current crisis situation, these emergency managers are able to ascertain unreasonable rules to completely control a city.  This is a true case of political over-reach, and will simply add to the hardships of an already suffering populace in Michigan.

Benton Harbor is in an extremely dire financial situation, with over 40 percent of its population under the federal poverty line, and a median household income of less than $18,000 a year.  But is the solution to fixing its problems to effectively dismantle the entirety of its local government and replace it with a governor’s appointee?  And is that the plan for the other 100 local governments also on the “fiscal watch” list?

Snyder’s move to reject local government and insert his own authority is one that is being closely monitored out in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker is considering the same moves on some critical areas in his state. 

Forbes reports:

Following the lead of Michigan GOP Governor Rick Snyder, Walker is said to be preparing a plan that would allow him to force local governments to submit to a financial stress test with an eye towards permitting the governor to take over municipalities that fail to meet with Walker’s approval.

According to the reports, should a locality’s financial position come up short, the Walker legislation would empower the governor to insert a financial manager of his choosing into local government with the ability to cancel union contracts, push aside duly elected local government officials and school board members and take control of Wisconsin cities and towns whenever he sees fit to do so.

Such a law would additionally give Walker unchallenged power to end municipal services of which he disapproves, including safety net assistance to those in need.

According to my sources, the plan is being written by the legal offices of Foley & Lardner, the largest law firm in the state, and is scheduled to be introduced to the legislature in May of this year.

With the election of numerous Republican governors in 2010, and a country still recovering from economic crisis, what is to stop all of the governors from simply declaring financial marshal law on struggling localities, and enforcing their own public policies onto them over the will of their elected officials? 

Are these governors doing away with local government all together?

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photo by Aaronjbaylis (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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86 comments

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9:04AM PDT on Jun 25, 2011

I don't know why Republicans don't like American workers. The only cynical reason I can think of is they make much too much money which might bring down their unusually high profit margins.

9:10PM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

Fascism is alive and well in America. Little dictators ignoring their State constitutions. This show you how the FASCISTS void the elections of local municipalities.
What happened to the republic party. I know they never were for America or Americans, but now they have turned to FASCISM. Why do they hate America? Why do they hate American workers? Why?

11:52AM PDT on May 24, 2011

jesus lets have a real tea party who's with me?

9:29AM PDT on Apr 22, 2011

In case no one noticed the trend these republican terrorist fascists are on now has been brewing since Ronald Reagan removed all regulations and laws for wall street and banks , Now that cheneys version of the Supreme Couirt have turned democracy into a corporate "Entity" without Sention " that means the corporation is a living entity >But being Non sentient means IT cannot be held responsible . Only the officers STILL can be the sacrificial lambs while its business as usual for the corporations . Cheney is a very sick and twisted individual . his Voo-doo economics and Trickle down economy he got reagan to run with made him the rich mans hero . Now we have a hitleresque power mad pack of hyenas in the house and senate determined to run us all into poverty while we have a royal 3% running us to death

8:27PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

@Jonny Cache: It's not "martial" in this case, as they're talking about the "Financial Marshall" law.

3:29AM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

Rick Snyder is Adolph Hitler in disguise. He is despicable and should be recalled or ousted by any means possible.

11:58PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Seriously, someone needs to edit this stuff. "Marshal Law"? Does he have a badge and a horse???

9:04PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

James J - you are clearly a tool for the wealthy elite who are no longer satisfied with having more money than anyone else. No, they won't be happy until everyone else has NOTHING, and they have ALL the toys. How can you possibly believe that UNIONS have "taken" all the money away? You have been brainwashed by a right-wing media that wants to get the little guy to agree that taking away all the little guy's income is okay. They are dividing up this country with suspicion that some of our neighbors may have more than we have, and obscuring the fact that WE have more in common, as average income citizens, than we do with the super rich. If we stopped fighting amongst ourselves, why, we might realize that we been took, and start fighting them and their ruthlessly greedy and dictatorial ways. People DIED to start Unions, and if we allow them to fade away, people will die again to restart them. They may flawed institutions, as are ALL human endeavors, because we are imperfect beings, but if it wasn't for trade Unions, we would all still be working 12 hour days for 6-7 days per week for starvation wages, and our children would be working beside us. That is, except for our super rich masters of industry, who would profit from our labor. The Nazis shut down the Unions in Germany within 3 months & 5 days after winning National elections. There's a reason for that - because it's an organization that empowers the common man. Wake up before it's too late!!

7:23PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Time for Dictator Rick Synders removal from office (peacefully or by force). People bitch about the federal government interfering with people lives but here the repuglicans are doing that and more by taking your rights away and local control away from the voters.

10:54AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Time to take the back the beach. The people need to do more than just rally in this case.

I still can't believe that this country is letting the fascists take over and just crying in their soup. This is what happened in Germany, Italy, and Spain. When it was all over, and the countries had been ruined economically and morally-who did the other countries blame? The little people - like us. The little people 'let' it happen.

When are we going to become the 'big people'?

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