Emergency-Manager Law Gives One Person Total Financial Control


Michigan’s emergency-manager law continues to undercut locally elected officials and benefit private corporations. Public Act 4, supported by Governor Rick Snyder and state Republicans, allows the Governor to appoint a single person to control a financially struggling city.

Mother Jones reports that Governor Snyder placed Louis Schimmel in charge of Pontiac, a city of roughly 60,000, last September. In less than six months Schimmel fired or outsourced nearly all city employees and departments, stripped city council of their powers and placed city properties up for sale. He even threatened to layoff the entire fire department.

Supporters say the law is needed to address the financial crisis affecting cities around the state as it “allows for a more efficient and nimble response.”

Critics point to the unprecedented power provided to the emergency-managers. They only report to the Governor, and unlike city council members they do not face the voters.

Asked by radio station WJR if the emergency-manager law hands power over to a “dictator,” Schimmel sighed, “I guess I’m the tyrant in Pontiac, then, if that’s the way it is.”

Pontiac joins Benton Harbor, Flint, Ecorse and a handful of school districts to be appointed an emergency-manager. Other cities worry they might be next. Highland Park Mayor DeAndre Windom recently put together a team of financial advisers to avoid the potential appointment of an emergency-manager. On the other hand, the local school district dropped its lawsuit to prevent the takeover.

A total of 48 school districts find themselves on the Michigan Department of Education’s watch list and an emergency manager could soon be in control.

Detroit may even be in the Governor’s sights. The city’s school district already has an emergency manager and the current mayor, Dave Bing, is trying to confront the issue before Governor Snyder steps in to “help.”

Bing and the police union are near agreement on a pay freeze. City assets, revenue generators, may find themselves on the for sale list.

Upset citizens launched a petition drive to repeal Public Act 4 and could eclipse the 200,000 mark by the end of the month.

A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan’s law giving more power to state-appointed emergency managers said Monday it plans to turn in petition signatures at the end of the month to put the law on hold and force a vote on it.

The Stand Up for Democracy coalition needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid voter signatures to get the issue on the November ballot. It said it has collected more than 200,000 signatures so far and plans to turn them in Feb. 29 for state officials to verify.

“The fact of the matter is we really can’t wait anymore,” said Brandon Jessup, the chairman of Michigan Forward and a member of the coalition seeking to overturn Public Act 4 of 2011. “We’re doing great with the campaign and we want to move on to the next step.”

For more on the mentality of Pontiac’s city manager please consider reading the rest of the Mother Jones article. The details of Schimmel’s connections to free-market think tanks, the Koch brothers and ALEC are essential to the motivation behind emergency-managers. Also be sure to check out the great work being done by Eclectablog.


Related Stories:

Michigan Emergency Managers Make Six Figures, Answer To No One

Michigan Emergency Manager Law Challenged

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


Photo by TFHall313


Charles P.
Charles P6 years ago

I will say it over and over. History repeats itself because we are too damned dumb to learn from it. In 1946, in an off-year election, Democratic voters stayed home in droves. In 1947 the newly elected Republicans in congress, with the help of the southern turncoats passed, and overrode Truman's veto, the Taft-Hartley bill that severely weakened the stance of unions in this country. It has been an uphill battel ever since. Then, when the acting president chose to fire the Air Traffic Controllers, he gave carte blance to all business. If they strike, fire them and don't hire them back. You get the government you deserve by not voting for it.

Ira L.
Ellie L6 years ago


Lynn C.
Past Member 6 years ago

It just keeps getting uglier and uglier in this country.

Christine H.
Christine H6 years ago

Michigan's 'emergency manager' practices are an ABOMINATION of DEMOCRACY ! Why not just require all residents of Benton Harbor to wear leg irons and chains --- then they can be put to work on chain gangs to develop the ultimate-elitist country club grounds that used to be a public beach & parkland bequeathed decades ago to the people of Benton Harbor ! The Michigan governator and his GOP SS officers all should go to h_ll !!!!!!!!!!!

Barbara V.
Barbara V.6 years ago

Maybe we should all be given copies of "Mein Kampf" to read.. There will be a lot of similarities.

Glad I don't live in Michigan anymore.. We left because Engler was so bad.. What happened to a "recall" on this guy?

Nancy C.
Nancy Crouse6 years ago

Corporate takeovers of cities really does not surprise me. Corporations have been running and ruining countries for their greedy corporate gains for years thus giving the 1% even more money and power to take over more cities and then countries. We may have elections but that is a scam because the elected representatives cower and answer to corporations. They have more money in the bank than many countries. They can do whatever they want and bust unions and the middle-class. This plan has been in the works for the past 30 years since Regan and Thatcher. The neo-cons are winning only if we allow them to. We the 99% must rise up, walk out for a day, shut everything down and show them they cannot run corporations and municipal governments without people. The fourth Reich is on the way. What Hitler did will pale by comparison to what the 1% followers of Lucifer are doing. This has been a well orchestrated and methodical erosion of civl rights and working conditions. We revert to the Dickensian times of workhouses, poor houses and orphanages used as slave labour for the wealthy. What Caterpiller did in London Ontario was dispicable. They made record billions in profits but had the audacity to demand a 50% pay cut by the unionized workers. Cat locked them out and then shut the plant never really planning to keep the plant up and running employing 500 . If we continue to sit back and wait for the other guy to do something it will be too late, if it isn't already.

6 years ago

This sets a dangerous precedent. We now tolerate true and genuine dictatorships in America. I am upset that every citizen/inhabitant of Pontiac didn't take to the streets and stay there until they achieved the ouster of this appointee. Of course I can't be too upset because I live in a state that still tolerates der unterfurher Brewer.

And since Care2doesn't care to let me edit my profile and add my screen name,



Bobbi R.
Bobbye R6 years ago

Ironically, the governor was eligible for recall last June; however, a recall attempt failed due to lack of signatures. Unfortunately, the situation grows worse daily.

Cheri O.
Cheri O.6 years ago

Michiganders first need to recall Snyder and then change the law on how quickly they can recall a governor.

Susan T.
Susan T6 years ago

BTW here is the recall site