Michigan Emergency Managers Make Six Figures, Answer To No One

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.


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Photo from tracy o via flickr.


SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

Good grief, Michigan is full of working-class people, so why do they keep voting in Republican governors out to take their money and rights?

Catherine Buchanan

obama has nothing to do with the crap going on in michigan. the downturn of the manufacturing industry and the unwillingness of their representatives to diversify the job market over the past 30 years has everything to do with the mess that michigan is in today. obama cannot fix the state. a case has to be filed about the constitutionality of what the governor has done. if i were a mayor of one of those towns, i would have called up all law enforcement and posted guard at every entrance of city hall and told the governor to shove it. the governor has no authority to deny people their constitutional rights. martial law was not declared. there was no agreement to have the cities rights taken away by the mayors. the people of michigan have to fight this tooth and nail.

however, i am disappointed in obama for not speaking out against this egregious move.

bellabecka C.
bellabecka C6 years ago

Whether President Obama inherited this mess or not, you can't keep blaming your predecessors for the problem, in light you do NOTHING to correct the problem. Blaming someone over and over again, doesn't excuse you for correcting the problem! Obama is all about himself and how he can screw the American people any way he likes by what he does. Actions always speak louder than words.

Ruby W.
Ruby W6 years ago

That's so totally wrong.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

Hey, nice gig if you can get it, and they are appointed by the very men who want to tear down unions, workers' bargaining rights, etc. ..... so how fair are they going to be?! Mmmm. Good luck to Michigan civil rights workers and to all of the states, striving to remain democratic. We all can help, even if we don't live in MI. After all, we are the 99%. Get involved because our country is coming apart, and soon we will not be a democracy any longer. CARE.

Dr Clue
Dr Clue6 years ago

(@Kathy L.) As I understand, the name of Flint Michigan's emergency manager is "Michael Brown" , and not "DOW chemical", but I understand the concern such emergency manager laws might raise.

It also seems that by default Michigan's EM law zeros out the pay of elected officials, and it takes a proactive EM action to restore whatever portion might seem reasonable. Obviously if the elected officials had been effective the point would be moot.

I do feel that great care must be taken with EM laws, as without such a device truly dysfunctional governance could be worse than tyranny , but without effective checks and balances these laws could become tools of tyranny themselves.

In the Flint case it seems , departure of industry and a failure of the elected officials to take proactive steps of their own accord is what triggered the application of EM law. Slashing the pay of ineffective officials would seem an appropriate step in offsetting the salary of the EM brought in to clean up the mess.

Kathy Lentz
Kathlene L6 years ago

The Emergency Manager in Flint has slashed the pay of all the elected officials there to "save money" while getting the city back to solvency. How does taking a 6-figure salary help the city of Flint in any way? The *really* scary thing about this law is that Snyder could actually appoint a COMPANY, like Dow Chemical, to be the emergency manager of a city. Can you imagine the consequences of that kind of action? Dow could literally take over Midland, should it be handed that power. It is very scary to contemplate.

Alfred Supe
Alfred Supe6 years ago

Pam B., as the old saying goes,"Ain't dat the Truth!!!!!" And the first thing the Republicans said was that they would make sure that nothing Obama proposed went through, because their whole stratagy was to make him a one-term President.

And people still vote for them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dr Clue
Dr Clue6 years ago

(@Toby S.) I watched the video you linked to, and you might not believe this, but My partner and I could have told you nearly all the same things as far back as the late 80's, without ever having visited DC, as these things are just how the animal ticks.

What I think is important and actually worth honest non partisan discussion is how to steer a course back to the constitution and forward within the constitution to a more egalitarian country, Neither the DNC nor GOP have offered a way forward that passes the sniff test for me.

The servitude in their position statements is high quality word craft and obviously effective crowd science but in each case on both sides (including Ron Paul) we end up in the same hole ,albeit by slightly different paths.

Toby Seiler
Past Member 6 years ago

Sorry, I don't share the opinion DrC that Dr. Pauls policies will even come close to this statement... "in a fashion akin to getting a (free toaster) in exchange for life long servitude".

Try this youtube video;