Wednesday, June 8, 2011


With Apologies to Don McLean

Public Act 4 of 2011, “The Local Government and School District Financial Accountability Act”. This “Emergency Manager” law may be the most autocratic piece of legislation ever passed by the Michigan Legislature. It guts local control and turns it over to the “Emergency Manager” appointed by the State Treasurer who then sets their own salary and benefits paid by the municipality they are managing not the state. Boss Tweed and Huey Long would have been jealous of the power handed over by a pliable legislature to Governor Snyder.
This “Emergency Manager” can void all contracts, prevent the elected body from exercising any of their powers, even dissolve the municipal government forcing consolidation and removing the duly elected representatives of the people from office.  An “Emergency Manager” can also order one or more millage elections for the local government and control all Federal, state and local funds including those earmarked for specific programs and debt retirement.

Bottom line is the authority of the people who vote, pay taxes and live in their local government is gone and the power could rest with an unelected, appointed and generously paid (they are not doing charity work after all) bureaucrat answerable only to the State! In fact a Bipartisan group of State Senators tried to limit the “Emergency Manager’s” salary to no more than our Governor’s statutory salary which is around $177,000. Unbelievably the amendment failed by a razor thin margin, when the 19-19 tie was broken by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley voting against this reasonable measure.
Most citizens of Michigan may not cherish their local elected officials but they do love local control and the ability to remove them or keep them through the ballot box.  We are one of twenty states that have township governments. There is a reason for it.  The smaller the government the easier to manage and the closer elected officials are to the people. Call your township manager, clerk, trustee, mayor, village president, city or county commissioner, or council member and you will get a return call (or should, if not stop by their home).  Will you get the same response from any Governor? Logistics alone would prevent it.
This law destroys the principle of subsidiary which holds a larger body should not carry out functions that can be exercised more efficiently by smaller ones. Yet, most legislators supporting this monstrosity ran for election on the platform of smaller government.

Imagine the outrage, media coverage, and outright revolt if President Obama and Congress proposed federal legislation giving the same power to “Emergency Managers” for fiscally challenged states, including Michigan.

Removing elected officials, consolidating governments, or the other dictatorial powers?

It would be an affront to everything our country stands for and held to be a violation of our Constitution!
I will acknowledge the US Constitution grants immense powers to the states over local governments, however the way Public Act 4 disenfranchises voters is what raises the question of its Constitutionality.

Let me ask which form of government in Michigan has been more dysfunctional, the state or local governments?

Which form of government is bigger and more expensive?

Most municipalities despite their problems have been run more efficiently and cost effectively than the State of Michigan and if they had a financial crisis the Governor already had (As I outlined in my May 25th Blog) under Public Act 72 the ability to appoint to appoint an emergency financial manager with broad and powerful authority over any local unit of government declared fiscally insolvent. 

Perhaps the municipalities should declare a financial, competency, ethical; you name it—emergency and remove the Governor and State Legislature to be replaced by an Emergency Manager with all of those despotic powers proposed?

Remember the fiscal problems of local government have been caused largely by the State theft of our own rightful amount of sales tax dollars know as REVENUE SHARING!

First rob the cities of their own money placing them in financial stress then declare an emergency because of their fiscal conditions, THEN remove their elected officials, install an appointed bureaucrat or consultant as “Emergency Manager” dissolve the local governments, and consolidate to your heart’s content taking all funds belonging to them and to top it off charge them for the services of the “Emergency Manager”.

Every local elected official in Michigan — except those believing they might be appointed “Emergency Manager” — should have been on record opposing this act. Instead almost all of them including the Grand Rapids City Commission meekly surrendered the voting rights and power belonging to their citizens responding to this outrage with deafening silence.  Our City Manager, Mayor, and one City Commissioner made more noise in a lip dub. (The video was great but the comparison is more than justifiable) Not only did they not protest this despotic  law but allowed our rightful share of statutory revenue sharing to be stolen and replaced by a $ 200 million pot of pilfered funds.  Grand Rapids will probably not get a dime from after it is divided up.
Perhaps lip dubbing a video on the impact of the lost revenue sharing might be the way to assist the wannabe celebs on the GR City Commission to find their “voices” for the people.
With apologies to Don McLean maybe they could use his music to lip synch:
 Bye, Bye, Common Sense Bye, Bye
They stole our tax money from our cities and let democracy die
Our leaders did nothing so citizens in one mighty voice cry.
Singing "Why did we elect them or why?
Why did we elect them oh why?
Michigan Citizens should declare this abomination an emergency assault on our democracy and voting rights and recall the Governor along with every legislator that voted for it!

California did it less than a decade ago over electrical power failures just one year after a gubernatorial election.  Michigan is suffering from a political power overload fit for a dictatorship not a free society!
Another option is to join Michigan Forward a group leading the charge for a referendum campaign to end Public Act 4 of 2011.

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