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Friday, December 9, 2011

Op/Ed-How Michigan's Emergency Manager law seeks to impact voting rights for 2012 elections

An ROJS News Op/Ed


Photo Credit-ROJS News
Michigan's outlandish Emergency Manager law received national attention on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz shows December 8th, and again on Schultz's show December 9th


It was great to see one of most draconian laws in our nation receiving needed attention, outside of newspapers and political bloggers in our state.

MSNBC's 'The Ed Schultz Show' talks Michigan's Emergency Bill December 8th


MSNBC's 'The Rachel Maddow' talks Michigan's Emergency Bill December 8th

Ed Schultz Show Talks Emergency Financial Manager Bill on December 9th


Sadly, the attention could be a mix of at the right time and a little late. Allow us to explain.

Last night, on the heels of Michigan Forward, its C.E.O. Brandon Jessup and Stand Up for Democracy tireless work over during past year to present a constitutional referendum vote on the ballot temporary halting Public Act #4 in its wake; little attention was received on a report written by the Detroit Free Press on December 9th.


Michigan GOP/State Treasurer Andy Dillon (D) pulls out a last minute surprise to save Public Act #4 from a Constitutional Referendum halt

To stop the progress of democracy once again, top state officials including state Treasurer Andy Dillon (D), acknowledged Thursday works on a plan to rewrite the emergency manager law, trying to dodge a push in getting the law suspended.

In late April 2010, Michigan Forward -a non-profit group- launched a Constitutional Referendum drive set to cease further actions on Public Act #4. The itself act allows for Gov. Rick Snyder (R), with the assistance of state treasurer Andy Dillon (D), to appoint a individual or corporation into the title of 'Emergency Manager' granting a unilateral authority to run a public school board district, city, township, village or county. 

The 'Emergency Manager' (E.M.) would then have ad-hoc rights to sell public lands/works to private industries, eliminate elected public officials duties, control all aspects of public finances and more. The E.M. only operates under the authority of Gov. Rick Snyder and is not required to answer citizen questions within the localities they control. 


An E.M. can be a individual or corporation that can be paid up to $400,000 of state tax payers funds, while performing their job(s) without questions, from the tax payers they are funded from. 


A amendment to limit the E.M.'s salary to what Michigan Governor make, $159,000 a year, reached tie vote of 19-19 in the GOP-led state Senate. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R) cast the tie-breaking vote allowing for a $400K in earnings for E.M's in March 2011.


Defining the differences between Public Act #4 of 2011 and Public Act#72 of 1990

In June, ROJS News writer Monica RW wrote a groundbreaking article on why it was important for Michigan to overturn Public Act #4. The piece outlined the differences between P.A. #4 and our states' previous act Public Act #72, passed by Gov. James Blanchard (D) in 1990.


Public Act #72 was a different act in terms of the power of the state to interject in actions of localized elected governmental entities; particularly in the case of ending unionized contracts or public employees and the removal of elected officials.
"Does an Emergency Financial Manager have authority to change existing labor contacts without negotiation? 
No. While emergency financial managers are authorized to renegotiate labor contracts, they are not authorized to abrogate such contracts or obligations. Therefore, the Act 72 process offers no safe harbor to units of local government seeking to avoid improvidently entered into obligations. 
Does an Emergency Financial Manager have the authority to eliminate a department or transfer functions of one department to another, or eliminate positions? 
Yes. Notwithstanding the provisions of any charter to the contrary, an Emergency Financial Manager may consolidate departments of a unit of local government, or transfer functions from one department to another department, and may appoint, supervise, and, at his or her discretion, remove heads of departments other than elected officials, the clerk of the unit of local government, or any ombudsman position in the unit of local government."
In the above statement, it is key to study the last paragraph, which states in part, "An Emergency Financial Manager may not remove.....elected officials, the clerk of the unit of local government, or any ombudsman position in the unit of local government." 


Why is the last sentence so important? If the elected clerk is removed from a city, town, village or county governmental unit in Michigan and is appointed a Emergency Manager, who his or herself appointed by the Governor, it could seriously impact local and statewide elections for public offices.


How Public Act #4 circumvents Federal and State Constitutional Causes


Contained in Public Act #72 are provisions that our Federal and State Constitutions' guarantees, for each citizen over the age of 18, who is eligible to vote. Ironically, the original language contained in this law was wiped clear internet search records but, a Q & A version on clarification of P.A. #72 is still exists.


To clarify, residents in their community or state, do indeed have the right to elect public officials whom they would expect be accountable for their actions. If those elected officials aren't listening to the will of their constituents, voters can remove the official via Michigan's Recall Law Procedures or vote against the elected leader(s) during the next election cycle.

Andy Dillon and state GOP leaders, in the wake of Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz shows reporting on P.A. #4, are tumbling though ways to circumvent a lawsuit filed by the Sugar Law Center on behalf of 400 citizen plaintiffs. Additionally, they seek to stop Michigan Forward from ever reaching the 151,600 signatures required to halt P.A. #4.

They know if the law is suspended and vigorously examined with a December 2nd request by Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit) to Attorney General Eric Holder questioning if P.A. #4 violates the Federal Voting Rights act,  Michigan's elected GOP leaders and Treasurer Dillon could face more than a lawsuit and, possible criminal charges.

Thursday, November 8th Dillon told the Detroit Free Press he's encouraged legislative leaders to rewrite the law. The alternative, he said, is "a pretty confused situation" if the law is suspended.

In this bewildering statement by Ari Adler, spokesman for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) should leave a state investigative inspiration, to any political writer worth their salt.
It's possible "emergency managers would disappear, but the financial emergencies would not," said Ari Adler, a spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger,(R-Marshall).
Interesting that spokesman Adler uses the term 'Financial Emergencies'. Especially considering the word 'financial' was removed from the original term of 'Emergency Financial Managers' with the change of P.A. #72 into P.A. #4.


Why was the word 'financial' removed from the Emergency Manager Act/Public Act #4 of 2011?

Fellow political writer on Public Act #4 Chris Savage of Eclectablog in a July 11, 2011 article, clearly explains why the word 'financial' was taken out of 'Emergency Financial Managers'.
"The new law has a set of 18 conditions that can trigger the imposition of an Emergency manager. Only one of these conditions needs to be present in order to trigger the process. The last of the "conditions" is: 
The existence of other facts or circumstances that in the state treasurer’s sole discretion for a municipal government are indicative of municipal financial stress, or, that in the superintendent of public instruction’s sole discretion for a school district are indicative of school district financial stress.

In other words, the 18 conditions are really just a smokescreen that conceal the fact that it's entirely up to the state treasurer or superintendent as to what constitutes and "emergency".
Chris Savage of Eclectablog on ROJS-Radio, Sunday, December 11 @ 11:15 PM 

ROJS-Radio, a featured live podcast on Blog Talk Radio, will welcome Mr. Savage on December 11, 2011 @ 11:15 AM for a no-holes bars roundtable discussion on P.A. #4, with Host/ROJS News Writer Monica RW and West Michigan Political Activist Autumn S. 


Phone lines will be open for questions about the dracionian Public Act #4 law and interested Michiganders are encouraged to call in with questions at 347-934-0185. The podcast can be listen to live at the following link, starting at 11AM.


Public Act #4 versus Michigan Constitutional Clause 'Home Rule Act' of 1963 and 1909

Back to our original June 2011 article. Another reason Michigan GOP leaders and Treasurer Dillion are working feverously in secret, behind closed doors, to stop the Constitutional Referendum signature petition drive of Michigan Forward, points directly back to our states' Constitution of version of 1963 and 1909.

The newest version of Public Act #72, Public Act #4, clearly violates Michigan's state Constitutional "Home Rule City" clause in Public Act 279.

This clause, added into the state Constitution originally in 1909, was designed to keep power separate but equal between the state and local governmental bodies. A review of former Michigan Supreme Court Justices Thomas Cooley and John Forrest Dillion written opinions, outlines the differences between former Gov. Blanchard version of P.A. #72 and Gov. Snyder/Mackinaw Center and Michigan GOP party version of P.A. #4.
Dillion Rule-“Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from the legislature.  It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so may it destroy, If it destroy, it may abridge and control.” Clinton v. Cedar Rapids, (Iowa). 1868 Judge John Forrest Dillon."
"Cooley Rule-People vs Hurlburt, “ Local government is a matter of absolute right; and the state cannot take it away.” 1871, Justice Thomas M. Cooley-A former Michigan Supreme Court Judge.
The Constitutional mandate of 'Home Rule' was reinstated by the Michigan Legislator in 1963. 'Home Rule' itself gives local governmental entities, by power of their citizens though electoral votes, rights to regulate their locality. 'Home Rule' defines a vastly different version from Public Act #4 and is eerily similar in language that former Gov. James Blanchard included in the original signed version of the law, in 1990.
"Home Rule can be constitutional or legislative or both.  It is the power of municipalities to organize and govern themselves and to carry out a range of governmental activities to preserve the public health and safety and the general welfare."
Governor Blanchard's Public Act #72 of 1990 states:
"An Emergency Financial Manager may not remove.....elected officials, the clerk of the unit of local government, or any ombudsman position in the unit of local government."
Downright scary when one really think about it, right? The measure designed by former Gov. Blanchard was crafted to keep citizens Constitutional power to elect their leaders. Also the EFM was used as a 'auditor' so to speak, over cities, towns and counties that had issues with managing their financial affairs. 

Blanchard's version of P.A. #72, never seek to allow one appointed official to run a community or county, only answering to the Governor. His version of this bill didn't strip away rights from elected officials to decide laws or ordinances for their electorate. 



This measure didn't dismantle unions or allow for firesales of public lands/works to the highest corporate bidder. Also, P.A. # 72 never could remove a elected elections clerk that oversee fair and accurate vote counts for public offices. 


Gov. Snyder's version allows for a new version of dictatorship, craftily worded by lawyers on behalf of the Mackinaw Center, to end democracy for Michiganders.
"A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. In contemporary usage, dictatorship refers to an autocratic form of absolute rule by leadership unrestricted by law, constitutions, or other social and political factors within the state,"  definition of dictatorship from Wikipedia.
The time is NOW! Stop Public Act #4 to Retain Michigan's Democracy & Right for Fair/Safe Elections. Sign a Petition Today!

Our sincere hope with this article is that Michiganders would clearly start connecting the dots. We believe they are starting to do so. 


On Monday, November 5th, a Michigan State University 'State of the State Survey' found that a whopping 19.3% of respondents gave Gov. Snyder a 'excellent' or 'good' rating on his job performance. The flip side of this survey is that over 80% of poll takers rates Snyder's policies on re-inventing Michigan either 'fair' or 'poor'.

Now that the fog of where Public Act #4 hurts our Constitutional rights to have a fair and equal democracy process in our great state is hitting home; the time to take back our rights is now. 


If you're reading this article and are a Michigan Registered Voter, contact Michigan Forward today and sign a petition, as soon as possible. The rights to decide who represents your community and state in office, greatly depends on it.

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