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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Op/Ed-Emergency Managers under Public Act #4 fail fixing fiscal problems; your Michigan tax dollars at work

Detroit Public Schools
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Need more proof that so-called “Emergency Managers” under Michigan’s Public Act #4 don’t work. Not a little bit, not effectively and not at all. Let’s review the latest news under P.A.#4.
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts Announces the closing of sixteen schools: donating four of the schools over to the “Michigan’s Public School District."
Yes, you read the above headline correctly….Michigan State Government will manage four of Detroit’s Public Schools and still control the entire school district, itself. Now, you may ask, what’s the problem?

If Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) and State Treasurer Andy Dillon (D) grand plan to “fix DPS” with E.M. Roy Roberts ad-hoc authority has worked, why is it necessary to have Michigan’s Tax Payers dollars allocated to operate both the entire DPS system and four schools directly under state operated/privately ran charter schools? Well, the best way to sum question is to review the carefully worded statement made to local news station WXYZ-Channel 7.
"Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is announcing plans to cut the district's budget. According to the plan 9 school buildings will be closed. Four other schools will be turned into DPS-authorized charter schools and seven outdated schools will be consolidated into four new buildings. The buildings that will be closed are City High, Day School for the Deaf, Jemison, Kettering High and West Wing, Maybury and Southwestern. 
Other closures will include Ludington (which will have the program moved to Langston Hughes which will then be renamed Ludington Magnet), Mason (which will have the program moved to Farwell and will be renamed Mason), Robeson Early Learning Center (with the kindergarten students moving to the main Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy and the pre-K students moving to Palmer Park). 
The four schools that will be turned into charter schools will be Cooke, MacDowell, Noble and Rutherford. The seven schools that will be consolidated are Logan, O. W. Holmes, Parker, Barton, Mumford, Crockett and Finney."
Did you understand all of that? ROJS News along with up to 750,000 of Detroit’s residents, more than half of whom could have children in Detroit Public School system, probably are confused too.

In the end, this summarizes to the following: Gov. Snyder, Treasurer Dillon and former retired General Motors Executive –with no previous public school administration experience; have worked in unison to destroy the DPS system, plan to sell four of Detroit’s Public Schools to privatized “National Charter School Administrative” companies and, your Michigan tax dollars are assisting to pay for all of these actions to occur.

Example of Public Act #4 at Work

Detroit Public Schools, the largest school district in Michigan, has been under a form of “Emergency Management” –albeit previously “Emergency Financial Management” under former EFM Robert Bob with Public Act #72- since 2009. Now nearly four years later DPS continues to lose students, score low on test scores and has a $327 million dollar deficit.

Here comes new “Emergency Manager” under Gov. Rick Snyder’s authority with expanded powers granted by Public Act #4, E.M. Roy Roberts in May 2011. Mr. Roberts, before called out by various local media resources, believed the best way to solve DPS problems was to ensure that he had top-notch security protection in a $40K dollar SUV. Robert’s “secured” SUV to ensure his safety for a job he agreed too and is compensated for the tune of $180,000 a year, which is paid for by your tax dollars under Public Act #4.

Public Act #4 allows for total state governmental authority over DPS or any other public school system in the state, if its’ so decided. State of Michigan government operational budget is financed in large part by tax receipts received from residents, businesses and local government units. In other words: you.

Up to Monday, February 6, 2012, as a Michigan Tax Payers contributing to what should be a plan to return DPS back to fiscal stability, E.M. Roberts had no legal mandate to hold open public meetings describing his exact procedures to repair the states’ largest school system.

That’s until Ingham County Judge William Collette ruled using provisions contained in Michigan's Public Act #442, " Open Meetings Act of 1976". Judge Collette agreed with a lawsuit filed by Highland Park Public School Board and AFSCME Council 25 Member, Robert Davis, stating apply to previously closed "Financial Review Team" meetings on whether to appoint an Emergency Manager to a city, township, or county should be open to the public.

The Judge’s decision applied to “Financial Review Team” (FRT) meetings. Specifically, if the information a FRT uses to recommend an Emergency Manager under Public Act #4 should indeed be discussed and debated before interested parties.

The Open Meeting Act –Public Act#442 of 1976 as a whole, applies to publicly financed school board meetings. At these meetings information is often shared on a districts’ financial position or, when its’ institutions of education will face closure. Reviewing this, its’ not hard to see why E.M. Roberts, with Gov. Snyder and Treasurer Dillon’s approval made the decision to close sixteen of Detroit’s Public Schools two days shy of Judge Collette’s decision.

“Emergency Managers” haven’t unerringly worked, even before Robert’s actions today. 

Lake Michigan bedrock community Benton Harbor has been under forms of “Emergency Management” since 2010, with former “EFM”, now “EM” Joseph Harris. Benton Harbor and its residents still have to endure E.M. Harris projection that the city’s budget deficit will be over 3 million dollars in June 2012. Public Act #4 has “fixed” Benton Harbor’s situation. In fact, in 2010 the community faced $1,405,000 dollar deficit. That’s equals moving more in the red, not black.

Let’s move to the struggling city of Pontiac, Michigan.

Two days after Christmas E.M. Louis Schimmel –former adjunct scholar of the right-wing fiscal policy organization “The Mackinaw Center of Public Policy”- pink slipped all of the unionized city’s firefighters. The firefighters were told by E.M. Schimmel he would eliminate their jobs by February 1, 2012, if they didn’t agree to dismantle their union and, jump on a waiting list for employment with nearby Waterford, Michigan. Faced with a “devil-deal” choice, the firefighters had little choice but to end “Pontiac’s Fire Department” as they knew it.

Seven days earlier on December 21st, E.M. Schimmel in a near closed-door meeting with four individuals in total attendance, decided to put city assets up for sell: even the public cemetery. Reportedly, E.M. Schimmel had no buyers.

These are three examples, but illustrations they are on why Public Act #4 “Emergency Managers” don’t work. Instead, E.M.’s are paid with your tax dollars to leave communities and school districts in more disarray, from where they were before an E.M. ever step foot in the arena.

The only difference is, whatever tasks Emergency Managers are paid handsomely to repair are funded by your Michigan Tax Dollars. And we thought that Gov. Snyder wasn't going to award failure? He cited to President Barack Obama, that under his leadership, Michigan is the shining beckon of light from a Upper Peninsula-Lake Superior LightHouse, of "responsible leadership".

"We need Washington to show responsible leadership so Michigan’s needle can continue moving in the right direction," Gov. Snyder said in a Press Release published to M-Live on January 24th.
Michigan Tax Payers, Gov. Snyder, are still awaiting to see your version of "responsible leadership", sir. 

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