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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

President Obama WINS, Michigan Public Act #4 is DEFEATED! Democracy Prevails!

It's a bit late in Michigan but we wanted to quickly write this Op/Ed.

First, Congratulations President Barack Obama for being elected the 44th President of the United States and re-elected for a second term. According to MSNBC at 1:43 PM ET, President Obama has won 284 electoral votes over 203 for former GOP candidate for President Mitt Romney, along with winning the popular vote 50% to 49%.

Second, we're SO PROUD for the citizens of Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, Pontiac and any other Michigan community that has been threaten by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon with an Emergency Manager. No more for these communities, no more for this state and Democracy PREVAILS in Michigan, the state we love.

As of 1:47 PM ET, the Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan's Public Act #4 - the Emergency Manager Act, appears to be headed for defeat and Gov. Rick Snyder's four piece of legislation after his 2010 election win, will be in this form, no more. The numbers are the following:
Photo Credit-ROJS News
Over 226,000 signatures are turned in at the Richard A. Austin
Bureau of Election in Lansing, Michigan during February 2012
Proposal 1 - Emergency Manager Law
Michigan - 3868 of 5099 Precincts Reporting - 76%
Name Votes Vote %
No 1,740,004 52%
Yes 1,608,028 48%

On June 11, 2011 we wrote this Op/Ed - 
"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."

On Saturday, the non-profit public action group Michigan Forward C.E.O. Brandon Jessup, spoke before a crowd of 75 citizens from areas across the state. Jessup detailed how Governor Rick Snyder (R) P.A. #4 law, leads up to a power grab of local government control into the hands of the state or behalf of rich corporations.
"This action against (Public Act 4) is about protecting Michigan's democracy and freedom," Jessup stated during the Saturday meeting. (Snyder's) Emergency Financial Managers are not elected in anyway, to run a city, town, community of school board. They are appointed. This is takeover language, period," Jessup cited.
Photo Credit-ROJS News
Certification of Signatures turned in to place a Constitutional
Referendum vote on the ballot to defeat Public Act #4 by
the Michigan Secretary of State office, February 2012
Public Act #72 in its' written form, was not good enough for Conservative "Think Tank" the Mackinaw Center. The group authored a Op/Ed back on January 10, 2011 -just nine days shy of Rick Snyder's swearing in ceremony to Michigan's governor office. The group demanded Blanchard's version of P.A. #72 needed quick revision, for the state could to grab even more power of its' local governmental entities. 
"The state’s policy prescription for fiscally floundering cities should be to appointment far more powerful emergency financial managers than they have in the past. Changes could — and perhaps should — be made to the EFM law that would give these appointees more power," stated the Conservative Mackinaw Center in a written statement.  
Photo Credit-Rev. Edward Pinkney
Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor forgot for
his community to receive its' Democracy back within
their city Government
Mackinaw Center helped finance candidate Rick Snyder's election in 2010. In turn for the favor they expected now, Governor Snyder to pass a law quickly allowing EFM's the right to sell public properly, dismantle school boards, end unionized contracts and more, virtually unchecked by local citizens or an elected governmental board.  
Here is an description of exactly what the Mackinaw Center demanded in changes to P.A. #72 in January of this year. The Republican controlled state House and Senate quickly drafted a new expanded version of the law. Governor Snyder, just two months shy later in March 2011, signed what is now known as Public Act #4. 
Photo Credit-ROJS News
Over 226,000 signatures were turned in at the Richard
A. Austin Secretary of State Office in February 2012
to put P.A. 4 on the ballot. 

(From the Mackinaw Center Demands)  
The changes needed are as follows:  
  • Under current law, the EFM can be sued personally. Given that actions by an EFM will almost certainly be controversial, and harassing lawsuits are likely, it is essential that an EFM’s personal assets be protected.  
Photo Credit-Detroit Rainbow Push/Rev. D. Alexander Bullock
Detroit Rainbow Push Statewide Coordinator Rev. D. Alexander Bullock
took the fight to defeat Public Act #4 to national media, including
on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.
  • Making the EFM an employee of the state treasury department with access to the legal staff of the attorney general would make the present lack of indemnification for an EFM largely moot. Harassing lawsuits by local bargaining units or other affected entities or individuals would be defended by the state — an entity that has the depth of financial resources to discourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits.  
  • The present Act lists the powers of an EFM, which are extensive but are not all-inclusive. This can allow the governing body to impede the overall effort of the EFM to deal with the municipality’s fiscal crisis. The Act should state that the EFM replaces and takes on the powers of the governing body (mayor and council or school board.) 
Photo Credit-ROJS News
  • Charter provisions, especially in old charters, can prevent or make it difficult for an EFM to make necessary structural changes to address financial problems. The EFM should have the power to review charter provisions that frustrate the process of cleaning up and streamlining a municipality’s financial functions. 
Photo Credit-Brandon Jessup
Former Michigan Forward C.E.O. Brandon Jessup
begun the fight to defeat Michigan Public Act #4 via
his non-profit organization.
  • Presently, most labor contracts provide for mandatory continuation of an expired contract until a new one is negotiated. This means municipalities have no opportunity to take advantage of lower-cost service providers. Additionally, in the case of public safety unions, municipalities must adhere to the provisions of Act 312, which mandates that when a municipality and union cannot agree on the terms of a new contract they must go to binding arbitration. In most cases, it takes nearly two years or longer to complete the process, and the legal costs are substantial. Furthermore, municipalities rarely reduce costs by going through the Act 312 process but rather, at best, limit the amount of increased expenses. Act 312 should be repealed in its entirety.
  • If Michigan is sincerely interested in keeping and attracting new business it needs to face rather than ignore the issue of the state’s excessively high, non-competitive municipal labor costs. High labor costs for municipalities result in high municipal taxes, which in turn make municipalities unattractive and create major fiscal problems.

How Public Act #4 turns Michigan from a Democracy to a Plutocracy form of Government  
Does this sound like a version of Democracy to you? Let's quickly define what a democracy looks like when it comes to local governmental control of their lands, property, school board entities and operational functions. 
"Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination," via Wikipedia.
Photo Credit-Daymon J. Hartley
Benton Harbor, the first Michigan community impacted by
Public Act #4 statue, protest to repeal the legislation 

Brandon Jessup, a young educated African-American man raised in Detroit his group named Michigan Forward, started this cause to defeat Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan's Republican House and Senate attack on Democracy. Rainbow Push Michigan Statewide Coordinator Rev. D. Alexander Bullock carried the fight forward for Mr. Jessup as Obama for America - Michigan Statewide Coordinator. 

Photo Credit-ROJS News
Stand up for Democracy Team Attorney Herbert Sanders (L) won the argument before
Michigan's Supreme Court to have fate of Public Act #4 decided
by the people of Michigan
Detroit NAACP, Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor and thousands of VOLUNTEERS walked Michigan streets in effort to gather 226,000 plus certified signatures placing Public Act #4 on the ballot as a Constitutional Referendum for a citizen's defeat of this Plutocracy centered legislation. Stand Up For Democracy and Attorney Herb Sanders argued why Public Act #4 deserved before to go before Michigan citizens for a vote before Michigan's Supreme Court, and won!

On November 6, 2012, one year, seven months and thirty-seven days to the day of March 16, 2011 when Public Act #4 was enacted, Michigan citizens in Benton Harbor, Flint, Pontiac and students in Detroit Public Schools, along with state Residents everywhere, WON. Democracy is BACK in Michigan and we're very proud of our beloved state tonight!

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