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Posted on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

Michael Finney defends emergency manager law in response to Jesse Jackson's criticism

By Nathan Bomey

The debate over Michigan's new emergency manager law escalated this morning after the Rev. Jesse Jackson continued his campaign against the law, and Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Michael Finney responded by defending it at the same event.

Michael Finney.JPG

Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Michael Finney

File photo |

Finney, former CEO of economic development group Ann Arbor SPARK, and Jackson were attending a breakfast event this morning at the Detroit Athletic Club. Jackson said the law is "democracy being suspended," and Finney "shot right back" by defending the law, the Detroit News reported.

The new law gives additional powers to emergency managers appointed by the state to help distressed governmental entities avoid financial disaster. Under extreme circumstances, the managers can now dissolve governmental entities, ax union contracts and take powers away from elected officials if the municipality or school district is on a path toward insolvency.

Finney said the law would "empower someone" to make tough decisions.

"If we don't solve that our state is on the same path as Detroit," Finney said.

Jackson has been touring the state in a bid to generate opposition to the new law. In Benton Harbor Wednesday, he reportedly criticized a decision by that distressed city's emergency manager to suspend most rights of locally elected officials.

In Ann Arbor on Monday, Jackson criticized Michigan residents for generating "no resistance" to Gov. Rick Snyder's policies, which, he said, are "decimating democracy."

“We don’t like one-man rule, except in Benton Harbor,” Jackson said in Ann Arbor. “The government in Michigan is training one-man rule. We are setting up here what we are fighting there. Your vote for elected officials doesn’t count, and that is decimating democracy.“

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

for those of you who wonder about who is running SPARK here is a link. Check it out. Thanks Nathan for providing the link. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> You'll have to copy and paste it to your browser. One additional thought. Laurel R. Champion (Treasurer) Executive Vice President, Is there any wonder why SPARK gets such positive press here?


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

I think it's rather odd that SPARK has a operating staff of 14, according to the org list, and the Board of Directors has 14 heads - a board member for each staff person. And then, they also have a 20 member executive committeel. Apparently some staff need more than one-on-one executive committee guidance than others.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Time has come : back to the future: When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which connected them with another,and assume,among the pwoers of the earth, the separte and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature`s GOD entitlle them, a decent respect of the opinion of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separtion.. Declaration of Independence july 4, 1776 ....That ,whenever any form of goverment becomes destrutive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new goverment, laying its foundation on such principles,and organizing its pwoers in such form..etc etc.. He has called together legslative bodies.... He has dissolved representative houses... he has erected a multitude of new offier... for abolishing the free system of english laws in a .land.. Well looks like we back a few centuries,,nothing changed man is still men..etc etc


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

I think it is sad the Jesse Jackson has to try to use a law that tries to keep citys afloat to try and make news he never helps situations but allways has to put his two cents in. And yes spark is represented well in the state as in any winning team we are lucky to have a team with this skill and people who are used to winning in our goverment again.

David Briegel

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Michael Finney, good TeaPublican suckin' at the trough! $300,000 to tell Slick how beautiful his new suit is!!


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

Sparks has gotten EARMARKS from washington to stay afloat.. M. Finney did get a raise from $ 250,000 to $ 300,000 that is a sacrifice...

Top Cat

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Someone needs to tell Mr. Jackson that his credibility is shot, the parade has gone by and its time to leave the stage.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

And where have I heard the name SPARK before? Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Take a look who is on the SPARK and maybe you can see the problem. The only ones I seeing getting anything from SPARK is the University of Michigan and THEY are well represented there.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

Michael Finney, the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Rev. Jesse Jackson both need to take a seat and stop talking. Neither one are doing a service for either side they represent. It's insulting to hear Rev. Jackson lecturing Michiganders on what we should/not be doing, as well as hearing a CEO defend having emergency financial mangers when Snyder is diverting educational funds to other areas and creating the funding emergency in the first place. For the majority of districts, financial emergencies have not been caused by incompetent handling of funds at the local levels, but by inadequate funds trickling down to the local level. From what I can tell, most districts have done an excellent job of keeping services in place for children with fewer and fewer funds over the past 7 years. How insulting and callous to divert educational funds to other governmental programs and then blame the districts for having a financial crisis! It's like demanding a person run a car without providing them the needed fuel....and then punishing them for failing!


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

Will, where do you want the money to come from for everything you want to happen? You say it's terrible what Snyder has done but at least he's DOING something constructive. What have your heroes been doing for the last decade? Everybody can't get what they want anymore, that's why we're in this mess. So, what IS it you WANT and how you going to pay for it? The money has to come from somewhere, who are YOU going to take it from and how do you think they'll feel. The business tax cut benefits SMALL business, what small businesses do you want to take money from and put out of business so you can get what YOU want.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Jesse Jackson - Just get out of Michigan, You are NOT wanted here!

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

Thanks Nate for reporting this story. Gosh, I had no idea not only was the Governor getting a financial genius to work for him, but an articular spokesman as well for his brilliant, well balanced and everyman defense of his policies. Wow, AND bashing Detroit too! Finney is SO worth the $250K+ he's being paid. We are so luck he walked the streets of Ann Arbor before his promotion.

Nathan Bomey

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Crain's Detroit Business also filed a story with details about the comments: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

What I've seen in our government are powerful special interest groups who continue to act on their own behalf while throwing less powerful groups under the bus. The cycle keeps repeating itself over and over again using feel good slogans which invoke strong emotions. What should be invoking strong emotions is the fact that elected officials have continously dedicated much of their efforts to satisfy these special interest groups to win their support for future elections rather than looking out for the total well being of the general population. Now that this this strategy has bankrupted the taxpayer coffers, endangered basic needs such as fire, safety, and education, they are pointing fingers, assigning blame, and invoking resistance to common sense emergency strategies to resolve the problem. What is it that these folks don't understand about &quot;emergency&quot;? These self interest groups and elected officials who want to continue to hang onto their powers of mismangement and corrupt practices are a much greater threat to democracy than an &quot;emergency manager&quot; assigned the task to put &quot;their&quot; house back in financial order.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

Jesse Jackson, one of the biggest hipocrits known to man. Just about anyone else would have more credibility with most.

David Briegel

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

Gee, I wonder why they sent Mr Finney? Hmmm......