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Posted on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Democrat Conan Smith hopeful that Michigan's emergency manager act will help cities 'on the brink,' says changes to law were needed

By Ryan J. Stanton

Few issues have caused as much controversy in Lansing as six GOP-backed bills that became Public Acts 4 through 9 last week after Gov. Rick Snyder signed them into law.

Michigan's new Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act changes the way the state can declare local government financial emergencies, and it grants broader powers to emergency managers appointed to address them.

The debate around those newly expanded powers has pitted Democrats against Republicans, and union loyalists against perceived union busters.

But at least one Democrat in Ann Arbor believes the changes are sorely needed to help municipalities and school districts confront the financial problems they face.


Conan Smith

"We absolutely need it," said Conan Smith, chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. "When we have cities that are in crisis, they have to get some oversight, they need to get some new tools. This legislation includes empowerment of city councils and existing city managers to tools that they don't have. That is absolutely necessary given some of the financial situations that cities are going to be in, in particular, and townships."

Smith is married to state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, who fought against the passage of the legislation. She argued that the bills gave unheard-of powers to unelected individuals without any voice for local voters and with little, if any, oversight of the process.

“Michigan has a long history of local control," Warren said earlier this month. "The Senate Republicans’ passage of legislation to vest unprecedented authority in non-elected emergency managers not only flies in the face of this proud tradition, but also allows these outsiders to make deep cuts to vital services without input from the community."

Many union supporters take issue with the fact that emergency managers appointed by the governor's administration have sole discretion to reject, modify or terminate collective bargaining agreements. They see that as a thinly veiled attempt at union busting coming from an administration that has made clear that reducing public employee compensation is a goal.

But most Republicans explain it differently. At last week's bill signing, Snyder said the new act aims to ensure residents are not cut off from basic services and protect taxpayers from having to bail out municipalities that fail to take action to address their financial troubles.

“The goal is to allow the state to intervene at an earlier stage so that the need for an emergency manager can be avoided altogether," Snyder said in a statement. "If, however, an emergency manager is needed, then they need the tools to properly address these challenges.”

The new act establishes more extensive criteria for review of municipalities and school districts to indicate fiscal problems earlier on. It also creates a process for reaching a consent agreement to provide enhanced powers for local administrators to deal more quickly with financial distress. The process includes a 30-day window at the beginning of the consent agreement for collective bargaining to take place to deal with fiscal distress.

Smith said he agrees with his fellow party members that some of the language slipped into the legislation is "egregious," and there's "absolutely" an attempt at union busting. He also thinks that some of the powers granted to emergency managers are overreaching.

"The ability for an individual to dissolve a government is ridiculous. And the fact that the emergency financial manager has control over ordinances that are not related to financial matters doesn't need to be a part of it," he said. "So, is it ideal? No. So let's hope that not only is this an effective tool for when communities are on the brink, it's also an effective deterrent so that elected officials don't let their communities get to that point."

The fact that local governments even need the legislation at all, Smith said, just speaks to the fact that Lansing has ignored the strife in the municipal finance arena for too long.

"We have had report after report, study after study, indicating that local governments were seriously on the decline, and that the entire funding system needed to be revisited," he said. "And it's been six or seven years of this, and yet no reform. So the fact that we're at a point where emergency financial management legislation has to be used at all is a sign of failure of state government to take care of its constituent units."

Smith acknowledged there is a concern that the state is disinvesting in communities with one hand while grabbing for power with the other hand. He used Detroit as an example.

"Mayor Bing is doing an incredible job there and the state may take away $170 million of revenue sharing from his community," Smith said. "Is that enough to push him over the edge to trigger emergency financial management? Conceivably so. Is the state going to send in an EFM to take over for Mayor Bing? Probably not. Might they empower Mayor Bing with EFM-like authorities? Fairly likely that's true. Will that cause complete and utter chaos from the collective bargaining standpoint? Absolutely. So, is the state creating a situation for some of these communities where it is more destabilizing? I think that's a fair argument."

Despite a $20.9 million structural deficit, Smith said Washtenaw County is "miles away" from needing state intervention to take care of its finances. But he said there are some communities — such as Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township — where continued destruction of the tax base could push them to a point where they trigger state intervention.

Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson, a self-described staunch defender of collective bargaining rights, recently argued in favor of the emergency manager legislation, saying local governments for years have been able to walk up to the brink of financial disaster without any intervention from the state. When state officials did finally rush in, he said, they faced horrific conditions with too few options for balancing the books.

"The state's current rubric for dealing with financial emergencies is weak to the point of flaccidity," he wrote. "Legislators are right to firm up the consequences of inaction."

Henderson noted most of the emergency manager ideas came from state Treasurer Andy Dillon, a Democrat, before he was appointed to Snyder's cabinet.

Dillon wrote a guest column for the Free Press on Sunday in which he said the primary motivation for changes to the law was the new fiscal reality facing local governments in Michigan and the recognition that old ways of doing things weren't working.

"The new approach is not a power grab or an effort to subvert collective bargaining rights. In fact, the goal is to give local executives and their partners the tools and incentives they need to avoid financial emergencies and maintain local control," Dillon wrote.

As for giving emergency managers the power to tinker with contracts, Dillon said unfortunately history shows unions can be unwilling to negotiate even in cases when refusing to forgo a pay raise would mean drastic cuts to services and layoffs of fellow employees.

In those instances, Dillon said, the power to modify provisions within a contract may be necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare of a local government.

Smith is hopeful the revised law will serve local communities well.

"The fact of the matter is we were not utilizing the law and it needed to be utilized," he said. "And now it's streamlined, it's stronger, it's more inclusive of local governments than it was before, and I think it will end up helping a lot of cities who sit on the brink."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered. Lyndon B. Johnson


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

It really is time to do away with the comment section of the amount of censorship and poor decisions is absurd.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 10:50 a.m.

So Mayor Schrieber couldn't agree more with Conan...except for the takeover bit. I believe we do have a failure of leadership. What a waffle and waver of a comment.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

I know "politics is the family business" (ugh) of the Conan Smith family, but perhaps he might consider at least switching parties with comments like this.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Sounds from comments he's hoping to start small with Ypsi and Ypsi Township...


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

That's only if the GOP would want him, Shadow. Wait a minute! Maybe he could a lead quisling government in Ann Arbor installed by Governor Snyder as an emergency financial manager?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

I should have been more clear - at what point does the state and local democratic parties grow up enough to allow new leadership lead? Is see no challenge to Snyder's hunch that stangling local governements by welching on promises made in the past will help Michigan's economy. This isn't data driven, its a hunch. EFM's have not done the job and enhancing a bad law without a data-driven conversation about what is really going on is malpractice from Lansing. One size does not fit all. I expect a little more reality from someone, like Mr. Smith, who theoretically has experience and connection to places beyond fat-cat Ann Arbor.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

Some GOP insiders who sat in the State House told me he was often seen in Lansing at the State Capitol alongside Rebekah, so you are correct.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

at what point does the dem party actually get some leadership?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

The top of the ticket (Obama) has co-opted a large portion of the Democratic party into the corporatist power structure. There is very little difference now between the two parties. Nader was prescient in 2000 when he siad the two parties were the same. I believe- then- there was a fairly large difference between Bush and Gore. There is very little difference now between Bush and Obama, except maybe in personal intellectual capacity. Bush had Rove and Cheney to make up the difference, Obama has Goldman Sachs. We'll see which was ultimately worse for the country.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Good question. The smartest thing the county Dems did was replacing Stu Dowty as chairman. Part of the reason for the resurgence of the county GOP was failures of the leadership of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and A2 Democratic Party.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Thanks for the heads up. Conan is on my radar from here forward. Never again will there be a mark on my ballot for him.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Roadman EEEK!!! We don't need two of them!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

Conan's conduct in recent years has been an embarrassment. There has been a palpable absence of leadership in the bodies that he has been chosen to lead. These inclue the Ann Arbor Democratic Party and County Commission. He may be the next Leigh Greden - a well-connected power broker who will simply be tossed out of office by angry constituents disgusted with his conduct. A candidate needs to be recruited for 2012 to replace him on te County Commission.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Thank you, Cash.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

If Commissioner Conan Smith wanted to pontificate about financial responsibility in government you would think he would promptly issue a check to reimburse the county for per diem and expense reimbursements that Tom Wieder has been encouraging him to repay so he does not have to go through the embarrassment of making public excuses for his inactivity. His inability to complete and disclose publically the Michigan Suburbs Alliance financial reports is another expample of poor administration by Mr. Smith. There have been some to suggest he is the standard bearer of a political dynasty. As the author Andre Malraux once observed: "A heritage cannot be transmitted, it must be conquered."

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

For someone so concerned about public finances, you would think Mr. Smith, who runs the non-profit Michigan Suburbs Alliance, would have up to date, transparent financial data on his organization's webpage and something more update than a 2008-2009 finanicial report: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:30 a.m.

To paraphrase Lloyd Bentson, I would tell Conan - You're no Al Wheeler.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Mr. Smith sat on his hands during the November election because his Mom wasn't on the ticket. Now, like several other local 'leaders' he buys into the Union bashing logic behind the cuts in Lansing and this anti-democracy new Michigan law. Something to keep in mind if/when he runs for higher office. Will our local Democratic Party member of the Michigan Senate speak out against this Union bashing? Oh, right...ANOTHER family member. I'll remember that the next time I'm expected to contribute to HER campaign too. I expect if from reporters but NOT from a local Democratic Party leader.

Boo Radley

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

As a stauch Republican, I am embarrassed by the union busting aspects of this and the potential to void labor contracts bargained for and agreed to in accordance with current labor laws. I predict that, ultimately this new act will result in lengthy and very expensive legal challenges wasting millions of dollars before it is struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

The bill would take away local community's right to self governance in violation of Article VII of the Michigan Constitution. Does Gov. Snyder actually know we have a state constitution? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

Have you ever heard of Vallejo, CA? How about Costa Mesa, CA? Here, take a look at what happens when a local govt has fiscal problems: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Is this better than getting a financial manager earlier in the crisis?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

I have felt the same way, Andrew. I believe that somewhere down the line that a group will file a lawsuit testing the constitutionality of this enactment. There are tremendous questions whether the Separation of Powers article is violated.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

Conan is always running for office. This time with one eye on independent voters who might like his new &quot;conservative&quot; side.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

This country is now ready for a third party.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Ever go to Erik Smith (ex-WXYZ-TV anchor for 50 years)? There's lots of talk about the anger over having to choose a party when you vote and about the extremes of the parties, etc. Erik is such a level-headed guy. It was great to see him on &quot;Let 'er Rip&quot; this week. He needs to run for office!

Alan Benard

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

I expect no less than this from Conan Smith and the rest of the faux Democrats with whom he is associated. The county and state parties are in need of serious reform.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:23 p.m.

I just love it when the Left shows their intolerance. We've been told by the Left that they are the tolerant people, but if one of them steps out of line, e.g.: Conan Smith, they will disown him in a heart beat. Why not take a look again at what he was quoted as saying. Maybe you should even ask him some direct questions.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

Or is it possible that there are politicians who truly believe in cooperation or that they can agree with the other party on matters that will improve the state?

Alan Benard

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

Can he not see that this amounts to corporate totalitarianism?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

For those of you that do not like the law, what would you do? Would you allow the Detroit School Board to continue running their schools into the ground? How do you propose to solve the problem? The knee jerk reaction of &quot;tax the rich&quot; does not count as a solution. At some point, you have to do something different, because continuing to do what you have been doing is not working. The first step in getting out of a hole is to stop digging.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:16 p.m.

Robert Bobb was appointed to DPS to help with the financial mess. Unfortunately, the former Gov waited until the district was $300 million in debt. A tad late perhaps? My understanding is that this law allows the state to assign a manager well before a community goes bankrupt. When that happens a court dissolves union contracts. The idea is to get on board before it is too late and end the ability of the local govt to interfere with the process like the Detroit School board did with Mr Bobb. Tim you oppose this but as SonnyD asked you post no solutions. Other than taxing the rich, which is a knee jerk reaction. If taxes need to be raised, so be it, but raise them on everyone, not just one segment of the population. Might as well collect as much as possible. You will still collect more from the rich. It is very good point to consider that the rich can easily relocate if they start thinking they are being over taxed. I believe that happened in Ma or NY. Then what do you do? If you promote raising taxes, everyone should contribute.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

So what if they busted their tails to get there. So did I. I never complain about my taxes. I complain when they are squandered in pursuit of a militaristic or oppressive agenda but I still pay them then if I don't like how they are spent, I vote for someone I think will do a better job spending them. &quot;Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society.&quot; -OWH If we keep gutting our society, civilized will not describe it forever. The wealthy are not guaranteed comfort so if they keep grabbing, they will get what they apparently don't expect.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

In practice, wealthy people are not geographically constrained. Absent, sun, great weather, mountains etc. (none of which Michigan has) people with money can move. If California can't hold onto people, Michigan surely can't. I also question the Robin Hood mentality when most High Earners I know busted their tails to get where they are...


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

Sonny why is increasing taxes on the wealthy a 'knee-jerk solution?' Over the past decade the U.S. has had two wars and a major recession. Everyone has been expected to 'share the sacrifice' except for one group - the wealthy. Not only have they been exempt from sharing the sacrifice during this rough time they've also been given tax cuts!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

In my opinion there should be no public-sector unions.... as they are monopolies layered onto monopolies and penalize the tax payer. We can agree to disagree on this point.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Braggslaw, I hope you are right. My opinion, based on the current state of things, is that he is a raider. We will see soon enough if he starts privatizing state sources of recurring revenue ostensibly to cover short-term funding gaps. Robert Bobb was brought in to clean up/privatize the DPS. There was no need for any new law to be passed to do so. This new law is designed to be able to break contracts and bust unions. The rest is a smokescreen.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

Have to disagree with you on Snyder. He is one of the few people immune to special interests...unions, corporations etc. I think he believes he will only be in office one term. You might disagree with his positions but he believes he is doing the best thing for all.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

&quot;The knee jerk reaction of &quot;tax the rich&quot; does not count as a solution.&quot; Of course it's part of every &quot;solution&quot; but Snyder is not looking for &quot;solutions,&quot; he is looking to solidify political power. &quot;Solutions&quot; would entail raising enough revenue to fund necessary operations of government. That requires taxes. The rich are the ones who can afford to give more than they are currently. It's that simple.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Bing/Granholm brought in Bobb before this law was pushed through. It did not need to be codified further. The point of this new act is to replace elected officials and void union contracts, not to balance budgets.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

The comments by county commissioner Smith and mayor Schreiber demonstrate exactly how much our local leadership has failed us over the past decade.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

The EM Act needs some amending. I said that up front. Unfortunately neither side in Lansing really worked at fixing it. The Democrats decided that throwing hundreds of amendments was a good strategy. The Republicans decided Teflon was a good strategy. Both did the public a disservice. The bill originates in the fight between the Detroit Public School Board and Governor Granholm's EFM - Robert Bobb. If the school board had worked with Bobb, this bill would never have been drafted. The largest sources of money issues in the state budget are: 1) The expanded Medicaid requirements from the Health Care Reform Bill - $700 million 2) The under funded pension funds - $400 million in 2011 3) The fact that the State spent all of its Stimulus money in 2009 and 2010 4) The loss of taxes at all levels We can cut costs or raise taxes. The budget does both, no one is happy with any part of it, since it has impacts on them.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

The ability for an individual to dissolve a government is ridiculous. And the fact that the emergency financial manager has control over ordinances that are not related to financial matters doesn't need to be a part of it,&quot; he said. &quot;So, is it ideal? No. So let's hope that not only is this an effective tool for when communities are on the brink, it's also an effective deterrent so that elected officials don't let their communities get to that point.&quot; ______________ And so he supports it anyway? What a m....... This is a Trojan Horse. Municipalities can get all the help they want NOW. Advice, budgetary or otherwise, is free to anyone who wants to listen. Why hand one person the right to replace your elected government with their own factotums as if that will fix anything?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

Actually it is a very good idea. I think the term &quot;dissolving government&quot; is a little over reaching. As is local govt are not doing what you say they can do, get advice. Also whoever they get advice from will not and cannot tell them to end overly generous contracts. Really, what could an adviser tell a city facing bankruptcy other than make cuts and raise revenue? Some cities have gone bankrupt and they ended up in court, where a judge does the same thing, end contracts and order a city to push the reset button. A good example of why this is better is the Detroit Public Schools. Former Gov failed to assign a finance manager until DPS was $300 million in debt. In my humble opinion, that was a tad too late. Then the school board ran roughshod over Mr Bobb, suing him and interfering with his efforts. Here is a good story for you! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It's what happens when a city makes decisions that were just plain wrong.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Once again, even Democrats are beginning to see slashing from the bottom as the only possible solution to any budget crisis. This is how it works. The rich make sure no one talks about raising revenue- only slashing spending. Raising taxes is tantamount to inviting drunk lepers into your home. The wealthy made out like bandits at everyone else's expense for the past 30 years. Now they have their machine in place so they can be sure no one talks about having them pony up during the lean times. Amazing. And people suffering from this the most are convinced that having the wealthy give back at all is communism. Cows and sheep get slaughtered. No surprise there. Raise taxes at the top- if they threaten to &quot;go Galt,&quot; let 'em. We survived Halliburton moving overseas. Those patriots..


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

I do not understand the tax the rich attitude. The rich pay the majority of taxes and they like any else, have a right to their opinion and support whatever politician or policy they choose. If tax increases are needed, I am fine with that, but I think all taxes should be raised not just on the rich. That would generate billions, maybe trillions more, which we need. At least one state, maybe two states tried to do that and the overall result was lower tax revenue. Yup they moved, but not overseas, to other states with lower taxes. It's silly to raise taxes on people who are the most able to relocate. If I were rich, or if I won the lotto and got rich I would probably move my primary residence to Florida, where there is no income tax and keep my Michigan house for summers and Michigan football. It just makes no sense to focus a tax increase on a single income sector of the population.

Roger Roth

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

I always wondered what it would be like to be married to someone 180 degrees from you, politically. Actually, cities and towns don't need new tools. They need a federal government that stops robbing its citizens of their hard-earned money to fund needless wars and bail out criminals in the financial industry and one that makes it unprofitable for corps. to abuse, then divorce their workers. Then, the finances of cities and towns will be manageable, not by opportunistic, ambitious, delusional state politicians, but by the municipalities' citizens. My question: where are our state elected officials' loyalties in all this? Who are they for?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 1 p.m.

I hope his marriage escapes unscathed.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

What would have been helpful in presenting this legislation to the public: being far more upfront about how, why, when the provisions and powers would be utilized! Including a &quot;hypothetical model&quot; of a municipality - what the changes/effects/outcomes are expected to be under an EM, or under private management. I won't hold my breath, but it would be nice to be treated like adults instead of treated like moronic indentured servants who must stand outside the door of our &quot;betters&quot; while they debate our lives and futures, and we can only accept fate as handed down from above. *humph!*


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

How come no one talks about the real souce of the problem. The federal government, the war machine, and banks. Cut the Pentagon budget in half for one year ($350 billion) and we can solve much of the state and local government budget problems. Rahter than spending trillions killing Middle Eastern people for their oil. Did Obama really get the Nobel Peace Prize? Can I get one?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Yup. That's what many said when Germany was running roughshod over Europe. Don't get involved. Worked out real well didn't it?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

Great post Matrix. Most people are missing this larger picture - while states scramble to cover budget deficits we're throwing away a stunning amount of money on two wars. Exact figures on how much Iraq &amp; Afghanistan cost per day are hard to find but estimates put it in the $250 million per day range. Michigan's budget problems could be solved with just one week of war spending.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

So our own have been selling us out. This legislation throws free elections and the democratic process right out the window


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Actually what it does is allow the state to apply a financial manager well before a city goes bankrupt. The alternative is that a court will do it in bankruptcy court. So does this belong in the courts or the executive and legislative areas of govt?

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Cont... (Darn limits!) No matter how well managed and efficient a local govt has been managed, it will never be sufficient to withstand the onslought of the unholy agenda being pursued by these TeaPublicans. Honest leadership is required and not the stealth pursuit of a radical agenda!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Here, read this: A city not well managed and not by TeaPublicans, but Democrats: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

The TeaPublicans have initiated a &quot;starve the beast&quot; scorched earth policy on steroids. This has been their philosophy for a long, long time and it has come to fruition without ever running a campaign on that philosophy. So now everyone is surprised. Suddenly, and just now, there is a fiscal crisis manufactured by those same TeaPublicans to scare the populace into supporting their agenda. Coincidentally in several states at the same time and the only problem is the unions and the only solution is to break the contracts and do harm to the middle class. Paul Schreiber is absolutely correct.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

&quot;Suddenly and just now there is a fiscal crisis manufactured by those same...&quot; David, where have you been? This fiscal crisis has been identified and brewing for years. Ever heard of Vallejo, Ca? Went bankrupt a couple years ago. Detroit Public Schools and Robert Bobb? A school district $300 million in debt and no action from the former Gov until it got that bad. These problems were identified years ago.

Paul Schreiber

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

From the article above: The fact that local governments even need the legislation at all, Smith said, just speaks to the fact that Lansing has ignored the strife in the municipal finance arena for too long. &quot;We have had report after report, study after study, indicating that local governments were seriously on the decline, and that the entire funding system needed to be revisited,&quot; he said. &quot;And it's been six or seven years of this, and yet no reform. So the fact that we're at a point where emergency financial management legislation has to be used at all is a sign of failure of state government to take care of its constituent units.&quot; *********************** I couldn't agree more. The city of Ypsilanti has had steady financial leadership by the same city manager for the last 15 years. Ypsilanti has a monthly furlough day and has reduced police and fire expenditures. Even with reserve funds equal to 75% of annual expenditures, Ypsilanti would have run out of money in 2014 without Governor Snyder's proposed budget cuts. His budget moves the crisis up to 2013. Over one-half of the budget is police and fire protection. It's hard to imagine that an emergency financial manager would do anything different -- except break contracts. Instead, it's time to invest in our urban core cities that attract small business, preserve rural lands, and save gasoline by encouraging people to live closer to their jobs. Governor Snyder's budget encourages more suburban sprawl. We must raise revenues at the state level to invest in cities and education. Michigan won't be open for business unless our cities are open for business.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

Keep Ypsi rollin', Paul!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

Maybe I misunderstood the bill when I went over it, but rather than giving &quot;tools and empowerment&quot; the bill gives an EFM the power to abolish contracts, remove elected officials, just about anything. I hope Conan Smith is not wearing rose-colored glasses.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

Sounds like what they did in Egypt. Declare an &quot;emergency&quot; and elected representatives have no power; its all centalized and controlled by an all-powerful glorified leader. Let's call the ACLU - or better yet the Michigan Democratic Party to attack the constitutionality of the legislation.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

Many union supporters take issue with the fact that emergency managers appointed by the governor's administration have sole discretion to reject, modify or terminate collective bargaining agreements. I guess we now know who is in charge, not the elected officials but all the unions.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

You have it backward, don't you? The law was pushed through so that must mean the unions are NOT in charge. If the unions were in charge, it would not have passed, would it? The act also gives the governor the power to replace elected officials so I would guess that any elected officials replaced would then likely not be in favor of it, either. Yet it was elected officials that passed it. Your point is meaningless.