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Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 8:14 a.m.

Local leaders divided on emergency manager law, U-M survey finds

By Cindy Heflin

Local government leaders in Michigan are split in their opinions of the state’s emergency manager law, according to a University of Michigan survey, the Detroit Free Press reported.


Rick Snyder

AP photo

The survey, conducted by the Ford School of Public Policy found 38 percent of local leaders support the law while 30 percent oppose it, the newspaper reported. The survey found that 21 percent are neutral on the law and 11 percent are undecided. More appointed leaders than elected ones are behind the law.

The law, passed in 2001, has been suspended since a referendum on it was approved for the Nov. ballot. An older law is in effect for the moment.

The controversial law gives broad authority, including the ability to break union contracts, to managers appointed to oversee struggling school districts and municipalities. Gov. Rick Snyder says managers need such authority to fix serious financial problems.

Read the article in the Detroit Free Press.


Arno B

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Ecorse has struggled since 1986 with corrupt public officials (are there other kinds?) and overspending. In 2009 Granholm appointed Joyce Parker as Ecorse City Manager. I don't recall anyone opposing the appointment, much less anyone complaining about the loss of power of the elected officials. How come?


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

I cannot understand why anyone would oppose this law except for two reasons. One, that they do not want cities in fiscal distress to survive. The other reason is that it is not the law but who put it in use. I wonder if anyone would oppose it had Virg Bernero won the Governor election and did it himself. This law allows a city to escape severe problems that it could not before. The alternative is bankruptcy and that is not better. The city of Vallejo, Ca went bankrupt and on top of their fiscal problems, their bankruptcy legal fees were $9.5 million. I have also noted that people who oppose the law never offer up an alternative. If there is a better way out, let's hear it.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

And Mick - they are not done yet. The city will exit bankrupcy with fewer parks, city buildings, city assets, and workers. Taxes will be higher for city residents, because a judge can do that without putting to a vote. When it is done the legal tab will probably run more than $20 million dollars. The cost to the citizens of the community - almost total loss of city services. The judge is running a fire sale to pay creditors.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

As I understand it this law has no effect on cities that manage their expenses and budgets. Those leaders that are incompetent for decades and spend their cities into the ground and still keep getting elected are to blame for others wanting to take control away from them. Personally believe Detroit deserves the leaders it keep electing. Bing is trying, but the city council does not want to do anything constructive or be the least bit flexible to letting in help. They just want state money with no strings attached to feed their pockets and personal power. As long as the city keep electing greedy, arrogant, incompetents, they have no reason to complain.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

While an emergency financial manager may be necessary to resolve financial insolvency or impending insolvency, the emergency manager law, PA4, provides powers which can be used to harm municipalities. The most criticized and unjust power of the emergency manager law is the disenfranchisement of local voters. Extreme powers which could be abused for the benefits of private individuals and corporations include: -- Dissolution or modifications of all contracts including those created through labor bargaining; -- Replacement of elected officials by cronies of the emergency manager with salaries paid for with local funds; (Thus, the reason why Governor Snyder brags that the emergency manager law will not cost the state money.) -- The sale of municipal assets at the discretion of the emergency manager and often without bids, possibly eliminating sources of municipal revenue; -- Forbidding elected officials, at the time of imposition of an emergency manager, from holding elected office for five years after termination of the emergency manager; -- Forbidding modification or termination of the emergency manager plan for two years after the emergency manager is terminated; -- Dissolution of the municipality or consolidation with another municipality. -- Termination of local community services and contracting with other municipalities to provide community services. Voting "no" on proposition one will return the state to the less onerous emergency manager rule of PA72.


Sun, Oct 7, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

@Donbee, to me the best reason to vote against this proposal is Veracity's last stated reason: "Voting "no" on proposition one will return the state to the less onerous emergency manager rule of PA72."


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Veracity - Which of the items that you enumerated is not part of the bankrupcy code? None, I am afraid. The Governor can replace an EM at any time, no elected official can replace a bankrupcy judge. At least we have 1 elected official still in the loop with EM law. With Bankrupcy there are none. The EM is required to fix the unit of government and make it run, the bankrupcy court? Pay the creditors. There is a huge difference in the principle behind the two mechanisms. Without the EM law, local governments will end up in bankrupcy court and if you think things are bad now with EMs wait until the judge gets going. The Detoit Water Department - sold to Suez, Belle Isle - sold to a high end condo developer, city jobs - slashed, the city council - while they can pass resolutions they have no impact under the judge. Contracts - gone, pensions - gone. Becareful what you wish on your fellow Michiganders. Because for many of these cities the alternative to an EM is a judge.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

Veracity, you cover everything except the problem of corrupt union influence on those elected politicians and the cronyism and wasting of taxpayer dollars it fosters with the result that the city is in financial ruin and the majority of the citizens are suffering the consequences. I say unions and elected officials had their chance.....and they have failed miserably.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

I do not see a problem with any of your points. I do question a couple as probably inaccurate. The weakness of your argument is that some of the points you make would have to be done EM or not, like sale of municipal assets. You say the EML could harm municipalities but I say it helps. Either way give us an alternative for a city to recover. It's easy to criticize, isn't it, but not so easy to give us an idea of how to fix this problem. Local income tax? Bailout? If those were viable why didn't they do it?


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

We would not the "emergency manager law" if people stop voting for the wrong party! Look at all of the cities where there are Financial Problems, guess what party runs the city?


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

BCar is correct. With a huge majority, President Obama turned the voters against him and lost the House and the solid majority in the Senate. A major embarrassment and an indication the nation did not favor what he did in his first two years.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

@Veracity last I checked, Obama had the house and senate for his first two years... but the left loves to forget that, I know, Obama was on his honeymoon, really, Hawaii, golf, lots of travel for him getting used to the big desk...

Basic Bob

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

@dilbert, All well-run by DINOs with nearly unlimited budgets. Just pass a huge public safety millage increase and free up an extra million dollars a year to distribute to your supporters. Almost like Detroit in the heyday.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

It's only fair to point out that Pittsfield, Scio and Superior are all well-run townships.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

XMO - Our token right wing Republican forgets that in recent history the economy and job creation have always been better under Democratic leadership. The last Republican administration can claim to creating the worse financial catastrophe since "The Great Depression." FDR needed eight years and a war to finally pull our economy fully out of the depression and he had oppositional cooperation. Obama has had only four years marked by unrelenting Republican opposition to every plan to make this country better. Even so we are better off than four years ago!


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

That darned 47%!


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

That's because that is the everything for free party! Except it is not free they just want someone else to pay for it!

music to my ear

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

(ability to break unions contracts) there we go again, soon unions will be a thing of the past no one in America is safe any more. its everyman for themselves. even if you do a good job you still get stepped one wants to go that route unless they have to .Detroit just wont give in and they need it bad. off the subject; if Detroit gave as much time and effort to the people as they do their entertainment empire they would not be in that position. or need an emergency manager. Mayor Bing must be on the Bong if he thinks he can turn Detroit around without a E.M.

music to my ear

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

I used to live in the 'D' LIKE a lot of people I lived there during the riot. I can tell you first hand it was not as bad in the riot as it is now yes, there were fires people getting beat up (and alot of good deals if you wanted to buy for a small price) they brought in the national guards they took care of business real fast Detroit needs some guys like that not the 300 men who call them self helping out the city (they do not have the training) they have the heart but not the tools.yes I know it is the city council (they are afraid they may lose their job) because really have they been on it (the job).


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

I don't think Mayor Bing is against the EM. It's the city council that opposes it. Detroit has 48 unions to negotiate with and if the unions and city council will not agree to cuts, what can they do?

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Floyd obviously has not considered the following: Municipalities as a legal entity that can govern. tax, employ and pension, are a creation of the legislature. The alternative to the legislature cleaning up the mess of local democracy when the local majority elects the corrupt and incompetent, is to let the bankruptcy court trustee perform what Floyd describes as unfettered power. Floyd also forgets that the Nazi's actually won elections. The issue is immoral and incompetent people.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

interesting...most are for it... well, except for Deeeetroit, the know how to fix it themselves, they just dont want to show up the suburbs with their amaizing intellect and problem solving abilities... This is a good law, try to get cities back together without the big B word. After watching and reading about the Detroit city council they cant to anything right, and clearly cant leave it up to the citizens, they're not any better.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:37 p.m.

Well Bear, tell us what the locally elected officials should do and why they haven't done it and why they let things get so bad.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

As I'm sure You & your genius ideas are much better. Take away local control, dissolve contracts (what are contracts for if not to be broken?) and suspend locally elected officials authority. It takes a super genius to support such laws.


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Giving an authority unfettered power to "fix a social problem" is the definition of fascism. Europe tried that approach en masse throughout the 20th century with disastrous results. The trains did run on time, however.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

So what's your democratic solution to democratic incompetence?


Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Bankruptcy can be costly. You want to pile on a few more million in debt? See: Note this city is much smaller than Detroit, pop 120,000.

Superior Twp voter

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

You are probably correct, Floyd. A bankruptcy judge would be better for Detroit, Benton Harbor, Flint, et al.