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Posted on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

MLive Media Group: Vote yes on Michigan's Proposal 1 to retain best tool to fix cities in financial crisis

By MLive Media Group

MLive Media Group urges a "yes" vote on Proposal 1 because it will ensure the wisest use of scarce taxpayer money.

The ballot proposal’s central question is what the state of Michigan should do when a city, county, township or school district is in such disastrous financial shape that it faces a crippling bankruptcy.

We believe the state owes it to its citizens -- in affected government units and elsewhere in the state -- to use every tool possible to get these local governments back on their feet and avoid the lasting financial mayhem of bankruptcy, a reneging on the unit’s promise to investors.

Therefore, we support Proposal 1 because it keeps in place Public Act 4 of 2011, which gives emergency financial managers broad powers to get the job done and then get out.

The act has been triggered when local governments are unwilling or unable to make the hard choices needed to match expenses with incoming revenue, which is the most basic of government functions.

Opponents of Proposal 1 argue the state should make do with the previous emergency manager law, which did not include the more sweeping powers of Public Act 4 (including the power to break or renegotiate contracts with public employees).

We disagree. While we’d prefer contracts that have been agreed to by both sides be respected, these are situations where all other options have been exhausted.

The old law doesn’t have enough teeth, especially when it is clear that these contracts were the cause of the government units’ structural deficit problems.

Leaders of local government units who consistently cannot live within their means are letting down those who elected them and deserve to be temporarily relieved of their power over the purse, harsh as that is.

No one likes to see such a loss of local control, and there is one sure-fire way for elected leaders to prevent it: Make the difficult decisions needed to keep the unit solvent while delivering needed services to residents.

Of course, that is easier said than done in these challenging times with our economy not producing revenue for governments like it has in the past.

We understand that, and we strongly believe our state cannot be successful in the future without successful central cities and urban school districts. However, declining property values and the flight of high-income residents to the suburbs over the many decades have put these government units most at risk of state takeover.

These are incredibly challenging and complex issues to solve with no easy answers. Public Act 4 is the best tool we have right now to fix these problems, but we challenge the state to continue to look for new ways to fix the core problems and some day get us beyond the necessity of addressing the troubling symptoms.

In the meantime, vote "yes" on Proposal 1.

Read our complete coverage of Proposal 1

This endorsement is the opinion of the editorial board of MLive Media Group, the parent company of The board is made up of the company's executive leadership, content directors and editors who oversee the 10 local markets that make up MLive Media Group.



Mon, Nov 5, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

Vote yes to enshrine the EM in Pontiac that sold the Silver Dome for pennies on the dollar, then went to work for the guy that bought it. These EM's have way too much power, especially when they fire all the elected officials. I will vote NO.

Tom Todd

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

Allen Park is getting a EFM and they have just started trying to fix there problems but that's not fast enough for the state, so BAM here's an EFM to wipe out union contracts, before the citizens/voters decide how to fix things. We are talking about Allen park not Detroit what's next Ann Arbor. Vote no.

Steve Bean

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

"The ballot proposal's central question is what the state of Michigan should do when a city, county, township or school district is in such disastrous financial shape that it faces a crippling bankruptcy." And the answer is that the state should wait for a petition from the residents of that jurisdiction requesting assistance, perhaps in the form of an emergency financial manager. Your assertions that "all other options have been exhausted" and that bankruptcy results in "lasting financial mayhem" are unsupported and, in fact, unsupportable. Your admonition to vote for this proposal "[i]n the meantime" is indicative of a shortsightedness that belies your self-proclaimed ability to assess the "best tool[s]" for helping resolve complex issues. Your perspective seems to be tainted by a belief that only "leaders" can be trusted with decisions. The irony is that the voters will be making this decision. I invite them to vote "No" and maintain their personal political power.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

"No one likes to see such a loss of local control." Oh, I can think of a few historical leaders in this country and others who actively promoted loss of local control. Just like you're doing! This law, and the proposal that props it up, is the absolute antithesis of a democracy. The entire state of Michigan should be ashamed that it exists, and and MLive should be ashamed to have endorsed it.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

This is the Republicans idea of big government, to clobber ailing cities, mainly cities populated by people of color and poor people, take them over and gentrify them.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Why would you vote to allow EM's to dismiss elected officials? There are some cities that definitely need an EM, but this goes to far. We the people elect our local government.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

Hold elected officials criminally responsible when they run a city, school district, etc into the ground. As a taxpayer of another community why should I have to pay for another communities failed policies. I do not understand why people believe a Federal Bankruptcy Judge is better than an EM. That is the other option.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

If you are an elected official and the city you are controlling runs out of money, why should you be allowed to stay in control?


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

Anyone willing to vote no on this, should be willing to move to Detroit if it is defeated!

greg, too

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 3 a.m.

Lots of cheap property there...


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Anyone will to vote yes on this must not understand the point of democracy.


Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

I detect some 1%'s.