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Posted on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

The case against emergency managers: How bankruptcy preserves democracy

By Guest Column

(Editor's note: This editorial is written by Chris Savage, a Dexter resident who owns and operates He is also co-vice chair for precinct organizing for the Washtenaw County Democratic Party.)

In his Feb. 14 piece "Why bankruptcy is worse for Michigan cities than emergency managers," Nathan Bomey suggests that what is missing from the debate over the imposition of emergency managers (EMs) on Michigan municipalities is a real debate about the implications of the other alternative: a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. I would suggest that what is missing from Mr. Bomey's piece is an honest admission that democracy has been deemed to be dispensable when it's inconvenient in Michigan and a rational look at the truth.


Chris Savage, owner of

Photo courtesy of Chris Savage

The main thrust of Mr. Bomey's argument is that Chapter 9 bankruptcy is an unpredictable, frightening prospect where municipalities lose control, union contracts are rejected, wages & benefits of employees cut, city vendors take a hit, and hard decisions are made by a single individual who doesn't answer to the local community.

Every single one of these things describes exactly what occurs when an EM takes over a government. But you know what does not happen? The bankruptcy judge cannot simply do away with inconvenient elected officials. A bankruptcy judge cannot unilaterally dispose of the municipality's assets to raise funds (despite what is claimed in the op-ed).

Section 904 of the law that governs Chapter 9 bankruptcies is very clear about this, limiting the ability of the bankruptcy court to "interfere with - (1) any of the political or governmental powers of the debtor; (2) any of the property or revenues of the debtor; or (3) the debtor's use or enjoyment of any income-producing property" unless the city agrees.

The law also provides a mechanism for the assignment of a judge to oversee the process. While these judges are described in Mr. Bomey's op-ed as uncaring and dispassionate, the law's intent is to ensure that politics don't play a role in how the bankruptcy plays out. When one looks at the people chosen as EMs in Michigan, bean-counting experts in outsourcing and union-busting, a non-political, neutral judge begins to sound a bit less scary.

The piece quotes Howard Ryan, director of legislative affairs for the Michigan Department of Treasury saying Chapter 9 bankruptcies are "eviscerating" and "kinder and gentler" than an EM. Mr. Ryan helped write Public Act 4, the so-called "emergency manager law," so it's unsurprising that he would defend it in this way. What he doesn't do is provide any proof for this assertion. Even Gov. Rick Snyder's argument is simply that the Chapter 9 bankruptcy process is "uncertain" and "without precedent."

So, for all the fear-mongering about Chapter 9 bankruptcies, what we really have is something that looks and sounds an awful lot like an emergency manager without the politics and propensity toward union-busting and outsourcing. And it also comes without unilateral selling off of public assets or, more importantly, the disenfranchisement of residents who lose the representation of their elected officials.

It's clear that our CEO governor wants to avoid our cities going bankrupt. That makes sense since it can impact the state as a whole. Maybe the threat of a bankruptcy is what is needed. Not just to force cities to solve their problems but to incentivize the state for getting involved in solving the core issues that lead to the emergency in the first place.

I say this because the history of EMs in Michigan is not a good one. Three of our cities have had Emergency Managers come and then leave after they had "fixed" the problem. Here's the rub: One of those cities, Flint, has another EM now. Another, Highland Park, is being considered for a second one. The third, Hamtramck, isn't exactly in the black at the moment, either.

The point here is that there are underlying problems with our aging urban cities that once flourished when they were manufacturing hubs. Nothing in Public Act 4 and nothing in our governor's budgets addresses the underlying problems that have created financial emergencies in these cities: unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, poor education systems and, at times, corruption and ineptitude. Until we begin to address these core problems and make these cities attractive to businesses again, EMs won't solve anything for long.

I am unswayed by the dire threats of the frightening process of Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Maybe that is exactly what is needed to force our state to start addressing the real issues at hand rather than behaving as if local democracy is a privilege only available to our vibrant communities and disposable when it's inconvenient.

Frankly, for all the talk about how terrifying a bankruptcy would be, when you look closely at what's at stake — broken union contracts, reduced wages and benefits for city employees, consolidation of services, etc. — it doesn't look much different than what happens under an EM. But, as an added bonus, we get to keep our democracy.



Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

What about bondholders? What about the reduced credit rating making borrowing far more expensive after a bankruptcy? I'm also not so sure that a forced sale of assets could not be ordered. Bad management, unwarranted commitments, feeding at the public troth, and corrupt practices (as evidenced in Detroit and Wayne County) are responsible for the financial crunch of many cities. It's just coming to the surface now that money is tight. I'm all for EFM's authority to negate unsustainable contracts, sell assets, and remove uncooperative and corrupt officials, in addition to saving taxpayers paying excessive interest rates on future borrowing.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

Thank you! This is such a clearly written article about the use of Emergency Managers and long overdue. I still have not been able to find one resource that describes the qualifications of an "Emergency Manager" and what criteria are being used in the selection process. This information would be greatly appreciated.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

So you would prefer the corrupt practices of officials as in Detroit and Wayne County that result in cleaning out the taxpayer till as long as union contracts go undisturbed?


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

The requirements for EFM are deliberately vague, allowing the Governor to select almost anyone he wishes. Also each prospective EFM undergoes "training." (I wish I could examine the instruction materials.)


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

From PA 4: "a minimum of 5 years' experience and demonstrable expertise in business, financial, or local or state budgetary matters."


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

What the efm law doesn't tell you besides your loss of a vote for an elected official. The ruling class has spoken, now sit down and be quiet for we will decide what's best for your community.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

You still blogging over at Pat Lesko's blog Mr. Savage? You two go together like pork & beans IMHO.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

To bad, Chris. Pat's blog has many instructive and timely articles which are always accurate and well-researched. I believe that Huron74 is expressing his/her distaste for the subjects presented and how they argue for the rights and plights of the average Ann Arbor voter.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

No, I am no longer writing for A2Politico.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

So many today in favor of the efm laws ,how pathetic. I would take bankruptcy over this poor excuse to rid one of their vote. This is an assault on democracy no matter how it is spun. This is the second brick in in the dismantling of the middle class. The first was making it harder to register to vote. See a pattern here folks?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

Hank, Please explain how it is harder to register to vote now?

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Here are a couple more stories extolling the joys of bankruptcy: No more pension for you! <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;src=twrhp</a> Cooperation with elected officials? HELL NO!: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> About to go bankrupt? You better have cash when you need to buy something: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Or raise taxes by 66% even though that may not be enough <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

This article is somewhat long but says little. I cannot imagine why anyone would prefer bankruptcy to this law. It does not interfere at all with the democratic system. Once the law is applied the same elected officials can go back to their duties. Also his statement that they have a poor record is misleading. What do you expect Mr. Savage, that all the problems can be magically reversed? That would mean a city with a fiscal crisis was bailed out by someone with deep pockets. No city is going to see a drastic turn around, just some reorganization to become stable. That is the job of the elected officials to carry on with reorganization, which they should have done, or can't because of failing revenues or contracts they cannot get renegotiated. An EFM is not going to bring business or residents into a city. That is Part two and the job of the elected officials. Another point he missed is the cost of bankruptcy. The city of Vallejo, CA is a primary example of the problems of bankruptcy. Here is a great story on another aspect of bankruptcy that can be avoided with the EFM law: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Please note the cost of the bankruptcy legal fees. That is new debt to a bankrupt city. Now a city council could sue an EFM and run up legal fees too. Detroit Public Schools did that with Robert Bob, assigned to DPS when their deficit hit almost $300 million. That just tells me that the wrong people are in the elected positions.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Joe Kidd: You are right: bankruptcy is not an easy road to financial solvency. Fiscal insolvency should be anticipated and actions taken early to prevent it from happening. Government pensions are frequently too generous, both in its benefits and how soon pensions can be drawn. Pension payments should range from 30% to 80% of the five highest years' earnings and depend mostly on time in service. Furthermore, retirement payments should likely begin at age 62 or 65 with exceptions for disability. Personnel contributions and matching payments should be recalculated yearly to assure that actuarial financial solvency over every rolling 30 year period will be maintained. Hopefully, conservative investing of pension funds will offset some of the fund's income needed by salary contributions. A similar approach is needed for health care programs as well.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

That makes a whole lotta sense Hank


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

Your right, the wrong people are the republicans.

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

Chris: I think the court's interpretation of: (3) the debtor's use or enjoyment of any INCOME-PRODUCING property&quot; would be significant. Does the property have to actively be producing income, or just potentially? Is that gross income, or net income? Also, while the current salaries and benefits are the primary expense in the entities receiving EM's, the 900 lb gorilla and the largest use of most tax revenues are the pension and benefit costs or retirees, which in Detroit, now outnumber current employees....I forget by what ratio. I would suspect that without the ability to raise additional revenue, what the bankruptcy court is going to do is cut where it can and that would start with the costs that are not actually gaining the city any revenue, that being pension and benefits. Then, if that is not enough the court is really only left with current labor and benefits contracts and, contracts / independent contract debt for goods and services purchase by the city. Am I correct on the above? Please advise. Chase Ingersoll


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Chase, The EM will perform properly by removing graft and waste from the local government and overpriced contracts. Pensions and health care contracts should be consistent with those considered reasonable and will prevent poverty and maintain adequate health. New taxation or assessments may be required to resolve financial delinquency remaining after reasonable adjustments to city contracts including those for pensions and health care. I do not agree with actions that EM's may take that will enrich themselves or third parties to the detriment of local residents.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

if you would prefer Bankruptcy over an EFM, the solution is simple. File Bankruptcy *before* the EFM is appointed. Since no community in Michigan has chosen this route, we must conclude that they prefer the EFM over Bankruptcy.

average joe

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but weren't the three cities you used as an example assigned an EFM under the old law, prior to PA-4? The fact that they had to be re-assigned is the primary reason that the new law which has more teeth than the old one was enacted.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Seems to me that the writer missed the New York times piece on Chapter 9 bankruptcies last week end. In such cases the the decision making is removed from any sense of local jurisdiction in the hands of a federal bankruptcy judge. The judge makes the decsions with or without local discussion at his/her discretion. At least with the emergency manager there is local control albeit at the state level. While the autocratic approach of the emergency manager may not be ideal, the sometimes decades long incompetence and/or irresponsibility spawnded by local elections has not resolved the financial or operational issues for example in Detroit, Flint, pontiac or smaller places like Sylvan Township. In addition,while I am not a fan of the current governor, or especially what passes for a legislature, the emergency manager law was the result of the deomcratic process in action, since all three of these bodies were elected by the people.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Robert Bob was appointed to Detroit Public Schools by a democratic governor. Problem was she waited until the debt was in the hundreds of millions.

Steve in MI

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

&quot;There is local control, at least at the state level&quot;. The problem with that statement is in the political reality: The current crop of EM's are being appointed by a Republican governor; 100% of the affected communities are heavily Democratic. First, how is that anything less than a partisan political takeover of low-income communities? And second, how is that better than having a neutral federal judge overseeing the process?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

ADDENEUM: Permission to enter into contracts without competitive bidding must obtain the approval of the State Treasurer and not the Secretary of State as I mentioned in my comment above. Apologies.

Arno B

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Where were all of these &quot;Anti EM&quot; folks when Granholm appointed them?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:43 p.m.

Those EMs didn't have the authority to fire all elected officials, dissolve unions, get rid of community property, etc. etc.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

Lets take a look at one of Governor Granholm's EMs. She appointed Robert Bob as an EM to Detroit Public schools. At the time of the appointment the DPS was almost $300 million in debt. She neither dismissed the school board nor tell them not to interfere. Mr Bob was sued by the school board. Did not hear a peep from the Governor. Why should he have to put up with that? I have to question the wisdom of waiting until a deficit reaches that amount before acting on it.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

The EFM law that Governor Granholm operated under was considerably less anti-Democratic than Public Act 4. These &quot;anti-EM&quot; folks you speak of became vocal when democracy was sacrificed to quick band-aid solutions that don't address the core problems.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Granholm's EM's did not have many of the powers created by PA4.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

maallen: Do look at What the EM is doing to Benton Harbor, but look more deeply: The poor Bentonites are losing pristine beach front property that was given to them in 1917 for perpetuity. Apparently, perpetuity is subject to dismissal by the EM who is allowing the property to be sold to private developers so that an exclusive golf resort can be constructed that will require a $5000 membership fee for anyone who wishes to get close to the beach. The poor (and I mean REAL poor) people of Benton Harbor are losing the only amenity available to them and about which they could be proud. FURTHERMORE, the EM has dismantled the only local public radio station and has offered to sell its equipment and its frequency license on Ebay for $5000 (no takers as far as I know). The EM could resolve Benton Harbor's financial problems by merging it into its more successful sister city, St. Joseph, which I suspect has argued effectively against having that happen. The EM can do a lot more harm to a community than any bankruptcy including -- selling community-owned assets to anyone for any price and without competitive bidding with the Secretary of State's approval; -- Set salaries for himself and assistants which is paid with local community funds; -- Dissolve any contracts and reset the terms including pension and health care plans; -- hire and fire at will; -- Change or eliminate public services without community input or approval; -- eliminate any or all locally elected government officials and prevent them from running for any office for five years after the EM leaves the community. (Will someone please explain the purpose of having this power, especially since some elected officials may not have participated in decision leading to the community's financial problems.) No one who reads the terms of PA4 will find it benevolent and hopefully it will be retracted by referendum.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

Veracity - If you can get to the water, you can use the water front anywhere on the lakes, check the state laws on this. The EM does not have the ability to merge the city into another city - nor does a bankruptcy judge. All the &quot;dash&quot; items you list are also &quot;Features&quot; of a bankruptcy. The Judge can appoint anyone to manage the bankruptcy and pay them what the judge wants to. So no difference in any of your points.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:55 p.m.

Get out of Benton Harbor and take a look at Detroit, where they are trying to avoid an EM by doing guess what? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Oh! Selling assets! How horrible is that, huh? It is okay if the elected officials are doing it rather than an EM? Whoever does it, it is the same and has to be done for the same reasons. So you criticize the EM but you fail to offer any alternatives. See my post below for what can happen in bankruptcy. You are correct that St Joseph will probably not merge with Benton Harbor, but an EM cannot force that. Oakland County refused such a request from an EM in Pontiac.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

Oh no! The local public radio station is up for sale! It's easy to say that this is a travesty, but one needs to look deeper, as you say. How much did this station cost to run on a daily basis? Were the revenues MORE than the operating budget? The answer is the city was losing money on this venture. Why waste more tax dollars on it? Why not sell it, make money so it can be used elsewhere? Better yet, if you are so worried about it why not form a group, buy it, and give it back to the people of benton harbor? Win win for everyone. Oh wait, could it be because it can't generat enough money to cover its cost? And looking deeper you are being very disingenuous by saying it is being sold for $5,000. The minimum bid starts at $5,000. I would suggest when listening to Rachel Maddow, you look deeper than what she reports on her nightly show. Further proof that Benton Harbor is turning around is the fact that the Senior PGA is coming into Benton Harbor in 2012 and 2014. This will bring in millions for the town. Ooops, you forgot to mention that didn't ya? The golf course is already there. Now they are developing houses, hotels, etc to the golf resort around MARINAS, not on the beach that you allude to. Again, you have to quit following Rachel Maddow blindly. Look deeper.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

I agree, why do we need EM's? Cities like Detroit,Flint, Saginaw, Highland Park etc have been run by Democrats and look what happens? Maybe the need smarter voters!


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

Good comment.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Here's Conan Smith on his views <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=conan-smith-clarifies-his-stance-on-emergency-financial-managers&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_source=twitterfeed</a> (on Mark Maynard's blog)

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

Sorry, Alan, that's above my pay grade. Conan quite literally speaks for himself.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Vivienne, maybe you can translate than into English for me. Is he for the EFM or against them? This is the best dancing around an issue I've seen and would make Gene Kelly jealous.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Benton Harbor's EM seems to be doing a good job over there. But let's not mention that. Flint's second EM seems to be doing a good job. (Granholm appointed the first one.) Heck, even the Mayor of Flint said it's working out really well and he didn't get replaced.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

We always hear about Union busting, and the poor employees having to pay health insurance premiums, but we never hear about the real losers in bankruptcy. The local vendors! These are typically small businesses that do business with the cities that can't or won't pay their bills, and have to &quot;eat&quot; the losses. More often then not, they are the ones that go out of business. Look beyond the favored Unions to the real people effected, and I think you will change your tune about the democracy at work here. When do all of you realize the turnip has no blood?


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:15 a.m.

eclectablog - Small vendors not getting paid is the fau8lt of manufacturers fleeing to lower cost countries? Come on now. Rhetoric goes just so far.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Say what electablog? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Unions may not be the only cause but they are just as guilty. Here is another story about the beneficial cooperation (Not) of unions: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Sure the cuts asked were big, but they are likely going to get them anyway.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

These problems were not caused by unions. They were caused by manufacturers fleeing to lower cost countries where the workers are paid a tiny fraction of what Americans are paid, unionized or not. You are blaming these problems on the wrong cause.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Agreed. Don't throw good money after bad. Let 'em rot.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

good luck EyeHeartA2, I am sure your comment will be found to be not acceptable and removed. If you don't agree with the progressives, you will be deleted.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

Mr Savage - If the bankruptcy of Detroit or Flint had no impact on the bond prices of Lansing or Ann Arbor, I would be right with you. Let them go bankrupt. But... They do, if one city or township goes bankrupt, than other cities or townships might and the risk premium goes up for ALL units of government in the state. The knock on costs of allowing a bankruptcy in one city or town on the others is high. Like it or not, just because one group elected officials that were not fiscally responsible, does not mean that I want to pay those costs if I don't live there. Cities and townships exist as a subunit of the state government. Their rights and powers are granted mostly by state law, not the state constitution.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

glacialerratic - They are accountable to the voters, but the decision by one set of officials that results in bankruptcy ends up bleeding over to other areas of the state. Look at the impacts in California and Rhode Island on the cost of bonds for towns that were not the ones going bankrupt. Why should I have to pay more taxes, because you decided to elect a set of irresponsible officials? The idea behind the EM is to save the rest of the tax payers in the state from the mistakes of a few local officials. I think it makes sense, but then I don't like to see my tax money wasted.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

Wait, I learned in school that in a democracy leadership is accountable to citizens, not bond holders. Guess my teachers were wrong.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

eclectablog - Here is the issue, the EM may not make all the changes needed to keep it from happening again, but they do stop the city/school/township from going bankrupt and that means the bond prices for other units of government don't go up. The changes to the EM law (in part) were to allow the EM to make the kinds of changes needed to keep a city out of problems again. [Other parts are pure politics and should be changed - like the list of reasons to put an EM in place].

average joe

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

electa- Can you give examples of cities that have gone through bankruptcy vs. EFM that have come out ahead &amp; stayed out of the &quot;same straits&quot;?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Te problem with your argument is that EMs don't solve the problems. That's why Flint and other cities where EFMs have come and gone are back in the same straits they were before the EMs arrived.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

The only problem with your thesis is that the same people who created the problem will still be there. It's a popularity contest that gets them elected not necessarily their ability to manage a governmental unit. My question would be how many bankruptcies would they be allowed? And once that limit is reached what is the solution? The emergency manager has an interest in turning the city around; his reputation as a turnaround guy is on the line. The bankruptcy judge is just cleaning up the debt as expediently as possible and leaving the core problems in place. It's best described by the old saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Manage your government entity well and this isn't even an issue. We need to learn the lessons of socialist Greece before it is too late.............


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 5:11 a.m.

Eclectablog - Yes, they have lost their manufacturing base, but what you fail to mention, particularly in the case of Detroit, is that there is a good deal of corruption and incompetence involved. I used to love Detroit, but it is pretty much ruined and has been going downhill since the riots of 1967. It needs to be remodeled. Honest men, such as Archer and Bing, have tried, but I think Archer threw in the towel and Bing also faces a lot of opposition. I don't think bankruptcy is the answer. Roger Fraser is competent and hopefully he will have some solutions for Detroit.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Thought I better remind you that democracy was earned by the ultimate sacrifice not just a game of monopoly.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

You have placed the blame in the wrong place. These cities are struggling because of the collapse of their manufacturing base. Simply put, they have no money. Nothing that EMs do or that or Governor and his GOP colleagues are doing is addressing these core issues. Perhaps te threat ofthe ripple effect of Chapter 9 bankruptcies would give them the incentive they need to start addressing these problems that inordinately affect our aging manufacturing centers. Until they do, there's little hope of their economies improving.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

That &quot;popularity contest&quot; you refer to is called democracy.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

nicely put!!

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

Chris, you have to cut Mr. Bomey some slack here. He's just parroting what he always has--the Rick Snyder talking points. What do you expect from an ex-Washington Times intern? Lol. First clue-calling gutting the democratic process 'kinder and gentler'. My foot!