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Some Facts About Michigan “Emergency Financial Manager” Legislation

Posted by Dino on March 13, 2011

3/23/11 Update: If you’re stopping by for the first time first of all, thank you.  Since posting this on 3/13 we have had some very good exchanges of ideas in the comment section below.  The initial paragraph is only a very small portion of the entire conversation.  So please, read on to get the big picture.  Thanks, Dino.

I’ve seen a lot regarding this issue in the past couple of days and had similar concerns so I did what most people don’t do and researched it beyond what sound bites the media and partisan activists produce.  The video that has gotten the most coverage was a piece that Rachel Madow of MSNBC did on her show last week. I was not surprised to find that most of the claims were misleading and false. I read most of the actual bills, both the old Public Act 72 and the updated proposed legislation. Regulations are a big part of my job so I’m pretty used to reading them rather quickly.  I do actually have a life and don’t read regulations just for the fun of it!

Please understand that this is not necessarily an argument for or against the proposal but simply putting the facts out there so an opinion can be developed from what is truly happening and not what Rachel Madow tells us to think.

First, we must understand that this is an update of an existing act titled “Public Act 72” in which many responsibilities and requirements of the Emergency Financial Manager are laid out….including removal of elected officials if they have been found to have gross neglect of duty. Public Act 72 was signed into law by Democratic Governor Jim Blanchard 1990 and about 6 or 7 cities/townships and 1 school district (Detroit Public Schools) have been deemed in Financial Emergencies between Republican John Engler and Democrat Jennifer Granholm. In this existing legislation and the revision currently in the legislative process, there are checks and balances in that the State Treasury, The Legislature and The Governors office have review processes in place for many aspects of this regulation.

The Governor cannot simply and arbitrarily declare a municipality or school district to be in a financial emergency. There are 3-4 pages of conditions that can even trigger an initial review that has to happen prior to a Financial Emergency can even be declared. This review can take months or even years to conduct pending findings and appeals. Also note that during this time the situation can resolve itself if the municipality takes care of the financial situation prior to review completion.

Apparently the change that people are getting worked up about is the power of the Emergency Financial Manager in the update to modify or amend existing municipal contracts. This is very similar the power to merge government services with those of surrounding services. This just happen in the City of Pontiac, which is currently under EFM oversight.  The Pontiac Police has been eliminated and they are now being absorbed by the Oakland County Sheriff.  The Pontiac Police Union even approved of it.

Here is another article taking the support position to give a bit of balance to the “Michigan Messenger” website piece.

It appears that this bill mainly gives a bit more bite to the existing EFM position powers and does not necessarily create any new, anti-democracy powers as some think it does.

Now that some of the facts are established, debate on.


Posted in Politics | 35 Comments »

What Does Government Do well?

Posted by Dino on September 9, 2010

Rasmussen Reports just released a poll that made me grin.  Not reminiscent of a Cheshire Cat or anything but just a bit of a shit eating grin.


62% Say No Matter How Bad Things Are, Congress Can Make Them Worse

Heading into the final weeks of the congressional election season, 62% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that no matter how bad things are, Congress can always make them worse. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 19% disagree, with 19% more not sure.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not happy that people think that the government could f*@k up a wet dream but a bit of faith in the public that they may understand that government is the source of many problems and not the solution to them (to paraphrase President Regan).  In 2008 millions of Americans were swept up in the Obama Dream Machine  when they were told “Things suck! (like we didn’t already know that) and I’m gonna make it better!”  What they didn’t realize (or were in denial of) is that it would be through the mega expansion of government and it’s powers.

One thing I’ve really wondered is what do people think that the government does well?  There are some obvious things they do well, wage war, collect taxes and pass laws/regulations/orders/decrees or whatever they’d like to call them that particular day.  Generally they make life more complicated for a majority of Americans.  But yet, people still go out and actively campaign for government to do more….regulate the financial industry, take-over health care, tax carbon, turn off people’s lights for them in the name of conservation but yet….people still bitch about the government?

So really….what does the government do well?

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