“Emergency Manager” Replaces Elected Officials in Michigan Town

Lighthouse of Benton Harbor, MI. Photo: Russell Sekeet (CC)

Lighthouse of Benton Harbor, MI. Photo: Russell Sekeet (CC)

Santiago Esparza writes in the Detroit News

Benton Harbor — In a move believed to be the first under sweeping new state legislation, Emergency Manager Joseph Harris suspended decision-making powers of city officials Friday.

Officials only can call meetings to order, adjourn them and approve minutes of meetings as part of the order issued Friday.

The action is likely the first since Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law in March a new statute that grants more powers to emergency managers appointed by the Treasury Department to take over distressed schools and communities.

At least one elected Benton Harbor official was sanguine about the order. “It doesn’t bother me,” said City Commissioner Bryan Joseph. “I’m in favor of it.” Joseph said he has watched financial mismanagement for decades, which was one of the reasons he ran for election in 2008.

“This is sad news for democracy in Michigan,” said Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton Harbor … we can now see the true nature of the emergency manager system.”

Read More: Detroit News

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  • 5by5

    This Snyder guy makes McGov. Rick Scott in Wisconsin look like “Amateur Fascist Hour”.

    Snyder literally has abolished representative democracy in Michigan. He’s claimed he can just disempower duly ELECTED officials by fiat on his word alone.

    This is disaster capitalism on steroids.

    • Hadrian999

      It’s interesting how closely current political news resembles the run up the the american revolution

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XFMMVBQQFHSWBLHZR5T74P564E memries

        more like the brownshirts and the last days of the Weimar Republic ;-)

  • 5by5

    This Snyder guy makes McGov. Rick Scott in Wisconsin look like “Amateur Fascist Hour”.

    Snyder literally has abolished representative democracy in Michigan. He’s claimed he can just disempower duly ELECTED officials by fiat on his word alone.

    This is disaster capitalism on steroids.

  • Hadrian999

    It’s interesting how closely current political news resembles the run up the the american revolution

  • Hadrian999

    It’s interesting how closely current political news resembles the run up the the american revolution

  • Dogpeople

    “It’s interesting how closely current political news resembles the run up the the american revolution.”

    Could you please elaborate? I’d like to know more.

    • Hadrian999

      well this one in particular is similar to the king of England dissolving local assemblies and installing royal governors who rule by decree

      the outsourcing of industry is similar in effect but not (that anyone can prove) intent to the British mercantile system that banned certain industry in the colonies to protect the profits of British manufacturing and hobble the self sufficiency of the colonies. both keep America dependent on imports

  • Dogpeople

    “It’s interesting how closely current political news resembles the run up the the american revolution.”

    Could you please elaborate? I’d like to know more.

  • Hadrian999

    well this one in particular is similar to the king of England dissolving local assemblies and installing royal governors who rule by decree

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XFMMVBQQFHSWBLHZR5T74P564E memries

    more like the brownshirts and the last days of the Weimar Republic ;-)

  • Anonymous

    Actually, that’s the second abuse. The first was in Detroit:

    “(Reuters) – The emergency manager appointed to put Detroit’s troubled public school system on a firmer financial footing said on Thursday he was sending layoff notices to all of the district’s 5,466 unionized employees.

    In a statement posted on the website of Detroit Public Schools, Robert Bobb, the district’s temporary head, said notices were being sent to every member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers “in anticipation of a workforce reduction to match the district’s declining student enrollment.”

    Bobb said nearly 250 administrators were receiving the notices, too.

    The district is unlikely to eliminate all the teachers. Last year, it sent out 2,000 notices and only a fraction of employees were actually laid off. But the notices are required by the union’s current contract with the district. Any layoffs under this latest action won’t take effect until late July.

    In the meantime, Bobb said that he planned to exercise his power as emergency manager to unilaterally modify the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers starting May 17, 2011.

    Under a law known as Public Act 4, passed by the Michigan legislature and signed by the state’s new Republican governor in March, emergency managers like Bobb have sweeping powers. They can tear up existing union contracts, and even fire some elected officials, if they believe it will help solve a financial emergency.

    “I fully intend to use the authority that was granted under Public Act 4,” Bobb said in the statement.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/us-detroit-layoffs-idUSTRE73E7ID20110415

  • quartz99

    Actually, that’s the second abuse. The first was in Detroit:

    “(Reuters) – The emergency manager appointed to put Detroit’s troubled public school system on a firmer financial footing said on Thursday he was sending layoff notices to all of the district’s 5,466 unionized employees.

    In a statement posted on the website of Detroit Public Schools, Robert Bobb, the district’s temporary head, said notices were being sent to every member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers “in anticipation of a workforce reduction to match the district’s declining student enrollment.”

    Bobb said nearly 250 administrators were receiving the notices, too.

    The district is unlikely to eliminate all the teachers. Last year, it sent out 2,000 notices and only a fraction of employees were actually laid off. But the notices are required by the union’s current contract with the district. Any layoffs under this latest action won’t take effect until late July.

    In the meantime, Bobb said that he planned to exercise his power as emergency manager to unilaterally modify the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers starting May 17, 2011.

    Under a law known as Public Act 4, passed by the Michigan legislature and signed by the state’s new Republican governor in March, emergency managers like Bobb have sweeping powers. They can tear up existing union contracts, and even fire some elected officials, if they believe it will help solve a financial emergency.

    “I fully intend to use the authority that was granted under Public Act 4,” Bobb said in the statement.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/us-detroit-layoffs-idUSTRE73E7ID20110415

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