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GUEST POST: Ann Arbor super activist Michael Rains explains why he is Getting Out the Vote and how YOU can, too!

I first encountered my dear friend Michael Rains on the streets of Ann Arbor. He had a cart he has dubbed “the Democracy Machine” and there was a crowd of people around him, waiting to sign petitions to recall Governor Snyder and to repeal Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager law. If there is a crowd of people in Ann Arbor – and often elsewhere in the state – Michael can often be found there with the Democracy Machine, distributing information and gathering petition signatures for causes he believes in.

Today, Michael is sharing with us his reasons for getting out the vote (GOTV) for the November Election and has information on how you can get involved, too.…

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The clock is running out on Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Managers

On December 12, 2012, just a few weeks after the General Election, Michigan legislators passed the bill that would become Public Act 436, the latest iteration of Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager Law. Voters had overturned the previous version of the law in November and Republicans wasted no time in resurrecting it, overturning the will of a majority of voters and interfering with the democratic process.

When Gov. Snyder was asked recently to defend this outrageous act, he answered this way:

Actually, what we did was look at some of the key issues and concerns that were clear about the public vote.…
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AUDIO: Father of Michigan’s Emergency Manager law Al Pscholka convinced Rick Snyder is beloved in Detroit

Al Pscholka, Father of the Emergency Manager law, with Gov. Rick Snyder after the bill signing

When Public Act 4, Michigan’s amped-up Emergency Manager law, was signed into law in early 2011, it was immediately put to use in Benton Harbor. It was the first time the new version of the law, which allows the state to impose an unelected person in charge of an entire city and gives them the power to dismiss local elected officials, was used. Benton Harbor was “represented” in the state House by Al Pscholka and, as it turns out, Pscholka was the author of Public Act 4.…
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Facing massive public outcry Detroit Schools Emergency Manager backs down from draconian cuts & slashing teacher wages

This post has been edited to clarify that the fine arts program at Detroit’s Renaissance High School is being saved.

Just a week after Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Jack Martin, announced draconian cuts to schools, higher class sizes, a second round of pay cuts for teachers, and the closing of 24 schools, he has changed his mind:

After a public outcry, the Detroit Public Schools is walking back plans to cut teacher pay and boost class sizes.

The district is battling a $127 million deficit, and the Michigan Department of Education approved its revised deficit elimination plan last week.

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Under Emergency Management Detroit Public Schools loses Headstart funding for nearly 1,000 kids

Back in 2012, Pontiac Emergency Manager Louis Schimmel signed an agreement with Oakland County to manage monies from a substantial HUD grant. That turned out to be a nearly disasterous decision that would have resulted in a loss of upwards of $800,000 per year for Pontiac. Thankfully, Congressman Gary Peters stepped in a saved the day (and the money.)

At the time Congressman Peters had this to say about the situation:

“Emergency managers come in and are focused on balancing budgets in the short term, and because of that they make decisions that aren’t necessarily in the best interest of the city,” he said.…
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Muskegon Heights education advocates submit a “Citizens’ RFP” to reclaim their schools from for-profit corporations

Last month, the for-profit charter corporation Mosaica announced that it was breaking its contract, signed under an Emergency Manager, to run the entire Muskegon Heights school district. Why? Because they couldn’t make a profit off of running a school system in an economically depressed community.

I know. You’re shocked.

“To be brutally honest – they had to be brutally honest to themselves as well with us – in their model as a for profit company, their profit was not there,” [Emergency Manager Gregory] Weatherspoon said. […]

As of this week, the Emergency Manager has still not had a single group come forward in their Request for Proposal (RFP) to run the district.…

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SHOCKER! For-profit charter Mosaica discovers it can’t make a profit from underfunded schools

Mosaica, the for-profit charter group that has been running Muskegon Heights schools has agreed to end their contract with the school district. Why? They couldn’t make a profit:

“To be brutally honest – they had to be brutally honest to themselves as well with us – in their model as a for profit company, their profit was not there,” Weatherspoon said. […]

In order to pay teachers, vendors and staff for the rest of this school year, Weatherspoon is asking the state for a $1.4 million loan. That loan would go to the original Muskegon Heights Public School district, which would then funnel the cash to the new charter district it authorizes, Muskegon Heights Public School Academy.

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House Republicans move the goalposts on helping solve Detroit’s financial crisis by extorting labor unions

Oh, that’s rich

Michigan House Republicans are in a tight spot. With concessions made by every party swept up in Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy and a deal in place that mostly preserves retiree pensions and the Detroit Institute of Arts’ priceless art collection, the only hurdle remaining is the state ponying up $350 million. Given how much money they’ve essentially stolen from the city by withholding promised revenue sharing, it’s a small price to pay. The state cannot take over cities with Emergency Managers and then tell them they are on their own, much as they would love to do just that.…

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Muskegon Heights schools still financially insolvent despite Emergency Manager’s outsourcing to for-profit charter

Wait, Emergency Managers were supposed to solve these problems weren’t they???

In what can only be seen as an embarrassing repudiation of the Republican idea that Emergency Managers are capable of “fixing” financially-struggling schools, the Muskegon Heights schools system has had to borrow nearly a quarter million dollars from the state in order to make payroll. This was after Emergency Manager Gregory Weatherspoon turned the school system entirely over to Mosaica Education, Inc., a for-profit charter school corporation — or as Mosaica likes to call itself, a for-profit education management organization — a year and half ago.

The state is fronting $231,000 to the charter school district in Muskegon Heights so it can pay its employees.…
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Detroit Public Schools: A case study in the failure of the Emergency Manager system

Lansing, we have a problem

The amped-up Emergency Manager laws passed by Michigan Republicans in 2011 and again in 2012 were specifically designed to give far more sweeping powers to the one unelected potentate who assumes control of the school district or municipality. The sweeping away of local elected officials and the snuffing out of local democracy was needed, said the proponents, because the elected leaders were simply incapable of doing the job properly themselves. In fact, the unspoken implication is the local communities deserved to lose their democracy since they voted for such inept leaders in the first place.

The bedrock presumption in all of this is that the state is completely capable of stepping in and handling the affairs of the local municipality or of the school district.…

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