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Constitutionality of Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager law headed to federal court

Federal District Court Judge George Caram Steeh has found that a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager law, Public Act 436, can move forward based on its disparate impact on African Americans in Michigan.

The suit alleges that PA 436 is unconstitutional based on nine specific causes:

  1. Denial of “substantive due process” by violating the right to vote of Michigan citizens living in municipalities controlled by Emergency Managers
  2. Violation of the Guarantee Clause which guarantees ” to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government”
  3. Violation of the Equal Protection Clause by the denial of the “fundamental right to vote [which] has been denied, abridged, and/or diluted by PA 436 because governing authority is stripped from local elected officials and transferred to one unelected EM with no accountability to local citizens”
  4. Violation of the Equal Protection Clause by discrimination based on race
  5. Violation of the Equal Protection Clause by discrimination based on wealth
  6. Violation of the Voting Rights Act
  7. Violation of the First Amendment by:
    1. Viewpoint discrimination which violates the First Amendment when it regulates speech based on substantive content
    2. Denial of Freedom of Speech
    3. Denial of the right to petition the government
  8. Violation of the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery
  9. Discrimination against localities with Emergency Manager appointed under previous laws

Every one of these was found to be invalid except for #4, the violation of the Equal Protection Clause by discrimination based on race.…

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After slashing teacher benefits, firing staff, and outsourcing “nearly everything”, Flint schools face Emergency Management

Welcome to Michigan under Republican rule

Flint schools have been in financial trouble since 2011 when it first went into debt. In 2012, they eliminated 460 teachers and staff positions. In May of this year, they laid off 91 more teachers and staff and slashed benefits of the remaining teachers as an alternative to a 19% pay cut. Later in the summer, another 12 teachers and 8 administrators were fired. In the meantime, they have “closed and sold off buildings, eliminated staff and outsourced nearly everything except instructional and administrative positions.”

The result? An increased deficit that now leaves Flint schools $21.9 million in the hole and facing an Emergency Manager.…

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Democracy denied: Flint Emergency Manager appointing City Council members instead of holding elections

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley is using his powers as a state-appointed overseer of the city to appoint two outgoing City Council members rather than permitting a special election as the City’s rules require:

Emergency manager Darnell Earley says he will use his power under state law to appoint replacements for two departing City Council members, rather than allowing their colleagues to take on the task.

Earley said in a news release today, Nov. 13, that he will accept letters of interest, resumes, and references from residents interested in the 3rd and 6th Ward vacancies. […]

Council members have said the state emergency manager law gives Earley the authority to make the council appointments but suggested he allow the council to do so as a part of Flint’s transition to home rule.

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Michigan exports its anti-democratic model: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie considers an Emergency Manager for Atlantic City

Remember when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to Michigan to visit Governor Rick Snyder in March? And when he came back again in September? At the time, everyone assumed that it was because he was fundraising as part of his role as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

It turns out that it may have been as much as fact-finding mission as anything else. This week, Christie announced that he is considering imposing an Emergency Manager on the city of Atlantic City:

An emergency manager to oversee the city’s troubled finances and the creation of a new public-private development corporation are part of a package of reforms Gov.…
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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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