I want to draw your attention to sureujest‘s fine Daily Kos diary covering yesterday’s Pontiac press conference held by Sugar Law Center and plaintiffs in the lawsuit to declare Michigan’s Financial Martial Law Act unconstitutional.
In it she has photos, video and interviews from participants. Here is an excerpt:
At the late afternoon press conference in Pontiac, MI today I spoke with Attorney Julie Hurwitz (of Goodman & Hurwitz PC), who is acting as representation in the suit.
Ms. Hurwitz (pictured above) told me that all legal representation for the civil suit against the State of Michigan is voluntary. Ms. Hurwitz said that the goal of the suit is to get a judicial declaration of the law as unconstitutional. She said that the suit will likely make it to the Michigan Supreme Court, but that right now the focus is at the Circuit Court level. In Ingham County the suit has been assigned to Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina. The suit is currently in the “discovery” phase, then Judge Aquilina will establish a ‘Status Conference’.
Attorney Hurwitz addressed the group, telling citizens attending the press conference that the EFM law is “a power grab to disenfranchise voters”. She said that this is an attack on working people across the state, and that every single Michigan community in financial stress is now at risk to be subject to these measures. Hurwitz told the group that PA 4 violates the constitutional requirement that the state pay for staff, the salaries for the appointed EFM and their teams, hired firms, and expenses (these expenses are being paid for by taxpayers); the law violates the prohibition enacted in 1978 against unfunded mandates; an EFM has more power than the state legislature and establishes a new form of government that is governed by unelected officials–“in essence establishing a dictatorship”.
“Twenty-eight citizens stepped up”, Julie Hurwitz said. “The number one concern is the health of constitutional and democratic rights”. She said they are “ready to fight against a power grab.”
I spoke with Tameka Ramsey, a plaintiff in the case from the city of Pontiac.
This courageous young woman lives and works in the city of Pontiac and is filing suit against Gov. Rick Snyder and the state because she believes “we have the right to vote for elected officials and not have someone appoint them for us” without our consent. Ms. Ramsey first became aware of the legislation as it was still being deliberated in Lansing while she was going to graduate school for Urban Planning. She had written her first grad school paper on former Pontiac EFM Fred Leeb (who was replaced with EFM Michael Stampfler in July 2010). Tameka said that she does not want to have the rights that her ancestors died for –the right to vote– to be taken away, and is going to do everything in her power “to preserve those rights” for her children.
Another Pontiac plaintiff in the suit, Pat O’Conner, addressed the group and told why he became involved.
Mr. O’Conner (pictured above) has lived in the Washington Park area of Pontiac for eleven years and is an active community volunteer. When he and his neighbors heard there was a proposed concrete crushing plant to be built on city land they went before the Planning Commission and expressed their concerns over relentless noise and unhealthy concrete dust that would come into their neighborhood from the plant. The commission heard their concern and prevented the project. The Pontiac Planning Commission has since been fired by EFM Michael Stampfler. O’Conner says the land borders a Rails to Trails that O’Conner helped to get a $90K grant to build and that others have obtained funds for to connect the Pontiac Rails to Trails to other communities. But now, O’Conner says, thanks to the EFM (Stampfler), there’s a junkyard being proposed on city land which lies beside the Clinton River and the marsh that expands into Crystal Lake. 33 acres of woods and wetlands that lie beside the Rails to Trails are at risk, when they could be used by the community for much greater purposes such as science education and public recreation. Mr. O’Conner said, “But the EFM can plunk down a junkyard that would be an eyesore and a source of pollution for the sole purpose of making a few bucks to pay off debt.” He went on to say that Michael Stampfler is “not accountable to the citizens of Pontiac or to their children.”
It’s a great bit of reporting and I highly commend it to your attention. I’d like to add that surelyujest was the first person to connect the dots regarding the Pontiac EM Michael Stampfler outsourcing the city’s water treatment to a company facing a 26-count federal indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of the Clean Water Act. surelyujest contributed much of the research for the piece that I did at A2Politico.com.