After the resignation last week of Michael Stampfler as Pontiac’s Emergency Manager, Louis Schmimmel was chosen as his replacement. The former emergency financial manager of Hamtramck and Ecorse is known as an expert at privatizing public services and comes highly recommended by the far-right conservative Mackinac Center think tank. Schmimmel, in fact, was the director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center.
Earlier this year, I broke the story that Stampfler had hired United Water to run the city’s water treatment plant, a company facing multiple federal felony indictments for violating the Clean Water Act in Indiana. He proposed a budget last month that dramatically raises taxes and cuts services in Pontiac.
As Eartha Jane Melzer reports reports at Michigan Messenger, Schimmel is known for his zeal for privatizing every public service that isn’t nailed down.
This spring I chatted with Schimmel via e-mail after the Mackinac Center recommended him as an expert on privatizing services as an Emergency Manager. He expressed support of the recent expansion of powers for EMs:The new EFM legislation takes care of most all of the problems I was dealing with when I was an EFM. The legislation was badly needed. Regarding police, it is the one thing in a municipality I would not privatize because there are really no outside providers. Instead I would share or consolidate services and costs with neighboring municipalities or purchase the service from the county.
I asked him how EMs will determine how much police service a community needs and whether jails can be privatized.An EM will determine the amount of police service based on the amount of revenues available. Typically, most municipalities spend 75% of their General Fund revenues for police and fire. That is too much and needs to be reduced so that other municipal services will not suffer. Jails currently can be privatized and many are. The City of Sterling Heights just recently privatized its jail. As I said police is hard to privatize, but certain functions of police work, such as jails, can easily be privatized.
Schimmel’s selection as Emergency Manager is indicative of the overall effort by Michigan Republicans to privatize as many public services as they can, funneling tax money and profits as possible into private businesses and corporations. Choosing him sends a loud signal to the residents of Michigan that government services are viewed as a cash cow by Republicans, ready to be milked by the private sector. Given that the two Emergency Manager trainings held this year were run almost exclusively by groups in the business of taking over public services for profit, this, of course, comes as no surprise to anyone who is paying attention.