Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers, Highland Park — January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Friday Emergency Manager news round-up


No earth-shattering news about Michigan’s on-going Emergency Manager Emergency, but there are some tidbits worth noting.

  1. Flint Community Leaders Hold Public Forum to Discuss Emergency Manager Emergency.
    Flint community leaders held a public forum on Tuesday to discuss Public Act 4 and its impact on the community.
    The panel discussion will revolve around “The Emergency Manager: Concerns and Outcomes for Flint,” according to a news release.

    Panelists are City Councilman Delrico Loyd, Flint resident Paul Jordan, political science Professor Paul Rozycki, and state Rep. Woodrow Stanley, D-Flint.

    You won’t have to worry about what happened at the “Emergency Manager: Concerns and Outcomes for Flint Forum”, however, because no news outlets appear to have reported on it. Journalism!

  2. Flint Emergency Manager Mike Brown Releases Financial & Operating Plan
    As I reported earlier this week, Flint Emergency Manager Mike Brown released his Financial & Operating Plan this week and dated it for 2013. I haven’t had a chance to look it over yet but MLive reports that Brown wants to reopen the city jail but has no plans for how to actually pay for this. He also wants to reopen the city’s impound lot which is interesting because that would be a insourcing move since the city currently pays a private company to tow and impound vehicles. Maybe privatizing isn’t always cheaper as we’re so often told? Naw, couldn’t be…
  3. Congressman Gary Peters Confirms He Saved Pontiac From Losing Out on $1.4 Million in Federal Funding
    Like Mighty Mouse saving the day, Congressman Gary Peters stepped in to save the city of Pontiac from a completely assinine decision by Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel that would have cost the city millions in federal grant funding. Congressman Peters has now confirmed that the total amount is $1.4 million. This is Exhibit A why Emergency Managers are bad for Michigan: Schimmel took the easy way out and it almost cost Pontiac, a city in deep financial trouble, over $1 million.
  4. Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts Makes Appointments, Says He’s Happy to Stay on Indefinitely
    Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts made five executive appointments to various departments this week in the areas of academics, risk management and construction. He also told the Detroit Free Press he’d be happy to stay on as Emergency Manager indefinitely if … you know … someone asked him to.
    More than halfway through his first one-year appointment, Roberts told the Free Press that to succeed he may have to stay in the job past May.

    “In all fairness, if (the governor) asked me to stay, I’d be hard-pressed to leave because you can’t do this to the kids. You can’t jerk it around,” he said. “Clearly, you can’t get it done in a year, and if I stay two years, you won’t get it all done.”

    The Freep article is worth a read and is chock full of information. Roberts certainly has a tough job. His predecessor actually INCREASED the DPS deficit. He has it down now to $83 million.

  5. Detroit Public Schools Breaks a Contract, Gets Sued
    One of the nifty new powers that Public Act 4 gave to Emergency Managers was that they can break contracts with anyone they want. Robert Bob did that with a company leasing the Detroit Public School system office space. Now they are suing.
    Roy Roberts, the emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools, is being sued in federal court after using the new emergency manager law to terminate leases for Midtown office space.

    NCO Acquisitions, Lothrop Associates, FK South and FK North — companies affiliated with the Southfield-based Farbman Group — filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

    Gov. Rick Snyder and state Treasurer Andy Dillon — who oversee Roberts’ decisions — also are named as defendants.

    The lawsuit claims that a state cannot pass a law “impairing the obligation of contracts.”

    DPS spends $1.8 million a year to lease the space.


  6. Highland Park Schools Fighting Back, Will Probably Get an Emergency Manager Anyway
    Highland Park School officials met with state officials today and basically told them they are making things worse for the school district.
    “The district does have a plan to alleviate the crisis — it’s called a Deficit Elimination Plan and it gives us targets to accomplish over a four-year period,” said Randy Lane, financial director for the district. He testified before state treasury officials and members of an independent review team, which determined a financial emergency exists at HPS.

    “An emergency manager is not needed in Highland Park Schools,” Lane testified. “We have a competent staff that reflects the community that can solve problems.”

    Lane said the state has been well aware of financial problems in the district dating to 2007, and district officials have reduced the budget by 48 percent since 2009.

    But over the last year, Lane said the state chose to use “a heavy hand” with the district, pulling money back when enrollment came in lower than projected, denying a request to defer state aid to avoid cash shortages and losing federal dollars. Those actions created some of the district’s cash shortfalls, he argued.

    “But no matter how hard we tried, the state decided not to work with us,” Lane said.

    School Board chair Alma Greer went to the airwaves to say Highland Park does not need an Emergency Manager as well.

  7. Muskegon Schools Deputy Superintendent: Custodians, Bus Drivers and Office Workers Should Pay the Price for Muskegon Heights Financial Problems
    Deputy superintendent for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Marios Demetriou advises Muskegon Heights schools to privatize the jobs of custodians, bus drivers and clerical staff to solve the distict’s financial woes.
    The Muskegon Heights school board will be advised Monday to accept bids to privatize the financially troubled district’s clerical workers, custodians and bus drivers.

    “I don’t think we have a choice,” said Marios Demetriou, the deputy superintendent for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District who is assisting the district with its finances.

    It’s not they have caused this problem. They are just the least powerful and easiest to get rid of.

  8. The whole thing has Lindsey Smith at Michigan Public Radio confused about what happens if the PA 4 repeal effort gathers enough signatures and the law goes on hold. It’s not surprising, this has never happened before and nobody is 100% certain what happens then. It’s likely the Supreme Court will sorted out. The Republican-led Supreme Court, I should add.