Emergency Managers, Highland Park, Pontiac — January 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

Imposition of yet another Emergency Manager in Michigan + other EM news


The Emergency Manager juggernaut continues to roll unabated in Michigan. In early December, I reported that Muskegon Heights school district was requesting an Emergency Manager and that a state review had been initiated.

Yesterday, the Snyder administration added Highland Park schools to the list.

An emergency manager may soon take charge of the Highland Park School District. A state review panel today recommended the governor appoint someone to fix the school district’s “financial emergency.”

The financial review team has been looking at the Highland Park School District’s books since November.

The panel’s report to the governor finds the school district is $11 million in the red. That works out to about $10 thousand for every student enrolled. The school district’s deficit has grown by $3 million in just the last year. The school district’s debt has grown, as its student population has fallen. Nearly 3,200 students attended Highland Park schools in 2006. This year, fewer than a thousand students are enrolled.

In other news, Quincy Stewart of Pontiac had petition language approved for a recall of mayor Leon Jukowski who was elected in 2009 while the city was already under the control of an Emergency Manager. Stewart objects to Jukowski being a paid consultant to EM Louis Schimmel, believing it is a conflict of interest.

Recall petition language against Pontiac Mayor Leon Jukowski was approved Tuesday by the Oakland County Election Commission.

Pontiac resident Quincy Stewart submitted the language, which claims that Jukowski has a conflict of interest because he is both the city’s mayor and a paid consultant to the city’s emergency manager, Louis Schimmel.

Jukowski was elected in 2009 and has always worked under an emergency manager, with no authority over the city’s operations and zero pay since mid-2010. Schimmel hired him as a consultant in September and bumped his pay in December to $50,000 a year, plus benefits. The last mayor in Pontiac who didn’t operate under an emergency manager made $120,000 a year, plus benefits.

Recall supporters have 180 days to collect 3,237 signatures in order to get the recall on the ballot.

Jukowski says it’s not a conflict of interest.

Jukowski says it’s not a conflict, and that emergency managers often get outside help.

“He’s spending less money on outside attorneys, and decided to use one of the locals to help him navigate through this. And that person is me.”