Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers — January 8, 2012 at 11:05 am

My op-ed in the Muskegon Chronicle: “Emergency manager law an assault on democracy”


Earlier this week, the Muskegon Chronicle published an op-ed by Steve Gunn, the conservative Communications Director of the anti-teachers union Education Action Group. In his op-ed he places the blame for the financial catastrophes happening in Michigan cities and school districts at the feet of unionized public employees.

The people who hate the [Emergency Manager] law want you to believe it’s an attack on middle class Michigan residents. The fact is that the law supports middle class residents by giving local governments the resources they need to meet their commitments to the public.

This fight really pits the vast middle class against the very small but extremely powerful public service labor unions.[…]

That means local municipal workers may keep getting their annual raises and reimbursement for unused sick days while vital government services are cut. […]

In other words, emergency financial managers have the power to take away goodies from the privileged few for the benefit of the entire community. How is that an attack on the middle class?

His piece was so full of lies and strawmen that I felt it required a response. My response is in today’s Chronicle. You can read it HERE.

Some highlights:

Opponents of the effort to overturn P.A. 4 are quick to put up the straw man that the financial emergencies in places like Benton Harbor, Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse, Detroit and Inkster are solely the fault of greedy unionized public employees. Gunn suggests that the answer is to have emergency managers “take away goodies from the privileged few” and this will solve the problem.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is far more complicated. In all of the cities where an EFM is either in place or being contemplated, you will find a confluence of crushing poverty and a devastated tax base due to the departure of our state’s manufacturing base to places like Mexico and China. While wealthier residents in these areas have been able to relocate, those without the means to do so are left behind with crumbling infrastructure, poorly-supported schools and, often, dysfunctional leadership.

The astonishing thing about those who support P.A. 4 is how ready they are to do away with democracy when it suits their purpose. They decry “big government” and clamor for “home rule” and local control. But when the issue turns to our failing cities, they seem to have no problem dismissing locally-elected officials and handing over the entire government to a single individual answerable only to the governor. It’s hard to imagine a more intrusive, anti-democratic “big government” action than that…Conservatives that claim to hold the Constitution sacrosanct should be on the front lines to repeal this anti-democratic, anti-American law.

Gunn would have you believe that those that oppose P.A. 4 “believe it’s an attack on the middle class”. This is false. This law is an attack on democracy, pure and simple.

I will give him credit for one thing: he is very clear that P.A. 4 is the perfect device to crush public employee unions. That may be the most honest thing I’ve heard from a conservative defending this offensive law so far.

Read the whole thing HERE.