Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers, Pontiac — April 25, 2012 at 6:37 am

Former Pontiac Emergency Manager Stampfler: “City charters are just interesting reading”


I find your quaint city constitutions mildly amusing…

At a speech criticizing Michigan’s Emergency Manager law yesterday, former Pontiac Emergency Manager Michael Stampfler was talked about the importance of investing in capital infrastructure and something he called civic capital — engagement of the local citizens in the process of governing.

Then he suggested that city charters were just “interesting reading”.

Here’s video from Bruce Fealk of the Rochester Citizen and Communications Director for Michigan Rising:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: The first question I have is did you, at what point, what did you think that our charter meant to your job in our city?

STAMPFLER: The charter is maybe just interesting reading when, in the emergency management situation.

Bruce asks more questions and gets more answers from Stampfler in the next two segments. Stampfler does not back down, at one point saying that it’s okay to shove aside locally-elected officials when there’s corruption involved.

Yes, it’s a bad deal that elected officials would be excluded, but sometimes they have to be, perhaps, because of corruption. If they really were part of the group that drove the bus into the ditch, it’s a little bit difficult to say, “Okay, well, let’s go talk about how we’re going to do it better.”

So far as I know, there has not been a single allegations of wholesale corruption in ANY of the cities operating under the thumb of an Emergency Manager. There are, of course, in any city government, isolated cases that are made public after which that official is removed. But to remove the entire government suggests, at least in Stampfler’s mind, that these cities are in trouble because of widespread corruption throughout the whole. This is entirely untrue. If that were the case, it would be a simple matter of arresting the corrupt officials and putting them on trial. Removing them would allow the democratic process to proceed apace and the corrupt official to be replaced by someone who isn’t legitimate.

But that is not at all what is happening here. It makes you wonder if Stampfler needs a bit of ‘civic capital’ of his own if this needs to be explained to him.

I agree with him that there needs to be much more civic involvement and investment in capital infrastructure to help these cities get back on their feet. These are the things that can begin to help our struggling, aging manufacturing cities get back on their feet and become economically, socially and politically viable again. These are the things that will help them recover from the perfect storm of globalization and economic recession that brought them to this point in the first place.

But his suggestion that this can only be done by wiping away the elected governments because they are making that less convenient?

That’s about as anti-American as anything I have ever seen in this country during my entire life. And it’s happening here in my very own backyard.

More on Stampfler’s speech at the Wyandotte Patch and the Detroit Free Press.

[CC image credit: Blood for Oil]

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