Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers — January 29, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Allen Park, Michigan, where “City Administrator”, “Emergency Manager”, and “Dictator” all mean the same thing


This past week, the City Council of Allen Park voted to fire their City Administrator Karen Folks. Why? Because she has essentially made herself the dictator of the city that recently saw their Emergency Manager leave because their financial emergency was declared over.

[Former Emergency Manager Joyce] Parker hired Folks as city administrator before she left her post as emergency manager on Sept. 25, 2014.

According to Mayor William Matakas and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Keenan, the city has had several issues with Folks since her hiring. Keenan said the recent hiring of a deputy fire chief with no input, angered the council.

Folks could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

“We feel we have sufficient evidence to show cause for removal,” Keenan said. “It’s very infrequent that we have been able to get any info from her. We’re operating under dictatorship. … She controls everything. The mayor and council can’t even put one item on the agenda without her approval.”

Keenan said the issues came to a head two weeks ago when council members Harry Sisko and Larry Templin met with Parker and Folks to ask Folks to resign.

“After two weeks and no response, last night the Allen Park City Council voted unanimously to remove the city’s administrator,” he said. “The state’s response to this 7 to 0 vote was not to ask for information from the elected officials as to why the relationship has broken down or what documentation we had to prove cause for termination but to threaten to bring in another EM. This to me is unconscionable.”

Folks is carrying on the well-established role of Michigan’s Emergency Managers, acting as if democratically-elected officials have no authority and don’t even need to be consulted on major decisions.

After the vote, the Snyder administration essentially told Allen Park to shut up and go lay down by their bowl:

The decision by the Allen Park City Council Tuesday night to temporarily suspend City Administrator Karen Folks until the city’s state-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board can approve or deny the council’s motion to terminate her employment, has been deemed “null and void” by the state.

According to a letter sent Wednesday evening from the State Department of Treasury to the mayor and council, the action taken by the council goes against provisions listed in two of the former Emergency Manager Joyce Parker’s final orders.

“This department is very concerned about the long-term ramifications of this attempted action, as well as the lack of adherence by city officials to existing emergency manager orders,” Deputy State Treasurer Wayne Workman wrote in the letter. “The failure of the City Council to conform its conduct to the existing emergency manager orders and to Public Act 436 may result in this department pursuing any available remedies including, pursuant to Section 24 of the Act, recommending to the governor that a new emergency manager be appointed.”

What the Snyder administration is effectively saying is, “Fly straight or we’ll give you some more.” It’s not even a veiled threat. It’s an overt threat.

Like the Snyder administration’s position that they can simply keep appointing new Emergency Managers when their term expires in perpetuity, in this situation they are simply changing the dictator’s title and carrying on as if nothing has changed.

The matter was supposed to have been taken up at the next monthly meeting of the Allen Park Transition Advisory Board but that meeting has been cancelled because they wouldn’t have a quorum. Apparently the Transition Advisory Board members have better things to do than the crucial job they were selected for.

Democracy. It’s a concept that has a completely different meaning in Michigan under Rick Snyder than it has anywhere else in the country.

Watch out, Atlantic City. It’s coming right for you.