emergency manager

this one

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Days after Flint's mayor served notice the city might sue Michigan over Flint's crisis with lead-tainted water, the state removed the city's ability to sue.

Flint hasn't been under a state-appointed emergency manager since April 2015, but the state still exerts partial control over the city through a five-member Receivership Transition Advisory Board, whose members are appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Michigan’s Treasury Department deserves blame for its role in the Flint water crisis, according to a new report.
Flickr user Ian Freimuth / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0


As the Flint water crisis unfolded, most of the blame was heaped upon the state departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services.

But Wayne State University law professor Peter Hammer claims there’s another government agency at fault: Michigan’s treasury department. In a new report, Hammer faults Treasury for its willingness to bend rules when it came to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline, and its indifference to whether the city could pay to upgrade treatment plants and guarantee safe drinking water.

Flickr user phxwebguy/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit Public Schools could soon be debt-free as a result of last week’s bailout package approved by Michigan senators. But how did the district get into $617 million in debt in the first place? A new study suggests that Michigan state laws are to blame for crippling districts like DPS.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Leaders of the charter school system in Highland Park are more confident as they wrap up this school year.

Highland Park's charter system was created by an emergency manager in 2012 to save money. But soon the charter district ran into its own money problems, and began running a deficit.

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A group challenging Michigan’s emergency manager law is asking a federal appeals court in Cincinnati to order a trial in the case.

A federal judge in Detroit threw out most of the lawsuit. But attorney John Philo of the not-for-profit Sugar Law Center says the emergency manager law raised new issues that courts have never decided.

“The power to make laws is reserved to elected officials. That’s what our democracy is   founded upon,” Philo said.

Two young protesters at City Hall last week. The council floated a draft resolution to ask the city to stop charging people for water.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

But here’s the thing: the city council doesn’t really have the power to actually force the city to stop billing people for their water.

That’s because big financial decisions (and this one would be a doozy) still have to be okayed by a state-appointed board, called the Receivership Transition Advisory Board.

They’re the guys the state put in place after the Emergency Manager left in April 2015.

Technically, that’s when Flint “transitioned back to local control,” according to the state, but there’s still a lot of limitations on what local officials can actually do.

Is it time to renovate the state capitol building in Lansing?
Matthileo / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Former Michigan Teasurer Robert Kleine added another layer to the debate about what caused the Flint water crisis. Decisions made by Flint’s emergency manager led to the water crisis, but Kleine says the EMs aren't given enough tools to fix the problems in these struggling cities.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan’s emergency manager law has received considerable criticism in the wake of the Flint water crisis. The concept of the state moving in to take power away from local officials to fix a financial crisis is not new. In fact, Public Act 72, known as the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, was passed in 1990.

Photo courtesy of Inforummichigan.org and Peplin Photographic (larrypeplin.com)

The Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board has been overseeing Flint since Jerry Ambrose, the city’s last emergency manager, left last April.

The state says the goal of the RTAB is to put the city on a path toward good financial health and return full control back to the city government.

So where does the process of returning power to the city’s elected leadership stand?

Former Flint mayor Dayne Walling joined us in-studio to discuss the Flint water crisis
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

The Flint water crisis is complicated, and more details are being revealed nearly every day.

Dayne Walling has lived it from the beginning. Walling was the mayor of Flint from 2009 to 2015, the period of time when crucial decisions were made regarding Flint’s water supply.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan cities are getting a little help dealing with financial problems.

Michigan State University’s new Local Government Finance and Policy Center is intended to be a resource for cities. The center will offer workshops on fiscal sustainability and research municipal governance.  The center will also produce an annual fiscal health report on each of Michigan’s cities, counties and townships.

Director Eric Scorsone says mounting legacy costs are the biggest challenge facing most communities in Michigan.

On April 25, 2014, Flint officials toasted each other as they flipped the switch to the Flint River.

I don’t blame the governor’s press secretary for not understanding exactly who made the decision to have Flint pump its drinking water from the Flint River. It was a complicated decision making process with multiple key players that lasted at least a few months.

Back in the spring of 2013, when this decision was made, Governor Rick Snyder’s press secretary, Dave Murray, was one of “us”; a journalist working for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive.

Lawmakers are continuing their autumn recess, but they’ll soon be back in Lansing to focus on Governor Rick Snyder’s plan for Detroit schools.

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There is a lot of controversy surrounding Michigan’s use of emergency managers. The Flint water fiasco, the decline of the Detroit Public School system – that all happened under the watch of state-appointed emergency managers.

While much has been said and written about Detroit getting through bankruptcy quickly, there are a lot of long-lasting effects of the city’s time under an emergency manager, including, but certainly not limited to, Belle Isle Park being turned over to state management, which some Detroit residents find frustrating.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor says she wants her city to return to total local control.

Soon after Karen Weaver took her oath of office as Flint mayor, she called on Governor Snyder re-instate total local control in her city.

“I do not embrace the current governance model on a moral or political basis,” Weaver told the standing room crowd that packed the city council chambers to watch her take her oath of office. 

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

The fallout from the Flint water crisis is far from over.

Yes, the state’s top water official has been “reassigned.”  

And sure, the Department of Environment Quality director admits they bungled the testing of Flint’s water, and failed at setting up appropriate corrosion control measures. Those measures would have prevented lead from leaching from pipes in the Flint’s water.

But there is a deeper anger in Flint aimed at Governor Snyder, and the string of emergency managers he appointed to run the struggling city when it reached a financial crisis.

Governor Rick Snyder is facing a tough sell today as he tries to re-start the conversation on fixing Detroit’s schools. And, that’s just one of the political tough sells the Second Term Nerd is facing.

Protesters in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically, and scientists believe a new drinking water source is to blame. They're pointing to lapses in oversight from state regulators, who they say should’ve seen the problem coming.

Flint’s water problems began about a year ago, not long after the city stopped drawing water from Detroit’s system. To save money, Flint began getting its water from the Flint River.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder admitted that the decision to switch the city of Flint's water supply from Detroit's system over to the Flint River was not well planned.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is, is there are probably things that were not as fully understood as when that switch was made,” Snyder said.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since Michigan’s revamped emergency manager law took effect. Thirteen Michigan cities and five school districts are currently under some form of state oversight.

Now, there are growing doubts about the law’s ability to help schools in financial distress.

401(k) 2013 / Flickr

This week in Michigan Politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry talks about a new law affecting school districts in trouble, college tuition hikes, a former inmate healthcare snafu, and Michigan veterans.  

One of Benton Harbor’s old emergency managers is expected to head to federal court next month.

Tony Saunders was Benton Harbor’s emergency manager from January 2013 until he declared the financial emergency over, in March 2014.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Parents and students in Highland Park will get a chance to hear what options they have for next year now that the high school is closing.

A couple weeks ago, the state-appointed emergency manager of Highland Parks schools announced the district would be a K-8 district only. He says there are just too few students to make it feasible.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In order for parents to make the best decisions for their children, they need to know what’s going on. So do taxpayers and voters.

In my years of writing about school districts all over the state, I’ve learned everyone wants to brag about the successes. No one is in a hurry to admit when things aren’t working for students.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Highland Park schools can’t afford to offer high school next year, only grades K-8.

There are about 160 kids at Highland Park High school now. That’s only a third of the number of students there three years ago. That’s when district finances got so bad an emergency manager was appointed.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New emergency managers have been picked to run the Highland Park and Muskegon Heights school districts.   

Steve Schiller will take over as emergency manager at Muskegon Heights, where he worked as a teacher and administrator for 30 years. During the last few years, he’s worked as a consultant for other emergency managers.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Student enrollment at Muskegon Heights has been declining since the 2009-10 school year.

Five years ago, student enrollment at Muskegon Heights schools was double what it is now. But for the first time since 2009, student enrollment was stable this year. Technically, enrollment was up 5 students.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager plans to start prepping for the end of his tenure.

Flint has been under an emergency manager since 2011. 

Current emergency manager Darnell Earley’s appointment ends in April.    He’s working now to begin the transition back to local control.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Natasha Henderson admits there are challenges ahead.

Henderson was introduced today as Flint’s incoming city administrator. Starting in February, she’ll take over running the day-to-day operations of a city still struggling to shake off a multi-million dollar budget deficit and ongoing crime problems. 

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr resigned today. Gov. Rick Snyder had a little send-off for him in Detroit. Here to discuss that and other Michigan politics is the It’s Just Politics team, Rick Pluta and Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie Zoe Clark.

Click on the link above to hear Rick and Zoe discuss Orr's resignation and Michigan politics