emergency manager law

Education
1:48 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Charter company faces challenges running public school district in first weeks of class

Mosaica was hired in July, 2012 to run the schools. (L toR) Mosaica Regional Vice President Alena Zachery Ross, Mosaica founder and President Gene Eidelman, and Emergency Manager Don Weatherspoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The first two weeks of class have presented some obstacles for Michigan’s first fully privatized public school district.

Muskegon Heights schools' emergency financial manager hired Mosaica Education, a charter school company, in July to run the K-12 system while he focuses on paying off the district’s debt. Highland Park schools’ EFM took the same option later that month.

Alena Zachery-Ross is the top administrator at the new Muskegon Height Public School Academy System. She’s very positive, but admits the first two weeks didn’t go “as smoothly” as she expected.

“There are all these things that you don’t think of. There are small details that we want to ensure are taken care of immediately but they take time,” Zachery-Ross said. She says these 'day-to-day' details are important but she must stick to a priority list.

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11:40 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Michigan lawmakers hold off on changes to emergency manager law

Lead in text: 
Emergency managers once had significant power in the school districts and cities they were appointed in. They could break union contracts and strip elected leaders of their power. But that changed once the Supreme Court ruled the voter referendum challenging the law could go on the November ballot. The emergency manager law was suspended, so they no longer have their broad powers. MLive reports that it appears the Michigan legislature will wait until November to decided what to do next.
LANSING, MI - Michigan lawmakers appear content to leave the state's suspended emergency manager law alone, at least for now, as voters prepare to decide the fate of the measure in November. The Legislature met this week without addressing Public Act 4 of 2011, or its predecessor law from the 1990 known as Public Act 72.
Newsmaker Interviews
4:10 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

DPS school board regains academic control

Detroit Public School Board President, LaMar Lemmons.

A Wayne County Circuit judge has ruled that some Detroit schools will remain in a new district for low-performing schools despite a ballot proposal challenging a state law that allowed the move, according to an Associated Press report.

The judge told emergency manager Roy Roberts today that the Detroit Board of Education regains academic control of remaining schools in the district pending the November election outcome on Michigan's emergency manager law.

Until then, state-appointed managers of financially distressed cities and school districts have to operate under the law's predecessor, which gives them only financial oversight.

Board members sought to reverse Roberts' movement of 15 schools into the Education Achievement Authority, claiming it falls under their academic control.

Detroit Public Schools Board President, LaMar Lemmons talks with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about today's hearing and what steps the board will take next.

Politics & Government
1:53 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Pontiac's City Council challenges city's emergency manager

Pontiac's City Council

The Pontiac City Council is trying to reclaim its authority lost to the state-appointed emergency financial manager.

Louis Schimmel became the cash-strapped city's third emergency manager in 2011.

The Detroit Free Press reports that yesterday, all present council members approved a resolution demanding that authority over all city finances and financial decision-making be restored to the mayor and council.

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Newsmaker Interviews
4:44 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Flint's City Council President says the city's finances are stable, no EM needed

Michigan Municipal League Flickr

The referendum on Public Act 4, Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law is now slated to appear on the November ballot. Once the question is formally placed on the ballot, PA4 would be suspended.

Gov. Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette both say that the state will then revert to Public Act 72, the Emergency Financial Manager Law for cities and schools currently under state control.

But Flint’s City Council President, Scott Kincaid says Flint doesn’t need an emergency financial manager.

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Law
12:20 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Flint's City Council President will oppose a new emergency manager

Scott Kincaid, Flint City Council President
City of Flint CityOfFlint.com

Flint's City Council President opposes the appointment of a new emergency manager for his city.

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Politics & Government
9:08 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Happiness, relief for unions as emergency manager law heads to the ballot

A Detroit Free Press article about the emergency manager referendum decorated the front door of AFSCME Council 25 in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Public employee union leaders are ecstatic that a referendum challenging the state’s emergency manager law will be on the November ballot.

They’ve fiercely opposed the law in large part because emergency managers have the power to alter or throw out collectively-bargained contracts.

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Law
4:00 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

MI Supreme Court approves EM Law referendum for Nov. ballot

Michigan Hall of Justice
Subterranean Wikimedia Commons

Update Aug. 3 4:00 p.m.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon said at a press conference following the Supreme Court ruling, that putting the Emergency Manager referendum on the ballot means the state will have to revert to previous legislation about Emergency Financial Managers.

Dillon says the current Emergency Managers running cities in Michigan will all be re-appointed except for Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown.

Brown has served as Mayor of Flint within the last five years, and is not eligible to be an Emergency Manager under the old law.

Dillon says the state will name a new Emergency Manager for Flint.

Aug. 3 1:30 p.m.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered the referendum on the state’s emergency manager law onto the November ballot.

A divided court ruled the ballot campaign’s petitions met the letter of the law, that the type on a critical portion of the petition was, in fact, 14 points, which is what the law requires.

The Supreme Court decision requires a state elections board to put the challenge to the emergency manager law on the November ballot.

At that point, the emergency manager law is suspended, but what happens next is not certain. In a statement today, Gov. Rick Snyder said:

While I fully support the right of all citizens to express their views, suspension of the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act may adversely affect Michigan communities and school districts mired in financial emergencies. It promises to make eventual solutions to those emergencies more painful.

One of the act’s primary goals is to identify financial emergencies before they become full-blown crises. Suspending the law limits the state’s ability to offer early intervention and assistance, and eliminates important tools that emergency managers need to address financial emergencies as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This is critical given the state’s responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, regardless of the city in which they live or the school district they attend.

Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette say the old emergency manager law is resurrected -- the seven emergency managers currently serving will continue, but with diminished authority.

The referendum drive says otherwise – that there is no emergency manager law, and the emergency managers are out of a job.

It could take another court fight – or extraordinary action by the Legislature to settle the question.

Others have also released statements on the ruling:

  • American Federation of Teachers Michigan President David Hecker:

The Michigan Supreme Court has listened to reason and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who signed petitions calling for the repeal of PA4. Michigan voters know that the Legislature granted extreme powers to unelected Emergency Managers in this bill, and deserve the right to vote on this issue in November.

  • Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:

We respect the Michigan Supreme Court’s opinion, protecting the constitutional right of citizens to use the petition process. However, the Financial Stability Agreement (FSA) remains in effect and is still a critical tool to help fiscally stabilize the city...

The Financial Advisory Board will also remain in tact as will its oversight function to make sure the City is moving forward in restructuring. The court’s decision is not expected to affect the bond issue we need to maintain the city’s cash flow, and the city must complete the bond issue to fund city operations. The bottom line is the City’s fiscal challenges remain, and Public Act 4 was one tool to help us.  Without P.A.4, we will continue to execute our fiscal restructuring plan.

  • Flint Mayor Dayne Walling:

The legal decision does not change anything about the City of Flint's finances, however. It is my hope that there can be cooperation at all levels in the public and private sectors to address the deep rooted challenges we face in Michigan's communities. This is a time when we need to stop fighting over control and instead work together in equal cooperation.

Law
4:35 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

MI Supreme Court will decide on EM law ballot challenge

Font size explained
Dario Corsi Redhead Design Studio

It’s now up to the state Supreme Court to decide whether the referendum to challenge Michigan’s emergency manager law will appear on the November ballot. The court spent 90 minutes today listening to arguments on whether a dispute over type size is enough to keep the question off the ballot.
    
John Pirich is the attorney for Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. The business-backed group is trying to knock the referendum off the ballot. Pirich says it’s not enough to trust that a computer program used by petition printers is accurately measuring type size.  

“Everyone knows what a computer can do. I can make letters get scrunched. I can make letters get elongated. They say 12-, 14-, or six-point font, whatever it might say, but that can be manipulated," he said.

Supporters of the referendum say the petitions were correctly printed in the proper font size. They also say the will of more than 200,000 petition signers should not be ignored.

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Politics & Government
7:06 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Allen Park one step closer to emergency manager

City of Allen Park

The state is moving ahead with the process that could result in an emergency manager for Allen Park.

Allen Park is a Detroit suburb with about 28,000 people. City officials there actually requested a preliminary review under the state's emergency manager law.

In addition to suffering declining property tax revenue, the city was also on the hook for millions due to a botched movie studio deal made by the city's former mayor.

Unsurprisingly, the preliminary state review found “probable fiscal stress” there. So Lt. Gov. Brian Calley took the next step, appointing a review board to take a deeper dive into the city’s finances.

The preliminary review found chronic cash flow problems, and says city officials haven’t come up with an effective deficit-elimination plan.

If the review team confirms those findings as expected, then Allen Park will almost certainly face some type of state intervention. It would be the eighth Michigan city where the state has intervened.

Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse all have emergency managers. Three more cities, including Detroit, are under consent agreements.

Education
11:54 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager imposes new teacher contract

DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts
Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools has imposed a new contract on the district’s teachers.

Roy Roberts is empowered to impose new contract terms on teachers under the state’s emergency manager law.

The district’s previous contract with the Detroit Federation of Teachers expired June 30.

In a written statement, Roberts says the decision to impose a new contract came after “a series of meet and confer sessions” with union leadership prior to June 30.

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Law
2:54 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Font size fight over EM referendum may reach Michigan Supreme Court

The Michigan Hall of Justice, in which the Michigan Supreme Court might hear the petition font case.
user Subterranean Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility has been trying to block a statewide referendum on Michigan’s emergency manager law. Today, the group filed a request asking the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling earlier this month that would allow voters to decide on emergency managers.

The group says a mistake in the font size that pro-referendum campaigners Stand Up for Democracy used in a portion of the text of their petitions was too small under regulations. 

Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility believes the font size is reason enough to keep the emergency manager referendum off the November ballot.

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Politics & Government
9:58 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Emergency manager law opponents: Referendum question needs to go on the ballot--now

Protesters at state government offices in Detroit Thursday.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Organizers behind the bid to get Michigan’s emergency manager law on the November ballot say they’re getting tired of waiting for the courts to act.

So they’re taking their case directly to the streets—and judges.

After a complicated legal battle, the Michigan Court of Appeals effectively ruled earlier this month that a referendum on Public Act 4 must go on the November ballot.

Last week, referendum proponents filed a motion with the court, asking them to order the state Board of Canvassers to do just that.

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Politics & Government
6:10 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Emergency manager law opponents move to put referendum question on the ballot

Supporters of a referendum to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law want to make sure that question is on the November ballot.

They filed an emergency motion with the Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday to speed that process along.

After a complicated legal process, the Court of Appeals ruled the question should go on the ballot last week, but without specifying it could take “immediate effect.” So the order could sit for as long as 42 days.

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