Politics
6:14 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Organizers step up petition effort to repeal emergency manager law

Organizers behind a petition drive to repeal Michigan’s emergency manager law say they’re launching an all-out blitz for signatures.

Their campaign ramps ups just as the state starts the process that could lead to an emergency manager in Detroit.

Opponents of Public Act Four say it violates the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions by removing local elected officials from power. They also say it’s being used disproportionately to disenfranchise African American voters.

Brandon Jessup is the Chairman of Michigan Forward, which organized the repeal campaign.

“Here in the city of Detroit, we’re forced with the ballot, or the bullet of emergency management," Jessup says.  "So we’re gonna turn to the ballot.”

Jessup says groups will canvass the city intensively over the next week.

If they get the roughly 162,000 certified signatures they need to get the repeal on the ballot, the law would be suspended until a vote in November 2012. Organizers hope to get 250,ooo signatures before submitting them to the state.

Herb Sanders is a lawyer working for the campaign. He says organizers believe if the law is suspended, the state will have no power to appoint emergency managers in the interim.

“Consequently, it is our position--and we are prepared to defend that position in court-- that we will revert back to a democracy once, we’ve received the requisite number of signatures and they are certified,” Sanders says.

State officials say they disagree with that. They believe if the law is suspended, the state would revert to an earlier statute that outlined a process for appointing emergency managers.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers has sent U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a letter, asking him to review and possibly challenge the law.

Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and several smaller Michigan municipalities are already under the control of emergency managers.