emergency manager

this one

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

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.

Flint officials toast each other as they flip the switch to the Flint River.
WNEM-TV

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.

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.

This is what a $2,000 FOIA request looks like.
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 

Detroit Public Schools

Detroit City Council recently voted to strip Kevyn Orr of most of his powers as the city's emergency manager. Now, the Detroit Public School Board is hoping to oust their emergency manager as well.

Under Michigan's current emergency manager law, local officials can vote to strip EMs of their power with a two-thirds vote after 18 months.

The Detroit school board voted Monday evening with the belief that Jack Martin’s tenure as emergency manager would end this week.

David Lewinski Photography

Q: What do Detroit, Allen Park, Flint, and Hamtramck all have in common?

A: The cities are all under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. 

Last month, the city of Lincoln Park joined that list. But we didn't see the protests and outcry that we saw over the appointment of an emergency manager in Detroit. 

When the city of Lincoln Park was turned over to Brad Coulter, a consultant to corporate turnaround specialists O'Keefe & Associates, the mayor of Lincoln Park, Thomas Karnes, was positive.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Mount Clemens face a difficult choice on Tuesday: Approve a big property tax increase or risk a state takeover of their city.

The recession of 2008 cost Mount Clemens more than a quarter of its property tax revenues.   The city also saw a more than 40% drop in state revenue sharing between 2000 and 2012. 

Robert Bruner is Mount Clemens' interim city manager.   He says the city has only been able to balance its books in recent years by slashing employees and by dipping into the city’s reserves which are now nearly gone. 

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A state review team is hosting a public meeting today in Benton Harbor. The six-member team is trying to determine if Benton Harbor Area Schools is in financial stress.

The Benton Harbor school district has been running a deficit since 2006. It's cut costs, but at the same time, it also has low-performing schools that need to improve test scores to meet state and federal standards. Plus, it’s lost students every year.

It’s already closed buildings, privatized support services and gotten concessions in wages and benefits from teachers.

State of Michigan

Three years ago, only a half-dozen cities and school districts in Michigan were being run by state-appointed emergency managers.

Today, 17 are in some phase of receivership.

That proves not only cities and schools in Michigan are facing tough times, but that Governor Snyder is making vigorous use of Public Act 436, the state's emergency manager law.

Bridge magazine writer Chastity Pratt Dawsey examines the effectiveness of the law and how it measures up to similar laws in other states in a report for the magazine's latest issue. She joined us today.

We also had Lou Schimmel on the show. He's served as emergency financial manager or emergency manager for Ecorse, Hamtramck and Pontiac. Right now he's on the transition advisory board for Pontiac. Our two guests explores a number of questions:

First off, why does the appointment of an emergency manager result in such emotional responses from residents?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Mosaica Education, the charter company running Muskegon Heights schools, only has a few days left in its contract. But the district still has lots to do to get everything in place for the fall.

Last night the district hired its superintendent at a special board meeting. But it still has to finalize agreements with a staffing agency to hire all of its teachers and few other vendors by Monday.

This summer it has to finish building repairs, and rearrange all the grade levels because an elementary school building will close.

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