emergency manager

Politics
1:32 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Clarification: Judge indicates no closed meetings for EMs and financial reviews

Update 1:32 p.m.

Another update from MPRN's Rick Pluta. In this morning's status conference, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette told the attorney for State Treasurer Andy Dillon that he would rather the state not hold any financial review meetings until he rules whether these meetings have to adhere to the state's Open Meetings Act.

The judge said he's inclined to rule that closed door state financial review meetings violate the Open Meetings Act, but he's waiting to hear the state's argument. State attorneys have not filed their paperwork yet.

The state agreed to the judge's wishes saying they weren't planning to hold any financial review meetings prior to next week's hearing anyway.

11:49 a.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta followed up on this story for more clarification.

He spoke with Judge William Collette's assistant this morning, and with Andrew Patterson, the lawyer representing the plaintiff.

There was no official ruling from Judge Collette, as WXYZ in Detroit had reported.

Judge Collette only held an informal meeting with the two sides arguing the case this morning (Andrew Patterson and a lawyer representing State Treasurer Andy Dillon).

The plaintiff is Robert Davis, the board secretary of the Highland Park School District.

Davis said the state's financial review team violated Michigan's Open Meetings Act by holding private meetings, failing to post public notices for the meetings, and for failing to keep minutes of the meetings.

Davis wants the judge to void the recommendations of the state's financial review team that led to the appointment of an emergency manager for Highland Park schools.

The state maintains that closed door meetings are allowable for the financial review teams and for emergency managers.

Judge Colette informed the parties this morning of his inclination in the case.

He said, in his initial judgement, it appears the Michigan Open Meetings Act applies to emergency manager meetings and meetings held by the state's financial review teams.

Judge Colette directed those arguing the case to prepare their arguments for a hearing he is expected to hold next Wednesday morning. It's also possible that the parties will reach an agreement prior to a hearing.

10:10 a.m. 

The Chief Judge of Ingham Circuit Court has ruled indicated that Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon cannot hold closed meetings with regard to emergency mangers and financial review teams, according to WXYZ in Detroit:

Treasurer Dillon had previously announced that the Emergency Manager process was not subject to the state's "Open Meetings Act."

The ruling means that the state financial team can no longer meet in private. The public must be allowed to be a part of these meetings.

We'll have more on this story as it develops.

*Correction - an earlier version of this story stated that Chief Judge Collette issued a ruling. He only held an informal meeting with the parties this morning. We put strike-throughs on the incorrect text above. A ruling, or an agreement is expected sometime next week.

Flint
1:01 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Flint emergency manager sits down with city residents tonight

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Flint residents will have a chance tonight to hear directly from the man who’s been running their city for the past two months. 

 An emergency manager has been calling the shots at Flint city hall since the beginning of December.

During that time, Michael Brown has limited the power of the city’s elected leaders, fired some city employees and come up with a plan to lift Flint out of its financial crisis.

That 19 page plan talks about restructuring union contracts and combining some city departments.

Read more
Politics
6:23 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Another Michigan school district moves a step closer to an emergency manager

Governor Snyder has appointed a team to review the Muskegon Heights School District's financial records. That puts the west Michigan school district a step closer to getting an emergency manager.

The Muskegon Heights school district asked for a state review of its finances back in December.

The preliminary review found the school district was in ‘probable financial stress’, due to the district’s $8.5 million deficit.

That set the stage for the governor to appoint a state review team to scour the school district’s books. 

If an emergency manager is eventually appointed in Muskegon Heights schools, it will join school districts in Detroit and Highland Park. Emergency managers are also running things in four Michigan cities.

Politics
5:55 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Deadline passes, and still no plan to keep an emergency manager out of Detroit

Detroit’s elected officials had hoped to resolve some big questions about the city’s financial future Tuesday.

But that didn’t happen.

Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing say the only way for the city to avoid an emergency manager is to get big union concessions.

Bing had hoped to get those concessions by the end of January. But the self-imposed deadline came and went without a deal.

In the meantime, the Detroit City Council met to discuss drastic actions the city might have to take if no agreement materializes soon.

Read more
Politics
2:33 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Inkster financial review team gets more time to look at city's books

The team appointed by Governor Snyder to examine the city of Inkster’s financial records is getting a little more time to finish its work.   

A preliminary state review of Inkster’s books found the city was in ‘probably financial stress’.     The review found city officials proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner.    The result:  a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

Read more
Flint
1:54 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Flint Emergency Manager Brown to hold public meeting with residents

The Flint Journal reports Michael Brown will host a meeting in each of Flint's nine wards.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint Journal reports that Michael Brown, the recently appointed emergency manager in Flint, will hold his first public meeting since taking up the post last December.

The event is part of a series of meetings Brown will host aimed at creating a dialogue with residents.

The Flint Journal writes:

"It's the first public meeting since he took office," said city Council President Scott Kincaid, who represents [Flint's] 9th Ward. "(The 9th Ward residents) care about the community, they care about the neighborhood. They want to know about public safety. They want to know their taxes aren't being raised."

Brown is expected to discuss his plan for turning the city's finances around, as well as the results of the city's recent audit and other financial challenges facing Flint.

"He's going to talk about how we got where we are," Kincaid said. "It didn't just happen overnight."

A press release from the city of Flint says the meeting are intended to " provide an opportunity for residents to meet the emergency manager and members of his team" as well as " give residents an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback

The release also quotes Brown:

“Community engagement is vital in this process. It’s important for residents to have a clear picture of the city’s resources, responsibilities, and those things that are necessary, moving forward, as we get the city’s financial house in order,” said Brown.

A list of all of the meeting times and locations can be found here.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
8:05 am
Tue January 31, 2012

As Michigan school districts face financial problems, will there be a rise in Emergency Managers?

woodleywonderworks Flickr

On Friday, Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager to oversee the Highland Park School District. Emergency Managers are also in charge of Detroit Public Schools and the cities of Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor.

Highland Park and Detroit are in Southeast Michigan, but districts across the state are facing dire financial straits mainly because of declining student enrollment and cuts in state aid. Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley speaks with Michelle Herbon, a Senior Consultant at Public Sector Consultants, about the possibility of more emergency managers being appointed to financially struggling school districts across the states.

Lansing
11:12 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Lansing mayor touts changes, warns of budget 'pain' in 'State of the City' address

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero talks to reporters after he delivered his 7th State of the City address last evening
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero painted a generally optimistic picture in his ‘State of the City’ speech last night. But the mayor also raised the specter of an emergency manager as well.   

“Unlike Flint…Pontiac…Benton Harbor and others who ignored the warning signs…we will not falter…we will act," Bernero told a capacity crowd inside the Accident Fund insurance company building last evening.

The mayor veered away from the positive tone that dominated his ‘State of the City’ address when he referenced Michigan cities that have fallen under the power of emergency managers.

No one’s talking about an emergency manager for the capitol city. But after the speech, Bernero said planning for next year’s city budget will be 'ugly' and 'painful', when it comes to closing a projected $7,000,000 budget deficit.

"The point is tough decisions must be made," Bernero says, "If we don’t, the state will be there…to swoop in and do it for us.”

Bernero’s ‘State of the City’ address mainly touched upon common themes the mayor has spoken about in the past, including the need for regional cooperation with other local governments and aggressive economic development.

Politics
6:28 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Poll: Michigan voters split on emergency managers

A poll says voters are about evenly divided over whether Michigan should keep or repeal its new law extending the use of state-appointed emergency managers for communities and school districts facing financial problems.

The poll released Sunday shows 45 percent of the Michigan voters questioned say they would vote to repeal the new law, while 42 percent would vote to keep it.

The state is considering whether to name an emergency financial manager for Detroit. Fifty percent of those questioned say Michigan should negotiate with Detroit officials, while 31 percent say it should appoint a manager.

Lansing-based EPIC-MRA polled 600 likely voters by phone Jan. 21-25 for the Detroit Free Press  and WXYZ-TV. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Politics
4:34 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Decision on emergency manager for Highland Park schools expected soon

Governor Rick Snyder says he will decide no later than tomorrow whether to place an emergency manager in charge of the Highland Park public schools.

Snyder says he understands that parents are concerned about what could happen to the school district if it is taken over. But he says it’s important the school district is able to stay open to students for the rest of the year.

"Well the main answer on all of this is let’s make sure that kids can finish the school year because Highland Park got themselves in a situation where they couldn’t meet their payroll," Snyder said.

 Snyder’s office has received phone calls from about 100 concerned parents in Highland Park since a financial review panel determined there is a financial emergency in the district.

Detroit Public Schools is the only school district in the state currently run by an emergency manager.

The governor says he wants families to be assured that Highland Park students will be able to finish the school year.

Education
6:03 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Uncertainty in Highland Park schools as parents look for answers

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Highland Park school officials are battling to keep their school district from a state takeover.

But many parents there say they just want to know whether the district will last through the next month.

An audit shows the Highland Park school district is running an $11.2 million deficit—mostly because it’s lost more than two-thirds of its students.

In 2008, the district had 3419 students. Today, they have fewer than 1000.

Read more
Politics
9:12 pm
Sun January 22, 2012

Facing emergency manager threat, Detroit officials struggle for a plan

Detroit’s elected leaders are still struggling to come up with a unified plan to avoid a state takeover—even as a state review team continues work in the city.

The Detroit City Council has been critical of Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to save more than $100 million this fiscal year to prevent the city from running out of cash.

Members suggest it contains too many optimistic revenue projections and unrealistic assumptions.

The Council has its own list of suggestions. But in the end, they can do little more than offer them to the Mayor.

Read more
Politics
12:20 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Highland Park School officials want to stop emergency manager takeover

Highland Park school district financial director Randy Lane (left) listens as district counsel George Butler makes his arguments to a hearing officer in Lansing
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Highland Park school district officials are trying to convince the state not to appoint an emergency manager to run the district. A hearing today in Lansing may be their last chance.   

A state review panel says the Highland Park School District is in a ‘Financial Crisis’.   The district is $11 million in debt.   It’s student population has plunged from more than 3000 students in 2006 to less than a thousand today.    

A review panel member says the school board’s efforts at reducing their budget deficit have been “going in the wrong direction”.    

Read more
Politics
11:00 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Trying to sort out Emergency Manager limbo

Teryy Hall Flickr

The group “Michigan Forward” is collecting signatures to repeal the state’s Emergency Manager law.

At last check they we’re up to 180,000.

They only really need about 162,000, but they’re hoping to collect somewhere around 250,000 signatures (I think to prove a point).

And they have time.

They don’t need to turn the signatures in until the end of March to be able to put the repeal question to voters.

Questions, and more questions (I could talk about this all day)

Ever since I realized there was a real possibility voters could have a chance to repeal the Emergency Manager law I’ve been trying to figure out: what in the world would happen in cities and school districts with an Emergency Manager already in place?

Read more
Flint
1:49 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Flint emergency manager welcomes promised state help with violent crime problem

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager is welcoming the governor’s pledge to help with the city’s violent crime problem.  

Governor Snyder promised in Wednesday’s State of the State address to work with Flint, Detroit, Saginaw and Pontiac to address their nationally ranked crime problems. The governor will lay out his plan in March.  

“I’ve asked my police chief and others in our community who are criminal justice professionals to be thinking about how we can best work with the state," says Mike Brown, Flint’s emergency manager.   

Flint’s crime rate has soared as budget deficits have forced city leaders to lay off police officers in recent years.   

Flint police have investigated five murders in the past week. The city set a record for murders in 2010. After peaking at 66 murders in 2010, Flint recorded 55 homicides in 2011, with a sharp decline in the number of murders in the second half of the year.

Politics
8:06 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Metro Detroit's "Big 4" talk Wayne County scandals, emergency managers

The Detroit Economic Club hosts a public forum with Metro Detroit’s so-called “Big Four” at the Detroit Auto Show each year.

And Tuesday’s session with the Detroit Mayor and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County executives proved a bit livelier than usual.

Read more
Flint
7:34 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Flint's emergency manager has a plan to fix the city's 'financial crisis-a "difficult challenge"

Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The city of Flint now has a plan to fix its ‘financial crisis’. But the plan has several major hurdles to overcome.   

Emergency Manager Mike Brown’s 10-page plan outlines Flint’s deteriorating financial condition: An $11 million  budget deficit this year, long term declines in population, and an eroding tax base. 

The plan also charts a course out of the ‘financial crisis’ the governor declared last year. It calls for restructuring collective bargaining agreements with city unions and merging or eliminating some city departments.   

The plan also calls for improving public safety in the city, which has seen four homicides this year and more than 120 murders during the last two years.   

Emergency Manager Mike Brown calls the plan ”a work in progress”.  He says implementing it will be a “most difficult challenge.”  

Mayor Dayne Walling called on residents to “do their part to address Flint's long-standing challenges."  

Flint is one of four Michigan cities being run by emergency managers.  The city of Detroit may soon be added to that list.  

Politics
5:01 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Campaign to repeal emergency manager law "on track" say organizers

Protesters gather outside the gated community where Governor Snyder lives. Laura Weber / Michigan Public Radio Network

The group “Michigan Forward,” says a campaign to repeal the state’s emergency manager law is on track to get on the November ballot.

That’s even though the group decided to wait another six to seven weeks before submitting its petition signatures.

Initially, Michigan Forward had planned to turn in signatures on the same day as the Governor's 2012 State of the State address.

CEO Brandon Jessup says he hopes to have 250,000 signatures in favor of a repeal measure, far more than required by law.   He says people have collected about 180,000 signatures so far.

"We’re on the buses, we’re at at the bus stops, that’s just one component of the campaign that’s picking up now," says Jessup.  "We have a very strong church component, we’ve visited, I believe, 75 churches over the last two Sundays, just here in Detroit by itself."

Jessup says the emergency manager law takes away people’s constitutional right to elect their leaders.

Governor Rick Snyder says the law encourages the state to help cities and schools without resorting to the appointment of an emergency manager.   But he says sometimes an emergency manager is necessary for cities facing insolvency.

Emergency Manager Protest
6:51 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Protesters take EM fight to Snyder’s door

Protesters gather outside the gated community where Governor Snyder lives.
Laura Weber Michigan Public Radio Network

About a thousand protesters marched on Governor Rick Snyder’s residential neighborhood in Ann Arbor yesterday evening. They marched to ask Governor Snyder to repeal the state’s controversial emergency manager law.

The rally started at on the eastern edge of Ann Arbor, and about a mile-and-a-half from Governor Snyder’s house. Protesters marched, chanted and sang, hoisted signs and lit candles. They wound in a long line through the tree-lined neighborhood of gently rolling hills spotted with the occasional large house. They were greeted outside of Snyder’s gated community by the governor’s chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore.

Reverend Charles Williams II of Detroit’s King Solomon Baptist Church told Muchmore to tell the governor that the law negates the will of voters in struggling communities.

“And we need democracy here, in Detroit, Benton Harbor, Inkster, Ecorse and Flint.”

“Will do.”

“Thank you.”

“We’ll do that. Thank you very much.”

Muchmore says the governor wants to work with people living in financially strained communities, but that the cities must also be protected from insolvency.

Politics
3:58 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Sharpton, Conyers to protest Michigan emergency manager law

Protestors march to Gov. Rick Snyder's neighborhood.
Laura Weber Michigan Radio

The Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Representative John Conyers will be among those who plan to march to Governor Rick Snyder's gated community this afternoon.

They're protesting Michigan's emergency manager law. They say the law is racially biased.

From Associated Press:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Rep. John Conyers and others say they plan a demonstration outside Gov. Rick Snyder's gated community against what they say is a racially biased law making easier for Michigan to take over financially struggling communities and school districts.

A rally is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. on Martin Luther King Monday at Parker Mill County Park, followed by a march to the community's gatehouse in Washtenaw County's Superior Township near Ann Arbor.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel says the Republican governor supports citizens' right to protest, calling it "part of democracy in action."

Snyder denies the law is racially motivated.

Emergency managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit's schools. Detroit's finances are under a review that could bring it under state control.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Laura Weber will be covering the event.

We'll post her updates later today.

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