emergency manager

Politics
1:28 pm
Sun January 15, 2012

Sharpton will protest takeover law at Snyder's house

The Reverend Al Sharpton in Washington D.C.
Flickr/theqspeaks

The Reverend Al Sharpton and others say they plan a demonstration Monday outside the home of Governor Rick
Snyder to protest a law that makes it easier for Michigan to take over financially struggling communities and school districts.

Organizers say the protest will happen on Martin Luther King Day at Snyder's home in Washtenaw County's Superior Township, near Ann Arbor.

Sharpton and other ministers and civil rights activists will participate. Organizers say the law seems to target black communities. Snyder has said the law isn't racially motivated.

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

Education
5:51 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

State superintendent recommends formal review of Muskegon Heights Public Schools' finances

Muskegon Heights High School
Muskegon Heights School Board

Michigan’s Department of Education is recommending the governor conduct a formal review of Muskegon Heights Public Schools’ finances. That’s the next step in a process that could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager – which the school board has asked the state to do.

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Financial Crisis
5:05 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Snyder: Financial crisis exists in Highland Park School District

State Treasurer Andy Dillon, left, and state Superintendent Mike Flanagan
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Update 4:58 pm:

State Treasurer Andy Dillon says the district’s money problems are deep and troubling. He says the state will advance the school district $188,000 so it can meet payroll tomorrow. 

"I have no comfort that the district has a handle on their finances," said Dillon. "The numbers move hourly. We have three people down there today trying to get a handle on how much they actually need for payroll. And I’m very uneasy about it, because I can’t tell you in the middle of February that they’re going to make payroll."

But school board member Robert Davis says the state has contributed to the district’s financial woes by requiring that it close a career academy that enrolled 1,500 students.

"Their plan and intent is to fold the Highland park School system into the Detroit Public School system," Davis said. "That’s what this is all about."

Highland Park Schools' student population has declined 58% percent since 2006. 

State officials say their objective is to keep the district’s doors open through the end of the year. But they say that will be difficult. The district needs a cash infusion of at least $3 million to get through the school year. But the maximum the state is allowed to advance under hardship cases is $2 million.

The district's cumulative deficit is $11.3 million. That’s about $10,000 for every student enrolled.

12:56 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder has declared a financial emergency in the Highland Park school district, Rick Pluta reports. The district will have a chance to challenge the finding at a January 17th hearing before the governor names an emergency manager.

In a statement released today, the Governor says:

“It is critical that students in the Highland Park School District get the education they need and deserve. For that to continue, the Highland Park School District must have stable finances. Through the comprehensive reviews that have been conducted, it is clear the district faces monumental financial challenges.”

On January 4th a state review  panel recommended the governor appoint an emergency manager to fix the school district’s "financial emergency." The financial review team had been looking at the Highland Park School District’s books since November. Earlier this month, Steve Carmody reported:

The panel’s report to the governor finds the school district is $11 million in the red. That works out to about $10 thousand for every student enrolled.  The school district’s deficit has grown by $3 million in just the last year. The school district’s debt has grown, as its student population has fallen. Nearly 3,200 students attended Highland Park schools in 2006. This year, fewer than a thousand students are enrolled.

Emergency managers are already running the Detroit public schools,  as well as the cities of Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor. Financial review teams are also looking at Detroit and Inkster's books.

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Politics
4:55 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

New deal lets Pontiac keep federal money

Pontiac’s emergency manager says the federal government has agreed to a proposal that lets the city keep some grant money it was expected to lose.

Pontiac has a history mismanaging federal grant money.  So when federal officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development asked the city to hand administration of Community Development Block Grants over to Oakland County, its emergency manager, Lou Schimmel, agreed.

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Politics
3:10 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Independent audit of Benton Harbor’s finances reveals problems

Benton Harbor City Hall pictured in the summer of 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The State Treasurer’s office is reviewing an independent audit of Benton Harbor’s finances for the 2011 fiscal year. The audit shows the city still spent more money than it made during its first year under a state appointed emergency manager.

Still a lingering operating deficit

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Education
1:01 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Another Michigan school district in a 'financial emergency' - "It is what it is"

Update 2:00 p.m.

An emergency manager may soon take charge of the Highland Park School District. A state review panel today  recommended the governor appoint someone to fix the school district’s "financial emergency."  

The financial review team has been looking at the Highland Park School District’s books since November.   

The panel’s report to the governor finds the school district is $11 million in the red. That works out to about $10 thousand for every student enrolled.  The school district’s deficit has grown by $3 million in just the last year. The school district’s debt has grown, as its student population has fallen. Nearly 3,200 students attended Highland Park schools in 2006.   This year, fewer than a thousand students are enrolled.   

“It is what it is.," laments Edith Hightower, Highland Park’s School Superintendent,  "I don’t disagree with any of the statements that were documented [in the report]."    

Emergency managers are already running the Detroit public schools,  as well as the cities of Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor. Financial review teams are also looking at Detroit and Inkster.       

The state Education Department is also conducting a preliminary review of the financial status of the Muskegon Heights School District. 

1:04 p.m.

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) - A review team is recommending an emergency manager for Highland Park Schools after determining the district is in a financial emergency.

Michigan's Treasury Department says in a release Wednesday that a final report by the 10-member independent review team has been given to Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder has 10 days to review the report and make a decision if the district is in a financial emergency.

Highland Park is a small city partially surrounded by Detroit. The school district's budget deficit stands at $11.3 million. The Treasury Department says expenditures outpaced revenues by nearly $4 million in the last fiscal year. The district also has had an operating deficit in five of the past six years.

Enrollment has dropped from 3,179 students to 969 over the past five years.

Detroit
12:16 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Al Jazeera's coverage of the Detroit financial crisis

A screenshot of Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera

The financial crisis unfolding in Detroit is getting national and international attention.

It's nothing new. The decline of the country's biggest manufacturing city has been news for more than four decades.

But news of the city running potentially running out of money by April is renewing more stories of Detroit's decline.

Here's how Al Jazeera covered the Detroit financial crisis in a two-and-half-minute television story last month.

Their story starts with an automated message from Mayor Dave Bing's office telling the caller that "as a result of mandatory furlough days, this office is closed":

Emergency Manager Law
7:08 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Bid to end Mich. emergency manager law continues

A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law granting expanded powers to emergency managers appointed to run financially struggling cities and schools is continuing its petition drive.

Stand Up for Democracy says it plans to gather more voter signatures at southeastern Michigan churches the next two Sundays.

The group needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid signatures to temporarily suspend the law and make the November ballot. Group leaders wouldn't say this week exactly when they plan to turn in the signatures.

Supporters of the new law say it's needed to help fix financially troubled schools and cities. Emergency managers are operating in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and the Detroit public schools system.

The city of Detroit is under a state financial review that could result in an emergency manager.

Politics
7:00 am
Mon January 2, 2012

Benton Harbor prepares for emergency manager exit in 2012

Betty Guy talks to Benton Harbor city department heads, elected officials and residents at The Ideal Place in December. Guy is the Director of Strategic Planning at Lakeland HealthCare in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The City of Benton Harbor’s mayor is trying to start 2012 on the right foot after two years of turmoil under a state-appointed emergency manager. Elected leaders have almost no authority under the state’s emergency manager law. But the new city commission is getting ready to take back local control.

Emergency manager expects to leave in 2012

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Flint
7:53 am
Fri December 30, 2011

Audit shows one bright spot in Flint's bleak financial picture

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 A new audit finds the city of Flint is still struggling with millions of dollars of debt.    But the report shows one bright spot for the troubled city.  

It´s hardly a surprise, but a new audit of Flint´s finances confirms the city ended its last fiscal year about 7 million dollars in debt.  The city´s crushing debt was one of the reasons Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager to fix Flint´s `financial emergency´.  

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Politics
2:51 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

Governor names review team to examine Detroit's finances

Kate Sumbler Flickr

Update 4:17 pm:

Mayor Dave Bing released this statement in response to the review team's appointment: “We will continue to fully cooperate with the state review process and the newly appointed financial review team. At the same time, my staff and I have worked through the holiday break with union leadership on my plan that seeks savings of $102 million for this fiscal year and $258 million in fiscal year 2012-13. We will continue to negotiate until we reach agreement to resolve the city’s financial crisis.”

2:50 pm:

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Politics
8:30 am
Mon December 26, 2011

Emergency manager advice: “Don’t think that you have the answers”

Joe Harris in Benton Harbor City Hall in April 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In the last few weeks there’s been a flurry of activity under the state’s new emergency manager law.

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Politics
10:35 am
Fri December 23, 2011

Opposition to Michigan's emergency managers ramps up

Snyder talks about Detroit on Facebook.

Yesterday, the president of the Michigan Chapter of the Rainbow Coalition David Bullock said they were prepared to use "all measures afforded to us as citizens to protect democracy," according to the Detroit Free Press.

Bullock was with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, elected officials, and others denouncing Michigan's emergency manager law as unconstitutional and likening EMs to dictators.

From the Free Press:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined a coalition of pastors, civil rights leaders and elected officials Thursday in Detroit to pledge strong opposition -- including civil disobedience, if necessary -- against the state's new emergency manager law.

Jackson and others likened emergency managers to dictators who wipe out the democratic process with unilateral authority to gut union contracts, sell cherished assets and slash essential services.

"We are prepared to go from education, mobilization, litigation, legislation, demonstration and civil disobedience," Jackson said during a news conference at Bethany Baptist Church on the city's west side. "We want a positive commitment to restoring democracy and economic justice for all citizens."

Later in the day, Governor Rick Snyder released a Facebook video explaining his views on Detroit's financial situation. In the video, Snyder said the state's role is to be a "supporting resource," and "my goal is to ever avoid having to appoint an emergency manger - that's a failure point."

Snyder said there were two critical issues that need to be addressed. From the video:

"One, there's a short term cash issue. We can't have the city run out of money, and hopefully the city can come up with a program to get through the crisis the mayor has talked about, about potentially running out of cash in April.

The second one issue is a very difficult one which is a long term structural solution. Because we can't continue this process. Detroit has been in a financial crisis in some fashion for decades...

The fundamental thing we need to do is  create an environment where Detoriters can have a good life, and that gets down to some basic services. And we need to make sure those basic services are being provided consistently for the long term because that's not happening today."

Commentary
8:09 am
Thu December 22, 2011

How a former Detroit mayor sees the city

  • Audio processing, please check back momentarily.

At lunchtime yesterday, I got a news alert that the state’s preliminary review team found Detroit’s finances a mess.

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Education
2:14 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

Benton Harbor schools avoid further financial reviews, for now

Benton Harbor Area Schools will be able to follow thier own map to success by retaining local control of the district. The district will have to maintain progress in order to avoid another state review.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan schools superintendent Mike Flanagan says a review of the Benton Harbor schools finds evidence of "probable financial stress." But Flanagan is not recommending a deeper, 60-day review. He says that’s because the district has taken “several steps in recent days to correct the deficit including:”

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Flint
9:12 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Flint emergency manager gives city's elected leaders a little more to do

Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager is giving back some responsibilities to the city’s mayor and city council.  

One of the first things Michael Brown did after the governor appointed him was to eliminate the pay and benefits for Mayor Dayne Walling and the entire Flint city council. He also canceled future city council meetings. 

This week, Brown reinstated 60 percent of the mayor’s salary, as well as his full benefits. Mayor Walling will also get some of his powers restored, including his role in economic development, master planning, intergovernmental affairs, and community engagement. Walling is also a member of an advisory panel for the emergency manager. 

In a written statement, Walling says "Manager Brown has followed through on his commitment to make this a collaborative process that involves elected leadership and engages residents." 

The emergency manager also is letting each member of the city council collect seven thousand dollars a year in pay, or about half of their former annual pay, but with no benefits.  

The Flint city council will have a little less to do than the mayor. The emergency manager will only permit the council members to attend public meetings in their respective wards, as directed by him. The Flint city council will meet once a month, but only to address items on the emergency manager’s agenda.  

The emergency manger was appointed to fix Flint’s ‘financial emergency’ that has the city mired in debt.

Education
6:35 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Benton Harbor teachers agree to lower wages in face of potential state takeover

Benton Harbors' school board voted to close a junior high school. 7th and 8th graders will head to Benton Harbor High School. Seawood said he's taken precautions to seperate the age groups within the school.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Teachers in Benton Harbor have agreed to an across-the-board cut of pay and benefits. Teachers ratified the contract with a vote of 85 yes and 65 no. Tuesday afternoon the school board voted 5 to 2 to approve a new contract that will reduce teachers’ pay by 10-percent beginning in February (the contract runs through August 2012). Teachers will pay 20-percent of their health care benefits.  In the past three weeks alone the school board has closed two schools and laid off 20 employees. They’ve also put buildings up for sale.

“That will help us with our cash flow and will allow us to continue our operation without a stoppage,” Superintendent Leonard Seawood said. “That’s a lot for this community to be proud of,” Seawood said, in terms of addressing the financial problems. Seawood has been with the district since August 2010. 

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Education
2:50 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

State begins review of Muskegon Heights schools' finances

Muskegon Heights High School
Muskegon Heights School Board

Tomorrow the state will begin a preliminary review of the Muskegon Heights School District’s finances. This is the first step in a process that would determine if the school district needs a state-appointed emergency manager.

Many school districts and municipalities make an effort to avoid state takeovers. But in Muskegon Heights, the school board is asking for one.

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Politics
5:45 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Benton Harbor schools take “major steps” to avoid possible takeover

In a conference room near Dr. Leonard Seawood's office is a roadmap illustrating how Benton Harbor Area School are planning to get back on track.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Area Schools will get results from the state’s preliminary review of the district’s finances this week. The school district blames cash flow problems on a lower-than-expected-student count this fall.

The 30-day preliminary review is the first step in a process to determine if a school district or municipality needs a state-appointed emergency manager. It does not mean one will be appointed for certain.

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Politics
7:28 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

Benton Harbor mayor-elect works to bring city leaders together

Betty Guy talks to Benton Harbor city department heads, elected officials and residents at The Ideal Place Friday. Guy is the Director of Strategic Planning at Lakeland HealthCare in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

City leaders in Benton Harbor are trying to come together after a turbulent couple of years under a state appointed emergency manager. The emergency manager was appointed to Benton Harbor in 2010 after ten years of deficit spending. 

Mayor-elect James Hightower hosted a workshop Friday to talk about the city’s plan for future.

“You can’t keep looking back, you have to look forward,” Hightower said. “The first step is to bring people together, get them on the mindset of thinking strategic planning, and hear some of the best practices that are happening around the state.”

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