emergency manager

News Roundup
9:13 am
Fri December 9, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

In wake of petition drive, emergency manager law being revamped

Lawmakers say they're trying to avoid "chaos" by retooling the state's emergency manager law (Public Act 4). A petition drive could put the question of whether or not to keep the EM law in front of voters next November. If petition drive organizers are successful, the law could be suspended until that vote takes place.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

State Treasurer Andy Dillon told the Free Press he has encouraged legislative leaders to rewrite the law. The alternative, he said, is "a pretty confused situation" if the law is suspended. State Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, said passing a new law to counter a voter repeal effort would be "a slap in the face to the Legislature and to the people." If the law is suspended, Gov. Rick Snyder said he believes Michigan would revert to a weaker emergency manager law from 1990, but there's no guarantee the courts will see it his way.

Detroit Mayor Bing reports progress with unions

Detroit could be the next city in line for a takeover by a state-appointed emergency manager. Detroit leaders say they're working on the city's financial problems to avoid a takeover. In a radio interview this morning, Mayor Bing said progress is being made with the city's unions.

From the Detroit News:

In an interview with WWJ-AM (950), Bing said he's asking the city's unions for reduced wages and reform to pension, health care and work rules because "that's where we can get the most flexibility and savings." "Yes, we're making progress," Bing told WWJ's Vickie Thomas around 7:30 a.m. "I think the unions understand at this point that they've got to be part of the solution." The expected number of citywide layoffs — about 1,000 — hasn't changed since Bing gave a televised address to the city last month. He doesn't know which departments the city will hit first, but public safety will be last on the chopping block.

Protesters tell Congressman to extend unemployment benefits

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported on about three dozen picketers outside of Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers Lansing office:

They were there to draw attention to a deadline looming at the end of the month. 66,000 Michiganders may lose their unemployment benefits in January if an extension is not passed.   

Protester Ronnie Rosner says this is a bad time to let unemployment benefits to expire.  

“When the price of food…gas   and other necessities are going up …when people can not afford to buy goods and services…our whole economy suffers," says Rosner.   

Congressman Rogers’ office issued a written statement …expressing support for extending unemployment benefits.   But he says… as important…is the need for policies promoting economic growth.

Flint
5:15 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Flint's emergency manager tightens his grip on city finances

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

Flint’s emergency manager is taking further steps to bring the city’s finances under control.

Michael Brown’s been on the job as Flint’s emergency manager for a week. His first steps to lift Flint from its ‘financial emergency’ were to fire a half dozen top city employees and eliminate pay for the city’s elected officials. He says that alone should save the city a million dollars.

Read more
Politics
11:58 am
Thu December 8, 2011

State moving to retool emergency manager law in wake of challenge

A group known as "Michigan Forward" is collecting signatures in an effort to repeal Public Act 4, the state's emergency manager law.

If they collect enough signatures, the question of whether or not to keep the emergency manager law would be put on the November 2012 ballot:

As we reported yesterday,

As of now [Michigan Forward has] over 155,000 signatures. They need 161,304 signatures or more.

If they're able to collect those signatures and the petition is approved, the emergency manager law will be suspended until the 2012 election.

Now there's news that some in state leadership are thinking of retooling Public Act 4 in the face of this challenge.

House Speaker Jase Bolger is quoted in the Detroit Free Press that he is "concerned about the chaos that could ensue if the emergency manager law is suspended and so should every citizen of Michigan."

From the Free Press:

State officials are working on legislation to replace the state’s emergency manager law, which could be suspended early next year as a result of a ballot initiative, Treasurer Andy Dillon said today.

“I think we’ll have a pretty confused situation if the law gets held in suspension,” Dillon said in a telephone interview with the Detroit Free Press.

Dillon said his office has sent a list of improvements he’d like to see to the emergency manager law, Public Act 4, and officials in the Legislature confirmed today they are working with the governor’s office on a possible replacement.

“We will continue to discuss this issue with the governor and our partners in the Senate and take appropriate action if and when necessary,” Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger said in a statement.

Politics
4:32 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Michigan Forward challenges Public Act 4

Michigan Forward Chairman and CEO Brandon Jessup.

Michigan's emergency manager law was strengthened this year with Public Act 4 which gave emergency managers more sweeping powers.

PA 4 is now facing a number of court challenges.

The group Michigan Forward is gathering signature to put the law to a voter referendum on the November 2012 ballot. As of now they have over 155,000 signatures. They need 161,304 signatures or more.

If they're able to collect those signatures and the petition is approved, the emergency manager law will be suspended until the 2012 election.

Commentary
10:30 am
Wed December 7, 2011

Can Detroit avoid an emergency manager?

So, does Detroit really need an Emergency Manager? Can the city’s elected leaders somehow get the job done? This much we know: The governor has ordered a preliminary review of  the city’s finances. There have been major signs of trouble for years.

Now, the city is running a large budget deficit, and the mayor says that as it now stands, the city will run out of cash by April.

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detroit
5:44 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Detroit councilman urges colleagues to set austerity example

Detroit City Council President Pro Tem wants to slash the council's budget by a third, and get rid of perks like free cars.

A Detroit City Council member is pushing his colleagues to cut the council’s budget by 30 percent. The move comes the same day the state initiated a financial review process that could end in the appointment of an emergency manager for the city.

The Detroit City Council’s budget is more than $13 million, and includes perks like city-issued cars and cell phones for council members.

Gary Brown is the Council President Pro Tem. He says like other city employees, he only pays ten percent of his health care costs. Brown’s proposal calls for upping that employee contribution to 30 percent. He says that’s a change the entire city workforce needs to accept.

"And the message, if we don’t show leadership on this issue, is that we’re asking our employees to do something we’re not willing to do," Brown said.

Brown made a similar proposal last month that went nowhere. This time he’s introduced a resolution that will get an up-or-down vote next week.

Politics
4:53 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

7 things to know about Michigan's emergency manager law

Joe Harris, the emergency manager in Benton Harbor, says the only authority local officials have after an EM is appointed by the state, "is the authority that's provided to them or is given to them by the emergency manager."
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

When a city or a school district in Michigan runs out of money, the state can appoint an emergency manager to take over the responsibilities of locally elected officials. An emergency manger’s powers are broad—made even more so this year – and are designed to help EMs balance the books and return governance to locally elected officials as quickly as possible.

Today, there are four cities and one school district under the control of an emergency manager:

  • Benton Harbor
  • Ecorse
  • Flint
  • Pontiac
  • Detroit Public Schools

This is the second time around for Flint, which had an “emergency financial manager” from 2002-2006. The cities of Detroit and Inkster and Benton Harbor Public Schools could soon be added to this list.

Read more
Politics
3:20 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Congressman John Conyers seeks review of Michigan’s emergency manager law

Congressman John Conyers represents Michigan's 14th District.

Gov. Rick Snyder's administration has placed the city of Flint under an Emergency Manager. Meanwhile, financial reviews are underway for the cities of Inkster and Detroit.

On December 1, Democratic Congressman John Conyers sent a letter to the Justice Department, requesting an immediate review of Michigan’s emergency manager law, arguing that the law is unconstitutional.

Congressman Conyers spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.

Politics
5:02 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Flint city officials react 'positively' to emergency manager actions

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder last week appointed an emergency manager to the City of Flint.

Michael Brown got to work immediately, firing seven city staffers - four of whom were mayoral appointees. He also cut pay for the Mayor and City Council.

Here to talk about how city officials and citizens are reacting to the fast action is Bill Ballenger, Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

 

Flint
12:19 pm
Sat December 3, 2011

Flint's emergency manager fires seven city staffers, cuts pay for mayor, city council

Flint emergency manager Mike Brown (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint emergency manager Mike Brown started the job on Thursday. Friday, he dropped the hammer.  

The Flint Journal reports Brown fired seven total level city employees. He also cut the pay of the mayor and city council and canceled future city council meetings.   

Brown was appointed Flint's emergency manager earlier this week by Governor Snyder. A state review of Flint's finances determined that the city faced a 'financial emergency'.   

Flint is millions of dollars in debt.    

Late Friday, Flint mayor Dayne Walling issued a statement praising his four appointees removed by Brown: "It was an honor for them to choose to serve with me through very difficult times and, on behalf of the Flint community, I thank them for their service."

Politics
6:14 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Organizers step up petition effort to repeal emergency manager law

PA 4 opponents rally in Detroit Friday
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

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.

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Politics
5:06 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

State officials launching preliminary review of Detroit's finances

The state of Michigan will conduct a preliminary review of Detroit's finances.
user andrea_44 Flickr

State Treasurer Andy Dillon announced today the state's intention to launch a preliminary review of Detroit's finances. The review will commence next Tuesday, according to Dillon's office. This post is being updated with information as it comes in.

Update 5:06 p.m.

MPRN's Laura Weber reports that State Treasurer Andy Dillon said he does not see bankruptcy as an option for Detroit.

“I don’t see that in the near-term, no, because if you look at the revenues coming into the general fund, it’s a fixable issue for the city,” said Dillon. “Now the longer-term debt may present an issue that we’ll have to figure out how to tackle down the road.”

Dillon said this is the first step in a review of Detroit’s finances and does not guarantee the city will be taken over by the state, but he said because Detroit is running out of money quickly, a review is time sensitive.

3:15 pm

Mayor Dave Bing released this statement on the state's preliminary financial review a few moments ago:

"While unfortunate, this decision by Governor Snyder is not unexpected.  We believe we have the right plan to address the City's fiscal crisis and we will continue to work with City Council, our unions and other stakeholders to achieve the necessary cuts and concessions, including pension, healthcare and work rule reform. I'm confident with yesterday's demonstration of solidarity and shared commitment that we will continue to make progress.  We are committed to full cooperation with the Governor's fiscal team, who has had full access to the City's financial information and plan for months."

Update 2:49 p.m.

You can see a list of reasons why Michigan State Treasurer Andy Dillon feels a preliminary review of Detroit's finances is in order. Dillon released a "Detroit Informational Memorandum."

In it, Dillion cites that Detroit has run deficits exceeding $100 million dating back to 2005.

Annual debt service requirements in Detroit for 2010 exceeded $539 million, according to the memo.

2:15 p.m.

A day after Detroit Mayor Bing stood with other city leaders to try to head off an impending state review of the city's finances, the Governor's office announces the review:

From MPRN's Rick Pluta:

State Treasurer Andy Dillon says the state will send in teams to review the finances of Detroit and Inkster. It is the first step in the process to name emergency managers to run the cities.  But Dillon says his hope is that early intervention will help avoid that. Detroit city leaders including Mayor Dave Bing have spoken out against a state review.

In a letter to Mayor Bing and City Council President Charles Pugh, State Treasurer Andy Dillon cited the mayor and city council's ongoing inability to work cooperatively to financially manage the city; Detroit's recurring operating deficits; and the likelihood that the city will run out of cash in the spring.

Politics
3:09 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Inkster moves closer to emergency manager

City of Inkster

The state took a big step today towards making Inkster the next Michigan city to fall under the oversight of an emergency manager.   

Governor Snyder has appointed a seven-member review team to delve deep into Inkster’s city finances. A preliminary review has already found the city is in ‘probable financial stress’.      

The city has struggled to deal with a multi-million dollar deficit. This week, the city laid off 20 percent of its police officers and the police chief announced he’s leaving too.  

Read more
Politics
8:21 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Detroit leaders show united front, vow to work out city's fiscal problems on their own

user steveburt1947 Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and other city leaders stood side-by-side at city hall Thursday night, saying they’re all ready to work together.

The show of unity comes as the city scrambles to stave off a state-appointed emergency manager. Governor Snyder has threatened to send in a financial review team that would initiate that process if the city doesn’t get its act together.

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Politics
4:21 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

A conversation with Michael Brown, Flint's new emergency manager

Michael Brown was appointed as Flint's emergency manager.

Governor Rick Snyder yesterday named Michael Brown emergency manager for the city of Flint.

Brown is very familiar with Flint. He served as Flint’s temporary mayor when former mayor Don Williamson abruptly resigned. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Mr. Brown about his new appointment.

 

Politics
2:55 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Former acting mayor tapped to serve as Flint emergency manager

Michael Brown was appointed as Flint's emergency manager

According to a report from the Flint Journal, the governor has given the nod to Michael Brown, a former acting mayor of Flint, to act as that city's new emergency manager.

From the Journal:

The appointment was announced this afternoon and is effective Thursday, according to Gov. Rick Snyder's office.

As emergency manager, Brown will have wide-ranging authority to make cuts, impose fees or make other changes to overhaul city government after a state review panel found the city in a financial emergency.

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody adds more, reporting:

Michael Brown served as Flint’s acting mayor for six months in 2009, between the abrupt resignation of former mayor Don Williamson and the election of his successorDayne Walling.

In naming Brown as Flint’s emergency manager, Governor Snyder praised his “strong track record of serving the Flint-area community” and expressed confidence in Brown’s public, private, and non-profit experience.

In a written statement, Brown said he plans to work “collaboratively” with Flint’s elected officials and community leaders. Flint mayor Dayne Walling issued a statement saying that he looks “forward to working with Mr. Brown to address the community’s priorities and to secure the City’s financial stability."

Flint is facing a multi-million dollar debt. There are now emergency managers calling the shots in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Ecorse and the Detroit Public Schools.  

The state is also looking into a possible “fiscal” problem in Inkster.

Flint
8:16 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Naming of Flint Emergency Manager may be near

People opposed to placing Flint under the control of an emergency manager let their feelings known
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Governor Snyder this week may name an Emergency Manager for the city of Flint.   

 It’s been nearly three weeks since the governor agreed with a state review team’s finding that the city of Flint is in a fiscal crisis.    That finding opened the door to the governor appointing an emergency manager to oversee Flint city government.    

The city is struggling with millions of dollars of debt and a declining tax base.   The time for the city to file a court challenge to the finding expired over the weekend. 

Read more
Politics
4:18 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

A conversation with Pontiac Emergency Manager Lou Schimmel

Several Michigan cities are facing the possible appointment of an emergency manager.

Lou Schimmel has served as an emergency manager in Hamtramck and Ecorse and currently works as the EM in Pontiac.

He spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about his job as the city's emergency manager and his plan for the city.

Education
12:18 am
Tue November 22, 2011

“Everything on the table” to avoid emergency manager at Benton Harbor Schools

The State of Michigan is reviewing Benton Harbor Area Schools’ finances. That’s the first step in a process to determine if the school district needs a state-appointed emergency manager. It does not mean one would be appointed for certain.

But the rumors are already flying in the community about a takeover.

Read more
Commentary
11:41 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Emergency Manager On Hold?

There’s been a lot of speculation lately about the possibility of Detroit getting an emergency manager, something almost everybody concerned says they are against, but fear is likely to happen anyway.

If it does, the manager will have near-autocratic powers, including the right to suspend, rewrite, or tear up contracts. Some think this is a painful necessity, while others think it will be the death of democracy. There’s a possibility, however, which most people aren’t considering, which is that everything may be put on hold.

Read more

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