emergency manager

this one

Governor Snyder announced last week that he’ll appoint an emergency manager for the city of Detroit.

That means an unelected person will have sweeping powers to try and stop Detroit’s financial hemorrhaging.

Of course, emergency managers are controversial. And though they don’t have a choice in the matter, Detroiters are very much divided about whether this is a good thing.

“Both are going to hurt, which will hurt the less?”

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Governor Snyder to make an announcement on Detroit's financial emergency

"Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce today that he agrees with a review team’s determination that Detroit is in a financial crisis with no plan to solve it. That would set the stage for the governor to name an emergency manager to run the city later in March. There’s no official word on what the governor plans to do, but he has said the condition of Detroit’s finances is unacceptable," Rick Pluta reports.

Health care exchange and Blue Cross Blue Shield bills move forward

Michigan is moving forward on the Affordable Care Act. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"In a 78-31 vote, 29 Republicans joined with 49 Democrats [Thursday] to accept $30.6 million in federal money to set up a Web-based health care exchange where Michigan residents can easily go and investigate, and ultimately buy, the health insurance mandated under the act. The House also overwhelmingly passed a pair of bills that transforms Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from a tax-exempt nonprofit into a nonprofit mutual insurer."

Lawmakers consider ballot proposal to raise sales tax to fund Michigan roads

Lawmakers have come up with a new idea to fix Michigan's roads. As the Detroit News reports,

"Republican lawmakers could take the first step next week toward financing Gov. Rick Snyder's $1.2 billion road improvements by trying to place a 1-cent sales tax increase on the May ballot."

Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Last week, Governor Snyder  received the results of a state-appointed financial review of Detroit.

According to the review, Detroit is in a 'financial emergency' and that the city's current leaders "lack a plan."

This week, Michigan is waiting to see whether or not Gov. Snyder will appoint an emergency manager for the city. The Detroit City Council still seems unsure about how to respond to the review team's assessment. 

To discuss the options in front of Gov. Snyder and in front of the city, Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes.

To hear the full interview, click on the listen link above.

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Michigan could loose $140 million if federal budget cuts happen Friday

"The White House says Michigan faces about $140 million in losses if an automatic federal budget cut takes effect Friday, and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says he's hopeful the deadline pressure will prompt Congress to raise money by closing some tax loopholes. The cuts include $67.7 million in gross pay to 10,000 civilian Defense Department employees in Michigan and $42.2 million to K-12 and disability education programs in the state," the Associated Press reports.

Bankruptcy planning for Detroit

"It appears that officials are laying the groundwork for a so-called 'managed bankruptcy' in Detroit—though they hope that won’t actually happen. A process for going through chapter nine municipal bankruptcy is laid out in the state’s new emergency manager law that kicks in next month. Governor Snyder acknowledges that bankruptcy might be the only way to reduce Detroit’s long-term debt—estimated at more than $14 billion," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Taxes impact low and moderate earners this year

"Changes to Michigan's tax structure are hitting low and moderate earners hard this year. Lawmakers approved changes in 20-11 that cut 1-point-6 billion dollars in business taxes, but raised taxes on individuals. Low-income families could be the hardest hit, with the elimination of the child tax deduction, and a reduction in the Earned Income Tax Credit," Vincent Duffy reports.

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says he's at least a week away from deciding if Detroit needs an emergency manager to confront its $327 million budget deficit and $14 billion long-term debt.

Snyder told reporters Thursday that the city's drastic population loss over six decades is the main reason for its financial woes.

Detroit had 1.8 million people in the 1950 U.S. Census and about 700,000 in 2010. Snyder says new growth holds the key to Detroit's recovery.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Every week we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Today they talk about the review team that Governor Snyder assigned to look into Detroit’s financial situation and it seems likely that the city will end up with an emergency manager. That would bring the number of Michigan cities or school districts under emergency managers up to ten.

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Governor Rick Snyder met with reporters in downtown Detroit on Thursday to discuss the report he received from a state financial review team earlier this week.

The report announced that Detroit is in a state of financial emergency and that the city's current leaders "lack a plan" to deal with it. Mayor Dave Bing's insisted that he did have a plan, but numerous obstacles made it difficult to put it in place.

Now, Detroit residents and those who have been following the crisis are merely waiting for Governor Snyder to appoint an emergency manager.

Karen Dumas, a native Detroiter, is the former Chief of Communications for Mayor Dave Bing and the City of Detroit. Dumas has worked at Detroit's City Hall over the past decade, and is closely following the process.

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Dumas about Detroit's state of financial emergency and the upcoming process the city will undergo.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Update: As of February 14th, these teachers have now obtained valid Michigan teaching certificates or permits.

Outside Detroit City Hall
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Nolan Finley is the Detroit News editorial writer.

His column in Sunday's Detroit News seems to point to action from Lansing for an emergency financial manager in Detroit in the near future.

Cindy talked with Finley about cities in Michigan with an emergency financial manager in place and how effective they have been.  

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Courtesy photo / Mosaica Education

The new Muskegon Heights charter school district is welcoming yet another principal at its high school. Carla Turner-Laws is the third principal so far this school year. Technically, her title is Interim Head of School/Instructional Specialist.

A couple dozen people sharing cookies and pink fruit punch welcomed Turner-Laws at a reception Wednesday night. Most were fellow co-workers, friends and family members.

The MHPS district’s state-appointed emergency manager turned the entire district over to a charter school company last June.

This “week in review”, Michigan Radio’s Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss proposed gun laws in Michigan, who might replace former Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway, and the new hiring rules for emergency financial managers in the state.

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Governor Snyder to listen for finance issues in Presidential inauguration

"Governor Rick Snyder says he’ll be listening for plans to fix the nation’s finances in President Obama’s second inaugural address today. He says bickering in Washington about the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling are delaying a more-robust economic recovery," Rick Pluta reports.

Changes in Michigan income taxes

"Michigan income tax returns for 20-12 will look a lot different than last year. That's because a slew of deductions and credits have disappeared. Many retirees will have to pay taxes on their pensions. The state's homestead property tax credit will go away for many people. And there won't be a credit for college and tuition fees anymore," Rina Miller reports.

A 26-year-old to replace Benton Harbor emergency manager

"The incoming emergency financial manager for the City of Benton Harbor doesn’t start until February First, but he’s already working hard to create new relationships and get a complete picture of the city’s finances.  Tony Saunders is 26. But he says people should consider his experience working in Detroit and Highland Park, not his age. Saunders replaces outgoing emergency manager Joe Harris," Lindsey Smith reports.

Benton Harbor’s incoming emergency financial manager says he’ll work quickly on a plan to put the city in the black.

Tony Saunders II says no kid aspires to grow up to be an emergency financial manager, but he’s excited about the opportunity. He’s 26-years old, expecting his first child in April. But he says people should consider his experience working in Detroit and Highland Park, not his age.

“I’m not worried about my age and I don’t think others will once they have a chance to meet me and see the pace that I’m willing to work at,” Saunders said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris says he’s proud of his accomplishments in his nearly three years running the city. Harris said it was the most exciting job he’s ever had, describing his departure as “bittersweet."

As he entered his press conference Wednesday afternoon, Harris flashed a big smile at the TV cameras and reporters, some city staff and a few elected leaders. He played “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” a fitting Sammy Davis Jr. version of the tune as he walked into the room.

“Don’t say a mumbling word about me when I’m gone,” Harris sang, tapping his foot along with the beat.

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In this “Week in Michigan politics” Michigan Radio’s Morning Edition host Christina Shockley and Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Governor Rick Snyder’s upcoming State of the State address and how a judge ruling over the Detroit Public School district could set a precedent for emergency managers in the state.

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Roads and bridges to be a focus of the State of the State address

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his State of the State address this evening. According to the Detroit News,

"Snyder, preparing to lay out a new road funding scheme in his third State of the State address tonight, admitted it will be tough to persuade lawmakers to approve raising $1.6 billion that a bipartisan legislative report says is needed to keep roads and bridges from crumbling faster than they can be repaired."

Snyder approval rating rises

A new poll shows that the controversial right to work legislation that Governor Rick Snyder signed last month did not hurt his approval rating. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

The poll by the Republican firm Mitchell Research and Communications -- released on the eve of Snyder's third State of the State address today -- is sharply at odds with a poll released Dec. 18 by a Democratic polling firm, Public Policy Polling of North Carolina. The Mitchell poll shows Snyder with a 50% approval rating, up 3 percentage points from a poll Mitchell took in December. It also shows 50% support for the controversial right-to-work legislation Snyder signed after it was passed by the Legislature in December.

In contrast, the PPP poll found 38% approval of Snyder, down 9 percentage points from an earlier PPP poll just before the Nov. 6 election. The PPP poll found 41% of voters support the right-to-work legislation, and 51% oppose it.

Judge ruling could set precedent for emergency managers

A court ruling today could determine what power the Detroit Public School board has over operations. The district is under the control of an emergency manager. The Detroit Free Press reports,

"The court hearing could indicate the effect -- if any -- the school board will have on district operations between now and March 27, when a new emergency manager law will strip the board of its limited authority over academic operations. The board will remain in existence under the new law and could seek to remove the emergency manager after 18 months.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

As expected, the state has replaced Benton Harbor’s emergency manager. Joe Harris has served as Benton Harbor’s emergency manager since former Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed him in March 2010. His contract expires January 31st.

Harris made progress in cutting the city’s deficit, but has been blamed for keeping the community in the dark about his decisions recently. Some of the city’s elected officials asked the state to replace Harris last month. Although state officials are not acknowledging that’s the reason, a letter from Deputy Treasurer Roger Fraser explains the state would work to fulfill the request.

Grading Michigan's first fully privatized public school district

Jan 8, 2013
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last summer, Muskegon Heights became the first school district in the state to completely privatize its public school system.

In December 2011, after running a budget deficit for six years in a row, the school board requested the appointment of an emergency manager under the now-defunct Public Act 4.

Soon after his appointment in April 2012, emergency manager Don Weatherspoon laid off all of the district’s employees, created a new charter district, and appointed a new school board to run it.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This story is the fourth in a four-part series about how things are going so far in Michigan's first fully privatized public school district. Find part one here, part two here, and part three here.

Students in Muskegon Heights are going through a lot of changes this year, because the entire school district was converted to a charter school system. After tackling some tough issues in the first half of the school year, the operators of the charter school system want the public to give them a full school year to put the changes in place.

Legislature stays up late, passes flood of lame-duck bills

Dec 14, 2012
user Steve & Christine from USA / Wikipedia

More than a few Michigan legislators are probably feeling a little fuzzy today, asking themselves the all-important question, “What happened last night?”

That’s because lawmakers were up until 4:30 a.m. this morning as part of an all-night legislative binge that saw the passage of a bundle of bills.

And as MLive reports, not everyone is happy about the way it happened:

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Senate passes bills to add restrictions on abortions

The state Senate has passed legislation that would add restrictions for abortion providers. The Detroit News reports,

"The bills would require physicians to determine if a woman was coerced into having an abortion; clinics be licensed and fetuses be disposed of in the same way as 'other dead bodies.'"

Senate likely to vote on emergency manager law today

The state Senate is likely to vote today on a replacement of the emergency manager law that was repealed in the November election. According to the Detroit Free Press,

"The governor's administration says the bill is designed to address shortcomings in the much-maligned Public Act 4, which voters repealed last month, by giving local officials in financially troubled cities and school district more input in decisions -- addressing one of the major sticking points in PA 4."

Senate rejects repeal of handgun checking

The Michigan Senate has rejected a National Rifle Association-backed proposal to let people buy handguns without undergoing criminal background checks. The state House earlier approved a bill to repeal the requirement to undergo a check before buying a handgun. But the Senate voted 27-11 yesterday for a substitute bill that requires background checks by a federally licensed dealer or the police. The bill retains the state's hand gun permitting system.

If you were writing a novel about politics, you couldn’t make this up. Last month a Democratic President was re-elected, easily carrying Michigan by almost half a million votes.

The same day, the state’s voters reelected a liberal Democratic Senator by almost a million votes, and Democrats gained seats in the legislature. Exactly one month to the day later, this same state passed laws destroying the union shop, and making Michigan a right to work state.

Did I think I would ever see this in my lifetime? Absolutely not. But then, I never counted on a black president, General Motors going bankrupt, or Pontiac going out of business.

We live in momentous times. And in the Michigan legislature, last week was a time of lawmaking at breathtaking speed. If there has ever been a lame-duck session anything like this one, I certainly don’t know about it.

Kevin H. / flickr

Right-to-work may have been the star of the legislative circus that took place at the Capitol yesterday, but it was just one of many passed by the House and Senate.

Here is a recap of some other bills that you might have missed:

The Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act

The bill, passed by the state Senate yesterday, would allow health care providers, facilities, or insurers to deny care base on religious, moral, or ethical objections.

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Three right-to-work bills approved

Three right-to-work bills moved forward at the state capitol Thursday. The bills would prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers. The Michigan House voted to approve right-to-work legislation (HB 4054) for private-sector workers. The Senate passed two right-to-work bills. A measure dealing with private-sector workers (SB 116) passed on a 22-16 vote Thursday after hours of impassioned debate. Moments after it passed, the Senate passed a bill (HB 4003) with similar provisions for government employees. Democrats walked out before the bill was approved on a 22-4 vote. To clarify where these bills came from, the Lansing State Journal reports,

According to legislative records, HB 4054 had been dormant since it was introduced in January 2011, until it was suddenly reported out of committee on Wednesday. SB 116 also had no action since February 2011 before it was brought forward Thursday. House Bill 4003, which the Senate also took up, had had no action for one year prior to Thursday. today.

In other lame duck news. . .


"A Michigan House panel has moved a replacement to the state’s Emergency Manager law to the House floor. Voters rejected Public Act Four last month. The replacement would give local governments and school districts more options. They could request an emergency manager. They could reach a consent agreement with the state. They could agree to mediation to construct a recovery plan. Or they could file for municipal bankruptcy," Jake Neher reports


"The state Senate has passed a bill that bans insurance companies in Michigan from providing coverage for elective abortions. The Senate also approved another bill  to require clinics that do abortions to be licensed as outpatient surgical centers. Both bills now move to the House," Tracy Samilton reports


"A bill in the state Legislature would let health care providers, facilities, or insurers deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. The state Senate passed the bill Thursday. The measure would not apply to emergency situations, and providers would have to let patients know where they can go for treatment. It now goes to the state House," Jake Neher reports.

I cannot remember any lame duck session of any legislature where lawmakers were trying to do as much in as short a time as they are in Lansing now. They are trying to grapple with vast changes to personal, meaning business, property tax in this state.

They are working on major changes to Blue Cross-- a new regional transportation system for Metropolitan Detroit.

Some vast war over right-to-work legislation is increasingly likely. And now it seems that the lawmakers will be asked to pass some new version of an emergency manager law.

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New emergency manager bill to be rolled out today

A new version of a local  government emergency manager bill will be rolled out today at the state Capitol. It would replace the emergency manager law that was rejected last month by voters, Rick Pluta reports. Under this new version, local governments deemed to be  in a fiscal crisis would have four options:

1. They could reach a consent agreement with the state.

2. They could agree to mediation to come up with a plan to meet the crisis.

3. They could request a state-appointed emergency manager.

4. They could go into Chapter Nine municipal bankruptcy. Under this measure, the state would pick up more of the costs of emergency managers.

Judge rules emergency financial manager law still in effect

"An Ingham County judge has dismissed a legal challenge to Michigan’s controversial Emergency Financial Manager law.  Under the law the governor can appoint a manager to run cities and school districts in ‘financial stress’.  The old law had been repealed when a new law was passed in 2011 giving Emergency Managers broader powers. An Ingham County judge ruled yesterday that the old law went back into effect when the new, tougher law was suspended.  The ruling means the work of Emergency Financial Managers in a handful of Michigan cities and school districts can continue," Steve Carmody reports.

GOP will continue to push for right-to-work even in 2013

Republicans are hoping a right-to-work bill will be passed in the remaining weeks of the lame duck session. Demonstrators gathered in Lansing yesterday to voice opposition against the idea of Michigan becoming the 24th  right-to-work state. But as MLive reports, if a right-to-work bill is not taken up in this session, advocates will put more pressure on the issue in the New Year.

"Advocates pressuring the GOP-controlled Legislature to act now have let it be known they will gather petitions for a voter-initiated right-to-work initiative if nothing is done. If more than 258,000 valid signatures are collected, the House and Senate would have 40 days to enact the law."

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Emergency financial manager Joe Harris says he plans to hold public hearings in Benton Harbor on whether a special assessment should replace an expired public safety millage.

Harris says the city no longer has the money to operate its own police department and that hearings are expected over the next few weeks to get public input on the issue.

DPS emergency financial manager Roy Roberts says without Proposal S, the district would be severely crippled.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

An 'emergency request' has been filed today with the Michigan Supreme Court asking that Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager Roy Roberts be removed from office.

Highland Park School Board member and union activist Robert Davis argues that the law supporting Roberts' position is no longer valid.

It's an argument the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed on last week.

The election may have settled some things, but it has left the state of Michigan with an overwhelming problem that we have to solve soon, or suffer devastating consequences. Consequences that will affect us all, whether we live in Monroe or Marquette.

And that problem is the City of Detroit. Once again, the troubled and impoverished city is fast running out of cash.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The man leading the ‘vote Yes’ campaign is optimistic Flint voters will approve a big millage increase on Tuesday.

Pastor Timothy Stokes says “at the end of the day, everyone’s concerned about public safety.”

Stokes is the chairman of the ‘Yes to Police and Fire Protection Committee’.  The group has been campaigning for the passage of a six mill property tax increase that’s on Tuesday’s ballot.