emergency manager

this one

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Highland Park School Board member and union activist Robert Davis argues that the law supporting Roberts' position is no longer valid.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

Stateside: Continued Proposal 1 clarification

Oct 29, 2012
Check back later for more coverage on Michigan's six ballot proposals.

Earlier this morning, Michigan Radio Assistant News Director Sarah Hulett posted a piece investigating the multifaceted  Proposal 1.

Cyndy spoke with Hulett about the Proposal's details and how it could affect Michigan.

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

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Next week, voters will decide whether Michigan’s controversial emergency manager law is the right way for the state to make sure local governments avoid financial collapse.

The Citizens Research Council has been analyzing the six ballot proposals facing Michigan voters.

The non-partisan, independent Citizens Research Council has been busy analyzing the six ballot proposals facing Michigan voters.

Today at 2 p.m., they're holding an online "webinar" to discuss proposals 1, 2, and 4.

From the CRC:

CRC will offer summaries of its analyses of the referendum on Public Act 4 of 2011, the proposed constitutional amendments to enshrine the right to collective bargaining in the constitution, and the proposed constitutional amendment to establish the Michigan Quality Home Care Council and provide limited collective bargaining rights to home health care workers.

To take part in the webinar, you can follow this link.

Yesterday, Cyndy Canty spoke with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and other experts about Michigan's Emergency Manager Law.

Under PA 4, EMs can strip local leaders of their power and do away with union contracts.

The law is being targeted for repeal in a voter referendum.

Michigan voters will either keep it or kill it.

So, what do the people close to the EM law think of it?

Here are three takeaways from yesterday's discussion on Stateside with Cynthia Canty.

1) Today, Michigan's cities have giant infrastructures and tiny budgets

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Schuette cautious about Blue Cross-Blue Shield overhaul

"Hearings continue at the state Capitol on the future of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. Attorney General Bill Schuette showed up to urge a cautious approach to overhauling the state’s largest health insurer. The attorney general would give up a considerable amount of oversight under the plan proposed by Governor Rick Snyder. It would convert Blue Cross from a tax-exempt charity to a member-owned not-for-profit company. Bill Schuette says he wants Blue Cross and its assets audited to make sure this is a fair deal for Michiganders. Schuette says he’s not out to stop the changes. Governor Snyder and Blue Cross executives want the switch done by the end of the year. They say the changes are needed because the new federal health care law will change the mission of the Blues," Rick Pluta reports.

More on the EM saga

The debate over emergency managers and emergency financial managers has been heating up. The Michigan Supreme Court last month ruled a union-backed referendum to repeal the law could go on the ballot. "The leader of the Michigan Senate says he and fellow Republican colleagues are armed with a proposal to replace the state law that lets emergency managers take over local governments in case voters strike it down in November. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville told The Associated Press yesterday that a draft is under legal review. The behind-the-scenes effort aims to keep a form of the contentious law on the books. Richardville says it acknowledges some concerns by critics, who say it takes too much power from local leaders struggling with budget deficits," the AP reports.

Trying to uncover death of former Teamsters boss

The Department of Environment Equality work to uncover the death of a former Teamsters boss.  "Soil samples will be taken from beneath a Detroit-area driveway in the search for the body of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. The Department of Environmental Equality plans to start its work this morning in Roseville. Authorities are investigating a man's claim that he saw a body buried under the driveway 35 years ago," the AP reports.

Cities like Pontiac are dealing with the affects of Public Act 4--the Emergency Manager Law.
Dave Garvin / Flickr

Voters in November will decide the fate of Michigan’s state-imposed remedy for most struggling cities—Public Act 4, also known as the Emergency Manager Law. 

Voting “yes” on the referendum keeps PA4. Voting “no” will repeal it. If that happens, the state says it will revert back to the older PA 72, the Emergency FINANCIAL Manager law. The state is currently operating under that law because Public Act Four is suspended until after voters go the polls.

Currently, seven Michigan cities and school districts are run by state-appointed managers.

A lawsuit claims no state-appointed managers should be running Michigan cities or school districts until after voters determine the fate of the emergency manager law in November.

The action was filed today in Lansing by lawyers opposed to emergency managers.

The lawsuit says Governor Rick Snyder lost the authority to name managers to run struggling cities or school districts once the referendum on Public Act Four was put on the November ballot.

That suspended the law enacted last year, but the governor claims authority to name emergency financial managers – with less-sweeping powers – under the law that preceded it.

That makes no sense, said attorney John Philo.

“Something strikes me as very wrong about that. The presumption should be that until the people decide, we go back to our standard form of government, which is elected officials.”

Philo said there’s nothing in law that says we then revive old law to fill the gap.

“We don’t. We go back to our standard form of government, which is elected officials,” said Philo. “We’re almost treating elected officials as an aberrant form of government when we do this. That’s our standard – it’s elected officials. We go back to that until voters have their say in November.”

There are seven Michigan cities and school districts being run by state-appointed financial managers.

The lawsuit says those managers should be ordered to step down and turn their operations over to mayors, city councils, and school boards.

*This post was updated from an earlier version

After a review of Allen Park's finances by a state-appointed team, Governor Snyder declared that the city is in a financial emergency. That finding could lead to the appointment of an emergency financial manager to try to get the city on stable financial ground. 

While the Allen Park city council was in favor a state review of the city's finances, the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem opposed the request. Mayor William Matakas says he will advise the council to challenge the state's findings.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Michigan's emergency manager law has been put on hold.

Its fate will be decided by voters this November.

In the meantime, cities and school districts once ruled by emergency managers now have emergency financial managers overseeing their budgets.

Public Act 72 was revived when Public Act 4 went up on the shelf.

Flint's City Council voted last night to challenge this rollback in court. Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports:

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Ballot campaigns going to court

Three ballot campaigns are heading to court to try to get on the November ballot. They are the campaign to allow eight new non-tribal casinos in Michigan, to require public votes on any new international bridges, and to make the Legislature come up with super-majorities to raise any taxes. All three campaigns were blocked by the state elections panel because of wording used in the ballot language.

Canadian Auto Workers approve a strike

The recession has made it harder for local governments and school districts to balance their budgets. This summer the governor signed a new law creating a board that will help those hardest hit cope with short term cash flow problems.

Earlier this month the emergency financial managers of both Muskegon Heights Public Schools and Highland Park schools got emergency loans to pay off other state loans. MHPS borrowed $7.65 million while Highland Park schools borrowed $4.4 million.

“It’s not a handout; it’s a loan in order to help get people on their feet, in order to make the changes that are necessary going forward,” said Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Treasury. The school districts have 30 years to pay the state back.

This November, voters in Michigan will be asked to decided on around a half-dozen controversial issues. If the election were held today, the The Detroit News has a breakdown on where things would end up. Polls show the emergency manager law would be upheld, as would collective bargaining rights, and the effort to stop a new international bridge would fail.

Emergency managers once had significant power in the school districts and cities they were appointed in. They could break union contracts and strip elected leaders of their power. But that changed once the Supreme Court ruled the voter referendum challenging the law could go on the November ballot. The emergency manager law was suspended, so they no longer have their broad powers. MLive reports that it appears the Michigan legislature will wait until November to decided what to do next.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) - A team responsible for reviewing Allen Park's finances says Gov. Snyder should appoint an emergency manager to run the city southwest of Detroit.

The review team cited the city's deficit, $1 million in delinquent vendor payments, delayed pension payments and significant cash flow shortages. The city also had not filed an approved deficit-elimination plan for the 2011 fiscal year.

The review team also determined City Council is "manifestly dysfunctional."

Snyder appointed the review team last month and a report was due within 60 days.

Sometimes I think Detroit should adopt a new motto, something like: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

This time, the focus is on the Detroit Public Schools, which for years have been famous for incompetence, corruption, and the squandering of money. There were almost two hundred thousand kids in the schools at the turn of the century, a dozen years ago.

This fall, there may be fewer than fifty thousand left. In recent years, the schools have been under state control much of the time. Most recently, they’ve been run by an Emergency Financial Manager with sweeping powers over the system’s finances and academics. But this week, the Emergency Manager law was suspended until after a referendum in November that may repeal it.

In the meantime, the state believes that means that the old Emergency Financial Manager law is back in place.  According to a judge’s ruling, when Emergency Financial Managers were named to run school districts, they had power over finances - but not  academics. The stronger Emergency Manager law gave them both.

But with that gone, at least temporarily, the Detroit School Board moved to reassert itself. You might think they would move slowly and sensibly, reviewing Emergency Manager Roy Roberts’ academic plan and keeping it, as far as possible.

But instead, the board is acting as if they were terribly afraid someone might accuse them of common sense.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Emergency financial manager law update

The referendum to challenge Michigan’s emergency manager law is officially on the November ballot. Until then, the Snyder administration and Attorney General Bill Schuette say the state's old emergency financial manager law is in place. The old law does not give emergency financial managers as much authority. State officials have already appointed or re-appointed the emergency managers running seven cities and school districts in Michigan.

McCotter investigation

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

The story about the emergency managers have been modified to clarify that the opinion is that of the Attorney General.

Emergency managers

If Michigan’s emergency manager law is rejected by voters in November, then Attorney General Bill Schuette believes the old law should take over. That law still allows the governor to name an emergency financial manager to run a city or school district.

Public Act Four of 2011 is a souped-up version of Michigan’s old local government takeover law, and the attorney general says that old law is back in effect once the referendum is officially put on the ballot.

Bill Schuette says the referendum challenges the entire law and not just the concept of emergency managers.

Part of the new law specifically repealed the older law. That clears the way for the state to appoint or re-appoint managers running seven cities and school districts. They will be operating with diminished authority. Governor Snyder will also ask the Legislature to make some adjustments to the old law.

The referendum campaign disagrees with Schuette's ruling and says the governor and the attorney general are writing their own rules to get what they want. They say the governor can expect a legal fight each time he tries to re-appoint a local government manager.

Grand Rapids may ease marijuana charges

Grand Rapids residents may only get a civil infraction instead of a criminal charge for the possession of marijuana. Enough signatures were gathered to put the measure on the November ballot. "The proposed charter change is modeled after Ann Arbor’s city charter. In Ann Arbor, fines for marijuana possession start at just $25 and are not more than $100. The proposed changes would not allow marijuana sales or overrule state or federal laws. It would only change how local police officers deal with marijuana possession within city limits. The city clerk has until mid-September to certify the signatures before the decision goes before voters," Lindsay Smith reports.

The new bio-based economy

Soybeans have been called the new "bio-based economy." "The U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow Monday at Ford headquarters in Dearborn to push for more bio-based products. Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture committee. Vilsack and Stabenow say strategic partnerships between farmers and industry are full of economic and environmental promise. Vilsak says there’s “unlimited capacity and opportunity” in the bio-based economy," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Scott Kincaid, Flint City Council President
City of Flint / CityOfFlint.com

Flint's City Council President opposes the appointment of a new emergency manager for his city.

Joyce Parker

The Highland Park School District in Wayne County faces major financial problems. Emergency Manager Joyce Parker has selected a charter school provider, The Leona Group LLC, to operate the district’s schools starting this fall.

The decision to turn the district over to a charter operator is not without controversy. Parker says she considered several options, such as consolidating the school district with other districts and even bankruptcy.

Parker says the district is no longer eligible for state funding and adds she needed to make sure students were able to start classes in September.

“The charter district system is one that would allow financial resources in the form of state aid to come into the new system to support educating the students.”

The Leona Group, L.L.C.

Highland Park Public Schools contracted the Leona Group to run its charter system next year.

A press release issued by the school system's Emergency Manager, Joyce Parker, said that she met with the newly appointed board of education today who approved the Leona Group, LLC contract as charter operator unanimously.

From the release:


Superintendent Dedric Martin says the school system could need an emergency manager, unless staff agree to deeper cuts. 

Martin acknowledges staff already took a 10 percent salary cut. 

“That comes on the heels of additional concessions that they've made. And we've had reductions at all levels. Unfortunately it's not enough to carry a balanced budget and pay back money that has already been borrowed and spent," he said.

Martin says he knows the "emergency manager" card could be perceived as a ploy to get further concessions from unions.

Julie Weiss

Updated 12:30p.m. - Scott Geerlings with Zeeland, Michigan based Geerlings Development Company says the company bought the parcel for around $102,000.

Benton Harbor’s emergency manager has sold a piece of land that was supposed to be open for public recreation. lot Now a dialysis center is being built on the undeveloped parkland instead.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The school board for the new charter school system in Muskegon Heights will likely adopt a preliminary budget Monday.  

Muskegon Heights schools’ emergency manager hired a for-profit charter school company to run the public school system for the next five years.

An attorney for the school board says Mosaica Education drafted the budget the school board will consider approving Monday. It's likely the budget will be amended throughout the school year if needed.

Wayne, MI

The state Supreme Court could decide soon whether a challenge to Michigan's new emergency manager law will go before voters in November.

State treasury officials are assuming that it will, and they are preparing for the worst.

Roger Fraser is Deputy State Treasurer. He oversees the work of the state's eight emergency managers.

Fraser says if a challenge to the law goes on the ballot, the state's old emergency manager law will go into effect until November.

Current emergency managers will keep their jobs, but they will no longer have the authority to suspend union contracts, which Fraser says is only done if absolutely necessary.

Fraser says a suspension of the emergency manager law puts into question the budgets that the emergency managers completed with the help of the new law. 

He also thinks things will go from bad to worse if voters repeal the law.

"Well, I think then you're gonna see more of what's happening in California," says Fraser.  "Local units will have no choice but to go to bankruptcy."

Fraser says if Michigan cities go bankrupt, it could raise interest rates for all cities' debt, as ratings agencies increase the risk associated with cities' municipal bonds.

And a city bankruptcy would put the state on the hook for paying the city's bills.

Opponents of the emergency manager law say it is undemocratic.  

There are five Michigan cities that have emergency managers right now - Highland Park, Pontiac, Ecorse, Benton Harbor, and Flint.

Three school districts are also currently run by emergency managers: Detroit Public Schools, Highland Park Schools, and Muskegon Heights Schools.

The state has entered into a consent agreements with the cities of River Rouge, Inkster, and Detroit.

The state also has a watch list for schools, counties and cities that are on the brink of requiring a financial review.

State officials are working closely with Wayne County to determine the state of its finances.

Allen Park, Hamtramck, Muskegon Heights, Royal Oak Township, Dearborn Heights, and Harper Woods are in shaky financial shape, too.  Two additional school districts are also on the list: Benton Harbor, and East Detroit.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The leader of a small, urban school district in western Michigan is completely privatizing the public school system there. The case may become an example for other school districts facing major financial problems.

The problems are academic and financial

The situation at Muskegon Heights Public Schools was dire. It ran $18,000 in the red each day school was open last year.

City of Allen Park

The state is moving ahead with the process that could result in an emergency manager for Allen Park.

Allen Park is a Detroit suburb with about 28,000 people. City officials there actually requested a preliminary review under the state's emergency manager law.

In addition to suffering declining property tax revenue, the city was also on the hook for millions due to a botched movie studio deal made by the city's former mayor.

Unsurprisingly, the preliminary state review found “probable fiscal stress” there. So Lt. Gov. Brian Calley took the next step, appointing a review board to take a deeper dive into the city’s finances.

The preliminary review found chronic cash flow problems, and says city officials haven’t come up with an effective deficit-elimination plan.

If the review team confirms those findings as expected, then Allen Park will almost certainly face some type of state intervention. It would be the eighth Michigan city where the state has intervened.

Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse all have emergency managers. Three more cities, including Detroit, are under consent agreements.

DETROIT (AP) - Teachers in three school districts run by the state are laid off with many not knowing if they'll have jobs when classes begin.

Charter operators have yet to be selected to run new systems in Muskegon Heights and Highland Park.

State-appointed emergency managers have shopped Muskegon Heights in West Michigan and Highland Park near Detroit to charter operators as part of plans to pull the cash-strapped districts from near-fiscal ruin.