emergency manager

Politics & Government
12:47 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

State appoints young, fresh face to run Benton Harbor beginning next month

Joe Harris is on his way out of office as Benton Harbor's emergency manager.
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.

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Education
1:00 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Grading Michigan's first fully privatized public school district

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.

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Education
8:00 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Patience please, Muskegon Heights school leaders “building the airplane as we fly it”

Don Weatherspoon answers questions from Mary Valentine (top right) after a school board meeting following the repeal of Public Act 4.
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.

The on-air version of the story. An expanded online version is below.

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.

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Politics & Government
1:31 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

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

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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Politics & Government
7:58 am
Thu December 13, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

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.

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Commentary: What a week!

Lessenberry commentary 12/8/12

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.

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Politics & Government
2:03 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Not just right-to-work, lawmakers passed boatload of bills yesterday

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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Politics & Government
7:36 am
Fri December 7, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

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. . .

EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW GOES TO HOUSE

"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

ABORTION BILLS PASS IN SENATE

"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

BILL TO DENY HEALTH COVERAGE FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS PASSES IN SENATE

"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.

Politics & Government
8:40 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Commentary: Detroit's dysfunction leading to emergency financial manager

Lessenberry commentary 12/6/12

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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Politics & Government
7:42 am
Thu December 6, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

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."
 

Politics & Government
1:29 pm
Sat November 24, 2012

Benton Harbor meetings to focus on public safety assessments

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.

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Law
2:14 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Lawsuit continues: Emergency financial managers not legal

The lawsuit contents emergency financial managers, such as Roy Roberts, are not valid under the law.
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.

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Politics & Government
12:11 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Commentary: Decision time for Detroit

Essay

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.

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Politics & Government
8:59 am
Mon November 5, 2012

Flint voters set to decide property tax hike on Tuesday

Flint voters will decide Tuesday whether to support a big property tax increase intended to fund public safety
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.

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Law
5:16 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Stateside: Continued Proposal 1 clarification

Stateside's Cyndy Canty spoke with Sarah Hulett about Proposal 1.
Flickr

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"

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Election 2012
5:00 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Threat to democracy, or safeguard against bankruptcy? Voters decide Proposal 1

Lou Schimmel grew up in Pontiac. Now he's its emergency financial manager.
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.

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Politics & Government
12:53 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

CRC to offer webinar on 3 ballot proposals today at 2pm

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

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.

Politics & Government
1:53 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

3 things to know about Emergency Managers, our discussion on Stateside

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

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

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Politics & Government
7:29 am
Fri September 28, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

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.

Politics & Government
6:12 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Stateside: An in-depth look at Michigan's controversial Emergency Manager Law

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.

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