emergency manager

Politics
5:03 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

What's next for Public Act 4?

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics 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.

The petition that would place Public Act 4, that's the emergency manager law, on the November ballot came before the State Board of Canvassers.  Earlier this week it was confirmed the group Stand up for Democracy had more than enough signatures to put the PA 4 up for repeal on the ballot. But then this question of whether the correct font size was used for the ballot was brought up.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 along party lines on whether to allow a challenge to the state's emergency manager law on the November ballot.

“It’s not really a surprise on a matter like this that you would see a split decision,” Demas says.

Demas adds that supporters of the petition were very upset about the deadlock, and says “they could have avoided all this if they had just gotten their petition approved before they circulated it, and if there was really a font issue, they would have been told.”

This question will most likely head to the State Court of Appeals. Ken Sikkema believes it’s important the courts make a decision consistent with similar cases.

He says, “If they in fact decide to keep this off the ballot, yes they will be criticized that they made a political decision, but if they can rest their decision upon the fact that its consistent with prior decisions then I think they are in fairly decent shape, otherwise the confidence and trust that some people have in the court is going to soften.”

Flint
7:48 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Flint emergency manager imposes contract changes

Sean Marshall Flickr

Flint's state-appointed emergency financial manager has imposed concessions on two union contracts and pushed through a new city budget for the city.

The Flint Journal reports the changes were among a dozen orders issued Wednesday by Michael Brown.

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Politics
2:44 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Group appears to have enough signatures to put emergency manager repeal on ballot

Update 2:44 p.m.

A report from Michigan's Bureau of Elections confirms the group "Stand Up For Democracy" appears to have enough signatures from registered voters in Michigan to put a referendum on the state's emergency manager law on the November ballot.

The recommendation from the Michigan Bureau of Elections is to "certify petition as sufficient."

A challenge to the referendum drive still remains. The Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility has challenged the petition drive alleging five defects in the format of the petitions:

  1. The type size of the petition heading, REFERENDUM OF LEGISLATION PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION purportedly does not comply with the requirement of MCL 168.482(1) that it be “printed in capital letters in 14-point boldfaced type [.]”
  2. The summary that appears on the signature side of the petition form is, in their view, “incomplete and misleading.”
  3. The petition omits the prior law, 1990 PA 72, which will be revived if 2011 PA 4 is suspended.
  4. The petition omits the effective date of 2011 PA 4.
  5. The petition omits 2011 PA 9, which was tie-barred to 2011 PA4.

2:02 p.m.

Citizens in the Stand Up for Democracy Coalition say they were notified by the Board of State Canvassers that the group collected 203,238 valid voter signatures needed to place the repeal of Public Act 4 (aka the Emergency Manager Law) on the November 2012 general election ballot.

According to the report, the group exceeded the 161,305 valid signatures needed by more than 40,000.

The Coalition still faces a challenge from a Republican group that claims the petitions should be invalidated because the wrong font size was used.

From a Stand Up for Democracy Coalition press release:

 “This is an important step in the effort to stand up for democracy in Michigan,” said Herb Sanders, director of the coalition. “This report clearly shows that people across the state want the opportunity to vote to repeal the emergency manager dictator law. Now it is up to the State Board of Canvassers to honor the democratic process and let the people vote.”

   On Thursday, April 26, 2012 the members of the State Board of Canvassers will meet in Lansing to decide if the petition will be placed on the November general election ballot. They will also have the opportunity to review a memo from the Secretary of the Board of State Canvassers that dismisses the challenges of a republican group seeking to prevent voters from deciding the fate of PA 4.

Detroit
10:33 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Detroit mayor wants to layoff 2500 city employees

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Dave Hogg Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has laid out a budget proposal that would cut more than 2,500 jobs and shave $250 million from the city's annual expenses.

Bing's Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown told City Council members Monday the layoffs would be in addition to 1,000 job cuts Bing sought earlier. Brown says the city's general fund revenues will decrease from $820.5 million to $739 million.

Detroit has an accumulated budget deficit of $265 million and $13.2 billion in long-term, structural debt and is trying to fix its finances after agreeing to state oversight Bing's budget proposal also calls for privatizing the city's bus system and transferring its lighting department to an independent authority.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press say $75 million would go toward the city's accumulated deficit.

Education
4:31 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Ann Arbor schools face $17.8 million budget deficit

user jdurham morgueFile

Michigan school districts are struggling with growing budget deficits. Even relatively wealthy districts are facing unprecedented cuts.

The Ann Arbor Public School district faces a $17.8 million deficit. The district's budget for the 2011-12 school year is $183 million. 

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Robert Allen met with the district's Board of Education on Wednesday, where he laid out three possible plans to deal with the deficit in Ann Arbor – each one progressively more severe. 

All three proposals include:

  • teacher layoffs: Plan A: 32 teachers; Plan B: 48 teachers; Plan C: 64 teachers
  • closing Roberto Clemente, one of two alternative high schools in the district
  • cuts to transportation*

*Plan C calls for getting rid of high school bus routes entirely.

Ann Arbor School Board president Deb Mexicotte says the cuts are "reaching the bone," and "if you keep cutting, you’re going to reach the place where you can no longer maintain what you do well."

Mexicotte blames the state for what she says its chronic under-funding of education:

"This is not the story of our smallest districts or our districts that have struggled because of their tax revenue package. We’re talking about districts that people generally think are insulated from these kinds of things." She adds, "we’re all in this together."

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Education
10:34 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Muskegon Heights schools 3rd district with emergency manager

Governor Rick Snyder has appointed Donald Weatherspoon to run the Muskegon Heights school district. The appointment is effective Monday, April 23rd. A link to the governor's press release is here.

Dr. Weatherspoon has spent the past 27 years working in the education community, both as a professor at Michigan State University and as a government executive, and currently serves on the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

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Education
11:36 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Muskegon Heights schools likely to get emergency manager

Muskegon Heights High School
Muskegon Heights School Board

Today is the deadline for the Muskegon Heights school board to ask the governor for a hearing on his impending appointment of an emergency manager to the district. It appears unlikely the school board will request the hearing.

Last December the Muskegon Heights school board laid off its superintendent and asked the state for an emergency manager. Four months later, Governor Rick Snyder agreed a financial emergency does exist and the school board has no real plan to fix it.

Unless the school board requests a hearing today, the next step is for Snyder to appoint the manager. That could happen as soon as this week.

Muskegon Heights schools would become the third school district run by an emergency manger in Michigan. Four cities are run by emergency managers as well. The City of Detroit is working under the terms of a consent agreement instead of an emergency manager.

Politics
4:43 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Ballot box politics: Conflicts of interest for Michigan's Board of State Canvassers

user wasted time R wikimedia commons

Playing politics with the ballot: conflicts of interest for Michigan's Board of State Canvassers

A second potential conflict of interest has appeared on the Board of State Canvassers. That’s the bipartisan state panel that approves petitions and decides whether questions will go on the statewide ballot.

In both cases, the panel members have business or employment interests in the issues put in front of them. They’re big, too, and controversial – a potential challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law and a preemptive strike at “right-to-work” legislation.

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Politics
11:53 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Two police unions approve new contracts with Flint

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown says two police unions have tentatively approved new contracts with the city.

More from Kristin Longley at the Flint Journal:

The members of the Flint sergeants union and the lieutenants and captains union voted on the proposed contracts Thursday, he said.

Brown said it was a significant accomplishment that the parties were able to reach a consensus. The city's four public safety unions have been operating under expired contracts for more than two years.

Details have yet to be released. Brown said he expects to sign the contracts soon to make them official.

Education
4:34 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Governor Snyder: financial emergency exists at Muskegon Heights Public Schools

Governor Rick Snyder has determined a financial emergency exists in the Muskegon Heights school district. The next step is for the governor to appoint an emergency manager to the district.

“Ensuring a quality education for students in Muskegon Heights is our top priority,” Snyder said in a written release issued Tuesday afternoon.

“The appointment of an Emergency Manager is the logical next step  in restoring financial stability to the troubled district, and in fact, is a step that has been requested by members of the Muskegon Heights Board of Education,” Synder said. Unlike any other city or school district, the school board in Muskegon Heights asked for a state takeover back in December.

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Politics
2:54 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Who's behind the group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility?

Bob LaBrant
The Sterling Group

The former longtime head of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s political action group is now raising money for the group challenging the petition to repeal the state’s emergency manager law.

For 34 years Bob LaBrant raised money for the Michigan chamber’s political action committee. Last month he retired; about the same time the ballot committee known as Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility was formed by LaBrant, Michigan Bankers Association Vice President of Government Relations John Llewellyn, and Larry Meyer; former CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association who's now retired.  

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Politics
4:45 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Opponents of emergency manager ballot drive to challenge petition

Update 4:45 p.m.

Opponents of the effort to call a referendum on Michigan's emergency manager law plan to file a challenge today to the petitions turned in last month.

The group Michigan Forward turned in almost 237,000 petition signatures to state elections officials last month. The group wants to get a question on the November ballot asking voters to overturn the state’s local emergency manager law.

Michigan Forward opted not to get its petition pre-approved by state elections officials.

And now opponents of the referendum drive say they've found what they're calling a "fatal error" on the petitions.

The group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility says the petition itself is printed in the wrong type size, which is contrary to state law.

The group will ask a bipartisan state elections panel to throw out all the petitions at a hearing expected to be held later this month.

The campaign to reverse the emergency manager law did not have an immediate response. 

3:44 p.m.

Opponents of the effort to call a referendum on Michigan's emergency manager law will file a challenge to the petition this afternoon. The group Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility says the petition itself is printed in the wrong type size, which is contrary to state law. The group will ask a bipartisan state elections panel to throw out all the petitions. The campaign to reverse the emergency manager law did not have an immediate response.

Flint
4:16 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Flint emergency manager preparing to send budget plans to state

Downtown Flint (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint’s emergency manager and his staff are working this week to wrap up a budget plan for the city.    The plan will include a request for up to $20 million in bonds to help close the city’s massive budget deficit.

Flint Finance Director Jerry Ambrose hopes the plan will be ready to submit to the state by early next week.   He says the budget plan will address the need to do “less with less”.   Ambrose says layoffs and furlough days are likely.

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Politics
10:19 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Flint's emergency manager wants more time to work on union contracts

Flint emergency manager, Michael Brown.

Earlier this week, Flint emergency manager said he worked out a deal with the city's firefighter's union and hoped to work out deals with the city's other unions by Friday.

The Flint Journal reports this morning that Brown will not meet that deadline:

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown has canceled this month's meeting with city council members until further notice.

Brown had planned to present council on Monday with a 2013 budget, but said Thursday that he won't meet today's deadline for addressing union contracts or the budget and wants more time.

Brown says there's no new firm deadline for hammering out new contracts.

Education
4:53 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

DPS turnaround plan calls for "self-governing" high schools, new accountability standards

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts laid out his latest plan for how to turn the cash-strapped district around and help students improve.

Here are the three main components of the turnaround:

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Politics
4:44 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

School Board member who fought financial review teams indicted for theft

User Gini Flickr

The Highland Park school board member who filed the Open Meetings Act lawsuits against the state's financial review process for Detroit, has been indicted for theft. The U-S Attorney’s office says Robert Davis sent fake bills to the district and stole thousands of dollars.

Davis faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Authorities say between 2004 and 2010, he stole more than $125,000 from the Highland Park School District by using cover companies to submit fake invoices to the district.

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Politics
11:58 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Detroit draws closer to consent agreement, as Court of Appeals tosses restraining order

Laughlin Elkind Flickr

The Michigan Court of Appeals today lifted a temporary restraining order that prevented the state financial review team for Detroit  from meeting.

The court’s move has opened the door to a major step in fixing Detroit’s city finances.

The financial review team, appointed by the governor,  was supposed to meet Tuesday to vote on a “consent agreement” that would restructure the city of Detroit’s finances.

The agreement would help the city avoid the appointment of an emergency manager, but would require painful budget cuts.

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Politics
11:06 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Flint's firefighters union and emergency manager reach agreement

Flint firefighters reach a tentative agreement with city's emergency manager.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint's emergency manager, Michael Brown, and the city's firefighters union have worked out an agreement over concessions, Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports:

Brown said today that, as of this morning, it's the only signed agreement reached so far. The city has been talking with each of the six employee bargaining units, Brown has said.

He declined to comment on the details of the proposal, saying that the fire union members are expected to review the agreement and vote on it in about 10 days.

Brown hopes to have plan for the city's other unions in place by Friday. He's working to wipe out a budget deficit in Flint of around $11 million.

Politics
11:18 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Another day, and still no decision in Detroit

State officials had  hoped Monday would be the day the Detroit City Council finally approved a consent agreement with the state.

Instead, it started out with a contentious public hearing about union contracts, and ended in a confusing mess of court challenges—with no clear answer about how the whole process will go forward.

The day began with Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis confirming he won’t ask the City Council to approve new labor contracts for city workers.

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Detroit
6:46 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Detroit Consent Agreement process brought to a standstill

Spirit of Detroit
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 DETROIT (AP) — A judge has issued a temporary order to block a state-appointed team reviewing Detroit's finances from meeting Tuesday.   The panel was expected to vote on a proposed "consent agreement". 

The order was issued late Monday afternoon by Ingham County Judge Joyce Draganchuk. 

The order brings to a standstill the process that was expected to result in a "consent agreement" for the city of Detroit.

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