emergency manager

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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Education
4:33 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Team recommends governor appoint emergency manager for Muskegon Heights schools

Muskegon Heights High School. The Muskegon Heights school board is asking for an emergency manager appointment.
Muskegon Heights School Board

A review team is recommending Governor Rick Snyder appoint an emergency manager to run the Muskegon Heights Public School district.

Unlike any other city or school district, the school board in Muskegon Heights voted for a state takeover.

Muskegon Heights Schools has run a deficit for at least six years in a row.

The review team found:

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Politics
8:33 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Detroit union coalition wins a day in court; another legal hurdle for consent agreement?

A coalition of Detroit city unions has won a hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court.

The unions want a proposed consent agreement between Detroit and the state thrown out because of alleged Open Meetings Act violations.

They say state and city leaders inappropriately met on 44 separate occasions to draft the proposed consent agreement now being considered by the Detroit City Council.

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emergency manager
7:21 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

End of Benton Harbor's financial emergency murky at best

City Commissioner Marcus Muhammad outlines his problems with Benton Harbor's emergency manager for a state treasury official Thursday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In December Benton Harbor’s emergency manager said the city’s finances we’re looking good enough that he could probably leave sometime this year. But now, he’s not so sure.

The City of Benton Harbor was, for practical purposes, bankrupt. In 2010 former governor Jennifer Granholm appointed an emergency financial manger to clean up the books and prevent damage to state’s credit.

Thursday night, Michigan Deputy Treasurer Roger Fraser visited the city. State Treasurer Andy Dillion was supposed to be at the town hall meeting. But he’s in Detroit, trying to help the city avoid an emergency manager like Benton Harbor has.

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Politics
12:09 am
Fri March 30, 2012

New state offer gets skeptical reception from Detroit City Council

The Detroit City Council vetted a proposed state deal to fend off insolvency on Thursday.

The deal is formally called a “financial stability agreement.”

But it's clearly a legally enforceable consent agreement under Michigan’s emergency manager law, Public Act 4.

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Politics
6:55 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Review of emergency manager petitions continues

Opponents of the campaign aimed at overturning Michigan's revised emergency manager law have until April 9 to challenge voter signatures turned in on petitions supporting the repeal effort.

The deadline for challenging signatures that may be invalid was set this week by state election officials.

Election officials are reviewing signatures turned in by a group called Stand Up for Democracy. The group wants to give voters a chance to overturn Michigan's 2011 emergency manager law during the November election.

The group turned in petitions containing 225,885 signatures. The coalition must have at least 161,305 valid voter signatures to make the ballot.

State election officials are expected to determine by late April whether enough valid signatures were filed.

Politics
4:27 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Snyder on Detroit consent agreement: "Not about running an entire community."

From the governor's official website

Governor Rick Snyder said he still hopes to reach a deal with Detroit officials that would avert the naming of an emergency manager to run the city.

The governor said the agreement has to include specific targets for the city to meet, but he said a deal could keep much of the day-to-day operations under control of city officials.

“Part of it is it’s difficult to explain in some context because we’re still working on the agreement, but when it comes out I think you’ll see it’s really about project management assistance and really good oversight to make sure projects get done,” Snyder said. “It’s not about running an entire community.”

But not meeting the terms of a consent agreement would trigger the law that allows the governor to place an emergency manager in control.

The governor also said he is not yet satisfied with the level of savings he’s seen in bargaining with city employee unions.

The Detroit city council is working on a plan to borrow money to help meet its cash crisis. The plan would require the approval of the state.

Politics
4:24 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Snyder will talk about Detroit finances at a town hall Wednesday

Governor Snyder speaks to a gathering of city managers in Benton Harbor, shortly after he signed expanded powers for emergency managers. Benton Harbor residents protested his appearance outside the meeting.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will take part in a town hall meeting in Detroit Wednesday morning to discuss the city’s finances. Snyder says he’s trying to be transparent about the situation.

“A lot of it is getting out to talk to people and making sure that we all get the same facts, because Detroit’s in terrible financial distress in some ways. And there needs to be a long term solution because we all want Detroit to succeed,” Snyder said.

He’s expected to go over the facts at the town hall meeting. He’ll also field questions and probably some criticism from the audience.

The meeting comes as state and city leaders are trying to finalize a deal to resolve major cash flow problems. A state review team has determined Detroit is in “severe financial stress”. The city’s deficit is nearly $200 million.

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Station News
1:56 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Talking emergency managers and having some ale in Flint

A good crowd a the Issues & Ale event at Blackstone’s Pub & Grill in downtown Flint.
Steve Chrypinski Michigan Radio

A full house turned out to hear Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry lead a discussion on the state’s emergency manager law last night.

The event was part of the station’s Issues & Ale series, and was held at Blackstone’s Pub & Grill in downtown Flint.

Panelists included:

  • Fred Leeb, former Emergency Financial Manager for the city of Pontiac,
  • Dr. Eric Scorsone, Co-Director of the State & Local Government Program at Michigan State University,
  • and Brandon A. Jessup, Chairman and CEO of Michigan Forward

The panelists fielded questions from both Lessenberry and the audience on a variety of subjects related to Public Act 4, including the impact of state revenue sharing cuts, the constitutionality of state appointed emergency managers, and alternatives for cities in financial crisis.

We also surveyed the audience to get their opinion on the Emergency Manager law.

Of those responding,

  • 47% opposed the law, 23% were in favor, and 30% were undecided.
  • Of those opposed to the law, 36% felt it was unconstitutional, 26% objected because it gives emergency managers too much power, 18% opposed because emergency managers can modify/terminate contracts, and 13% because it strips local elected officials of their authority.

The event took place only hours after the Michigan Court of Appeals put a stay on a lower court ruling and reinstated Michael Brown as Flint’s emergency manager.  

Issues and Ale is an event series co-sponsored by Michigan Radio and the Center for Michigan designed to engage people in conversations about important issues facing Michigan... in an informal atmosphere.

Flint
4:32 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Flint emergency manager back in charge

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown is back in charge, temporarily, after today's court order
State of Michigan

Flint’s emergency manager is back in charge of the city.  At least, temporarily. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals today put on hold a lower court ruling that left questions about who was in charge in Flint.

Last week, Ingham County circuit court judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled that the state financial review team that recommended the appointment of an emergency manager in Flint had violated Michigan’s open meetings law.  The judge decided that the appointment and all the decisions emergency manager Michael Brown had made since December were invalidate.

The governor’s office appealed the judge’s order, describing it as "devastating."

The Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case.   The court put a stay on the lower court ruling and reinstated Michael Brown as Flint’s emergency manager.

In her order last week,  Judge Aquilina had directed Flint's mayor and city council to resume their roles.   One of the first things Michael Brown did as emergency manager was to limit the power of Flint's elected leaders. 

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling issued a statement after today's ruling of the Court of Appeals:

"As the legal challenges to PA4 move through the courts system, the Flint community needs to work together to address our long-standing challenges with finances, public safety and economic development. While the courts are flip-flopping on the critical issue of the Open Meetings requirement, I will work every day to make our community a better place for families and businesses."

The timing of the Court of Appeals decision today could be critical.   Flint, like other Michigan cities, is drafting its budget for next year.

Flint faces a budget deficit that could be as high as $20 million.

Politics
1:27 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Pontiac EM says no to Silverdome tax break

user Alex simple wikimedia commons

Lou Schimmel, Pontiac's state-appointed Emergency Manager, has denied a tax-break request from the owners of the Pontiac Silverdome.

The former home of the Detroit Lions is owned by Triple Investment Group who were seeking a special break to make improvements to the stadium, but as the Associated Press reports, the work they were planning wasn't what Schimmel had in mind:

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Politics
10:42 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Wayne State University panel talks emergency managers, privatization

Some of the main players and experts on Michigan’s emergency manager law weighed in at a Wayne State University law school event Friday.

The symposium looked at what it calls the “restructuring of government through privatization and corporatization” throughout the state, particularly in Detroit.

The topic was chosen as financial troubles continue to plague many municipalities—and the state is frequently intervening through Public Act 4, a more powerful emergency manager law.

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Politics
10:37 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Court of Appeals allows Detroit and review team to continue negotiations

wikimedia commons

Detroit officials and a state financial review team are free once again to try and reach a consent agreement. The Michigan Court of Appeals tonight unanimously overturned an Ingham County Court judge’s order that prohibited the two sides from working out an agreement before Monday’s deadline.

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Flint
3:00 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Michigan governor's office asks court to put "devastating" order on hold

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The governor’s office is asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to overrule an order by a lower court judge that invalidated the appointment of an emergency manager to run the city of Flint.

This week, Ingham County circuit court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled that the state panel the governor appointed to review Flint’s finances failed to abide by Michigan’s open meetings law.    

The judge found that violation invalidated the appointment of emergency manager Michael Brown and all his decisions since taking over Flint in December.

In the legal paperwork filed with the Court of Appeals, state officials are asking the court to put the lower court judge’s order on hold and eventually toss it out completely.

The legal brief describes the judge’s ruling as “devastating” since it puts the city “back to square one” even as it teeters on the “brink of insolvency”. 

Flint is an estimated $20 million dollars in the hole and only has $10 million  in hand. 

Politics
1:47 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Detroit unions agree to pay cuts amid city's financial crisis

Downtown Detroit at night.
user pablocosta wikimedia commons

In a deal announced today, a coalition of unions representing thousands of Detroit city workers said their members approved 10 percent pay cuts and other changes.

The Associated Press reports "the deal announced Friday affects at least 4,500 workers and still needs approval from the city council."

It does not cover the unions representing Detroit police officers or Detroit firefighters. Those unions are in separate talks.

Absent cuts or added revenue, the city is expected to run out of cash sometime in April.

The cuts are intended to hold off a state takeover of Detroit through the appointment of an emergency manager, or though a consent agreement.

The Detroit Free Press reports the question of whether these cuts are enough remains to be seen:

Under the current agreement, the city would save about $54 million a year in concessions — less than half what Mayor Dave Bing originally wanted.

Other savings include $14 million in layoffs and about $100 million in new revenue by aggressively collecting past due taxes and parking tickets, but those were plans already underway before the negotiations.

An attorney who assisted in the negotiations for the coalition of unions, Richard Mack, said "we are going to make sure the city gets back in the black within a year."

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants to hear recommendations on Monday from the state's financial review team about whether the state should step in with either an emergency manager or a consent agreement.

But the legality of the review team is getting tangled up in the courts. An Ingham County judge found that the state's review team violated the Open Meetings Act. The state appealed the ruling, which is now being reviewed by the appeals court.

Politics
12:35 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Michigan appeals court considers Detroit finances timeline

Downtown Detroit
user andrea44 Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Court of Appeals is considering a case that would influence how quickly the state may decide what to do about the city of Detroit's troubled finances.

The appeals court has set a deadline of Friday afternoon for certain briefs to be filed in the case.

The state is trying to overturn Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette's ruling that Michigan officials can't enter into a consent agreement with Detroit until he gives further orders. Collette has ruled a state review team analyzing Detroit's finances must comply with the Open Meetings Act.

Collette set a March 29 hearing in the case. But Gov. Rick Snyder wants the review team to report to him by Monday with the recommendation of a consent agreement or an emergency manager for Detroit.

Politics
5:01 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Appeal coming as Michigan governor's office pursues consent agreement for Detroit

Spirit of Detroit
(Michigan Radio)

Aides to Governor Rick Snyder say the state will ask the Michigan Court of Appeals to lift a judge’s order that prohibits a deal between Michigan and Detroit to resolve the city’s budget crisis.

An Ingham County judge says the state cannot make any deals with Detroit until he decides late next week whether a state team reviewing Detroit’s finances broke Michigan’s open meetings law.    Monday is the deadline for the review team to give Governor Snyder its recommendations.

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Politics
4:37 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Race and politics in Detroit financial crisis

user: jpowers65 / flickr

Every Thursday we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, Political Analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

We can't ignored Detroit’s fiscal crisis and where things stand right now.

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Politics
12:38 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Judge says he won't lift consent agreement ban

Wikimedia Commons

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan judge has denied a request related to the actions of the state-appointed review team analyzing Detroit's troubled finances.

Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette on Thursday turned down a request from Gov. Rick Snyder and the financial review team to lift an earlier order keeping them from moving ahead with a consent agreement with Detroit city officials.

The judge said that must wait until his March 29 hearing examining whether the review team failed to comply with Michigan's Open Meetings Act.

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Politics
8:36 am
Thu March 22, 2012

The Week in State Politics

Contemplative Imaging Flickr

There sure was lots of news this week about Michigan's emergency manager law - from legal wrangling over how the Open Meetings Act affects how financial decisions are made to the reappointment of Flint's Mayor. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look this morning at the latest.

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