Governor Rick Snyder

Detroit Public Utility At Risk Under Emergency Management

Although few anticipate success, the Detroit City Council, without the support of Mayor Bing, went to court today to argue their appeal of Gov. Snyder’s finding of a “fidetroit-emergency-manager-031213-1-4_3_r536_c534nancial emergency” triggering the new Emergency Manager law. The City will assuredly have to choose between an Emergency Manager, a consent agreement, Chapter 9 bankruptcy, or arbitration — the options specified under the new law.

Yet, other important considerations hanging in the balance will impact the daily lives of Detroit residents. Last week, Democracy Tree reported on the dire situation with street lights being turned-off to save money, leading to increased crime and urban flight. Lighting is just one of many public assets that are at risk.

Circle of Blue reports that the Detroit Water and Sewage Department is unsure how the probable appointment of an Emergency Manager will impact that public utility. Subject to the Clean Water Act, the DWSD has been under federal oversight for several decades due to violations. Last week the Board of Water Commissioners passed a resolution with specific questions about the ulitity’s possible relationship with an Emergency Manager — they want to know just how much authority will be granted an Emergency Manager, and if the department will maintain its current autonomy. Circle of Blue speculates that any one of the following scenarios are possible:

  • The utility could be restructured and its management privatized, like what happened in Pontiac, another Michigan city with an emergency manager.
  • The utility could be sold off to investors for a one-time cash bounty.
  • Nothing could change, since the chief problems with Detroit’s finances are the gushing deficits from the city’s general fund.

The DWSD does not receive any money from the City and is not a contributing factor in Detroit’s fiscal woes, but the concern (and it’s a very real one) is that under emergency management the public utility will be seen as a cash-cow to be sold to the highest bidder. Privatization is a troubling prospect, especially with something as vital as water systems. It is difficult to imagine how adding a for-profit layer could help the struggling utility.

A budget recommendation for the DWSD last summer suggested an 81 percent cut in its labor force, with a portion of existing employees being outsourced as contractual workers, bringing the total cut to around 63 percent. John Reihl, of AFSMCE 207, told the Free Press they were “just dreaming if they think they can operate the plant with less.”

The public utility clearly has some very serious fiscal problems of its own. The only reason a Detroit Emergency Manager would wish to inherit the DWSD, in addition to the woes of the City, would be to sell it off for a quick dime.

Amy Kerr Hardin of Democracy Tree
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Roy Roberts – You’re Fired! – No More Emergency Financial Managers in Michigan

On January 9, 2013, Roy Roberts sent a letter to the members of the Detroit School Board informing them that they were in violation of Public Act 72 (a law that no longer exists). I am tired of Governor Snyder, AG Bill Schuette, and the supposedly “appointed” Emergency Financial Managers continuing to ignore Michigan Laws and using a non-existent law to justify the gutting of our cities and school systems. I answered Mr. Roberts and faxed my response to his office this morning. I will be addressing (and summarily firing) all other EFMs in the near future. We need to start standing up and taking back the control of our communities and schools. Enough is enough.

This is the letter Mr. Roberts sent to the school board: More →

Obama slams Michigan bill as ‘right to work for less money’ – Article and Videos

At a Daimler AG plant in Redford, Michigan Monday, President Obama slammed the controversial “right-to-work” legislation expected to be signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder this week, saying the proposed law has ”nothing to do with economics” and “everything to do with politics.”

“What they’re really talking about,” Obama added, “is giving you the right to work for less money.”

Obama criticized Michigan Republicans for focusing on anti-union legislation over job creation. “We should be doing everything we can to keep creating good middle class jobs, he said, before adding, “What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions,” a line that drew thunderous applause from the pro-labor crowd.

At issue is a bill that would make Michigan the country’s 24th so called right-to-work state, and which began to make its way through the legislature less than a week ago, when Governor Rick Snyder announced it was “time” to take it up. Snyder had had relatively good relations with his state’s unions, having supported the auto bailout and discouraged his Republican colleagues from taking on the right-to-work bill. But that all changed last week as he gave the lame duck Republicans in Lansing the go-ahead to push the bill.

Using a series of tricks and measures that may make the legislation referendum-proof, both the More →

Mich. Court of Appeals smacks down Snyder & Schuette, orders collective bargaining amendment onto ballot

Score one for the good guys

The Michigan Court of Appeals has once again ordered the Republicans on the Board of State Canvassers to halt their efforts to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Michigan voters and directed them to place the Protect Working Families, formerly Protect Our Jobs, ballot initiative on the November ballot. The measure will ensure that collective bargaining rights are protected in our state constitution and prevent the wholesale destruction of those rights by extremist anti-labor majorities like we have in our state legislature today.

To read this important story, please click here