Breaking down Michigan's Proposal 1, emergency manager law

By Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Oct 15 2012 05:19:34 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 15 2012 06:06:01 PM EDT

The Michigan ballot will include a proposal which could change the state's emergency manager law.

PONTIAC, Mich. -

In Local 4's most recent poll on the issue, 43 percent of Michigan voters support a proposal to uphold the state's emergency manager law while 35.8 percent do not.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been fighting hard to uphold the law because he believes it is vital to his vision for the state. His opponents say it is an assault on democracy.

Metro Detroit has become well acquainted with the state's emergency manager law, also known as Public Act 4, but the ball started rolling outside of the area. Benton Harbor and Flint were the first cities to get one such manager. Pontiac and Ecorse followed with emergencies managers of their own. Muskegon Heights most recently joined in.

Detroit Public Schools and Highland Park gave Metro Detroit a window into the new law.

The reconstruction work done by emergency managers in these places went on hold because of Proposal 1. The following words will be found on the November ballot:

Public Act 4 of 2011 would: "Establish criteria to assess the financial condition of local government units, including school districts, authorize the governor to appoint an emergency manager (EM) upon state finding of a financial emergency, and allow the EM to act in place of local government officials.

Voters are asked should the law be approved, yes or no?

The man who led the charge on the issue wants the "no" vote. That man is AFSCME Council 25 union Chief Al Garrett. Garrett says the law goes beyond a theft of democracy.

"I'm throwing in with the bankruptcy judge who says everybody at the table takes a haircut," Garrett said. "The bond companies take a haircut, the workers take a haircut. Am I advocating for bankruptcy? No!"

Snyder says the communities were headed on negative paths.

"These communities were on a path to disaster because of declining population and such," the governor said. "So they're on a very negative path."

The proposal may be a test of Snyder's coat tails. Can his policies stand up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in union political spending against the emergency managers?

Pass or fail, a lot change in Michigan with Proposal 1.

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