Mar 11, 2011
Two-day wonders have more power than elected officials
Now that the smoke is slowing beginning to clear after the Senate Republican’s approval of the anti-union and anti-Democratic Emergency Financial Managers (EFM) package of bills on Wednesday, people are very surprised when they discover how much power this person, appointed by the State Treasurer with no oversight and with no confirmation process after a two-day training session, really has.
As we know from the massive protests by union supports staged in Lansing over the last week that the EFM has the ability to void, modify or renegotiate contracts, including contracts negotiated in good faith with employee unions, as well as with local business and vendors.
The EFM also has the ability to run the academic side of school districts, not just the financial side. In other words, A CPA, or even a financial services firm can tell the local school district what textbooks to buy or what courses to drop or add.
The EFM has the ability to order millage elections for any amount or for any length of time, even after the two-day wonder is long gone back to Lansing or wherever they came from. It has always been assumed that an elected official would be careful about raising taxes because he has to answer to voters. The EFM answers to nobody.
The EFM has the ability to disincorporate or dissolve the municipal government with the approval of the governor or recommend consolidation with another municipal government. In other words, and will use the City of Howell because that is where I live, he can completely dissolve the city and make it part of Howell Township again, which is in worse financial because of its over-extension of water and sewer districts that also has very few services.
The EFM has the ability to recommend to the governor that school district be reorganized. In other words, Brighton and Howell Schools can be consolidated on his say so. The only good news is Lansing has the final say, but least he is elected.
The EFM has the ability to close schools and buildings. If he thinks Parker High School is not being utilized enough or properly he can close it, or any other school building in Howell.
The bill requires competitive bidding of contracts $50,000 or more. That means privatization.
The bills eliminates the salary and benefits of the chief administrative officer and governing body members during a receivership, except as restored by the emergency manager. He can do anything he wants with City Manager Shea Charles’s salary and benefits. Why work for free? Its’ kind of ironic that the majority of Senate Republicans refused to limit the pay of the EFM to that of the highest paid state elected official in the state; the Governor at $172,000, but they want to limit the pay of the city manager.
The bill removes all powers from local governing body and chief administrative officer. That basically fires Mr. Charles and the people you voted for.
Exempts a local government in receivership from collective bargaining requirements for five years or until the receivership was terminated, whichever occurred first. That is called union busting, which is the main thrust of the bills.
The bill provide that, beginning 30 days after a local government entered into a consent agreement, it would not be subject to collective bargaining requirements during the remaining term of the agreement, unless the treasurer determined otherwise. AKA union-busting.
And what could bring an all-powerful EFM to Howell, Howell Public Schools or any other community or school district suffering because the Governor’s proposed budget cuts revenue sharing to the locals and cuts $420 per-pupil in public education funding? The answer is not much after the bills made it much easier to start the process after expanding the triggers. That would not be a bad idea for identifying potential trouble if not for the power it gives to the two-day wonders.
An EFM can be set in motion with a simple resolution adopted by either the House or Senate. In the era of term limits I can see this could be easily abused.
Other triggers include a written request from the local governing body or chief administrative officer. A written request from a creditor with an undisputed claim that remains unpaid 6 months after its due date against the local government that exceeds the greater of $10,000.00 or 1 percent of the annual general fund budget.
Or, simply failing to file an annual financial report on time.