There is an emergency–an emergency for democracy.
Public Act 4, a law passed by Republican majorities in the Michigan Legislature in March 2011, gives Gov. Rick Snyder power to appoint an emergency manager for any city, town, village or school district in Michigan undergoing a “financial emergency.”The State of Michigan itself admits in official exhibits it released to the court in the Summary of Arguments:Usually when I see the term Social Justice I have a negative reaction but in this instance they are doing the right thing. No state should have a law on this books like this that gives the Governor way too much power.“Con — This bill allows the emergency managers too much power and control over local units of government. Emergency managers can’t be trusted to act in the interests of the local nut and will use the enhanced powers granted under this bill for their own gain. Stripping local officials of the powers is anti-democratic.”Read more about the challenge to the Emergency Manager Law (Public Act 4) that Sugar Law Center is leading.
Fri Aug 3, 2012 2:21 PM EDT
Delivering signed petitions in February.
The voters of Michigan will get a say on the state's emergency financial manager law. In a 4-3 decision, the state supreme court ruled today that the petition drive met the requirements and should be certified for the November election. That petition had been challenged by a group based in the office of a member of the elections board that rejected it. The challenge alleged that the type on one line of the petition was not 14 point. The court ruling is remarkably technical (pdf) -- font nerds, skip to page 18 for the time of your lives -- and the most exciting part might be this:
In the present case, plaintiff used 14-point Calibri font for its petition heading, as attested to by plaintiff's printer.
Today's ruling means that the emergency manager law will go on ice, after it's officially certified, until the referendum this fall. That has large and potentially confusing implications for the towns and school districts the state has taken over under the law.
What happens to the Muskegon Heights school district, which a new emergency manager just converted to a charter system run by a private company? Who's in charge in Benton Harbor, where elected officials have been stripped of all power and a blizzard of recall attempts is underway? Do Detroit schools have to keep their new ceiling of 61 kids in a class, as ordered by the emergency manager? For that matter, does Detroit still have to slash its city workforce under the consent agreement they signed to avoid getting an emergency manager?
However the answers turn out, the campaign to repeal the emergency manager law can now begin. By dragging the matter out this long – the petition could have been certified back in April -- supporters of the law have taken away weeks that the repeal effort could scarcely afford to lose. The repeal side is trails by 10 points in the polls, but there are twice that many undecided voters for their campaign to try to reach.