Local and State Issues

Reclaim Michigan, recall Gov. Rick Snyder

Republicans set on trying to recall 9 state house Dems. 

When it’s Built By Michigan, it builds Michigan’s economy. Take  a moment to tell Gov. Snyder and the state Legislature to keep the investment and the jobs coming by supporting the success of Michigan’s   homegrown electric vehicle industry.

from the Michigan Democratic Congressional Delegation

Democratic Members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation Release the Following Statement on GOP Redistricting Map

LANSING – A statement from the Democratic Members of the Michigan Congressional   Delegation on the Michigan Congressional redistricting map as  introduced today in the state legislature: “We are very disappointed in the partisan hijacking of the redistricting process.  Never in Michigan’s history has a redistricting map been gerrymandered to be so overtly partisan and disrespectful of community interest to build a partisan political advantage. This map zigs and zags throughout Southeastern Michigan to create non-competitive seats that do not represent the demographics of the state and will ultimately disenfranchise voters.

The Governor’s new “Emergency Powers”

The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act (Public Act 4) is now in force. To learn more this law, and  how it endangers the assets of you township, village, city, or school district, Click here. To learn how it’s playing out for the Governor’s first municipal victim, Benton Harbor,  as reported by Rachel Maddow. Click here.

From Mary Valentine:

Dear Friends, The following article is one I wrote about the emergency manager law,  P.A.4 — and why I believe it needs to be repealed.  Coming soon will be  training sessions to learn how to circulate the petitions.  Please let me know if you are interested in joining this effort. Thanks so much.  And  thank you for your continued involvement in this issue.
Mary Valentine

Viewpoint:  Emergency manager law threatens Michigan’s future
Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 4:53 AM by The Muskegon Chronicle

By Mary Valentine

On  March 16, just 75 days into his administration, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into  law PA4, legislation that can deprive local governments of all authority. Yes,  you read that correctly. This bill can take away the rights of your legally  elected representatives — and your rights as well.

Michigan has had  emergency financial managers for many years. They would go into a city  struggling with financial challenges and work with all parties involved to find  solutions. The bill signed into law on March 16 changed all that. The person  representing the state is now an emergency manager and has total control.

When  you wade through all the verbiage of PA4, note that once a financial emergency  is declared, not one local person has any say in what will happen to that  village, city, township, county or school district. State officials have the  authority to make all decisions, via the emergency manager. Yes. Democracy can  be legally stripped from our hands. This is accomplished at the whim of the  state treasurer — or the state superintendent in the case of a school district.

What  can an emergency manager do? Strip local elected officials of all authority.  Reject, modify or terminate the terms and conditions of an existing contract.  Lock elected or appointed officials out of their offices. Terminate the terms  and conditions of an existing collective bargaining agreement. Apply for a  loan. Order millage elections. Consolidate or eliminate departments. Sell off  assets.

The  EM can go so far as to dissolve the municipal government — and more — without  the input of any local official or citizen. Should this happen in your  community; your voice will be silenced.             Who  pays this EM? The local unit of government. How much do they cost? There is no  limit. Detroit Public School’s EM costs $400,000 a year.  Benton Harbor must pay their EM $11,000 a  month. The average income of the residents of Benton Harbor  is $10,000 a year.

The  emergency manager law is a 34-page public act. I simply cannot cover it in this  limited space. Be assured, though, that this law has the potential to strip  local control from every unit of government in this state.              Our  elected officials who supported this bill have given a wide variety of excuses.  They have told us it will only be used in the direst of circumstance. Why, then  has the state trained over 400 emergency managers?

They  have told us not to worry because there are 18 checkpoints. They fail to  mention that only one of those checkpoints is necessary to trigger the process.  And the last checkpoint: “The existence of other facts or circumstances that in  the sole discretion of the state treasurer (or state superintendent in the case  of a school system) indicate financial stress.”  Our  legislators have indicated this is meant to help our communities. At the cost  of depriving us of our democracy?

I  know this is very hard to believe. Please, read the bill for yourself and come  to your own conclusions. Go to Michigan.gov and follow the links.  The  city council in Benton Harbor has already had  its power stripped by its emergency manager, Joe Harris. Even  a member of the planning commission was stripped of her legal authority.

Here  is what Mr. Harris had to say: “The fact is that the city manager is now gone.  I am now the city manager. I replaced the financial manager. I am now the city  manager and the financial manager. I am the city manager, the financial  manager, the mayor and the city commissioners and I don’t need them.”

There you have it. Michigan’s  new future.

Mary  Valentine, a former state representative, lives in Norton Shores.

Michigan’s Governor & taxes: Protection business, cuts and taxes for ordinary  people. Click here for more from The New York Times.  Gov. Snyder’s plan to cut business taxes and increase   taxes on individuals – including a new state tax on pensions. To access a pdf file copy of the Governor’s proposed budget for 2012 & 2013, Click here. To view some details of the proposed pension tax, Click here.

Franz: No union for daycare workers: Elberta Alert article by Eric Pyne.

A fact check on Franz & windpower

Benzie County County Reapportionment Based on the 2010 census, the reapportionment of our county is now underway and will be completed on or before June 6. For more on Benzie Reapportionment, Click here.

Local fiscal health info available

Munetrix™  is a web based information source for municipal governments. It’s designed to give easy-to-understand access to  sometimes confusing financial information.  The tool  allows for building long-term financial forecasts and trend analysis including  fiscal indicator scores, best-practice benchmarking and peer group comparisons.  Munetrix uses the State Fiscal Distress Indicator System . As an individual, you can  click on “Directories” tab at the top of the web page and look up the fiscal  status of your township, village, city, or school district.The company notes: “Assigning  a single value to identify the fiscal health of a municipality can be  problematic. The Fiscal Indicator score should be viewed as a coarse estimate.  Other areas of a community’s fiscal data should be understood before making a  final determination. Although the State of Michigan Fiscal Indicator scoring system has  come under much criticism, healthy communities tend to have low scores and  distressed communities tend to have high scores. We encourage citizens to get  involved and contact their local government officials to fully understand their  community’s fiscal health.” To look up your local government, Click here. From the information available, the only high risk entity is the Village of Elberta. On a scale of 1 to 9, it has a score of 8 (higher than Benton Harbor). Other villages score: Honor 3, and Thompsonville 1, Beulah 1, Benzonia 1; information on Lake Ann not available. The City of Frankfort scores 2. No Benzie County Townships are rated as high-risk.

Republican bills target workers If you have any doubt that Michigan’s workers are under the gun, check out the 40 bills proposed in the Michigan legislature since Jan. that affect Michigan workers (all workers, public employees, teachers, etc.). To read the purpose and status of these bills, click here

Chrysler repays 2009 government loans

Under Republicans, no job creation yet
From Mark Brewer, Michigan Democratic Party Chair:
“. . . .The Governor hasn’t been “reinventing” Michigan.   He’s been ruining Michigan. Snyder and legislative Republicans have not passed one piece of   legislation that helps create jobs…. The Governor himself even told reporters. . . “Next   year, let’s focus on job creation.” Next year? We need jobs now. Watch our new video the learn the truth about the first three months under Governor Snyder and the Republicans. [They]…  want to cut public education when 150 school districts are already on the brink of bankruptcy. They plan to close 21 Michigan State Police posts, which will jeopardize public safety. And they want to raise taxes on   seniors, middle-class families, and low-wage workers – all so they can   pay for a record $2 billion giveaway to big corporations, insurance   companies, big banks, and wealthy CEOs. Watch our videoand share with 10 of your friends. … voters need to know the truth. … It’s time for us to   focus on putting people back to work in Michigan….

The Democratic Party of Benzie County, Michigan