Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Michigan Legislature Continues Hostile Takeover of State

Who are the people poised to take over school districts and municipalities in Michigan and what emergency finance manager training is underway? The Tribune reports that dozens of recruits are involved. We apparently just missed having the EMFs be corporations, but I am not comforted. An AP story in the Washington Post reports an amendment to ban local elected officials who are canned by EMF from running for 10 years was removed. But the power to remove local elected officials remains. What entity is authorized to remove incompetent emergency finance managers? Michigan's legislature gave each other absolute power over that process as well. The power to sell city assets remains. The power to dissolve legal contracts remains. There are already emergency drones in place in Pontiac, Ecorse, Benton Harbor and Detroit Public Schools. Michigan Messenger is the only source I found for information on who emergency finance managers might be, and how they will be trained. The first training was February 9 through February 10. A day and a half. Is that adequate training to take over a city? A troubled school district? No scheduled second training is announced. The trainers are accounting firms. Plante & Moran, Plunkett & Cooney, Miller Canfield, Foley & Lardner. Who is paying these invoices? Do Michigan voters have the clout to demand transparency, as the state requires of cities? Michigan's Treasurer Andy Dillon has experience as a corporate restructurer, but unlike liquidated corporations, Michigan citizens remain. Eric Scorsone coordinated the February event. What's to prevent an EMF from dismantling a city as a first step? "It's unclear to me how that would actually work," said Scorsone "how services will be provided." With budget cuts to programs targeting schools and revenue sharing for cities, the lethal combination will force municipalities into insolvency, creating a job opening for an appointed emergency finance manager. Are EMF positions the jobs Michigan is creating? How does this grow the economy? And who are the people queuing up for EMF jobs in our state? Who are the current posted emergency finance managers?

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