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Protest Against Snyder brings out 75 people in Grand Rapids

March 21, 2011

This morning while Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was sharing his “vision” for the state with an invitation only crowd inside City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids, about 75 people showed up to protest what many called anti-democratic policies.

Members of local unions such as IATSE and the IWW were present to express their disgust with Snyder’s proposals to eliminate state employee jobs, cut pensions and slash funding for a variety of sectors.

There were also teachers, activities, retired people and several families who came out with their children to say that what the Governor is doing will hurt families. Several people were particularly upset about Snyder’s decision to allow the state government to step in and take over local governments that were not “fiscally sound.”

Another major issue that has working people concerned is Snyder’s plan to alter how state revenue sharing funds will come back to local municipalities. According to Snyder this plan would reward municipalities that had “best practices” in three areas – accountability, service consolidation and employee compensation. Translated this means that municipalities that are willing to privatize services, consolidate with area governments and eliminate pensions and benefits from city employees would get funds from the state.

It seems clear that Snyder wants to reward only those local governments that embrace his vision to restructure the economy that will primarily be a benefit to the private sector. According to a report on MLive, “Mayor George Heartwell said he believes the city is well on its way to achieving the transparency and consolidation goals. As for replacing the city’s pension system, Heartwell said Snyder’s incentive “is going to be quite helpful at the bargaining table.”

After standing just outside of City Hall for the first half hour, some people decided to go in despite police presence at the doors. Within 5 – 10 minutes roughly 40 people made their way into the City Hall lobby but were not allowed to go any further. Shortly after people entered the building those who had been invited to the closed meeting with Governor Snyder began exiting the elevators. There were City officials, County officials, State Rep. Roy Schmidt as well as numerous individuals from the private sector, such as Jeanne Englehart from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce who passed through the crowd before leaving the building.

GRIID was able to speak to several people on camera about why they came out to protest Snyder’s policies.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate Wheeler permalink
    March 21, 2011 6:43 pm

    Thanks for this report, Jeff.

    I hope that everyone compares the GRIID video to the one shot by the Press:

    The Press version seems to have been shot deliberately to make it look like there were about five people at the protest total…does not show this crowd in the lobby….seems to have chosen only the mildest-mannered of comments…. The accompany report has *one* sentence about the protesters, does not explain that the event was invitation-only, and offers only one small clip of any details via another video of Snyder talking.

    It’s really disheartening to live in a city where our newspaper source is creating false impressions and playing to the conservative readership so blatantly.

  2. Jennifer permalink
    March 21, 2011 8:11 pm

    There was a surplus in the school aid fund until Governor Snyder used that money to pay for community college. That money is not suppose to be used for higher education. Through proposal A it is only suppose to be used for K-12 funding. We wouldn’t have to cut per pupil spending if he used the money for what it was intended to be used for.

    If Snyder said his plan was to privatize towns when he ran chances are he would’ve lost. Instead he’s using crisis to privatize MI. Why is Snyder & 16 other states desperate to tie hands of unions. Unions fight privatizing of school/water/power systems. There is $ to be made when he hands cities to a corporation. Do we want high water bills & 60 kids in a class due to our cities being owned not by the people but a corporation? Corporations don’t care about your kids or you. They care about making money.

    The average amount of money that a teacher makes in the state of MI is 50,000 dollars, and we are yelling saying teachers make too much. Why are teachers, firefighters, and police being told that they make too much. Why aren’t we mad at the corporations who under Snyder’s plan for emergency financial managers will stand to make a lot of money privatizing our cities.

    Snyder wants to give big corporations an 86% tax cut & raise personal taxes 31%. Much of the tax hike he says should be given to seniors & the poor, because they haven’t “shared the sacrifice”. So his budget proposes a $1.8 billion tax CUT to big business & a $1.75 billion tax INCREASE to the rest, mostly from working, poor, & seniors even though the top 1% in MI ALREADY pay a lower state tax than everyone else. Why aren’t we mad at Snyder for this plan?

    Snyder wins if everyone goes against teachers, firemen, and police. Teachers are not your enemy! They went to school to be a teacher, because they care about kids. They care about YOUR kids. Snyder and the republicans want to wipe out the middle class. Is that the future you want for your kids? Start standing up for the little people.

    We bailed out the banks and nobody revolted. The banks made 144 Billion dollars off of that bail out. Now they are trying to take over our cities. Are we going protest against this and win or attack each other. I vote that we stand united. I don’t want my child being taught by somebody who makes 20,000 a year. Our kids are our future.

  3. Jennifer permalink
    March 21, 2011 8:15 pm

    This is a website about a way to get a Michigan constitutional amendment. According to the article we need 300,000 signatures in order to try and protect collective bargaining. This would then go on the November ballet. I wonder if anyone from the unions has contact a lawyer figure out the petition language. If not we should work on getting this started. Let’s not sit around and give away our great state to corporations through privatizing. I for one don’t want to see the middle class wiped out just because of greed!

  4. Kate Wheeler permalink
    March 23, 2011 3:16 am

    This is great, Jennifer. Thanks for posting the link!


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