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Michigan’s Shock Doctrine Continues: Governor Appoints Emergency Manager for Detroit

March 1, 2013

This article by Andrea Germanos is re-posted from Common Dreams.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared the city of Detroit in a state of “fiscal emergency” on Friday afternoon and announced he would appoint a emergency financial manager (EFM) for the city.snyderdeclaresdetroit

Neil Munshi reported in the Financial Times that the emergency manager “would have relatively broad powers to handle the city’s dire financial situation.”

In a blog post on the decision, Snyder writes: “Working together in partnership, we can more quickly and efficiently reform the finances in the city.” But the EFM role is not one of “partnerships,” the governor’s fact sheets on the EFM decision explain, as the appointee will be able to make a financial decision without waiting for it to go “through the many layers of bureaucracy.” The EFM also has the ability to “take actions to void contracts.”

Agence France-Presse adds that “emergency managers have the power to eliminate entire departments, change labor contracts, sell city assets and rewrite laws without any public review or input.” And the Detroit Free Press reports that the “restructuring likely will include drastic cuts in public services and a top-down rethinking of the type of government.”

Critics have referred to the EFM law as “local dictators law.”

MSNBC adds that

The decision had been predicted for weeks, but Friday’s announcement means that more than 50% of African Americans in the state of Michigan no longer elect their local leaders.

The EFM holds the position for 18 months, at which point the position is under review.

The city council has 10 days to appeal the decision, and they have announced they are prepared to fight the decision.

Detroit would join the towns of Royal Oak Township, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Flint, the Village of Three Oaks, Allen Park, Pontiac, Ecorse, and Benton Harbor, which already have EFMs, as well as Detroit Public Schools, Highland Park Schools, and Muskegon Heights Schools which have the emergency managers.

In December, Snyder signed into law controversial replacement emergency manager legislation, just weeks after Michigan voters rejected the previous emergency manager law, Public Act 4.

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