It is vital that Michigan voters vote no on Proposal 1, a referendum on the dangerous emergency financial manager law passed by Gov. Rick Snyder last year.
The law gives emergency managers, appointed by the governor after being approved by a state-appointed review team, new powers to tackle the crippling financial problems facing municipalities around the state like Detroit or Flint. While the old law greatly restricted the emergency managers and made it difficult to get anything done, this new law takes things too far.
Under Snyder’s law, EMs can essentially take complete control of cities, acting in place of elected officials, terminating lawful government contracts and reorganizing the entire government from the ground up. They can make decisions without consent of the people who populate the city, creating an even further wall between the people and their government. We’ve seen this in recent months in Detroit when concerned citizens packed town hall meetings hosted by Snyder and his administration.
The governor, no doubt, had the best of intentions when pushing for the law. He realizes there is no way Michigan can truly recover from a difficult recession unless struggling cities like Detroit begin to thrive again.
P.A. 4 goes too far, though. The governor has the power under this law to essentially go into a city hall and tear it up even on the flimsiest of grounds. Should a city begin to slip economically, the state of Michigan has the power to come in and do as they please.
The potential consequences of that power are frightening. It is unlikely that Snyder, a somewhat moderate Republican, would push for an EM in a city for political gain, but should any politician be given the power to in effect overthrow a democratically elected government at his whim? And while we’ve only seen it happen a few times here, a lack of precedence is dangerous to the long-term health of towns and municipalities.
It is very ironic that it was Lansing Republicans, supposedly wary of government power, who pushed for the law. If this law isn’t big government, then what is?
Proposal 1 has good intentions behind it, but in the near future we could look at it as something that tarnished cities for political gain.