Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:43
Aside from right-to-work, perhaps the most heated debate in Michigan last year was over the controversial emergency manager legislation.
Essentially, as opponents of the legislation fervently argue, an emergency manager siphons power from locally elected leaders and an appointed one starts calling the shots on how and where money is spent (and not spent) within an affected city.
Detroit, despite threats, has been able to doge an the infamous EFM (so far anyway).
But in many ways the city has, by default, come under a different type of financial management.
The city, it its compromised financial state, has been increasingly reliant on outside donors, big-ticket foundation gifts, to help keep city projects afloat. It’s been a much less heated debate, but it still exists in the undercurrent of city politics and grassroots movements.
A prime example of this came to a head in 2011, when the Kresge Foundation cut funding to Detroit Works project after a disagreement with the Bing administration over the role of outside decision-makers planning the fate of the city.
As Rustwire.com pointed out at the time:
Investors like Rapson weren’t elected by the people of Detroit. He came to Detroit a few years ago from the McKinght Foundation in Minneapolis. He lives in some fancy suburb outside Troy. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, private individuals like Mr. Rapson are wielding a lot of power in Detroit. They are threatening to dictate the terms of a project that will nonetheless be funded 4-1 by public money.
Since 2011 Bing and Rapson have mended fances and are not on the the same page. News came yesterday taht Kresge plans to donate $150 million tot he Detroit Works projects, that is "every single dollar" that Kresge spends in Detroit over the next 5 years Rapson says.
Rapson is of the opinion that Detroit needs outside voices and ideas to get it on a new path. And he's partialy right, making the issue more complex than the stale outsider v. Detroit standoff.
Mr. Rapson counters that more outside voices are needed in Detroit to help local leaders who, he suggests, aren’t up to the challenge of remapping the city. “The idea that the folks who have been trained a certain way for the last 20 years and who have never had the opportunity to apply that training in another community could figure all that out de novo seems crazy,” he said in an interview.
But city leaders say mapping out the city’s future—including deciding which neighborhoods will survive Mr. Bing’s consolidation effort and which ones won’t—is a task for local leaders and voters. “People want to know that their interests are being represented,” says Marja Winters, the city’s deputy planning chief and co-leader of Detroit Works. “Someone who doesn’t live here can’t accurately represent their interests.”
So, in a way, the city is under a financial direction from people who have not been elected. But we have to ask ourselves: is that such a bad thing?
Published in Minni Forman
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 09:59
Other than voting for the next U.S. President in November, Michigan voters will have a tremendous decision to make: Yay or nay to the State’s emergency manager law, Public Act 4?
Perhaps the biggest opponents to PA4 are unions. Under the emergency manager or financial board rule, they know what’s coming, and it’s not good.
That’s why as we edge closer to Election Day we voters can expect to be bombarded with advertisements, fliers and e-mails sponsored by unions bent on destroying the legislation that’s set to destroy them.
But there’s another side to the story. The other soldiers on the battlefield are supporters of the emergency manager legislation: Officials on a state and municipal level, business people who want to skip collective bargaining, and a host of citizens who believe the State’s struggling cities and school districts would be better off without collective bargaining contracts sucking up already sparse funds.
A coalition of businesses is gearing up to raise funds in support of the controversial legislation, while unions are shoring up support against it. In other words, a battle is brewing. And amid the spiky campaigns on both fronts, it may be tough for voters to come to fair, unbiased information on this highly polarized issue.
Meanwhile, there’s another ballot initiative unions and the state are battling over as you read this. Unions want to ensure their place in government and so the Protect Our Jobs project was created.
The Protect Our Jobs group have collected more than enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot that would mandate collective bargaining:
"Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder are joining the battle to keep the union-backed Protect Our Jobs proposal off the November ballot, saying the measure as written doesn’t give voters “the basic tools” to know exactly what they are voting for.
...State and national unions have donated more than $8 million to support Protect Our Jobs, which would enshrine collective bargaining in the state constitution."
That’s a lot of cash. But if this passes, it’ll make things a whole lot tougher for union busters, even if PA4 gets the O.K. from the electorate.
Still, it raises the question: Are unions archaic? Is there a way to redesign labor agreements and keep fair work environments and wages?
And for those of us hitting the voting booths in November, how can we access unbiased factual information to make an informed decision about PA4 or the Protect Our Jobs proposal if we have been flooded with propaganda from both sides?
Published in Minni Forman
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