Public-Private Partnerships? There’s a Prop. For That
With all of the ballot proposals cluttering the 2012 ballot in Michigan this year—especially Detroit—we can pick just about any hot political topic and confidently say (much like iPhone applications), “there’s a proposal for that.”
One of the hot-button issues is the public-private partnership. These gray lines between private and public dollars and control have become more common in Detroit as the city struggles to fend off bankruptcy or State management amid a financial crisis.
So as the October 1 deadline to transfer Detroit’s Department of Health and Wellness Promotion to a private nonprofit approaches, let’s dig through the pile and see which proposals apply to these.
There is a couple. One of them is Proposal 2, an amendment to the state constitution that would engrave collective bargaining rights into state law. Those way, if a union-run city department gets transferred, guess who has the legal power to stop it?
The other is Proposal P, a Detroit measure that would amend the city charter to allow elected officials and employees to work for a private contractor with the city. In light of recent city hall scandals, the charter was revised to ban such movement, mandating a one-year interim period before a private company contracted by the City can hire for contract a former city employee.
Obviously, Proposal P has its issues. It blurs the line between public and private a little more than it’s already been blurred and without the proper controls could open the floodgates to more corruption, but as the city budget crunches and shifts services into private operations, it’s needed if city employee have any chance of keeping or finding a new job with the city.
Of course, this is creating kickback from unions, but it’s happening: public funds are drying up and services crumbling and private companies and organizations are there to catch them. In a lot of ways it makes sense.
Detroit is the only city in Michigan with health and wellness services on the payroll. Come October, that will change.
"The city has to increase its efficiencies in providing these services, and we've got to do a better job of making sure our citizens get the support services they need," Bing said in a statement.
As far as proposals go, Michigan's Proposal 2 would make such public-private transfers harder on a statewide level and Detroit’s Proposal P would make such city transfers a bit smoother, at least in terms of re-hiring those displaced by the public-private switch.
If President Barack Obama wins Michigan in November, it’s likely that Public Act 4 (PA4), the state’s emergency manager law-turned-ballot-proposal, will not.
How are the two related?
A new poll conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing for The Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV showed that people who support Obama are generally against the PA4 ballot proposal as it is split over party lines.
“According to the poll, Obama voters oppose the emergency manager law, 61%-29%, […]. Romney supporters are almost mirror opposite, supporting emergency managers, 60%-26%.”
The poll results showed Obama with a significant 10-point lead over Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. That’s not a good sign for the fate of PA4.
But it raises the question: When should we cast party politics aside? If the emergency manager law is really helping repair broken school systems and slashing spending for cities in crisis, then isn’t this an example of when it’s best to cross the isle?
Party politics have a way or dividing people and ideas. But just because you’re a Democrat doesn’t mean you have to vote no on PA4, or vice versa.
Politicians often brag about the times they were willing to work together with both sides to get something done.
This news may present a conundrum for Obama supporters who also strongly support PA4: does one have to choose? The ideals seem polarized.
But they don’t have to be. The problem in this election is that with all of the proposals cluttering the ballot, voters may get tired towards the end and vote along political party lines as a shortcut, or simply not vote at all.
Yes, a Republican a governor introduced PA4. It’s a law that would go hard on unions and easy on public spending. But it's one that is needed in cities and school systems tangles in a financial mess. So on Nov. 6th, we shouldn’t trap ourselves in party zones, even if it makes voting quicker and easier. Voters can work with both sides of the political isle to get things done, too.
After the Detroit City Council decided not to allow a millage proposal on the November ballot that would cost property owners hundreds of dollars a year, a twitter storm broke out.
One Detroit pastor dug into City Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. after Tuesday’s vote. The twitter spat seemed ironic coming from a pastor, whose faith, above all things, commands forgiveness and non-judgment.
The background of the dispute started on Tuesday when Police Chief Ralph Godbee and the Detroit Police Commission had the city council decide whether to ask voters in November if the city should put 8 mills on property tax and that could raise enough money to put 500 police officers to the street.
For people who own houses worth $50,000 the tax would be $250 a year on top of other city taxes and millages.
Cockrel went to twitter after the council voted 7-2 to strike down the ballot proposal, saying the police department financial problems should not be on the backs of the people who are already “taxed to the max”.
Cockrel criticized Police Chief Ralph Godbee in a tweet:
"I am not convinced that our problem is a lack of manpower issue. I'm convinced that our problem is a lack of an effective management plan issue."
That’s when J.A. Williams II, senior pastor of Spirit & Truth Christian Ministries and presiding prelate of Kingdom Builders Association jumped in to defend Godbee.
The following twitter spat ensued:
Williams: @kencockreljr2, @Ralph_Godbee is a much more efficient administrator of DPD than you've been as a councilman or mayoral fill-in. #ijs
Cockrel: @BishopJawill @Ralph_Godbee Both crime stats and word on the street suggest otherwise.
Williams: @KenCockrelJr2 @ralph_godbee On the other hand sir, the City was in the black when you first took your seat.
Cockrel: @BishopJawill @ralph_godbeeUntrue. It was my admin that actually uncovered the extent to which city's budget books hadn't been maintained.
Williams didn’t stop there. He continued:
Williams:…We meant every word. We continue to pray for you, our city & other leaders - even Ken Cockrel. Lol.
Williams:Detroit City Council = cowardly. @Ralph_Godbee = courageous. I normally don't express these positions publicly but WE DESERVE SAFE STREETS!
Was Pastor Williams being fair or should he been more of a twitter diplomat?
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