Remember that old joke: Death or Bunga Bunga — in which a captive is asked by a tribal leader if he prefers death or bunga bunga (gang rape)? The captive bravely replies “death”, and the leader says “okay, but first…bunga bunga!”
Michigan lawmakers are the tribe, with Snyder as their leader, and SB 865 is their “bunga bunga”. Michigan residents are about to get screwed, again, by their elected leaders. This lame duck bill is a new Emergency Manager law that purports to offer “choices” to stressed municipalities and school districts.
While Michigan’s unions and voters are distracted by the Right to Work law steamrolling through the House and Senate, the new Emergency Manager law is flying-in under the radar, along with HB 6004, the Educational Achievement Authority which guts the state’s public education system.
It is not without merit to speculate that the governor, who previously showed little interest in a Right to Work initiative, now finds it to be perfect cover for the two pieces of legislation he has been advocating all along — a replacement Emergency Manager law and an expansion and codification of his Education Emergency Manager and privatization program.
The new EM law quietly moved forward out of the House Local, Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs Committee yesterday. Cleverly named The Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, it provides little stability and even less “choice”. The governor retooled PA-4 and through a bit of semantic smoke and mirrors made it appear friendlier. Under the new law, stressed public bodies may choose from a limited menu of options: Chapter 9 bankruptcy, accept an Emergency Manager, consent agreement, or mediation. The new law additionally provides for at least one public meeting of the Financial Review Team prior to declaration of a financial emergency. Wow — how very democratic of them!
PA-4 had been an unconstitutional unfunded mandate, in that the city or school district had to bear the cost for the entire Emergency Manager apparatus forced upon them. This new law requires the state to pay for their dog and pony show, BUT…that has some pretty serious side-effects. First, it’s an appropriation, therefore the new law cannot be subject to referendum (which would be impossible anyhow because gathering a quarter million signatures within the first 90 days of 2013 just ain’t gonna happen folks). Second, under PA-4 smaller public bodies that could not “afford” their own il duce were ignored by the governor, but now that the state is footing the bill, we may see townships and villages affected. Small school districts that are struggling will simply be rolled into the Educational Achievement Authority, the new statewide district run by a “Chancellor” appointed by the governor.
Michigan, your choice is clear: Fascism or Bunga Bunga.
Amy Kerr Hardin This article also appears in Voters Legislative Transparency Project