David Moore October 26, 2012 | AP PA 4 took effect in march of 2011, intended to pull economically struggling cities and school districts out of dire financial straits.
Emergency managers have a lot of power, including firing of elected officials, and unilaterally voiding union contracts. Benton Harbor and Muskegon Heights Public Schools are among those in Michigan currently under the purvey of emergency managers.
Two Detroit suburbs, Allen Park and Ecorse, are the latest to be added to the list of cities under control of an emergency financial manager
Peter Letzmann is a GVSU Adjunct Professor of Law and expert on local and state governmental affairs. He points out that if voters do keep PA 4, things will continue on-but that rejection doesn’t automatically mean bankruptcy or leave the state powerless.
Lawmakers, he says have a number of back up options, including imposing a regional form of government.
Letzman notes "Maybe a county or tri-county form of government. There could be certain prohibited expenditures by state law, in other words that local units of government can no longer provide health insurance or pension benefits. They could exclude collective bargaining in total, as we've seen happening in some other states.”
Such measures are severe, Letzmann agrees, but totally within state government’s power-and nowhere near as draconian as those a Federal Bankruptcy trustee could impose.
Letzman notes the purpose of PA 4 was to keep a qualified local presence in the city or school district, rather than a more heavy handed approach via legislation.
Monday, Patrick Center previews State Ballot Proposal 2, which would lock the right to union collective bargaining into the Michigan Constitution.
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