Monday, October 8, 2012

Michigan Proposition 1 2012

Leading up to election day on November 6th I thought I would run a series of posts on things that will be on the Michigan ballot. I will give my recommendation and try to explain the issue to the best of my ability. I heartily welcome reasoned dissent and respectful discussion! One of the main reasons I am doing this is so that I have a better idea how I should vote next month, so if you feel I am overlooking something or am ignorant of something, please help me make my decision as enlightened as possible. I may not cover all of the ballot points, but I would like to at least get through the propositions and the presidential election.

Let us start with Proposition 1 shall we. Why? Because 1 is the smallest positive integer, and because it is late and I want something short. Proposition 1 is a referendum on Michigan's Public Act 4. What this means is that voting for the proposition is voting to keep PA 4. So, if you don't like PA 4, do not vote for Proposition 1. Personally, I am inclined to vote NO on Proposition 1.

It is no secret that Michigan's economy has all the vigor of an anemic fruit fly. In light of this, many municipalities (that is a fancy word that, so far as I know, basically means cities) and school districts are having issues with things like bills and debts, specifically, having an overabundance of such things. PA 4 sought to solve this pesky problem by appointing "emergency managers," which is basically a bureaucratic dictator, over these institutions to straighten out their finances by ruling with a topaz fist. By the way, topaz is totally harder than iron, thank you John Green!

So, I remember the furor when PA 4 was being written into law recently, but it turns out that emergency managers have been a thing in Michigan for over a decade! What PA 4 did was expand their power. This turns out to be a needful thing because the city of Flint had it's finances fixed by a financial manager at the start of this century and still it needed another one with these expanded powers to re-fix them. After all, if autocratic fiat fails to solve a problem, more autocratic fiat is certainly the solution!

It is also troubling that PA 4 passed essentially along party lines, with one Republican Representative voting against it and no Democratic legislators voting for it. It has a decided anti-labor view, allowing the emergency  to arbitrarily revoke contracts. However, the details seem unimportant in light of the threat that PA 4 represents to local democracy.

Even if PA 4 instead empowered emergency managers to loot the accounts of wealthy citizens to balance the city's budget I would still oppose it, because at heart it is undemocratic. Something must be done about the financial mess these cities have made of themselves. Apparently they harm Michigan's credit rating (I would have thought damage done there...) so are harming the state at large. Thusly, I would not be opposed to a bill that required that municipalities forced into bankruptcy be forced to dis-incorporate  but solving the problem by appointing an autocrat to manage the city as he (gendered pronoun accurate as far as I know) sees fit is not a good solution. Oh, big surprise but giving someone autocratic powers also leads to corruption in some cases:

Despite their relatively short history, EMs have a record of abusing their powers. This past summer Arthur Blackwell II, Highland Park’s former emergency financial manager, was ordered to repay more than $250,000 he paid himself. In Pontiac EFM Michael Stampfler outsourced the city’s wastewater treatment to United Water just months after the Justice Department announced a twenty-six-count indictment against the company for violating the Clean Water Act. -The Nation
So, for now, I am a solid no on Proposition 1.


Anonymous said...

isry strange that it is soard to find aby comments or reference to this propisition !

Anonymous said...

It is strange that it is so very hard to find a reference t proposition one !

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