The Stand Up for Democracy Coalition in Michigan has announced that the Secretary of State Board of State Canvassers has validated 203,238 voter signatures and the repeal of Michigan’s heinous, fascist Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager Law, will be on the ballot in November. The group needed 161,305 signatures. They are continuing their efforts to collect enough signatures to force a recall of Governor Rick Snyder.
But, just when everyone thought it was all over but the voting, the Board split 2-2 about putting the measure on the ballot, thereby keeping it off. A group challenged the validity of the petitions because of the font size of the headings. Apparently, it was too small. Stand Up for Democracy’s attorney, Herb Sanders, plans to file an immediate lawsuit. He is prepared to take the case all the way to the Federal courts.
The Emergency Manager Law allowed Governor Snyder to declare that a town or city was in deep financial doo-doo and could not be trusted to manage their own affairs. He could, under the law, dismantle the elected government of a city or town and appoint someone to manage it. He used this against the town of Benton Harbor last year, so that a friend would be able to seize the town’s public beach and give it to a neighboring town for their exclusive country club development. Benton Harbor was the smallest target of Snyder’s dictatorship. He took over the town of Ecorse and the cities of Flint and Pontiac. In Pontiac, his manager virtually privatized the whole city, fired all the managers and shut down all the city services. Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights all had their school systems taken over. Flint took the law to court and won. By that point, the people of Michigan had had enough.
Saving a town or city that is in financial trouble should not mean taking away the rights of citizens to choose their government. That is what the Emergency Manager law did. It fired the men and women who were elected by the citizens of Benton Harbor, Ecorse and Pontiac. It turned those towns into private fiefdoms of Rick Snyder, run by his cronies in accordance with their personal vision of a privatized world.
The rest of us should be very grateful to the people of Benton Harbor, Ecorse and Pontiac. Their plight has shown us the result of letting the Republicans have their way. The Republicans have changed the vocabulary, but not the intent. They want to privatize everything they possibly can so that someone, somewhere will make a profit from running a police force or a fire department, operating a prison, plowing snow, running schools. Privatized prisons have been shown to cost more and provide less security both for the inmates and the community. They have been shown to make their profit on a mountain of baloney sandwiches. Private fire departments can let a house burn down if someone hasn’t paid their fees. Private police departments don’t have to meet the same standards of training and ethics as public police. Do you really want a mall cop investigating your robbery? Private schools have no obligation to accept or retain any student considered “difficult.” That’s the big secret to why private schools are better than public ones. They don’t have to take any kid who needs more help or doesn’t meet the IQ requirement or doesn’t wear the right clothes or has the wrong parents.
The Stand Up For Democracy coalition is doing just that – standing up for our democracy. For more information go to www.standup4democracy.com or, if you live in Michigan, call 1-866-306-5168 to volunteer.