The bill granting expanded powers to emergency financial managers that appears destined to become law in Michigan isn’t a blatant attempt to kill collective bargaining rights for public employees ala Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But that may be the best thing that can be said about the legislation that seems to have been purposely designed to make officials in cities and school districts seriously consider selling their body parts as a way to raise cash, avert financial problems and prevent the state treasurer’s office from appointing an emergency manager with near dictatorial powers.
According to a freep.com story by Chris Christoff, under the legislation emergency financial managers would be given “…authority to do whatever it takes to declare bankruptcy, or avoid it by drastic steps. That could even mean ordering millage elections or dissolving local governments of school districts and merging them with neighboring ones.” Emergency financial managers would also have the power to torch union contracts.
The bill goes to far in that it gives emergency financial managers the ability to overrule the democratic right of Michiganders to decide the structure and leadership of local governments. Democracy isn't neat and tidy and as Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Robert Bobb's experience with the city's school board has shown, it can be downright maddening at times. But it beats the alternative.
The legislation is a case of the cure being worse than the disease.