“Martial Law” in Michigan

From the Michigan Messenger:

The impoverished former industrial town of Benton Harbor has become a flashpoint in the controversy over the new law that allows the governor to appoint Emergency Managers with virtually unlimited authority over local governments.

On Thursday the state-appointed Emergency Manager Joe Harris used the expanded powers granted by the new law to issue an order banning the city commission from taking any action without his written permission.

Benton Harbor City Commissioner Juanita Henry says her constituents are angry and looking for help, but without the power to hold meetings the city commission can’t even provide an official venue for citizens to ask questions and get answers.

“They are using Benton Harbor as a test case,“ Henry said. “If they have disenfranchised the people so badly they just don’t respond to anything, they can do this all over the country.”

According to the article, Benton Harbor is home to the corporate headquarters of Whirlpool. However, the last manufacturing plant shut down earlier this year, and half the population lives below the poverty line. And the city is broke. Last year Gov. Jennifer Granholm approved a state takeover of the city’s finances because the city couldn’t make payroll. But this year, the new Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that gives the emergency manager dictatorial powers. This is from the Michigan Messenger, March 11

Under the law whole cities or school districts could be eliminated without any public participation or oversight, and amendments designed to provide minimal safeguards and public involvement were voted down.

An amendment to require Emergency Managers to hold monthly public meetings to let people know how they are governing was rejected by Senate Republicans, along with proposals to cap Emergency Manager compensation and require that those appointed to run school districts have some background in education.

Back to the current situation — instead of trying to help Benton Harbor get back on its feet, it appears the state is determined to loot what’s left of it to benefit the corporate overlords. For example, a city park was privatized and is being turned into a luxury golf course.

Then the appointed city manager tried to cut the fire department. The city commission was able to stop that, but now the city commission has, in effect, been dissolved. So if you live in Benton Harbor and your house catches fire, maybe the Whirlpool executives at the golf course will send over a few buckets of ice cubes.

Detroit is also under Snyder martial law, and emergency manager Robert Bobb (do they call him Bob Bobb?) has just laid off all of the city’s teachers. All of them. Every one. E.D. Kain writes,

Bobb has said he will take advantage of the new Financial Martial Law known as Public Act 4 to “unilaterally modify” the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers.

Get this —

So who is Robert Bobb?

It turns out, he’s a recent graduate of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendent Academy. The Broad Foundation, along with the Kellogg Foundation, pays Bobb $145,000 a year on top of his $280,000 government salary. For those of you not familiar with Broad, it is one of the leading foundations promoting school choice and privatization across the country. One might almost think that paying a public official hundreds of thousands of dollars a year might amount to nothing short of bribery, especially given the very specific agenda of a foundation like the Broad Foundation. …

… This is nothing short of a coordinated effort between the billionaire foundations pushing school reform and Tea Party conservatives intent on slashing benefits and ending collective bargaining rights. Public schools are under assault by the forces of privatization, and public school teachers face benefit and salary cuts while the very rich are promised tax cuts. Similar efforts are underway in Florida and Wisconsin.

Basically, a bunch of Republicans took control of the legislature, voted themselves dictatorial powers, and now the state is being run by an oligarchy. And they’re doing it in the name of liberty.

On the plus side, the campaign to recall Gov. Snyder is underway.

Also in the Michigan Messenger — a Michigan state senator has introduced a budget proposal that would deny funds for new clothes for children in foster care. Instead, for their clothing allowance foster children will be given gift cards that can be used only in second-hand shops like Goodwill.

Elsewhere — rich people want you to take pity on them.

13 thoughts on ““Martial Law” in Michigan

  1. Godwin forgive me.

    Hannah Arendt, when writing about that Nazi cipher Adolf Eichmann, used the term “the banality of evil.”

    And now we have our own versions of “the banality of evil,” with All-American names like “Bob” Bobb, Rick Snyder, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan.

    I miss the Republicans and Conservatives I grew up with. Though I disliked a lot of their positions, I did like the ones about protecting the rights of the individual, and having government keeping its nose out of peoples business.
    They are long gone. Either dead, retired, or forced to leap into the ever growing destructive conservative cyclone of madness to save their political lives.
    Today’s Republicans and Conservatives are thugs, who prefer being dictators to actually working with the people they’re supposed to represent. Now, they tell the people what THEY represent to them. They don’t negotiate. They take no prisoners.
    If something isn’t done to stop these people NOW, we are on well on our way to a Fascist Theocratic government, of, for, and by, the oligarchs. We are damn close to it right now.
    Even in the game of chess, a pawn has some value. We, the people, will soon find ourselve to be worth less than pawns.

  2. Slightly OT – Here, thanks to Steve M., is something worth reading.
    It describes what our dystopian future might look like soon if the rich continue to accrue the bulk of the money in this country. It’ll look like the Banana Republic’s of South and Central America, where the rich hide in walled and gated homes, guarded by armed security guards.


    Having said all of that, Happy Easter to everyone who’s a believer!
    And have a great Sunday to everyone else!

  3. My wife and I were absolutely appalled by this news, and indeed, by all of the reports of Republicans behaving in this way. I know there is a revolution brewing in this country and if it were up to me the first shots would have already been fired. There comes a time when this is the only kind of response that gets attention.

  4. Polly want a “Cracker?”

    Hey, maha, remember that video of Warren Grady that I gave you the link for – the one where the racist tells everyone why he’s not a racist?

    Well, he’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

    And he’s running for President!
    Yes, his platform consists of re-education camps for black people, and deportation of all Muslims. And a whole host of other racist, eliminationist gibberish.

    And this Cracker steals a line from Clinton: “It’s the white people, stupid!”
    It occurs to me that this guy is like some Bircher Yoda, because the ‘stupid is powerful in him, yes, yes…’

    Nope, Teabaggers ain’t racist.
    No, not at all.

    I’d laugh it this wasn’t all so sad and stupid.

  5. Bruce Casswell has already walked back part of his proposal on the clothing allowance issue: On his website he now says he wants to develop a benefit card that can be used at multiple clothing stores, not just thrift shops and second-hand stores. He also wants to see if he can get a discount program tied to the benefit card. And he admits the purpose of the card proposal is to MAKE SURE THE MONEY IS BEING SPENT ON CLOTHES. What is more appalling to me is that public assistance grantees get an allowance of $80 a YEAR for each child for clothing. So I think these people are already buying their children’s clothing at thrift shops. Even at Wal-Mart and such stores $80 isn’t going very far. It’s just another way of taking away the dignity of assistance receipients.

  6. “a Fascist Theocratic government,” Classic fascist governments are socialist in formation echoing Hegelian paradigms. This trend skips that phase entirely and seeks to create a kind-of neo-feudalism.

    • Why do the American people keep voting republican?

      I think the single biggest reason is that big chunks of the population are getting all of their information from media funded by ultra-right tycoons. They have absolutely no idea what’s really going on, and there’s little hope of reaching them.

  7. Which part of the deeply revered Constitution contains these provisions for overthrow of the Constitution? Perhaps the Federalist Papers, which I also do not for a minute believe the baggers have read, could give us a clue?

  8. the dumber you are
    the easier you fall
    Michigan my friend
    is the dumbest of all

    in these hard times
    who do they elect
    a vulturous cadre
    of reptilian descent

    a nefarious governor
    as evil as they come
    a Republican trifecta
    of verminous scum

    the state lays broken
    it’s beaten, supine
    ripe for the picking
    as they queue up in line

    they’re drooling, salivating
    as they eye the feast
    this ravenous, rapacious
    Republican beast

    first it’s Benton Harbor
    where next in the state
    so many to choose from
    as they load their plate

  9. I read a diary on DailyKos that made the argument that recall in Michigan is pretty difficult. They have to get something like 10% of the population to sign petitions to get it on the ballot. And I think if the ballot measure passes, the Lt Governor – another Republican – takes over.

    Also read that Benton Harbor is 90% black, and there’s a choice piece of property involved – probably that golf course you mentioned.

    I view what’s going on in the upper midwest as a cancer – and I think some of it will be turned back (particularly in Wisconsin), but other areas won’t be so lucky. Things are happening so fast, and America’s decline so precipitous, that I don’t know if or when Michigan will return to normal. And the cancer will be spreading, as the oligarchs become more experienced and brazen. What used to be hidden is now out in the open for all to see, for they have no fear in what they’re doing.

  10. This gets scarier by the day. I know in my heart that this will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional, I just hope that there is something left to salvage by the time that very slow court process gets to the end.

    And yet, everyday, I hear far too many people that I run into parroting something heard on “Faux News” as fact. Can we save ourselves?

    Sad, sad indeed.

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