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View Diary: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder deals democracy another blow (291 comments)

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  •  It's not about what I'd propose. (14+ / 0-)

    It's about the fact that in a democratic republic, this kind of behavior, i.e., replacing entire city governments with bureaucrats answerable only to a governor, who can fire city employees and void contracts at will, should never be considered acceptable.

    Please explain to me why it's ok to deprive entire cities of the right to vote for people to represent them.  And I don't mean the explanation of "Well, they voted for people who didn't run the city well."  I mean, from a purely democratic and Constitutional standpoint, tell me why this is ok.  Because I can't see any possible argument for it.

    And if you think this is ok, then fine, why don't we have McDonnell (I assume from your username you're from Virginia) replace the mayor and city council of your town with someone with the powers I just described, who's only answerable to him.  Are you ok with that?  Because you shouldn't be.

    •  In fact, (11+ / 0-)

      if you're going to defend this, please also explain to me why it's ok that our state government re-passed a law THAT WE REPEALED by popular vote in November so that they could do this kind of thing.

    •  Thats not How Sovereign Power (11+ / 0-)

      works in the US.

      In the US, there are two levels of sovereignty - Federal and State - that's it.

      There is no constitutional right to have any local control at all - its up to the pleasure of the state.

      Now, if the state's constitution grants some local autonomy (sometimes referred to as "home rule") to the localities, then so be it, but if not, then you have NO local rights that the state legislature does not grant. The Michigan Constitution does not grant extensive sovereignty to local units, but gives the legislature broad powers to control home rule issues.

      I am from Detroit and watched the city slowly deteriorate at the hands of incompetent (and sometimes evil) leadership.

      Coleman Young was simply evil and power hungry. I don't even think it was the money (for his chief of police, Hart and several others, yes).  Young once quipped that he'd be mayor until he decided to quit and the people wouldn't throw him out since he'd just play the race card and rally people against those "white suburbanites" and that he'd defend them against the white people.

      What he did was to scare away the people with money and jobs (people who had jobs and also businesses) with his race-baiting hostility.

      My parents and grandparents grew up in a vibrant city that I saw fall apart before my eyes. In fact, as I grew, the city slowly collapsed, a bit more each year. I never knew the city my parents and grandparents once knew, only knowing Detroit as a has-been.

      Now, its not just bad leadership - we've had our share of bad luck - being a manufacturing town in the midst of globalization (a sell out to corporations). But, SO DID MANY OTHER INDUSTRIAL TOWNS and you can see that most of them didn't collapse into ruins like Detroit. It comes down to leadership that was inept, corrupt and just plain evil.

      We had a bit of light when Dennis Archer was mayor. He reached out to others and was conciliatory and almost immediately, some money started flowing back. In fact, the first real batch of new residential real estate developments in decades came back to the east side under his tutelage.

      Now on to unions. Sorry, but unions can also get greedy and ruin a city. Detroit has one of the most corrupt and militant civil service communities that I have ever seen.  People rail (and rightfully so) about corporations pillaging communities, but sometime unions can as well and that has happened in Detroit.

      So, the most powerful force in Detroit is the government unions (AFSCME, etc) and they organize and get out the vote. What do you think they want in return? Yup - they get whatever they want at the bargaining table. Problem is, the city would be bankrupt long ago if these concessions were current period wage increases of the magnitude they wanted, so they negotiated these sweetheart pension and medical benefits that VERY FEW PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS HAVE.

      That's the $14.99bln in unfunded  liabilities that need to be voided out. They were obtained in a corrupt practice and should be eliminated.

      I'm all for collective bargaining rights, but the unions have to take responsibility for being as greedy as the corporations and as short sighted about how their actions will affect their community in the long run.  Both corporate and union greed and corruption cause destruction.

      I don't like Snyder and his type, and I'm sure that he and his EFM will do some stuff that is not necessary to fix Detroit, but is an imposition of conservative values against the will of the citizens, but something needs to be done.

      Detroit's problems are due to corruption and greed on the part of both politicians and unions that entered into an unholy alliance to line their pockets both with power and money. It is story of the dark side of human nature, but it has caused an acute problem in Detroit, mainly because its been around so long.

      This is (or shouldn't be) conservative or liberal because math isn't and this is math. The city is beyond bankrupt. It can either crash and burn in a very ugly way, or have a managed landing, while still unpleasant, doesn't lose everything.

      Some outside force has to step in and make decisions without having the evil influences of unions and other people involved in this decades-long alliance.  Its for the good of the city and its (remaining) people.

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      by takascar2 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:18:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No one is arguing about the city's finances. (7+ / 0-)

        And I understand that the state constitution says this is technically legal.  But why is even that ok in a democracy?

        And I don't understand why you show absolutely no concern about the lack of accountability that EFMs have.

        •   (8+ / 0-)

          Accountability to whom? The same people who voted so stupidly and continued to do so for decades?

          Why do you think that its ok for the rest of the state to have to pay the bill for this corruption?

          Did they have a vote when they were put on the hook as co-signers for these bonds?

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          by takascar2 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:34:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Because (7+ / 0-)

            that's how a democracy works, goddammit.  You vote for your leaders to represent you.

            Taking that away from anyone is authoritarian.

            For that matter, what makes your money more important than those of the people in Detroit?  What makes the rest of us more important than them, that we get to vote for our local leaders and they don't?

            This whole idea of "well, if you consistently vote for the wrong people you lose your voting privileges" is bullshit, and anti-democratic, and I can't fucking believe how many people on here are advocating for that.

            •   (8+ / 0-)

              The people of the state have the power to change their constitution anytime they want. They have not chosen to.

              I get sick and tired of people claiming random rights that do not exist just because they "think they should have them".

              Go out and advocate for the rights you "think" you have and if you can get your fellow citizens to agree in enough numbers, you can give yourselves those rights.  If not, you DON'T HAVE THOSE RIGHTS.

              Why is everyone worried about RIGHTS more than RESPONSIBILITIES?

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              by takascar2 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:47:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why are you NOT worried (8+ / 0-)

                about the fact that the state is replacing elected officials with people who are only accountable to the governor, and have the right to fire anyone they want and void contracts?

                I would argue that as someone who lives in a democracy, and yet is advocating for disenfranchising an entire city, you're the one who's not concerned with responsibilities.

                •  Deficit is 30% of Budget (4+ / 0-)

                  If I were a city worker, that's what I would be worried about.

                  City workers are one judge away from seeing their salaries and pensions cut by 50%.

                  Pensions were slashed in Central Falls, RI.  And they can be slashed in Detroit.

                  If I were advising Detroit city workers, I would ask that they coalesce behind a city consolidation effort.  That's their best bet.

                  Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

                  by PatriciaVa on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:03:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  good question (0+ / 0-)

                  As I understand it from out of state, the law was repealed by initiative that was fought, tooth and font leading, but still passed repeal. Snyder, if he is a true small d democrat and especally if he is a smallr republican, should have had the goodsense to not exercise this power when the lege so  defiantly reenected the piece of shit law with crap written in that innoculates it from further initiative.

                  I had always thought the phrase "ballots not bullets" would always be  hyperbolic in my own ountry. Sadly, not only is this no longer the case. I have to struggle to think of reasons to give somene not to resort to the latter.

                  Have you heard? The vice president's gone mad. - Bob Dylan, 1966

                  by textus on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 02:01:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  the PEOPLE of the state (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sethtriggs, moose67, The Dude 415

                didn't vote to reinstall a stupid workaround. the GERRYMANDEREDD TEApig state legislature voted it and it was signed into law by a lame duck governor.  The PEOPLE of Michigan didn't vote to remove a law and then reinstate it.  the lame duck government did that.

                I fart in your general direction. Now run away before I taunt you some more

                by Adelante on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 02:06:23 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Lame duck Governor? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  auapplemac, The Dude 415

                  Please check to see when he is up for reelect.  The governor is so worried about his reelection, why would he vote agains the majority of people who voted to repeal the EFM law?  Because his legislature is a bunch of racist Teapers who not only did this but want to to electoral vote allocation that would have handed the majority of Michigan's electoral votes to Romney even though Obama won by 9% and 300,000 votes.  This is democracy?

              •  The people of Iran (or Saudia Arabia) have the (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                auapplemac

                power to change their constitution anytime they want. They have not chosen to.

                I get sick and tired of people claiming random rights that do not exist just because they "think they should have them".

                Go out and advocate for the rights you "think" you have and if you can get your fellow citizens to agree in enough numbers, you can give yourselves those rights.  If not, you DON'T HAVE THOSE RIGHTS.

                Why is everyone worried about RIGHTS more than RESPONSIBILITIES?

                You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

                by Throw The Bums Out on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 03:40:25 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I suggest you read the Constitution again... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                The Dude 415

                I direct you to the 9th ammendment....

                "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
                This means that ALL rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, even the ones that are not mentioned explicitly. None are ever GIVEN. You already have them.
                 

                "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

                by SaraBeth on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:40:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Many people believe that a bankruptcy judge (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              umjm13

              would salvage your precious democratic principles.

              Your concern for the actual social and living conditions for the residents of Detroit is sorely lacking in your quest for local representational purity.

              But there is absolutely nothing pure or democratic about the segregation along municipal lines of metropolitan Detroit.

          •  takascar2 - You wrote; (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Dude 415
            "The same people who voted so stupidly and continued to do so for decades?"
            By that logic someone should have taken Bush, Jr. out of office and the nation run by bean counters.

            Of course, that is called a coup....  

            Are you in favor of overriding the votes of the people if their choices are, as you said, "stupid" and vote for someone you don't approve of?

            And, whom do you suggest should be judging what is "stupid" and what is not?

            "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

            by SaraBeth on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:33:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  excuse me? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Dude 415

            Your claim is that with other Detroiters I voted for deindustrialization? I voted for redlining? I voted to kick out white people? I voted to gut social programs from Reagan forward?

            Take your eye off the local ballot box and look to the boardroom and to DC just a little bit more if you want to identify the causes of Detroit's decline.

        •  Actually, as much as I appreciate your comments (10+ / 0-)

          Dude and agree with them, as to finances, there are allegations by the mayoral candidates that a lot of the problem is that funds due to the City have been withheld.  I honestly don't know how accurate that is, but certainly important to take into consideration:

          From one of the Mayoral candidates:  "The validity of the EFM and EM laws notwithstanding, I am glad to know now that we have been joined by other civic leaders who agree with our assessment, that if the City were to collect the money it is owed by private corporations and by the State of Michigan, there would be no economic crisis."

          And you do NOT teach someone how to fish by taking away the pole.... and the lake.

          Snyder has got to go.  

        •  We are a Democratic Republic. We are not a pure (0+ / 0-)

          democracy. What do you do when an entity proves it cannot govern itself and is causing a drain on the rest of the system.

          It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

          by auapplemac on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 12:49:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It hasn't proven it can't govern itself. (0+ / 0-)

            Read some of the other comments here about the underlying causes of the city's problems.

            To say "Detroit can't govern itself" is the equivalent of saying "Those damn black people don't know what's good for them", especially since almost every city this has happened in has been majority African-American.

            You know what's causing a drain on the rest of the system?  The aforementioned taxes that are owed by some of the biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals in the state.  Should we allow the state to take them over too to fix this problem?

            All one has to do is look at the history of what the EMs have done here to see this isn't really about helping the city or the state.

      •  Also, what about the 14th amendment? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        COBALT1928, textus

        The 14th amendment has been interpreted to mean that all rights provided in the constitution also be extended to the states.  How is circumventing democracy in certain cities but not others not a violation of equal protection?

      •  I live in Detroit and I vehemently disagree with (15+ / 0-)

        your essay. You sound real upset and bitter towards Coleman A. Young. But you fail to note why Blacks revere him. The racism that many Black folks felt from the Whites who kept  Blacks out of jobs and out of neighborhoods. Coleman A. Young organized suppressed Black Detroiters. Coleman Young represented the rise of Black political power and there are Whites who are still upset about that and how the "Blacks took over their city."

        Any way, Detroit's financial decline was decades in the making. When whites moved out of the city because of the growing Black population, the jobs moved with them. This started before Coleman A. Young. When the jobs left, tax revenue left and that left Detroit in a bind. Middle class Blacks moved as well and as a result, my city lost more revenue. This led to a lower quality of life for citizens who remain in the city.

        Also, you forget about revenue sharing which caused a deficit in Detroit's budget. As of today, Detroit's sales tax is 6% because the city went into an agreement with the state not to raise local taxes. In exchange, the state promised Detroit $200 million plus to cover taxes not collected. The state did not follow up on its end of the bargain. The city depends on these resources and when the state broke its word, then the budget deficit ballooned.

        Unions, I don't know anyone on Kos that would seriously call unions "greedy." AFSCME made a lot of concessions to make sure their members remained on the payroll only to be screwed by Governor Snyder. If you don't think that Al Garrett and Co. shouldn't fight for his employees, then you don't understand the purpose of unions.

        It's funny how folks who agree with this takeover are in line with Republicans who ram-rodded the EM Law, anti-choice legislation, and who continue to tax seniors at the expense of protecting big businesses.

        The overall vibe I am getting from supporters of Detroit's disenfranchisement, is that the EM law is okay as long as its for the Blacks. There is an undeniable racist element in this move if half of MI's Black population is under an EM.

        The EM is about taking away the democratic voice from the Democratic Party's most loyal constituent group, African Americans. This is a modern Jim Crow and the only difference between Jim Crow and his son, James Crow II. Esq. is that James Crow II Esq. bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers and that he won't call you a "n" word to your face.

        If you really care about Detroit, come back home and help make a difference! I live here and I take offense to anyone who wants to take my voice away.

        "If it's somebody from The Bronx versus anybody else... always vote on the person from The Bronx."- Keith Olbermann

        by shanay on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 03:27:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Also from Detroit (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sknutson415, auapplemac

          And I agree wholeheartedly with takascar2's comments.  Lots of cities in the country suffered in the 50's when white people all around the country decided to move to the burbs.  Detroit is different from all those other cities because it alone decided to elect a mayor who declared war with those white suburbanites and used the animosity he created to establish a corrupt fiefdom that slowly destroyed his city..

          Coleman Young's "legacy" is the single worst thing ever to happen to Detroit and the metro area surrounding it.  The corruption and pattern of horrendous voting decisions lives on to this day - this is a city whose last mayor will be in prison for decades because he openly stole so much from the city of Detroit.  AND not only that, but he was re-elected to a second term after the extent of his crimes was quite clear.

          I am extremely skeptical of the EM law and in favor of giving voters full control of their local government, but at the same time there is simply no constitutional right to electing your own city government.  And in the case of Detroit, I agree fully with taking away control from the people who have been running the city into the ground for 40 years.  The party is over - there are consequences to electing people who openly steal from the city and work to scare off its tax base.  The city will eventually go broke and have to take drastic action.  So here it is.

          Detroit is horribly, horribly broken in a way that is really hard to even comprehend if you haven't lived there.  I personally had to leave the area because I am simply not wiling to tie my personal fortune to a metro area whose anchor is the most incompetently run big city in the country.  They need to get the current government out of there, throw half of them in jail like the ex-governor they enabled, and burn down every tribute to Coleman Young in that wretched place.  Maybe then the next generation growing up might not have to leave in order to find real opportunity.

      •  I'm going to rec that comment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Dude 415, umjm13

        with the caveat that Coleman Young did not chase and scare white people away from the city. He filled a power vacuum that was left by scared racists who abandoned this town to suburban development, end running Brown v Board of education, creating racially exclusive communities and continue to snub it to this day.

        You want to blame metro detroit's segregation on Coleman Young? That's as facile and false a scapegoating as this diary is to Snyder.

      •  Thanks, takascar. Sometimes it's hard to face the (0+ / 0-)

        truth when it's your icons that are being criticized.

        It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

        by auapplemac on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 12:45:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bullshit (0+ / 0-)

      It should never be acceptable only if a Republican governor is in office and the emergency is in a Democratic city.

      Thats the real deal.

      The Democratic party in Michigan is a clusterfuck mess. Hopefully that is about to change with Lon Johnson.

      This is not about your democratic principles. It's about people's lives being destroyed by an untenable city government.

      What's more democratic, a judges bankruptcy court, or an elected Governor's appointment? Those are the options.

      Unfortunately when we had a Democratic governor and an unchallenged emergency manager law, she was feckless about the plight of the city and the mayor was occupying the office with a criminal gang.  

      •  How about the state (8+ / 0-)

        paying back the money it owes the city?

        And it was wrong when Granholm did it too, and you will never hear me claim otherwise.

        Nor will I ever defend Kwame, because I don't really see how anyone could.  

        But what we've seen with the emergency managers in Pontiac and Benton Harbor is people's lives being destroyed by a bureaucrat who doesn't give a flying fuck about their well-being, since he's only answerable to the governor.  What reason do you have to believe this won't also happen in Detroit?

        And, really, how is the argument you're making any different than the arguments made by countless dictators?  

        •  Sry for my harsh reply but Joe Harris (0+ / 0-)

          Is not a careless person. And, I think that assumption about the managers is unfounded. The councils and mayors simply refuse to leverage their authority to balance books, because they are politicians. Bing could very well be EFM. And probably very effective.

          The law is the law. It's EfM or a bankruptcy judge. The city is defaulting.

        •  Elected city officials have to follow the state's (0+ / 0-)

          laws just like the rest of us. Detroit's elected officials seem to have a chronic problem with that.

        •  Money owed? (0+ / 0-)

          As a resident of a Detroit suburb, my understanding is that a good chunk of that money owed is based on the revenue sharing that the state cut off when the bottom fell out of the economy.  My city is also "owed" money by the state under that interpretation.  This does not speak to the larger issues but I do think that anyone who wants to understand what is going on here needs to be clear on the details.  As someone who lives in the suburbs and works in Detroit I am very ambivalent about this situation.  I did vote against the EM law and think appointing one is anti-democratic.  But I see utter devastation in Detroit every day on my commute with no plan to address that coming out of the current city government.

          •  Agreed on your last point. (0+ / 0-)

            But considering the history of the city's problems, I also don't think it's right to say "well, the people of Detroit can't take care of themselves, so we need to do this."  It doesn't take into account all the ways Detroit has been fucked over in the last few decades.  Hell, even going back to the Depression, if I recall correctly, the black neighborhoods in the city got less benefit from New Deal programs because of redlining.

            Detroit's decline started decades ago, and the problem is more complicated than just "Oh, the people in the city keep voting for shitty governments."

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