Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

March 11, 2011

Flagrant Assault on Democracy by Michigan Republicans

Filed under: Scott Walker,Wisconsin Class Warfare — millerlf @ 5:20 pm

Martial Law in Michigan and Republicans’ End Game

Posted on March 10, 2011 by Cassandra Vert Politicususa

While we were venting our outrage at shenanigans in Wisconsin politics, in fact while Republicans were planning last night’s attempted coup, the Michigan state legislature quietly passed a bill giving the Governor of Michigan martial control over the state.  Except instead of using actual military, the Governor is more likely to use private security. But make no mistake–rights would be suspended.

Here’s how it works:

The governor, on his own initiative, can declare an economic emergency in any town and appoint an administrator.  The administrator can be any person, including a corporate person.

The administrator has the power to do anything in the name of economic stability, including void contracts, void collective bargaining agreements, dissolve the town council, dissolve the school board, fire anyone including elected officials, hire private security, unincorporate the town, and sell off public property.

The people of the town have no say in this. They can neither demand nor turn away the administrator. That is because this provision is meant to be used against the people.

What might constitute an emergency in the Governor’s eyes?

A labor strike is the first thing that comes to mind.  Too many foreclosures.  Crime!  In short, anything he wants it to be–and with billionaire backers, any controversy can be created.

What might the administrator do in that emergency?

First, privatize everything. Fire public workers and take over all public functions–running schools, police and fire service, and so on.  Michigan just made this legal.

Second, imprison dissidents, shutter businesses, and seize property by eminent domain. This is not legal, but hey, that didn’t stop the Wisconsin Republicans.

In short, take over control and turn it into a corporate town.

We need to pay attention to Michigan because they are farther along the road to corporate statehood–to where the Republicans want to take all of us.

Other things you should know:

–The outnumbered Democrats in Michigan tried to add an amendment that the administrator’s could be paid no more than the governor, but that was voted down.  All the better to drain the public treasury.

–Michigan voted to increase taxes on the poor and elderly.  What little property they own will belong to the government soon.

–Michigan voted to disallow charitable tax deductions for donations to universities.  When universities depend more on public money, it is much easier for the government to control them.  Universities liberalize people, so they must be changed.

–Finally, people have been leaving Michigan in droves due to its poor economy.  If there had been no auto bailout–and it was hotly contested even by non-corporatists–there would be ghost towns all over the state. As it is, there are large ghost neighborhoods. These empty public nuisances are ripe for corporate ownership.

This is the Republicans’ end game: drain public entities of assets, privatize, turn what’s left over to corporations to run. In the running, they will use onerous taxation or find other ways to take away ownership of what is now privately held.

Corporations will control the government, and between the two of them, they will own all property.  And there will be nary a peep in the bulk of the media because the corporations control that too.

We can stop this, and the protests that started in Wisconsin are the way to start. It may get uglier before it gets better, but we can take our country back.

Another article on Michigan

by James Parks, Mar 9, 2011

In an outrageous power grab, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated state Senate passed, and sent back to the House, legislation today that allows Snyder to declare a local city to be in a financial emergency and appoint an emergency manager. That manager can, without anyone else’s approval, cancel contracts, including collective bargaining agreements, force consolidation of schools, townships, cities and counties and, unbelievably, unilaterally remove local elected officials.

Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, said the bill allows the financial manager to abrogate collective bargaining contracts for five years. “It takes every decision in a city or school district and puts it in the hands of the manager, from when the streets get plowed to who plows them and how much they are paid. In schools, the manager would decide academics or if you have athletics,” Gaffney said.

This is a takeover by the right wing and it’s an assault on democracy like I’ve never seen.

Unbelievably, the bill even allows Snyder to appoint a corporation as the emergency manager. On her MSNBC show last night, Rachel Maddow made clear what is happening:

This is not about a budget. This is about using or fabricating a crisis to push for an agenda that you would never be able to sell under normal circumstances.

Even more outrageous is the fact that Snyder’s budget creates the crisis by eliminating most of the state financial aid from local schools and local governments that many of them will be in dire straits. So, then, as Maddow points out, the governor who created the crisis can declare an emergency and decide what’s best for an entire town. No one can question it because the emergency manager can suspend the elected officials and even remove the town’s incorporation all together.

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