AFRICANGLOBE – Haven’t you ever wondered, once a representative who differs politically from you, has said or done something that you find spectacularly stupid or offensive, what a nice thing it would be if the person just wasn’t in office any more OR had his authority limited to something more appropriate to his intelligence, say for example asking you “Paper or plastic today?”
You probably have.
Unfortunately the flaw in this here republic is that people get to vote on their elected representatives, no matter how stupid you may think they are or how immoral you may find their political positions. So this means, absent term limits, internal legislative rules or criminal convictions, someone you don’t like may hold her elected position with all the authority of that position for as long as she likes, no matter how much damage she may do to her constituency. Bottom line is that the people get to decide on their elected representatives. Period.
Well not so fast. Although much of the conversation about the new Republican governorships and state legislative majorities in the US has focused on Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida, the new Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, and the Republican state House and Senate majorities have been busy as a bee hive proposing or imposing a host of new changes to how state government works. One of these changes has been the ability for the State of Michigan to grant executive powers to emergency managers for municipalities, not just school boards, which allows the emergency financial managers to eliminate collective bargaining contracts. It also allows earlier appointments of such managers, before a municipality asks for one or declares bankruptcy.
Benton Harbor— In a move believed to be the first under sweeping new state legislation, Emergency Manager Joseph Harris suspended decision-making powers of city officials Friday.
Officials only can call meetings to order, adjourn them and approve minutes of meetings as part of the order issued Friday.
The action is likely the first since Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law in March a new statute that grants more powers to emergency managers appointed by the Treasury Department to take over distressed schools and communities.
At least one elected Benton Harbor official was sanguine about the order. “It doesn’t bother me,” said City Commissioner Bryan Joseph. “I’m in favor of it.”
Joseph said he has watched financial mismanagement for decades, which was one of the reasons he ran for election in 2008.
But the move drew a strong rebuke from the AFL-CIO. The union represents administrative workers, among others. “This is sad news for democracy in Michigan,” said Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton Harbor … we can now see the true nature of the emergency manager system.”
No one can doubt that these cities are indeed in pretty crappy condition. People can argue over how they got there and what needs to be done to solve their issues. Some people say that this is the obvious end result of a bloated welfare state and union “gimme” mindset that must ruthlessly be eradicated. Others respond that this is late stage capitalism as more workers become superfluous to profit and are shed at ever increasing rates. Other people have even simpler and much uglier theories which are related to the demographics of those cities.
Whatever one’s opinion might be, should we agree that the people in a given city should have the ABSOLUTE right to elect whoever they want and run their city how they want? Or is this a quaint notion at a time where Detroit councilwoman (and lovable quack) JoAnn Watson is calling for a city bailout on the scale of what the federal government gave to GM.