Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Emergency Manager Law

Here are some more links for you to understand more about what is about to happen to Detroit. I have a whole blog dedicated to it, No Emergency Managers. It is imperative that every person in and around Detroit come to their own understanding of this issue from multiple sources, not just what you hear or see on popular radio and TV. I know we are all tired and angry but this is not the time to give up, give in, or be misinformed. 

If you just have time to read 2:
  • This article is by a judge from Dome Magazine that explains the law. Very informative.
  • I challenge you to read these accounts of what happens once an unelected appointed "Emergency Manager" comes. Are the people in those cities are still in a democracy?   
If you can stand to read some more:
  • This one is about the past public act, not the current law, but gives you a lot of background on the subject. 
  • How much do they get paid as unelected appointees
  • Interested in what happened in Flint? Or maybe you don't want to know? 
  • If you would like to see what the Governor's group says about the law, see this little piece about it. 
  • For an overall financial look at how the EMs are doing in the cities they are in and some more Detroit voices on the matter: 
  • This infographic is so far from reality it is funny.
  • And Belle Isle? Here is an example of a park in Benton Harbor, Jean Clock, that was partly turned into a golf course. The emergency manager didn't make the whole mess, but this is what happens when a beautiful park gifted to a city is shimmied into private hands with the icing on the cake being the emergency manager. Give them an inch... 
  • a broad-based coalition of communities, unions, and concerned citizens united in retaining self-government by the people of Detroit. 
 About Detroit's Finances
  • For more information about Detroit's finances, visit my other blog post, Detroit's Finances.
  • This website has information about a "Freedom of Information Act request seeking to have the city turn over 10 years’ worth of records related to all contracts and agreements between the city and banks or brokerage houses relating to the purchase of bonds, interest rate swaps, pension obligation certificates, hedge fund derivatives, termination or default agreements, or other forms of debt…”  
About Municipal Bankruptcy & Detroit

The first and most important step for Detroit to recover is to get its own finances in order, fix all the financial systems and update them, collect all back taxes (or at least account it and sell the debt), and sue for all the ways Detroit has been victimized by banks. This is what good governance would include. Orr and Snyder and their friends are not interested in governance, just protecting bond insurers and bondholders. I am not sure how a federal court could seriously take anything from Detroit in the state of financial record keeping it is in and from an appointee, not an elected official. The judgement would be made of financial jell-o and the representative of Detroit would be a man who probably has the good and welfare of banks on his mind, not people who (didn't) elect him. See first bullet below about how federal bankruptcy court can't do what Snyder and friends have cooked up in the EM Law.   

"Emergency Management" has historically turned out badly. For an example, see the the Second Reich, Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution of Germany (page 237, Law in Times of Crisis). Yeah, oops. Note the section in that link about how in Germany there was a normalization of the idea of "Emergency Management". It is imperative that everyone keep the truth - that this is ABNORMAL - at the forefront when they see information in the cooked up regular media or from the EM or State.
  • Chapter 9 Bankruptcy from the official US Courts website. "The purpose of chapter 9 is to provide a financially-distressed municipality protection from its creditors while it develops and negotiates a plan for adjusting its debts. Reorganization of the debts of a municipality is typically accomplished either by extending debt maturities, reducing the amount of principal or interest, or refinancing the debt by obtaining a new loan." Interesting to note that Chapter 9 is sort of feds hands-off  - see why: " The restrictions imposed by 11 U.S.C. § 904 are necessary to ensure the constitutionality of chapter 9 and to avoid the possibility that the court might substitute its control over the political or governmental affairs or property of the debtor for that of the state and the elected officials of the municipality." But we have an EM that can substitute his unelected control over our municipality's political affairs and property? So what the federal bankruptcy laws carefully avoid, the EM Law openly steps into?
  •  Municipal Bankruptcy: An Overview This is a meaty article about what has happened to cities who went through bankruptcy. Some of the solutions on the bankruptcy buffet are: 
    • not paying into pension funds
    • cutting staff (as if Detroit could cut anymore)
    • paying millions in legal fees (as if aren't already paying enough for lawyers, like Jones Day, the law firm the Emergency Manager comes from, plus more budgeted for next year)
    • extending the already nearly immortal life of the the bonds to stretch them over even more years (leaving debt not just for your children, but your grandchildren), 
    • higher taxes (we are already the highest taxed city of over 50,000 in the state) 
    • bank concessions (let's see)
    • I didn't see anyone losing their parks or art in the bankruptcies - assets are supposedly protected - I am checking into that. Browsing/threatening/selling our assets may be just something "extra special" made just for Detroit for before the bankruptcy.
    • It seems bondholders are the number one priority, not the well being of the city's residents. 
  • What Happens When a City Declares Bankruptcy?  
  • Here is bankrupt Stockton's webpage for citizens about their process
  • Here is Stockton's "confidential neutral evaluation process used by the City to try and
    avoid bankruptcy, known as AB 506".
  • Detroit Driving Toward Its Own Debt Cliff  old but interesting. 
  • A County in Alabama Strikes a Bankruptcy Deal Chase Bank gave up $842 million in the deal.
  • Broke Cities Facts and Opinions on Municipal Bankruptcy in California
  •  Save Detroit the New York Way, comparing Detroit now to New York in the 1970's and how Federal intervention helped. 
  • The man who once saved New York City from bankruptcy explains why Detroit may go under No, this is not a positive perspective. However, what it highlights to me is that a team undertook the issues that NYC had. I have never felt that the State has approached Detroit's problems with the desire to actually fix them or the desire to work as a team. 
Now that you have looked into it more, I want to ask you: Since when is a city's financial situation tied to the voting rights of its people? I would have never imagined that thousands of people could be bullied into a situation where the two are tied together. Not in America. This is all about how the issue is being framed - don't fall for it.

When I was a child, I was a Girl Scout for 7 years. This is nothing I ever imagined I would see in my lifetime. In American history many people fought so that I would have a vote, that my voice would count, that everyone's voice would count. No one has the right to take that away from me or from anyone else.

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