BY DAVID NICHOLAS
As Michigan goes to the polls on November 6, residents will be voting up or down on six ballot proposals. Recent elections have often included complex and controversial initiatives, but seldom has there been this many proposals with such long-lasting implications.
"Proposal 1 is commonly identified as the Emergency Manager Referendum, it is the third time Michigan laws have been re-written to give state the authority to appoint such a manager over a local government. This time, the authority extends to non-financial operations."
The State Supreme Court suspended Public Act 4 of 2011 in August, the vote on Tuesday will either reinstate this new version or essentially return the state to the prior framework.
Governor Rick Snyder's administration supports the proposal. The state's Lt Governor Brian Calley defends that support, noting that currently, "only eight jurisdictions are under the control of an emergency manager..."
Opponents point out to what they say is why the eight jurisdictions are in the situation they are in. Further, they say, policy enacted by the administration would lead to many more being labeled under the criteria for appointing an EFM and by extension, lead to more control from Lansing.
Nick Ciaramitaro is Legislative Director for Council 25 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees. His union represents many local government employees across Michigan. He said Proposal 1, in his words, "essentially eliminates local democracy..."
According to Ciaramitaro, cuts to school aid and revenue sharing have now placed what he counts as dozens of communities and school districts in financial distress and therefore already under review for possible EFM appointments from the governor. He said if it is deemed that a local official is not doing his or her job, he or she can be voted out of or removed from office.
There are what can be viewed as intersecting clauses in this proposal and in Proposal 2 which deals with collective bargaining. Ciaramitaro said the up and down vote scenarios on both could lead to some confusing sets of dos and don'ts when it comes to how local governments are run...
Lt. Governor Calley said that returning to the existing provisions of the Emergency Manager Law presents what would be a precarious situation for many local units across the state...
Citizens will vote yes or no on Proposal 1, and five other ballot proposals, next Tuesday.