Another recent example of the practice comes to us from Michigan, where legislation allowing for the declaration of "financial martial law" empowers the governor to dissolve elected local governing bodies and replace them with "emergency financial managers." The new law has received relatively little attention in the corporate media, but a number of bloggers at Forbes have been following the story rather closely. From Rick Ungar, just over a month ago:
This week, the Michigan legislature passed – and the governor signed into law – a bill that would permit Governor Rick Snyder to push aside elected city officials and replace them with emergency financial managers in any municipality or school district facing financial difficulties. . . .In Detriot, the actions of "Emergency Financial Manager" Robert Bobb stoked actions that resulted in the arrests of numerous protesters who opposed the unilateral closure of a highly successful school for pregnant teens. From E.D. Kain at Forbes, last week:
Whatever the reason, one of the most shocking, Draconian, democracy-destroying measures in the history of this country has became law – and the nation has seemingly slept through it. Should you think I am somehow overstating the issue – which would certainly be understandable given how difficult all of this is to believe – let’s do a quick review of what has happened in Wolverine State.
The new law, described by one of the GOP legislators sponsoring the bill as “financial martial law”, empowers the governor’s appointees (referred to as ‘Emergency Financial Managers’ but more aptly termed viceroys appointed by the king) allows the EFR to fire duly elected local officials, cancel labor contracts and even dissolve entire communities and school districts. . . .
This law gives an appointee of the governor – which, by the way, may be a corporation – the authority to dismiss any or all of a municipality’s elected government officials. How does this not anoint Michigan’s governor as King Richard the First? Let that sink in for a moment and then explain to me how any citizen of this country can avoid outrage?
Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb announced last month that he was closing eight schools, and selling up to 45 more to charter companies. Among those slated for clsoure was the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school designed for pregnant teens and the only one of its kind in the nation. One reason the announcement came as such a surprise to students and teachers there is that Catherine Ferguson has a stellar track record, boasting 90% graduation rates and 100% college acceptance rates.A local media account of the protest action against the closure of the school:
Protesters gathered outside the Catherine Ferguson Academy Friday afternoon chanting, picketing and holding signs -- a show of solidarity against the proposed closing of the school, which caters to pregnant and parenting teenage girls. While they were outside, about a dozen others were inside holed up in the library. When they wouldn't come out, Detroit police went inside.Under the rule of the Republican-Democrat party, a peaceful protest is no longer the way to go about trying to get your message heard. Such tactics, one assumes, are better suited to a situation in which government officials are democratically elected by the public. Instead, you are encouraged to grovel at the feet of your local emergency financial dictator.
"Police came and they're like, 'You've got to go. You've got to go,' said Tiffany Baldwin. "We just stood there and they just arrested us one by one."
"Officers advised them that the building was closed and that they did need to leave or they would be considered trespassers. After several warnings, they refused to comply. Once we were able to make entry into the room where they were, we arrested several for trespass," said Chief Roderick Grimes with Detroit Public Schools.
As the chants grew louder, students, former students and even a teacher were led out in handcuffs . . . Some struggled, some screamed, all were put in squad cars and hauled away. "To go in like storm troopers to arrest people who were carrying on a peaceful protest during spring break to preserve their school was just absolutely outrageous," Driver said . . .
There was a DPS spokesperson on the scene. He said they understand that a school can mean so much to students, parents and teachers, but that a protest is not the way to go about trying to get your message heard. Instead, they are encouraged to talk to Robert Bobb and show that their school needs to stay open. [Emphasis added.]