Warehouse E

GOP Skullduggery

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Is Michigan Now Under Fascist Rule?

By James Donahue

A petition bearing the names of more than 200,000 angry citizens and calling for a referendum election on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s controversial “Emergency Management Law” in November has been thrown out by the state’s Board of Canvassers.

The law, legally known as Public Act 4 and signed by Governor Snyder in March 2011, gives the state the power to take over financially distressed towns and school districts and assign corporate managers to run them. Four cities and three school districts have since been taken over by the state.

The law calls for a state-appointed financial manager with the power to dismiss all elected board members and dissolve contracts, including labor agreements with employees.

Backers of the bill say it is a provision to assist when local government boards are in danger of plunging into deficit spending, which is a violation of state law. But in today’s economic climate, with so many people out of work and property values plunging (which means declining property tax money coming in to community, school and county coffers) most local government bodies are struggling to avoid deficit spending.

The legislation sparked a massive statewide grassroots campaign among a coalition of groups that called itself Michigan Rising. The group produced petitions claiming 226,000 signatures at the Secretary of State’s office in Lansing in February. By law only 162,000 signatures were needed to force a referendum.

How could the petitions be legally ignored? Can anything to done to overturn the decision by the Board of State Canvassers? A statement issued this week by Michigan Rising suggests that the group intends to fight to still get the issue on the November ballot so the people can have a voice in this matter.

The statement noted that the Board of Canvassers “by a vote of 2 to 2” refused to validate the petitions. “By doing so they threw out the signatures of nearly a quarter million Michigan citizens.

“Michigan Rising sees this action as yet another direct violation of the principals that this democracy was built on. This action and those who support it have no interest in sustaining democratic rule in our state. Instead they are planting the seeds of tyranny. We will not stand idly by and watch as our rights to redress grievances with government are eroded. We will not tolerate dictatorial rule.”

Michigan Rising also is actively circulating a second recall petition against Governor Snyder after a first attempt failed to raise the needed number of signatures within a 90-day time limit last year.

The Michigan Constitution sets term limits of only two years for the governor, which means that Snyder must seek re-election in November. Thus voters will have a chance to boot him from office if they choose. His two-year term, which began January 1, 2011, will end at New Years Day, 2013.