Michigan voters repealed their state's emergency manager in November, only to have Governor Rick Snyder sign a new version of it yesterday. From the first reports out of Michigan it wasn't clear how the law, which takes effect in March, would affect Detroit. That city's finances are now under state review, with the real possibility that Michigan will take it over with a weaker emergency financial manager. But with the new law on the way, would a manager appointed by the state now get amped-up powers come March? Could that manager, for example, cancel union contracts?
The answer's in: Heck, yeah. What's more, even though the new law lets cities vote out an emergency manager, they can't do it for a year and a half. That means Detroit, along with towns already under emergency management, will be stuck without meaning local democracies for a long while more. From the Detroit News:
Nathaniel Elem, an Ecorse city councilman, was hoping the law would allow the Downriver community to get rid of Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker.
"We ought to be able to vote her out now, instead of waiting 18 months," Elem said Thursday. "I think it sucks, to tell you the truth."
Michigan Republicans wrote the new law so that it includes spending, so it can't easily be repealed the way the last one was. The activists who campaigned for that repeal are talking about a citizen's initiative to get rid of the law, a move that's harder but not out of reach. They are also considering suing in court, saying the will of the voters has been subverted. For the courts, the question would be whether the new law is substantially different from the old one, or at least different enough to stand.