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Martial Law Now a Reality in Michigan
The week of April 10-16 saw the layoff of every public school teacher in Detroit, and the initial fruition of the highly-contested bill that allows emergency financial managers to have unconditional control over a city in a financial emergency. The city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, declared to be in a financial emergency by Governor Rick Snyder, now knows that, according the Snyder, the voter's voice doesn't really matter anymore.
Joseph Harris, the city's new Emergency Financial Manager (EFM), dismantled the entire government, only allowing city boards and commissions to call a meeting to order, approve of meeting minutes and adjourn a meeting.
The law that allows Harris to "exercise any power or authority of any office, employee, department, board, commission, or similar entity of the City, whether elected or appointed," was passed in March after the urging of Governor Snyder, and despite thousands of protesters who came to the Lansing capitol throughout February and March.
The Michigan AFL-CIO released a press release in response to Benton Harbor: "This is sad news for democracy in Michigan. It comes after the announcement of Robert Bobb in Detroit ordering layoff of every single public school teacher in the Detroit Public School system," says Mark Gaffney, President of Michigan AFL-CIO. "With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton harbor and the attack on Detroit school teachers, we can now see the true nature of the Emergency Manager system."
Earlier in the week, TMP Muckraker reported that the Detroit Public Schools' EFM, Robert Bobb, sent 5,466 unionized teachers layoff notices "in anticipation of a workforce reduction to match the district's declining student enrollment." The notices are a part of the Detroit Teachers Federation collective-bargaining contract. TPM also reported that "Non-Renewal notices have also been sent to 248 administrators, and the layoffs would go into effect by July 29."