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Rachel Maddow and her guest, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero do a great job discussing the abolition of city governments in Michigan as Governor Rick Snyder prepares to begin exercising his EFM (Emergency Financial Manager) finger with great abandon.
In fact, Governor Snyder is so concerned about city and county governments in Michigan that there are ongoing training sessions for new EFMs -- 100 or so -- learning alongside city and county officials there to find out now to keep EFMs out of their governments.
More than 300 people attended the training on Michigan's tough and controversial new emergency manager law for local governments and school districts. Fewer than one-third of them were looking for jobs as emergency managers or as consultants to oversee consent agreements for less seriously distressed local units. Most were local government and school district officials interested in making sure they never need an emergency manager.
But Michigan is only the beginning. In Wisconsin, legislation is being prepared to force municipalities and school districts to submit to financial stress tests -- the beginning of the process for EFMs. In Michigan, stress tests led to EFM appointments in Benton Harbor, Detroit and Pontiac in 2009. But in 2011, those powers were expanded to strip elected officials of all power and allow a trained EFM to step in.
Governor Walker, of course, vigorously denies any agenda like Michigan's. Of course, Scott Walker was the guy who finally admitted he didn't campaign on union-busting but made that his very first agenda item after his inauguration. So forgive me if I'm not inclined to believe Scott Walker's faint protestations.
Michigan's law wasn't an accident. It's an incubator, just like Kansas' Voter ID law is an incubator for other states. They can deny it as much as they want, but facts prove otherwise. This is as blatant as it gets, folks. Not only can they break union contracts, but they can sell a city's "assets" to cover debt. That means schools, common areas, buildings, and historical landmarks.
Imagine the possibilities. Here in California, it could be the Anthem Blue Cross Santa Monica Pier. Or the Standard Oil Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. In New York, the Statue of Liberty, brought to you by Goldman-Sachs.
What bothers me most about this EFM law is the intent to abuse it from day one. A beach given to the people of Benton Harbor with only one motive -- to have a place for children to play, now about to become a golf course. All Detroit teachers laid off in one sweep, with an eye to weakening their collective bargaining rights and existing contracts. It was never about solvency. Only profit.