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Not in the Black: Maddow Plays the Race Card on Michigan Financial Managers (True Twit, Part 19)

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Posted on April 28 2011 6:10 pm
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.

Rachel Maddow has been hinting around the race issue in Michigan with the Emergency Financial Manager issue for communities bankrupted by irresponsible leftist politicians and unsustainable union contracts.

One of her sleazy innuendoes has been to sneak in the word “overseer” instead of manager.  There is no way in which this term is more accurate, as the EMF is very hands on, not just overseeing anything.

But of course, when Jesse Jackson comes to town, it removes any need for subtlety or hinting around.  It’s time to say “black” and “African-American” a lot.

Now just imagine in a Republican were to point out how many of the bankrupt schools and cities were run by black overseers…

Once again, here is the True Twit’s commentary and guests, with the uninvited guest of yours truly adding context and a stray fact or two into the surreal discussion.

MADDOW:  We have been reporting about some extraordinary things being done by the government of the state of Michigan to the people of the state of Michigan.  (DF—No, you haven’t.  You haven’t said one word about what has been done to the taxpayers of the state of Michigan who have been bailing out Detroit with a huge amount of their tax dollars for years while their schools pay millions for teachers they have removed from the classroom and the City Council live like feudal lords.  You have cried about Benton Harbor, but haven’t mentioned they do the same thing on a much smaller scale.  THAT is what is being done to all the OTHER “people of the state of Michigan.”)

The new law that makes this possible, Michigan‘s Emergency Financial Manager Law, was the subject of a press conference today in the tiny town of Benton Harbor, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson there and John Conyers there, and the state‘s Legislative Black Caucus all spending time in this tiny African-American town on the shores of Lake Michigan. (Play that card, it shows your desperation) You‘ll remember that Benton Harbor is the first town in Michigan to have its entire elected government essentially put on ice by this emergency law.  (This is baloney.  Under the EMF law under Granholm in Flint, Pontiac, and other cities, the City Councils were stripped of all power to do anything but meet and gripe about the EMF.  The difference is the increase power to deal with the union contracts that are strangling the city budgets.  That’s why you largely see AFSME press releases on this—which Rachel is reading nearly verbatim as commentary.) This emergency manager was appointed by the former Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, but the new emergency law gives the old state-appointed overseer (Okay, I’m getting REALLY sick of this loaded term, and don’t act like it’s not a reference to slavery) sweeping new power—sweeping new power to break a town‘s union contracts, to sell off community assets, even to hire and fire the officials elected by that town. (Well, no, he can’t appoint a new city council…)

Unilaterally, one person gets to decide, no appeal, no process, no local decision making whatsoever. (This is also unadulterated bull.  The town still has a State Representative and a State Senator who are directly responsible to the voters and for the EMF.  Nobody wants to do this and be called a racist dictator.  But the state is no longer going to bail out these egregious contracts.  If these communities would foreswear all state funds…)

In Benton Harbor, the overseer (that’s twice, Twit) has now stripped the mayor and the city commission of all of their duties, and you can see how happy some of the people in Benton Harbor are about their new state-appointed boss.

Benton Harbor and the Detroit public schools are both flat broke.  The state‘s position seems to be that they are broken and that for them, democracy itself is part of the problem.  (Who they elected is damn near ALL of the problem.  Here are a couple examples.

As was reported in an excellent column by Julie Mack in the Kalamazoo Gazette, which destroyed a previous Maddow rant about Benton Harbor:

That occurred, incidentally, after a state review found the city’s pension system was underfunded by $4 million, its cash reserves dwindled from $1.7 million to $300,000 in three years and the city was spending between $80,000 to $100,000 annually in overdraft fees. The same week that Benton Harbor officials forcefully told state officials at a hearing that they didn’t need an emergency financial manager, they had to ask the state treasury for an advance on funds to make their payroll.

And here is how the clowns on the Benton Harbor city council exercises the one power it has left—to have meetings and pass nonbinding resolutions according to station WNDU:

The saga continues in Benton Harbor over the city’s emergency financial managerbut this time, Joseph Harris is getting the last laugh.

Our reporting partners at the Herald Palladium report that city commissioners were trying to pass a motion that would require Harris to attend an upcoming training program for emergency financial managers.

The motion failed, however, once commissioners learned Harris would already be there as an instructor.

Okay enough reality, back to Rachel.

MADDOW: With this emergency law in Michigan, the state says that these places can‘t be fixed with their democracy in place and functioning, that the solution for them depends on doing away with that democracy, doing away with representative government, doing away with their elected officials.  (Did they take them out and shoot them?  Calm down.  And as I pointed out, they still have elected state representatives.) The repair for their brokenness begins with ending their democratic decision making and imposing something shocking name to it but is the only way to describe this—imposing a kind of dictatorship, with the dictator being a person of the state‘s choosing.

If that sounds off to you, consider the news today from Benton Harbor.

Reverend Jackson and the state‘s black lawmakers preparing to challenge Michigan‘s new approach to democracy for hard times.  The message from Mr. Jackson and from others today: organize and sue. (Why would Jesse Jackson saying to sue make me “consider the news” and apply the word “dictator.”  Jesse Jackson doesn’t apply those words to the Assads or Khadaffy.  The fact that he was joined by John Conyers, husband of Monica Conyers who is about to do time for being too corrupt for even the Detroit City Council is just too rich.  I mean, really?)

Joining us now is Democratic State Representative Fred Durhal.  He is chairman of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.  He was at the press conference today in Benton Harbor.

Thank you for being here with us tonight, sir.  Appreciate your time.

STATE REP. FRED DURHAL (D), MICHIGAN:  Rachel, thank you very much for allowing us to come and talk with you today.

MADDOW:  Clearly, you consider this emergency manager law to have constitutional problems, enough that you are getting ready to sue over it.  Can you describe for us the basis of this legal challenge? (Yes, Jesse Jackson would never back a lawsuit on shaky Constitutional grounds!)

DURHAL:  Yes.  We are looking at the U.S. Constitution, in Article 1, Section 10-1, which talks about contracts.  It talks about the ability of the federal government to stop any state from being able to squash contracts.  And that is important for this struggle, because what is going on is that you have an emergency financial manager and a new law, which allows him to unilaterally come in and just take contracts and tear them up. (That’s right, we reserve that treatment for UAW members who actually PAY for the mistakes and bad management like the idiots on the Benton Harbor City Council.)

MADDOW:  If this emergency manager –

DURHAL:  So we believe –

MADDOW:  I‘m sorry, sir, go ahead.

DURHAL:  Yes, we believe that it is unconstitutional to do that.  We also have in Michigan a Home Rule Act, and we‘re going to also challenge the violation of the Home Rule Act, which allows cities, villages and townships to be able to function and make their own laws. (… and to be bailed out and spend the rest of the state’s money in perpetuity?)

MADDOW:  If this emergency manager law is allowed to stay on the books, how many Benton Harbors and Katherine Ferguson academies do you think we are looking at?  How many places get assigned this sort of emergency unilateral overseer? (That’s three.)

DURHAL:  Well, let me tell you, in Michigan, we know right now that there are about 120 school districts that are ready to go bankrupt or have some level of financial trouble and that gets them to a point where an emergency manager can be appointed.  We also know that there are approximately 100 cities, villages and townships in Michigan that are in the same state of trouble. (Bankrupt?  The way Rachel and Virg Bernero tell it, all it takes is a sneeze… Bankrupt?  Let’s see, what happens in bankruptcy court.  Oh, right, a judge assumes dictatorial powers and voids all contracts…)

MADDOW:  Why do you think the state wants to try to fix problems in this particular way?  Why would the democratically-elected government of a place like Benton Harbor or the dually elected school board of a place like Detroit be an obstacle toward—an obstacle in those places, getting themselves back on track?  An obstacle rather than the means by which you‘d do it?  (See above and about 114,634,346,657 other examples in these cities.  And who got them in this mess?  Oh, right, George W. Bush!)

DURHALL:  I really don‘t know the answer to that, (because you are just as incompetent?) except to say that it seems to us to be part of a national agenda.  And the national agenda has to do with breaking contracts of the unions, interfering with the ability (“ability?”  If they had “ability” they wouldn’t be “bankrupt.”  If you think they have that “ability” I am sure you won’t mind if they do without aid from the State of Michigan…) of cities to be able to function and solve their own problems.  All of this sounds very anti-democratic to me, and we intend to fight it all the way through if we have to go to the Supreme Court.

MADDOW:  Do you think the people of Michigan are surprised that this is what they got from Rick Snyder as governor?  Was there any indication during the election season that this is what people would be voting for if they voted the Republicans in and this Republican governor in?

DURHAL:  No, I don‘t think so.  I think that during the campaign, Governor Snyder was not very open about what he was going to do and how he was going to fix the problems.  I think that people upon his election began to se the real Rick Snyder.  And I don‘t think that they like it.

Here is a man who talks about taxing seniors‘ pensions, eliminating the earned income tax credit, which is federal in nature and also allows poor people to be able to receive some benefit.  There have been taxes upon education, reducing the pupil allowance by $470.  (Say what?  Reducing aid is a “tax?”  But according to Obama, taking less is an expenditure… my head hurts!) He has also gone and eliminated statutorily revenue sharing, which in the case of the city of Detroit will cost it $179 million.  And when you ad that to its present $150 million deficit, you get $320 million, which sets it up for the emergency financial manager. (And this governor, whose state is sending hundreds of millions of dollars to Detroit every year thinks the state should have a say in whether or not it’s going down a rathole?  The NERVE!)

MADDOW:  Fred Durhal, Democratic state representative and chairman of Michigan‘s Legislative Black Caucus—thank for your time tonight, sir.  It‘s good to have you help us understand this story.  Really appreciate it.

DURHAL:  Thank you so much, we appreciate you.  Keep fighting.

MADDOW:  I‘m trying.  Thank you, sir.

As a postscript, Governor Rick Snyder is going to be on his own trip to Benton Harbor next week.  He will be the grand marshal in the Annual Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade.  He‘ll be the first governor to do that since 1984.  Seriously.  Rick Snyder, Benton Harbor, next week. (Well, he’s got more business to be there than… oh, Jesse Jackson!  Or Mr. Monica John Conyers)

With the use of the word “overseer” the True Twit is trying to conjure images of this:

 

 

 

 

 

So, here is Benton Harbor’s “overseer” Joseph Harris:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Detroit Public Schools “overseer” Robert Bobb:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is Detroit Mayor and former Pistons star Dave Bing, who is calling for an EMF for his city:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

’nuff said?

 

Check out NewsReal Blog’s new series exposing The Rachel Maddow Show.

 

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