Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

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On the road to Snyderville 3/28/11

Stephen Tuttle - March 28th, 2011
On the Road to Snyderville
Imagine you moved to Northern Michigan several years ago. You and your
family settled into a nice little community. Let’s call it the Village of
Niceville. Niceville came complete with a quaint Main Street full of
interesting and quirky little shops, lots of open space and parks for kids
and, of course, a beautiful lake.
The people were friendly, the little school district was fine and it was
the perfect place to plant roots and raise a family.
In fact, you so appreciated Niceville when nobody wanted to run for a
village council seat, you stepped in, ran and won the job. It was
challenging but fun and satisfying helping your adopted home.
Flash forward to the present. Times have been getting progressively more
difficult for Niceville. The recession has been especially difficult for
small towns and villages in Northern Michigan. Jobs, which were always at
a premium, have dried up. The annual boost from tourists has fallen away,
too, as the price of gas skyrockets and people stay home in droves. Even
worse, the shared revenues from the state, which Niceville and other small
communities depended on, have been slashed by the new governor and
legislature.
Now, Niceville is in financial trouble. To balance the village budget,
cuts had to be made and some fees raised. The little school district has
laid off teachers, custodians and bus drivers. Your local public employee
union members have accepted salary and benefit cuts. Insolvency for both
the village and school district is a real possibility.
Times are tough but the good people of Niceville are pulling together.
Everyone is pitching in, sacrificing and trying to help. You know you
will figure out a way to make it work.
Then, you wake up one morning and discover a person called an Emergency
Financial Manager, appointed by the state treasurer, has come to
Niceville. Not to help, but to dismantle your little village and school
district.
The Emergency Financial Manager disincorporates Niceville. Your little
village no longer exists. And since there is no Village of Niceville,
there is no need for a village mayor or council. In fact, the Emergency
Financial Manager eliminates all the elected officeholders, cancels all
union contracts, and disbands the school district. Your new overseer also
eliminates a few ordinances with a wave of the hand and stroke of a pen.
There is nothing you can do about it. The new and improved Emergency
Financial Manager, a creation of Governor Rick Snyder approved by the
Michigan legislature, appears to have almost limitless power. They create
their own budget and hire their own staff. They will now run what used to
be your village and your school district. If they choose, they can turn
over control of the management of your little home to a corporation.
Seriously.
Niceville has become Snyderville.
Of course, the above scenario is somewhat exaggerated. Niceville would be
notified before the Emergency Financial Manager came to town. The rest of
it is completely possible under the new Michigan law.
Governor Snyder warned us he thought Michigan should be run like a
business. The Emergency Financial Manager is the political equivalent of
a corporate hostile takeover, complete with downsizing, outsourcing and
the eventual distribution of the remaining parts. Snyder won’t pocket
millions this time, like he did when he helped sell Gateway Computers to a
Taiwan company, but the destruction is the same.
In truth, it is unlikely many Emergency Financial Managers will be
descending on any Nicevilles any time soon. But the fact that our
governor and legislature thought this would be a perfectly acceptable
solution to a financial crisis speaks volumes about their lack of belief
in the people of Michigan and our system of electing public officials.
Summarily decon-structing the political infrastructure, elected by the
people, at the whim of a political appointee is about as far removed from
representative democracy as you can get.
Our esteemed legislative leaders tell us the law will serve as an
incentive to municipalities and school districts to keep their financial
houses in order. They are silent on how to rein in the Emergency
Financial Managers once they are unleashed. They are ineffectual when
trying to justify what amounts to a legalized political coup d’etat. One
wonders what their reaction would be should Congress enact a similar
federal law regarding states perpetually running big deficits.
We keep hearing from politicians who want to run some government unit
“more like a business.” But governments are not businesses. They serve
different constituencies for different purposes. Governments can’t be
broken up and sold off like so many disposable parts for the benefit of
executives and shareholders. Governments can’t ignore poverty,
homelessness, crime or any number of other quality of life issues.
Governments can’t abandon roads and parks. Governments can’t relocate to
another state for a more attractive tax rate nor can they ship jobs
overseas to improve the bottom line.
Governor Snyder and his allies have a different vision of government.
Their vision includes tax increases for retirees and low income earners
and $1.8 billion in tax cuts for businesses. It includes Emergency
Financial Managers who can disassemble a community, remove elected
officials and repeal laws and ordinances while being accountable to none
of the citizens being effected. It distrusts our citizens and disrespects
our traditions and values.
Emergency Financial Managers, as created by our governor and legislature,
are an abomination, antithetical to any representative form of government.
Those legislators who supported it are derelict in their sworn duty to
preserve Michigan’s constitution and protect the people they are supposed
to represent and serve.
Niceville is mythical. The possibility of a real community becoming a
Snyderville is not.



 
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