Saturday, April 23, 2011

Michigan Fascism: Snyder's new law claims its first victims


We have heard it time and time again…conservatives complaining about government being too big.  It seems to me that they only want a small government when it suits their agenda.  It is no secret that conservatives seek an enormous government when it comes to social issues, but a new trend in conservative states seems to be showing a movement towards a more massive, almost tyrannical, government...states like Pennsylvania and Governor Tom Corbett’s newly found Marcellus Shale Committee and states like Governor Rick Snyder’s Michigan.

Recently, Snyder signed a new bill into law which gives federal emergency managers even more power than they previously had.  The law essentially enables Snyder to appoint a federal emergency manager to districts that are in financial distress.  These managers are able to go into a city and completely and unilaterally dissolve any elected official’s power and gives them complete control over a town.  In the original house version of this bill, there were even provisions in the language that enabled corporations to become these managers. 

Could you imagine a company like Pepsi coming in and completely dissolving all the power of the officials your town elected?  Maybe your town would be renamed Pepsiville.  If you wanted a new stop sign put in, you could ask the board of directors.

Thankfully, this version of the bill did not pass, but that does not mean that the law is not highly unconstitutional.  Snyder can appoint anyone he wants as a manager, and his cronies could be coming to a town near you.

Benton Harbor is one such town under attack.  Benton Harbor is home to the Catherine Ferguson Academy.  Catherine Ferguson was a slave that spent most of her life mentoring and looking after kids.  The academy is located in Detroit and helps pregnant girls and girls with kids graduate.  The program also guarantees college placement if you graduate and has a graduation success rate of 90%.

Mrs. Asenath Andrews, the school’s principal, has little resources to work with and is charged with finding the funding for the $20K a year it takes to educate a student.  She accomplishes this by having the students farm to make the money required to keep the school open.  She makes getting accepted to college a requirement of graduation.  Mrs. Andrews stated that if the student graduates, she would hunt down a school to accept them and find the money so that they may go.

Recently, Benton Harbor was overtaken by one of Snyder's emergency managers.  The mayor and the mayor’s commission was stripped of all its power, and the votes of the town’s residents were nullified by one of Snyder’s men, Robert Bobb.

According to the Detroit News’ Nolan Finley,  Bobb was supposed to leave his position at the end of this term.  According to Finley, Bobb was frustrated that Detroit could still elect a school board.  After finding out about the newly found power in the new law, when asked if he would consider retaining his position, he stated, “I’d be willing to consider an offer from the governor.  I’m not lobbying for the job, but I do drool when I think of the pace of change we could achieve under the new law.”

Drooling over power, eh?  Surely sounds like a conservative reaction to me.

Bobb wanted to close this school down before, but teachers and students protested, and the school remained open.  However, with the newly expanded unilateral power of the new law, Bobb decided to try and shut-down the academy again.  He also gave layoff notices to many of the teachers in the Detroit school system. 

Again, students decided to protest.  During their spring break, the students decided to have a sit-in at their beloved academy.  While the girls were protesting, police officers came and arrested them.  They then blared their sirens to drown out the students cries of protest.

The Kalamazoo Gazette asked “what’s worse for Benton Harbor:  a financial manager with dictatorial powers or an utterly dysfunctional city government?"

Rachel Maddow asked her audience “dictator or dysfunction?”  She then stated that there is no such thing as choice for them.  There was no longer an option to elect their town officials, and that their only “hope…is that the dictator is benevolent.”

Is this how we solve our problems now?  Is the democratic process losing its appeal to the public, or is this just a result of power hungry governors?

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