Emergency Management Facts, Impacts, Challenges

Below we publish the Emergency Management Facts, Impacts and Challenges prepared for the Detroit People’s Platform and Convention unitingdetroiters.org. We publish this as an act of solidarity with the Detroit People’s Platform and Convention.  The People’s Platform represents a grassroots response to the crisis in Detroit. The People’s Convention was held June 1 at Marygrove College.

– Critical Moment Editors


What is an Emergency Manager?

November 2012  — Michigan voters decisively rejected emergency management with the repeal of PA 4. In the face of this, on December 26, 2012 Governor Snyder signed PA 436, the “Local Financial Stability and Choice Act”, a more expansive version of PA 4 into law. PA 436 became effective March 28, 2013.

March 14th  –Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appoints corporate bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr as Emergency Manager of Detroit. Orr has assumed the power of the mayor and city council.

March 27th  — A federal lawsuit was filed, by opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law Public Act 436 that contests the constitutionality of the law.

April 16th  — In Detroit City Council chambers citizens protested and temporarily blocked the vote on the $3.5 M/6 month city contract with Jones Day law firm. The Council approved the contract with members Brown, Spivey, Tate, Jenkins voting ‘yes, Watson and Jones voting ‘no’ and members Cockrel and Kenyatta not present. After the vote, the protesters were forcibly removed and 2 were arrested.

Orr, the Emergency Manager, now acting as the city of Detroit, plans to hire his own former law firm, Jones Day, to manage the restructuring of the budget and to handle negotiation with our creditors. Jones Day’s current clients include many of Detroit’s creditors. Jones Day, whose tagline is One Firm Worldwide, acts as principal outside legal counsel to, or provides significant legal representation for, more than half of the Fortune 500 companies.

Job One for the Emergency Manager is to balance Detroit’s budget and to make sure Detroit does not default on its Wall Street debt.

This is American austerity; deep cuts in social services and other quality of life measures that are being applied in urban environments across the country and the world.

With the addition of Detroit to the list of Michigan cities under emergency management, over half of Michigan’s African-American population are living under un-elected leadership.

How will Emergency Management impact my neighborhood and me?

Evidence suggests that Emergency Managers have done more harm than good.

By focusing solely on the numbers and budget, Emergency Managers in no way address root causes, the issues like transportation, good paying jobs, equitable land use policy and procedure and governance that must be addressed so that all Detroiters can participate in Detroit’s future.

Emergency Management promotes an “open for business” agenda that favors the operational privatization of our commons, public assets and services.

There are likely to be more cuts to services like DDOT. Service will likely be replaced by private entities with limited scope that cannot make up for the loss of buses to Detroiters dependent on public transportation.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr; “Everything is on the table” including Detroit’s Water and Sewerage System, Belle Isle, union contracts, and possibly individual city employee pensions.

What can I do to challenge Emergency Management?

Don’t give up on democracy, Participate!

Participate in direct democracy through existing channel: block clubs, community councils, neighborhood associations, etc.

Participate in actions that demonstrate your commitment to democracy.

Build Unity — Work together across neighborhoods for one Detroit. Organize and engage with your neighbors.

Stay informed — Check out community and alternative media for information that is not shared by the mainstream media. Hold the mainstream media accountable for biased representation of Detroit.

Track the Emergency Manager’s impact on your community. Who is benefiting and who is not?

Demand that the Emergency Manager publish the city’s budget.

Demand the Emergency Manager collect the debt owed to Detroit. Get the state and corporate money owed to us.

Demand that the Emergency Manager retain City Council as our elected representatives.

Demand non-interference with the forthcoming City Charter-mandated elections process.

Demand the Emergency Manager bring equity to Detroit’s foreclosure crisis.

People want something done. Press the banks to take responsibility for cleaning up the foreclosure crisis in Detroit.

Demand Transparency and Accountability —  As an elected official, we hold Governor Snyder accountable for the impact of Emergency Management upon the citizens of Detroit. We demand the Emergency Manager meet with citizens, not communicate solely through media and the publishing of ‘orders’ alone.

Prepared for the Detroit People’s Platform and Convention unitingdetroiters.org