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Friday, April 20, 2012



What is it called when a “government” consists of one man who can do virtually anything he wants and the governed have no voice or vote? That’s a dictatorship, and it’s what the LDN inexplicably endorsed in a recent editorial on the so-called “emergency manager law”. 

Under this law, the governor can unilaterally appoint a crony to rule absolutely over any municipality or school district. This person can sell off, depose, fire, nullify, eliminate, or dissolve anything he pleases with the excuse that it’s financially expedient—and pay himself from whatever is left. Thus far this law has been applied primarily to poor minorities (surprise!), but there is nothing to prevent much wider application as the state takes away resources and then blames communities for lacking them. 

“But something has to be done,” says the well-heeled outsider whose community is not yet hit. Something has been done. First corporations have abandoned the communities that nurtured and supported them in favor of outsourcing in pursuit of record-breaking profits. Second, the state has gutted appropriations, especially to school districts, which are no longer allowed to raise their own operating revenue. The resulting flattened income cannot be “managed” by the wisest guru; the only alternatives are to restore/replace the revenues or to slash and burn. Of course, the powers that be like option two. In the process, the most fundamental right of Americans, the right to vote, is simply eliminated! 

“But this will get them on a ‘sound’ financial footing,” says the all-knowing outsider. “Sound” here, means destroying those communities or school districts by guaranteeing that no one with the ability to get out will stay in them as they precipitously deteriorate. People prefer to be somewhere where they can actually vote as the Constitution guarantees. This accelerates a race to the bottom while destroying democracy as we have known it. 

“But there’s corruption in these localities!” says the superior outsider. Quite possibly so—government and business are both prone to it. Case in point: Petitions have been filed to place the overturn of this law on the ballot, and there is no chance of eliminating enough signatures to void them. So a Lansing law firm with right-wing ties has filed a lawsuit claiming they should be voided because of the font size at the top! By the way, one of the partners in the law firm sits on the four-person board that will hear the suit. That sounds like corruption on the state level to me—not to mention the height of the ridiculous. But it’s a power grab that may work.

“But the governor doesn’t want to run towns and school districts”, says the mind reader. Probably true—he has his cronies for that. Quid pro quo is illegal (just ask Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor doing fourteen years’ hard time), and our governor is too clever to engage in it. He just expects his managers’ eternal gratitude—and whatever else might flow naturally and legally from that. 

“But they’re ‘not like us’ in those towns”, says the bigot. Jesus answered that one in Matthew 25: “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me”. The big shots in Lansing would say we’re “not like them” too—we’re not rich enough, powerful enough, or well enough connected. 

It boils down to three simple questions: Do we live in a democracy or not? Will we stand by while the right to vote is taken away from others on the assumption that it couldn’t happen to us? If that
assumption were true, would that make it OK?

So what can we, the powerless, do about it? 

* PAY ATTENTION-- What if the governor should decide that Pentwater Schools are too small to be financially viable? Or that Amber, Summit, Hamlin, Pere Marquette, and Ludington should be combined to cut costs? Under this law, it can happen. We can’t vote it down because under this law we have no vote, but we can make a lot of noise. We can also support loudly those it’s already being done to.
* SPEAK UP—whenever and wherever you see voter suppression taking place, even by
shortening voting hours, providing fewer machines, etc.
* BEWARE THE GOVERNOR—He shares goals with the about-to-be-recalled governor across the lake in Wisconsin; he’s just slicker.

Carol Rodwell
PM Township

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