Democracy Turned Against Itself: How Michigan Became Anti-Democratic

FlintStrikers (2)

Strikers eating in cafeteria in Fisher body plant factory number three. Flint, Michigan. 1937. LOC.

Take note twice, Michigan’s governor and legislature thwarted the will of the people to set forth the most severe, draconian anti-democratic measure in the history of American democracy. A law allowed a governor to upsurp the powers of duly elected public officials, taking away their authority without due process or accountability.

Michigan voters statewide then overturned Public Act 4 of 2011 by a state wide petition and ballot initiative, the Michigan’s Emergency Manager Referendum, in one of those strange votes in which voters had to vote no to defeat the law! Against the will of the people, the Governor reintroduced legislation and added a clause that prevents the new act from being overturned by petition–which the Republican legislature passed in a straight party vote!

The party of “small government” twice expanded the powers of government and against the will of the people, put absolute power into the single hands of governor without oversight, leaving 100,000s vulnerable to a legal dictatorship disguised as help for the balance sheet. This thin disguise does not hide that the actions repeated and inured against the people’s will are anti-democratic.

No matter how justified or explained, the Michigan law suborns democracy. It is anti-democratic! It consolidates absolute authority, it removes review; it eliminates due process, it overrides checks and balances or accountability, it obstructs and restraints the people’s will. It is slowly killing a city.


(My reply to replies below)

Thanks (to all!) for replying.

From the state’s website: “The Counter Cyclical Budget and Economic Stabilization Fund, referred to as the “Rainy Day Fund,” was created in 1977 as Michigan’s “savings” account. The fund provides a safeguard to protect critical programs for Michigan’s citizens.
The Rainy Day Fund had a balance of $386.2 million as of September 30, 2014.” [,4538,7-157-40794-139072–F,00.html]

Gov. Snyder budget calls for a $95 million deposit. He wants a $611 million balance by fiscal 2016.

Detroit proposed to cut Flint’s rate by half and received no answer from the administration, which gave GM $400K to reconnect.

In 1876, New York, America’s largest city, was on the edge of bankruptcy! (Stockton, CA and Bridgeport, CT are among others more recent who went over the edge.) Instead of using the perfectly fine, existing bankruptcy laws, with established precedents, regular procedures, court-appointed oversight (Darnell Early was and is no Felix Rohatyn!)–Michigan bypassed best practice models, legal protections, civic input, and financial mechanisms including long term cooperative financing (tax-free), to make a bad case infinitely worse–and deadly!

Balance sheets do not take precedent over human lives. The financial crisis, repeated in other cities (even countries!), to a greater or lesser degree, was not an “emergency”. (Globally, neither Brasil, Argentina nor Zimbabwe collapsed!)

As a hiker, I learned: stay on the path. MI strayed. Its created authority is  autocratic and anti-democratic! It reaps as it sows.

Flinthomes (2)

Autoworkers’ houses. These houses rent for twenty-five to thirty dollars and have stoves, but water is drawn from a commercial well. Flint, Michigan. 1937.


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~~It’s because Michigan can’t pay its bills, Walter! This wasn’t some sort of unexpected coup as you would make it!

~~” .. Take note twice, Michigan’s governor and legislature thwarted ..”

a state-wide bankruptcy, due to inter-connecting relationships with failing local governments.

A stone-cold fact.

~~It is killing the entire state!

~~TM, when states can’t pay their bills, it isn’t the time to go penny wise, pound foolish. The human toll notwithstanding, was there really no one in the room that said you need to treat the pipes? Were there no scientists (I know, I know, Republicans hate them) to say this wouldn’t fly? That any remedial costs will be substantial? The people in charge are not stupid – they assumed there would be no remedial costs because the Flint population had no representation. It’s criminal.


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