Over the last week or so, we have seen an audacious attack on the very fabric of our society. Governors and legislators have used dirty tricks in several states to undermine the public good.
In Wisconsin, Governor Walker insisted that he was not trying to break the unions—the last voice with any power to speak for the middle and working class peoples. He insisted this was a budget issue, not a political ploy to bust the unions. He said this right up until the moment when he instead took all the financial aspects out of his bill, stripping public employees of their basic right to collective bargaining. He was attempting to *use* the financial crisis in order to accomplish his other goals; but his own actions prove that it was not about the budget. It was about power.
The Ohio government also had an eleventh-hour switch in order to pass similar legislation ripping workers’ rights away.
And the worst attack—thus far, at least—has come in our own state of Michigan. Our House and Senate have passed similar bills that undermine the very fabric of democracy. According to the compromise bill that the state Senate just passed, and which the House is expected to pass tomorrow, the Governor will have the power to declare a town, or city or school district to be in grave financial danger, and to therefore appoint an emergency financial manager to oversee that town or district.
This is where the scary part comes in: any such emergency financial manager will have the power to establish bonds without voter approval; to dismiss locally elected officials; to cancel any contracts made by a local unit of government; to overturn any local ordinances, previously passed by residents or their democratically elected leaders—even to dissolve the charter of the town or district.
This is not “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This is oppression of the people by the appointed poerful for the self interests of other powerful people, cororations and organizations.
In our state of Michigan, it will soon no longer matter what we citizens say, on election day. If our local balance sheet does not meet certain criteria—and, by the way, Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget will make sure that many places do *not* have the resources to meet such criteria—if our local bottom line is not good enough, then somebody *will* be appointed to take over with no accountability whatsoever to the will of the people she or he is “serving.”
Please call your local representatives and tell them to vote against this monstrosity: House Bill 4214.
When the fourteen state senators returned to Wisconsin, over 100,000 people greeted them. The governors and legislators are passing some truly frightening laws, but they may have over-reached, at last. They are awakening the American people. It may be a long battle, but we the people have prevailed in the past. So may we again.
(full post, with links, at So May We Be