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Get off your knees!

Council is letting itself be bullied into signing a “consent agreement” when they don’t have to. Not only are they forfeiting their responsibility to govern, but they are tying the hands of all elected officials for the next five years.

Doing Gov. Rick Snyder’s bidding rather than the will of those who elected them, it seems five weak council persons — ignorant of the civil rights history that put them where they are — will sign the city over needlessly. They have choices. As Sen. Bert Johnson urged, call Snyder’s bluff. Let him appoint an emergency manager (EM) because PA 4 is about to be overturned.

Over 260,000 Michigan citizens signed a petition demanding the question of emergency manager be put before the voters on the November ballot. It is expected then the Secretary of State will announce within a week that there are enough valid signatures. The minute the signatures are validated, PA 4 is suspended. No more EMs; democracy is restored to Benton Harbor, Detroit Public Schools and anyone else under the state-imposed dictatorial rule of PA4.

But consent decrees cannot be overturned. So, what is motivating the council members who vote for the agreement? Maybe they think they will keep their jobs. In that case, they are putting their own personal paycheck above the people who voted for them, the Constitution and a 400-year struggle of African Americans for freedom in this country.

There is no need for the agreement. What may be needed are technical advisers helping Bing run the city — a job he has demonstrated is beyond his abilities. What the state could also do is pay the $220 million revenue-sharing owed this city since a 1990s-era agreement; restore the $400 million lost in city tax revenue when the city kept its side of that bargain.

Why isn’t council listening to lawyers who can advise them of the feasibility of suing the state for the money owed? Why don’t they realize Snyder has double-crossed the unions, and they are now as vulnerable?

What will council do when the union goes on strike, as the workers rightfully threatened? We urge citizens to join the unions. Join the workers’ picket lines. Just because five council members want to turn their back on history does not mean the citizens have to.

Shut off the money. Pay water bills, tax bills, traffic fines into an escrow account. Holding onto even the summer taxes will convince Snyder he should stay in Lansing. Stand up, Detroit. It ain’t over!

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