As this issue went to press, Mayor Dave Bing was preparing to deliver his third annual state of the city address. Earlier in the day, an announcement came that Gov. Snyder and Bing had agreed an emergency manager was not going to provide the ticket out of the city’s financial mess and that the two had a plan. To be announced.
Perhaps they were responding to two events. Last week, on Feb. 29, over 300 persons from across the state traveled to Lansing to deliver 50 boxes of petitions to the state capitol. The petitions had 226,637 signatures, easily surpassing the required 161,304 needed to get the question of Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager law, on the ballot in November. From around the state, from communities under an EM and those still free, from the Upper Peninsula to the busiest urban corners, unfunded volunteers solicited people to sign on for democracy. And all without corporate funding.
The Stand Up for Democracy Coalition won a people’s victory, one that was apparently hard for Bing and Snyder to ignore.
Then, there is Ingham County Judge William E. Collette’s ruling. After Highland Park activist Robert Davis sued, charging the state-appointed financial review team was violating the Open Meetings Act, Judge Collette ordered the team to follow the Open Meetings Law and hold their sessions in public. The group met, picked a committee from among their membership and said the committee would meet in private to decide whether Detroit’s fiscal crisis merited appointment of an emergency manager. Citizens were outraged at yet another arrogant end run around democracy. Evidently so was the judge. He issued an order for the group to appear before him in court March 12 and explain why he should not hold them in contempt for not doing the public’s business in public.
Snyder and Bing had to back up.
Without citizen advocates, they never would. But the EM fight is not over. Future victories depend on continued citizen advocacy. We urge readers to stay tuned and be ready. Informing neighbors about the tyrannical EM law, Public Act 4, is an ongoing job. Making sure the Board of Canvassers does its job in validating signatures has to be monitored. Again, citizens have come together to guarantee the signatures are protected and counted accurately. Michigan Forward, Detroit Branch NAACP and Stand Up for Democracy, joined by Congressmen John Conyers, Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters, have put the Republican Secretary of State and Board of Canvassers on notice that they want to meet and be involved in protecting the validation process.
Finally, we all have to get folk out to vote in November to repeal PA4. No, the job is not done. But an excellent, broad-based start has been made.