Republican Legislators Push for Cities to Be Treated as “Tenants of the State”
By Simon Davis-Cohen
March 19, 2017
Excerpt: “For years this loophole has been exploited, across the country. Lobbies like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a leading force behind state preemption, and their allies have made it their business to chip away at Home Rule. Now, in 2017, the limits on Home Rule are becoming so far-reaching that Home Rule itself is at risk of being reversed…. Not surprisingly, in January 2016 the American Legislative Exchange Council’s American City County Exchange (ACCE) — created to push local free-market reforms like municipal right-to-work — released a paper in defense of Dillon’s Rule. “Local governments,” they wrote, “are tenants of the state….”
The best defense is a good offense. So, what might a strong offense look like for local governments?
By Shea Howell
January 2, 2017
As we approach the moment when Donald Trump will assume the powers of the presidency, conversations and articles abound about how to survive, resist, and organize our way through the next few years. These discussions are essential. We have never been here before.
Certainly there are many parallels with other moments in our history when racism, ignorance, and arrogance have combined to defend and advance white power and privilege. But the irrationality of Trump, combined with enormous ego and unchecked power, challenge us in new ways.
By Shea Howell
December 26, 2016
The people of Michigan can take some comfort in the recent criminal charges brought against two emergency managers responsible for the disaster in Flint. This is the first formal acknowledgement that the poisoning of Flint is directly tied to the lack of democratic control. Former Emergency Managers Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley were charged with criminal conspiracy. These charges affirm what most people in Michigan know. Emergency Managers are a means of sacrificing public safety and health in order to save money. In the course of these savings, some well-connected businesses make money.Even Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has vigorously defended emergency management laws, was forced to admit that the irrational drive to make public decisions based on balance sheets is at the core of this disaster. During the press conference announcing the filing of criminal charges Schuette said, “There was a fixation on finances and balance sheets. This fixation has cost lives. This fixation came at the cost of protecting health and safety. Numbers over people, money over health.”
Neoliberalism’s Deadly Experiment
By Josiah Rector
October 21, 2016
“The interconnected water crises in Detroit and Flint demonstrate the massive human costs of destroying the public sector, which antidemocratic emergency manager laws have accelerated. The combination of risky financial deals and privatization is also increasing water rates and shutoffs in other cities. Although population decline and aging infrastructure partially explain water rate increases, neoliberal restructuring is at the heart of the problem. The decimation of the welfare state, which led to the removal of Michigan’s vendor pay program, have also made poor and working-class residents (disproportionately African Americans) more vulnerable to shutoffs.
Addressing this crisis will require a moratorium on residential water shutoffs, and implementing ambitious water affordability programs. The People’s Water Board and other organizations have pushed to get ten water affordability bills before the Michigan house. The People’s Water Board also deserves support.”
By Shea Howell
A delegation of activists from Puerto Rico visited Detroit last week. They were part of a learning exchange designed to share lessons from “Detroit civil society in dealing with financial distress, debt restructuring, and financial oversight.” My section of the program focused on “how the dominant media narrative often dictates policies of stricter and stricter fiscal austerity.” Marina Guzman and Michelle Martinez joined me in a discussion exploring the implications of the dominant narratives, especially those that blamed residents or local officials rather than those exploring the root causes of the financial crisis. We also talked about how race and ethnicity played into these media narratives.