You hear Tea Party folks and Republicans in Congress complain about the White House's collection of "czars" — appointees with actual departmental jobs who coordinate policy in certain sectors. Supposedly the czar system is an undemocratic way of rewarding cronies and bypassing congressional checks on power. But if that's a problem, and maybe it is, then new Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's bill for appointing "emergency financial managers" to reorganize the state's failing localities should be met with about 100 times more revulsion.
The bill has been moving through Michigan's state legislature this week along party lines, and once the two chambers work out some minor differences, they should be able to pass it into law. Here's a summary of the deep changes it would make, from the Michigan Messenger:
According to the law, which has already been approved in the House, the governor will be able to declare "financial emergency" in towns or school districts and appoint someone to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services.
Under the law whole cities or school districts could be eliminated without any public participation or oversight, and amendments designed to provide minimal safeguards and public involvement were voted down.
Repbulican State Sen. Jack Brandenburg explained that "emergency financial managers" will be "deployed in communities that need 'financial martial law.'"
Back in the day, they used to call this sort of action a "radical power grab." If any state's cities and local governments need emergency relief, it's Michigan's. But there aren't any post-Magna Carta governing models to work with instead?
[Image of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder via AP]