Michigan Voters Launch Campaign to Stop Local Dictator Law

by Jon Melegrito  |  June 21, 2011

More than 2,500 people rallied at several locations around Michigan on Saturday; they vowed to gather 190,000 signatures by Labor Day to put the repeal of the radical emergency manager law before voters in the November 2012 election.

See TV-2 (Fox Detroit) coverage of the event here.

Commonly known as the local dictator law, Public Act 4 gives emergency managers – who are appointed by the governor and unaccountable to voters – sweeping powers to remove duly elected officials from office, suspend or disband elected bodies such as school boards or city councils, and even void contracts, including collective bargaining agreements. The emergency manager is allowed to exercise these powers without authorization or approval from anyone – not even the voters nor elected representatives. 

Jonathan Drake, a Wayne County worker for the Department of Public Services and a member of Local 101(Council 25), joined 300 other volunteers in Detroit. “This law takes away my right to have a say in our local governments and schools,” Drake said. “We can’t let unelected officials usurp our basic rights and take our democracy away.”

Although petition gatherers have until next spring to collect 161,000 signatures, “our goal is to get more than enough signatures to make it veto proof,” says Albert Garrett, AFSCME Council 25 president and International vice president.  “The law will then be held in abeyance pending the referendum. It is essential that we pursue this course of action. Too many people have fought and died for our right to vote, for us to allow representative government to fall by the wayside in this cavalier manner.”

Spearheading the petition drive is Stand Up for Democracy, a coalition of community groups, churches and labor organizations throughout Michigan.

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