The ongoing war against illegal immigrants by Republican governors in Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, Utah and Arizona is one clear and present indicator of where the Republican strategy is headed, namely toward the creation of an America where bigotry and intolerance will become the new national anthem. To view an equally integral piece of the strategy that is targeting us ‘legal’ Amerkans, one need look no further than my home state of Michigan where Gov. Rick “the Nerd” Snyder is successfully implementing his strategy of suppressing and/or otherwise erasing the vote of a significant number of his predominantly poor and working class African American population.
Although purposely distancing himself from the Tea Party faction of the Republicans – a smart move – Snyder’s recently approved Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) legislation (enabling him to essentially swallow entire municipalities whole without even burping) makes it questionable whether his willingness to keep the Tea Party wingnuts at arm’s length should automatically earn him consideration from Democrats as a supposedly ‘reasonable’ Republican. Currently there are three Michigan cities operating under the iron thumb control of a Snyder-appointed emergency financial manager – Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse – and all three of those cities are largely black, poor, and working class. Snyder has also appointed former General Motors executive Roy Roberts, an African American, as the new EMF for Detroit Public Schools. Robert Bobb, the previous (and first) EMF was appointed by the previous Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Emergency managers are currently in place in the cities of Pontiac, Benton Harbor and Ecorse. Detroit’s public schools have been run by an emergency financial manager since 2009, when the earlier law put Robert Bobb in charge of the city’s schools. Public Act 4 made Bobb and now his successor, Roy Roberts, emergency managers, with even more power over the district.
“When the recent legislation was signed in March to change [the DPS emergency financial manager] to an emergency manager, that just made matters even worse,” said Edith Lee-Payne, a Detroit civil rights activist signed onto the suit. “Then the elected school board had absolutely no voice.”
The suit comes two days after Snyder and Roberts introduced sweeping reforms that would siphon off the city’s worst-performing schools into a special state-run district. That special district, Snyder said, would eventually expand to include low-performing schools throughout the state.
“In my opinion, the [schools] plan is an opportunity to do more privatization — which is what this legislature would like to see,” Lee-Payne said.
Let me say at the outset that Roy Roberts is highly respected, so credit should be given where credit is due. It was also a slick move by Snyder to employ yet another brother to put a comforting face on the front lines of Snyder’s war against the rest of us. I will also confess that when Granholm originally appointed Robert Bobb I was one of those who thought it was the right thing to do because DPS was such an incredible mess that an extremely radical solution was required and I thought this just might be it.
I still believe radical measures will be necessary if DPS is to survive, but converting the EMF approach into a semi-permanent thing while expanding this approach to entire cities is terrifying. Apparently I’m not the only one terrified by this, which is why 30 Michigan residents filed a lawsuit last week on June 22 to overturn the EMF legislation and naming Gov. Snyder as a defendant. Additionally, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling for an attack on the EMF legislation as a blatant attempt to disenfranchise voters.
Pontiac being under the control of an emergency financial manager is a small piece of a bigger puzzle to take away an individuals’ right to vote, according to the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
That’s what the controversial pastor told more than 100 people Sunday during a special meeting at Pontiac City Hall, according to reports.
“It is right to have the right to vote,” Jackson said. “It is wrong to take away the vote.”
The failure and dysfunction of Detroit – and other predominantly poor, black areas – is being manipulated by Gov. Snyder and his crew into an opportunity to ‘save us’ by silencing us while stealing our city from us. I’ve heard many folks say this was coming down the pike for years and I could never bring myself to believe it because it seemed to far-fetched. Too much like one of those crazy conspiracy theories.
So maybe this isn’t a conspiracy, but whatever you wanna call it, it’s happening now in Detroit. Gil Scott said “we almost lost Detroit”, and that was awhile ago. If we don’t pay attention, the ‘almost’ will have to be amended.
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