Yesterday it was Rhode Island, Today it is Michigan Deciding that those Pesky Democratic Practices Get in the Way of Governing
Michigan is on the verge of enacting a law that, at least as it is described in the CBS News account, will be very similar to Rhode Island’s “municipal fiscal stabilization law“, i.e. it will allow the executive branch of state government to replace an elected municipal government with a single individual who assumes full authority in all areas of municipal governance (h/t Drudge). In Rhode Island, this law has been used to replace the elected mayor and city council of Central Falls with a state-appointed “receiver”, though a case on the acceptability of this law under the Rhode Island constitution is pending.
Democrats in Michigan are attempting to draw a parallel between what is happening in their state and what is happening in Wisconsin. The parallel, beyond being unimaginative, is inappropriate.
In Michigan, the Governor and legislature are working to roll back democratic governance, there’s no accurate way to describe it other than that, by allowing major municipal fiscal and policy decisions to be made by an official unaccountable to the people most impacted by the decisions. In Wisconsin, on the other hand, it is the Governor and legislative leaders who have been trying to act democratically, while groups who disagree with their policies are insisting that they have fiscal and policy prerogatives that must restrict the choices allowed by the democratic process. There is no comparison.
If anyone from Michigan wants a head start on explaining why the idea of a municipal dictator is a bad idea, we’ve been working on that subject for a while now here at Anchor Rising; here, here, here, here and here, for starters.
Finally, from a detached political-sciencey perspective, there is one area of comparison between Rhode Island and Michigan worth monitoring: will Michigan’s “emergency fiscal managers” claim the same outrageous compensation as Rhode Island’s have — or will it turn out that the acceptance amongst the political elite of municipal privateering as a respectable career choice is something unique to Rhode Island’s political culture?