Local council members in Michigan report pressure from Emergency Manager
Pontiac City Council members say that the city’s Emergency Manager, Michael Stampfler, is trying to intimidate them and control their speech.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Councilman Donald Watkins and Councilman Kermit Williams say Stampfler has pressured them to retract statements they’ve made about his actions and the city budget.
Last month the Michigan Citizen reported that Watkins told a National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) forum that Stampfler has eliminated the department of public works, outsourced the water department, and blocked council members from seeing the budget until it was posted online.
… Watkins told the forum that the EM has been unresponsive to potential business investors, especially African American businesses.
“The emergency manager law is an elimination of the system of checks and balances — he does whatever he wants,” Watkins told forum attendees. “There’s no separation of powers — he’s the executive, the judicial and the legislative branch.”
Watkins told the Free Press that Stampfler sent him a certified letter demanding that he retract these statements.
In his letter, Stampfler asked for the proof he has been unresponsive to business investors. He said the public works department has 25 employees. He also said posting the budget online was compliant with state law.
He gave Watkins a deadline of Aug. 15 to publicly correct his statements.
“I have no intention of kowtowing to Michael Stampfler,” Watkins said
Councilman Kermit Williams blogged about salaries and the city budget and modified his statements under pressure from Stampfler.
The 2011-2012 Budget is available online in two different locations, with a letter addressed to the taxpayers. I did not realize that posting a letter online and having a public hearing, where no answers from the finance department were permitted, justified a ‘Presented Budget’. I was wrong.
Under Public Act 4 — the Emergency Manager law — Stampfler reports to the governor and the Treasury Dept. and is not required to recognize or work with Pontiac’s elected officials.