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New documentary on Michigan’s emergency manager law

The group that is coordinating an effort to repeal Michigan’s Emergency Manager law has launched an online documentary titled Dictators Over Communities of Color: Coming to a Town Near You.

Michigan Forward, together with the Advancement Project and New Media Advocacy Project, has produced a seven minute documentary that features interviews with elected officials who have been stripped of power in Pontiac and Detroit.

The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act, also known as Public Act 4, or the Emergency Manager law, allows the governor’s appointees to remove public officials, throw out contracts, privatize services, and dissolve municipalities.

Supporters of the law, which went into effect in March, say that it will help communities address budget problems and empower them in negotiations with public workers.

Opponents call it anti-democratic and charge that the law is being selectively used against communities of color.

In a message released along with the video Michigan Forward says:

Across Michigan voters have been disenfranchised in Detroit, Benton Harbor,Ecorse and Pontiac under this new legislation. More communities under the threat of Emergency Management are Flint, Highland Park and a potential 150 + school districts across Michigan.

Benton Harbor has seen the most extreme situation where an Emergency Manager has now seized total control of the entire. The order went into effect on April 14,2011 and has virtually stripped citizens of their voting power! In Pontiac,a past manager sold the treasured and historic Pontiac Silverdome stadium for only $583,000 when it cost over $55 million to build.

In Ecorse, emergency managers in both cities made major layoffs to the firefighter and police departments, outsourcing many of the jobs to neighboring cities. Lastly in Detroit,the emergency manager for the largest school system in Michigan has closed schools, and threatens to increase class sizes to 60 students,and completely ignored parent and student voices!

“Before emergency management grows to an epidemic in our state, we hope our video educates Michigan on the dangers of this law and helps voters recognize the urgency of this situation,” said Brandon Jessup, chairman and CEO of Michigan Forward. “We look to encourage voters to seek protection by engaging in Democracy and supporting the referendum on this odious law.

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