By Quincy Stewart
January 26, 2012
Pontiac, Michigan is one of the first cities in Michigan to fall victim to the fascist Public Act 4. As most cities who have suffered under the crippling results of de-industrialization, Pontiac has seen enormous poverty, unemployment, the destabilization of human infrastructure via more single parent families, lack of prenatal, post-natal and child health care resulting in infant mortality, childhood illness and lack of access to even basic health care as they become teens.
These circumstances have led to many extenuating problems such as de-population which means less federal dollars. It has meant tougher classrooms for teachers to try and educate their students in with less resources, larger classroom sizes due to layoffs and reductions in revenue sharing from the state, which affects both the governmental side as well as education.
These factors are weighty enough alone; with the added oppression of Public Act 4 and the ruthlessness and cold heartedness of so called Emergency Managers, who never have to live with the decisions they make in public policy, finances, selling or giving away precious city assets and disbanding of critical departments and the elimination of caring and sensitive workers and department heads, it is nearly insurmountable.
In Pontiac, we have had three different EM’s. The first was so racist in his views that he couldn’t contain them in any substantive way. He came in with enormous preconceived notions about African Americans. He called for extraordinary measures in security so paranoid that even the police found it over the top. He demanded security cameras in every room of the mayor’s office, police escorts to and from his car, buzzers and trip alarms.
He sold the Pontiac Silverdome for $583, 000 which cost the taxpayers of Pontiac nearly 35 years to pay off the nearly 30 million it cost to build it. After paying electric bills and the auctioneers who sold the “dome”, Pontiac didn’t get the $583, 000. Merely clearing the Silverdome from being a drain on the general fund and on to the tax rolls was the excuse used for such a horrendously low price. In reality the people who bought it were cronies.
The second EM decided that it was better to dissolve Pontiac altogether if he could. His draconian measures of cutting the city council and mayor’s pay to zero and cutting off all communication with the duly elected council were his last efforts before leaving. The citizens kept up the pressure in both these instances through constant speeches and harassment at council meetings during the public discussion period. It was this pressure that eventually caused these first two EM’s to call it quits.
The third EM was the author of Public Act 4 and a founding member to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a right wing Republican think tank whose sole purpose was to design legislation that would wrest control of cities from local officials, especially in mostly black and poor communities, bust up unions and unified voices of opposition to complete and total privatization of city services, usurp rule of city resources and sell them to friends, cronies, corporations and individual moguls.
This EM is considered the “godfather” of Public Act 4 and the entire concept behind privatization and cronie capitalism. He has gotten rid of the police department and its union, recently he got rid of the 150 year old fire department through strong arm methods, and gave two million dollars annually of Pontiac tax money to neighboring Waterford to shore up their budget shortfall by giving their city our fire contract for a mere 4 million plus 2 million as so-called “administrative costs.”
The EM has slowly locked out city council members from city hall, kept council uninformed of any measures he takes in the city, has co opted the mayor by reinstating his pay but now as a paid consultant to the EM.
This means that as mayor, any measures taken by the EM regardless of their implications to the city or the welfare of it’s citizens, the elected mayor rubber stamps those initiatives. He has been silenced and is now an admitted member of the EM’s “team.” The mayor has “advised” the EM on every issue since his arrival and has publicly stated that he is in agreement with Public Act 4. A recall effort then ensued by the citizens and it is in process at this writing.
Public Act 4 meets all the criteria as fascism and colonialism. Public Act 4 has taken the voices of democracy from Pontiac and replaced them with a dictator, a tyrant and though the word “negotiation” has been bandied about as the EM took our police and fire departments, there were no negotiations at all. There were only mandates shrouded under the guise of negotiations. Since the EM had the extraordinary state sanctioned power to do whatever he wanted to anyway, then negotiations were nothing more than a sad ruse, a grotesque absurdity which virtually put a gun to the heads of unions which said, either agree to the EM’s terms or be fired anyway.
The Concerned Pontiac Citizens for Self Determination, a local cadre of citizens who vehemently oppose this fascist “law” have been at the forefront of struggle not only for the elimination of Public Acts 72 and 4 but also those ideologues behind such an effort to strip basic elementary human rights and civil freedoms from the People in all areas of activity including law, politics, economics and every aspect of life in which encroachments such as Public Acts 72, 4, the Patriot Act, Rex 84 and other “laws” which are unjust and oppressive exist.