I’m short on time, and so I just grabbed Maddow’s latest vid (from last night), and I am presenting it with out much comment.
I will try to remember to grab the transcript for this segment when it gets posted, so check back if you’re interested. (you can now read the transcript after the jump)
This segment is primarily about Benton Harbor and the Catherine Ferguson Academy. Benton Harbor is planning to sue on constitutional grounds.
Of note, Rachel mentions that Rick Snyder will be the first governor since 1984 to act as Benton Harbor’s grand marshall in the city’s Grand Floral Parade (part of their Blossomtime Festival). This is happening in Benton Harbor next week, on May 7. Feel free to go and throw some rotten tomatoes. Certainly, no one deserves that more than Gov. Rick Snyder.
While I’m talking about the parade, I should mention that a friend of mine is producing a documentary about the anti-democracy movement in Michigan, and he will be at the parade to document the tomatoes, and any other occurrences.
Because the situation in Michigan is getting so little attention from local media, and no national attention whatsoever with the exception of Rachel Maddow, it is really important that you share this piece, and others discussing or informing about the events going down in Michigan.
Post to your blogs, social media sites, and email family members and friends.
It's really up to us to turn this thing around, and unfortunately, we can’t rely on the profit-driven traditional media to help us.
Transcript for this segment courtesy of the Maddow Show:
MADDOW: On Friday night‘s show, we reported on the Katherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, Michigan. It‘s a public school for pregnant teenagers and young mothers. It is on the verge of being closed down.
On April 15th, some of the students from Katherine Ferguson were hauled out of the school by police officers in handcuffs. These pregnant girls and young moms were hauled out and driven away under a cacophony of sirens from police cars and shouts from the community.
It was an upsetting scene and many, many, many of you wrote in to tell us how angry you were about these scenes after watching it. A lot of people asked us if the girls were OK, what happened to them once they were arrested.
What we can tell you is that it was a dozen students and one teacher who were arrested from Katherine Ferguson Academy. They were taken to a police station and issued citations for offenses like trespassing. None of them was held for very long.
The girls inside Katherine Ferguson Academy had not been trying to get arrested that day, necessarily. They had hunkered down for what it seems like they expected to be a peaceful occupation of their school. They had planned to stay there for a while. They had put out a call on an activist into it for donations of stuff like food and baby wipes and sleeping bags.
This was going to be sort of their Wisconsin, their sticking it out for the long haul. The day they got arrested was supposed to be day one of many days. They had just gotten started.
But once they were arrested, they ended up calling the principal of the school, Ms. Asenath Andrews, to come help with their young kids while they were arrested, while they were stuck at the police station.
This school, remember, takes care of hundreds of pregnant girls and young moms every day, in the sense that it educates them. But it also takes care and educates hundreds of their kids, little kids. Kids age zero to two while their moms are in class. There are not many schools like this in the world.
Over the next few days, schools on the closure list in Detroit will get a chance to make their case for not closing, for being allowed to stay open. Principal Andrews is now working on a 20-minute presentation about why Detroit needs Katherine Ferguson. After she gives that presentation next Tuesday, the emergency financial manager for that school district, one state-appointed guy, will decide what happens to Katherine Ferguson.
It will not be up to an elected school board or city officials or voters. That one person, the emergency manager, gets to say thumbs up or thumbs down. He gets to decide alone. His ruling is unilateral.
The new law that makes this possible, Michigan‘s Emergency Financial Manager Law, was the subject of a press conference today in the tiny town of Benton Harbor, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson there and John Conyers there, and the state‘s Legislative Black Caucus all spending time in this tiny African-American town on the shores of Lake Michigan.
You‘ll remember that Benton Harbor is the first town in Michigan to have its entire elected government essentially put on ice by this emergency law. This emergency manager was appointed by the former Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, but the new emergency law gives the old state-appointed overseer sweeping new power—sweeping new power to break a town‘s union contracts, to sell off community assets, even to hire and fire the officials elected by that town.
Unilaterally, one person gets to decide, no appeal, no process, no local decision making whatsoever.
In Benton Harbor, the overseer has now stripped the mayor and the city commission of all of their duties, and you can see how happy some of the people in Benton Harbor are about their new state-appointed boss.
Benton Harbor and the Detroit public schools are both flat broke. The state‘s position seems to be that they are broken and that for them, democracy itself is part of the problem.
With this emergency law in Michigan, the state says that these places can‘t be fixed with their democracy in place and functioning, that the solution for them depends on doing away with that democracy, doing away with representative government, doing away with their elected officials. The repair for their brokenness begins with ending their democratic decision making and imposing something shocking name to it but is the only way to describe this—imposing a kind of dictatorship, with the dictator being a person of the state‘s choosing.
If that sounds off to you, consider the news today from Benton Harbor.
Reverend Jackson and the state‘s black lawmakers preparing to challenge Michigan‘s new approach to democracy for hard times. The message from Mr. Jackson and from others today: organize and sue.
Joining us now is Democratic State Representative Fred Durhal. He is chairman of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus. He was at the press conference today in Benton Harbor.
Thank you for being here with us tonight, sir. Appreciate your time.
STATE REP. FRED DURHAL (D), MICHIGAN: Rachel, thank you very much for allowing us to come and talk with you today.
MADDOW: Clearly, you consider this emergency manager law to have constitutional problems, enough that you are getting ready to sue over it. Can you describe for us the basis of this legal challenge?
DURHAL: Yes. We are looking at the U.S. Constitution, in Article 1, Section 10-1, which talks about contracts. It talks about the ability of the federal government to stop any state from being able to squash contracts. And that is important for this struggle, because what is going on is that you have an emergency financial manager and a new law, which allows him to unilaterally come in and just take contracts and tear them up.
MADDOW: If this emergency manager --
DURHAL: So we believe --
MADDOW: I‘m sorry, sir, go ahead.
DURHAL: Yes, we believe that it is unconstitutional to do that. We also have in Michigan a Home Rule Act, and we‘re going to also challenge the violation of the Home Rule Act, which allows cities, villages and townships to be able to function and make their own laws.
MADDOW: If this emergency manager law is allowed to stay on the books, how many Benton Harbors and Katherine Ferguson academies do you think we are looking at? How many places get assigned this sort of emergency unilateral overseer?
DURHAL: Well, let me tell you, in Michigan, we know right now that there are about 120 school districts that are ready to go bankrupt or have some level of financial trouble and that gets them to a point where an emergency manager can be appointed. We also know that there are approximately 100 cities, villages and townships in Michigan that are in the same state of trouble.
MADDOW: Why do you think the state wants to try to fix problems in this particular way? Why would the democratically-elected government of a place like Benton Harbor or the dually elected school board of a place like Detroit be an obstacle toward—an obstacle in those places, getting themselves back on track? An obstacle rather than the means by which you‘d do it?
DURHALL: I really don‘t know the answer to that, except to say that it seems to us to be part of a national agenda. And the national agenda has to do with breaking contracts of the unions, interfering with the ability of cities to be able to function and solve their own problems. All of this sounds very anti-democratic to me, and we intend to fight it all the way through if we have to go to the Supreme Court.
MADDOW: Do you think the people of Michigan are surprised that this is what they got from Rick Snyder as governor? Was there any indication during the election season that this is what people would be voting for if they voted the Republicans in and this Republican governor in?
DURHAL: No, I don‘t think so. I think that during the campaign, Governor Snyder was not very open about what he was going to do and how he was going to fix the problems. I think that people upon his election began to se the real Rick Snyder. And I don‘t think that they like it.
Here is a man who talks about taxing seniors‘ pensions, eliminating the earned income tax credit, which is federal in nature and also allows poor people to be able to receive some benefit. There have been taxes upon education, reducing the pupil allowance by $470. He has also gone and eliminated statutorily revenue sharing, which in the case of the city of Detroit will cost it $179 million. And when you ad that to its present $150 million deficit, you get $320 million, which sets it up for the emergency financial manager.
MADDOW: Fred Durhal, Democratic state representative and chairman of Michigan‘s Legislative Black Caucus—thank for your time tonight, sir. It‘s good to have you help us understand this story. Really appreciate it.
DURHAL: Thank you so much, we appreciate you. Keep fighting.
MADDOW: I‘m trying. Thank you, sir.
As a postscript, Governor Rick Snyder is going to be on his own trip to Benton Harbor next week. He will be the grand marshal in the Annual Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade. He‘ll be the first governor to do that since 1984. Seriously. Rick Snyder, Benton Harbor, next week.