The repeal of Public Act 4, the controversial emergency manager law, has labor unions, politicians and self-appointed defenders of democracy dancing in the proverbial streets. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Snyder, the bailout team at the state Treasury and a handful of EM’s installed around the state are pondering what to do now, whether to push new legislation to clarify things and what it would look like.
Rich Studley, CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, has a suggestion that bears consideration — do nothing. Let Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council, the city’s unions and their activist allies, the teachers unions and their self-appointed protectors at MSNBC, instead subject themselves to the kindly ministrations of federal bankruptcy judges adjudicating their respective cases under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code.
Who needs the state Treasury’s early warning system of financial distress when you can just run out of cash, miss payrolls and bond payments and trigger default? Who needs an emergency manager schooled (to greater or lesser degrees) in turnarounds when you can depend on the financial acumen of career politicians who’ve run nothing but their mouths? Who needs a law passed by duly elected legislators and signed by a duly elected governor when you can throw it out in an emotion-laden referendum and offer no solutions?
And who needs a replacement when we’ve got the federal bankruptcy code? Doesn’t matter that bankruptcy is more expensive, takes longer, isn’t much interested in managing a municipality’s assets for the long term — and can abrogate collective bargaining agreements all the same. “Our position is they take no action,” Studley told me this week, referring to the legislative “what’s next” for emergency management percolating in Lansing. “Actions have consequences.”
Yes, they do.