Saturday, May 21, 2016

CONYERS, Kildee & Lawrence Urge Governor Snyder To Ensure Local Taxpayers Don't Foot The Bill For Emergency Managers' Mistakes


Washington, D.C. – Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, today led a letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, urging him to strongly reconsider requirements that local governments operating under Emergency Management, pay the legal fees and judgements against their Emergency Managers.  In addition to Congressman John Conyers, Jr., the letter to Governor Snyder is signed by Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-5) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14). 

Currently, Michigan’s Local Financial Stability and Choice Act, MCL § 141.1560, requires local governments to cover the costs associated with appointed emergency managers who are sued in that capacity. However, legal fees incurred during Congressional investigations by former Emergency Manager for Detroit Public Schools and the City of Flint, Darnell Earley, have been voluntarily paid by the state. Congressman Conyers, Congressman Kildee, and Congresswoman Lawrence are calling on Governor Snyder to ensure all of Earley’s legal fees are covered by the state, not local taxpayers; and to ensure local governments are not required to pay legal fees associated with emergency managers’ mistakes.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The exception made in the case of Darnell Earley, should be the rule moving forward,” said Congressman Conyers. “Local taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for mistakes made by state appointed officials who they didn’t elect. Governor Snyder must ensure the burden of legal fees incurred by emergency managers falls on the state, not local governments.”

“Michigan families should not have to pay the legal bills for state-appointed emergency financial managers. Unelected emergency financial managers are accountable only to the Governor and the state should have to pay for their mistakes,” Congressman Kildee said.

“I find it unreasonable to place the burden of legal fees incurred by emergency managers on local taxpayers,” said Congresswoman Lawrence. “Michiganders should not be on the hook for the mistakes of the Governor’s appointed emergency managers. The State’s emergency manager law disenfranchises voters and takes away local control. Local taxpayers should not be required to foot the bill of fraud and abuse committed by Snyder’s appointees. The State should absorb the financial burden imposed by such crimes and Governor Snyder should ensure that taxpayers are protected from the misuse of their hard earned dollars.”

In their letter, the Members wrote, “…we find it deeply troubling that the former Emergency Manager of the Detroit Public Schools and the City of Flint, Darnell Earley, requested that Flint reimburse more than $75,000 in legal fees that he incurred while under investigation by Congress regarding his role in causing the City’s water crisis…By diverting local taxes from crucial priorities to pay for unelected officials’ legal fees representation and damages, this law places a burden on local taxpayers even as it removes their control of that burden.”

“Further, it would appear to frustrate several federal statutes designed to protect the civil and constitutional rights of our citizens.  And, it permits the State of Michigan to shift responsibility for its actions to localities by dipping into the local taxpayers’ pocketbooks, even in cases where those taxpayers are injured by an Emergency Manager’s conduct…,” the Members continued.
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