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State Rep. says emergency manager law harmed cities, schools, and should be repealed

Students in the research lab at Virginia Tech prepare to test water samples from Flint.
Virginia Tech students testing Flint water samples for lead. The Flint Water Crisis was a result of cost-cutting measures approved by Flint's emergency managers.

Democratic state Representative Brenda Carter has introduced a bill to repeal Michigan's Emergency Manager Law.

Since 2013, the law has allowed the state to place emergency managers in charge of financially distressed cities and school districts.

Carter says emergency managers have stripped many low-income, Black communities of viable resources, including in Flint, Pontiac, Inkster, Buena Vista, and Detroit. In the most well-known example, cost-cutting measures approved by Flint emergency managers resulted in high amounts of lead contaminating the city's drinking water supply.

Carter said emergency managers forced the cities of Inkster and Buena Vista to eliminate their entire school districts, and Pontiac's school district was forced to sell off needed school buildings for a fraction of their actual worth.

"I believe it was the premise to bring resources into these communities to help them become sustainable and viable," said Carter. "But the exact opposite occurred. What this law actually did was go into communities and sell off all of their resources and tie the hands of local government."

Carter says if the law is repealed, a new law could be introduced to genuinely help cities and school districts that need help with their finances.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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