A new “emergency” law backed by right-wing think tanks is turning Michigan cities over to powerful managers who can sell off city hall, break union contracts, privatize services—and even fire elected officials.
When the city of Pontiac, Michigan, shut down its fire department last Christmas Eve, city councilman Kermit Williams learned about it in the morning paper. “Nobody reports to me anymore,” Williams says. “It just gets reported in the press.” This was just the latest in a series of radical changes in the city, where elected officials such as Williams have been replaced by a single person with unprecedented control over the city’s operation and budget.
Gov. Rick Snyder put Louis Schimmel in charge of Pontiac last September, invoking Public Act 4, a recent law that lets the governor name appointees to take over financially troubled cities and enact drastic austerity measures. Under the law, passed last March, these emergency managers can nullify labor contracts, privatize public services, sell off city property, and even dismiss elected officials.
Schimmel got to work quickly, firing the city clerk, city attorney, and director of public works and outsourcing several city departments. City fire fighters were told that they would be fired if their department was not absorbed by Waterford Township’s. Schimmel has proposed putting nearly every city property up for sale, including city hall, the police station, fire stations, water-pumping stations, the library, the golf course, and two cemeteries.
Hire private cops operated by a non-union “Christian values” security company, call them “safety ambassadors” and let them interfere with the important day-to-day duties of your actual department.
According to the East Bay Express:
“A document entitled ‘The SMS Holdings Way,’ available on the company’s website, reveals the Christian beliefs of its owners and executives: ‘From our company’s beginning, our business philosophy has been God-centered and faith-based. While we will always show tolerance and acceptance of the personal beliefs of others, we recognize that there is a higher order that provides a basis for all of our core values.’”
So when you’re walking downtown and find yourself being questioned rudely by some douche in a yellow vest, as happens to me regularly…say hello to the new Christian face of Oakland’s militarized police department.
I’m pretty sure that our safety is the last thing on their mind.
. That mission statement should read “While we will always show tolerance and acceptance of the personal beliefs of others, we recognize that our beliefs are superior and grant us supreme moral authority over them” See also: Mutaween
"Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities… . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them."-
Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison operator in America, statement to stockholders, 2005.
In other words: ending the Drug War and eliminating federal mandatory minimum sentences is bad for business. Adam Gopnik notes that CCA “spends millions lobbying legislators.” presumably, inter alia, to keep harsh sentencing laws on the books. Then he nails it:
Brecht could hardly have imagined such a document: a capitalist enterprise that feeds on the misery of man trying as hard as it can to be sure that nothing is done to decrease that misery.
BARF. Seriously, the privatization of prisons makes me feel sick to my stomach.
The lives of people who are ruined over this? Money is more important, right?
And shit won’t be done about it because it’s not something the affects people’s day to day lives enough for them to get pissed about it.
Welcome to the plutarchy.(via ignatius-m)
Silly me, I always assumed that “reducing demand for correctional facilities” was the goal! God, I’m so naive.