“Because P.A. 4 is stayed, any and all decisions made under P.A. 4 are stayed,” said Robert Davis, a member of the Highland Park School Board, which is also under an emergency manager. Davis is currently awaiting trial on federal embezzlement charges. He is accused of stealing $125,000 from the school district and diverting it into a phony non-profit organization between 2004 and 2010.
“The board is now back in charge,” Davis said to the Detroit News, also threatening legal action if the current emergency manager does not resign. “It’s important for us to undo what the EM just did by chartering our district.”
Keith Johnson, the president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, also believed the ruling meant Public Act 4 was suspended, along with the provision that suspends collective bargaining for five years.
“[DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts] no longer has authority to abrogate collective bargaining and he will have to negotiate with us,” Johnson said. Other board members, as well as some Detroit City Council members, thought that the suspension of the law took immediate effect, but that is not the case.
State treasurer Andy Dillion and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schutte said that once the law’s repeal is officially placed on the ballot, the previous emergency financial manager law, P.A. 72, would then take effect. The state’s school superintendent, Keith Flanagan, has already confirmed that the current EFMs in Detroit and Highland Park will be reinstated.
“It has been the opinion of myself and the governor that the mere suspension of Public Act 4 reverts to Public Act 72,” Dillon said. He also said any emergency managers appointed under Public Act 4 would be re-appointed under P.A. 72.
The ruling will have little impact on the current consent agreement in Detroit as it is largely not apart of P.A. 4. The parts that fell under P.A. 4 will be frozen, but the bulk of the agreement is unaffected.
“The court’s decision is not expected to affect the bond issue we need to maintain the city’s cash flow, and the city must complete the bond issue to fund city operations,” Bing said. “The bottom line is the city’s fiscal challenges remain, and Public Act 4 was one tool to help us. Without Public Act 4, we will continue to execute our fiscal restructuring plan.”
The biggest challenge to the repeal could come at the ballot box where the state has been plagued by low voter turnout for years. Since 1996, only twice – in 2002 and 2010 – has primary turnout topped 20 percent. Detroit’s average turnout ranges between 10 and 15 percent.
While the battle cry against P.A. 4 has been that its repeal would preserve the right to vote in officials, many choose not to vote at all, while others know little about the candidates or initiatives they are voting for. Voter apathy could spell doom for those who are for the repeal of P.A. 4.
“Today we celebrate a partial victory, but our full victory is in our vote,” Bullock said on Friday. “Now we will begin the work of voter education and mobilization.”
Follow Jay Scott Smith on Twitter @JayScottSmith