When A Devious, All Too Clever Plan Goes Awry

Rhodes Image 1aRetired U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven W. Rhodes got just a bit too clever in his latest ploy to stampede the Michigan Legislature. He is trying to ram a $ 720 million bail out for the Detroit Public Schools through the Legislature, but wound up creating a labor relations firestorm. He even managed to grievously damage the prospects of the bail out in the Legislature. As always, it is the DPS students who are suffering the fallout.

Judge Rhodes, the DPS ‘transition manager’, sent out an email on Saturday telling all and sundry that DPS would have no money to pay teachers after June 30th. He urged Michigan lawmakers to “act thoughtfully, but with the urgency that this situation demands”. The Detroit News later reported:

Rhodes, who warned over the weekend the district would run out of money June 30 and stop making payroll for employees who get paid over the summer, urged employees, parents and others Monday to press lawmakers to pass the rescue plan.

Rosen ImageThis is a reprise of the successful panic tactics he and his buddy U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen developed to force acceptance of the phony Detroit bankruptcy Plan of Adjustment. This effort, celebrated by Michigan’s nitwit media, left a smoking, $ 491 million crater in Detroit’s post bankruptcy finances. Mayor Duggan has been reduced to chiseling money from demolition contracts. Don’t forget that the $ 720 million bail out plan also turns total, absolute DPS control over to Mayor Duggan and his crack team of demolition contract negotiators. Out of the frying pan and into the fire we go.

This is how Michigan’s devious elites now get what they want, when they want, from an embarrassingly slow and cantankerous constitutional government process which they despise.

Whoopee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies

Some boys goes up the trail for pleasure,
But that’s where you get it most awfully wrong;
For you haven’t any idea the trouble they give us
While we go driving them all along.

Judge Rhodes, a lifetime government employee with no real management experience [Federal courts are well stocked with administrators, not just judges], did not fully grasp the finer points of teachers’ pay. Many DPS teachers are paid uniformly over the entire calendar year for their teaching during the shorter school year. This is referred to as an extended pay plan. Thus an inability to make pay after June 30th means that DPS teachers working today are being told that they just got a very rude 17% pay cut for the entire current school year. Unsurprisingly, DPS teachers walked on Monday in a massive sick-out which closed down the entire school system. The Detroit Federation of Teachers didn’t even bother to hide behind the fig leaf of a ‘wildcat strike’. They ordered the sick-out directly. This sick-out is continuing full force today and DPS is descending into chaos.

Detroit Federation of Teachers LogoJudge Rhodes told Detroit Federation of Teachers administrator Ann Mitchell and some DPS teachers in March that the $ 48.7 million PA 54 of 2016 bailout would cover employees on the extended pay plan for the rest of the school year. He probably did not fully understand the ramifications of what he was saying. Judge Rhodes’ Saturday email directly contradicts his apparent promise. Judge Rhodes is now trying to carefully parse his March town hall meeting comments to DFT, but the DPS teachers and employees are livid. Hence the sick-out.

What happened here? We told you that DPS ‘discovered’ that they had diverted $ 30 million in U.S. Department of Education reimbursements intended to pay the pension contributions of Detroit Public Schools’ Federal grant-funded employees. These reimbursements were supposed to be forwarded to to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, but were spent otherwise by DPS. So the $ 48.7 million PA 54 bailout didn’t go quite as far as first presumed. Like 60% less far.

Rather than simply tell the truth about the inadequacy of the PA 54 bail out and the dubious accounting at DPS; the very clever Judge Rhodes saw an opportunity to apply political pressure on the Michigan Legislature and ran with it. It is quite likely that he has finally, irrevocably broken DPS with this gambit. And the movers and shakers in Lansing are none too pleased, either.

Image Shamelessly Stolen From WJBK-TV, Fox 2 Detroit

Image Shamelessly Stolen From WJBK-TV, Fox 2 Detroit

The only good news here is that the DPS employees are beginning to line up behind a serious, forensic audit of DPS. A sudden 17% pay cut will stimulate such heretical thoughts. We haven’t converted them into right wingers yet, but they are at least beginning to question their masters’ financial competency. The element of trust required in human relations at DPS has been shot stone cold dead. Judge Rhodes claims DPS does not have the funds for such an audit, but he hasn’t any other option to restore the status quo ante. DPS is now careening out of control. Only a serious forensic audit, publicly shared, will arrest DPS’ slide into chaos.

Michigan was pretty well managed into the first half of the 20th Century, and our state prospered as a consequence. The last 65 years have been a depressing litany of decline which seems to be accelerating lately. It is time to demand more competence and less cleverness from our elites.

You Betcha! (13)Nuh Uh.(0)

  3 comments for “Blowback

  1. KG One
    May 3, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Did you know that as of 2:00pm this afternoon, there was not ONE person protesting outside of the DPS' offices in the New Center Area?

    I even went around the block (construction notwithstanding), three times to be certain.

    On a related note, there was also a noticeable absence of ENG vans, videographers, or anyone carrying microphones with local radio stations attached to them.

    Pretty peculiar, if you ask me?

    You Betcha! (4)Nuh Uh.(0)
  2. 10x25MM
    May 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    The Detroit News is reporting that Judge Rhodes has delivered a 'pay assurance' letter to the teachers and the teachers are now promising to return to work tomorrow:

    The interim president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, Ivy Bailey, received a letter from Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes assuring that checks would not be stopped June 30, as Rhodes previously warned, according to a union statement.

    “We’ve been working 24/7 to secure the assurance that educators will be fully paid for the school year, so they can go back to the classroom and do what they love to do — teach their students,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.

    Even President Obama has gotten involved. From the Free Press:

    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at Tuesday’s press briefing that teacher absences in Detroit — which shuttered 94 of the district's 97 schools for a second day — was a "significant problem."

    "That’s going to have a broader economic impact," he said. "Parents are going to have to stay home to take care of their kids who would otherwise be in school. … There are some parents who may not be able to stay home with their kids and those kids are now operating, or moving around, unsupervised. To say nothing of the most important thing — which is these kids aren’t getting educated."

    "That’s a real problem and one the president’s deeply concerned about," Earnest added.

    Poor Josh Earnest isn't very familiar with the demographics of Detroit. Of course the real question here is whether or not DPS actually has the funds to pay wages after June 30th, or is Judge Rhodes betting upon the Legislature providing the bailout between now and then? The term 'frozen conflict' comes to mind.

    You Betcha! (3)Nuh Uh.(0)
    • KG One
      May 4, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Did I miss the memo?

      When did an EM ever get the authority to make such a "promise"???

      Does Rhodes have some secret stash of cash that we're not aware of?

      You Betcha! (1)Nuh Uh.(0)

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