Part Time Legislature

The DPS Bailout – An Alternative History Under Bankruptcy

A Bankruptcy Postponed Is Not A Bankruptcy Avoided

US Bankruptcy Court ImageThe $ 617 million PA 192 – 197 bail out package signed by Governor Snyder on 21 June (plus the $ 48.7 million emergency down payment earlier this year) will not fix the Detroit Public Schools. The culture of corruption and incompetence long fostered within DPS suggests that the new DPS – same as the old DPS, except for some liabilities – will fail miserably a few years hence in an avalanche of new liabilities. Michigan will then be left to sort out two separate DPS entities with unsustainable liabilities. This could easily occur even before Governor Snyder leaves office in 2019. Karma. Déjà vu all over again.

Governor Snyder secured the Michigan Legislature’s approval of the $ 617 million bailout by regaling them with an entirely false narrative of the aborted 1991 Richmond, CA Unified School District bankruptcy, then implying that the entire $ 3.5 billion in DPS liabilities would fall upon the taxpayers of Michigan. The Michigan Legislature’s Republicans (and our nitwit media) bought Governor Snyder’s tale hook, line, and sinker – then delivered a $ 617 million gift to DPS for its past ill behavior. The Michigan Legislature’s Democrats had the chutzpah to hold out for even more taxpayer paid goodies.

There was another, better option: bankruptcy.

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A House Divided – And Its Not Republicans!

Replacement of Representative Plawecki on the Ballot Reveals Democratic Party Discord, Preparation for a Lame Duck Session?

Julie PlaweckiDuring a week of dramatic racial conflict across the U.S.A, few noticed a more subdued racial conflict which surfaced right here in Michigan. First term Michigan State Representative Julie Plawecki died on June 25th during a hike on Misery Ridge at Smith Rock, Oregon. Representative Plawecki was running unopposed for reelection in the Democratic primary on August 2nd, in Michigan’s 11th State House District. Representative Plawecki’s death occurred after the April 19th Michigan primary election filing deadline, so it is up to the local party to select a replacement Democrat to appear on the November 8th ballot in accordance with PA 116 of 1954.

The ‘local party’ in this particular instance is the Michigan 13th Congressional District Democratic Party (SoS BoE 516418). Representative Conyers represents the 13th Congressional District, even though he hasn’t lived in it since the 2012 redistricting. Even so, Representative Conyers does maintain control over the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party apparatus through his agent Jonathan C. Kinloch. Jonathon C. Kinloch 2Mr. Kinloch, a Detroiter who also resides outside the 11th State House District, is perhaps best known as an Emergency Manager appointed member of the esteemed Detroit Board of Education.

Half of the 11th Michigan House District’s population is in Garden City and Inkster, with the balance in attached pieces of Westland, Dearborn Heights and Livonia. Garden City and Inkster are polar opposites ethnically, but both vote heavily Democratic. The Westland and Dearborn Heights segments of the 11th are somewhere in between Garden City and Inkster, while the small segment of Livonia trends Republican. Hidden in the Census data for this district are substantial South Asian and Arab ethnic communities, but the district’s African-American population fraction is pretty well identified by the Census at about 35%.

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The DPS Bailout – Debts & Obligations

Part II - The Eventual Cost of DPS Liabilities to Michigan Taxpayers and Detroit Schoolchildren

Debt ImageDPS has two types of formal debt: operating and capital. Operating debt is a conversion of present and past annual operating deficits into ‘long-term notes’ sold to the financial markets, as well as more immediate debts owed to the State of Michigan directly. DPS capital debt exists only in the form of bonds which were sold to financial markets to purchase and rehabilitate facilities.  DPS’ formal bonds are identified by Series, which consists of the year issued and a letter suffix when different purpose bonds are issued in a single year.  The financial markets apply a further identifier, CUSIP, which is a unique identifier of municipal bonds by series and their intended dates of redemption.  All of the DPS debt sold to the financial markets has been enrolled in Public Act 92 of 2005, a program designed to reduce interest rates to local school districts in accordance with the 1963 Michigan Constitution’s Article IX, Section 16.  Most DPS debt is effectively secured by a general obligation to pay, which requires Detroit taxpayers to increase taxes and reduce spending should financial difficulties repaying arise.

DPS 2009B Bond StatementDPS pays off its capital debt in annual installments of both interest and principal, before it pays off (or adds to) its operating debt.  Bond interest and principal payments are required by bond terms which – if ignored – would result in immediate default and bankruptcy.  The exact contract terms of DPS debt sold to the financial markets are laid out in official statements which detail all the formal legal and financial features of the bonds.  The official statement is essentially a contract between DPS and its bond purchasers.

DPS’ operating debt payments are somewhat more flexible than capital debt payments because only a portion of operating debt has been converted into formal bonds covered by statements; much of it is separately owed to the Michigan School Loan Revolving Fund. The SSLRF can best be thought of as a State sponsored credit card. School districts tap into it when they are short of cash, and pay off their balance when they are flush.  Operating debt is only converted into formal bonds when Michigan school districts exceed their limits at the SSLRF.  Those limits are not exact, and generally come into play when DPS goes through one of its periodic financial spasms.

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The DPS Bailout – The Bankruptcy Alternative Not Taken

Part I - No, The Richmond USD Case Did Not Challenge U.S. Bankruptcy Court Authority

Daniel Howes ImageGovernor Snyder browbeat the Michigan Legislature to approve the $ 617 million bailout of Detroit Public Schools which he signed today by regaling them with a parade of horribles which would occur if the bailout was defeated and DPS was forced to file for bankruptcy. Daniel Howes regurgitated Governor Snyder’s compelling tales of impending doom delivered behind closed doors in a Detroit News article, but was any of it true?

Right at the top of Governor Snyder’s parade of horribles was the Federal bankruptcy filing of the Richmond [California] Unified School District on April 19, 1991 . Governor Snyder portrayed the outcome of this action as the U.S. Bankruptcy Court denying the petition and ordering the State of California to financially bail out the district.  From Daniel Howes’ article:

There is scant precedence for school districts filing for bankruptcy, the Snyder administration found. In 1990, according to an administration letter to state Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, the Richmond Unified School District in Northern California filed for bankruptcy because of $42.5 million in debt. The judge ruled the district could not be protected by the court in bankruptcy and ordered the state to provide the district with operating funds.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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I can’t wait until the rest comes due!

Gov. Snyder, Sen. Meekhof and Sperker Cotter demonstrating their best use for Michigan Taxpayer dollars.

With that conveniently (and consistently) “overlooked” $3.5-billion in debt, the Mi(a)GOP just handed the Michigan House to the democrats in the fall.

Screwed Image 1

Here’s a not-so-subtle hint.

 

More to follow…

 

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Greasing The Monkeys

Apparently there is never enough choice choking regulation for some in our legislature.

car-repairWithout written permission to spend less, your auto repair bill will cost you more.

Incredibly, that first line above was a last minute ‘fix’ in HB4344.  Prior to it being added as an amendment by Pete Petallia, there was no wiggle room for any aftermarket part that wasn’t subjected to the extremes set up by the automakers to make their parts competitive.  The section of HB4344 addressing this:

House Bill No. 4344 as amended May 31, 2016

1  original warranty, or during the first 5 years of the vehicle  manufacturer’s original warranty, whichever is less, the motor  vehicle repair facility shall replace the major component part, and  a person that is an owner or operator of the motor vehicle repair facility shall ensure that the major component part is replaced, with 1 of the following:

(a) A new original equipment manufacturer part.

(b) A used or recycled original equipment manufacturer part.

(c) A part that meets any applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards established under 49 CFR 571, and meets the standards for parts recognized as OEM comparable quality as verified by the Certified Automotive Parts Association, NSFInternational, or another nationally recognized automotive parts testing agency.

(d) A part that does not meet subdivision (a), (b), or (c), if the facility is directed by the owner of the motor vehicle in writing to install that part.]

Michigan Capitol Confidential might be thanked for bringing this up originally.

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Absentee Voter Ballot Applications Available Now

You Can File One Form For Both The State House Primary and the Presidential/General Elections

Michigan Capitol ImageThe standard form required to request an absentee ballot in the upcoming August 2nd Michigan primary and November 8th general elections is now available online as a .pdf file here. The large print version of the application for the visually impaired as a .pdf is here. Completing and filing this application also gets you the ballot(s) for any local candidates and/or issues also voted on in August and November.

Absent Voter Ballot Application Header
Just download this application form, fill it out, and mail it to your clerk.

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Democratic Socialism Comes to Southeast Michigan

RTA Funding Could Buy All Their New Riders New Cars, And Pay For Their Fuel and Insurance To Boot!

RTA Transit Map aThe new Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is out today with their transportation master plan to soak taxpayers in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties for another $ 3.3 billion in property taxes over a 20 year period.Michael Ford Smiling RTA CEO Michael Ford released the regional mass transit plan RTA will submit to voters on November 8th under PA 387 of 2012. A 1.2 mill property tax increase and $ 1.7 billion in new Federal & State subsidies will provide four new bus rapid transit lines, 11 cross county connector lines, one regional rail line, and some extended/intensified local service.

Let’s have some fun by subjecting the new RTA regional mass transit plan to some real, pre Common Core, mathematics.

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Forensic Audit – Now!

Rhodes Image 1aRetired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes, now the Detroit Public Schools’ ‘Transition Manager’, just let another financial whopper out of the bag. Detroit Public Schools received about $30 million in U.S. Department of Education reimbursements for the pensions of grant-funded employees, but failed to forward those federal funds to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. So DPS owes MPSERS $ 30 million dollars, give or take. They are ‘negotiating’.

DPS officials knew of this funds misappropriation in December 2015. Judge Rhodes knew “in March 2016”. Before or after the Michigan Legislature got suckered into passing HB 5296 and HB 5385, the DPS emergency bailout and purported financial review commission?  HB 5296, the $ 48.7 million emergency DPS bailout, cleared the Michigan House on 17 March and the Michigan Senate on 24 March. Governor Snyder signed it as Public Act 54 on 12 April.

Did anyone in Lansing know that 60% of the PA 54 DPS bailout was headed straight to the MPSERS?

If so, why did they not share this little detail with the rest of the Legislature and the public prior to the passage of HB 5296?

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Irony

i·ro·ny (ī′rə-nē, ī′ər-) Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.

Lansing City Hall & Court ComplexMichigan House Speaker Cotter just lost a round in the Courser/Gamrat felony criminal case preliminaries. Ingham County District Court 54-A Judge Hugh B. Clarke Jr. ruled Friday it would be “patently unfair” for Gamrat’s and Courser’s attorneys to not have an opportunity to question Cotter in their defense:Judge Hugh Clarke, Jr.

“Without answers to these questions, the Court cannot adequately balance the rights of the Defendants against the right of the Speaker to be free from being compelled to testify,” the order states.

“To make this decision, the Court believes an in camera hearing with counsel for the Defendants, Speaker Cotter and his attorney is warranted. This procedure would allow the court to properly balance the interests of the Defendants against the privilege sought to be accorded Speaker Cotter.”

Speaker Cotter has been claiming immunity under Public Act 27 of 1984 in Judge Clarke’s courtroom:

“AN ACT to provide immunity from civil action to members of the legislature of this state for acts done pursuant to duty as legislators; to prohibit members of the legislature of this state from being made parties to contested cases or other administrative proceedings for acts done pursuant to duty as legislators; and to provide for certain exemptions from subpoenas.”

Specifically Speaker Cotter is claiming immunity from a subpoena ad testificandum under the third section of PA 27 of 1984

MCL 4.553
Subpoena as to statements made by legislator
Sec. 3.
A member of the legislature shall not be subject to a subpoena for any matter involving statements made by the legislator pursuant to his or her duty as a legislator.

The issue here will be that the legal action against Courser and Gamrat in Ingham County District Court 54-A is a criminal action, specifically a felony action, not a civil action. Speaker Cotter is claiming immunity under a statute which pertains to civil actions, not criminal actions.  Michigan’s legislators have no constitutional or statutory relief from subpoenae in felony matters.

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