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Lawmaker: Emergency manager law fixing Benton Harbor, other cities

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-987488.mp3

EAST LANSING, MI – The debate continues over Michigan's six-month old local emergency manager law. Supporters say it's helping stabilize the state's most fiscally challenged communities. But, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta, opponents say they've set late October as their target for turning in petition signatures to challenge the law on the ballot.

The measure's legislative sponsor, state Representative Al Pscholka, went on statewide public TV to defend the law. Benton Harbor is part of Pscholka's district and he says the strong emergency manager law has left the city with a budget surplus and almost ready to resume handling its own affairs.

"It is about fiscal accountability and it has worked," Rep. Pscholka says.

Amy Kerr Hardin is part of a coalition that's circulating petitions to force a referendum on the law.

"A fiscal crisis is no reason to suspend democracy," Hardin says. "We wouldn't ask the people of Greece to be taken over by a dictator."

Hardin says her group is close to gathering the 161,000 signatures needed to suspend the law and put a question on the February 2012 ballot.

There are also several court challenges to the law.

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