Type: Public event

Michigan's Controversial Emergency Manager Law: A panel discussion on fundamental issues of governance

Date & time

Mar 19, 2012, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Annenberg Auditorium
735 S. State Street 1120 Weill Hall Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free and open to the public.

Auditorium doors will open at 3:30 PM on March 19.

Join the conversation on Twitter: #closupmieml

Michigan's new "Emergency Manager" law (Public Act 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act) has garnered national attention and ignited debate on fundamental issues of democratic governance. Among the law's most controversial aspects is the transfer of power from local elected officials to unelected Emergency Managers, providing them the ability to make sweeping changes to local government, including the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements. Proponents of the law argue that it encourages local actors to make difficult decisions themselves, negotiating local agreements in order to avoid a state take-over. In cases where that fails, proponents argue that the law provides critical alternatives to municipal bankruptcy. Opponents argue that the law is undemocratic and unconstitutional, and they have launched efforts to overturn the Act. This panel discussion will examine the law's impact on citizens, public employees, local governments, and communities in Michigan. Panelists include key leaders from all sides of the issue: Roger Fraser, Deputy State Treasurer, who plays a key role in implementing the law; Brandon Jessup, Chairman and CEO of Michigan Forward, the group leading the charge to repeal P.A. 4; Joseph Harris, Emergency Manager for the City of Benton Harbor, MI; and the Honorable Dayne Walling, Mayor of the City of Flint, MI, which was recently placed under the power of an emergency manager.


Roger Fraser Deputy State Treasurer for Local Government Services, State of Michigan Fraser began as the Deputy State Treasurer for Local Government Services in May of 2011 after serving nine years as the City Administrator of Ann Arbor. In his current role, Fraser oversees the Local Government Services Bureau which includes Auditing and Finance; Assessment and Certification; support for the State Tax Commission and administration of Public Act 4 of 2011, also known as the Emergency Manager Law. Fraser has 42 years of public management experience, including more than two decades in city manager/administrator posts in Colorado and Minnesota, before joining the City of Ann Arbor. He began his career in public service in Southeast Michigan, focusing on human resources and labor relations, after earning a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. While working in Muskegon County he earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. Joseph Harris Emergency Manager, City of Benton Harbor, MI Harris, a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor, is the emergency manager for the City of Benton Harbor. He was the auditor general for the City of Detroit from 1995 to 2005, and Detroit's chief financial officer from 2008 to 2009 under interim mayor Kenneth Cockrel. Prior to his employment with the City of Detroit, Harris was the controller for Domino's Pizza Distribution. Harris also served as a full-time accounting instructor for Wayne State University from 1980 to 1986, and afterwards as an adjunct accounting professor until 2005. He earned an MBA degree from the University of Michigan and a BBA degree from the University of Detroit. He is a U.S. Army veteran.

Brandon A. Jessup Chairman and CEO, Michigan Forward Jessup is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Michigan Forward, the public policy organization working to repeal Public Act 4. Jessup is currently also conducting research and analysis of Michigan's political and economic landscape, creating policy initiatives for the progress of Michigan's urban centers and metropolitan areas. Jessup earned his Bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems at Eastern Michigan University. He serves as a member of the Detroit Library Commission's Detroit Literacy Council, the African Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Democratic Party. Jessup has also served in various leadership roles for the Young Democrats of America and Michigan Young Democrats. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and is the child of John and Mary Tuggle. For more on Brandon A. Jessup, visit: http://michiganforward.org/index.php/about/board-of-directors/.

Dayne Walling Mayor, City of Flint, MI Walling is serving in his second term as the Mayor of the City of Flint, MI, and serves on the executive committee of Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Walling's past professional experience includes: owner and manager of 21st Century Performance, work with the Genesee County Land Bank's affiliated Genesee Institute, and founder of Flint Club. In addition, he worked with the Urban Coalition of Minnesota, and was an aide to Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams and U.S. Congressman Dale Kildee. Walling earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University, a Bachelor of Arts in Modern History from St. Peter's College, University of Oxford, and a Master of Arts in Urban Studies from Goldsmith's College, University of London. He also pursued doctoral studies in Geography at the University of Minnesota, with a fellowship from the National Science Foundation. He is a Harry S. Truman Scholar and a Rhodes Scholar.

Moderator: Brian A. Jacob Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Jacob is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy, Professor of Economics, and Director of the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an Executive Committee Member of the National Poverty Center. He has previously served as a policy analyst in the NYC Mayor's Office and taught middle school in East Harlem. His primary fields of interest are labor economics, program evaluation, and the economics of education. His current research focuses on urban school reform and teacher labor markets. In recent work, he has examined school choice, education accountability programs, housing vouchers, and teacher labor markets. Sponsored by: Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.