Thursday, August 22, 2013

Good advice from Greimel

Tim Greimel’s role pertaining to Pontiac has changed since the days when he was a county commissioner. Back then he attended every civic improvement meeting imaginable as the city grappled with its problems.

Neither he nor anyone else possessed any magic elixir. But Greimel and Oakland Schools Superintendent Vickie Markavitch have, over the years, probably done more than anyone to build a leadership corps that can serve the city in the future.

Now Greimel is House minority leader in Lansing. It’s a highly partisan role but he left that approach at the state capital as he advised the Pontiac School Board the other day.

Gov. Rick Snyder recently declared the district in financial emergency due to its $37.7 million debt. The board has been offered four potential paths as it moves forward.

They prefer reaching a consent agreement with the state to an emergency financial manager, but Greimel warned them that they had better follow it to the letter.

“I have reason to believe that some (in Lansing) want to see an emergency manager in this district,” Greimel told the board.

 And there is certainly nothing he can do about it since it is an executive branch decision and as a Democrat Greimel is in the minority anyway.

Unlike Pontiac’s city council, the school board has done everything in its power to manage its own house and right its ship. But there was just a too long a history of corruption and incompetence to overcome.

No one on the board denies the seriousness of the situation.

The district has 30 days — or less if Treasurer Andy Dillon says it will be less than 30 days — to negotiate the consent agreement, which must be then approved by the full board.

“It is difficult to know what the treasurer will insist on. It could include prior approval of expenditures,” Greimel said, and it will include what will happen if there is a violation of the agreement.

Although mediation with vendors and labor unions could be the alternative measure if the district violated the consent agreement, Greimel doubts that would be the outcome.

“My guess is the state is likely to insist on, if there is a default, there will be an emergency manager,” he said, according to conversations he has heard in Lansing.

A fourth option is bankruptcy.

There is a fifth option too — disbanding the district. But that would require state legislative action. And no one on the board favors that.

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