Sen. Johnson Submits Requests to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
Letter Details Voter Suppression in Detroit, Other Pressing Issues
DETROIT – Yesterday, Senator Bert Johnson (D-Detroit) submitted a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder at the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner. Today, Sen. Johnson released the following statement:
“I was pleased that the Attorney General came to Detroit to address one of the largest NAACP events in the nation and that his remarks touched on some of the overarching issues we are facing here in Detroit. I was compelled to submit a letter to him outlining several major concerns – both ongoing and developing – that citizens across Michigan and especially in the Detroit Metro area have been voicing to me at an alarming rate.
“I am asking the Attorney General to turn the attention of the United States Department of Justice on what many elected officials, constitutional scholars and other experts have widely agreed is the unconstitutional provisions in Public Act 4 of 2011, the emergency manager law, that allow elected leaders to be replaced by unelected officials serving at the will of our state's Governor. These all-powerful, unaccountable officials are being appointed in urban communities throughout the state, under the premise of local ˜mismanagement,' despite the state's continued systemic disinvestment in these communities. This ignores public policy decisions by politicians in Lansing that have created untenable situations for local mayors and city councils.
“I am also asking that his department investigate the very serious potential for mass voter suppression tactics in the City of Detroit this fall. Governor Rick Snyder, under the threat of appointing an emergency manager, swayed Mayor Dave Bing and five City Council members to approve a consent agreement that vests ultimate power in an unelected ˜financial review board.' To comply with this agreement, Mayor Bing has submitted a budget with 25% cuts across the board, including to the city's election department. Janice Winfrey, the Detroit City Clerk, has told the City Council and others that such massive cuts will severely inhibit her ability to run a lawful, free, fair election this August and November. The implications of this voter suppression tactic on a very large, overwhelmingly Democratic voting bloc are self-evident.
“Additionally, as the Attorney General touched on in his remarks, there are growing concerns with public safety and a disturbing lack of police presence in Detroit. As a major international border crossing and in a city as economically depressed as ours, it is especially dangerous to be so lacking in public safety resources, also a result of the state's neglect, and subsequent takeovers, of local governments.
“Because Republicans control the entire state government and state Supreme Court, those of us who value democracy and basic voting rights have little recourse but to request assistance from the United States Attorney General.
“It is my hope that, as it has throughout history, our United States federal government will step in on the side of fairness, equality and our hard-earned voting rights to correct the malfeasance of governance in Michigan.”