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Emergency Manager Petition Drive Nearly Complete

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A coalition hoping to overturn Michigan’s law granting expanded powers to state-appointed emergency managers plans to turn in petition signatures to state officials later this month.

Michigan Forward chairman Brandon Jessup says the group needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid signatures to temporarily suspend the law and put the issue on the November ballot.

“We definitely feel that the residents of the state of Michigan will oppose this law and repeal it,” Jessup told WWJ Newsradio 950. “We have strong polling numbers that begin to indicate that our message is getting through. We’ve great message of democracy that people have been taking a hold of.”

Critics of the Emergency Manager law say it’s unconstitutional, and gives too much power to the state-appointed managers who oversee financially struggling cities and schools.

“We can’t get out of this process with just one person,” said Jessep. “It takes a community to get out of the deficits and long-standing debt that we’re facing. And we can do it, but we can’ have dictators coming in and telling us how to do it.”

Emergency managers are now in charge of finances in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and Detroit and Highland Park public schools. The city of Detroit is under a state financial review that could result in an emergency manager.

The group plans to turn in the signatures on February 29.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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