From the print version:
The legal arm of free-market think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is planning to take 10 Kent County school districts, their school boards and their unions to court on behalf of five taxpayers, alleging the school systems broke the law in blocking privatization in their districts.
The planned suit challenges this language in the contract of the Kent Intermediate School District and nine other districts: "All districts agree not to privatize any KCEA/MEA unionized services for the life of this agreement."
Kent ISD Superintendent Kevin Konarska explains in the video that it came about because the 10 districts collaborated on contracts - saving taxpayer money by not having to hold separate negotiations for every district. "I would think that they would be applauding our efforts", he says. And Kent ISD assistant superintendent Coni Sullivan is scratching her head and going "huh?" at this lawsuit, pointing out that the contract doesn't violate any laws, and was simply a line added to the agreement to acknowledge concessions made by employees on health care and other areas. Here is the most important legal fact of the matter:
And districts would be free to privatize despite the clause, she said.
When reporter Tony Tagliavia pointed out the irony of the Mac Center using taxpayer money to further a so-called agenda of "saving taxpayer money", they claim that they just want that one line stricken from these bargaining agreements, but then they just have to add in the real goal behind this - that they think there are "greater savings" if the districts would just move forward with privatizing services anyway. "Those savings would greatly outweigh the costs of these legal fights", is how Tagliavia paraphrased the threat implied here.
Basically, districts better do whatever the Mackinac Center says they should do to "save money", or they are going to have to spend money on lawyers to fight the Mackinac Center when they file these frivolous lawsuits. Got it? Follow our orders, or we'll see you in court. You don't get to run your district in the way you see fit.
Maybe it's time for the Mackinac Center to disclose who is funding their efforts. Maybe it's also time for the media to stop treating them as if they are some unbiased public policy experts. Probably should start adding the qualifier on every story where they are consulted, so the public knows where they are coming from (and to give a little credit here, the press is getting better about that). It's pretty obvious that the Center is willing to do whatever it takes to see their right-wing, anti-union agenda enacted in this state - no matter what it costs the taxpayers.