Detroit city lawyer continues consent agreement challenge

Jul 6, 2012

Detroit’s top lawyer has apparently decided to fight on in her effort to challenge the city’s consent agreement with the state.

State officials warn the ongoing court battle threatens Detroit’s ability to “get back on track and move forward.”

Detroit corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon maintains the consent agreement is illegal because the state owes Detroit money, and the city can’t have a valid contract with a debtor.

But Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette threw the case out, saying Crittendon had no authority to bring it.

But according to a letter delivered to the Detroit City Council Thursday, Crittendon has asked Collette to reconsider. That’s the first step in a possible appeal.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and some City Council members don’t support Crittendon, and have begged her to back off. But Crittendon says the city charter empowers her to act independently.

Bing and other city officials warn the ongoing legal battle could lose the city millions in state revenue sharing payments, and make it near impossible for Detroit to borrow money.

Bing issued a statement Friday called Crittendon’s move “disappointing:”

“By filing this motion of reconsideration, on the last possible day to appeal Judge William Collette’s previous ruling, she keeps the legal challenge of the FSA alive and she keeps the Detroit’s financing at risk, making it harder for us to stabilize the city. This lawsuit does not fix a street light, does not put buses in service, and does not put more police officers on the street.

Moreover, the Corporation Counsel’s lawsuit has already caused the City to pay higher interest rates on its borrowed money and damaged the City’s credit rating.  It has caused our lenders to call in a portion of our short-term financing.  And, it nearly caused the City to lose a $28 million dollar revenue sharing payment this month, which was avoided only by the efforts of City Chief Financial Officer Jack Martin and the State Treasury Department.” 

Sara Wurfel, a spokeswoman for Governor Snyder, says the Governor is also disappointed”—and calls Crittendon’s action the “latest hurdle” to Detroit’s fiscal recovery.