Politics
2:44 pm
Wed June 15, 2011

Lawsuit alleges Detroit Mayor Bing planned to take over council and schools

A former executive assistant to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has filed a lawsuit that alleges the mayor had plans to dissolve the Detroit City Council and the Detroit School Board by becoming the emergency manager for both.

The plaintiffs in the case are Rochelle Collins, the former executive assistant, and her husband, Oreese Collins.

Rochelle Collins and her husband are suing the city of Detroit, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, and Bing's chief communications officer, Karen Dumas, on four counts:

  1. Violation of Whisteblowers' Protection Act
  2. Breach of contract
  3. Intentional infliction of emotional distress
  4. Loss of consortium.

You can read the 30-page lawsuit here.

In listing Rochelle Collins' accomplishments during her tenure in the Mayor's office, the lawsuit lays out how Collins worked with Bing to develop a strategy to take over Detroit City Council and Detroit Public Schools.

The lawsuit says she organized the polling of Detroit citizens about the idea of Bing taking over Detroit schools; scheduled clandestine meetings between Mayor Bing, Governor Snyder, and the DPS emergency manager; and "worked closely with the governor's administration and the existing emergency manager to finalize details of the transition and to ensure all paperwork was in order."

Collins alleges that once Bing's chief communications officer, Karen Dumas, found out about the plans, she worked to derail them.

From the Detroit Free Press:

According to the suit, Dumas undercut the plan – which allegedly would have meant a huge financial infusion for the schools — saying it would hurt the mayor politically and make him look power hungry.

That's when the problems started, according to Collins. She says she was forced to report to Dumas and that Dumas "created a demeaning, hostile work environment."

Collins alleges that Dumas and Bing committed "violence in the workplace" and caused her emotional distress and violated the Whistleblower Protection Act after she reported the problems to Mayor Bing's chief of staff.

Collins is seeking to recoup damages in the lawsuit.

Mayor Bing released this statement today:

"The self-serving claims in this lawsuit will not deter this administration from the real challenges of turning this city around.  I will not allow it to be a distraction from the job at hand; which is to stabilize our finances, fix our schools and make Detroit a safe city for its residents and for those visiting and doing business in the city. This matter is now in the hands of legal professionals and I am confident that it will come to an appropriate conclusion."

Governor Snyder's office also responded to the lawsuit. From the Detroit Free Press:

Snyder's office today downplayed allegations that there were secret meetings at which it was decided to hand control of the city and school district to Bing, saying the governor and his administration regularly meet with Bing and his representatives as “part of the ongoing work to ensure a healthy Detroit as that's key to a healthy Michigan.”

“There was brainstorming and discussions that considered a variety of wide-ranging potential solutions for the city and Detroit Public Schools,” said the statement issued this morning by Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel. “It was concluded solidly and early on that having the mayor serve as (emergency manager) for either the city or DPS wouldn't be an option and didn't make sense.