Week in Michigan politics: Detroit mayoral election, bankruptcy and Pontiac's finances

Aug 21, 2013

This week in Michigan politics Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss ballot issues that have emerged in the Detroit mayoral race, the objection filings to Detroit's bankruptcy and Pontiac coming out of emergency management.

Mayoral ballot counts questioned

Nearly 20,000 votes in Detroit’s mayoral election may be thrown out after a discovery that ballot counters tallied the votes improperly.  The ballots are typically tallied with hash marks, but some election workers labeled with numbers instead.  The state is now expected to make a decision on the validity of these ballots.

The removal of the votes reverses the results of the primary election and places candidate Benny Napoleon as the front runner.

Jack Lessenberry notes that the original decision to throw out the votes was made by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, the sister of an influential supporter of Napoleon.

Lessenberry says, “It’s important to say this would not affect the lineup for the November election.  It would still be Duggan and Napoleon; no one else is even close.”

Deadline past for Detroit bankruptcy objections

Monday night was the deadline for unions, pensioners, creditors and individuals to file objections to Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy.

These objections will be considered in the November hearings that determine the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy judge Stephen Rhodes will hold these hearings, though Lessenberry says we don’t know how much weight the objections will carry.  

Emergency managers are not necessarily the new norm

Currently, five Michigan cities and three school districts are under the supervision of an emergency manager.  

Lessenberry doesn’t necessarily think that emergency managers are the new norm for handling economic crises in Michigan, but they are tools for cities to use.

Lessenberry says, “In some of these cases it’s a case of cities not managing their money; other cases it’s a case of cities not having money and I think we’re probably going to see a lot more of this unless we change the way in which cities and schools are financed.”