Charles Pugh

Charles Pugh

DETROIT (AP) - A letter has been dropped off at Detroit City Hall announcing that Charles Pugh has resigned from the City Council.

A spokesman for emergency manager Kevyn Orr says in an email that the two-paragraph letter was left about 3 p.m. Friday at the 11th floor front desk.

Bill Nowling also says he doesn't know who left the letter.

The letter is signed "Charles Pugh" and says he has accepted "an offer for employment elsewhere."

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This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the proposal to consolidate school districts into county-wide systems, the canceled bus tour for Detroit creditors, and the new changes on the Detroit City Council.

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Saunteel Jenkins replaces Charles Pugh as Detroit City Council President

"Saunteel Jenkins is the new President of the Detroit City Council. The Council voted on new leadership after it lost its two former top officials. Jenkins replaces Charles Pugh, who has vanished from the public eye amidst allegations of a questionable relationship with a teenager," Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports.

Proposed legislation would let voters eliminate income tax

Republican state Representative Bob Genetski is sponsoring legislation that would let voters decide whether to get rid of the state's income tax.

"He supports raising the state’s sale’s tax to make up for the lost revenue. Former director of the state House Fiscal Agency Mitch Bean says the plan would leave an $8.5 billion dollar hole in next year’s state budget," Jake Neher reports.

Orr cancels bus tour with creditors

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has canceled a planned bus tour meant to convince Wall Street creditors that the city's condition is dire and they should accept big losses on its debt.

"Orr says the tour could be rescheduled. But it increasingly seems that his negotiations with creditors are hitting a wall. City Council member Ken Cockrel echoes what many think--that resistance from creditors is speeding up Detroit’s timeline for a possible bankruptcy filing," Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports.

Charles Pugh

A police investigation of former Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh was stopped yesterday.

Police were investigating Pugh after allegations were made that Pugh had "inappropriate contact" with an 18-year-old student that he was mentoring at Fredrick Douglass High School.

According to the Associated Press, "the teen's mother fears that the case is harming [her son] psychologically."

Madison Heights police said in a statement Monday they're honoring the family's request and postponing an interview with the teen.

The department says it isn't forwarding the case to prosecutors because it's necessary to speak with the victim "in order to do a complete and thorough investigation."

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Detroit's pension systems vs. Kevyn Orr

Detroit has two pension systems and both have posted fairly strong funding levels. But emergency manager Kevyn Orr has questioned some of those numbers. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says using more realistic projections changes the funding levels, but Detroit’s pension systems say their numbers are correct.

Michigan schools might consolidate services

Michigan schools could be forced to consolidate many of their services into county-wide systems if state lawmakers decide to go along with a plan released yesterday by state Superintendent Mike Flanagan. Flanagan wants services like transportation, food, and staff training to be handled at the county or regional level.

“And local districts, they can spend time on student achievement issues and not worry about all that other stuff,” Flanagan told Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher.

Detroit City Council will select new leader

The Detroit City Council is expected to select a new president today. The board typically numbers nine but now has six members after two recently resigned and the former President Charles Pugh deserted his duties.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, what we call Independence Day, and a lot of politicians will say a lot of things, much of it nonsense, about what the Founding Fathers supposedly believed in 1776.

What is pretty clear, however, is that all of them thought we should have the freedom to determine our own destiny, and to be responsible for our actions. I know they were thinking mainly, if not exclusively, about the rights of property-owning white men.

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Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law which would allow the state to consolidate small, financially struggling school districts with neighboring districts. Inskter in metro Detroit and Buena Vista in Saginaw County would be the first districts affected. Snyder also announced that a work group would be trying to develop a better system for fixing schools with looming financial problems.

"There is a new petition drive to put a referendum on a wolf-hunting law on the November 2014 ballot. If it’s successful, this would be the second ballot challenge to a Michigan wolf hunt. This drive takes aim at the new hunting law adopted after a previous ballot campaign turned in enough petitions to suspend the earlier wolf-hunting law," Rick Pluta reports.

The Detroit City Council is holding off on replacing its leadership over lingering legal questions. The Council will vote next week on who will replace Charles Pugh as Council President. Pugh has been missing for several weeks, and he has been stripped of his pay and responsibilities. The Council will also select a President Pro-Tem, its second-highest leadership position.

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Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh hasn't turned up at a council meeting for more than two weeks.

Today, Joe Guillen of the Detroit Free Press writes that the Detroit City Council will vote on a replacement for Pugh next week.

Council members did not indicate during the meeting that they had heard from him.

“Who knows, by July the seventh, member Pugh, President Pugh or Charles Pugh might have resigned by then,” Councilwoman Brenda Jones said.

The city's law department told council that Pugh's position as council president was vacated once Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, stripped Pugh of his pay and duties.

A civil complaint was filed against Pugh for an inappropriate relationship with an 18 year-old boy.

Police are looking into the matter, but as Deadline Detroit's Jeff Wattrick writes, the allegations "are remarkably unsalacious at this point."

Well, we’ve just about made it halfway through the year.  In fact, for most businesses and most states, Monday is the start of a new fiscal year. Michigan, however, starts its fiscal year October 1.

Why?  Well, it has to do with an accounting trick to deal with a fiscal crisis back in the nineteen seventies. Yes, the more things change, the more some things stay the same.

But this has been a pretty momentous six months. On New Year’s Day, elected officials were still fully in charge in Detroit.  Today, the city is being run by an emergency manager. Six months ago, while everybody knew Detroit finances were bad, nobody dreamed the total debt might be near twenty billion dollars.

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“Right-to-read” suit continues

A Wayne County judge is allowing a suit against the Highland Park school district to proceed.  “The suite says the district failed to comply with a state law that requires remedial assistance for students not reading at grade level in the fourth and seventh grades,” reports Michigan Radio’s Lindsay Hall.  The “right-to-read” suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last year.

Duggan supporters consider write-in campaign

Mike Duggan will announce his next steps today in the Detroit Mayoral race.  Michigan Radio’s Sara Cwiek reports that Duggan’s supporters are preparing a write-in campaign for him.  Duggan was ousted from the race last week when courts decided he was ineligible after filing his paperwork outside of the approved dates.    

Detroit City Council President ousted

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh has been relieved of duty.  Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr stripped him of his salary and authority after he failed to turn up for a final deadline Wednesday evening.  Michigan Radio's Julia Field reports that Pugh is also under scrutiny after allegations surfaced of an inappropriate relationship with a high school student.

City of Detroit

This past Tuesday, Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh was absent for his second straight week of council sessions. His whereabouts for the last few days have been unknown and his public Facebook and Twitter pages were taken down last week.

Recently, Pugh is facing allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year old male student he mentored.

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Michigan doesn't need to clear new election laws with the federal government

"The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a key part of a voting rights law means the state of Michigan will no longer have to clear new election laws with the federal government," Rick Pluta reports.

Two counties, Buena Vista in Saginaw County and Clyde in Allegan county, were covered by the federal Voting Rights Act after failing to provide adequate help to Spanish-speaking voters in the 1970s.

Kevyn Orr denies medical leave for City Council president

Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr has denied City Council President Charles Pugh's request for medical leave. Pugh has been absent from Council meetings for a few days, and he has not returned phone calls. Orr says Pugh must report to work by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, or be stripped of his salary and responsibilities.

Buena Vista School District lays off most teachers and staff

The Board of Education for the Buena Vista School District near Saginaw approved layoffs for nearly all of its teachers and staff on Tuesday.

"School officials the district will have about $2,000 as of July 5. Board President Randy L. Jackson says the district still is making plans for fall classes. The board approved an application to request a $2.5 million loan from the state to help keep running," according to the Associated Press.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing went to the Detroit City Council Friday to formally tell them he wants to get rid of the city’s top lawyer.

Instead, he walked out of an abruptly-recessed meeting he later called a “sideshow.”

Bing has been at odds with Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, for weeks now.

The Detroit City Council is moving ahead to implement the city’s consent agreement with the state.

The Council had delayed appointing its two members to a nine-member financial advisory board while the city’s corporation counsel challenged the consent deal in court.

The standoff between Lansing and some Detroit city officials over a lawsuit showed little sign of fizzling out Tuesday.

But it also appears the state might be looking for ways to give the city some leeway if the contentious situation continues much longer.

The standoff began last week when Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, went to court asking for a judge’s opinion about whether the consent agreement between the city and state should be voided.

City of Detroit Facebook page

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council are sitting down this morning to discuss keeping the city afloat financially.

Bing and Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer have warned the city might run out of money by the end of this week.

When Detroit signed a consent agreement with the state more than two months ago, it was supposed to keep the city out of just this position.

But the city’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the deal’s validity in court.

She has support from several City Council members—and at one point, got encouragement from Bing.

Detroit’s elected officials had hoped to resolve some big questions about the city’s financial future Tuesday.

But that didn’t happen.

Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing say the only way for the city to avoid an emergency manager is to get big union concessions.

Bing had hoped to get those concessions by the end of January. But the self-imposed deadline came and went without a deal.

In the meantime, the Detroit City Council met to discuss drastic actions the city might have to take if no agreement materializes soon.

The next two months will be crucial in determining the long-term future of Detroit’s water and sewerage system.

Detroit owns and operates the municipal system that serves more than three million people in southeast Michigan. It’s been under federal oversight for wastewater violations since 1977.

The Detroit City Council has set up a meeting to override Mayor Dave Bing’s likely budget veto.

Bing said last week he’ll veto the Council’s budget proposal. He has until the end of this week to do so.

The two sides are at odds over the Council’s decision to cut an additional $50 million from Bing’s proposed budget.

Charles Pugh

The city of Detroit is ramping up efforts to cobble together a budget and a five-year deficit elimination plan.

Detroit City Council members got a copy of Mayor Dave Bing’s deficit elimination plan Tuesday.

The Council wants more cuts than Bing proposed. They say that’s necessary to avoid a possible state takeover of the city’s finances.

Council President Charles Pugh says a Council work group believes the city should cut at least $120 million from the upcoming budget.

A new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that Detroit spends a larger chunk of its budget on the City Council than other major cities.

Detroitspends just over 1% of its current general fund budget on Council expenses. The national median is just under 0.5%.

The study also looked at whether cities have Council term limits, or serve full- or part-time. Detroit has a full-time Council.

Thomas Ginsberg is the Project Manager of Pew’s Philadelphia-based research initiative. He says the research didn’t “find much correlation” between that status and costs.

“Most of the Councils that call themselves part-time…in fact the members work much more than part-time. So we found that’s not a particularly useful term. That’s a commentary more about the term than the numbers.”

But Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh calls portions of the study “totally inaccurate.”

Pugh says Detroit’s Council budget also includes some administrative offices, like the city planning commission. He also points out that Detroit Council members’ have lower salaries than most of their counterparts in other cities.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A dispute over who controls Detroit’s cable TV public access channel may have, at least temporarily, derailed plans for the city’s new police headquarters.