Detroit City Council

Politics & Government
9:43 am
Wed July 10, 2013

This week in Michigan politics: Consolidating schools, creditors' bus tour, Detroit City Council

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Week in Michigan politics interview for 7/10/2013

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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Politics & Government
6:53 am
Wed July 10, 2013

In this morning's news: Jenkins replaces Pugh, income tax bill, Orr meets with creditors

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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.

Politics & Government
6:54 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Detroit City Council elects new leaders

Saunteel Jenkins
Credit City of Detroit

 The Detroit City Council voted on new leadership Tuesday, and selected Saunteel Jenkins as its new President.

“It feels humbling. It feels good,” said Jenkins, noting she sits in the seat once held by her late mentor, longtime Council President Maryann Mahaffey.

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Politics & Government
2:44 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Investigation suspended for Pugh, new Detroit City Council leadership selected

Former Detroit City Council President
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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Politics & Government
7:29 am
Tue July 9, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit pension systems, consolidating school services, Detroit City Council

Morning News Roundup for Tuesday, July 9, 2013
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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.

Opinion
7:57 am
Wed July 3, 2013

Charles Pugh should take responsibility for his absence

Lessenberry commentary for 7/3/2013

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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Politics & Government
7:35 am
Wed July 3, 2013

In this morning's news: School district consolidation, wolf hunt, Detroit City Council leadership

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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.

Politics & Government
12:52 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Detroit City Council President to be stripped of his duties

Charle Pugh in Seattle? A WXYZ viewer said the photo was taken at a Starbucks on Pike Street.
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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."

Politics & Government
11:59 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Pugh's whereabouts unknown, allegations of inappropriate relationship with 17-year old boy

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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Politics & Government
1:05 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

With an emergency manager in office, do city council budget proposals matter?

Detroit City Council
Stephen Boyle

Earlier this morning, Detroit’s city council voted unanimously to override Mayor Dave Bing’s veto of budget cuts proposed by the council.

Last week, the mayor rejected changes the city council wanted implemented in the city’s $1-billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14, including cuts to his own office. The Detroit News reported:

“The council wanted deeper cuts to Bing's staff and quicker implementation of a new health care cost-sharing formula.

Bing however did not turn down deeper cuts the council recommended for its own department and the consolidation of its divisions.”

The council's override of Bing's veto was unanimous (8-0). Charles Pugh, the president of the council, said this was proof that the council was “standing united.”

But with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr at the helm of the city’s finances, how much does a united city council matter when it comes to Detroit’s budget?

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Politics & Government
6:37 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

City Council approves $1 billion Detroit budget

The Detroit City Council has approved a more than $1 billion budget for the city’s upcoming fiscal year.

That budget is nearly the same as the one Mayor Dave Bing proposed last month.

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12:29 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Interactive map of Detroit's City Council districts

Lead in text: 
Detroit City Council members used to represent the city at large instead of defined districts. In 2009, Detroit residents voted to elect City Council members by district. For the upcoming election season, visit the link below to see who is running for City Council from each Detroit district.
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Politics & Government
7:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Now on the sidelines, Detroit City Council still wants look at city contracts

The Detroit City Council wants a clearer view of what emergency manager Kevyn Orr is doing.

Some Council members said Tuesday they want to see all city contracts that Orr approves.

Those contracts are public record. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says they’re working out “how to post them in an efficient manner,” though there’s no timeline for when that will be up and running.

Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr says that shouldn’t take too long because “it ain’t rocket science.”

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Politics & Government
6:26 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Detroit Council member, former interim mayor Ken Cockrel won't seek re-election

Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.
Credit via City of Detroit

Detroit City Council member and former Detroit mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. says he won’t seek re-election this year.

Cockrel is serving his fourth term on the City Council. He also served briefly as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned in 2008—but lost the follow-up election to Dave Bing.

In a statement released Tuesday, Cockrel says he’s decided that “now is the time” to leave the Council.

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Politics & Government
6:00 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Detroit City Council approves restructuring contract as protesters disrupt meeting

Several people were arrested after protests broke out at a Detroit City Council meeting Tuesday.

Singing, chanting and linking arms, the protesters forced Council President Pugh to recess the meeting for more than an hour.

They were upset that Council was about to take a vote on a restructuring contract with the Jones Day law firm. That’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s former firm.

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Politics & Government
6:53 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Bing lays out proposed budget to preserve "essential" services

Detroiters can expect increased fees and reduced services—and the city’s deficit will still keep growing.

At least that’s the scenario Mayor Dave Bing outlines in his proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

This proposal actually cuts much less from the budget—about $36 million—than the prior year. It focuses on more or less stabilizing “essential city services,” like public safety and transportation.

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Politics & Government
8:29 am
Thu April 11, 2013

In this morning's news: wolf hunt, Jones Day contract, new transit authority

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Wildlife officials recommend wolf hunt for Upper Peninsula

State wildlife officials are recommending today that a hunt on the formerly endangered gray wolf be allowed to take place this fall.

"The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will receive a recommendation to kill 47 wolves as part of a hunt focused in three parts of the Upper Peninsula," Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports.
 

Detroit City Council reviewing Jones Day contract

The Detroit City Council is reviewing a contract with Jones Day, emergency manager Kevyn Orr's former law firm.

"The Jones Day firm is already working with the city on some long-term restructuring. Some Council members suggest there are conflicts of interest because Jones Day also represents several Detroit creditors," according to Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek.

New Regional Transit Authority meets for first time

Transit advocates celebrated the first meeting of metro Detroit's Regional Transit Authority, which will coordinate the region's transit agencies.

"Advocates want the board to develop a master transit plan, and push a region-wide vote to fund transit operations," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Politics & Government
5:57 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Detroit City Council scrutinizes contract with EM's former firm

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is reviewing a $3 million-plus contract with emergency manager’s Kevyn Orr’s former law firm.

Jones Day would assist the city through its restructuring. Some Council members suggest there are conflicts of interest because Jones Day also represents several Detroit creditors.

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Politics & Government
9:10 am
Tue April 9, 2013

In this morning's news: Democrats' budget, Detroit restructuring, Royal Oak explosion

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Democrats announce budget priorities

State House Democrats announced a new set of priorities for the state budget yesterday.

“The Democrats’ plan calls for $1.5 billion in new spending on education, tax cuts for middle-class residents and seniors, and small business investments. They say they would pay for that partly by eliminating government waste and cutting corporate tax breaks,” Jake Neher reports.

Consultants recommend changes to Detroit city departments

A restructuring firm hired by the city of Detroit has presented two proposals to re-shape city departments to a city-state advisory board.

“One proposal would downsize the City Council, and make its members part-time. The other suggests ways to consolidate the Police Department,” Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports.

Safety violations at fault for natural gas explosion in Royal Oak

In a letter to state regulators, Consumers Energy said utility workers failed to follow company protocols in the lead-up to a deadly natural gas explosion in Royal Oak earlier this year.

“The utility says workers didn't follow procedures as they replaced a gas main near the house, and then left the area after smelling gas,” reports Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton.

Politics & Government
6:26 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Restructuring plan targets Detroit City Council

Consultants are working on all kinds of plans to re-shape Detroit city departments, and two such plans were previewed at a Detroit Financial Advisory Board meeting Monday.

One is to drastically downsize the Detroit City Council, and make its members part-time, with just one staff member each

Council member Saunteel Jenkins says that would completely change the Council’s role in city government.

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