Detroit City Council

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.
user brianmrosenthal Twitter

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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Politics & Government
8:44 am
Wed March 27, 2013

What's going on this morning? Detroit's officials' salaries intact, tainted steroids investigation

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Kevyn Orr leaves salaries for Mayor Bing and City Council intact

The state's new emergency manager law, which goes into effect Thursday, eliminates salaries and benefits for elected municipal officials when an emergency manager is installed.

But as Michigan Radio’s Sarah Hulett reports, an order signed by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr will leave the salaries of Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council members intact.

"Salaries range from more than $70,000 for council members to close to $160,000 for Mayor Dave Bing."

State Attorney General Bill Schuette calls for a grand jury investigation into meningitis outbreak

Michigan's attorney general is seeking a criminal investigation into the deaths of 17 residents from contaminated steroids supplied by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

As Rick Pluta explains,

"The grand jury would have the power to compel witnesses to appear and testify, including people from the four Michigan clinics that administered the injections. And it could ask a Massachusetts court to order employees of the pharmacy that made the drug to cooperate."

Wolf hunt in Michigan may be put on hold

A group opposing the hunting of gray wolves is expected to deliver tens of thousands of petition signatures to the Secretary of State's office.

If enough of the signatures are certified, a statewide vote on the proposed wolf hunt will be placed on the ballot in 2014.

Politics & Government
3:23 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Detroit is "the Olympics of restructuring" says city's new emergency manager

Protestors gathering outside of Cadillac Place in Detroit ahead of the emergency manager announcement.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

It's the largest state takeover of a city in U.S. history.

The city of Detroit will have a state-appointed emergency manager running things.

Kevyn Orr, a Washington D.C. lawyer and restructuring expert, will start his job on March 25th.

With $14.9 billion in long-term liabilities and a $327 million near term deficit, Orr will have his work cut out for him.

We updated this post as the news broke today.

Scroll down and read up for a look at how things unfolded.

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Politics & Government
7:18 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Bing won't support Detroit City Council's challenge to emergency financial managers

The Detroit City Council will press a challenge to Governor Snyder’s decision appointing an emergency financial manager—but they’ll do so without Mayor Dave Bing’s support.

The Council voted to approve that challenge Wednesday afternoon. Bing then held a late afternoon press conference declaring his opposition to the Council's tactics.

“I tried to figure out a way to support the Council in their efforts to appeal the Governor’s decision and to challenge the Financial Review Team’s assertion that we did not have a plan in place to fiscally stabilize the City,” Bing told reporters.

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Politics & Government
8:49 am
Wed February 27, 2013

The week in Michigan politics

Michigan's charitable tax credit allows taxpayers to essentially double their contributions to certain nonprofits
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Week in Michigan politics interview

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the idea of increasing sales taxes on services to help fund road improvements in the state, how sequestration could affect Michigan, and why a Detroit City Council meeting to discuss how to avoid a state takeover was canceled.

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