In the continuing struggle over a consent agreement that takes control of City of Detroit finances and operations and puts them into state hands, Mayor Dave Bing again urged the Detroit City Council to stop fighting it.
Bing spoke to the council a day before a scheduled hearing on a case challenging the validity of the consent agreement. Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon, who filed the suit, argues that legally the city can’t sign an agreement with the state until the state pays what it owes Detroit: about $300 million.
But Bing and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have warned repeatedly that the city will run out of cash at week’s end, leaving it unable to pay employees, let alone a $34.2 million bond payment, if the consent agreement is held up in court. At Tuesday’s meeting, Bing demanded the city attorney drop the case.
City council members agreed to wait for the judge’s decision on June 13. 2012. The argument: the council has no authority to drop litigation filed by the autonomous corporation counsel, or city attorney. Furthermore, council members agreed, moving ahead before any litigation is settled would be financially irresponsible.
Bing said he has no quarrel with the city council or with Crittendon. He simply disagrees with the city attorney’s recommendation.
But Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said the governor should follow his own anti-bullying law. Colleague JoAnn Watson said: “It doesn’t sound like bullying. It sounds like extortion.”
Bing wants the council to move forward with the consent agreement in good faith, and resolve problems with the city Charter later, because “there is no Plan B.”
Council President Charles Pugh said he found the public meeting on the consent agreement and the lawsuit altogether irresponsible. He scolded the mayor for using “the sky is falling” tactics.
-- Terry Hall
Update: June 13: Crittendon’s suit was dismissed in Michigan Circuit Court in Ingham County. Judge William Collette ruled that only the mayor or city council can decide to sue; the city attorney has no autonomous authority to file suits, let alone challenge the mayor in court. He said the city council should have passed a resolution declaring the consent agreement invalid; since it did not, the agreement will stand. –ed.