By Marcus Wright
Special to NNPA from the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — A citizens group is calling for sanctions against the five City Council members who voted to authorize the Consent Agreement. The group also announced its support of Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon for her “courageous stand on behalf of the citizens of Detroit.”
Crittendon notified Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit City Council May 11 that the Financial Stability Agreement, the Consent Agreement, presented by Bing and approved by five council members violated Section 2.113 of the Detroit City Charter and is therefore “void and unenforceable as a matter of law.”
That charter section states: “The city of Detroit, through its executive branch departments and legislative branch agencies, is prohibited from making a contract with, or giving an official position to, one who is in default to the city.”
The city of Detroit cannot enter into a contract with anyone or any entity that owes the city money, according to Charter Commissioner Rosemary Robinson.
“We sought to keep it simple, make it plain,” Robinson said. “We think we succeeded.”
A broad-based community group, FREE Detroit — NO Consent (FDNC), wrote a letter June 5, commending Crittendon.
Crittendon is responsible for enforcing compliance with the Charter. Her May 11 letter provided notice to the violators: nature of the violation, including the Charter section(s) violated; directed the necessary action to be taken to remedy the violation; the date by which the remedial action must be taken; and noted the time for taking the required remedial action shall not exceed 14 days.
Crittendon met with state officials before filing a formal complaint June 1 in Ingham County Circuit Court. The complaint asserts the agreement between the state and city is void because the state owes the city money and state law prohibits intergovernmental contracts if there is an unpaid debt.
The Circuit Court case will focus on the debt dispute.
Judge William Collette will hear the case. Collette previously ruled Gov. Snyder’s Financial Review Team was meeting in violation of the Open Meetings Act. A three-judge appeals court reversed Collette’s ruling.
Crittendon indicated Councilwoman JoAnn Watson sought her advice on the consent agreement’s legality.
Based on her research, Crittendon sent state officials a letter stating the agreement was illegal because the state owes Detroit $224 million in revenue-sharing funds and a $4.75 million 2010 State Fair water bill.
Hood Research Founder Theo Broughton said the Financial Stability Agreement places the city of Detroit’s finances under control of a Financial Advisory Board composed primarily of non-residents, a chief financial officer — Jack Martin, a non-resident — and a program management director, yet to selected.
Broughton, also a member of FDNC, said approval of the agreement by the mayor of Detroit and five City Council members took representative democracy from the people of Detroit.
The FDNC letter asks Crittendon to begin forfeiture proceedings against Council members Charles Pugh, Gary Brown, Saunteel Jenkins, Ken Cockrel, Jr., James Tate and Andre Spivey, as well as Mayor Bing, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis and COO Chris Brown.
“They violated their oath of office by passing a budget based on an illegal agreement,” Broughton said. “Furthermore, the City Charter does not authorize them to enter into an agreement that transfers their duties to another entity.”
FDNC’s letter also urges the Detroit Board of Ethics to investigate the seven elected officials and two appointees, initiate forfeiture proceedings and take all necessary and sanctioned action including but not limited to judicial prosecution against them.
“We are mobilizing the citizens of our city to end this lawlessness on the part of elected officials,” FDNC member Sandra Hines said.
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