If anyone forgot why Public Act 4 (the Emergency Manager Law) was created, yesterday’s DPS ruling should jog their jog your memory.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John Murphy ruled Tuesday that the DPS School Board has control over academic decisions and Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Roy Roberts has control of the purse strings. That's until Nov. 6th, when voters get to decide the fate of PA4.
Meanwhile, the ongoing battle between DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts and the Detroit School Board is anything but over. It's a taste of things to come if PA4 is repealed in November.
People can expect lawsuits to fly like rotten tomatoes between the two camps.
According to the Detroit News, Judge Murphy said Tuesday he expects the two groups to battle it out in the courthouse quite often:
“Murphy said if the school board and Roberts can't agree on what is financial and what is academic, he will decide on a case by case basis who has authority.
'The burden of proof is on the plaintiff that his policies fit within Public Act 72,' Murphy said."
Murphy should prepare to see Roberts and the Board frequent his courtroom:
Roberts told The Detroit News:
“If we have a disagreement and I say it's financial and they say it's academics — we are back
before Judge Murphy."
But really, Who wins in a situation like this? Certainly not the kids who need leaderhsip, not lawsuits.
What’s the big deal? If judges are going to dismiss legal challenges to the consent agreement so easily, why all the fuss?
Krystal Crittendon tried it. Then she tried it again—that is, filing a lawsuit deeming Detroit’s Financial Stability Agreement void according to her interpretation of the city charter due to some disputed revenue sharing dollars and unpaid bills.
Both times, an Ingham County judge tossed Crtittendon’s lawsuit without a blink.
But it was too late: at that point city’s top attorney’s legal argument had raised such a ruckus from the state and supporters of the agreement, that city bond ratings dipped along with other financial speculations, driving the city further into a financial hurricane.
With all that mess, it seemed like the Corporation Counsel’s lawsuit actually carried some water. Or, at very least, enough for a judge to consider it and not toss it out with the same knee-jerk revulsion reserved for rotten tomatoes.
Then three local AFSCME union leaders tried it. Detroiters Rose Roots, Yolanda King and Yvonne Ross filed a lawsuit making the same argument as Crittendon: the consent agreement is void per the City Charter due to debts the state owes the City.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Amy Hathaway swiftly ruled that the City had no proof that the State owed it any money, and that revenue sharing dollars that are not shared do not count as debts.
"'The revenue-sharing money ... is not a debt, and we all know it's not a debt because corporation counsel issued an opinion to that effect back in 2006,' Hathaway said, referring to an opinion by a former top city attorney in the administration of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick."
While the city charter has been revised since the Kilpatrick days, this ruling puts forth a solid reason not to appeal, or makes the chance of any appeal unlikely to succeed.
Crittendon still has time to appeal as well as the three AFSCME musketeers. But it would be silly to let these lawsuits send the city and it’s fragile finances into another tailspin. To supporters of the consent agreement: Don’t buy the hype and everything will be fine.
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