Detroit City Council Member James Tate had a question yesterday for the Financial Advisory Board's Chief Jack Martin. The Board met with the Council yesterday to discuss their proposed cuts to city labor contracts.
"PA4 we know is up in the air right now. Potentially it will be voted down if placed on the ballot. What is your contingency plan?" He asked Martin, who is in place under PA4 (the state's emergency manager law) to manage the city's finances in crisis.
"I can’t say specifically what we may do. But no matter what happens with PA4, we’re still running out of cash. We need the hard dollar savings to get through this year. There’s a million-dollar difference in expenses and revenue between 2012 and 2013. My standpoint is we stay on the current path no matter what happens to PA4."
At yesterday's meeting the City Council did not approve the Financial Advisory Board's proposed cuts to city worker's wages and healthcare benefits. But Mayor Dave Bing and the Financial Advisory Board urged the council to act and not stall the labor cuts as the city can no longer operate in the status quo. Under PA4, the Financial Advisory board does not need the council's approval to make these cuts.
"We can talk about this for the next six months, but the bottom line is we’re running out of cash. If we don’t do it in an organized fashion there is going to be chaos and we’ll end up like some of these jurisdictions that filed bankruptcy."
When Governor Rick Snyder met with the Council of Baptist Pastors yesterday, he obviously didn’t know what to expect. He reportedly was “whisked out of the Bethel Baptist Church on the east side of Detroit by his security detail” after people started heckling him about Public Act 4 and chanting protests.
“They basically just started shouting and yelling in a house of worship," Snyder said after the event, assuming that the meeting was at a church should keep people quiet.
Synder apparently hasn’t been to a Baptist church service if he thinks shouting and yelling in a house of worship is something to be scoffed at. It’s a cultural divide.
In many places including Detroiit, church is commonly a venue for people to express their concerns about the community and in a Baptist church, vocal praise or protest is nothing new.
The Governor was speaking in front of the Council of Baptist Pastors to share his plans for a second bridge to Windsor and his vision for Detroit’s future. While he deserves kudos for even agreeing to speak in a place where he knew there would be protestors, he needs to get tougher skin if he’s going to be making more appearances in the Detroit community. And, hey, maybe he could even attend a Baptist service or two, just to get a better grasp on the culture if nothing else.
The City of Detroit is operating like a rollercoaster. Every week is a new drama. Two weeks ago it was the state threateneing to withold revenue sharing funds if a lawsuit challenging the consent agreement wasn't dropped. Last week, a judge tossed the contoversial lawsuit and the city was able to move forward appointing the last memebers of the financial advisroy board put in place under the consent agreement. It seemed like the maybe the rollercoaster was slowing down a bit.
Then, last Friday, Bing stormed out of a meeting with city council and blasted them for holding back the city by not agreeming to remove the lawyer who brought the lawsut against the consent agreement. City Council President Charles Pugh blasted back saying the mayor needed to show better leadership. This week, Bing wants to hire is own lawyer and not use the city's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon because of the negative effects the lawsuit she brought had on the city.
It seems that this week all niceties are out the window and now the familiar rift between the Detroit Mayor’s Office and the City Council is clearer than ever.
But was Detroit Mayor Dave Bing himself who said the city needed to move forward without distractions. So why is he causing more?
There seems to be reason beyond sinking bond ratings that Bing wants Crittendon out so bad. Is he afraid she will appeal the court’s decision to throw out her case that called the consent agreement void? Is the state privately threatening him with more cuts unless he removes the lawyer who could stand in the way? There has to be an better explaination for this one.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out: He’d already asked the Council remove Crittendon two week before when the state threatened to hold back $80 million in funding if she didn’t drop the lawsuit and they flatly refused. In addition, less than the 2/3-majority vote needed to remove Crittendon voted in support of the consent agreement in the first place.
This can be avoided. Crittendon hasn’t said she will appeal the decision to toss the lawsuit she brought, so, for now, this dramatic showdown should be over.
Will the state pull it funding from Detroit? Will there be payless paydays? These are the questions that remain unsanswered after a meeting this morning between Mayor dave bing and the Detroit City Council.
Despite mounting pressure from the state to drop a lawsuit stalling the consnet agreement, Council told the mayor this morning in a meeting that they would not ask Krystal Crittendon, the city's top lawyer, to drop a lawsuit that calls the consent agrement void due to some $200 million in unpaid water bills and parking ticekets. The council plans on letting the lawsuit run its course, despite serious pleas from Bing and threats from the state to cut $80 million in revenue sharing dollars.
While Bing has been warning of payless paydays for city employees since he got into office, this time it is a reality, he says, calling it a "perilous" position. Stay tuned for what happens next.
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