The consent agreement process between the city of Detroit and the state may be over, but that doesn't mean the debate regarding it doesn't continue. On Friday, April 20, Mayor Dave Bing defended the decision he made earlier this month to sign a consent agreement with the state, asserting that he had "no choice" in the matter, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The process itself has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, some of which are still ongoing. The Detroit News reported that the Michigan Supreme Court, however, effectively struck down one of the more high-profile suits on Friday, refusing to hear allegations that the review team appointed by the state to investigate the city's financial status was in contempt of earlier orders handed down by an Ingham County Circuit Court judge.
Here is some of the key information regarding Bing's comments on April 20 and the ongoing legal issues surrounding the city's consent agreement.
- Bing has been convalescing most of April, after having surprise surgery at the end of March and then developing further complications afterwards. He has now said that he expects to be back at work on April 30, but will not be putting in his usual number of hours on the job as of yet.
- He took the time to praise his team, which included Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis, for their part in wrapping up the consent agreement process with the state, according to the Detroit News.
- Bing reportedly has been involved in the process to select the appointees who will be filling some new job positions required by the terms of the consent agreement. The city is responsible for hiring a chief financial officer and a program management director, both positions that did not exist in Detroit government prior to the consent agreement.
- The city must collaborate with the state to appoint nine people to a newly created financial advisory board. Of those nine members, Bing and the city council will each get to appoint two, Gov. Rick Snyder will appoint three, state Treasurer Andy Dillon will appoint two, and Snyder will jointly appoint one more with Bing.
- On Thursday, April 19, MLive reported that Snyder and Bing announced their joint appointee, while Dillon and Snyder each used one of their individual slots as well, for a total of three.
- Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court will likely be called upon to make a decision regarding whether or not the review teams appointed under Public Act 4, the state's emergency financial manager law, are subject to Michigan's Open Meetings Act.
- Four lawsuits have now been combined into one that will first be heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals on May 3. The hearing will seek to determine whether or not the review teams count as public bodies for the purposes of the Open Meetings Act. Whichever side loses the hearing at the Court of Appeals is likely to pursue it the matter with the Michigan Supreme Court.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.