The courts will decide

Time is running out on Detroit

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - Blink and you'll miss a turn in the city of Detroit consent agreement saga.

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder's legal teams were busy trying to clear they way for the consent agreement's signing.

Ingham County Judge William Collette slapped an injunction earlier this week on the signing of any agreement until there is a hearing in his courtroom a week from today. Snyder's team this morning went before Collette asking him to reconsider and stay his injunction.

Collette said he felt "bushwhacked" by State Treasurer Andy Dillon. Dillon continued work on the consent agreement.

Collette angrily refused to reconsider.

The state expected that answer and immediately went to work trying to get an emergency appeal hearing on the injunction early Monday morning. Last night, the same team filed an emergency appeal asking the appeals court to overturn Collette's Feb. 29 order stating Detroit's Financial Review Team is subject to Michigan's Open Meetings Act and had violated the act on numerous occasions.

No word on when that would get a hearing.

The state's reasoning is the open meetings laws have been in place since 1988 and never once used in the fashion Collette has ruled here. There is no guarantee the appeals court will agree with that reasoning. This last minute legal maneuvering by no means guarantees the governor will prevail.

Meantime, we are getting a bit of a window into the city's long awaited counter offer to Snyder's consent agreement proposal.

The key, as you might expect, is money; state money going into Detroit. Council Member Saunteel Jenkins told Local 4 News today the city's counter contains a compromise on the governor's proposed Financial Advisory Board.

In the governor's world, this board would have oversight over the mayor and the council. In the city's version the board would be advisory, yet still have some teeth.

In exchange for that the city, she says, is looking for state dollars to shore up the city's balance sheet. She won't say how much. It's important to remember here this is a contract negotiation. There is no finalized plan yet and the governor may very well feel this does not go far enough. Getting any state money sent to Detroit through the [Republican controlled] Michigan Legislature is an exceedingly difficult, if not impossible task. There is nothing simple, easy or guaranteed here either.

Then today, three Democratic congressmen from metro Detroit who are up for re-election got together and authored a lengthy letter.

READ: Letter from reps. John Conyers, Jr., Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters

It essentially asks Snyder to hold off on a consent agreement until he answers their many and direct questions about the process.

Here's a burning question: doesn't anyone grasp how serious Detroit's financial troubles have become? Do they understand the clock is about to run out? There is no more time.

Still, in an overtly political campaign gesture, they ask for more time suggesting working with the city to come to an understanding. The Governor's office, when asked about the letter today, said that is exactly what the Governor is attempting to do; by negotiating a consent agreement.

Again, at the end of this day, so many questions remain.

What if the appeals court agrees with Collette? What if it doesn't? Will Davis and his side appeal? Will the governor, treasurer, mayor and City Council come to a final deal on consent agreement wording? Will City Council vote on that agreement? Will that agreement come in time? What of the Financial Review Team? Where does it fit into this scenario? Shouldn't it sign off on the consent agreement? [It's supposed to!]

What if the March 26 passes with no action? [That's the review team's deadline to recommend action to the governor] What about the hearing in Judge Collette's courtroom next Thursday? Will everyone show? Will the judge throw Dillon in jail for contempt of court [as he suggested he might in his courtroom today]?

Will the clock run out on the city before all of this legal wrangling ends? Is there a payless payday in the horizon for city employees?

All unknowns right now and all add up to a seriously bad ending.

This is a fight both sides claim they've not have been spoiling for, but one they will no doubt battle out to the bitter end. In the end, the courts will indeed decide.

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