Detroit charter commission OKs updated revisions to send to governor

Detroit – The Detroit Charter Revision Commission approved changes to its charter revision plan Tuesday after Governor Gretchen Whitmer rejected the originally proposed revisions, citing “legal flaws”.

“We definitely wanted to look at the comments we received from the governor and the attorney general to make any changes we saw fit,” Commissioner Denzel McCampbell told The Detroit News after the vote during a virtual meeting.

The updates should be forwarded to Whitmer’s office in the coming days, McCampbell said. Whitmer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

In a letter to the commission dated April 30, the governor concluded that the provisions of the revised charter could spark another financial crisis and return Detroit to the active oversight of the Financial Review Commission, which was instituted as its bankruptcy term.

The proposal is the result of three years of work by the nine-person commission tasked by Detroit voters in 2018 with quality of life issues such as water access, affordable transit, affordable housing and good contracting.

Analysis of the plan conducted by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office found that the charter commission could make changes to accommodate Whitmer’s objections and then resubmit an amended plan for approval.

The commission could also choose to submit the proposed charter to the city’s voters for approval, regardless of Whitmer’s objections, Nessel’s office said. The legal advisor to the charter commission came to the same conclusion. But Detroit’s Corporation Counsel has argued that the governor must support the plan in order for him to stand before the city’s voters.

More:The commission chairman condemns Whitmer’s rejection of the revised Detroit charter plan

More:Whitmer rejects Detroit’s charter revision plan, citing “legal flaws”

For subscribers:Editorial: Whitmer is doing Detroit a favor by rejecting the Charter

In response to Whitmer’s letter, Charter Commission Chairwoman Carol Weaver said this month that the commission would review and address the governor’s comments and relevant legal objections.

Many of the concerns, Weaver said, relate to “minor clarifications in the language”.

The commission “all along insisted that we did not see them as profound or serious flaws,” McCampbell said Tuesday.

Revisions included clarifying the language for the need for voter approval to privatize or merge Detroit’s transportation services and ensure that the city can adopt new technologies on its own, he said.

Several community members who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting supported the Commission’s efforts.

“We now know that few, if any, of the charter revisions have serious legal flaws, as many people have believed in voters in recent weeks,” Wendy Caldwell told the commission. “And now we’re even more confident that what we’re going to put forward can be upheld by our local government under federal and state law.”

The Detroit Electoral Commission is expected to hold a virtual meeting on Thursday to certify the candidates and charter proposal for the main election, city clerk Janice Winfrey’s office confirmed.

Weaver and other commissioners have denied claims by the City and Whitmer that the costs associated with the plan would create financial difficulties, calling them “inherently unreliable and imprecise”.

During their meeting on Tuesday, commissioners also agreed that the general counsel should draft a letter to Whitmer objecting to a financial impact analysis being carried out by the government of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said McCampbell.

The commission convened a press conference late last month to argue that the city had not properly funded the pre-election distribution of the sweeping reform proposals to voters. The move, they say, is a form of “voter suppression”.

Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett said the commission received $ 300,000 in the current budget, a figure approved by Detroit City Council and less than $ 576,000 proposed by Duggan.

The city later approved an additional allocation of $ 129,000 to fund the work of the commission, and Detroit’s office of chief financial officer proposed, and the council later approved, an additional $ 159,000 to be directed to the panel.

The August primaries are the final elections held during the Detroit Charter Commission’s tenure.

The attorney general’s review found that the proposed charter contains provisions inconsistent with the requirements of the Home Rule City Act and other applicable state and federal laws.

In February, the city’s CFO’s office said the changes proposed at the time would trigger an “impending financial crisis” that would owe Detroit $ 3.4 billion over four years.

The commission finally presented a revised version of the plan to Whitmer and Nessel.

The city must maintain a balanced budget as part of its bankruptcy arrangement. If it is unable to meet this requirement, Detroit cannot sign its budget plan, nor can the state. This would also result in the Financial Review Commission resigning.

The Financial Review Commission was set up as oversight in 2014 and gave the final say on all city budgets, collective bargaining agreements and contracts over $ 750,000. Detroit regained local control of its finances three years ago.

If approved, the charter would come into force in 2022.

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