New Detroit charter headed to August primary ballot
The Detroit Electoral Commission voted Thursday to put the issue of a revised city law on the August ballot.
The question of revising the charter was controversial and sparked a battle between Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the charter commissioners. Duggan argues that some of the proposed changes would put a strain on the city’s finances and bring it back under state control.
The electoral commission voted 2-1 to put the question known as Proposal P to the vote. Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and City Clerk Janice Winfrey voted yes, while corporate consultant Lawrence Garcia voted no.
Garcia argued that the question should not be put to the vote because Governor Gretchen Whitmer disapproved of certain provisions as contradicting state law. And he said charter commissioners didn’t file their final revisions until May 11th.
“you [charter commission] I did not specify which version of their charter the voters should take into account and vote up or down, ”said Garcia. “Since making this request, they have changed the document from the form it was in at the time of the request. Which version should Detroit voters consider and possibly vote in August? It’s a moving target. “
But charter commissioners and their supporters say the commission was only required to submit a motion to put the issue on the ballot by May 11, not a final document. And they say there is no legal obligation for the governor to approve all charter provisions (a position the Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office agreed, while finding numerous “legal flaws” in some of the changes proposed by the commission).
Charter commission attorney Lamont Satchel described Garcia’s legal arguments as “strained” and insincere. “Are you telling me that the city and its people must comply with governor’s policy demands before they can put their charter on the ballot?” Said schoolbag. “That’s not the case.”
Members of the Charter Commission continue to revise their proposed changes, which have the potential to radically change governance in Detroit. The proposal presented to Governor Whitmer would, among other things, restrict the mayor’s power, adjust how the city determines what constitutes affordable housing, and call into question more development projects including the city’s welfare regulation.
The attorney general noted that provisions like restricting the city’s ability to cut pensions, increasing spending on a variety of initiatives, and amending the agreement with the Great Lakes Water Authority could push them back into deficit area and state control . The analysis also found that it would be illegal to allow the city to adjust utility costs and that a proposed wage and standards body to assist workers would be illegal.
The matter could “end in the courtroom,” Winfrey said during the election commission meeting, noting that Garcia had raised the possibility of filing a lawsuit to keep the charter revisions from going into the vote.
Members of the Charter Commission published this statement after the election commission voted:
“The 2018 Detroit Charter Revision Commission is pleased to announce that two members of the Detroit Election Commission, President of the Council, Brenda Jones, and Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Janice Winfrey, announced the disturbing interpretation and rejection of the written decision by Governor Whitmer and the Attorney General of Michigan by business consultant Lawrence Garcia, making the revised Detroit City Charter eligible for August 3, 2021. We thank the Election Commission for their work and Election Commissioners Jones and Winfrey for recognizing that the Charter Commission submitted the election question appropriately and on time. The Charter Commission will continue its work to educate residents about this forward-looking, people-centered revised charter that embraces all citizens and puts citizens’ collective interest above politics and self-interest. “