State Representatives and Senators asked to Uphold MI Constitution

Hood Research is a Michigan non-profit Think Tank established to promote positive public policy, encourage business growth in the Black community and improve the economics within our neighborhoods. Hood Research members feel strongly concerning the Michigan legislature’ actions toward the Detroit Public Schools. The recently passed legislation is poor public policy is an affront to our local democracy in the city of Detroit and we strongly believe it violates the Michigan constitution.

Hood Research requests that you through your office write the Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, for a legal opinion on whether or not this legislation has met the constitutional requirement of immediate effect. Your official request shall be for an opinion regarding Article IV, sec 29 of the Michigan constitution which defines the immediate effect of all legislation. The DPS legislation failed to achieve a two-thirds vote in favor of passage and therefore, per our constitution, should not be implemented until the 91st day of 2017 which is April 1st. Hood Research is of the opinion that the language in the Michigan constitution is clear and would therefore block this legislation from taking effect. Due to the language in this legislation, if this does not take effect in 2016 the legislation becomes null and void.

The legislation consists of the bills; SB 0711, SB 0820, SB 0822, HB 5383, HB 5384 and HB 5387.  Specifically HB 5384 mandates two school districts for Detroit and the dissolution of the currently democratically elected school board. This bill did not achieve the required number of votes for immediate effect. HB 5384 was enacted based on a 55 to 53 vote in favor by the Michigan House (Roll call # 386) and a 19 to 18 vote in favor by the Michigan Senate (Roll Call # 428).  Therefore this legislation cannot be implemented on July 1st of 2016.

Once you have written the letter to AG Bill Schuette please send a copy to Hood Research. This letter, our request, is being sent to all current state representatives and senators who represent any portion of the city of Detroit. The list is attached to this letter. This letter will be sent in email form and as a mailed copy to the addresses list. Hood Research will publish this letter to our website, our Facebook page and Twitter to inform the public and our members that this request has been made and to keep them informed on any progress of your actions. Hood Research is also encouraging any member of the public and any Michigan legislator to duplicate these actions and make the same request to their state legislator and for the legislator to make the same request to the attorney general. Hood Research plans to take any positive action to ensure that Detroit citizens are treated fairly and equally as citizens of the state of Michigan. We feel it’s a failure of our representatives not to use the full capabilities of their office to protect citizens of this state and to fight against poor legislation that is not in the best interest of the people. This legislation should be blocked if for no other reason than the process has not complied with the Michigan Constitution. Hood Research is working with other groups across Detroit and Michigan to ensure that legislation such as this abides by our constitution. Any deviation or work by a government official seeking to bypass our rights shall be reported to our community.

 

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Gary Brown Must Resign or Be Fired

Brown’s Actions Placed Human Life and Detroit Credibility at Risk

Detroit, Michigan

 

     On Wednesday, September 11, the anniversary of a horrible event in American history, City of Detroit Chief Compliance Officer Gary Brown, appointee for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, shut power down to much of the city’s public buildings to send a message. This according to an interview he gave a local media TV station. What that message was, is unknown, but the message received by the many people trapped in elevators, on the People Mover or those who were unable to perform work for the city or the many other government offices affected by the loss of power was clear. Their well being was not important to Gary Brown.

     According to the Detroit News, the loss of power forced hundreds of city workers to leave work early. Many students and Wayne State University could not attend class. Those at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center or 36″^ District Court could not conduct business. The 115 customers at 1,400 sites including many traffic lights were left without power so that Brown could send a message. People were trapped in elevators or in the dark in buildings so large that windows can’t provide enough light to safely walk to an exit. The Free Press later reported that the power lines from DTE Energy that feeds the city power failed. This is how what Brown stated in his interview. This is not the reason Brown gave for shutting down power. Brown stated that he wanted to send a message and therefore the city and many thousands of people suffered.

     Browns actions put lives in danger. On a very hot day of over ninety degrees, people were trapped in elevators without an easy way to escape. It would have made sense to close the use of elevators before shutting down the power. People who were on the 13″ floor of the CATMC visiting their elected council members would have had to walk down to exit the building. How can those in wheel chairs, walkers or those who can’t traverse 13 flights of stairs be expected to cope with Brown’s message? The actions by Brown’s admission caused those doing business in these buildings to lose time and money. The employees cannot get paid for the time they missed. Brown did not ensure that emergency personal was in place nor did he notify those to execute any evacuation plan. Brown acted reckless by his own admission and the widely reported chaos that followed.

     The EM’s spokesman stated, in several interviews, that there was an increased (electrical) load on the system due to the heat. However this explanation does not make sense. The local media has been reporting for years that over half of the cities street lights are not working, not using power. Those that are working are also reported to be using power from DTE, not Detroit. Many schools have been closed over the years. Many city buildings have reduced staff due to the cuts in the city workforce. There should be a significant reduction in power use for the city and the customers then existed under the previous mayor, less than four years ago. Additionally, these were not the first hot days this summer.

“We did start calling our customers prior to taking them down and asking them to turn off air conditioners, but they weren’t responding as fast as we would like them to so we had to send them a strong message by turning the power off.” Read more: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/23415960/what-is-the-cause-of-detroits-power-outage#ixzz2f7PFswf3

If air conditioners in a large public building use so much power that it will cause a failure, then perhaps the city should return Mistersky to full production so that this never happens again.

     There have been several hot days in a row this year many over ninety degrees. During this there were no outages or problems with the power lines from DTE or Detroit. Further why did the entire electric customers have to go without power if as was first reported, that the system was overloaded by power demands? Could Brown have reduced the demand by just turning off power to a few customers or just a few buildings? Why didn’t the city public lighting engineers locate a few buildings that could have been shutdown thereby sparing the loss of power to all users of the city’s electricity? It’s clear that Brown and his boss Orr are not being truthful of the exact reasons for the power shutdown. It’s clear that their actions did not take into account the best interests of the city and those people affected by this power shutdown. Was a message received?

     It’s clear by Brown’s TV interview that he did not understand the impact of the power shutdown and did not feel concern for the consequences. What is not clear is why Brown was not fired for his actions. He placed lives at risk and placed the city at risk. People and companies may have cause to sue the city for these actions and they only need to play the interview of Gary Brown to show proof that the power was shut down, or turned off, as opposed to an act of weather or some other natural occurrence. If the city is in Bankruptcy, why do those who make these decisions not do so with everyone’s best interests? Brown should resign or be removed from his position as appointee with the city of Detroit. Send that message so that this historic event, the first for Detroit, does not repeat in our future.

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The Emergency Manager Lacks The Authority To Order Probe Of City Pension Funds

On June 20th, Kevyn Orr issues Order No 8, which attempts to order the city of Detroit auditor General and Inspector General to investigate the city pension funds for potential fraud, waste, corruption and abuse. These accusations come at the behest of Kevyn Orr, without mention of or proof of any reasonableness that these allegations exist. Kevyn Orr attempts to support his order by using Public Act 436 Section 10(1) which allows the EM to issue orders to local appointed and elected officials that are necessary to accomplish the purposes of the act. Orr’s order then continues to quote the city charter’s varying sections that address the independent offices of Inspector General and Auditor General that describes their powers and duties.

This is in direct violation of the city charter. Orr does not have the authority or power to order these offices. The city charter specifically states that these offices are independent of the mayor and city council and are removed from their influence. Public Act 436 provides the EM with the powers of the mayor and city council. It does not extend to other portions of the city that are not under the authority of these two branches, hence their independence. Once the heads of these departments are made, they are separate from control from their appointing offices.

 

The added commentary from the city charter states;

COMMENTARY TO ARTICLE 7.5: Article 7.5 (Independent Departments and Offices) is new. The departments and offices located in this article have a unique advisory or investigative role to fill in city government. Therefore, such departments and offices should be seen as reasonably removed from the influence of the executive and legislative branches of city government.

Kevyn Orr attempts to use the charter as justification for his order when the charter specifically prohibits such an order. Kevyn Orr must follow the city charter. However Public Act 436 contains a provision to allow Kevyn Orr to engage in his probe.

Section 12(1) p states;

Retain 1 or more persons or firms, which may be an individual or firm selected from a list approved by the state treasurer, to perform the duties of a local inspector or a local auditor as described in this subdivision. The duties of a local inspector are to assure integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the operations of the local government by conducting meaningful and accurate investigations and forensic audits, and to detect and deter waste, fraud, and abuse. At least annually, a report of the local inspector shall be submitted to the emergency manager, the state treasurer, the superintendent of public instruction if the local government is a school district, and each state senator and state representative who represents that local government. The annual report of the local inspector shall be posted on the local government’s website within 7 days after the report is submitted. The duties of a local auditor are to assure that internal controls over local government operations are designed and operating effectively to mitigate risks that hamper the achievement of the emergency manager’s financial plan, assure that local government operations are effective and efficient, assure that financial information is accurate, reliable, and timely, comply with policies, regulations, and applicable laws, and assure assets are properly managed. At least annually, a report of the local auditor shall be submitted to the emergency manager, the state treasurer, the superintendent of public instruction if the local government is a school district, and each state senator and state representative who represents that local government. The annual report of the local auditor shall be posted on the local government’s website within 7 days after the report is submitted.

 

This allows Orr to hire the necessary auditors and or inspectors for any probe but would require that those hired and their probe be funded by the state of Michigan. Kevyn Orr is violating the charter and ignoring the specific sections within Public Act 436.

Orr needs to be investigated for abusing his authority, for violating the local and state laws and for any code of conduct violations that he may be violating as a licensed attorney.

 

Council Member Gary Brown May Be Poised To Violate Charter But Probably Has Already Violated City Ethics

Council Member Gary Brown is reported to be in negotiations to accept employment with Kevyn Orr, the Emergency Manager over Detroit. Orr was appointed to replace the duties and responsibilities of the elected mayor and city council under state law, Public Act 436. The media has reported since last week that Brown is intended to resign from the city council. This has not yet occurred and Brown continues to vote and be an active participant.

The city charter recently was updated with a section that was supposed to strengthen the ethics requirements of city officials, those elected, hired and appointed. This section addresses precisely what Brown is attempting to do;

Sec. 2-106.5. One Year Post-Employment Prohibition.

Subject to state law, for one (1) year after employment with the City, a Public Servant shall not lobby or appear before the City Council or any City department, agency, board, commission or body or receive compensation for any services in connection with any matter in which he or she was directly concerned, personally participated, actively considered or acquired knowledge while working for the City. Subject to state law, for a period of one (1) year after employment with the City, a Public Servant shall not accept employment with any person or company that did business with the City during the former Public Servant’s tenure if that Public Servant was in any way involved in the award or management of that contract or the employment would require the sharing of confidential information.

 

Brown has announced his interest, if not a direct intention, to leave the city council and work for what is now effectively the administrative branch. This is a conflict of interest. This will be a violation of the city charter and it is a probable violation of the city’s new and improved ethics section. The much celebrated commentary which was heralded as a means to make clear the intent of the charter commissioners and recently used in the defense of the election ballot language for the charter is below.

 

COMMENTARY: These new sections 2-106.1 to 2-106.14 replace section 2-106 of the 1997 Charter which: (1) prohibited public officers from using their office for private gain; (2) required “reasonable disclosure of financial interests held by any elective officer, appointee, or employee” under certain circumstance; and (3) generally prohibited actions which create an appearance of impropriety, all of which were to be implemented by ordinance. This new section is a more comprehensive regulation of the ethical behavior expected of elected officials, appointees and employees. Section 2-106.1(2)(b) is intended to prohibit the inappropriate use or disclosure of confidential information. Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit a relevant Public Servant from using such information to perform their job duties.

This also reflects the intent to prohibit the actions of which council member Gary Brown is currently engaged. He should be immediately investigated by the ethics commission and probably the Inspector General’s office. The city council can also open its own investigation to ensure that any item under Brown’s review, control or influence by vote has not be misused for his or Orr’s gain.

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Kevyn Orr Reported To Exceed His Authority Regarding City Council Members

There are multiple reports that Kevyn Orr has ordered City Council President Charles Pugh to “show up” for work on Wednesday, June 26th, or lose his salary, benefits and perhaps other means of compensation. If true, this would be a violation of the law. Kevyn Orr does not have the ability or the authority to issue such an order under the city charter nor under state law Public Act 436 of 2012.

Public Act 436 mandates that upon the appointment of an Emergency Manager that the salary of the local mayor and city council be immediately rescinded. See Section 13, which is the only portion of the act that addresses the salary of local officials. This occurred when Orr was first appointed by Governor Snyder. Not long after Orr issued an order, still in effect, that provides for the salary of the mayor and the members of city council. This was Order No 1 of the EM. An excerpt reads;

“The Emergency Manager has determined that at the present time the restoration of the salary, wages, compensation, and other benefits of the Mayor and the City Council is consistent with the financial and operating plan”

“2. The salary, wages, compensation and other benefits of the Detroit City Council are hereby restored, immediately and in full upon the effective date hereof, as if they had never been eliminated.”

 

Because Orr did not specifically state each council members name, nor add conditions for the retention of salary nor enter into any type of contract for the continuation of the salary of the city council and mayor, Orr cannot now rescind this order.

Additionally Public Act 436 does not allow for the Emergency Manager to remove, eliminate or rescind the salary, wages, and compensation of those elected officials after they have been restored under the powers of the act. The sole condition is that the terms be that which the EM considers appropriate to be consistent with the financial and operating plan.

Since Orr never entered this into a plan or an agreement, he cannot now modify his previous order for this council or its replacement after the November elections. Lastly Pugh does not report to Orr as Pugh did not report to Mayor Bing. The council may at any time take leave of absences without permission from other government bodies. The council polices itself. Pugh, Kenyatta and any council member does not need permission to miss council sessions. There is not any requirement nor rule as to how often or how long council must meet as a body. If abuse is suspected, or if there is an accusation that impropriety has occurred, or a violation of the ethics ordinance has occurred, or any type of wrong doing up to and including any suspected violation of the city charter, there are multiple city departments that are responsible for the independent investigation. Orr only has the ability to submit a request to have Pugh’s actions investigated. Pugh cannot be assumed to be guilty just because an Emergency Manager has been placed over the city of Detroit.

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Edward Keelean’s vote on Election Commission a violation of city charter

Actions voted by Commission on Thursday May 23 not valid

Detroit, Michigan

Edward Keelean is not the Corporation Counsel for the city of Detroit. Edward Keelean participated in and voted during a meeting of the Election Commission for the city of Detroit on May 23rd. The actions by Keelean and the commission violate the charter, violate our rule of law and show disrespect for our voting and election process.

Keelean should immediately step down and resign from the law department. The Election Commission should immediately reschedule the actions taken on May 23rd so as not to include the vacant office of corporation counsel. Not taking these actions is gross misconduct by Keelean and the city clerk, Janice Winfrey.

 The city charter contains the rules for the formation of the election commission in section 3-102 shown below;

Sec. 3-102. Election Commission

The Department of Elections is headed by the Election Commission composed of:

1. The City Clerk, who is Chairperson;

2. The President of the City Council; and

3. The Corporation Counsel.

 

Edward Keelean by illegally assuming the role of corporation counsel violated the city charter by participating in and voting as part of the election commission. The votes and actions taken by the commission on May 23rd are invalid. Keelean must also be held responsible for his violations. The office of corporation counsel is described in section 7.5-201, “The Law Department” of the city charter. The first paragraph (listed below) instructs the only process for selecting and obtaining the head of the law department, the Corporation Counsel.

 The Law Department is headed by the Corporation Counsel who is the duly authorized and official legal counsel for the City of Detroit and its constituent branches, units and agencies of government. The Mayor shall appoint the Corporation Counsel subject to approval of the City Council. However, if the City Council does not disapprove the appointment within thirty (30) days, it is deemed confirmed.

 Only by mayoral appointment is there a corporation counsel. Edward Keelean has never been appointed to this role. He has assumed this function in violation of the charter. The city charter does not allow any automatic succession to a vacancy in the office of corporate counsel. Thus Keelean is not the head of the law department, he is not the corporate counsel and he is not part of the election commission. Failure by him or the clerk to address these actions threatens the rule of law within Detroit and the sanctity of our election process. Allowing the actions taken on May 23rd to stand is the same as allowing any ordinary person to take part as an official in an office specified and outlined by our charter.

 

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City Council – Reject the unfunded proposal, the lease of Belle Isle

The proposed contract or lease that is again being scheduled for a vote by city council is bad for Detroit. This is the mayor’s office and the city recreation department stating that they don’t have the competence to care for city parks.

 

What’s being proposed in the lease?

  • The city will pay the state to cut the grass and shovel the snow, while the city will be forced to lay off more city workers.
  • The city will continue to pay for the lights, the lighting, the electric wiring and the light poles on Belle Isle.
  • The city will continue to pay for the water and sewage on Belle Isle. The city will pay for the state to water the grass.
  • This is worse than the consent agreement; when introduced to council, over half of the lease document was missing and unknown.
  • The state will take ownership of property and roads. With this ownership comes the millions in state road funding.
  • This is the same as the city council signing a blank check. A check when cashed will put the city further into debt.
  • The city already has and controls all $ dollars used or meant for Belle Isle. Why would the city give that money away?
  • The city’s deficit will rise and park services around the city will fall. Revenue generated by Belle Isle is now used at all parks, future Grand Prix and Hydroplane race income will now go to the state.
  • The state is not using state money for Belle Isle. The state is not giving money to the city. The state is taking our money for state use. The city will not have money to use on other parks as a result of this deal.
  • The state should fund Belle Isle if Belle Isle is intended to be a state park. All other state parks in the state are state funded. Belle Isle will continue to be funded by the city.
  • The state will call Belle Isle a state park, charge a $10 entry fee. Take Detroit’s revenue sharing to maintain the island and force the city to cover existing costs.

 

This is a sale under the terms of a contract masquerading as a lease. This is a fraud. The state is not doing anything that Detroit cannot already do. The state takes city money and then pushes for emergency managers and a continuation of the consent agreement. Detroit’s city council should reject the states illegal unfunded mandate regarding Belle Isle. This is not just a NO vote on this proposal; this should be a NO to the consideration of such a deal by the city council.

 

Snyder and Dillon want Detroit to pay them to take control of Belle Isle.

Maybe the real answer is a new mayor and a new set of council members to oversee our parks.

 

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Does a NEW Fifty Million Dollar Contract from the City of Detroit make sense?

This is an Early Christmas present, but not for Detroit.

 

The city of Detroit is considering a no-bid contract worth nearly $50 million to a Minneapolis based company called simply EMA. Visiting the company’s web site raises more questions regarding the company’s real capabilities. There are a number of issues and questions raised with this proposal. The city is still facing a federal lawsuit with the EPA that is forcing the city to make changes to the water system to comply with the Clean Water Act. Will this contract interfere with the city’s move toward compliance? Will this contract force a delay or a setback in the progress already accomplished? IF this contract is approved will it extend Judge Cox oversight of the board?

 

Other issues to consider include the following;

  • This is a no bid contract. With this type of contract the city won’t know if the price is fair and reasonable.
  • The water department is reportedly under an authority being ruled by federal judge Cox. Why is the city of Detroit involved in the contracting of work for the water department?
  • The water department has its own segregated budget and does not have a deficit. Why is this contract not funded with water rate revenue?
  • If this contract is funded by the city of Detroit, this will force the city of Detroit into bankruptcy.
  • There is a report that EMA is being investigated by the EPA, if true any discussion on this proposal, and votes, should be cancelled or postponed until after the investigation.
  • Did EMA participate in writing this contract that is now a no bid contract for EMA? Earlier this year EMA provided a report to the city, paid for by the city, that detailed a need specifically for the tasks outlined within this contract.
  • The owners, investors, board members and other key players of this non-Michigan company are not known. Are there any connections to city or state business or political leaders?
  • When was the last audit for the water department? Without an audit, how can any proposed benefits be substantiated.
  • The Detroit Water and Sewage Department does not have a deficit. Why then is this necessary? This contract also does not lower water or sewage rates for customers.
  • Does EMA have experience with a water and sewage system this large? Their current customer list consists of systems much smaller than Detroit’s. Detroit’s system is within the top three in size in the nation.
  • This type of contract does not provide any transparency to the work that will be done. EMA plans to hire sub—contractors to perform the work which would be outside the jurisdiction of the water board and city council.
  • Hiring a company from outside the city of Detroit and outside the state of Michigan will transfer jobs away from where they are needed the most. This arrangement sends money outside of Detroit and increases the city’s financial problems. Just how many out of state companies will seek or obtain contracts with the city or any of its revenue generating departments?

 

For these reasons this contract should be rejected by the Detroit City Council. This is bad for the city and bad for the customers of the water and sewage department.

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If Snyder and Schuette violate the law, Should they be impeached?

 08/12/2012

 Where as Public Act 4, The Emergency Manager Law has been suspended due to a citizen led petition drive seeking to have the voters over turn this law.
Where as Public Act 72 was repealed per the laws of the state of Michigan with immediate effect in the month of March of 2011 when Public Act 4 was enacted into law.

 Where as MCL 8.4, does not allow the existence of Public Act 72. MCL (Michigan Compiled Laws) states “8.4 Effect of repeal of repealing statute, Sec. 4 Whenever a statute, or any part thereof shall be repealed by subsequent statute, such statute, or any part thereof, so repealed, shall not be revived by the repeal of such subsequent repealing get statute.

 Where as Governor Rick Snyder, appointed persons to a position called Emergency Financial Managers, named for and created in the repealed Public Act 4, by Michigan laws a non-existent law.

 Where as the Governor in so doing so has violated the laws of Michigan by taking actions not supported in law.

 Where as the Governor has created and enabled a criminal enterprise by the actions taken in violation of the laws of Michigan and through the use of state government funds, resources and personal.

 Where as the governor has involved through what may be direct orders staff and otherwise subordinate persons in this criminal enterprise and included otherwise willing participants who are aware of and understanding of the law.

Therefore Governor Rick Snyder should face one or more charges of impeachment as appropriate and be removed from the office as governor.

 Therefore Governor Rick Snyder should face an investigation of his actions by the law enforcement agencies of this state.

 Therefore Governor Rick Snyder should face disciplinary actions as outlined by his oath taken as governor of the state of Michigan.

 Therefore the co conspirators should be removed from the public office they serve either through impeachment or firing as appropriate. These persons should also face any criminal investigation to determine the extent of the misuse of state funds and resources for private gain.

 Therefore the state attorney general, Bill Schuette, should face disciplinary actions for his role in this criminal enterprise. Schuette should have his law license revoked and should be removed from office for blatant misuse of his office and malpractice under the law.

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Emergency Managers – GONE!

Michigan August 8, 2012

Michigan Public Act 4 (PA4), the unconstitutional dictator government law is officially suspended. A successful petition drive has placed a vote on the November ballot.  The governor, treasurer, state school board and others across the state seek ignore Michigan law to advance their own personal agendas. Michigan law, (MCL) 8.4 states

8.4 Effect of repeal of repealing statute.
Sec. 4.

Whenever a statute, or any part thereof shall be repealed by a subsequent statute, such statute, or any part thereof, so repealed, shall not be revived by the repeal of such subsequent repealing statute.

http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-8-4

This means that Michigan can no longer have any type of state appointed person running a local government or a school board. As of today, no emergency manager law exists.

The supporters of this law successfully delayed the acceptance of the petitions since April of this year. However they could not fight the law. Now these same groups, both democrats and republicans, and some unions, are looking again to delay following the law.

All those elected to a position that had been effected by PA4 must now exercise their elected responsibilities. The school boards and city council’s must again perform their actions and run their schools and local municipalities. Detroit’s consent agreement is also null and void. Its an un-enforcible contract now that the law that permitted such a contract no longer exists. Just like slavery, once it was outlawed the contracts that existed for slavery became null and void. These contracts could no longer be enforced.