Consequences: Ethics Violations, Forfeiture of Office, and Jail?
There are reports that the Detroit City Council is expected to vote on a proposed DRAFT consent agreement on Monday, April 2nd. What is not reported, or discussed is that any vote is premature. A vote will violate the city charter.
The city charter outlines the role of all actions by council. City Council votes primarily on Ordinances and Resolutions. Resolutions do not alter the government. Examples include contracts or purchase requests that city council approves. Ordinances are actions that have consequences. They include changes in how the city government operates and affect elected or appointed duties and responsibilities. This proposed Public Act 4 Consent Agreement changes how city government operates including repercussions and authority given to a non-elected review board.
The consent agreement is being presented as a resolution. The city charter clearly defines that this type of agreement must be an ordinance. When voting on an ordinance the charter stipulates that the proposed ordinance must be published and presented to the community. Afterwards a five day waiting period must expire before the council can hold a public hearing. Only then can the council vote. This has not occurred with this proposal. A final copy of this document has not been created.
There has been a deliberate effort to conceal the workings of government from the people of Detroit during this activity. A city council member must present this document to the whole council for consideration. We the people have not been told which of the council members introduced this proposal. Further which council committee has worked on this proposal or voted to present this to the full council? The charter dictates how the council must operate. The governor, state treasurer (an appointed position) and mayor cannot alter the workings of city government regardless of the reason.
Emergencies do exist. The charter does allow for emergency items passed by the city council. This proposal has not been presented as an emergency. Laws passed through the council as an emergency ordinance expire after 61 days. How can city government, the mayor and council, criticize the people for not participating if they attempt to prevent the people from being included in the process?
These charter provisions are not burdensome. City council must uphold and follow the charter per state law. Failure to follow the charter can include being dismissed from office. The city Corporation Counsel, City Clerk and those who work for the council that perform a role within this process are also liable if the charter is violated. The Corporate Counsel also must follow ethical rules. Failure to meet those rules could affect their ability to practice the law.