Detroit, Emergency Manager Law, Emergency Managers, Rick Snyder — March 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Michigan judge bars Snyder administration from signing Detroit Consent Agreement – for now


Can’t win for losin’…

The Snyder administration was handed another in a long list of legal setbacks today as my now-favorite judge, Ingham Country Judge William Collette, smacked them down again.

Recall that Judge Collette had already issued a mighty smackdown to the Detroit Emergency Manager Review Team earlier in the month:

An Ingham County judge this afternoon ordered all 10 members of the Detroit emergency financial review team to appear in his courtroom March 12 to answer why they should not be held in contempt for attempting to evade his finding that the review team is subject to the Open Meetings Act by forming a smaller committee to meet in secret.

Judge William Collette issued the order at the request of attorneys for Robert Davis, the employee of AFSCME who filed open meetings lawsuits against financial review teams in both Detroit and the Highland Park school districts.

Davis said the five-member subcommittee created by the review team on Tuesday is clearly an attempt to circumvent Collette’s finding that review teams are public agencies subject to the open meeting law.

The March 12th date was moved to March 22nd to give the Snyder administration more time.

Today, Judge Collette moved it again but issued a ruling (pdf) warning them not to sign a Consent Agreement with Detroit until the contempt hearing on the 29th when the now twice rescheduled hearing will take place.

An Ingham County judge today ordered state officials not to enter into a consent agreement with the city of Detroit before March 29.

That’s beyond the March 26 deadline Gov. Rick Snyder has set for Detroit’s financial review team to report to him on whether the city of Detroit needs a state-appointed emergency manager to correct its fiscal woes.

State officials “shall not execute and/or sign a consent agreement or its equivalent with the city of Detroit, Detroit City Council, and/or with the mayor of the city of Detroit until further order of this court,” Ingham Circuit Judge William Collette said in a written order today that postponed a hearing set for this Thursday until March 29.

It’s the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Snyder as he attempt to use the tough new emergency manager law he signed, Public Act 4, to address a financial crisis in Detroit.

Snyder’s spokesperson issued a statement saying, “The review team has until the 26th to complete their work, that’s by statute. If a Lansing judge has decided to change statute, we will have to see the details and examine how it will affect the Detroit financial review process.”

In other Emergency-Manager-Review-Teams-Violating-the-Open-Meetings-Act news, Flint should find out soon if it’s Emergency Manager, Michael Brown, gets to go back to work. He was issued a restraining order last week, preventing him from doing his job. A hearing is underway as I write this to decide his fate.

Funny how judges expect even the Snyder administration to obey the law, isn’t it? From everything I have seen, being a lawyer for Rick Snyder and his administration is a growth industry these days.

UPDATE: The Snyder administration will appeal.

[CC image credit: Wikimedia Commons]