Detroit, Emergency Manager Law, Flint — May 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Michigan’s Emergency Manager meetings not subject to Open Meetings Act, opponent faces federal indictments


Things are NOT getting better

Today, the State Court of Appeals ruled that the review teams that recommended Emergency Managers for Detroit and Flint were not subject to the Open Meetings Act. The court ruled that they are not a “governing body” so they are exempt from the requirement.

Oddly, they also said that they could be held in contempt of court if they disobeyed an earlier ruling by Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette who banned them from meeting in violation of the Act.

A three-judge panel of the court voted unanimously to overturn a trio of lower court decisions affecting the Detroit financial review team and an emergency manager appointed in the City of Flint.

Still, the appeals court ruled that Treasurer Andy Dillon and members of the Detroit financial review team could be subject to contempt proceedings if they disobeyed a court order not to meet in violation of the Open Meetings Act from Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette.

The man chiefly responsible for the lawsuits involving violations of the Open Meetings Act, Robert Davis, vows to appeal to the Supreme Court. However, he may have to do so from a jail cell. He’s already facing 16 federal indictments on a range of fraud crimes and, last week, the feds said there may be more to come.

Indicted Highland Park school board member Robert Davis has been put on notice — more criminal charges are coming his way, on top of the 16-count indictment he’s already facing.

According to a filing in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office plans to file fresh charges in a superseding, or new indictment against Davis. He was indicted April 5 on charges that he pocketed more than $125,000 from the cash-strapped school district by submitting false invoices for advertising between 2004 and 2010. […]

In his pending case, records accuse Davis of using a debit card that only he controlled from an allegedly bogus nonprofit called Citizens United to Save Highland Park Schools. The debit card was used at retail stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Foot Locker, Gap Kids, Gymboree, Michael’s Custom Clothing, JCPenney, Kmart and Sears, records show.

Davis also is accused of withdrawing $86,711 in cash from the nonprofit, the reports say.

According to an FBI search warrant affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the nonprofit was a sham set up in 2005 by Davis, whose home address was the address for Citizens United.

Sometimes it seems like some of Detroit’s worst enemies live in Detroit, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, in a series of events that can only be described as a clown show, last week the top lawyer for the City of Detroit sent out a letter to the Snyder administration saying that the Consent Agreement they have with the City is “void and unenforceable”.

The letter, sent by attorney Krystal Crittendon, says that, because the City is owed money by the state, they are not legally allowed to enter into a binding contract with them. The letter is HERE (pdf).

Mayor Dave Bing claimed he was not part of sending the letter but, the next day, City Council members claimed he was. State Treasurer Andy Dillon says it’s hogwash and the always helpful Mackinac Center arm of the Detroit News, Nolan Finley, says that Governor Snyder should scrap the consent agreement and impose an Emergency Manager on the City to avoid all the inconvenience of things like elected representatives and democracy.

When I say it’s a clown show, I don’t mean it’s funny. I mean it’s a farce. On one side you have conservatives and business people desperate to take over the cities and remake them in their own image, even if it means disenfranchising voters and doing away with democracy.

On the other side you have people like Davis who are such unbelievably bad representatives for the cause that they may be doing more harm than good, even if their goals are right.

If ever a situation cried out for leadership, this is it.

And we’re not seeing it from either side at the moment.

[Graphic by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]