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Detroit Finance Team Holds First Private Meeting

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Most members of a team picked to review Detroit’s finances say they believe the city can avoid being placed under the rule of an emergency manager.

Having met for the first time on Tuesday, the 10-member team appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to determine if a financial emergency exists in Michigan’s largest city.

The team includes a former Supreme Court justice, former college presidents and a former Detroit police chief.

Asked if they believe as they start the process that an emergency manager can be avoided, eight of nine members present raised their hands.

The only member not raising his hand was Michigan Treasury Department official Frederick Headen. He says he doesn’t want to prejudge the process.

The team has until late February to report its findings, although Snyder could ask for them sooner.

Meantime, city leaders are still trying to fix their finances without state intervention.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the city still has financial stress but won’t run out of cash by April as previously predicted.  He last released an updated financial and operational restructuring plan update highlighting a cost savings from 1,000, although he said it may not be enough admitted the new plan still may not be enough to prevent an emergency takeover.

So what does Bing think the team is learning?

“I don’t know that they’re learning anything that’s not already available, quite frankly, because we’ve got all of our information out,” Bing told WWJ Newsradio 950.

“It’s a public document. Anything that want we will provide them with and whatever time they need to spend with us, once they’re down here, we’re going to be receptive to it,” he said.

As enacted, a new state law allows the governor to take over a local government or school district by appointing an emergency manager to assume the authority and responsibility of locally elected officials. It includes the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements and even dissolve a unit of government.

Some have called the new law unconstitutional.

The group that’s trying to repeal the law is ramping up its efforts to put the issue on the November ballot.  Brandon Jessup from the group “Michigan Forward” believes it’s a civil rights issue.

“It seems very clear that Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Dillon are on the red line to place emergency managers, to place their own unaccountable appointees over some of the major cities of the state,” said Jessep. “And we have a grave concern, not just for the voting rights, but what about the ecomonic access and opportunity for the people who live in those communities?”

Jessup said his group has more than enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, but they are stepping up efforts to secure a surplus.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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