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Judge Rules Review Team Meetings Must Be Public

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – An Ingham County judge has ruled that the state-appointed team reviewing the City of Detroit’s finances should be subject to Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

Circuit Court Judge William Collette said Monday he was issuing a preliminary injunction saying any future meetings of the group must comply with the act.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Robert Davis, a Highland Park school board member and union activist. He says the Detroit review team violated the Open Meetings Act by meeting in “secret.”

Said Davis, “When you’re talking about something as critical as the financial condition of a city or a school district, every citizen should have a right to know what exactly is taking place and what exactly is being discussed.”

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration has said the review teams are not public bodies and are therefore are not subject to the Open Meetings Act.

Members of Detroit City Council, last month, told WWJ Newsradio 950 that they were asked to meet in small groups with the team, in order to avoid violating the Act. Members also said they had been asked not to discuss the contents of those meetings with the media. Some council members refused to attend.

As enacted, a new state law allows the governor to appoint a financial review team and, as the next step, take over a local government 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.

While an emergency manager is already in place in Highland Park Schools, in Detroit city leaders are still working with unions in hopes an EM may still be avoided.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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