Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Mayor Dave Bing did not succeed in convincing City Council to get behind efforts to push for the dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges the city’s fiscal stability agreement with the state of Michigan.
A special session Monday morning began with Mayor Bing demanding that Detroit’s corporation counsel drop her court request for a declaratory judgement on the validity of the agreement.
“She rendered an opinion, and I don’t agree with the opinion,” said Bing. “Because once we run out of money there is no way that we can run this city — and that’s the risk that we’re up against as we speak here today.”
After hearing from the mayor, Councilman Gary Brown called for a vote in support of Bing — but the vote was denied because it was not on the agenda.
City Council President Charles Pugh said, either way, any vote on the matter would be simply symbolic.
“You know that we cannot dismiss the lawsuit,” said Pugh. “We did not file the lawsuit and we do not control the corporation counsel like that.”
The mayor has said the city will go broke on Friday if the lawsuit is not dropped because the state is threatening to withhold $80 million in revenue sharing. The city’s chief financial officer, Jack Martin, concurs.
Bing said he’s recently spoken to Gov. Rick Snyder and state leaders about the situation.
“They don’t seem to be backing down at all, so I don’t want to play this game of roulette and keep our citizens at risk,” Bing said.
Some council members say the mayor should continue to negotiate with the state.
Councilwoman JoAnn Watson called the state’s threat of withholding the cash “extortion.”
Her former colleague Shelia Cockrel said that kind of talk isn’t helpful.
“I served with Miss. Watson for a number of years, and I think that her use of hyperbole in very … delicate situations can be of great disservice to the city of Detroit.”
Detroit is under a consent agreement with the state, which gives an outside board control of much of the city’s finances. Before the consent agreement, Detroit was on course to be more than $400 million in debt, and was reportedly on the brink of bankruptcy.
The new budget includes $250 million in cuts and calls for the elimination of more than 2,500 jobs.