Reporting Charlie Langton
DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) What happens when a city attorney takes it upon herself to sue in an effort to put the brakes on a deal that could save the community’s finances?
Detroit is still waiting to find out.
Mayor Dave Bing asked Krystal Crittendon to resign after the city’s top attorney filed a suit on Detroit’s behalf that he and many others didn’t want. She refused to leave, and now it appears the mayor doesn’t have City Council’s support on the issue.
At stake is the smooth execution of the consent agreement between Detroit and the state created to cut the city’s debt and allow it to keep functioning.
Wading into the complicated situation, Detroit’s celebrated Rev. Marvin Winans called the Charlie Langton Talk Radio 1270 morning show to defend Crittendon, saying she just stood up for what she believes.
“It’s a great city and I think the greatness can be found in Miss Crittendon,” Winans said. “You have to understand that she’s not a politician, it’s not as if she’s fighting for herself or for some big political ambition, she’s fighting for what’s right.
“This provision was pushed by the state, it was fought by her, but now when they had it and passed it, she’s standing on principle … It’s a fact that the governor stated that he wasn’t going to pay unless this is taken out of court. That’s nothing less than extortion and blackmail.”
Bing supports the agreement, as does Gov. Rick Snyder; many observers believe Detroit, which faced $400 million in debt before the agreement, can’t survive without it. Snyder threatened to withhold the city’s share of the state’s shared revenue if Detroit didn’t drop the suit.
Crittendon stepped into the highly charged debate and filed the lawsuit based on a city charter provision that says the city can’t execute an agreement with anyone who owes Detroit money. Some believe the state owes the city up to $200 million over an agreement made when former Gov. John Engler was in office.
Crittendon’s case was thrown out when a judge ruled she didn’t have the authority to file it. Some believe she will appeal.
“An appeal of Judge William Collette’s recent ruling would only do further damage to the city,” Bing said.
Should she be fired? Langton asked. “No, she should not be fired,” Winans responded.
Rev. David Bullock also chimed in, saying, “To Pastor Winans point, this is what people have been asking for in the city of Detroit … We’ve been asking people to stand on principle … Now that we have somebody who’s done that we’re demonizing her, we’re criticizing her.”
“You still have to have the will of your client,” Langton said. “If I represent you, you’re the boss.”
Winans said, ‘If I hire you as the attorney, you’re right … But this case is different in that the boss and her are governed by another entity (the charter)… You cannot degrade this to a regular client privilege.”
“She works for the city of Detroit, she’s a city of Detroit attorney,” Winans added. “The mayor may change and she may still be the city attorney. The boss may change and she still has the duty to uphold the charter.”
Responding, Langton said: “Even if there’s a conflict in the charter, you still have to use discretion in doing what your client says.” He later added, “If the state owes Detroit $220 million, sue the state.”
So, what’s next?
“We still don’t know if she’s going to appeal,” Langton said.