DETROIT (WWJ) - Legal challenges were already in the works ahead of Thursday’s announcement that Gov. Rick Snyder will appoint an emergency financial manager for Detroit.
Snyder made the official declaration at 2 p.m. in Detroit. His pick, bankruptcy expert Kevyn Orr, will get to work after he’s confirmed by an Emergency Loan Board later in the day. (More on this).
Activist Robert Davis was in Ingham County Circuit court early in the morning, asking a judge to declare Snyder’s declaration illegal.
Davis accuses the governor of playing politics with Detroit, pointing out that an EFM would be able to reopen the city’s union contracts.
“He’s going after organized labor,” Davis told WWJ Newsradio 950. “He is trying to kill off the organization that supports, traditionally, democratic candidates, for the most part. So, he’s trying to kill of his opposition.”
A hearing on the matter was postponed until April 8. Ingham County Circuit Court James Jamo said he needed to allow the defendants time to respond to the suit.
Meantime, just before Snyder’s announcement, the Detroit City Council gave up their legal fight. ”My preference would be, you know, that the City Council and the mayor would be able to continue to be the sole individuals or groups that have the authority over the city, but I think it’s clear — the writing’s on the wall,” said Detroit City Councilman James Tate.
Tate said the vote was nearly unanimous as they decided that the best thing to do was to is to work with the new EFM.
“I think that it’s imperative that it’s imperative to make sure that the people have a voice in this process — and the best way to do that is to allow the individuals that are here in place and those who are coming in this upcoming election, to ensure that they have roles in the city government,” Tate said.
WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton talked about some of the legal challenges still expected — and their chances.
“First, procedural: Since the governor appointed an EFM behind closed doors, that violates the Open Meetings Act,” said Langton. “Chances of success — not very good. It’s been tried before, and the statute allowed the governor himself to make that appointment.”
Next, is the EFM illegal?
“Should the governor do what the voters said they didn’t want? Chances of success — probably not that good,” said Langton. “The governor is following the current old EFM law, and the voters voted down the new EM law. Complicated — that’s why a judge will probably weigh in at some point.”
Detroit is billions of dollars in debt and has a budget deficit topping $300 million.