DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager has issued an order stripping the pay and authority from AWOL City Council President Charles Pugh.
Pugh has been a no-show at recent council meetings and failed to make a 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline to show up for work. He deactivated his Facebook and Twitter accounts and his phone was turned off, according to a concerned friend.
Spokesman Bill Nowling said EM Kevyn Orr signed the order Thursday. It takes effect July 7. [View a copy of the order].
Operating under Michigan’s emergency manager law, Orr does not have the power to fire Detroit’s elected leaders, but he does control their pay and responsibilities.
City Council member Ken Cockrel, Jr., says no one on the council knows what exactly is going on.
“We’re all just speculating at this point…” Cockrel told reporters. “Because I don’t know all the details, I have to say that he [Orr] may very well be acting too quickly. We don’t know yet. There are just so many unanswered questions here.”
Pugh, who earns about $76,000 per year, was nowhere to be found on Wednesday as some serious allegations surfaced regarding the councilman and a teen boy he mentored.
Why Pugh disappeared remains unconfirmed, but it seems it’s connected to allegations now surfacing that he had an inappropriate relationship with a Detroit Public Schools student he mentored.
Ivan Land, an Oak Park attorney representing the teen’s mother, claims Pugh took the student off campus in a city car and gave him gifts including cash and a mobile phone on which he text messaged the teen.
Speaking at a news conference, Land said the teen’s family is suing the school district for failing to protect the boy, who was 17 when he met Pugh through a leadership program at Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men.
In a statement out Thursday, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said: “As we enter the new fiscal year on Monday, this is a critical time for our City. If Council President Charles Pugh is unable to fulfill his duties as president, he should step aside and allow for new leadership at the council table. There are vital contracts that must be reviewed and approved, as well as other Council responsibilities that must be acted upon.
“Although the allegations against Charles have not yet been proven to be true, it is extremely unfortunate that our citizens are being dragged into another potential scandal in City government. Let’s get on with the work of transforming our City. “
With Pugh off the job, that leaves Detroit City Council with only six remaining members after Kwame Kenyatta recently quit and Gary Brown moved on to a position in Orr’s office.