Friday, March 30, 2012

Detroit Union Leader Files Suit Against Financial Review Team Saying Snyder Violated Open Meetings Act

Detroit union leader sues financial review team, Snyder; illegal meetings alleged

7:06 PM, March 30, 2012
Detroit Free Press

LANSING – A judge ordered an April 9 hearing today after a Detroit union leader filed a new lawsuit alleging violations of the Open Meetings Act in the ongoing state review of the city’s finances.

The Detroit financial review team is named as a defendant in the suit by Edward McNeil of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25, which represents city workers. Also named are Gov. Rick Snyder and Treasurer Andy Dillon.

The suit alleges Dillon, a member of the review team, continues negotiating an agreement between the state and the city in private, despite a Feb. 29 ruling by Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette that the review team is subject to the Open Meetings Act.

Collette, whose earlier ruling barring the review team from striking an agreement with Detroit in light of apparent Open Meetings Act violations was reversed by the Michigan Court of Appeals, is also handling the new lawsuit.

“It is clear that Treasurer Dillon is negotiating the consent agreement and/or financial stability agreement with the Detroit mayor’s office and the City Council, all through private meetings,” McNeil alleges in the suit.

The suit alleges the financial review team conducted 44 closed-door meetings with Mayor Dave Bing, City Council members, top city officials and others. But all of those alleged meetings took place prior to Collette’s Feb. 29 ruling.

Terry Stanton, a spokesman for Dillon, said the state will respond to the lawsuit at the April 9 hearing.

“It’s important to note that today’s order for a show cause hearing does not preclude the review team from meeting and/or acting on proposed language that might come before it,” Stanton said.

April 9, the date for a hearing on whether Collette should issue an injunction against the review team, is past the April 5 deadline for Snyder to say whether Detroit needs an emergency manager.

Still, Snyder Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore said on “Off the Record” on public TV’s WKAR today that an appeal period makes April 13 the absolute deadline on an emergency manager for Detroit.

Richard Mack of Detroit, McNeil's attorney, said even if a deal is struck, the lawsuit could be a way to undo any agreement.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or

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